Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
On June 30th Cherry Red Records unveiled an ambitious and comprehensive 5-disc box set that spans the years when Gothic music first made its mark in the world. Silhouettes & Statues: A Gothic Revolution – 1978 – 1986 is a genre-defining, jam-packed compilation that showcases the greats, as well as the lesser known acts that still made an impact.
This box set encompasses the originators of the Gothic sound and perspective which followed the punk rock movement and was very much a reaction to a specific time, place, and mindset. That would be the 1970s in the United Kingdom and the political, social, and psychological dystopian landscape that was being covered up by pop and rock fantasies (at least on the musical side of the coin).
As Mark Whiteley of Folk Devils puts it, “The backdrop to… 1983/1984… was mass unemployment, social and economic turmoil, and a fascist-leaning Tory government.” Steve Spon of acclaimed act UK Decay adds that Gothic, “music was direct manifestation of life under the dark and drab Thatcher years. Although we delved into darker subject matters we also felt it was really important to reach for a more positive attitude in our message. To show that there was a stronger and more profound context to writing in the post punk era than the ‘Oi Oi’ or straight anarchistic hardcore punk…”
The rage and discontent that surfaced about the average person’s lot in life during the late ‘70s to mid-80s was channeled by bands that put everyday experiences to song. While the musical styles varied wildly, a primordial, stark atmosphere pervaded relevant and real compositions of the time period. Whiteley explains that Folk Devils’ music was, “… a sonic and lyrical sweat-drenched vivid dream that is a direct and visceral response to despair, anger, and the need to howl. We were never a political band, just commentators…”
The list is long, but bands like Joy Division, The Cure, The Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Mission, Alien Sex Fiend, Fields Of The Nephilim, The Damned, Clock DVA, Attrition, Tones On Tail, The Legendary Pink Dots, Folk Devils, In The Nursery, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, UK Decay, Paranoia, Bushido, The Chameleons, Theatre of Hate, Rubella Ballet, Part 1, and so many more captured the Gothic zeitgeist – and they all feature on Silhouettes & Statues.
While much of Gothic music is cold and raw, some bands delved into the themes of hopes and dreams, reflecting upon and romanticizing the seemingly unattainable. Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots describes his renowned band as dealing, “…with the porous border that divides reality and extremely lucid dreams.”
Today, the term “goth” has been commercialized, with companies and the public misappropriating the outer trappings – the black clothes, bold hair styles, and strongly contrasting make-up. Goth is taken on a superficial level to describe a fashion statement or dour mood, but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and for some even today, it was a way of life. Spon states, “Like punk beforehand, ‘goth’ is an attitude that in itself transcends attire and make-up.” Ka-Spel defines Gothic and being Goth as a “lifestyle”, but “…not necessarily austere, gloomy… There’s a deep love of poetry and beauty…” as well.
Silhouettes & Statues travels through the Gothic revolution that created an independent, underground upheaval of the UK’s music scene. The box set brings all the seminal Gothic bands together for the first time in meticulous detail. Packaged in a deluxe hardback book format and featuring over 80 tracks, more than 18,000 words of sleeve notes (including artist contributions), and unseen images, Silhouettes & Statues gets to the essence of an essential era in musical history that has previously been undocumented to this extent.
Purchase, and find complete 5-disc track-listing of, Silhouettes & Statues
Listen to “Love Puppets” by The Legendary Pink Dots, the song that appears on Silhouettes & Statues:
Listen to “Beautiful Monster” by Folk Devils, the song that appears on Silhouettes & Statues:
Silhouettes & Statues Facebook
The Legendary Pink Dots Official Site
Folk Devils Facebook
UK Decay Official Site
More in essays