Album #38: “…All the Rage” — General Public (1984)
In the fall of 1984, I was living on the North Side of Pittsburgh with seven other art students. We’d collectively decided to take advantage of an exchange program our university had set up with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where we could focus on graphic design for a year and still get a degree in fine art. Essentially we swapped IUP for AIP. Still one of the best trades I ever made.
The whole adventure peaked the next spring with our infamous trip to New York City: two busloads of students, ostensibly there to see the MOMA, were unleashed in an old hotel off Times Square with nary an adult in sight. It was as riotously chaotic as it sounds, and qualifies as an epic road trip by sheer dint of the fact that, by the time we got back, I was headed to the hospital for emergency surgery and had a new girlfriend.
During a party that weekend, I met Cayce, an artist who had rechristened herself with that name after reading the dream theories of Edgar Cayce. Yeah, she was that kind of girl: slightly mystic, slightly crazy, very intense, and a lot of fun. The next day when I saw her on the other bus, I grabbed a flower from a street vendor, raced up the aisle of the bus and gave it to her without another word. We were together for the next six months. Cayce was a quintessential new wave chick, loved Martha and the Muffins and anything from I.R.S.*, most especially General Public. She would play “…All the Rage” over and over as we laid in her bedroom.
Formed from the ashes of The English Beat, The Clash, and one-hit wonder Dexy’s Midnight Runners, General Public was more than the sum of its parts (especially Ranking Roger’s hair). Beyond any nostalgic value it holds for me, “…All the Rage” holds up as simply a great album, alternating between the political and party music, with a couple of great songs about relationships to boot. Go, go.
*Actually, come to think of it, you’re going to find a lot of acts from I.R.S. in this countdown