The late Alan Vega and Martin Rev formed Suicide in an era when there simply was no other music being made like what they were envisioning in their heads. That they succeeded so well at pruning back rock 'n' roll to its very vital core essence is remarkable. That this music still sounds revolutionary is a testament to how truly visionary these 2 musicians were. And thankfully we have a glimpse into the duo's creative process as the folks at Superior Viaduct are reissuing First Rehearsal Tapes from Suicide now. While this material has been out before, this is the first time that the music has been offered up on its own as a standalone release. And with liner notes by Henry Rollins, First Rehearsal Tapes is an essential offering. Read on!
Revealed here are not just a bunch of demos, but peeks inside the fertile minds of Rev and Vega as they scale back the trappings of rock music to something potent and vaguely disturbing. If a number like "Creature Feature" gurgles with bad intent, something like "Be My Dream" seems to be an alien's interpretation of the sounds of The Ronettes. Elsewhere, the gently-percolating "Too Fine For You" prefigures a whole generation of Mute Records acts, namely Cabaret Voltaire and Non, while the piano-planks of "Tough Guy" create a sense of unease in a listener. "Space Blue Bambo" undulates with a faint trace of jazz, while "Into My Eyes" maintains a keyboard-based proto-New Wave groove that foreshadows the triumphs of this band later in the Seventies. The superb "Do It Nice" rides a vaguely industrial hook into territory that suggests later recordings from Throbbing Gristle. And yet, when surveying the many excellent tracks here, one could say that Suicide were not entirely averse to making accessible music and, if anything, First Rehearsal Tapes reveals a band working at making Pop music, while deconstructing Pop music.
Bravely reductive, wildly uncompromising, and brutally economic, First Rehearsal Tapes reinforces the importance of Suicide. If The Ramones get the credit for inventing punk rock, surely Suicide should get the credit for inventing New Wave as this music is both wildly avant-garde and wholly accessible. Even in their earliest moments as musicians, Alan Vega and Martin Rev were capable of making something so striking with only the simplest tools, and the starkest melodies.
First Rehearsal Tapes from Suicide is out now via Superior Viaduct.