The Internet Age proves there’s a fan for everything. In the 21st century, the advent of file-sharing and the mass diffusion of voices enabled by social media ranging from blogging to Twitter has turned every forgotten record, every half-remembered scene, and every dead-end genre strain into potential archeological dig sites, all waiting to be unearthed, reappraised, and loved by someone out there. Already due to be reevaluated as part of the 20-year nostalgia cycle, post-punk befitted immensely in the last decade from the Internet’s ability to shine a light upon even the most fleeting blips on the historical record. The thirst for post-punk treasures knows no boundaries, but the true innovators and guiding lights of the movement drifted to the top of the nostalgia heap long ago, leaving behind the ultra-obscure (DIY cassette recordings originally available in double-digit units, scrapped LP releases, foreign language exotica), and, most depressingly, the also-rans for labels to offer up to retro fiends as CD repackages.
Which brings us to the Lucy Show. Neither a leader in the post-punk movement nor a bizarro margin dweller, the mostly-forgotten British/Canadian combo was a coattail rider. Listening to the group’s records, it’s handy to keep a list at the ready to check off each artist the music bears strong similarities to (Echo & the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, the Cure, the Chameleons, etc.). While the Lucy Show topped the CMJ charts and scored some minor MTV airplay with “A Million Things” back in the 1980s, the humdrum group ultimately amounts to nothing more than a store-brand version of all the British post-punk bands everyone actually likes and remembers—indeed, one gets the inkling that it was that trait that earned the band fans in the first place. In spite of some nice songs here and there, it wouldn’t be a crime if no one ever talked about the ensemble again.
But the reissue industry is insatiable, even when it comes to nothing-special acts. Words on Music has already resurrected the Lucy Show’s two LPs—1985’s Undone and 1986’s Mania—for the new millennium, and now adds the generous 17-track rarities collection Remembrances to the band’s scant catalog. Aside from a few 45 RPM flipsides, Remembrances devotes it space mainly to previously unreleased material, including four-track prototypes of songs that appear on Undone such as “Undone”, “Come Back to the Living”, and “The Twister”, concert staples that never made it onto vinyl like “Prove It”, and selections from the group’s final recording sessions in 1993, all of it only of mild interest compared even to the already-available, decent-if-you’re-starved-for-that-sort-of-thing output.
Though the contents of Remembrances are culled from various points in the Lucy Show’s existence, the majority of the CD’s tracklist originates from 1985 and earlier, a time when the group was at its most derivative. Be warned: goth-damaged cuts like “Leonardo da Vinci”, “History Part 1”, and “The Price of Love” feature the quartet aping the Cure circa Seventeen Seconds so hard it’s not even funny. From the lumbering basslines and the listless drumbeat to singer Rob Vandeven overwrought pantomime of Robert Smith’s boyish anguish, the Cure cloning process is so faithful that it’s hard to take the Lucy Show at its word that it never really followed the Crawley group seriously. The vocals on “Prove It” alone are such a blatant swipe that Vandeven should be mailing Smith royalty checks. By the last third of Remembrances, the Lucy Show at least diversifies when it comes to whom it’s trying to sound like: “See it Goes” is Big Music majesty in the Simple Minds vein, “Waiting for You” and “Only Moments Away” are ‘60s inspired pop-rock given a horrendously dated New Wave sheen, and early ’90s anachronisms “She’s Going Down” and “When It All Comes Down” miss the early ‘80s power-pop boom by a decade. The demo nature of much of the record does the band no favors, as the tinny, trebly ‘80s production ensures that the Lucy Show is forever frozen in the past, unable to transcend the period that so defined it.
Strip away all the similarities to other artists, and what remains is unadventurous verse-chorus formalism. For the Lucy Show, there was none of the mad genre-blurring or the brave deconstructions that distinguished its more remarkable peers: the band relied on the most reductive of post-punk’s sonic traits (creaky root-note basslines, skeletal guitar, funkless marching drums) up until Byrds records became hip again, at which point the influx of jangly riffs and neo-psychedelic melodies perfectly suited its penchant for conservative songcraft. The Lucy Show does deserve a smidge of retrospective credit for the single “Undone” and the brighter spots of Mania, where the group exuded a welcome radiance that livened up its typically unremarkable modern rock mannerisms. However, those above-average moments were few and far between, surely not enough to build a posthumous reputation upon. Yet nothing is ever truly forgotten about these days—even the pedestrian, it seems. Not every bygone post-punk act is worth a reissue program, and if it were up to me, I would’ve let the music compiled on Remembrances rest in peace. The Lucy Show served its purpose 25 years ago as the generic option for people who ran out of Cure and Bunnymen records to buy—it’s ok to let the group slip into the ether.
// Notes from the Road
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