FM to Web - Degenerates by RICHARD WITTS

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I'm incredibly emotionally connected to this album. It's one of my five favourite and a part of it, is definitely inscribed on my musical DNA. The 'Degenerates' of the amazing Passage is just genius. I enjoy it every time and every time is like the first time. In every listening I still find new paths. A real masterpiece, which I think is the most underrated album of all time, from the most underrated band of all time. The perfect pop. I have already written this (and I have mentioned it many times on my radio show) and I will write it again. Passage are on the same level as Fall, they just are at the other side of the river, where you have to swim to get to. If Joy Division taught us to endure darkness, Passage showed us the way to embrace it without it destroying us. Richard Witts, the soul of this legendary band, writes today, exclusively for this column, about an album that in my opinion, should be taught in schools. Let's hear it from Richard.. For everything else, click here.

Hi Dimitris,
There are two things I can remember about Degenerates. The first concerns dancing. When we played in Britain, almost nobody danced. There was a 'shoe-gazing' culture, which affected most post-punk bands, including our colleagues Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen. It was not cool to dance. But when we got to North America this changed. Not at first, though. In New York (where most tours started out) hip people in clubs danced to records rather than bands. But when we got to Minneapolis we played at First Avenue (a venue made famous by Prince) and we faced our first significantly Black audience. After the first number, couples started to dance. We couldn't believe our luck. We realised then that we people COULD dance to our music. Once you experienced that, there's no turning back. You prefer your audience to dance. If they don't, you know longer have to blame your own music, because you have seen people dancing to it elsewhere. from what I understand, this experience happened in the USA to New Order. So, in Degenerates there is the possibility of making dance music.
 
The second thing I remember is that it was recorded right at the time when digital technology was beginning to replace analogue technology. In those days you tended to use a mixture of both types, and this made for interesting results, some of which could not be controlled by the musician. This meant that the unexpected took place in the recording studio (this is very obvious on the studio recordings of Joy Division). So Degenerates is an example of an album that is recorded on the cusp of technological change. I would not be able to replicate some of these sounds today. I could only imitate the sound with digital technology.

So, I think that;'s all I can remember. I hope this helps a little.
All the best,
Dick

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