Category: The Suburbs

Suburbs guitarist Bruce Allen dies at 54

courtesy Twin/Tone Records

Guitarist Bruce C. Allen, a mainstay of the Twin Cities music scene best known for his work with New Wave band The Suburbs, died yesterday at 54. According to the Star Tribune, Allen was taken off life support after being admitted to Hennepin County Medical Center for complications resulting from triple bypass surgery. “Family and friends had time to gather around his bedside,” said Chris Osgood, guitarist for The Suicide Commandos and Allen’s friend and bandmate in his post-Suburbs group The X-Boys.

Allen co-founded The Suburbs in 1977 with four friends from, true to their name, the Twin Cities’ western suburbs. The following year, their self-titled debut EP was the first album to be released by esteemed local label Twin/Tone Records; The Suburbs went on to release four full-length albums, from 1980′s In Combo to 1986′s The Suburbs, including classic singles like “Love Is The Law,” “Rattle My Bones,” and the charmingly strange “Cows.” The band’s catchy fusion of New Wave pop, punk, funk, and dance music combined the suavity of Roxy Music, the manic energy of Iggy Pop, and the offbeat humor of Devo. They broke up in 1987, but reunited occasionally in subsequent years, last performing in 2006 on Harriet Island. Although co-frontmen Beej Chaney and Chan Poling tended to draw the most attention, Allen’s contribution to The Suburbs’ sound was significant, helping provide the driving rhythms and spiky, high-energy riffs that were part of their signature.

Garage D'Or Records

Also a graphic designer, Allen created logos and album-cover designs instantly familiar to many in the Twin Cities, including the cover of The Replacements’ Let It Be, the Uptown Bar’s sign, and The Suburbs’ own iconic five-men-in-a-circle logo (which can be seen at right, on the cover of the 2006 live album High Fidelity Boys).

He will be missed. Here are a couple of videos of The Suburbs in their prime, “Love Is The Law” and “Cows.”

Originally published on A.V. Club Twin Cities.

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