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Although they barely receive credit,
) is the source point for virtually every synth pop duo that glutted the pop marketplace (especially in England) in the early '80s. Without the trailblazing
, there would have been no
, you name 'em, and while many would tell you that that's nothing to crow about, the aforementioned synth-poppers merely appropriated
's keyboards/singer look and none of
's extremely confrontational performance style and love of dissonance. The few who did (
, Cabaret Voltaire) were considered too extreme for most tastes.
had been a part of the performing arts scene in New York City's Lower East Side in the early/mid-'70s
New York Dolls
era. Their approach to music was simple:
would create minimalistic, spooky, hypnotic washes of dissonant keyboards and synthesizers, while
sang, ranted, and spat neo-Beat lyrics in a jumpy, disjointed fashion. On stage,
became confrontational, often baiting the crowd into a riotous frenzy that occasionally led to full-blown violence, usually with the crowd attacking
. With their reputation as controversial performers solidified, what was lost was that
recorded some amazingly seductive and terrifying music. A relationship with
proved successful, bringing their music to a wider audience and developing unlikely fans (
went on record as loving
's Vietnam-vet saga "Frankie Teardrop"), but after numerous breakups and reconciliations,
settled for being more influential than commercially successful.
Ironically, the '90s proved to be a decade of vindication for
with the rise of industrial dance music, Chicago's Wax Trax! label, and the bands associated with it (
1000 Homo DJs
, etc.). Although not a big part of the scene anymore, the profound influence of
on a generation of younger bands was readily apparent. When the duo returned in 2002 with American Supreme, its first studio release in ten years, much fanfare resulted, no doubt considerably furthered by
's presence around this time as a heavily profiled exhibitionist of art in New York, where he had presented a show at the Jeffrey Dietch Gallery in New York earlier in the year.
John Dougan, Rovi
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