Monday, May 4, 2020

Love and Lust the subjects of Magazine's Third Album The Correct Use of Soap

Magazine : Because You're Frightened

In May of 1980 Magazine released The Correct Use of Soap, the band's third album and one that was heavily anticipated thanks to the single "A Song From Under The Floorboards" and their creepy cover of Sly and The Family Stone's " Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)". The band had actually requested Sly Stone produce the album ( as well as Tony Visconti and John Barry). They got Martin Hannett, who'd worked on Spiral Scratch, the debut EP by leader Howard Devoto's first band, The Buzzcocks. Years later DeVoto would say this is the band's best studio work.

The opening track,"Because You're Frightened", starts things off on a dynamic note. If someone asked what one song defined post-punk rock, you could do worse than play them this.

At the time DeVoto had been reading Theresa L Crenshaw's The Alchemy of Love and Lust: "Her theory is you fall in love at crisis moments in your life," Howard DeVoto told The Guardian. " And that's what happened."

While on the band's first tour of America,  DeVoto  learned his father had died. His family said there was nothing he could do in England so he kept the tour going, dealing with the personal turmoil in his lyrics and falling in love in San Francisco.

"The manager rang and said, 'Stay as long as you like, the band are writing,'" DeVoto told The Guardian. "I thought, 'They're writing? Without me? I'd better get back there!'"

The album peaked at UK#28, the highest of any album but this bid for bigger sales was thwarted by DeVoto's reluctance to do interviews. Keyboardist Dave Formula and guitarist John McGeoch were frustrated."It got us down,"Formula says. "But we couldn't really say, 'Come on Howard, play the bloody game!'"

McGeoch would soon depart Magazine to join Siouxsie and The Banshees in time for their breakthrough Kaleidoscope. Without McGeoch, and with DeVoto dealing with what he called a downward "psychic curve", Magazine lost its edge. The band made one more album before breaking up.

While the debut may be the classic Magazine album, The Correct Use of Soap gets Formula's nod in a recent interview:

I think in some ways the most complete one is the third one ['The Correct Use of Soap'] in the sense that I think we'd reached a point musically, both playing and writing wise, where it was a much more collective and more developed album to work on. In the past it had been much more about one or two individuals working on particular songs with contributions from the other members but with this album it was a lot more democratic. There was a lot more equality in the contributions to each song and I think you can hear it as it really hangs together as an album. There's a maturity to it.

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