Music Notes April 2013: A Salute to the E.P.

April 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Something different this month.

Back in the day, before the MP3, there was the single, the humble seven-inch record. One song on each side. An “A” side and a “B” side. Three minutes of heaven. And there was album the album. Between four to seven songs per side judging from my collection, and a run time of about 15 to 20 minutes per side.

Oh that wasn’t all. There were also three song singles (the shortness of punk recordings often meant ann extra track on the b-side) , and the 12 inch single which often added an extended version of the A side (usually better sound quality too).

Finally, there was the EP. Also seven inches, but with four or more songs and usually lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Often, the EP had no title song, so it felt a little like a mini-album (then there were mini-albums, but I digress). As long as music was recorded on a physical entity such as vinyl or even CD, the format could endure, but with the advent of the download and the playlist, the EP concept faded. (Oddly, the single has endured,  even nas it was undermined by the CD. Vinyl’s back too!) I suppose the I-Tunes session is a sort of equivalent, but it’s a poor substitute.

Here’s a few favourites.

1. Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch

Was this the first self-released punk record? Four songs with Howard Devoto singing. Minimal overdubs. Sweaty, exciting fun. Boredom.

2. REM – Chronic Town

It’s easy to forget after REM became rock stars just how revolutionary their early records really were. Jangle pop. Gardening at Night.

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is

Five thumpy songs from Karen and the boys. I still like their new records, but there’s rawness to these records which can’t be beat. Rockers to swallow

4. The Clash – The Cost of Living

The lead song is I Fought the law but the other three tracks, including the re-recorded Capital Radio are lots of fun. The EP also contains a 30 second Clash “radio” spot and a gatefold sleeve.

5, The Pogues – Poguetry in Motion

The middle record in the Pogues triumvirate of classics. You’re my London Girl. (Watch for the body of an American to appear in episodes of the Wire)

6. Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire EP

OK, those later records don’t cut it in the same way, but the first few releases by Arcade Fire are terrifyingly good. This one is cheating. At 35 minutes, it’s really an album.

7. The Fall – Slates

I wonder if this is worth anything. I still have my copy of this on 10 inch vinyl. No? OK. From their early period of greatness (or is that grateness?) When they used to be called Mancibilly.

Pavement – Slay tracks

More kids listening to the Fall, but with America ears. You’re killing me.

9. Big Black – Bulldozer

Say what you like about Steve Albini, he makes a fearsome noise. Cables!

10. The Rain Parade – Explosions in the Glass Palace

I think I had this on 12 inch vinyl once upon a time. Can’t find it now. Early eighties paisley underground. The guitar player would later start Mazzy Star.

Enjoy these and all the others. Recommendations?

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