Friday, July 31, 2009

The Deviants - Disposable (1968)

Mp3\112Mb
*****
In the late '60s, the Deviants were something like the British equivalent to the Fugs, with touches of the Mothers of Invention and the British R&B-based rock of the Yardbirds and the Pretty Things. Their roots were not so much in the British Invasion as the psychedelic underground that began to take shape in London in 1966-1967. Not much more than amateurs when they began playing, they squeezed every last ounce of skill and imagination out of their limited instrumental and compositional resources on their debut, Ptooff!, which combined savage social commentary, overheated sexual lust, psychedelic jamming, blues riffs, and pretty acoustic ballads -- all in the space of seven songs. Their subsequent '60s albums had plenty of outrage, but not nearly as strong material as the debut. Lead singer Mick Farren recorded a solo album near the end of the decade, and went on to become a respected rock critic. He intermittently performed and recorded as a solo artist and with re-formed versions of the Deviants. 

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  1 Somewhere to Go 7:23  
  2 Sparrows and Wires 0:54  
  3 Jamie's Song 3:34  
  4 You've Got to Hold On 3:56  
  5 Fire in the City 3:00  
  6 Let's Loot the Supermarket 2:34  
  7 Pappa Oo Mao Mao 2:33  
  8 Slum Lord 2:22  
  9 Blind Joe McTurk's Last Session 1:20  
  10 Normality Jam .. 4:23  
  11 Guaranteed to Bleed 3:47  
  12 Sidney B. Goode 0:54  
  13 Last Man 6:12  
****
Plenty of psychedelic groups of the late '60s embraced a sunny outlook of peace, flowers, and consciousness expansion, but some took a harder line on upending the straight society they sought to replace, and like their spiritual brethren the MC5, the Deviants (under the first-among-equals leadership of writer Mick Farren) saw their music as a vehicle for a Total Assault On The Culture. The only trouble with this was the Deviants' ideas were often a lot more exciting than their music, and while they created a sonic approximation of the rage and defiance behind the Freak Culture on their debut album, Ptooff!, their second LP, Disposable, lacks focus or direction and sounds like the work of addled would-be revolutionaries who aren't sure jut what they're fighting against this morning. Farren has claimed that he and his bandmates were flying on speed during most of the recording of Disposable, but there isn't much energy (artificial or otherwise) in these performances, and many of the tunes collapse into meandering jams performed by musicians who lack the chops or focus to make them into anything more. There are a few exceptions — a wacky mutation of "Surfing Bird" and "Wipe Out" called "Pappa-Oo-Mao-Mao," the defiant "Slum Lord," and "Somewhere to Go," the only extended jam on the LP that manages to actually find a groove and move. But "Normality Jam" feels at least twice as long as its 4:24 running time, "Let's Loot the Supermarket" appears to have been recorded by people who lack the ambition to put on their shoes, let alone liberate needed supplies, and short tracks like "Sparrows and Wires" and "Sidney B. Goode" play like comic sketches without punch lines. Disposable is fascinating as a document of the U.K.'s anarchist hippie scene and where it went both right and wrong, but as entertainment, you're a lot better off listening to Ptooff!. Or looting a supermarket. 

The Deviants - Ptooff! (1967)

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