Magazine – Live in Berlin – October 30, 1980 – WDR – Berlin – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Magazine live in Berlin this weekend. Recorded on October 30, 1980 by German radio-TV network WDR.
Singer and founding member Howard Devoto formed Magazine in Manchester, shortly after he left Buzzcocks in early 1977. In April 1977, he met guitarist McGeoch, then an art student, and they began writing songs, some of which would appear on the first Magazine album. They then recruited Barry Adamson on bass, Bob Dickinson on keyboards and Martin Jackson (previously of the Freshies) on drums, forming the first lineup of the band. After signing to Virgin Records, Magazine played their debut live gig at the Rafters in Manchester on 28 October 1977.
“Motorcade” co-writer Dickinson, whose background was in classical and avant-garde music, left shortly after several gigs in late 1977. In early 1978, the band released their first single, “Shot by Both Sides”, a song Magazine recorded as a quartet. It featured a guitar-bass-drums sound similar to punk rock. Shortly after the single’s release, Dave Formula, who had played with a briefly successful 1960s rock band from Manchester called St. Louis Union, joined as keyboardist. “Shot by Both Sides” used a chord progression suggested by Pete Shelley, which was also used in the Buzzcocks track “Lipstick”. The Magazine single just missed the UK Top 40. The band, with Formula on keyboards, made its first major TV appearance on Top of the Pops in February 1978, performing the single.
Following a British tour to promote their debut album Real Life (which made the UK Top 30), Jackson left Magazine in late July. He was replaced briefly by Paul Spencer, who performed with the band for gigs across Europe and some television appearances, including The Old Grey Whistle Test, where they played “Definitive Gaze”. Spencer quit partway through the tour, joining the Speedometors shortly afterwards. He was replaced in October by John Doyle, who completed the Real Life promotional tour and remained in the band.
Magazine’s second album, Secondhand Daylight, was released in 1979, reaching the UK Top 40. The album featured a greater use of synthesizers. That same year, McGeoch, Adamson and Formula joined electronic project Visage, recording and releasing the single “Tar”.
After the release of Secondhand Daylight, Devoto decided to change producers. He chose Martin Hannett, who produced their next album, The Correct Use of Soap, released the following year and again making the Top 30. Following its release, McGeoch decided to leave the band, tired of Magazine’s low sales and their less guitar-oriented songs. He soon joined Siouxsie and the Banshees. To replace him, the band hired Robin Simon, who had been in Ultravox and Neo. That lineup toured across Europe and Australia, recording their next release, the live album Play. Simon made some initial recordings and rehearsals for what would be the next Magazine album, including co-writing the song “So Lucky”, but he left the band before the album was released so that he could record the John Foxx solo album The Garden.
For a reminder, here is a concert from the 1980 period. They would split up a year later, but not after leaving a lasting impression and a cult following that would continue during their second incarnation in 2009. They were one of the pivotal bands of the post-Punk period and their influence has been felt and acknowledged ever since. Essential listening. Trust me.