The Lucy Show: Remembrances

No band is ever truly forgotten these day, even if it was an also-ran post-punk act that had no distinctive sonic identity of its own.

The Lucy Show


Label: Words on Music
US Release Date: 2011-12-13
UK Release Date: 2012-02-20

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.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.