Alternative TV: Viva La Rock’N’Roll

The Complete Fun City Recordings 1977-1980, with bonus tracks.

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Xeroxing typewritten exhortations and selling them as Sniffin’ Glue, Mark Perry led a punk fanzine revolution. Musically, the bank clerk-turned-prog primitive proved a lot harder for copycats to follow.

Debut album The Image Has Cracked offered the blistering mission statement Action Time Vision, but Perry soon rejected guitarist Alex Fergusson’s pop leanings. HIs defiant spin on spikey influences – The Bonzos, Van der Graaf and, of course, Beefheart – eventually exhausted his record company.

With the brilliant 1978 Peel session now added to the second ATV album, the exquisitely titled Vibing Up The Senile Man, its strange disturbing power and invocations are heightened. The Tapper Zukie-meets-Edgar Broughton Band righteousness of The Good Missionaries (Fire From Heaven) is still something to behold.

Always strange, always different, Perry’s continued to make music in the years since, but many of the influences he’s mined are captured on this set’s final solo album, Snappy Turns. On Death Looks Down, feral beasts appear to commandeer the Radiophonic Workshop, while The Whole World Down On Me offers a righteously swinging blues skank.

Throughout, Perry’s extensive notes, alongside alternative and live tracks, capture the creative flux. Engrossing and energising.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.