Here’s a clip of 80s alternative jangle-pop trio Let’s Active with their should-have-been hit record “Every Word Means No” as taken from their 1983 EP Afoot. The band was a going concern for leader Mitch Easter, who also had a hand in producing some early EPs and albums with fellow southern jangle poppers, a little band you may have heard of called REM.
I may have said it before, but I don’t think it can be said enough, so here it is again. The ’80s get a bad rap when it comes to pop singles, and perhaps music in general. A lot of the best music of the era could be found regionally. And Let’s Active certainly proves it. It’s really a shame that they didn’t hit bigger, given the calibre of the songwriting.
But, their music stands as a bit of a throwback in many ways to the early psychedelic era, and even to bands who followed the same trail as Britain’s the Soft Boys, who largely ignored the trends and played Syd Barrett-meets-the-Beatles inspired sounds instead. In the burgeoning landscape of digitally driven, and homogeniac pop music of the time, Let’s Active picked the wrong decade to try to get play on commercial radio.
Yet, much like their peers in REM, college radio was good to them and helped to drive the sales of their EP and their first album Cypress. And that’s where the group focused energy, although over the years, members fell away leaving Easter to steer the ship on his own. After touring college campuses after a final (to date) album in 1988, Easter switched his attention to production, leaving the band in stasis.
Where not many of the psych-revivalists and jangle pop bands came out of the 80s intact, some great music was made, which rather disproves the rule that the 80s was a bit of a let down for guitar pop. It seems that the Rickenbacker guitar was just as important a totem of the time as the DX7 synthesizer. This is a testament of the times, that the 80s was perhaps the first decade since the 50s where half the fun of finding great music was the search beyond the obvious.
For more information and music, check out the Let’s Active All Music entry.
[August 28th, 2014 – Let’s Active recently re-united and performed together for the first time in 24 years, although sadly without original bassist Faye Hunter who died in 2013. You can read about it here.]