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These are both reissues and each come with a second disc of bonus tracks and outtakes! -Ian!

Proof that punk was more about attitude than a raw, guitar-driven sound, Suicide’s self-titled debut set the duo apart from the rest of the style’s self-proclaimed outsiders. Over the course of seven songs, Martin Rev’s dense, unnerving electronics — including a menacing synth bass, a drum machine that sounds like an idling motorcycle, and harshly hypnotic organs — and Alan Vega’s ghostly, Gene Vincent-esque vocals defined the group’s sound and provided the blueprints for post-punk, synth pop, and industrial rock in the process. Though those seven songs shared the same stripped-down sonic template, they also show Suicide’s surprisingly wide range. The exhilarated, rebellious “Ghost Rider” and “Rocket U.S.A.” capture the punk era’s thrilling nihilism — albeit in an icier way than most groups expressed it — while “Cheree” and “Girl” counter the rest of the album’s hard edges with a sensuality that’s at once eerie and alluring. And with its retro bassline and simplistic, stylized lyrics, “Johnny” explores Suicide’s affinity for ’50s melodies and images, as well as their pop leanings. But none of this is adequate preparation for “Frankie Teardrop,” one of the duo’s definitive moments, and one of the most harrowing songs ever recorded. A ten-minute descent into the soul-crushing existence of a young factory worker, Rev’s tense, repetitive rhythms and Vega’s deadpan delivery and horrifying, almost inhuman screams make the song more literally and poetically political than the work of bands who wore their radical philosophies on their sleeves.

Confusingly released in 1980 as Alan Vega/Martin Rev: Suicide, Mute reissued Suicide’s second album as The Second Album in 2000. The reissue adds the “Dream Baby Dream” single, as well as a second disc of Vega and Rev’s first rehearsal tapes. The Ric Ocasek-produced Second Album is less confrontational and more contemporary than the duo’s terrifying debut. Vega’s rockabilly snarl and Rev’s burbling electronics remain, but Ocasek’s involvement purges a pop sensibility only hinted at on Suicide. Hell, some of the tracks are downright pretty (“Shadazz,” “Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne”). Perhaps it’s not as renegade as Suicide, but it’s an arguably better, more realized work, and just as essential. Three of the tracks found on the first rehearsal tapes disc were previously issued on ROIR’s Half Alive in 1981. The rehearsals are extremely spatial and equally creepy as the proper studio works. Most of the tracks lurch by at a mid-tempo pace; Vega’s distorted vocalisms are rather restrained but highly sinister, and Rev’s sonic wizardry is delightfully horrific.

-Heather Phares, Andy Kellman, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
SUICIDE (1977)
SUICIDE (1980)
320kbps

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