Early glimpses of New Wave tonight, by way of Modern English, a band who not only pioneered a new genre in music, but also achieved hit-making cross-over status.
Formed in 1979, Modern English were a four-piece from Colchester who bore a strong resemblance to early Joy Division. Originally calling themselves The Lepers, the three piece band expanded to a five piece band, and with it came a change of name.
Tonight it’s the first session the band did for John Peel, and it proved to be a highly influential one. Recorded on November 11, 1980, the three song session they did immediately caught the ear of 4AD and were signed. Their debut album Mesh and Lace was released in April of 1981, and it proved to be a huge success for the band, reaching number 5 on the British charts. But it wasn’t until 1982 that they issued their sixth single, I Melt With You, that the band really took off.
It was also around this time that things got a bit skewed. They released their second album, After The Show, which included the by-now iconic Melt With You, and got largely positive reviews. But the reviews that weren’t positive were downright nasty. The band relocated to New York City and eventually came out with a third album, released this time by Sire Records. By the time their third album, Stop/Start was issued, the band was getting close to calling it quits.
In 1987 the band broke up, with members going off with another 4AD band, This Mortal Coil, and achieved a goodly amount of success as the result. The band reunited in 1989 and kept it going another two years, before packing it in again in 1991 and finally reforming a third time, in 1995.
If you’re not familiar with anything else by Modern English, aside from Melt With You, do yourself a favor and check this early session out. The rawness of the tracks and the energy going into it make complete sense why 4AD were so keen on signing them at the time.
In any event, play loud and thank the legendary John Peel for noticing them in the first place.