Various Artists

Perspectives & Distortion: Cherry Red Rarities 1981

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Cherry Red was one of the more distinctive and influential British alternative rock indies of the early '80s, indebted to the punk and new wave era in its commitment to new forms of rock music, but not bound by some of the boundaries and constrictions that punk and new wave threw up themselves. Originally released on LP in 1981 with the title Perspectives & Distortion, this compilation usually sticks to the artier and more ambient sides of new wave and post-punk, with lots of use of electronics and/or wispy, ethereal textures on both vocal pieces and purely instrumental tracks. Collectors might want this purely for the out of the way cuts by several noted artists, including a pre-Everything But the Girl Ben Watt, Virgin Prunes, Matt Johnson (whose "What Stanley Saw" is one of his most straightforwardly melodic rock tunes) of The The, Lemon Kittens, Mark Perry of Alternative TV, Robert Fripp, and pre-punk veteran Kevin Coyne. As memorably quoted in the liner notes, John Peel said at the time, "I tried to play Perspectives & Distortion at home but my children begged me to switch it off." Yet it really isn't as inaccessible as all that. Some of the more experimental pieces by the likes of Lemon Kittens and Virgin Prunes are indeed harsh. But there are also nicely melancholic, oft-ghostly bits, and not all of them by the (relatively) big names, like Watt's brief and lilting "Departure" and Claire Thomas and Susan Vezey's forlorn swirling voices on "Bright Waves."

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