THE LINES – MEMORY SPAN

— Dan on March 8, 2010 at 7:37 am

The Lines
Memory Span

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Between 1978 and 1983, The Lines released 5 singles, 1 EP and 2 LPs to mixed reviews and little sales. One reviewer at the time noted that “The stumbling block for instant accolades seems to be the puzzling paradox that these are lasting pieces of work which require several listens before they finally take root in your soul.” Sure enough, anybody who’s spent enough time with these records has developed a cult-like devotion to The Lines. Over the years, these few records have become rare and expensive collector’s items and have never been released on CD until now.Acute’s first Lines reissue “Memory Span” represents 5 years in the growth of one of the most interesting bands of the era. Their music evolved from skeletal and taut post-punk scorchers to atmospherically recorded dubbed out bliss. The singles possess an angular and melodic thoughtfulness and precision that bring to mind Wire, Joy Division, the Feelies or Mission of Burma. Included are the seminal cult-classic power-pop/punk first single, “White Night”, it’s more taut and post-punk follow-up, “On the Air” 7″, the Cool Snap! EP(a desert-island disc to Chuck Warner of Messthetics), the more atmospheric and new wave Nerve Pylon and Transit singles, the rare final 12″ House of Cracks/Old Town and 2 early unreleased tracks.

Although they played shows with bands like The Cure, Bauhaus, The Sound and Birthday Party, and featured members of prag Vec and Alternative TV, they were never part of any scene. They never toured and rarely spoke to the press. For 5 years they rehearsed, performed and recorded to little acclaim, leaving only 8 releases on vinyl. While unappreciated in their time, they perfectly encapsulate the best qualities of the era: angst-ridden angularity, danceable catchiness, sublime dub-influenced atmospherics, sonic experimentation and killer hooks, with an unrivalled consistency.

[expand title=SOUND]

Selected tracks from the CD:

2Split Seconds

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_TwoSplitSeconds.mp3]

Nerve Pylon

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_NervePylon.mp3]

Unreleased web-only downloads, notes by Rico Conning:

Hamilton Park

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_HamiltonPark.mp3]
The earliest existing Lines recording, from around spring/summer ’77. Obviously we were basically copying Can, and trying to show our new pal Hywel Philips what kind of music we were into, and you can hear him trying to shed some of his west coast stylings and go along with us. This was recorded in my bedsit room in Hamilton Park, Highbury..

Rituals of the House

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_RitualsOfTheHouse.mp3]
This is a compilation of different jams recorded at the “House of Cracks” which was 2 adjoining crumbling houses in Stoke Newington that me and Jo and Mossop roomed in circa 1978-81. Long before the days of crack cocaine, “Cracks” referred to the physical state of the building and the mental state of the occupants. Some of this material was released on a cassette-only compilation called “Hot Club of London” in 1980.

Don’t Need Surgery (First Peel Session)

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_DontNeedSurgery_Peel1.mp3]
Recorded January 1980 at the BBC studios in Maida Vale. Mick Linehan hadn’t been with us long but he was already well up to speed. Also, we got to stick our noses in the Radiophonic Workshop.

On the Air (Alaska Demo)

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_OnTheAir_Alaska.mp3]
By the time we recorded the “Alaska” demo we were pretty well rehearsed so we took the opportunity to throw down another version of this song. We were still thinking that “Cool Snap” might be a whole album…

Nerve Pylon (Alaska Demo)

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_NervePylon_Alaska.mp3]
I actually prefer this version to the later one because it’s slower and more relaxed. Plus it has that funky jaw harp.

Study #4

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_Study4.mp3]
A guitar solo with drum machine recorded by me during the Nerve Pylon session at the Barge Studio. Originally part of some incidental music done for a student theatrical production, the details of which I remember nothing.

Radiobass

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_Radiobass.mp3]
A compilation of bass guitar solos with drum machine, recorded by Jo on his ghetto blaster circa 1980-82. I still plan to remaster the complete work at some point.

Transit (Second Peel Session)

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_Transit_Peel2.mp3]
Recorded at the BBC’s Regent Street studio, January 1981. I subsequently rewrote the song for the single release, somewhat controversial at the time amongst the Lines fraternity.

Cat Bug Jeep

[audio:http://acuterecords.com/sounds/ACU010/TheLines_CatBugJeep.mp3]
This was recorded for a cassette compilation, the details of which I forget, but we took the opportunity to record several tracks that day. At the time we were figuring out how “Ultramarine” was going to sound, and experimenting with some different miking and recording techniques.

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PHOTOS

EPHEMERA

SINGLES AND EPs

LINKS

4 Comments »

  1. […] It was finally released on the Memory Span compilation from Acute Records. […]

  2. […] prefer those versions. This particular song can be heard, along with other rare snippets, on the Memory Span page at the Acute Records […]

  3. […] remaster of this has long been on my list of things to do. There are some exerpts on the Acute Records Memory Span page: select SOUND and then Rituals of the […]

  4. […] There’s a remastered version on the Memory Span page at Acute Records. […]

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