Thursday, March 22, 2012


This 1982 release by post-punk group The Passage is generally considered to be their masterpiece,  but should also be considered undervalued and relatively unheard  in a world filled with synthpop foppery. DEGENERATES was preceeded by a duo of of dark,  minimalist  works (PINDROP and FOR ALL AND NONE,  from 1980 and 1981, respectively),  that showed leader Dick Witt's embrace of The Fall's Mark E. Smith and his disturbingly neurotic polemics. While the Fall created guitar-laden personal/political narratives,  Witt modeled song structures that were made obliquely compelling  by their jarring experimentation and synthetic sound sources (sometimes overly shrill in their use of digital synths and limited recording resources).  DEGENERATES is definitely the most "electronic" of their releases up to that point,  with keyboard synthesizers used prominently throughout. Strangely enough,  it also contains their most catchy tune,  an ode to sexual liberation and chromosomal juggling called "XoYo".  While some listeners may have been put off by its peripatetic wordplay,  amateur psychology,  Shakespearean borrowings,  and liberal sexual politics,  the song was still as commercial as Witts ever got. And it was nearly joyous in its synthetic bounce,  a far cry from the darkness , failed loves,  and dystopian scenarios found on the rest of the album.  The album's title most certainly refers to the content of this song.  For an even better example of this body politic,  be sure to check out "Taboos" now included on the CD re-release.  Witts was joined by Andy Wilson (guitar) and Paul Mahoney (drums) for this album.  You may want to check out all of The Passage's recordings,  as they reward repeated listens with their challenging musical structures,  literate verbosity,  and compelling musicality.

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