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Alternative TV: The Image Has Cracked

Sowing the seeds of discord.

As the editor of seminal punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue in the 70s, Mark Perry had a clear, uncompromising vision. As the leader of Alternative TV he extended the same exacting standards to his band, his audience and himself.

For the opening live track on the band’s first album he brings some unruly crowd members on stage with predictably chaotic results. The album is a mixture of live and studio recordings, often on the same track, and Perry shows an obvious disdain for that elusive third chord, although that doesn’t stop him covering Frank Zappa’s Why Don’t You Do Me Right.

When his Deptford mate Jools Holland shows up with a boogie-woogie piano intro, he’s rudely silenced by an instrumental snarl and a chanted chorus of Viva La Rock ‘N’ Roll, followed by a diatribe against French culture. Perry is not enamoured with the French, and it affects his sexual performance on Nasty Little Lonely, which ends in noisy frustration.

Sex becomes a chore on Love Lies Limp, the first of 11 bonus tracks here, and an annoyance on Another Coke when someone wanks down the back of his leg. At least he can get it up for the anthemic single, Action Time Vision./o:p

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.