The market of philological re-issues, once a privileged ground for historic psychedelia, is now always more orienting toward the time-zone bridging the Seventies and the Eighties. For instance, Ozit proposes, with the characteristic quality of its products (lots of unreleased tracks, dazzling artwork, heavily info-loaded booklet, reasonable price), three English works covering the eras of genesis, classicism and decline of the punk history through a couple of its most relevant characters.
Talking of Richard "Kid" Strange and his Doctors of Madness, for example, means according due relevance to one of those realities which changed English psychedelia until turning it into punk, skipping the temptations of prog-rock altogether, although the presence of mellotron and violin may lead you to think otherwise. "Late Night Movies" (1975), published as its successors by Polydor, is opened by three songs with a kind of introverted impact, wherein the mellotron casts chiaroscuro revealing some not too far blood relation with Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come, to burst later on, in the following tracks, into energetic blazes where Urban Blitz's fiddle vibrates on rugged folk co-ordinates akin to the String Driven Thing ("Waiting", "B Movie Bedtime"), guitars free themselves on pub-rock excursions in the wake of another celebrity of contemporary medicine (the Dr. Feelgood of "Down By The Jetty" and "Malpractice" fame), and the vocal harmonies anticipate the coming of Dave Vanian and Marc Almond, if not those of Robyn Hitchcock's Soft Boys (pay attention to "The Noises Of The Evening", please...). A harsh studio-bonus ("Doctors Of Madness", the banner of the group), three acoustic alternate takes and two live tracks render this reissue indispensable, hoping that Ozit will continue this labour with the successive "Figments of Emancipation" and "Sons of Survival".
When the Doctors Of Madness' parabola was approaching its decline, Kid Strange had also made a guest appearance in a classic album of English punk, T.V. Smith's Adverts' second LP. What makes such liaison more intriguing is the fact that, once that band was discontinued, T.V. Smith activated the Explorers, hiring another "mad doctor", bassist Colin Stoner. It was in 1980, and T.V. Smith's Explorers were a good example of how the rough and minimalist punk of the origins was progressively changing, reintegrating melodic elements and assigning more room to the earlier vituperated keyboards. With a trends recalling the one of the Damned, also the Adverts, started from the expressive urgency of "Crossing The Red Sea", had come, with " Cast Of Thousands", to more varied sonorities, also via the insertion of Tim Cross' keyboards. The Explorers' record, where the black & white keys are entrusted to Mel Wesson, further proceeds on this evolutive line, involving with its epic sound and its quick-grip songs, among whom there are some real anthems such as the openers "The Perfect Life" and "The Servant". The result is highly exciting, although a little bit dated, and the Ozit/Morpheus edition includes 9 bonus tracks (four of which live) as well as the reproduction of a detailed Pete Frame's Family tree(!)
The era of decline (of popularity, of course) is represented by a beautiful T.V. Smith's effort of 1983, that due the label's bankruptcy was distributed just during a few weeks, furthermore in a defective pressing which degraded after a few runs. "Channel Five" is therefore almost an unreleased work, and it's marked by the return of Tim Cross, back from the collaboration with Mike Oldfield. The guitarist is another Tim coming from the same experience, that Renwick who later will reinforce Pink Floyd's live line-up. The music conveyed in these tracks is a good '80s synthetic pop, with programmed rhythms and an accomplished new-wave aesthetic; T.V. Smith has still a load of beautiful songs to propose, such as "On Your Video" and "The Suit", and the duration of the album is again doubled by the extra-tracks. Good appetite!
Tranlation and review by Enrico Ramunni