Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Deviants—
PTOOFF!


Released 1968 on Underground Impresarios
The Seth Man, May 2000ce
This was the first album of its kind: a sheer, psychedelic punk gunk and unpretty in your face British recording cut in the autumn of ’67. Despite its small distribution through ads in International Times, OZ and select head shops, its Lichtenstein-esque pop art cover folded out into a two-sided 24” x 36” poster made it a no-brainer accoutrement for hippy pads everywhere. This album was the brainchild of IT contributor/vocalist Mick Farren, whose direction for the band would ALMOST contain his near-insane rage at the straight world he had dropped out of. The upper castes of the London underground were not exempt either, and Farren dismissed them as being cut from the same equally lame and clueless cloth. “PTOOFF!” was mean-and-filthy psychedelic street punk as the Farren-directed tracks “I’m Coming Home,” “The Nothing Man,” “Garbage” and “Deviation Street” all burn with the elemental fury of “we suck, we know it, fuck you” attitude that was unique in its time.

The stage is set for the beginning of “PTOOFF!” with the introductory “Opening” track on side one: a hugely intoned fake American “THE DEVIANTS ALBUM” to a mere smattering of fake applause and sarcastic “hoorays” and that’s it, brother. “I’m Coming Home” follows, and it’s “Gloria” meets The Stones’ “Going Home” with guitarist Sid Bishop landing a barrage of fuzzed-out Townshend/Hendrix ‘interference guitar’ while Russell Hunter’s ampouled up clatter hits out at every drum in sight over Farren’s bellowing vocals as the jams are kicked out for the very first time in Britain. There’s not a trace of faux-hippie Orientale stylings anywhere except when bassist Cord Rees’ arrangements on “Bun” or “Child Of The Sky” takes “PTOOFF!” down to that level of soma-soothing-ness. Even Farren’s pedestrian blooz, “Charlie” is better in comparison, and it’s an under-recorded flop as Bishop’s guitar work is too toned down and proud of his blues collection. But then “The Nothing Man” stomps in with the tape loops of Jack Henry Moore, a sound-collagist who had previously studied with John Cage. Tympani, shakers, castanets and loops of radio broadcasts all combine into a percussion groove of Mothers-inspired weirdness as spoken cut-ups switch on and off as a furious rumba careens out of control with high-pitched tone frequency shifting. Side two opens with “Garbage” (who the hell else in 1967 would write a song called “Garbage” anyway besides The Fugs? Only they didn’t.) The Deviants, man: there’s a fuzz/wah burst near the end that erupts out of nowhere, and it’s just about the most hilariously ugly and un-groovy thing you’ve ever heard in English psychedelia. And Farren gagas out a line when they’re on a full head of steam that issues from his mouth backed by absolutely no pre-destined thought whatsoever:

“Garbage can make you feel so large,
Put two cars in your garage...”

That’s pure dum-dum “Surfin’ Bird” stupidity, and it’s important to note that Farren was a rock and roller of high standards. Hell: he loved “Mona” so much, he not only cut two versions of it on his first solo album that he also named “Mona”, but “Mona” also appears here on “PTOOFF!” in two places! “Deviation Street” is the nine minute odyssey of sheer fuck rampage and collaging like a garage “Revolution #9,” starting up with another proto-MC5/Who blitzo-racket that is soon edited into spoken Farren excerpts that are Fugs as all get-out, but even snider. Laughter, explosions, cheering, Saturday night at UFO with an undercover cop, a plastic hippy’s post-trip summation all smear together in an endless parade of detonating sarcasm, cheap thrills, rip offs and mayhem until Farren intones “onetwofreefour” and The Deviants do their whole barrage-garage one more time for you as fighter planes swoop down on them.

Like all good punks ALWAYS do, they shot their first load and had nothing left. The Deviants’ second album, “Disposable” has a minimum of moments as great while their third, tapped out offering, “The Deviants” yields far less. But The Deviants’ attitude paved the way for a tradition of unruly street Rock that continues to annoy to this day.