All Posts,Old Music — Dan on May 27, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Acute Records is proud to announce the release of our 10th CD, Memory Span by The Lines. A few years in the making, Memory Span compiles all of the singles and EPs The Lines released. We’ve also included 2 bonus unreleased tracks and a fancy color booklet with photos, flyers, sleeve scans and a band history. What more can you ask for? Their two LPs? Those are coming next! Let’s focus on the matter at hand, which is the incredible run of singles and EPs The Lines recorded between 1978 and 1981. Songs like this one…

Two Split Seconds
control-click to download

and this one…

Nerve Pylon
control-click to download

The Lines’ music was unique in it’s subtle charm. Many reviewers didn’t give them a chance the first time around, leaving them and their releases to develop the smallest but most rabid cult audience. It’s the kind of music that will work it’s way under your skin and into your brain and stay there, for good, if you give it time. In all my years as a music fan, I can think of very few acts who managed to release so much consistently great music while achieving so little notice. At this point in time, with many fans and critics sure that the post-punk era has been so thoroughly mined for hidden gems that there can’t be anything left, The Lines stands as the ultimate challenge (of course I think there’s always more great stuff to find of any era!). Here’s a band who’s history shares much of the growth of their peers, as the punk rock impulse underpinning post-punk gave voice to more experimental leanings. Music ranging from 60s inspired rock, angular and taut post-punk, krautrock, dub and disco influences and underneath all of this, solid and catchy song-writing.

You can learn more about the release on Memory Span’s web page which includes even more web-exclusive unreleased tracks, such as…

Cat Bug Jeep
control-click to download

and photos, flyers and other goodies. I figured I’d take this “blogging” oppurtunity to dig a bit deeper into my personal thoughts on the band, as well as some thanks.

I first heard The Lines sometime around the dawn of the 21st century (is that dramatic enough?). I had been trading tapes with people I met on the internet and discovering tons of great stuff, mostly from that magic late 70s/early 80s period. One person I corresponded with was sometime music writer and Lambchop member Jonathan Marx, who sent me 2 tapes, a US compilation and a UK compilation. The UK compilation featured the first Lines single. Not long after that I had the unique pleasure of digging through the 7″s kept under the CD shelves at the record store Rockit Scientist on Carmine St. in NYC. I found my first Lines vinyl there, but wasn’t even sure if it was the same band. After that, via the internet or the occasional WFMU record fair find, I managed to grab a few more Lines singles, but was still missing the Cool Snap! ep. Michael Train digitized what he had, which was everything but their last two singles, and gave me a copy. He even made a cover for it using the band photo image from the back of Cool Snap!, it was like the beta version of Memory Span. It was with this CD-r that I really got acquainted with the band. In those pre-iPod days, people used to actually carry around little portable CD players. Kinda like an iPod that can hold only one album and skips a lot. I would commute to and from work with this CD and every song was a perfect fit to my mood, which usually involved standing up on NYC subway train, buzzing around the city filled with hope, excitement and anxiety.

I got a few more records over time. I got their first LP and didn’t like it at first. Like many others I subscribed to the idea that the singles were where it’s out. Eventually I figured that while most of the singles grabbed me right away, some had that infamous subtle quality that grew on me, so I figured I’d spend more time with the LP. Sure enough it took, but that’s a story for another CD release. At some point I figured I should get in touch, maybe offer to do a reissue. I posted a request to find the singer Rico Conning on the usenet forum and somehow he got it, somebody who knew him had seen it.

Over the years since I’ve been amazed by both the relative obscurity of the band…and the absolute obsession of their fans. I heard from Phil Wilson of the June Brides, who recorded a version of White Night on his 4-track. Young punk/post-punk DJs popped up, most emphatically Rick and Brandon from DC’s We Fought the Big One. John Kertland from the UK label Caroline True told me Jon Savage was playing him some records and The Lines were included. I’m still not sure if this is all because their music just never received the exposure it deserves, or if it’s appeal is so specific to only affect the select few.

One by one I managed to find the singles, but till this day have never seen a copy of Cool Snap! I had to borrow it from my friend Lauren Klein. A year later she got it back when I managed to convince another friend, Joseph Colbourne, to sell me a copy. He didn’t want to part with it, but I told him since I was going to be releasing the CD I deserved it more than he did! Now I am a proud owner of all the Lines releases (except the Hot Club of London cassette, which I’d still like to hear…).

Anyway, we were able to get the material from the nice folks at Jungle Records (thanks Alan), work with the band on putting this CD together (thanks Rico, Nick, Jo and Mick), with some great mastering from Jeff and Maria at Peerless. Chuck Warner of Hyped2Death has been a huge help as well, including helping spread the word by featuring The Lines on the second London volume of Messthetics. Steve at Low Down Kids and Dan Gr from No Value System and Heroic Leisure hooked me up with some scans. Martin Mossap, the band’s friend and resident photographer supplied tons of great material for the booklet and website, and we greatly thank him as well.

I really couldn’t be more excited about the release of this CD. I like to say that The Lines is the most obscure project we’ve reissued, but it’s also the most accessible. I hope people give it a chance and I expect we’re gonna have a lot of converts. In the meantime, we’re working on some follow-up projects, including our next CD compiling both of the Lines LPs, Therapy/Ultramarine. For some people, the singles that make of Memory Span is all they’re looking for, but for others, Memory Span is just the warm-up to what came next.

See you then…


  1. Very happy to see the Lines available again. I was an import buyer at a Berkeley Ca. record store when the first single “White Night b/w Barbican” was released and I played it incessantly. I loved the subtle “She’s Not There” guitar reference in White Night.
    “Barbican” is also a lot of fun. To this day, I think of that song whenever I look at a London Tube Map. For a number of years I came across used copies of the “Cool Snap” ep and the two albums. I always purchased them so that I could pass them to friends.

    Comment by Ray Farrell — May 29, 2008 @ 10:24 am
  2. Thanks! I never thought about the Zombies thing until this was coming out and people keep mentioning it.

    Comment by Dan — May 29, 2008 @ 10:46 am
  3. Nice work Dan… definitely worth the wait! I’ve had Therapy and Ultramarine for a few years but wasn’t willing to shell out the dough for all the singles, etc. Thanks so much for doing the yeoman’s work and unearthing this stuff. I’ve already turned on a couple guys to it.

    Comment by Randy — June 11, 2008 @ 7:37 pm
  4. Thanks. I only know what the word Yeoman means because that was the name of Oberlin College’s sports team! Keep spreading the word, it’s much appreciated.

    Comment by Dan — June 12, 2008 @ 12:34 am
  5. […] Mind — The Points Weird — Rifle Recoil Temptation Island — Love As Laughter On The Air (Alaska Demos) — The Lines The Way We Lived Feat. Sharon Jones — Wax Tailor ft Sharon […]

    Pingback by Episode #43 « Cro-Magnon Jazz — June 12, 2008 @ 9:18 pm
  6. I only had the 1st two singles and having enjoyed them so very much. On this basis I got the CD and it was a revelation – fantastic stuff can’t wait to hear the two LPs. A band I should have paid more attention to in days gone by!

    Comment by Simon — July 23, 2008 @ 1:37 pm
  7. Magical stuff with the free downloads. The Peel session version of Transit is vastly superior to the official version in my opinion, but overall it’s quality from start to finish.

    Comment by Noel — August 4, 2008 @ 8:53 am
  8. This CD has to be the highlight of the year for me. I first heard of The Lines in the mid 80s via the Adult Net’s cover of “White Night”, but though I knew it was a song by a band called The Lines I never heard the original. Then in the late 80s I picked up a copy of their “Ultramarine” album. I was disappointed with the music at first – it seemed a bit featureless. Then I found I was listening to it all the time and it became one of my favourite albums. I’ve always been puzzled that the band are never mentioned in all the punk and post-punk histories. I started to think I’d imagined them or something. So thanks for introducing me to them all over again and letting me hear the original of White Night at long last (it’s better than the Adult Net version!). Looking forward for the next CD and to get to hear Ultramarine again. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by flashbleu — August 10, 2008 @ 6:57 pm
  9. Thanks, so glad you like it. I have the Adult Net 12″, I should post it here! It’s funny how common a thread that is, of people not being into some of their music at first. I even wrote an essay on the old Acute site when I started getting into them about how much I loved the singles but didn’t care for the records. Now the records have some of my favorite songs, for sure. We’re wrapping up the second CD right now, with both Ultramarine and Therapy, and it should be out in November.

    Comment by Dan — August 12, 2008 @ 12:06 pm
  10. I’ve just got “Memory Span” – a really fine selection, great to hear “White Night” & “On The Air” once again … & the mighty “Nerve Pylon” …. congratulations on a fine Package.

    Comment by Times — September 20, 2008 @ 10:56 am
  11. been waiting for this to be re-released. THANKS!!!

    Comment by beau wanzer — November 4, 2008 @ 6:12 pm
  12. […] Secretly, most of the band from the classic line-up which gave us the material presented on the Memory Span and Flood Bank compilations (still available!) have been meeting in London and rehearsing. There […]

    Pingback by Acute Records Blog » THE LINES LIVE IN LONDON! — February 2, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

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