One The Juggler: Nearly A Sin

CD release for lost 80s gem, now with nine bonus tracks.

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For a brief period in the early 80s, South London’s One The Juggler were the toast of the Marquee, supported Elvis Costello and Eurythmics and tipped as the next big thing.

Record company conflicts scuppered their Mick Ronson-produced second album, and their moment passed. But they left behind a terrific debut, now on CD for the first time, 30 years on.

Everyone remembers calling-card near-hit Passion Killer, loaded with hooks, dynamism and flair, the surprise may be that the rest of Nearly A Sin is almost as fierce.

The pat patronisation is that they dressed like The Levellers (the ‘gypsy minstrels’ image found scant traction in the new wave era) and concocted a cross between Ziggy Stardust’s swagger and the Only Ones’ opiates, but it might be savvy to admit they were Suede before Suede were out of school.

Frontman Rokko’s drunk-on-the-glamour-of-sleaze vocals, the clever set-ups and careering choruses suggest as much, and it’s easy to see what Ronson heard in them, lilting woozy saxophone and all. From the sashaying singles Damage Is Done and Django’s Coming to boho anthems like Blind Old Senator, there’s a remarkably deft blend of Pretenders style and Psychedelic Furs bile. They were a comet./o:p

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.