Shriekback

TrackAlbum / Single
My Spine (Is The Bassline)1982 single (Y Records Y27)
Lined UpCare
EvaporationCare
Hand On My HeartJam Science
Mercy DashJam Science
This Big HushOil And Gold
NemesisOil And Gold
CoelocanthOil And Gold
Black Light TrapBig Night Music
IntoxicationGo Bang!

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Contributor: Jerry Tenenbaum

It was 1986 and I was doing something I often did; I absorbed a film called Manhunter about a hypersensitive sleuth (Will Graham) and a highly intelligent murderer (Hannibal Lecter), a translation of the excellent novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. I was mesmerized and when I left and thought about the film, it was the soundtrack that haunted me. “What was all that music?” This was music with which I had no previous experience. Aside from Leonard Cohen’s impact on McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I had never been so stunned by a soundtrack. Who were they, you ask? They were Shriekback.

Shriekback is an English group from Kentish Town. It was created by former XTC member, Barry Andrews (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals), with former Gang of Four member Dave Allen (bass), and with Carl Marsh subsequently recruited on guitar. Martyn Barker (drums) joined in 1983 and others followed over the years. All of these musicians continue to be associated with many other bands to this day. On Y Records, they had success first on the dance chart and soon after on the UK Indie Chart. Their 1983 album, Care, was brought to the USA by Warner. All Lined Up was a US dance hit. Hand On My Heart was a modest hit in the UK. The next, Jam Science, was initially released in 1984 in an unfinished state by a Dutch label; this album had not been authorized by the band who were horrified, and then assembled the correct versions for release by Arista later that year. A switch in 1985 to Island Records saw the release of the more accessible Oil And Gold.

Big Night Music followed with a change in personnel but with Andrews remaining central. 1988 saw the release of Go Bang!. From that point on, Shriekback wasn’t and was intermittently, with the 1992 release of Sacred City, Naked Apes & Pond Life (2000), Having A Moment (2003), and three further albums subsequently under the Malicious Damage label.

Shriekback received exposure from the director, Michael Mann in Manhunter and in Paul Michael Glaser’s Band of the Hand, as well as in the US TV series Miami Vice. With Barry Andrews leading the way again, Shriekback more recently released Life In The Loading Bay (2010).

The compilations, The Infinite – The Best of Shriekback (1984), Evolution – Best of Shriekback Vol.2 (1988) and Priests and Kannibals – The Best of Shriekback (1994) are all good places to begin. Multiple singles are also available on CD.

Why Shriekback? I think the creative force displayed in this work during the 1980s can be held up as a fine example of English music, transcending all around them and defining a new form of expression. It is the 80s-90s releases that I want to emphasize. I’ll look to the Comments on this post, from those who know, to identify the best of the 1990-2010 material.

 

Shriekback official website

Shriekback information, discography etc

Shriekback biography (iTunes)

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