Ptooff!

No, not a term descriptive of what will happen to a certain blogger-fanned spark of controversy about the publishing practices of a certain academic journal (as in: flash! and it’s gone [you hope!] {well, it’s his blog!}(shut up, you two, I’m trying to type here!!)), but the name of a very obscure album.

A very interesting album, as it happens: one spawned in the free-for-all creative chaos of 1960s London, in the same sort of art school background that produced what was then Syd’s Pink Floyd, and one David Jones, later aka Bowie.

And the ONLY album I’ve been able to trace by a bunch called – at different times – The Social Deviants, and then simply the Deviants.

I heard it originally in Lusaka, Zambia, in about 1968: my friend Alan’s brother ran a disco in Lusaka, and imported all sorts of exotic music via their father’s vending machine company – and he used to let us 13 year-olds listen to the stuff that was deemed unsuitable for the Jaycee’s Hall disco evenings.  On the floor of their mother’s sewing room, as it happened, which is where the portable stereo record player was.

Oh, deities, I’ve just linked women with sewing…ah, firk it, it’s irrelevant!  It was their mother!!  She sewed!!!

It was really interesting because it was so strange – and recall that this was when Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and the Moody Blues were being freaky; when Cream was rocking; when Floyd was setting the controls for the heart of the sun.  The cover art was also interesting: a pop-arty comic-type graphic, with some VERY obscure liner notes including some penned by John Peel, later to become famous for BBC’s “The Old Grey Whistle Test“.

I must have heard it only five or six times, and then – never saw it again, for twenty years.  I looked for it, though, in obscure vinyl shops and even on the early internet, but never saw mention of it except as a “…rare, single-issue LP by an underground [!] band…”.

Then came Amazon…it was one of the first things I looked for, and lo! – there it was.  On CD!  I bought it immediately, along with a pile of SF – and it was just as good as I remembered.

Only – way better, because (a) I’d forgotten all but two songs over the 30 years it had been, (b) I now had a much better appreciation of music in general, and could see just where they had come from.  They mixed blues-style rhythm with psychedelic jangling rock, with a Dylan-style folky ripoff (about shooting a Jewish policeman, incidentally), and overdubbed snatches of “hey, like wow!” dialogue – and it still sounds so fresh as to be unbelievable (my daughter thinks so, anyway).

I dug it out because of two songs – both, incidentally, the ones that had made such an impression on the 13-year-old me.  One was an ode to garbage: from Amazon –

 “”Garbage” is a real oddity, a stop-start rummage through rock’s dustbin of used riffs, more electronic noise, probably the first vomiting ever committed to vinyl (thereby sealing the Deviants’ punk credentials!)”…

Which is why, of course, I chose it as the first offering to #womanspace via Blip.fm – dedicated to everyone who REALLY didn’t like the story.  Entirely appropriate, I thought – but then, I liked the story, so what do I know?

I did one more, though: this was

“”Nothing Man” … a collage of multilayered treated percussion, electronic noise and tape loops framing disembodied lyrical snatches…”

…and a list of hates, which again, sounded pretty much like what people thought I thought.

But I don’t, of course.

And in the course of all that – fell in love with the album (old habits die hard) all over again, and have played it for close on a week straight in the BWB*.  Nothing like young man’s person’s angry, anarchistic rock!

Stay cool, won’t you?

* = Big White** Bus.  aka Hyundai H1.  As opposed to the BFB, which was a large blue Volkswagen Microbus.

** = a colour, not a state of mind or an attitude.

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About Ed Rybicki

Ed is a 60-ish virologist and biotechnologist, formerly a Zambian and presently a South African. He is into family, virology, biotechnology, science in general, science fiction in particular, photography, red wine, wearing loud shirts, 70s rock, blues and smooth jazz...and telling stories. Sometimes, interesting ones. And writing for his own amusement.
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