[sic] Magazine

The Lines – Memory Span

It really doesn’t matter how much time you spend researching the history of music, there will always be interesting acts to discover. Representing the late-1970s and early 1980’s scene are UK act The Lines. In five years they released two albums and several singles but only performed live sporadically. ‘Memory Span’ picks from their back catalogue and demonstrates what a genre-defying band they were.

The first single ‘White Night’ straddles an attractive line between post-punk airiness and rock and roll riffs but they were even better for ‘On The Air’. The best song on here by some distance, it sounds like a lost treasure of the era from its opening spindly guitar intro, the persistent menacing rhythms and frontman Rico Conning’s disaffected vocals. Unreleased gems like ‘Blisstability’ and ‘Uneasy Affair’ bounce along in a very agreeable indie-pop manner but on ‘Nerve Pylon’ their edginess is diluted by the sheen of an expensive production.

Although nominally a post-punk act, The Lines were an eclectic bunch whose influences found room for 1960’s psychedelia. In addition, ‘False Alarm’ is a model of tight funk, whilst later performances, such as for ‘Over The Brow’, displayed an affection for dub. Unfortunately, some of these later tracks resemble extended jam sessions and seem to last for an eternity. At least the final part of their story ends on a high, though, as the rhythmic experiments and jungle noises of ‘Old Town’ wouldn’t sound out of a place at an arty nightclub.

On this evidence, The Lines were only great sporadically but they had enough good songs in the canon to deserve this reappraisal. A recent repackaging of their first two albums also serves as the next port of call for those who desire to investigate this unusual band more thoroughly.



For more from Jon, please read his ‘zine Leonards Lair