Friday, February 16, 2007


THE SWELL MAPS are probably in any right-thinking individual’s personal Top 10 punk-era British acts, despite their experimental, sonic distance from punk and the fact that they slot much better into the DIY, homemade post-punk “Messthetics” world so popular with the kids today. Several of their most “famous” tracks – famous being relative for a band still so little-heard – like “Dresden Style”, “Vertical Slum” and “Read About Seymour”, are surely punk rock on wheels, but they also feature the scarf-on-the-mic-stand, beatnik/French-like vocals of Nikki Sudden, and there’s just something very strange about the construction of each tune. That’s why I love ‘em. They often went totally ambient, too, or showcased piano ballads, 10-minute soundscapes, or tribal, polyrhythmic percussive workouts. Some of these worked better than others, but it’s a good bet that there weren’t many bands this far-reaching & still good anywhere at the time. There were only two real albums (1979’s “A Trip To Marineville” and 1980’s “Jane From Occupied Europe”), some amazing 45s, a couple posthumous collections, and then this: a 1981 double LP on Rough Trade called “Whatever Happens Next”.

When I found my copy of “Whatever Happens Next” in the early 90s I was just becoming wise to the charms of the Maps, and I felt like I’d struck gold at Sutter’s Mill. This collection was rare to begin with, and has never been put on CD, even with two US Swell Maps reissues having come out just over the past 6-7 years. I did my research, and the three tracks I’m posting for you today are not only fantastic, fantastically rare, and fantastically fabulous, but they exist only on that great “Whatever Happens Next” 2xLP that nobody has (not even me, I eBayed & digitized it a few years ago). Strong recommendation to you to buy buy buy the two LPs (now on CD with loads of extra tracks), plus the “Train Out of It” and “International Rescue” comps while you’re at it…..

Download SWELL MAPS – “Armadillo”
Download SWELL MAPS – “Sheep Dip”
Download SWELL MAPS – “Bandits On Fire”


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

There's a new collection of 74-77 recordings by these guys out now on Overground Records called "Wastrels And Whippersnappers," too.

Niels said...

"Whatever happens next" was the first Swell Maps record I bought (2nd hand), and it's been my favourite ever since. "Bandits One Five" has been a mix tape staple of mine for ages, sort of a deranged kiddie's song with the weird polka beat. Last year I've posted two other tracks from this LP (like "Bandits", from their 1979 Peel sessions) on my blog:

Anonymous said...

I always thought these guys were totally overrated. Their punk songs were tuneless and their avant stuff was unmemorable. At least compared to . . . about a million other lesser-knowns.

Anonymous said...

nice one... swell maps are totally boss.

Nice Mover said...

aw pretty please... back up! and the 79 session... paleasssse!