Real Life (Magazine album)

Real Life is the debut studio album by English rock band Magazine. It was released in June 1978 by record label Virgin. The album includes the band's debut single "Shot by Both Sides", and was also preceded by the non-album single "Touch and Go", a song from the album's recording sessions.

Real Life
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 1978
RecordedMarch–April 1978
StudioVirgin Mobile and Abbey Road Studios, London
ProducerJohn Leckie
Magazine chronology
Real Life
Secondhand Daylight
Singles from Real Life
  1. "Shot by Both Sides" b/w "My Mind Ain't So Open"
    Released: 20 January 1978

Real Life has received critical acclaim and is considered a pioneering post-punk record. It has also been described as new wave[1] and art rock.[2]

Background and recording


The album was written over the preceding year by the band, with Howard Devoto providing all of the lyrics. The two earliest songs, "Shot by Both Sides" and "The Light Pours Out of Me", were co-written with Devoto's former Buzzcocks bandmate Pete Shelley. The majority of the material on the album was written by Devoto in collaboration with guitarist and founding member John McGeoch. "Motorcade" was co-written with the group's keyboardist, the classically trained composer Bob Dickinson, who played with the group in mid-1977 before being dismissed without warning at a meeting convened by Devoto in November of that year. Dickinson has cited the influence of Satie on elements of the keyboard part in this song. In early January 1978, Dickinson was invited by Devoto to play for a few gigs but he declined the offer due to his ongoing postgrad electronic music research at Keele University. The music for the album's final track, "Parade", was written by Dickinson's replacement, Dave Formula, with bassist Barry Adamson. "Definitive Gaze" was recorded for a Peel session as "Real Life" on 14 February 1978.

Having toured much of the album through 1977 and early 1978, the group's then lineup of Devoto (vocals), McGeoch (guitar and saxophone), Adamson (bass), Formula (keyboards) and Martin Jackson (drums) recorded the album in sessions using the Virgin Mobile and at Abbey Road Studios between March and April 1978. The album was produced and engineered by John Leckie.

The original artwork and monoprint for the album were designed by Linder, with photography by Adrian Boot.



Real Life was released on LP and cassette in June 1978. It peaked at no. 29 on the UK Albums Chart.[3] "Shot by Both Sides", the album's only single, peaked at no. 41 on the UK Singles Chart.[4]

The album was reissued in remastered form by Virgin/EMI in 2007, along with the other three of the band's first four studio albums, and included four bonus tracks and liner notes by Kieron Tyler.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [5]
The Guardian     [6]
The Irish Times     [7]
Mojo     [8]
Q     [9]
Record Mirror     [10]
Sounds     [11]
Stylus MagazineB+[12]
Uncut     [13]

Real Life has received critical acclaim since its release.

On its release, Jon Savage said in Sounds: "A commercial, quality rock album then, with deceptive depths. All is not revealed."[11]

The album was ranked at no. 20 among the top "Albums of the Year" for 1978 by NME, with "Shot by Both Sides" ranked at no. 9 among the year's top tracks.[14]



Real Life is included on several "best of" lists.

Track listing


All lyrics are written by Howard Devoto

Side A
1."Definitive Gaze"Devoto, John McGeoch4:25
2."My Tulpa"Devoto, McGeoch4:47
3."Shot by Both Sides"Devoto, Pete Shelley4:01
4."Recoil"Devoto, McGeoch2:50
Side B
6."Motorcade"Howard Devoto, Bob Dickinson5:41
7."The Great Beautician in the Sky"Devoto, John McGeoch4:56
8."The Light Pours Out of Me"Devoto, McGeoch, Pete Shelley4:36
9."Parade"Barry Adamson, Dave Formula5:08
2007 remastered edition bonus tracks
10."Shot by Both Sides" (Original single version)Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley4:01
11."My Mind Ain't So Open"Devoto, John McGeoch2:18
12."Touch and Go"Devoto, McGeoch2:58
13."Goldfinger"John Barry, Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley3:50




Chart (1978) Peak
UK Albums (OCC)[3] 29

Further reading

  • Sullivan-Burke, Rory (April 2022). The Light Pours Out of Me: The Authorised Biography of John McGeoch. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1913172664.


  1. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Real Life – Magazine". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  2. ^ Monroe, Jazz (12 March 2015). "Radiohead's The Bends At 20: The Story Of An Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Cynicism Classic". NME. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Magazine". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Magazine". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (2 March 2007). "Magazine: Real Life". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  7. ^ Courtney, Kevin (30 March 2007). "Reissues". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  8. ^ Irvin, Jim (March 2018). "A big issue". Mojo. No. 292. p. 108.
  9. ^ "Magazine: Real Life". Q. p. 126. [S]ynthesizers, saxophones and songs that dared to exceed the five-minute barrier.
  10. ^ Lott, Tim (3 June 1978). "Devoto's fantastic real life confession". Record Mirror. p. 18.
  11. ^ a b Savage, Jon (3 June 1978). "Magazine: Real Life". Sounds. Retrieved 2 April 2019 – via Rock's Backpages.
  12. ^ Parrish, Peter (4 May 2007). "Magazine – Real Life / Secondhand Daylight / The Correct Use of Soap / Magic, Murder and the Weather – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 May 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  13. ^ Mueller, Andrew (15 March 2007). "Magazine – Reissues". Uncut. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  14. ^ "1978 Best Albums And Tracks Of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  15. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (revised and updated ed.). Universe Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  16. ^ "Artists Beginning with M (part 1)". The Guardian. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2012.