Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Middle Class-Scavenged Luxury EP (1980)

Middle Class started as arty thugs, and finished as thuggish artistes. Always a step ahead of their SoCal brethren, while other LA bands were still thrashing out their stupidity with three chords and the HB Strut, by 1980 Middle Class was already jettisoning the hidebound hardcore formula.

1980's "Scavenged Luxury" EP is one of the most interesting American attempts at working through the Martin Hannett sound, without, for a moment, simply aping it. The first track, "Home is Where," is the real transition from the hammer blows of hardcore to the wider horizons of post punk: the drumming is clipped and measured, superseding the frantic double-time of "Out of Vogue;" the guitar echoes off the bass, which sets the tone for the rest of the band. Jeff Atta's vocal style hasn't really changed: he declaims more than he sings, and the hollow, aloof tone fits the band's new, measured sound. 

   If 1978's "Out of Vogue" EP was about claustrophobic compression, "Scavenged Luxury" is self-consciously expansive. This really becomes evident on the second track, "Blueprint for Joy," where a razor-wire guitar note shimmers through the mid-tempo bass-drums combo. Combined with Atta's fragmentary phrasing, the tune has a furtive, twilight quality to it. "Last Touch" is built around a guitar line that crescendos in a repeated bass/drum lead, while "Introductory Rites" brings the whole show to a grinding halt. The track is jerky and the clean guitar sound has an echoing quality to it.
 Middle Class was clearly groping their way towards something new with “Scavenged Luxury,” and it’s a real midpoint between the sonic hurricane of “Out of Vogue” and ‘82’s “The Call” LP, which sometimes sounds like a sleeping pill. Throw this on at your next hipster dance party, and show all those assholes what the soundtrack to their late night coke binge should be instead of the Bloc Party (do people even listen to those guys anymore?).

*Frontier put out a good collection of the early Middle Class material a few years ago, from whence I culled the "Scavenged Luxury" EP:  http://frontierrecords.com/middleclass.html*

*Edit, 9.10.12: reup'd the file. Download SL HERE.

*EDIT, 1.5.14: Re'up'd it again. AGAIN.*

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