Doctors Of Madness - Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors Of Madness album review

Another chance to meet the ‘punk before punk’ rockers

Cover art for Doctors Of Madness - Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors Of Madness album

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If the angry urgency of Waiting, the third track on Late Night Moves, All Night Brainstorms – the 1976 debut album by Doctors Of Madness – rings bells, that might be because it presaged a lot of the sounds you will have heard six months or so down the line. Only this was a violin-enriched, artful, studied take on life in the UK dole-drums. The liner notes for this triple-CD anthology argue persuasively that DOM were the missing link between David Bowie and The Sex Pistols (the latter actually supported them early on), all attitude and theatricality over virtuosity. No wonder they loved the glitter brigade and loathed prog.

Forming in 1974, they were led by an outspoken provocateur with a literary bent, Richard Harding, aka Richard ‘Kid’ Strange, who had blue and green hair and performed the band’s first gig in a straightjacket – think Johnny Rotten’s batty, bohemian uncle. If anything, Doctors Of Madness were peers of Cockney Rebel, with a similarly motormouthy frontman who tended to sneer rather than sing and was prone to absurdly hyperbolic assertions of the “I’m the greatest writer alive save for Lennon and Dylan” and “we’re the world’s greatest rock band” variety. They weren’t quite that, but they were a sight for bored eyes in that interregnum between glam and punk.

Here, you get all three of their albums – the March 1976 debut, the more refined/defined October ’76 follow-up Figments Of Emancipation and 1978’s Sons Of Survival, arguably their most direct work – supplemented by previously unheard and live recordings. Consider that gap in your historical knowledge expertly filled.

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.