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 artIn 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

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Gorn, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta - From the Caves of the Iron Mountain – Take a woodwind player and the early 80s rhythm section for Peter Gabriel (circa Security), put them together in a cave and you'd be surprised what they come up with! The second release from King...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues