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The Names \ German Nights [FBN 122 CD]

German Nights is a live album by Belgian group The Names, recorded in Berlin, Hamburg and Freiburg in 2016 and 2017.

Produced by Thomas Neidhardt, the set draws heavily on the albums Swimming and Stranger Than You, as well as classic singles including Nightshift, Calcutta, The Astronaut and Spectators of Life. "The new members have injected new life into the band," explains singer and songwriter Michel Sordinia, "and together we've updated the arrangements on some of the older songs. But ultimately we're still the same new wave band who joined Factory Records in 1980."

Cover design by Twilight. CD booklet features tour photography by Peter Staessens

CD tracklist:

1. Intro/Discovery
2. Life By the Sea
3. Hands Off Love
4. This Is Harmony
5. The Fire
6. Spectators of Life
7. Shanghai Gesture
8. I Wish I Could Speak Your Language
9. Boy With a Gun
10. Nightshift
11. Calcutta
12. The Astronaut
13. My Angel of Death
14. What Goes On

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"Over the years, live albums have been a bit of a hit and miss affair, but it should be immediately noted that German Nights is a rich tapestry of sound which very much evokes the power that The Names bring to their live performances. Indeed if dreamy, glacial doom rock floats your funeral barge - you'll love it. Highlights include the reflective Life By the Sea, Boy With a Gun (a furiously paced slice of delightfully unwholesome racket) and the languid yearning of This Is Harmony, which twists and turns, purposefully but gracefully. The latter, with its key lyric ('the magic of whispers and healing of sound') harks back to a time when bands were more inclined to take risks with a kind of grandeur and theatricality. 7/10" (Vive le Rock, 09/17)

"Belgium only made a mark internationally in New Wave/punk circles with Plastic Bertrand's novelty hit Ca Plane Pour Moi. However, after a short while trading as The Passengers, The Names gave a far more credible showing in the postpunk field. They made their live debut in 1978 and a year later released a single for Warner Brothers called Spectators Of Life. The Names sang in English rather than their mother tongue and as the company were looking into the commercial viability of Belgian acts in the rest of Europe, but the band themselves yearned to work for a label based in the UK. A meeting at one of Joy Division's 1980 gigs at Plan K in Brussels resulted in the Nightshift single for Factory and a longer term association with Les Disques du Crepuscule and associated label Factory Benelux, leading to debut album Swimming in 1982."

"This new live album finds The Names on rare old form in Hamburg, Berlin and Freiburg. The reconvened band have more than a little of the grandiose majesty that characterised Magazine circa Secondhand Daylight about them and also, although it's far from a hip comparison, perhaps a little of the early Midge-era Ultravox too. Also they obviously shared something with classic postpunk bands from Manchester like The Chameleons and Joy Division too, which initially bought them into the Factory orbit in the first place. The tracklist features more than a few delves back into the past but doesn't ignore their most recent LP Stranger Than You. In fact, Boy With A Gun from that record is probably my favourite track on the whole thing, darned catchy and with plenty of attack. There's an almost Goth look back on their first single Spectators of Life and the languid This Is Harmony has a bit of early Simple Minds about its restrained magic. My Angel of Death is quite beautiful, dreamy postpunk with Teardrops keys complimenting the upfront vocal of Michel Sordinia."

"The Names' stock in trade is wistful and evocative postpunk, sometimes cold and icy, at others warm and sunny. There's many examples here and though from Belgium they're steeped in Manchester, even bringing to mind The Smiths a little on Hands Off Love. They never sound like a direct take off though, simply using aspects of Magazine/Durutti Column/The Smiths etc as a starting point and then embossing their own unique stamp. Thus German Nights is a satisfying example of just what they do, bringing a pleasing freshness to their back catalogue. This album shows them more than capable of evoking their chilled grandeur in 2017. It doesn't feel like mere nostalgia as they sound surprisingly contemporary here - maybe they were just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up." (Louder Than War, 09/2017)