The Lines – White Night // Barbican (Linear Records) 1978. The Lines were an ultra-hard to pin down, obscurely-mysterious, post-punk band out of the UK in the late 1970s. They recorded a shit-load of music for a band you probably haven’t heard much about. Numerous 7inches, 12inch EPs and a few albums for extra measure to be exact. One of the reasons why they remain so obscure is that they are not instantly accessible. Most of their songs take a while to wedge themselves into your subconscious. Once there, they stay…but it takes a while. These are the kinds of commitments casual listeners are usually unwilling to make. Sometimes it’s not the art that needs to be improved, it’s the observer.
Anyhoo…I’m getting all epistemological and shit. The Lines, started out as a pub prog(?) rock group called Proof in 1977. By the time they got to this 7inch they had changed their name to the much more angular, new-wavy (and hard to Google) name The Lines. The main man behind The Lines was a guy named Rico Conning and he broke up the band shortly after the release of this single. Problem was…this single really started making some waves what with its overtly slinky guitar line and super swanky vocals about “tunnels of love”. None other than Chris D. in Slash Magazine, described the single as “Subterranean rock for insomniacs on the prowl; cool and driving.” I agree.
So Rico reformed the group with a different set of musicians and this new version of The Lines went on to record the rest of the bands output. The differences between White Night and later Lines releases are striking. Rico is all suave and suggestive on White Night. The music has an almost surfy quality to it…kinda like Dick Dale meets The Velvet Underground or something. The second and longer lasting version of The Lines were much more herky-jerky new wave incorporating dub, motorik and minimalism into a totally subtle and unique sound. The closest comparison I could come up with would be a mix of Polyrock, The Subway Sect and The Feelies if you could even imagine that.
To hear the rest of the early Lines output you could do no better than to purchase the excellent new release Memory Span on Acute Records, a Last Days favourite. Acute has released CDs by The Theoretical Girls and The Prefects that have been reviewed on this site. Really everything they have released thus far is solid gold. Even with that pedigree, Acute Records has outdone themselves with this new release. The packaging, mastering and sheer quality of the Lines output make this CD a must-have for any fan of post-punk or new wave.