Album #319: Magazine – Real Life

  • Released: 1978
  • Origin: Manchester, England
  • Label: Virgin
  • Best Track: Shot By Both Sides

Why have I never listened to Magazine before? In fact, I think I’d barely heard of them before reviewing an album by Luxuria earlier this year, as they were the future direction of Magazine frontman Howard Devoto.

When in doubt, start with their debut. 1978’s Real Life feels like three EPs within an album to me. It opens with a right banger in ‘Definitive Gaze’, and I’d say the first three tracks are close to the ’77 British punk sounds of Devoto’s previous work in the Buzzcocks. This includes the high-energy ‘Shot By Both Sides’, which is definitely a punk song I’ve heard before.

It ends strongly too, with a sombre and paranoid penultimate track in ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’ pairing well with the reflective ballad closer ‘Parade’.

It’s the middle of the album I’m not so sure about. It goes a bit prog-rock on ‘Burst’, while ‘The Great Beautician in the Sky’ plays with a waltzing melody. Kudos to them for taking the genre to new places I guess, and some will love them for it, but I suppose I’m a little more traditional with what I want to hear in post-punk.

For me, it’s rather a mixed bag, but I hear enough to make me want to explore Magazine further. Perhaps one for next year when I can listen to music a bit more leisurely again!

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