1983 is the watershed year for 4AD, when they transition fully from a post-punk label into something much stranger and something that people will still obsess about decades later.
Most important commercially (and musically, for that matter) are the Cocteau Twins releases. The Peppermint Pig single was a major step away from their Garlands sound, and with the Head Over Heels album and the Sunburst and Snowblind EP later that year, everybody started paying attention. Like seriously.
Perhaps symbolically, 4AD releases two five song compilation EPs, saying a final goodbye to Bauhaus and The Birthday Party (and everybody involved with those bands), as well as a five song compilation EP from Modern English, who would leave them the next year.
And look at those covers. Vaughan Oliver/23 Envelope is getting in full swing with those gorgeous typographical covers to the Xmal Deutschland releases, and those vague Cocteau Twins covers, and, erm, the “horses fucking” Colourbox EP, which is, of course, everybody’s favourite.
Most puzzling release of the year: The second version of Breakdown/Tarantula. I wonder what the story behind that was… were Colourbox just really dissatisfied with the first version which was released half a year earlier?
[Edit: I’ve been notified that the first four tracks (by The Birthday Party) aren’t available in some regions. Rights issues? (Some of the tracks on the full version are licensed from Mute Records.) Blocked because of the Swastikas on the cover artwork? I don’t know.]
The Birthday Party — The Bad Seed
Sonnys Burning, Wild World, Fears Of The Gun, Deep In The Woods
Xmal Deutschland — Fetisch
Qual, Geheimnis, Young Man, In Der Nacht, Orient, Hand In Hand, Kaempfen, Danthem, Boomerang, Stummes Kind
Cocteau Twins — Peppermint Pig
Peppermint Pig, Laughlines, Hazel
Colourbox — Breakdown
Xmal Deutschland — Qual
Qual, Zeit, Sehnsucht
Modern English — Gathering Dust
Smiles And Laughter, Mesh & Lace, Gathering Dust, Swans On Glass, Home
The Birthday Party — The Friend Catcher
The Friend Catcher, Release The Bats, Blast Off, Mr. Clarinet, Happy Birthday
The Wolfgang Press — The Burden Of Mules
Lisa (The Passion), Prostitute I, The Burden Of Mules, Compleate And Utter, Prostitute II, Slow As A Child, Journalists, Give It Back, On The Hill
Modern English — Someone’s Calling
Someone’s Calling, Life In The Gladhouse
This Mortal Coil — Sixteen Days – Gathering Dust
Sixteen Days – Gathering Dust, Song to the Siren, Sixteen Days Reprise
Xmal Deutschland — Incubus Succubus II
Incubus Succubus II, Vito
Bauhaus — 4.A.D
Dark Enties, Untitled, Terror Couple Kill Colonel, Scopes, Rosegarden Funeral of Sores
Cocteau Twins — Head over Heels
When Mama Was Moth, Five Ten Fiftyfold, Sugar Hiccup, In Our Angelhood, Glass Candle Grenades, In The Gold Dust Rush, The Tinderbox (Of A Heart), Multifoiled, My Love Parmour, Musette And Drums
Cocteau Twins — Sunburst And Snowblind
Sugar Hiccup, Flagstones, Hitherto, Because Of The Whirl-Jack
Colourbox — Colourbox
Shotgun, Keep On Pushing, Nation, Justice
This post is part of the chronological look at all 4AD releases, year by year.