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Special View

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Album Review

Though a compilation of albums for America rather than a proper release, Special View could almost be a greatest hits of sorts, capturing the unexpected and underrated talents of Perrett and his bandmates for a late-'70s audience well enough and still holding up in later years. It doesn't hurt that the band's deathless anthem "Another Girl, Another Planet" — as perfect a crystallization of power pop shot through with fractured melancholia instead of macho strut as could be imagined — leads everything off. Perrett's wounded but right voice — Pete Shelley and Richard Hell in perfect sync — and the sharp, inspired melody and arrangement were reason enough for the band to exist, but Special View provides a fair amount of others. The Velvet Underground's influence (and, to an extent, the Modern Lovers') on the group could easily be heard on "Lovers of Today," the defiantly simple scrabble of those bands informed with the seasoned semi-pub/glam roots of the performers to result in an enjoyable tension. Perrett's gift at turning the seen-it-all stance of Lou Reed into a suddenly romantic, almost naïvely sweet vision definitely calls Jonathan Richman to mind, but he's less winsome and a touch more haunted and on edge, a careful balance that often is the most remarkable thing about the band in general. The strong enough but generally unremarkable R&B rave-ups on songs like "City of Fun" wouldn't have been so listenable without his wounded drawl. Meanwhile, moments like the conclusion of "The Beast," with its semi-epic guitar solo, and the synth on "Someone Who Cares" show examples of true inspiration. Secret highlight: "The Whole of the Law," a bit of a '50s tearjerker with the addition of the sax.


Formed: 1977 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '10s

Led by the raffish and slightly scuzzy romance-obsessed Peter Perrett, the Only Ones were one of the punk era's most underrated bands. Not as confrontational as the Sex Pistols, as politically indulgent as the Clash, or as stripped-down as the Ramones, the Only Ones played not-so-fast guitar rock that sounded deeply indebted to the New York Dolls and other mid-'70s proto-punks. Singing his intelligently crafted pop songs in a semi-tuneful whine of a voice and backed by a band that effectively combined...
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