Alternative TV - Apollo (1999)

Soon a new Alternative TV album will be issued. It's name: "Opposing Forces". First in quite a long time. The eponymous song here as a teaser. It's a winner. So the re-up of Apollo is here to stimulate your curiosity for this new offer. More about it below. And catch it here.

Not only a bunch of forgotten songs, but a whole album of them. Released under the name of Alternative TV, it is much more a Mark Perry solo one although he was helped by talented friends. Released today on a decent label (I mean decently distributed) it would have surely a greater impact it had 10 years ago. Times have changed and this lofi room-made music is of greater relevance it was at the time. It must be said that this is a very different sound than the punk-noise ATV we use to know. A strange melting pot of styles with a variety I was surprised to find. But this is still Mark Perry, and at his best. The music falls between the Fall (!) and TV Personalities, with something experimental, but a pop flavour, palatable experimentation in other words. And finally 16 songs that together create a damned good album, absurdly underrated and overlooked. Contrary to what was previously the habit with ATV, all the experiments succeed in creating something pleasant to ear. This is not a mandatory condition for me, but actually it can be a quality and it is here. If someone wants to know why I think Mark Perry is one of our greatest songwriters for the last 30 years, this is an album to listen to. Among the gems, there are "Apollo" (featuring Roddy Flame from Aztec Camera), a kind of pop standard that failed to find its way through the charts, "Communication Failure", the riff of "Another Coke" allowing Mark Perry to make a sad "constat" about punk (probably one of the best lyrics on the movement ever written), but also the incredible fakely naive and provocative "A Love Song", and "The Green Hair", with its Floydian climax. But several others are really a great listening experience such as the moving "I Looked At Your Face" or the strange "Propaganda" with its Specials atmosphere. All in all, this album must be listened to as a whole and I never separate songs from each others when putting it on my record player. Unfortunately, there won't be any other album from Mark Perry recorded with this freedom, and the only further one (Revolution) will be more opportunism (Mark P. told me that personally) than a authenticity. Overground records was a fine shelter for Mark Perry during these years. Steve Albini was involved in this label and had edited the excellent Live 1978 LP (see Live at Southend elsewhere on this blog). The 12 page booklet with pseudo SciFi drawings is reproduced in the .rar file.

Below, you can listen to first "A Love Song" and under "Communication Failure"