Monday, February 13, 2012

New Wave for the New Week #145

I have this habit of coming up with ideas for mix tapes (nowadays, mix CDs) that I keep meaning to put together, but never seem to find the time.  In fact, I may do a separate post sharing some of those. One of my favorite yet-to-be-realized mix ideas would be a compilation of later bands and solo material by any permutation or subset of Johnny Rotten, Steve Cook, Paul Jones, Glen Matlack and/or Sid Vicious, and would be called Never Mind McLaren, Here's The Ex-Pistols.  Of course it would include Public Image Ltd., The Rich Kids, maybe even some of Sid's cringe-worthy solo material (oh, that Sid Sings album...), among other odds and ends.  Featured on such a mix would be this week's NW4NW band, The Professionals.

In many ways, despite PiL being Johnny (Lydon) Rotten's next project and therefore the more immediate media magnet, The Professionals were truly the most direct descendants of The Sex Pistols.  Anchored by the Pistol's guitar and drum combo of Steve Jones and Paul Cook, the original lineup of The Professionals included bassist Andy Allen, who had been a session musician on the final Pistols recordings with Jones on vocals ("Lonely Boy," "Silly Thing," etc.).  As a trio, these three released the first Professionals single in 1980, the bombastic "Just Another Dream."

With booming rhythm, crunching guitar and shout-along chorus, "Just Another Dream" is a nearly perfect single that sounds just as good today as it did three decades ago.  It wouldn't be until their second single, "1-2-3," however, that The Professionals saw any action on the UK charts, just missing the Top 40.  Around this time, Allen left the band and was replaced by Paul Meyers and second guitarist Randy McVeigh.  A third single, "Join The Professionals," received wide exposure when it was included in the soundtrack to the movie Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.

Just as The Professionals were about to release their self-titled debut album, Allen sued the band for back royalties he claimed he never received.  In order to avoid paying him any further, the band shelved that album and went back into the studio with the new lineup to record a few new songs and re-record the old ones.  The result was the lone Professionals album to see public release, I Didn't See It Coming.  A solid if slightly uneven album, it contains a few more moments of brilliance (notably "The Magnificent" and "Kick Down The Doors").  The band's internal upheaval, however, contributed to some of the tracks sounding a bit rushed and premature.  Nonetheless, it's a record well worth owning, with sound that lands somewhat closer to the hard rock that Steve Jones would later pursue than the punk rock of The Sex Pistols.

After the album's release, Cook and Jones went their separate ways.  They each found work as session musicians and semi-regular members of several bands; Jones eventually released a couple of solo albums.  In 2005, a Best Of The Professionals CD was issued, culling its tracks from the early singles and cuts from the album, as well as rescuing a few unreleased tracks.  A couple of years later, legal wrangling finally freed up the old Allen recordings, and The Professionals finally saw the light of day 27 years after its intended release.

For this week's clips, please enjoy a real rarity - the original promo clip for "Just Another Dream." After that, a fan-made clip for "The Magnificent," which has been said at different times to be about Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious.  Listen for yourself and decide. Enjoy!

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