FLY ON THE WALL “DEVON DUMB” 3-SONG 7″EP (BARNSTABLE, DEVON, U.K.- NEXT WAVE, 1979)
The artwork on the front of the sleeve is pretty Spartan but has a nice homemade,
amateur feel to it which is always charming. The sleeve appears to be rather thin
paper that easily rumples. What’s nice is the numbering on the back that they did
with a stamp- bet that took some time! I have never hand-numbered a sleeve but I
wonder if just using a marker is quicker than using the rubber stamp for which you
have to change the numbers each time you stamp a new copy. What we also see on the
back of the sleeve is that this was recorded in October of ’79 so the record probably
did not hit shops until early 1980.
Here is some GREAT, very catchy DIY-tinged punk from the land of the best DIY-ish sounds: the U.K., the United Kingdom, England, Britain- here in the U.S. you will hear people use all these different country names which probably annoys the shit out of people in the U.K. For me calling this Fly On The Wall EP “DIY punk” in that word order is important since, for my ears, switching the order around and calling something “punk-y DIY” relates to different sounds with different nuances.
Whatever the hell I obsess over calling it, all three songs on this EP are winners which is always refreshing in this world full of records that have one good song and then a bunch of clunkers. The guitar player, Bunker Brazier (great name!), fucking NAILED the guitar sound on this record and it is, to use a cliché, “to die for”. Did he mean it to sound this way, or was it one of those good old happy accidents? I could listen to him strumming away all day to something random like the national anthem or whatever and still not get tired of it.
The band in general plays at a mid-tempo pace which was the perfect idea- I think that if they played faster this EP would just not be as charming and memorable. What also adds to the charm for me is the singer, Tug, who sounds like he’s about 14 and his voice hasn’t quite finished deepening yet. Also great is the cheap-o production which makes the drums sound kinda distant and echo-y, almost hypnotic especially on the first track, “In The News Today”. Speaking of hypnotism, my favorite track on the EP- “Educated”- is a dreamy track that grabs me from the first few seconds and doesn’t let go. You can’t help but not sing along to the chorus: “I don’t want to be educated; I don’t want to be a teacher’s pet”. These guys musta been in high school ‘cuz only teenagers would craft anti-school lyrics like that, eh, and not someone in their 20’s who would be far removed from the angst of being a schoolboy. The last track, “Lucky Ones”, speeds things up a bit and again has that great guitar noise front and center throughout. Dig that guitar solo too! Gotta laugh too when an acoustic guitar comes out of nowhere at the end. You crazy kids! Stop that clowin’ around!
Back To Front #6 LP that came out back in the Summer of ’95. “Lucky Ones” was on a comp in late 1997 called Raw and Rare British Punk, Volume 2 the name of which was misleading because there were no raw, frothing, over-the-top sounds on it. The “rare” part was definitely correct, though. But, as I have found out too many times over the years, “rare” does not always equal “memorable sounding”.
For the past 14 years I’ve always been curious to hear the uncomped track and finally did this summer and was not let down. That many years of waiting to hear “the missing track” leads to much speculation like “Why was it not comped? Does it sound like crap?”. But then on the other hand I’d think that if the other two songs are good, then maybe the third one is too and I go back and forth between the two positions. I finally ended my internal struggle and was convinced it was going to be a clunker until I got the chance to hear it this Summer and was pleasantly surprised thanks to the generosity of Mr. Girls From Tahiti. Thanks again!
One more thing- the label that released this EP, Next Wave, had in late 1981 as their second release (NXT 2) the infamous Cult Maniax Frenzie 4-song EP which was dramatically “banned” by the Bristol High Court thus making it rather rare- read more about it and the band here. The Cult Maniax’s manager at the time was Bunker Brazier, Fly On The Wall’s former guitarist and Next Wave label person.