Tuesday, December 05, 2006



A quick glance at the shorter Oxford informs us that this is a voracious South American freshwater fish, just the sort of thing you expect to find as guest star in cheaper horror films. A web search will yield buckets full of sites dedicated to fish with the very occasional mention to the band of the same name that emerged from the murky waters of UK coastal resort Brighton at the tail end of the seventies. The Town was at this time very unfashionable, these being the years b.c. (before Creation, I hasten to add the label and not the event!), indeed it's image was rather that of being a typical seaside town the type that your grandparents would probably describe as being nice, one of those wonderful English words that certain people use to describe anything and everything. Part of the fall out from punk was really that feeling that anyone could do it, and so bands really were springing up everywhere at at an incredible pace. Certain towns that had long been rock 'n' roll backwaters were starting to have a real buzz, this often led to a local structure, of an independent nature, developing, this would include cool record shops, venues and as often as not a record label. One of the wonderful thing about these labels was their tendency to put together compilation albums, these records were as often as not regionally based and were a wonderful way of, inexpensively, discovering new acts. Brighton's label was called Attrix and the undeniable highlight of the compilation were the Piranhas, a pleasingly rich listening experience. The band followed a line that would include the Kinks, Ian Dury, Madness, Blur, the Streets and Lily Allen with their undeniably Britishness and preoccupation with those more everyday subjects and obsessions. Musically speaking the band played a sax led quirky pop, at times not that far removed from early XTC, often including a strong reggae influence. They went on to release an album for Attrix before being snapped up by US indie giants Sire. Again an album was the fruit of this relationship along with a real hit single, the instrumental 'Tom Hark', that is still a favorite at football grounds. The band were not to survive long in the fashion obsessed decade of the eighties and so history has relegated them to the league of one hit wonders, when maybe they could have gone a lot further if only..........
Four songs for you to enjoy today that come from their days at Attrix. 'Tension' is maybe the song that is the most typical of new wave, musically as nervous as it's title would suggest. The band had what I always remember as being a heathy obsession with sex and other teenage hang ups that were expressed with the delicacy and wit that the subject matter demanded, 'Virginity' is an excellent example with it's chorus of "virginity it's a social decease/ virginity people laugh at me/ virginity I'm terrified that I'll be a virgin for the rest of my life" surely a song that would strike a chord with many a teenage boy! Another problem that teenagers of both sexes suffer from, is the acceptance of physical change and what their body has become this is very nicely depicted in 'I Don't Want My Body' over a lazy reggae beat. 'Coffee' despite dealing with that terribly cliched pick up line to get someone back to your place, is the most adventurous of the songs, again built over a reggae beat but being much more atmospheric with a sax break that would not be out of place with new wave mavericks the Glaxo Babies. These four songs along with sixteen others including their hit can be found on the compilation that bears their name.

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