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Snakes and Ladders - Almost Complete: 1980-82

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Album Review

In the early 1980s, TV21 operated at roughly the place where British new wave, punk, and retro-mod music intersected, though without landing a chart record. This 19-track compilation contains everything from their sole album (1981's A Thin Red Line) and several cuts from 1980-1982 singles, though as the title admits, it doesn't quite have everything they released, missing a few non-LP tracks. The Jam and the Clash exerted as big an influence on some emerging bands at this time as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had about 15 years previously, and TV21's similarities to groups along the Jam/Clash lines are impossible not to detect. A brash, propulsive, guitar-driven attack powers an anthemic rock sound, though it falls short of being as abrasive as punk or retro as mod revival bands. Commitment and sincerity are evident in the muted, youthful angst of the lyrics; a ring to the guitars and dexterous insistence to the rhythms pushes it beyond the parameters of punk, as do occasional horns. It lacks the individuality of the most celebrated groups working along these lines, however, and Norman Rodger's declamatory vocals can be too unvaryingly earnest for those without a particular taste for the genre. Their final single, "All Join Hands," hints at artistic growth with a greater, more gentle melodicism and use of the synthesizers and drum machines then mushrooming in new wave, but the band broke up before they could continue exploring such directions. The booklet contains a thorough, illustrated history of the band, including comments from members of the group.

Customer Reviews

the greatest band that never made it big

what a fantastic trip down memory lane , some great tracks on here , one point to note , check the songs before you buy as the track listing is a bit skew wiff. drums guitars trumpets even the odd synth , this is true 80's music that stands up alongside the jam , smiths , echo , and a fair few others that had their undeserved 15 minutes (big country for one ...) stand out tracks are snakes and ladders (13 on here) , this is zero, somethings wrong and ideal way of life. could be the best 8 quid you spent in a long while x


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '00s, '10s

The new wave band TV21 formed in the late '70s, comprising drummer Colin Maclean, guitarist Ally Palmer, bassist Neil Baldwin, and vocalist/guitarist Norman Rodger. The band took their name from Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson's fanzine. After releasing their first two singles on Powerbeat in early 1980, they recorded a session for John Peel's BBC radio program. Another pair of singles followed for the Demon label in 1981. Maclean split and was replaced by Ali Patterson, a former member of the...
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Snakes and Ladders - Almost Complete: 1980-82, TV21
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