The Forgotten Arm: Shriekback

In preparing some Hallowe’en music for last week, I came across a classic track by Shriekback: “Nemesis,” from 1985’s Oil & Gold. Shriekback was one of those bands that was an offshoot of another, more well known (and successful) new wave band. In this case, the other band was XTC, which Barry Andrews left in 1978. At first, Andrews served only as Shriekback’s keyboardist and creative director, while Carl Marsh handled vocals and ex-Gang Of Four bassist Dave Allen added, well, the basslines.

Shriekback’s music was, at first, a more experimental extension of XTC’s then-jittery punk and Gang Of Four’s mechanical funk. Songs weren’t slow or ambient, but weren’t as spastic as some of their parent band’s tunes, either. Until Marsh left partway through recording Oil & Gold, the group failed to have any commercial success. With Andrews providing lead vocals on “Nemesis,” Shriekback gained a new, gothic rock sound and stronger direction. Soon, that stronger direction would force Allen out of the band, as the project became the solo venture of Andrews. Though Shriekback continues to this day (their most recent, 2007’s Glory Bumps even featured guitar work from the reclusive Andy Partridge), they have never achieved more than critical acclaim.

Click here to watch the video for “Nemesis”

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~ by E. on November 2, 2009.

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