added: 14 Mar 2013
// release date: 11 Mar 2013 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A
‘The Deviants are an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, they are beings possessing a varied genetic structure that results in monstrous deformities...’ So it says on the Marvel Comics website. Apply that to music, and it should give you a fair idea of what the album ‘Ptooff’
by 60’s band The Deviants
Championed by John Peel (naturally), and making lasting impressions on other outfits such as The Pink Fairies and Hawkwind (naturally), yours truly was intrigued to find out more about The Deviants
. After all, they were a London underground band doing wacky stuff such as spiking Mr. Peel’s drink (and he still was a fan afterward). Really, if any band and album deserved my attention, it would be them! Little did I know what I was in for!
Embarking on a journey that saw me delving deeper into sound and psyche of these radical freethinkers and counterculture entertainers, it quickly became apparent that acid had played as much of a part in the band’s evolution as had a fierce opposition to mainstream cultural norms.
The opening track is called, err, ‘Opening’, but it’s merely a mock-voice announcing “The Deviants album”
, followed by brief mock-applause (presumably the band).
Which makes ‘I’m Coming Home’ the actual opening track, and it’s certainly a product of its time, there is no doubt. Warped and dangerous riffs, warped and distorted singing, warped and distorted sound effects… we’re already entering a different dimension on the second track.
‘Child Of The Sky’ starts innocent and mellow enough in flower power mode. Of course, that’s the very thing The Deviants loathed (amongst so many other things). It sounds pretty acoustic and stripped down to bare essentials, but it’s the lyrics that belie the hippy dippy notion. Not only are the lines rather dark and, WARPED, but good luck to you trying to make any sense of it at all.
On to ‘Charlie’, different once again as this one sounds real bluesy and quite catchy, although both voice and guitar could do with a bit more prominence to underpin the blues vibe.
A percussion-driven and chant-like intro is followed by spoken word, cosmic sound effects, followed by ‘The Nothing Man’ (that’s the song’s title by the way), followed by a verbal listing (beatnik style) of all the things the Nothing Man hates,
emphasized by more strange sound effects. Am I missing something here? Probably. Or perhaps I’m just not tripped out enough to appreciate the song.
It’s getting weirder still on ‘Garbage’. Yes folks, it’s a song about garbage. Blending oddball lyrics, Stones-like harmonica, and Bo Diddley licks with pace-breaks, spoken word interspersions, and Velvet Underground aggressiveness. “Garbage is so good for you, just the thing that you should do”
. Indeed! From now on, I gonna play that track every time I’m not in the mood to tidy up my place!
(And now excuse me for a minute please, while I’m pouring myself a large Bourbon to psyche myself up for more.)
Back again. The instrumental ‘Bun’ takes us along mellow road once more, it’s oriental sitar and classical guitar sounds all the way on this one.
Which brings us to the piece de resistance, the epic ‘Deviation Street’ (and rest assured, you certainly need a LARGE Bourbon to sit through that one!).
A heavy rock guitar blasts in and goes on for a little while, before all comes to a halt and Farren’s voice reveals “A giant, talking CIA man smiles and hands out candy to the laughing hippies”
(chorus, mock laughter and a twaaang guitar sound in the background). Followed by “And a dirty old man peeps into the window of a ‘funny’ bookshop”
(bizarre voices and laughter in the background), followed by “And the little children play war games in the gutter“
(machine gun sounds, aaaargh-I’m-dying-now sounds, shotgun blast, and loud applause in the background). This is a sonic theatre of the sarcastically and fantastically absurd!
Music takes up again (make that screeching guitars), followed by muffled voices, and the chanting of “speed, speed, speed”
before the pace breaks again. Oh, did I mention we’re only just halfway through the track?
OK… we then get to hear rock music again, with more chanting and percussion in the wings. Suddenly, Farren puts on a mock-African accent and, calypso-style, sings “I’ve been in dah banana boat all night long, chwalah-laah… I wanah get stoned…”
Right. That would explain a few things at least!
After further musical oddities, he finishes with the conclusion, “And after all this, I’m sitting here, grooving to the spiritual patterns on my wall…”
Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my chair, and by now it’s my jawbone (that has dropped to the floor) which continues to groove…
Fronted by proto-punkateur Mick Farren
(vox and piano), the rest of the Anarcho posse is made up of Ross Hunter
(drums and vox), Cord Rees
(bass, Spanish guitar and vox), and Sanderson
(vox and mumble jumble).
They played music alright; but not as we know it.
Those brave and curious enough to order a copy of this now re-mastered and sought after 1967 album (which went mainstream after its initial release) will be rewarded with an informative 12-page booklet, containing original sleeve notes by John Peel. Mind you, a complimentary box with acid-soaked sugar cubes might come in handy, too!
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