Suicide Half Alive

Suicide pretty much established the model for the synth pop duo, so everybody from Depeche Shop Boys to Yaz to Soft Cell are in their debt. They also laid a lot of the groundwork for industrial and ultimately techno, and while doing so were the closest that the U.S. came to producing their own version of Kraftwerk. Reputedly, Ralf and Florian were big fans, as were Cars leader Ric Ocasek and Bruce Springsteen. Their music was abrasive and certainly confrontational. With Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev on synths and rhythm machines, they first coalesced in 1970 but didn't really make any headway until a few years later when the NYC downtown punk scene took off and CBGB's became a punk Mecca. Their debt to the Velvet Underground is evident in "Sister Ray Says," which is essentially Reed's song with some screwed around lyrics, and which they also take the entire writing credit for. Vega added lots of echo to his hiccuping vocals, getting a little Elvis-y at times and inadvertently mapping out somewhat of a game plan for Jon Spencer in the process. The 15 tracks collected here are a combination of live recordings and demos - hence the title - recorded between 1974 and 1979. It was originally released in 1981, and has three bonus tracks added to its CD debut. It's certainly not easy to listen to and even harder to claim as enjoyable, but it's hardest of all to ignore, despite the sometimes shitty sound. It's raw and nasty, yet challenging and disturbing with all the subtlety and fascination of a car wreck. (ROIR)