Coincidentally, two albums popped up in my PO box recently, both late '70s/early '80s UK oddities. And, right on time, Bret from Egg City Radio has got another incredible punk film festival lined up at the (increasingly inaccurately named) Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood here in L.A. I'm always happy to help promote such spectaculars - I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to see this:The 2 day Destroy All Movies! fest will be happening this weekend Nov. 20-21 (dig the trailer), featuring films like the legendary concert epic "Urgh! A Musical War" (a boyhood favorite) and "D.O.A.," starring the real Sid and Nancy. But I'm most looking forward to the "Punks on the Small Screen" line-up of hilariously clueless TV reactions to punk.
Both the albums I received are products of the DIY spirit sweeping the land at the time, sound nothing like the Sex Pistols, favor electronics, and are full of cheeky humor and utterly original imagination. How punk is that?
The Loved One were criminally overlooked proto-industrial arty-smarties who shared albums and stages with the likes of Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The The, and B Movie. So why aren't they more well known? After listening to the reissue of the "......Further Observations" collection of '79-'82 tracks it's obvious that they were moving into far stranger and more experimental realms then their increasingly commercial colleagues. No two songs sound much alike: some tracks verge on ambient, some almost pop, some instro, some with hysterical vocals. "The Depressionists" (listen to it here) is a very funny stab at the doom-and-gloom attitude then prevalent in post-punk England. The title song reminds me of what I loved so much about the original industrial style (think: Suicide, The Normal, etc).
The Loved One "......Further Observations"
Check this hauntingly strange video, featuring some sort of odd invented instruments. Another of their reissues is music based on shortwave radio recordings. The Loved One are in the process of not only reissuing their old albums, but writing new ones, which will hopefully bring a higher profile to this surprisingly underrated combo.
"PIMANIA: The Music of Mel Croucher and Automata U.K. Ltd," an utterly amazing vinyl-only release, is quite accurately described as "The crown jewel in the Feeding Tube catalog. The music on this record was recorded from 1981-1985 as the conceptual soundtrack for computer games released on cassette by the British software house Automata U.K. Ltd. Combining primitive synthesizer tones and meandering psychedelic blues guitar with cryptic, off-color lyrics about the multi-colored Piman and his pals, this is unlike any other "computer music" you know or have imagined. Ultra thick gatefold, comes with cut-out mask, extensive liner notes and poster."
It's quite a peek into the early-'80s computer world, a relatively tiny enterprise compared to today's corporate gaming behemoths. The comics that come with the album seem descended from underground '60s "comix," and the whole thing has a kind of leftover hippie idealism (no violent games) mixed with a punk approach, e.g. the music is often synths, drum machines, and garage guitars recorded at home. This parody of the Shangri-Las's '60s classic "Leader of the Pack" brutally (but amusingly) attacks Piman's perceived rival Pacman!
Mel Croucher: "Leader of the Pac"
Funny how 30 years ago, punk in movies or tv was a punchline, or a threat. Now (call it the "Juno" syndrome) it's what the "cool" kids reference. So, what, am I finally cool? Are the jocks who hassled me all listening to Joy Division now instead of Journey? Because their kids probably are. What must they make of that..?