By Madeline Bocaro
I was in awe of Suicide live at CBGB in 1975/76. They were the opening act for several of my favorite bands at the time; the Cramps, Blondie, Ramones, etc… It was weird seeing only two guys on the stage, with strange looking machines. We didn’t even know what synths looked like at the time.
Suicide sounded like a feral Elvis joined Kraftwerk to create soundtracks for horror films. Alan Vega and Marty Rev were so unique, even in a time of incredible diversity. It was like they came out of the 1950s in their leather jackets and confrontational street attitude. With sinister synth beats, they would hypnotize us into a two-note trance, then shock us out of it with a yelp, a screech, a dissonant chord, or by Alan running towards us with a menacing glare. ‘Ghost Rider’ was the undead ‘Leader of the Pack’. Then they would play something immensely beautiful, like ‘Cheree’. I immediately bought their album, with the disturbing blood splat on the cover.
Early electronic music was progressive and elaborate, (Wendy Carlos, Vangelis, Yes). Mick Ronson had turned us on to Annette Peacock when he covered her songs. Bowie’s synth usage (with Eno) was atmospheric on Low and Heroes. So was Iggy’s on The Idiot. The synth duo was popularized by Sparks on their album No. 1 In Heaven (1979). But Rev and Vega made the blueprint. There was never anything like Suicide, then or now. RIP Alan Vega.