Monday, November 21, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #137

If The Only Ones are only ever remembered for their most popular song, the indispensable "Another Girl, Another Planet," their place in Punk/New Wave history is rightfully earned.  Still, it would be selling the band a bit short, given that they released three very solid albums in their day, all of which are readily available on CD.  Bands like The Replacements or Green Day owe a huge debt of gratitude to The Only Ones. If you missed out on these guys, it's your own fault - and something you need to correct immediately!

Formed in late 1976 by singer/songwriter Peter Perrett and guitarist John Perry with Alan Mair on bass and Mike Kellie on drums, The Only Ones debuted in 1977 with a self-released single, the likeable but pessimistic "Lovers Of Today" ("We ain't got feelings/we got no love/we ain't got nothing to say...").  This opening effort was solid enough to get the band signed to CBS/Epic, and by 1978 they had released their masterpiece as their second single, and along with it their first full length album, The Only Ones"Another Girl, Another Planet" is one of those songs that almost defies genre. Searing guitars, driving beat and Perrett's nasally faux-Pete Shelley vocals combine to create a classic that has been covered many times by artists from Greg Kihn to The Replacements to The Mighty Lemon Drops; more recently Blink-182 and Belle & Sebastian have taken stabs at it as well.  It has even been adapted by The Nutley Brass in an easy listening version and interpreted in a 1920's Tin Pan Alley style by The Ukelele Orchestra Of Great Britiain.  How's that for reaching a wide audience?

After Perrett and Kellie took a break to back up Johnny Thunders on his solo album So Alone (specifically on the fantastic "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory"), The Only Ones released their follow-up LP, 1979's Even Serpents Shine.  While no individual track reaches the heights of "Another Girl," the album as whole is every bit as good as the debut.  Highlights include "From Here To Eternity" and "Miles From Nowhere."   Hoping to crack the US charts, Epic released Special View later in the same year, combining the best tracks from the first two LPs and throwing in "Lovers Of Today" for good measure.  A perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with the band!

1980 saw their third LP in three years, Baby's Got A Gun.  While still a very good effort, it falls about a half-step behind the first two.  "The Big Sleep" is the star attraction here.  The Only Ones stuck it out for another year or two before finally calling it a day in early 1982.

Fast-forward to 2007, when "Another Girl, Another Planet" was revived in an advertisement for UK company Vodafone.  The renewed interest in the single inspired the original band to get back together, and they have been playing live ever since, although they have yet to release a new album.

For this NW4NW entry, here are the classic "Another Girl, Another Planet" and their debut, "Lovers Of Today."  Enjoy!

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