Monday, October 31, 2011
Alternative TV, THE IMAGE HAS CRACKED
Deptford Fun City, 1978; reissued by Cherry Red with bonus tracks; available
CD: 20 tracks, 73:34
ATV founder (and mainstay) Mark Perry was the editor of the legendary punk zine SNIFFIN' GLUE. That being said, it's obvious he viewed punk more as an attitude than a sound, for Alternative TV rarely ever stuck to punk's "rules". The early singles "Life", "How Much Longer?", and "You Bastard" (all present, with the latter two appearing in different versions) are most definitely UK '70s punk, and fine examples at that! However, the debut single "Love Lies Limp" is decidedly reggae-influenced. THE IMAGE HAS CRACKED, their first album, veers all over the place stylistically. Some tracks were recorded in a studio, while others are either straight live takes or what appear to be collages of studio and live material. The straightforward punk rock of "Action Time Vision" and "Viva La Rock and Roll" are musically quite accomplished, but the experimental material makes thems somewhat tame. Opening track "Alternatives" starts with a synthesizer noodle (played by Jools Holland!) before going into a krautrocky instrumental track accompanied by Perry trying to get the audience to use the stage as a forum. He gets progressively angrier at them for acting up, finally exploding when a fight breaks out. There's also the interesting cover of Frank Zappa's "Why Don't You Do Me Right" and the hypnotic "Splitting In Two". My personal favorite is the atmospheric "Nasty Little Lonely", which has a nice slow buildup to an explosive release. One of the bonus tracks, "Another Coke", is a live number recorded for the album but rejected due to space. As a whole, THE IMAGE HAS CRACKED is a bit schizophrenic, but it does cohere into a great early post-punk album with repeated listens. After this, Alternative TV would shed their few "punk" tendencies and go deep into experimental music. The bonus track "The Force Is Blind" is much more in line with this industrial direction. It's hard to find, but the second album VIBING UP THE SENILE MAN especially shows this side of the band to great effect.