THE SWELL MAPS are probably in any right-thinking individualâ€™s personal Top 10 punk-era British acts, despite their experimental, sonic distance from punk and the fact that they slot much better into the DIY, homemade post-punk â€œMesstheticsâ€ world so popular with the kids today. Several of their most â€œfamousâ€ tracks â€“ famous being relative for a band still so little-heard â€“ like â€œDresden Styleâ€, â€œVertical Slumâ€ and â€œRead About Seymourâ€, are surely punk rock on wheels, but they also feature the scarf-on-the-mic-stand, beatnik/French-like vocals of Nikki Sudden, and thereâ€™s just something very strange about the construction of each tune. Thatâ€™s why I love â€˜em. They often went totally ambient, too, or showcased piano ballads, 10-minute soundscapes, or tribal, polyrhythmic percussive workouts. Some of these worked better than others, but itâ€™s a good bet that there werenâ€™t many bands this far-reaching & still good anywhere at the time. There were only two real albums (1979â€™s â€œA Trip To Marinevilleâ€ and 1980â€™s â€œJane From Occupied Europeâ€), some amazing 45s, a couple posthumous collections, and then this: a 1981 double LP on Rough Trade called â€œWhatever Happens Nextâ€.
When I found my copy of â€œWhatever Happens Nextâ€ in the early 90s I was just becoming wise to the charms of the Maps, and I felt like Iâ€™d struck gold at Sutterâ€™s Mill. This collection was rare to begin with, and has never been put on CD, even with two US Swell Maps reissues having come out just over the past 6-7 years. I did my research, and the three tracks Iâ€™m posting for you today are not only fantastic, fantastically rare, and fantastically fabulous, but they exist only on that great â€œWhatever Happens Nextâ€ 2xLP that nobody has (not even me, I eBayed & digitized it a few years ago). Strong recommendation to you to buy buy buy the two LPs (now on CD with loads of extra tracks), plus the â€œTrain Out of Itâ€ and â€œInternational Rescueâ€ comps while youâ€™re at itâ€¦..