This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.
As someone not unacquainted with the joys and perils of pointless list-making, I had a particular problem with this Top 5. It grows out of a paradox familiar to all written prose, but especially piquant in list-composition — that is, the uncomfortably close relationship between banality and truth. While I’d like to be the kind of person whose totally sincere Top 5 Rock Shows of All Time are Pere Ubu, Chaka Khan, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Pat Benatar (correction: no I wouldn’t), I am just not that kind of person (second correction: hmm, I may have to rethink this Screamin’ Jay Hawkins thing… I do love nose horns). So be warned: obviousness lies ahead.
5. T-Rex, 1972. It’s hard to think of an act more outrageously, goofily sexed-up than Marc Bolan’s T.Rex in their early/mid ’70s prime. Seriously, check out their 1971 appearance on Top of the Pops, with the stage and set laden almost past breaking with drugged out blondes and confused-looking brunettes. But I wouldn’t want to see T. Rex in ’72, just after the release of Slider, just to try to hook up. I’d come for the unapologetic rawk, and I’d stay for Bolan’s spooky, pre-glam trippiness, doled out in small but triumphantly weird doses. Here’s a great live version of “Cosmic Dancer”:
4. New Order, 1987. I suppose this is a little past their early ’80s peak, when the post-Joy Division crew first assaulted audiences with swirling, majestically poppy masterpieces like “Ceremony” and “Blue Monday.” But I think I’d like to see the Trainspotting ’87 version of “Temptation” — backed up, if possible, with images of Reagan and Gorbachev on a projector screen. Plus, they were touring that year with Echo & the Bunnymen, also on the top of their game. It would be arena-ish ’80s rock, but it would still be rad. Here’s a potent “Age of Consent” from that year: