Thursday, 17 January 2013

Suicide - Frankie Teardrop

Suicide is an American electronic protopunk musical duo, intermittently active since 1970 and composed of vocalist Alan Vega and Martin Rev on synthesizers and drum machines. They are an early synthesizer/vocal musical duo.

Frankie Teardrop is a song by Suicide from their acclaimed first album Suicide. The song tells a story of a young father and poverty-stricken factory worker. He is very depressed about this, and eventually drifts into insanity. One day, Frankie comes home from work, murders his wife and child, and then commits suicide. The narrative then continues to follow him into hell. The music backing this is sparse, featuring just a simple keyboard riff, drum machine, and the vocal line, creating a chilling atmosphere. Singer Alan Vega's "Dark, inhuman screams" add to the claustrophobic nature of the piece.

"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.
Heather Phares

Suicide, made up of Alan Vega and Martin Rev, are rightly regarded as one of the most important and influential bands of the seventies. At the time of this song’s release (from their 1977 self-titled debut album), they were regarded as punks, although they sounded nothing like every other punk band out there. Their punkness, if you like, was much more about the attitude, the desire to do different, than it was about the actual music. Their sound was defiantly minimalist, based around Rev’s electronic keyboards, a tinny drum machine and Vega’s twisted Gene Vincent-ish vocals. Overall it was as if they were on a mission to update, and pay homage to, the strangeness, and menacing echo and claustrophobia, of Elvis’s Heartbreak Hotel. Which is not to say that they didn’t also have moments of lightness: as the lovely Cheree and a few other songs demonstrate.

Frankie Teardrop is almost the extreme expression of what they were trying to achieve. The stabbing rhythm of the drums, the repetitive and threatening keyboard, the odd sounds of horror in the background all serve to carry and reinforce the song’s story: of a young factory worker who, beaten down by poverty and futility, kills his wife and child. But what makes it genuinely terrifying is Vega’s extraordinary vocals: partly-sung, mostly spoken and fairly detached. That is, until, he lets out some horrifying screams that jolt us out of that similar feeling of detachment and make us aware not only of the terrible events but also of Frankie’s pain and insanity. It’s very disturbing, and difficult to listen to – but frighteningly compelling.
Paul Saxton

Clocking in at ten-and-a-half minutes, "Frankie Teardrop" is a musical journey that knows no peers, and in every aspect, it stands as one of the most disturbing, yet completely captivating songs ever recorded.  It is within "Frankie Teardrop," as well as much of the album, where one can see how the sound of Suicide was the catalyst for the entire "synth pop" movement, as keyboard player and drum programmer Martin Rev creates the entire blueprint for the style.  The tight, fast, repeated progression that dominates the first half of the song builds a completely uncanny sense of tension, and though it is a cyclical sound, it manages to keep digging deeper and getting darker with each repetition.  It is this unending rhythm that also sets the mood for the song, as the lyrics speak of the downfall of a man from over-work, and one can feel an almost mundane, tedious tone within Rev's simple sonic arrangement.  The level of complexity within the music is beyond simple, and the fact that it is able to carry so much power within the sound is perhaps the greatest proof ever of the idea of attitude being superior to design.  Though many saw the "core" of punk as loud, driving guitars, on "Frankie Teardrop," Rev proves that such instruments are not even necessary, and though it defies almost every musical convention, there is no question that "Frankie Teardrop" is a work of musical genius that knows no equal.
The Daily Guru

Laser 3.14 - the suicide of frankie teardrop

In 1978, the founders of D.I.Y. magazine Art-Rite, Edit deAk and Mike (Walter) Robinson, collaborated with video artist Paul Dougherty in creating this eerie film and video montage for Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” in which ordinary images are suffused with dread.
“Frankie Teardrop” is a homicidal Punk epic. It’s a working-class ballad about Frankie who’s working from nine to five and can’t survive. His solution is to kill off his family and then himself. But it’s not done in an angry way. It’s done in a frustrated way so the film implies this frustration.”  Edit deAk
Shards of New York in the 1970s flutter like the wings of dying birds.
Marc Campbell


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