Music and British Identity: Music Inspired by J. G. Ballard's Crash


The Normal
Primary members: Daniel Miller
Band Biography
Album/songs of focus: Warm Leatherette EP (1978), "Warm Leatherette" and "TV O.D."

"Warm Leatherette"

"A friend of mine said, 'You've got to read this book [i.e., Crash],' and I read it, and it really had a huge impact (laughs). It wasn't like science fiction in the sense that it was outer space and stuff like that. It felt like it was five minutes into the future, and I loved that aspect of it—the fact that it was kind of so outrageous but so possible at the same time....The music was supposed to be visual—you know, like driving along a highway with big buildings on either side and going into tunnel. There's quite a lot of humor in it, really; it wasn't meant to be like apocalyptic or dystopian."

- Daniel Miller, from the BBC documentary Synth Britannia (2009)

See the breaking glass
In the underpass
See the breaking glass
In the underpass
Warm leatherette

Hear the crushing steel
Feel the steering wheel
Hear the crushing steel
Feel the steering wheel

Warm leatherette

Warm leatherette

Warm leatherette
Melts on your burning flesh
You can see your reflection
In the luminescent dash

Warm leatherette

A tear of petrol
Is in your eye
The hand brake
Penetrates your thigh
Quick - Let's make love
Before you die

On warm leatherette
Warm leatherette
Warm leatherette
Warm leatherette
Warm leatherette

 

"TV O.D."
TV O.D. (9x)
I don't need a TV screen
I just stick the aerial into my skin
Let the signal run through my veins

TV O.D.

TV O.D. (9x)

I don't need a TV screen
I just stick the aerial into my skin
Let the signal run through my veins

TV O.D.

TV O.D. (12x)

The Future (aka The Human League)
Primary members: Martyn Ware, Ian Marsh, Phil Oakey
Band Biography
Album/songs of focus: The Golden Hour of The Future (1978), "4JG"

"4JG"

 

Gary Numan
Band Biography
Album/songs of focus: The Pleasure Principle (1979), "Asylum" and "Cars"

"Asylum"

 

"Cars"

 

Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live in cars

Here in my car
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for days in cars

 

Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please
If I open my door in cars

Here in my car
You know I've started to think
About leaving tonight
Although nothing seems right in cars


John Foxx
Band Biography
Album/songs of focus: Metamatic (1980), "Plaza" and "Underpass"

"Plaza"

On the plaza
We're dancing slowly lit like photographs
Across the plaza
Toward the shadow of the cenotaph

Down escalators, come to the sea view
Behind the smoked glass no one sees you
A familiar figure comes to meet you
I remember your face from some shattered windscreen

Across the plaza
A giant hoarding of Italian cars
Across the plaza
The lounge is occupied by seminars


Down escalators, come to the sea view
Behind the smoked glass no one sees you
A familiar figure comes to meet you
I remember your face from some shattered windscreen

From the plaza
The highways curve in over reservoirs
On the plaza
A queue is forming for the cinemas

Down escalators, come to the sea view
Behind the smoked glass no one sees you
A familiar figure comes to meet you
I remember your face from some shattered windscreen

On the plaza (Repeat and fade)


 

"Underpass"
Standing in the dark
Watching you glow
Lifting a receiver
Nobody I know

Underpass
Underpass

Well I used to remember
Now it's all gone
World War something
We were somebody's sons

Underpass
Underpass

Over all the bridges
Echoes in rows
Talking at the same time
Click click drone

Underpass
Underpass

Misty on the glass now
Rusty on the door
Here for years now
Click click drone
Click click drone
Click click drone
Click click drone
Click click

Underpass
Underpass (8x)

 

Joy Division
Primary members: Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris
Band Biography
Album/songs of focus: Unknown Pleasures (1979), "Disorder" and Closer (1980), "Atrocity Exhibition"

"Disorder" (recorded live, 2 May 1980)
I've been waiting for a guide
to come and take me by the hand
Could these sensations make me feel
the pleasures of a normal man?
The sensations barely interest me for another day
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away

It's getting faster, moving faster now,
It's getting out of hand
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs—
it's a no man's land
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing:
Getting frequent now
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling
Let it out somehow

What means to me, what means to you,
and we will meet again,
I'm watching you, I'm watching her,
I'll take no pity from your friends
Who is right, who can tell,
and who gives a damn right now


I've got the spirit, lose the feeling
Let it out somehow
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling
Let it out somehow
I've got the—
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling!
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling!
Lose the feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling...

 

"Atrocity Exhibition"
(Note: Before Ballard wrote Crash he wrote The Atrocity Exhibition, published in 1970)
Asylums with doors open wide
Where people could pay to see inside
For entertainment they watch his body twist
Behind his eyes he says: I still exist
This is the way - step inside

In arenas he kills for a prize
Wins a minute to add to his life
But the sickness is drowned by cries for more
Pray to God, make it quick - watch him fall
This is the way - step inside

This is the way
This is the way - step inside

 

You'll see the horrors of a faraway place
Meet the architects of law face to face
See mass murder on a scale you've never seen
And all the ones who try hard to succeed
This is the way - step inside

And I picked on the whims of a thousand or more
Still pursuing the path that's been buried for years
All the dead wood from jungles and cities on fire
Can't replace or relate - can't release or repair
Take my hand and I'll show you what was and will be

 


 

GRAFFITI STUDY WALL: MUSIC & VIDEOS
SEX PISTOLS
KRAFTWERK
THE CLASH
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.
JOY DIVISION
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
AU PAIRS
COCTEAU TWINS
ARTERY
HUMAN LEAGUE
HEAVEN 17
THE SPECIALS
CABARET VOLTAIRE
TEARS FOR FEARS
DEPECHE MODE
THE SOUND
THE GLOVE
THE CURE
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS
GANG OF FOUR
NEW ORDER
U2
THE POLICE
CRASS
NEW MODEL ARMY
ELVIS COSTELLO
SPLIT ENZ
THE THE
XTC
THE EXPLOITED
DISCHARGE
THE SMITHS
THE HOUSEMARTINS
RADIOHEAD
PORTISHEAD
PET SHOP BOYS
M Y BLOODY VALENTINE
SLOWDIVE
CRASH MUSIC
MUSIC OF THE TROUBLES

VIDEOS:

SEX PISTOLS
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES (LIVE)
THE CURE (LIVE)
COCTEAU TWINS (LIVE)
NEW ORDER (LIVE)
PORTISHEAD (LIVE)
JOY DIVISION MINI-DOCUMENTARY
NUCLEAR WAR PREPAREDNESS: PROTECT & SURVIVE MANUAL