Musical Tour: Sheffield, England
The city of Sheffield in England's South Yorkshire region has long been known for its role in the Industrial Revolution, nearly singlehandedly driving the steel industry throughout the 19th century as it exploded in population. But iron, steel and coal mining had all collapsed by the late 1970s, and perhaps not coincidentally, Sheffield seemed particularly responsive to the cultural possibilities suggested by the emergence of punk rock from recession-plagued England. And much like neighboring Manchester, Sheffield's post-punk acts proved remarkably innovative, helping to forge and define new genres like synth-pop and industrial -- in fact, for many years, synthesizers seemed to far outweigh guitars as the city's instrument of choice.
For sure, post-punk and dance don't tell the whole story (Joe Cocker, Def Leppard, Paul Carrack, and Tony Oxley all hail from the city), but this playlist attempts to tackle some of the artists involved in creating the specific synth/punk Sheffield sound, from the earliest (some might say crudest) offerings of Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Pulp through the danceable pop innovations of '80s acts ABC, Heaven 17 and Thompson Twins. There's also more recent Sheffield notables like Baby Bird, Moloko and I Monster. And what look at Steel City would be complete without indie royalty Arctic Monkeys? Look for them and other bands of the NME-dubbed "New Yorkshire" boom of the mid-2000s in this decades-spanning playlist.