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Review: Dancing Cigarettes, 'Dance Dogs Dance'

Magnetic South drops historic collection


The Dancing Cigarettes - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Submitted Photo
  • The Dancing Cigarettes
The Dancing Cigarettes
Dance Dogs Dance
Magnetic South

The Dancing Cigarettes ruled the Bloomington new wave scene in the early 1980s.. Rapidly morphing into a tight, innovative and yes, danceable art-rock band, they gigged constantly in Bloomington and toured the East Coast and Midwest. Every show at The Bluebird or Second Story was packed with ecstatic fans treated to a regular stream of new material and increasingly inspired performances.

The only thing missing was an album and had there been one back then, their legend would be far greater than it is today. Gulcher issued a 7” EP in 1980, just as the band began to gel, and there was a track on the 1981 Red Snerts compilation. Two posthumous CDs — 1995’s The School of Secret Music (Turnstyle/OR) and 2002’s The Gulcher Recordings: 1980-1981 (Gulcher) — documented much of the band’s prolific output.

RELATED: Revisiting the Golden Age of Indiana Vinyl

Thanks to Magnetic South, the Dancing Cigarettes not only have their full-length vinyl, they have a better release than anyone would imagine. Offering several tracks not on either CD and lovingly remastered by Paul Mahern, it crackles with vitality and excitement. Previously released tracks have a much stronger presence and power than their digital predecessors. Three live tracks from a landmark 1982 show at Chicago’s Space Place demonstrate the band’s live prowess while sounding better than typical archival live recordings.

Far more than the sum of their talentedand versatile parts, the Cigs blended elements of off-kilter psych (Beefheart/Zappa), small town weirdness, downtown NYC’s No New York scene and tuneful new wave (Talking Heads, Roxy Music). Songwriting, instrumentation and vocals were passed around, the limelight shared, while the band’s trademark sound remained intact. Each of the Dancing Cigarettes gave everything to their music, at the expense of pretty much everything else. That passion leaps out of the grooves of this 35-years-too-late release, a belated reward for their blood, sweat and genius.

If you were there, this LP is a must. If you weren’t, Dance Dogs Dance gets you pretty darn close.


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