Monday, November 27, 2006

Buried Treasure - Josef K

To be completely honest with you, when I first received Entomology in the mail, I had never heard of Josef K. This of course intrigued me, so while putting it in for the first listen, I did some homework. Step one, liner notes:
Excerpted from the liner notes for Entomology, penned by the inimitable Paul Morley:

There needed to be a gloomy remotely intimate glam pop group named after a character created by Franz Kafka who detuned their pained, pining guitars like the Velvet Underground, who screwed up dance beats with as much nimble knowingness and/or amateurish exuberance as Devo, who faced up to long lasting reality with as much sad, mad grace as Magazine, who got stuck into logic as defiantly as Pere Ubu, who had spent a lot of time watching Television and listening to the first six or seven songs written by Buzzcocks.

They took themselves very seriously whilst circling the idea that fun was a very peculiar notion.

They were The Sound of Young Scotland, together with Orange Juice, whose guitars were also radiant and brittle, whose rhythms were also scrubbed and blunt, whose vocals were also proud and serious, but who sounded like another group completely.

A touch more rational. A little less glaring. A splinter less uptight. Lacking, perhaps, the art for art’s sake element that some of us swooned over, and which we see explicitly echoed in they way, say, the popular Franz Ferdinand express themselves.

Their own men.

In their own special time.

Who would know when it was time to quit.
Wow. Double Wow. If this disc lived up to this hype, it would be in heavy rotation for quite a long time.

Step two: visit Domino Records, the people we have to thank for re-issuing this collection of gems mined from various sources. Here I learn that Josef K was a member of the early 80's "Sound Of Young Scotland" scene. Now we're getting somewhere.

In the meantime, songs are coming out of my speakers that are giving me the vibe of Talking Heads meet The Clash. I'm liking what I'm hearing, and so far, it is in fact living up to the hype.

Step three: head over to Google for a search on Josef K. Number one on the list: a band biography from Epitonic which proves to be quite informative. Highlights include: 1.) defining Josef K as an ESSENTIAL part of the Scottish sound 2.) formed in Edinburgh in 1978 3.) ultimately released 6 singles, but only 1 official studio full length album that was released at the time (another was shelved and released in 1990) 4.) shortly after releasing their full length album The Only Fun In Town, the band broke up, feeling they had accomplished all they wanted. Talk about carpe diem, how good do you have to be to only release one album and then be credited for influencing such bands as The Smiths, The Vaselines, and The Wedding Present.

Yes, in fact, they are that good. So do yourself a favor and educate yourself by listening to the following songs, and then get yourself the full album, which while not being a complete collection, is one that draws upon a rich variety of sources to provide the listener with a vivid glimpse into the past.

Josef K - Sorry for Laughing (Postcard 7" version) : Entomology

Josef K - Forever Drone (from The Only Fun In Town) : Entomology

Josef K - Applebush (Peel session 6-22-81) : Entomology

Visit their unofficial website (last updated in 2000), or the latest label to claim them as kin; Domino Records, but unfortunately MySpace wasn't around in the 80's so you can't add them to your tally of friends.

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