This remarkable self-titled debut album, released a full seven years after the group had formed, was still way ahead of its time back in 1978. Suicide--Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev on keyboards and drum machine--are one of the most original acts in the history of popular music. They're often called the first synthpop act; synth-punk is closer to the truth--their music was far more edgy and menacing than that of any of their followers.
Suicide drew on the right protopunk influence (Velvets, Stooges) and came out of the same scene that bred the New York Dolls. Their guitar-bass-and-"real"-drummer-deprived setup outraged audiences; on the superb bonus disc you can hear a European crowd rioting in the background while their apocalyptic nursery rhymes sound away. Tough guy Vega croons like an evil Elvis bred on garage rock and performance art; the stoic Rev lays churning, repetitive and oddly melodic lines down on his beat-up Farfisa, and the ancient drum machine--it actually sounds steam-driven--propels the music toward a ratty, Blade Runner future. "Dream Baby Dream", "Che", "Ghost Rider"--these eerie, sturdy, steam-punk anthems rank among the most visionary, melodic experiments the rock realm has yet produced. This reissue is bright and clear-sounding, and with the full disc of live performances (a 1977 CBGB's soundboard tape plus the legendary "23 Minutes Over Brussels" performance) this is an essential purchase. --Mike McGonigal