Alternative TV: The Image Has Cracked

YOU KNOW them “artists” and “reviewers”, they ain’t never gonna stop.

Nick Kent bit. I know almost everyone on or concerned with this album and how, where, why most of the tracks were written.

Danny Baker bit. I paid for it and I can say what I bleedin’ well like.

The main reason for this album being so next-to-nothing is because it seems as though Mark (Perry) is surrounded by people who say “okay” too often. There’s nobody to say that’s awful or the track ‘Red’ is the most pretentious bit of indulgence since the Moody Blues’ solo albums. If Mark had such a person around, the many cracks in this particular image could have been polyfilled with better ideas, more guts and less reliance on repetition of tired heavy metal. As it is ATV have settled to make an LP of easy exits and extended bluffs.

The album opens with an intentional pompous fan fare of guitar and R2D2 synthesiser that drags it’s overblown weight “cleverly” into ‘Alternatives’ recorded live at the 100 Club. The idea of the cut is to hand the mike over to the audience to “use this soapbox” to “say something”. A mistake because if they had something to say they wouldn’t be in the audience in the first place. What you get is an embarrassing slanging match between the reluctant crowd and two or three would-be seers. Alright ATV aim to show how “we all don’t know nothing” but if that’s the case I thought they’d already said it on ‘How Much Longer’, besides this misguided bit of eaves-dropping barely stands up to one play and goes on for far too long.

‘Action Time Vision’ follows and is the album’s bright spot. Particularly noticeable are some excellent backing vocals. It is unique on the album because it lasts only as long as it should and certainly undermines its stable mates on the rest of it. I can’t make head or tail of the lyrics but that’s never bothered me before.

Back in the real world comes a version of Zappa’s ‘Why Don’t You Do Me Right?’ which though triffyk when slipped in live, has only Mark’s voice to make this distinguishable from any AC/DC-type plod.

Another live cut that doesn’t cut comes next, ‘Good Times’, is thrown away because of the corridor-like atmosphere of the 100 Club, which it doesn’t deserve if only because of fair lyrics that dynamite the old “romantic” Deptford Fun City crap.

The words of the unfortunate and distressingly-dull ‘Still Life’ are shabbily buried beneath what is without a, doubt Alex Fergusson’s least-inspired “song”. ‘Still Life’ was even inspired by one-time Sniffin’ Glue attendant Steve Mick.

You are sitting in your small room
But your mind is like a ballroom

However I can understand how it could be trivial and baffling if you don’t know the full gossip, but then again, there’s an odd chance that you don’t care.

‘Viva la Rock ‘n’ Roll’ runs the title on side two’s opener and so it should.

The curious ‘Nasty Little Lonely’ starts off subdued and echoey rather like those old sinister Alice Cooper tracks, where he descends into Hell, which this does in the form of binding, grinding heavy metal, that Ozzie Osbourne would be proud to flex the old gait across. All dead weight and solemn.

Nothing at this point had prepared me for the irredeemably bad ‘Red’. As far as I can see the rest of the album can be put down to mistakes, but if ‘Red’ is the direction ATV are taking then they may as well turn it in here and now. Being subjected to unaccompanied, directionless farty guitar whackings at the expense of everyone in earshot is not my idea of £3.75. This track alone makes the new Ringo album look positively packed with intriguing ideas.

Now where did I put that filler?
Cracked finishes with ‘Splitting in Two’, another good idea that winds up lasting about a month and a half.

So of course you think “Ayay he’s had a row with them and slated their LP.” What I’d like ATV to think is that maybe this was written from disappointment rather than vitriol, and whether they all cut out the rigged five-star business deals to paste in their scrap-book and really believe that there’s any worth in this disastrous LP, while ignoring those who obviously “don’t understand”, remains to be seen.

But remember what Lenny Bruce said about Hitler and the information, lads.

You need the Deviants. But how much longer will the Deviants need you?

© Danny BakerZigZag, July 1978

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