Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Deviants—
You've Got To Hold On/Let's Loot The Supermarket


Released 1968 on Stable
The Seth Man, March 2001ce
The first and only single that The Deviants cut in the sixties, this pairing was taken off their highly uneven, amusing and at times terrifying album, “Disposable.” And it acts as a succinct overview of that album: the A-side featuring lead vocalist Mick Farren bellowing, braying and screaming his lyrics of twisted drug revelations while an equally screaming and blistering fuzz guitar gets turned in by Sid Bishop. The guitar solo is by far one of his most unbridled: a churning, splintery mass of sharpened noise, and it’s every bit as good as his racket making on their debut album, “PTOOFF!.” Since that point, personnel had shifted as several roadies joined on vocals as well as a three-man rhythm section: Russell Hunter on drums with Sandy Sanderson and Mac McDonnell on bass -- sometimes simultaneously. From the moment Hunter’s drums bursts in to drive the thing down all the way to the end as awesomely-bad-for-the-fuck-of-it harmonica wailing flies overhead, a head-creasing, sideways/backwards/every-which-way near constant guitar sprays with over-sustaining, over-fuzzed out ferocious power. It screams and screams along as Farren is straining at the leash of his sanity, which is soon fraying into the slightest of threads as his lyrics are, at best, discernable with ever other line. More by its reckless display of bottled anger uncorked than anything approaching musicianship, “You’ve Got To Hold On” is an explosive punk track and its undyingly recklessness and incorrigible extremities were (and still are) astonishingly ahead of their time.

“Let’s Loot The Supermarket” is a methedrine-ravaged, brain-damaged, Dylan-banged piano and acoustic guitar accompanied sing-a-long with an undeniable aura of cracked and chewed lips, greasy hair of a crowded studio fogged in with compressed B.O. It’s a total “revolution for the hell of it” anthem, and they’d be singing it over burning trash cans in Powis Square if the empire ever fell. But here in the studio, Farren can barely sing by the middle section, fumbling over the lyrics and distracted by the backing vocal entourage of roadies and musicians, who are hardly helping matters. Everybody is completely ragged from their time spent speeding and waiting around during playback for 48 hours. They’re out of tune, out of time, out of their minds and couldn’t care less. You wouldn’t, either. Pretty soon, infectious laughter kicks in (and the ass of) the overall resigned feel of the piece, and soon the entire studio is laughing like Bedlam inmates. You’ll start laughing, yourself. A bittersweet harmonica blows into the coda over half-assed handclaps and more laughter. You can almost see them struggling to remain standing (According to legend, even engineer Andy Johns couldn’t control things in the studio, because he too was spiked with enough methedrine to kill an elephant.)


Note:
I remembering reading in “The Acid Trip,” a psychedelic music book released in the mid-eighties, that this album truly lived up to it’s name. In time I discovered this quick summation to be flip, glib and completely false: True, “Disposable” was recorded during a 2-day methedrine binge but oddly, the part of “Disposable” that lacks in feeling is when the amassed Dick Heckstall-Smith and company appear on horn-rock backing on a track or two, or when The Deviants themselves attempt the blues or are dwarfed by all the speed-crazed sessioneers, friends and groupies that accompanied them in the studio during its recording. The original copy of “Disposable” is pretty rare to come by, so it would be ultimately cheaper to plump for the CD, which has the advantage of programming out the half an album’s worth of tracks that are irritating not the manner in which they deliver, but the manner in which they do not. But count yourself in for half an album’s worth of insane, speed-freaking mania cut with inspired, hardened psychedelia. Forewarned is forearmed.