Young Marble Giants : Colossal Youths or Little Duds

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As a reaction to all the prog rock cluttering up ILM this week, here's something a little simpler. One album, one single and one EP of totally original, unspoilt genius, and they were gone. Classic. What do you reckon?

Dr. C, Thursday, 26 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I like the album, which a Stonesy ace lead guitar player taped for me in - of all years - 1994. I still don't think that 'Come Back From San Francisco' sounds much like anything off it.

"'Come Back From San Francisco' is actually secretly an homage to the Byrds, and YMG is a red herring. Discuss".

the pinefox, Thursday, 26 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Hooray, another point of intersection for me and Dr. C. ;-) Wonderful, full stop. _Colossal Youth_ is one of those albums I can just pull out and listen to, and do, without thinking too hard about it. It's so great and always puts me in a fine mood -- something about the understated performances sounds so warm and full. I hope the royalties on sales from _Live Through This_ and the cover of "Living in the Straight World" on it set them up for life.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 26 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I like intersections. I like to intersect. I notice no intersections with anyone though on the Style Council/Paul Weller thread, now that I'm outed as an uber-dadrocker. (Whad'ya mean you all knew already! ;))

Dr. C, Thursday, 26 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Man is that Hole version of "...Straight World" the fuckin drizzling shits or what? Musically it's horrible, but much worse is how the lyrics aren't ambiguous any more, now it's just obviously about junk. Pretty rude piece of work even by Love/Cobain family standards.

duane zarakov, Thursday, 26 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Hey, I was just listening to this last night. It's growing on me. They have a great sound. (I'm keeping this as minimal as possible in homage).

Steven James, Friday, 27 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I only heard them for the first time yesterday, but I have to already say classic with no reservations, especially for "Wurlitzer Jukebox". They suit my mood right now, let's say.

Robin Carmody, Wednesday, 2 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

They were colossal youths. 'Colossal Youth' is a great song. The sewing machine metaphor could definitely be applied to it, to lots of their songs. Not only precise, but clean stitches. No smokestacks. I love Alison Statton's voice. It's cool but without *obvious* attitude.

youn, Saturday, 5 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

That's how I feel about them; what I love above all about "Colossal Youth" is the clarity and brevity of the songs.

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 6 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Wurlitzer... is my joint favourite track, along with Brand New Life. Hell, I love this album, and guess what? .....I forgot to include it in my "top 40". Bugger.

Dr. C, Sunday, 6 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I just wanted to put in a word in Courtney Love's defense. I don't think she's the genius she thinks she is (prozac? or heroin, of course) but I'm pretty sure she would have been aware of the ambiguity in the 'Straight World' song and intended to maintain it, she's not dumb either. This is no defense of her music.

Maryann, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

one month passes...
"Colossal Youth" is a landmark LP that few have heard. It's been on continuous rotation in my record collection since I picked up the vinyl in November 1980. I since transferred it to cassette tape. And then bought the Crepuscule CD when that came out. Absolutely gotta have this music in my life. Now and forever. I'm dumbfounded that it's never been played on the radio, or in clubs, or on TV. And that these artists have never received their due. Check out Mike Appelstein's Cardiffians board. Stuart Moxham's a regular contributor. He's a really nice guy, and very articulate. And his songwriting skills have sharpened over the years. As have Alison Statton's. Though their productivity (YMG plus post-YMG) has been meager. When they do record, it's always memorable.

James Kobielus, Friday, 13 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Agree with just about everything you say, James except that I am NOT dumbfounded that it's never been played on radio/TV/in clubs.

Dr. C, Saturday, 14 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Alison Statton. A long-lost love. Sigh. And what about "Weekend"? Never mind that they may have begat Swing Out Sister; I still treasure their first album, as well.

X. Y. Zedd, Saturday, 14 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

How did they beget SOS? Wasn't SOS Corinne Drewery, Andy Connell (A Certain Ratio) and Martin Jackson (Magazine, Chameleons)? Breakout = good pop.

Dr. C, Sunday, 15 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I meant "begat" in either inspiring or fueling the cool, jazzy mid- '80s sound--Sade, early Fine Young Cannibals, and all that. "Break Out" is fine, as was the first album, but it rapidly became so much inoffensive cocktail bar music you could easily talk over. Alison would never allow that.

X. Y. Zedd, Sunday, 15 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

there was going to be a new album of unreleased old stuff by the YMG on the Vinyl Japan label, did that come out yet?

duane, Monday, 23 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

it's in the discography on the Cardiffians site but I couldn't find it in the cat. on the VJ site.

duane, Monday, 23 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Classic, of course. For further argument check (under news/et's ipu)

Jerry, Monday, 23 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

hey, i've just been to dominorecordco. i didn't know they'd signed schlammpeitziger

gareth, Monday, 23 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Maryann just pointed out to me how much like Kraftwerk the YMGs sound. I know, "influence", big deal, but it was really interesting to me how 2 bands I liked so much, had listened to for years, I'd never thought of this obvious resemblance between them. Check it out.

duane, Thursday, 26 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Glad to see that people are checking out my Cardiffians site -- I've just included a link to this message board there.

Regarding the _Salad Days_ compilation: Vinyl Japan did indeed release it last year. Your local record shop should be able to order it for you, or you can get it through any number of mailorder services. I recommend Other Music (, Tweekitten ( or Penny Black Music (

By the way, here's the link to Vinyl Japan's site:

Mike Appelstein, Sunday, 29 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

six months pass...
Whoooo.. I was just about to start this thread but I thought I'd best check it hadn't been done already. But it had! Yay!

Wurlitzer Jukebox has the best bass bit EVAH EVAH

electric sound of jim, Thursday, 31 January 2002 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...
I bought this about a year ago, can't remember why, but I always feel the need to come back to it. Its a great palate cleanser for all the shit I am forced to listen to - YMG Sorbet.

I haven't been able to find my copy for a few weeks and am going through withdrawl.

I think the Adam Green cover is very good w/the bongos and the sax.

Someone say something about the Young Marble Giants. Don't make me bring pitchfork into this...

christhamrin (christhamrin), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 12:37 (sixteen years ago) link

I like CY. A bit samey at times and the organ definitely gets into zamboni territory at points, but on the whole it's a minimal masterpiece. On the original album, "Consantly Changing" and "Credit in the Straight World" are my favorites, on the re-issue it's probably "Final Day."

The Good Dr. Bill (Andrew Unterberger), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 12:44 (sixteen years ago) link

i wish i liked them more than i do

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 12:53 (sixteen years ago) link

BBC Wales is running a program on them today!

mike a, Wednesday, 18 February 2004 14:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Little DUDS?!! HOW DARE YOU????#%$^&*(()

Francis Watlington (Francis Watlington), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 15:29 (sixteen years ago) link

Did anyone listen to the program on Radio Wales?

Oliver Pyper (stickthrower), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 19:03 (sixteen years ago) link

At some point I really need to own a YMG cd as I have lived off of taped radio broadcast selections and random mp3s. This reminds me to update my to-buy list.

Blood and sparkles (bloodandsparkles), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 19:12 (sixteen years ago) link

I tried, but the office firewall got in my way.

mike a, Wednesday, 18 February 2004 19:24 (sixteen years ago) link

The programme's entry on the bbc website is classic:

Colossal Youth: A tribute to 80s Cardiff band Young Marble Giants, now largely forgotten, yet cited as an influence by many international stars. Followed by Farming News.

Maybe they'll stream it.

harveyw (harveyw), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 19:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Someone please post about how the new material sounded...I won't be getting a copy for several days and am dying of curiosity.

mike a, Wednesday, 18 February 2004 19:55 (sixteen years ago) link

I heard the documentary. Sort of underwhelming, in general--they had to explain what "indie" music was to everybody, at length. A little bit of interesting info about the internal dynamics of the band; one new song at the very end, which was not "Colossal Youth"-caliber but was still quite pretty.

Douglas (Douglas), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 20:03 (sixteen years ago) link

someone really really needs to properly reissue the Crepsucule version of Colossal Youth. like, today.

the surface noise (electricsound), Wednesday, 18 February 2004 23:02 (sixteen years ago) link

I managed to pick it up pretty cheaply.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:11 (sixteen years ago) link

same, but it's a travesty that it's not widely available

the surface noise (electricsound), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:15 (sixteen years ago) link

wow, i'm the only person in this thread who just doesn't like this record. i had been looking for it for years after reading the chapter on them in r.unterberger's book, and after finally finding it, i just didn't get it. too little too late maybe?

JaXoN (JasonD), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I think it is hurt from most people hearing it as 25 tracks crammed onto one CD. It works better in bits and pieces (which you should listen to over and over). And the test pattern songs spoil it all a bit.

Then again I am totally full of shit because I wrote this thing about how the are boring (sort of is, but in a good way) and said it was what Kurt Cobain was listening to when he shot himself.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:32 (sixteen years ago) link

"oh why oh why did i let courtney cover YMG!! that was my idea!!! i'm going to end it all now..."

the surface noise (electricsound), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:39 (sixteen years ago) link

I think it is hurt from most people hearing it as 25 tracks crammed onto one CD

but i have the record. didn't help

JaXoN (JasonD), Thursday, 19 February 2004 00:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Thanks to Courtney, Stuart Moxham got some serious publishing money. I'm not going to argue with her covering "Credit In The Straight World," even if it's an inferior version.

mike a, Thursday, 19 February 2004 02:17 (sixteen years ago) link

indeed! he probably saw decent wedge from that Lush cover too

the surface noise (electricsound), Thursday, 19 February 2004 02:18 (sixteen years ago) link

Indeed. It's like Mandy Moore covering XTC (erm...if that Mandy Moore record had actually sold, I guess).

mike a, Thursday, 19 February 2004 02:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Interestingly enough...back in May 1992, when I was seeing Ween at Jabberjaw (oh, the indieness) in LA, I was talking to a feller who ran a small label that was supposedly putting together a YMG tribute. Nirvana were indeed intending to contribute to same, if he was to be believed.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 19 February 2004 02:31 (sixteen years ago) link

the Magnetic Fields cover of "the man amplifier" was apparently due to be one of the contributions. i don't recall why it was never released.

the surface noise (electricsound), Thursday, 19 February 2004 02:38 (sixteen years ago) link

best record ever made! weekend is pants though

mullygrubber (gaz), Thursday, 19 February 2004 06:16 (sixteen years ago) link

mandy moore covering ymg!

you heard it here first

amateur!st (amateurist), Thursday, 19 February 2004 09:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, Chris of Landspeed Records. He got pretty far with that YMG tribute, but for whatever reason never managed to finish it. Many of the tracks have been released elsewhere - Magnetic Fields, Barbara Manning, Versus, and Linda Smith among others.

mike a, Thursday, 19 February 2004 13:58 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Just heard this, colossal indeed. Wonderful collection of miniatures, never drags, some of the instrumentals are fine but the voice is a vital element.

Do have some admiration for the neatness of the discog.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 8 April 2004 09:04 (sixteen years ago) link

"Nostalgia" was the track that drew me in.

Stop Non-Erotic Cabaret (Abbbottt), Friday, 21 January 2011 22:30 (nine years ago) link

i was playing them on ilxor lisnin room yesterday

idk, still prefer ymg by a distance

flopson fauxhawk (nakhchivan), Friday, 21 January 2011 23:01 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

The record I mean, not my attempts to write about it!

yugi ex, Thursday, 23 February 2012 21:25 (eight years ago) link

They're playing at atp in a month or so, i'm pretty excited, have they been playing lately ? i wonder what kind of condition they are in...

cw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 21:29 (eight years ago) link

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2012 21:33 (eight years ago) link

This record is all times top ten afaiac

Balticskillz (admrl), Thursday, 23 February 2012 21:34 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...

Nature intended the abstract for you and me


paolo, Wednesday, 19 March 2014 09:17 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Listened to Colossal Youth for the first time in a long time and realized how much I like the guitar playing. Never knew Moxham played a Rickenbacker.

timellison, Monday, 13 July 2015 05:24 (five years ago) link

two months pass...


tylerw, Friday, 18 September 2015 20:50 (five years ago) link

nine months pass...

bump for the greatness of that video

Van Horn Street, Monday, 11 July 2016 21:32 (four years ago) link

The long stony faces of the men, the slightly bewildered girl, everyone uncomfortable in their own skin. The muddled black and white, and the odd tempo to the whole proceedings. That video feels a piece to Stranger than Paradise.

juggulo for the complete klvtz (bendy), Tuesday, 12 July 2016 13:56 (four years ago) link

I had not seen that video, thanks for the bump! What a wonderful band.

this is a salad for the BALSAMIC REVIVAL (Dan Peterson), Tuesday, 12 July 2016 15:18 (four years ago) link

seven months pass...

Another bump for that video!

Everything Moves Towards The Sun (Ross), Tuesday, 21 February 2017 23:08 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

Why didn't anyone tell me? New (2018) album from Alison Statton & Spike, "Bimini Twist":

ernestp, Sunday, 6 January 2019 01:45 (one year ago) link

Sounds good! Statton's voice barely ages.

Re the original question: Very classic. Some hurtful comments about Weekend up-thread though. Some days I think I prefer the Weekend album to the YMG one.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 6 January 2019 03:28 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

I just read a comment by some peasant describing this band as lounge music. The fucking nerve! I firmly believe this is one of the punk-est albums of all time. It might sound “too clean” for what you’d normally expect for a punk album to sound like but that is a very non-punk mentality in itself.

Isn’t the punk rock attitude to destroy established perceptions of what things should be and sound like? To say “fuck you” to the excessive sound of stadium rock? Its undiscriminated use of solos, ridiculous costumes and massive banks of equipment in elaborate stages?
You certainly can’t accuse YMG of maximalism. The sound they created is so unique it might have arrived from an alternative reality.

Honestly, it’s hard to trace a time or a place for it. There’s nothing quite like it and the fact this album came from 1980 always blows my mind.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 29 August 2019 04:29 (one year ago) link

Beach Party by the Marine Girls is kinda like it

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Thursday, 29 August 2019 04:36 (one year ago) link

The only reason I can think of for that is maybe the sound of the organ. I hardly think their songs, the drum machine stuff, or the guitar and bass sound like lounge music.

timellison, Thursday, 29 August 2019 13:04 (one year ago) link

A good cover by another of my favorite bands.

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Thursday, 29 August 2019 13:16 (one year ago) link

wow, Sugar Plant have a album on Spotify from 2018!!! I thought they broke up years ago.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Thursday, 29 August 2019 15:51 (one year ago) link

Whoa, what?!?

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Thursday, 29 August 2019 15:53 (one year ago) link

yep, called Headlights... they cover Ben Watt's North Marine Drive on it!

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Thursday, 29 August 2019 16:01 (one year ago) link

I would never call YMG "lounge," but some songs do conjure up moods not far removed from "Girl from Ipanema" or "Summer Samba" for me. And the drum machine, while not lounge, is a sound from the past, like my aunt playing her Lowrey organ at Christmastime when I was a kid.

I love this record so much, but it's one of a handful I consciously don't pull out often, because I don't want to overplay it and wear out its magic.

confusementalism (Dan Peterson), Friday, 30 August 2019 14:13 (one year ago) link

Lounge music my arse

paolo, Friday, 30 August 2019 17:23 (one year ago) link

Superficially, Colossal Youth reminds me most of There's a Riot Going On and VU's s/t. It feels like everyone, musician and listener, is shut up together in a medium-sized cabinet.

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Friday, 30 August 2019 17:28 (one year ago) link

Just looked over a review I wrote for the reissues 12 years ago - had forgotten that I pondered the squareness, though I don't think I'd have reached for "lounge" as a descriptor. I didn't see that squareness as a drawback: that the thing has been beloved to me for more than a decade, it's hard to recover those first impressions.

bendy, Friday, 30 August 2019 17:51 (one year ago) link

There's some beachy vibes to the follow-up group The Weekend, who are excellent. But seedy, schmaltzy "lounge"? No.

That said, I'm going to share my favorite Weekend track just because there's never a bad time:

Soundslike, Friday, 30 August 2019 18:31 (one year ago) link

Nice piece, Bendy, thanks for sharing.

confusementalism (Dan Peterson), Friday, 30 August 2019 18:53 (one year ago) link

Thanks DP

bendy, Saturday, 31 August 2019 04:44 (one year ago) link

Have you’ve heard about this band called Furniture?

Furniture is in no way related to YMG, but heard this song just now for the very first time and loved it. Apparently it’s from 1983 and the first artist that came to mind is YMG, also gives some vibes of Echo & the Bunnymen.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 12 September 2019 05:20 (one year ago) link

I honestly can’t tell if that’s a drum machine or a real drummer... or a mix of both. But drum machine + sustained organ lines are also the basis sound of YMG

It’s only missing the distinctive YMG bass sound and Alison’s voice, of course, but we get a cool clarinet sound and some Echo & the Bunnymen vocal instead.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 12 September 2019 05:32 (one year ago) link

furniture had a big(ish) uk hit a few years later with this, which is a bit smoother. (and this is yet another band that reminds me of Japan)

koogs, Thursday, 12 September 2019 08:35 (one year ago) link

some Wild Swans in there too

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Thursday, 12 September 2019 13:03 (one year ago) link

Never saw this thread before---reminds me that I long ago came across a few post-Giants tracks with voice and songs of Alison Stratton, very intriguing, and now I want to look for more. Meanwhile, this archived Voice reviewette of the worthy Domino collection still details and sums up their appeal (to me, anyway):

dow, Friday, 13 September 2019 04:01 (one year ago) link

you're talking about the band Weekend, I assume?

sleeve, Friday, 13 September 2019 14:09 (one year ago) link

Have you’ve heard about this band called Furniture?

Never, and that first track is wonderful, thanks!

confusementalism (Dan Peterson), Friday, 13 September 2019 14:38 (one year ago) link

Weekend is food but that weekend demos release from a few years ago is great.

dan selzer, Friday, 13 September 2019 14:42 (one year ago) link

xpost sleeve, I heard Stratton in a duo, blanking on the other name, something unexpectedly turned up on the old Rhapsody streaming service, while I was checking out a computer at Best Buy, 10 years ago maybe.

dow, Friday, 13 September 2019 20:38 (one year ago) link

Dan, food is good, I like food!

dow, Friday, 13 September 2019 20:39 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Finally got round to listening to the Stuart Moxham / Louis Phillipe album that came out a few months ago bearing the title 'The Devil Laughs'. Ruddy hell, what a lovely record! Anyone else got it yet?

kites aren't fun (NickB), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 14:44 (two weeks ago) link

they just announced a 40th anniversary double LP of Colossal Youth too

sean gramophone, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 14:45 (two weeks ago) link

how the hell did I miss this Salad Days release?!?!

sleeve, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 14:52 (two weeks ago) link

Very tender and delicate songs on this new one as you'd expect and a bit of a David Crosby vibe on some of the arrangements making it all very pastoral and dreamy. Really reminding me of Gorky's circa 'The Blue Trees' (a fine thing)

kites aren't fun (NickB), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 14:53 (two weeks ago) link

thanks for the heads up, Nick! I was afraid Louis had retired from music to focus on sportscasting, so I'm pleasantly surprised that he's putting out two albums (the Moxham collab and an upcoming solo album) in 2020

(peech) or (buht ih-moh-jee) (unregistered), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 15:44 (two weeks ago) link

Never got round to investigating Louis Phillipe before tbh, maybe now's the time!

kites aren't fun (NickB), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 15:58 (two weeks ago) link

I'd missed that too, it sounds really good, thanks Nick.

While we're on the subject of Louis, some of you may like / may have missed this Louis version of "Don't Talk" which we put out a few years ago and which not enough people heard IMO:

Tim, Wednesday, 14 October 2020 16:02 (two weeks ago) link

that's a great vocal performance, but the breathing kind of spoils it for me. song for song, Ivory Tower is still probably my favorite album of his, and Azure is the best showcase for his arrangements. I also really love this re-recording of 'Fires Rise and Die':

(peech) or (buht ih-moh-jee) (unregistered), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 16:38 (two weeks ago) link

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