Pre Real Life Demos & Live [no label 1CD Torrent: 152622]

It all took place so many years ago that it’s difficult to remember just what a difference Magazine made when they first emerged out of the Manchester punk scene in early 1978, with a sound, an attitude and an electricity that effectively reinvented every prediction for the new year. “Shot By Both Sides,” their debut single, might have been based upon an old Buzzcocks tune, but still it represented a collision of attitude and attack that not only rewired the prevalent music scene, it also cast the Post Punk moods of the future firmly in its own image. Very little that was to follow over the next couple of years could do anything but refine Magazine’s original model.

Six songs from their earliest demo session include three of the early band’s finest numbers, “Shot By Both Side,” the seething atmospheres of “Motorcade” and, best of all, “The Light Pours Out Of Me,” a Gary Glitter beat set to beat poetic delirium, but slower here than the familiar version, and even more sinister than ever.

The demos are followed by the three songs Magazine recorded for the Electric Circus farewell album in November 1977 - their first ever gig, but you’d never believe it. Ultimately unused, reprises of “Shot By Both Side” and “The Light…” (“this is disco despair,” Howard Devoto declares) may not be present in the highest of fi, but again the dynamism of the band shines through with shattering eclecticism. Plus, their take on Beefheart’s “I Love You, You Big Dummy” acknowledges one of Devoto’s biggest influences, while furiously relinquishing any debt to the great man’s own reputation.

Again, Magazine’s earliest strivings so accurately predicted the future state of post punk play that, within a year, a lot of their energies had already been overtaken… PiL, Gang of Four, the Banshees and more all grasped Devoto’s lead and ran with it, a lot faster than he ultimately would. But cast your mind back to a time before you’d heard any of those trailblazers, and hear the path being carved through the jungle in the first place. This is musical history at its purest. - Dave Thompson

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September 19, 2008