Play Dead ‘From The Promised Land’ – album review

Play Dead ”ËœFrom The Promised Land’ (Anagram/Cherry Red)
Available now

Welcome reissue of long out of print second album from Play Dead

”ËœFrom The Promised Land’ was first issued by Stoke based indie Clay Records back in 1984; much was expected of Play Dead ”“ years of hard gigging had seen them develop a huge and fiercely loyal fan base; myself included regularly travelling across the country to see Play Dead perform, earlier singles including the Indie Chart toppers ”ËœTV Eye’ and Propaganda’ and the ”ËœFirst Flower’ mini-album had demonstrated their difference from the rest of the burgeoning and yet to be tagged goth scene ”“ were we still at the ”Ëœpositive punk’ stage? Play Dead whilst retaining melodic qualities possessed more aggression and were less interested in stylised gimmicks (who mentioned flour?) than others.

Perhaps due to the level expectation people could only ever fail to be fully impressed ”“ that said Clay Records didn’t do the band any favours preferring to issue the original and inferior mix of the album, this was rectified after the first pressing rapidly sold out but press and fans accused them of cynically marketing a remix as a poorly disguised rip off. Shortly after Play Dead parted company with Clay, who themselves then went bankrupt, though just before they finally collapsed Clay sold their catalogue to Sanctuary who inexplicably renamed and then re-released ”ËœFrom The Promised Land’ as ”ËœResurrection’ tagging a couple of already released singles into the package to sweeten any potential buyers. Again Play Dead were left with an album on the shelves that they were less than happy with.
Only now some 25yrs later, and with this final edition of the album were Play Dead at last able to release a version of the album they were rightly proud of – You now have, effectively; the album the band wanted you to hear first time round!

With nine bonus tracks this collection represents Play Deads’s most eclectic collection, ranging from cavernous semi industrial rock as demonstrated on ‘Break’, ‘Solace’, and the classic ‘Isabel’, through to the twisted funk of ‘Holy Holy’, and ‘No Motive’, to dark ethereal cold wave synth of ‘Conspiracy’ all powered by rigid militaristic beats.

Play Dead managed to blend grinding metallic shards of guitar with the sort of dark driving funky bass lines 23 Skidoo would be proud of, add to this brooding hypnotic synth’s weaving between semi chanted semi sung snatched vocals confronting the audience with their threatening lyrical themes, and it’s clear to see why Play Dead were the outsiders in the developing goth scene, they offered a less immediate sound; theirs was darker, the tracks walked with a sinister gait which demanded more of its audience; Play Dead certainly rewarded the inquisitive ”Ëœthere isn’t a weak track on this album ”“ it’s so good to hear ”ËœReturn To The East’ once again..

I would suggest Play Dead failed (themselves) by allowing themselves to be tagged with the other goth bands when their sound sat much more comfortably alongside Killing Joke and Ministry as they too turned towards the harsher industrial beats.

For anyone interested in the development of the UK post punk scene, and those with more interest in the true goth scene as opposed to the ability to buy a stick of mascara and a pair of New Rocks this album is a very welcome light to shine into the darkness.


1. Isabel
2. Torn On Desire
3. Walk Away
4. Pleasureland
5. Return To The East
6. No Motive
7. Holy Holy
8. Weeping Blood
9. Break (Bonus Track)
10. Bloodstains (Bonus Track)
11. Solace (Bonus Track)
12. Pale Fire (Bonus Track)
13. Sacrosanct (Bonus Track)
14. Conspiracy (Bonus Track)
15. Bloodstains Pleasure (Bonus Track)
16. Solace (Extended Version) (Bonus Track)
17. Holy Holy (Catholic Mix) (Bonus Track)

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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