Punishment Of Luxury – Puppet Life
Released 25th October 2019
5CD boxset which seeks to present the total recordings of Punilux, with their 1979 debut album Laughing Academy, 1st single Puppet Life/The Demon recorded for Compact Wonder and Neville Luxury’s solo Feels Like Dancing Wartime becoming amongst the offerings….LTW’s Ian Canty feels the unease of the simple life….
Even in the “anything goes” post punk years of 1979-80 Punishment Of Luxury, from the North East, stood out from the crowd. Daring to dabble in art rock (or even, gulp, prog) wasn’t as welcomed with open arms at the time as you may well suppose (specially provided the reportage about these years we get nowadays). They have been out on a limb additional than most and to say there was a lot going on in their songs would be somewhat of an understatement. They have been by no means brief of an thought, typically zooming all more than the spot in the course of a song, but they also had far more than sufficient talent to make even then oddest concoction perform. There was practically nothing else genuinely like them.
Obtaining their roots in giving music for a nearby radical theatre group and an earlier band of Neville’s named Kitch, the 1st accurate version of the group came with each other beneath the Punishment Of Luxury banner in the course of the final months of 1976. The name itself came from a Giovanni Segantini painting, which once again stressing their arty origins. But the band have been not mere “underground” doodlers, possessing the enviable capacity to provide exceptionally strong music to match their distinctive lyrical themes. Singer Brian Bond (Rapkin) and Neville Luxury (Atkinson) have been the key movers with many other people coming and going till the line up at some point settled on the pair with bassist Jimmy Giro and Steve Sekrit on drums.
Influenced by punk but adding their personal really person stance and musical ticks, they swiftly constructed a following locally with the frantic visual and sonic overload of their reside show. By 1978 they have been seeking to make a record and Compact Wonder’s Pete Stennett, usually a man with outstanding taste, provided to do a single with the band.
That single was Puppet Life, which emerged to an unexpecting planet in the middle of 1978. It was a wonderful debut, from The Prisoner-style intro inwards. A rolling punk funk rhythm sets issues in spot for the suitably paranoid vocal and thunderous drumming, it all added up to a thing addictive, sort of scary, but true entertaining as well. On the other side of the disc The Demon buzzes along in bass-led style, just before segueing into an art rock coda. All issues regarded as, it was the great Punishment Of Luxury waxing and rightly engendered considerable interest in the band.
So a great deal so in truth that quickly immediately after the single the band signed to United Artists, who also had the Stranglers, 999 and Buzzcocks on their books. They immediately got to perform on an album and a couple of singles which may well not have produced the charts, but did make a major impression with men and women who have been happiest with a thing a small spicy to get their teeth into. Disc one particular right here requires in their Compact Wonder single and all their UA output and is really outstanding. Laughing Academy is a wonderful album, complete of tips and range. It is such a total item it appears churlish to pull out highlights, but I suppose we have to.
All White Jack is nonetheless relevant nowadays or possibly even far more so. It nails racism acutely and is also rock-strong and bracing musically, complete of tense thrills. The Radar Bug/Metropolis segue slips deftly involving complete on attack and dense slabs of rhythm – the drumming on this record is tremendous. Obsession even has a small in widespread with the proto-synthpop of early Ultravox!, but you are by no means in any doubt that you are listening to everyone other than POL. Excess Bleeding Heart and Laughing Academy ends the LP with quick thrash and chilly close to synthpop respectively. Truly there’s not a duffer right here, every track has its personal strengths to make up one particular of the most regularly enjoyable records of 1979.
The bonus tracks on this disc are also uniformly super and prove what depth the band had to their material at this point in time. Brainbomb, with its frantic pace, could even be mentioned to foreshadow harcord punk and the Excess Bleeding Heart single had a related drive to the Ruts’ Babylon’s Burning. The latter was a major hit, but Punilux have been possibly a small as well strange for Joe Public to grasp onto and the charts eluded them. A true shame as they have been placing out prime high-quality songs left, correct and centre in the course of this period.
Whereas most UK post punk had gone increasingly softer by 1981, ever ones to buck a trend Punilux have been just acquiring tougher and tougher. Gigantic Days, the proposed comply with up to Laughing Academy which only came out on cassette to the time, was a bracing blast of an album. Perhaps a couple of years behind the zeitgeist, but yet another fine waxing nonetheless, with outstanding, scathing songs and the general attack of the band had by no means sounded sharper. There is a accurate sense of goal right here which tends to make it all the far more sad this LP by no means gained a complete release. EMI, who had taken more than UA, baulked at the new songs/sound and sent the band on their way. Much more fool them, mainly because they had a thing particular on their hands.
Gigantic Days is rawer than Laughing Academy, it sounds like the band felt they had a thing to prove and they set about this activity with glee. Fascicult Barbaraaclique may well be hell to spell but it is heaven to listen to, with a positively marauding guitar line and the gritty dread of Blood Cash is even a like prime grade Goth (just before that had essentially been invented). All Transform finishes at virtually Motorhead speed – to paraphrase a well-known philosopher, what did not kill Punilux produced them stronger.
Immediately after the album on this disc we have eight tracks which featured on the CD versions of Gigantic Days and Revolution By Numbers. All songs sustain the higher requirements set by Gigantic Days, with the thrashing punk/funk of Double Agent becoming especially pleasing. Lastly on this disc we have the John Peel Session from 30th August 1978 and you only have to have to listen to You are So Gorgeous to know why Peel loved them – they have been a shambling band eight years early. Taking all the above with each other these 1st two discs are flawless.
The exit from UA/EMI and the muted release of Gigantic Days would have observed off lesser bands, but Punishment Of Luxury have been produced of stern stuff. They identified in Red Rhino a new label and they have been back in 1983 with mini album 7. They have been in no sense cowed by their practical experience more than the previous 5 years and nonetheless had lots of fire, beginning with the scratchy post punk of chant-along Funghi. The Bird And The Elephant follows in tense futurist style and immediately after the short Fairiation they score with The Gasman, which recalls Bowie circa Scary Monsters. Golden Corsets has a good touch of XTC pop about it and the closing fast stomp of Tria-dance brings 7 to close on a breezy note.
Subsequent we have the catchy Hold Me (By no means Mould Me) single and Doubting Thomas, which was mooted as a 7″ inch, but by no means produced release. A pity as it is a catchy quantity, but immediately after this activity the Punilux name was retired for a when. The second half of disc 3 presents Neville’s 1985 solo album (released beneath the name Nevill Luxury) Feels Like Dancing Wartime. This record was far more of a synthpop mode and seemed to obtain inspiration from John Foxx’s perform. Eyes has an edgy New Wave sound which is sensible, but it was almost certainly a couple of years as well late. The sweeping electropop of Welcome is fantastic as well and general Feels Like Dancing Wartime is a decent sufficient pop record with a hint of that Punilux weirdness.
Disc 4 offers us a true oddity, the Hi Alien LP which was issued in 1989. It does not make it totally clear on the sleeve note no matter if this was a Punishment Of Luxury release or one particular as Neville Luxury (as he appears to be the only original member who plays on it). The Hip Hop beats on Alien Speak to are an exciting diversion, but Celebration Goblins harks endearingly back to the Punilux of old, with Neville as his alter ego Max Pluto.
five unquestionably identified the band reformed beneath the Punishment Of Luxury name and in fantastic well being by the sound of it. Not pretty up to their heyday, this mini LP (they liked them) nonetheless had lots to propose. The Dragon’s punky vim which seemed to have a small of Adam And The Ant’s Cartrouble someplace in the mix and the stomping funk beat of I Rang Yvonne identified the band in their element. It ends with the bongos and manically soloing guitar of Cry, which also has an Eastern really feel. General five was a respectable comeback recording.
The final disc right here is all reside performances from the band in 1979, which is a fantastic get in touch with. They usually have been a hot proposition in concert – I saw one particular of their comeback gigs at the Luminaire ten years back and they have been nonetheless correct on the funds then, even all these years on. The fantastic news is that they are up and gigging once again (verify the fb hyperlink at the bottom of this piece) – miss them at your peril.
The 10 song set from the Nashville from November ’79, which starts disc five’s reside choice, has wonderful sound and captures the band on fine kind. Beginning with a muscular version of All White Jack, Punishment Of Luxury freewheel by way of a set taken mainly from Laughing Academy, but with a couple of deviations. Radar Bug (devoted to “the beneath 20s, who couldn’t get in”) segues this time round with Baboon, a rolling funk treat. They carried on apace, knocking out fine requires of Laughing Academy itself and Puppet Life just before ending with the punk Beefheart of My Wife’s In Appreciate With The Polar Bear and a strong run by way of of Engine Of Excess. A true gem of a efficiency which tends to make the reside disc worthwhile on its personal.
Subsequent follows 5 songs from their German date at Kant Kino in March of the similar year. The sound fidelity is noticeably significantly less clear – far more sort of bootleg high-quality. Nonetheless you can hear what is going on and the band play fantastic versions of Obsession and Garden, a bass-led, just about crooned rarity that lurches malevolently and gains intensity as it goes on.
Then come two selections from the Hope And Anchor at some unknown date in 1979, Let’s Get Married and You are So Gorgeous, each of which featured on the Peel Session of the year just before and nowhere else. Once again this is roundabout bootleg high-quality, but the band are all action on these two cuts. The final concert providing is six songs from the Punilux set at Reading Festival in August 1979. John Peel introduces the band and the sound is a marginal improvement on the earlier two, nowhere as fantastic as the Nashville but quite decent even though it does go in and out a bit. They play each sides of the Puppet Life single properly and Brainbomb offers a thrilling climax to the disc.
Punishment Of Luxury need to have produced far more effect when they 1st emerged at the finish of the 70s – they had so a great deal imagination, talent and pure power. When one particular sees the results that bands like Devo and XTC had in the extended run, it is a shame EMI didn’t give them the backing they clearly warranted. Puppet Life is a wonderful boxset with a substantial quantity to take pleasure in musically. There is also a extended and informative sleeve note from Neville which requires us by way of the band’s extended history. The Laughing Academy and Gigantic Days albums are each excellent, the mini-LPs on discs 3 and 4 are at least exciting and you unquestionably have to have to hear the Nashville portion of the reside disc if you are a fan of the band. The compilers have performed an admirable job right here. Not punishment nor a luxury, it is merely a joy.
Punishment Of Luxury are on Facebook right here
All words by Ian Canty – see his author profile right here