Exposé Online banner

Sweet Madness — Made in Spokane 1978-1981, Volume 2
(Light in the Attic SMLP0009, 1981/2015, LP)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-05-29

Made in Spokane 1978-1981, Volume 2 Cover art

In my review of Made in Spokane I mentioned the unlikeliness of its mere existence, and now that defiance of odds is compounded by the release of Volume 2, 15 more tracks from this hyperactive Northwest band. As with the previous collection, the recordings date from 1978-1981, and several of the songs later showed up in the repertoire of successor bands Next Exit and Variant Cause. As someone who saw Variant Cause dozens of times in Seattle during their existence, it’s both disorienting and nostalgic to hear “Sleeping without You” and the others in this embryonic form, though maybe “embryonic” isn’t the right word. The compositions are complete, with lyrics, melodies, and all ready for prime time, it’s the youth of the band and somewhat primitive recording quality that marks the Sweet Madness versions. Certainly by the standards of modern recording (even of the home studio variety), these tracks are lacking, but there are so many positives that outweigh those negatives. Certainly anyone who remembers the band from its brief lifespan (admittedly a small audience), or those who encountered Next Exit or Variant Cause (a slightly larger group) should be thrilled to hear this. The question is: how does it work for everyone else? I’d say anyone interested in the art-punk of the early 80s should find something to like here. The early years of Devo, Talking Heads, and XTC are good reference points, and even something like Cardiacs (though Sweet Madness is not as audaciously loopy) provides an indication of the general area. Intelligent, quirky New Wave with touches of surf music and cynical (dare I say “ironic”) futurism. Smart kids with big ideas and no sense of limitations from others — a recipe for something interesting that has stood the test of time.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Sweet Madness / Next Exit

Latest news

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones - Outbound – I’ve been a big fan of Béla Fleck for quite a while, so I’m not sure how this one slipped under my radar for so long, especially given the stellar list of guest artists....  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues