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Ptoof!

The Deviants

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Album Review

Talk today about Britain's psychedelic psyxties, and it's the light whimsy of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, the gentle introspection of the village green Kinks, Sgt. Pepper, and "My White Bicycle" which hog the headlines. People have forgotten there was an underbelly as well, a seething mass of discontent and rancor which would eventually produce the likes of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, and the Edgar Broughton Band. It was a damned sight more heartfelt, too, but the more some fete the lite-psych practitioners of the modern age, the further their reality will recede. Fronted by journalist/author/wild child Mick Farren, the Deviants spawned that reality. Over the years, three ex-members would become Pink Fairies; for subsequent reunions, sundry ex-Fairies would become honorary Deviants. And though only Russell Hunter is present on Ptooff!, still you can hear the groundwork being laid. The Pink Fairies might well have been the most perfect British band of the early '70s, and the Deviants were their dysfunctional parents. In truth, Ptooff! sounds nowhere near as frightening today as it was the first (or even 21st) time out; too many reissues, most of them now as scarce as the original independently released disc, have dulled its effect, and besides, the group's own subsequent albums make this one look like a puppy dog. But the deranged psilocybic rewrite of "Gloria" which opens the album, "I'm Coming Home," still sets a frightening scene, a world in which Top 40 pop itself is horribly skewed, and the sound of the Deviants grinding out their misshapen R&B classics is the last sound you will hear. Move on to "Garbage," and though the Deviants' debt to both period Zappa and Fugs is unmistakable, still there's a purity to the paranoia. Ptoof! was conceived at a time when there genuinely was a generation gap, and hippies were a legitimate target for any right-wing bully boy with a policeman's hat and a truncheon. IT and Oz, the two underground magazines which did most to support the Deviants (Farren wrote for both), were both publicly busted during the band's lifespan, and that fear permeates this disc; fear, and vicious defiance. It would be two years, and two more albums, before the Deviants finally published their manifesto in all its lusty glory — "we are the people who pervert your children" — during their eponymous third album's "People Suite." But already, the intention was there.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In the late '60s, the Deviants were something like the British equivalent to the Fugs, with touches of the Mothers of Invention and the British R&B-based rock of the Yardbirds and the Pretty Things. Their roots were not so much in the British Invasion as the psychedelic underground that began to take shape in London in 1966-1967. Not much more than amateurs when they began playing, they squeezed every last ounce of skill and imagination out of their limited instrumental and compositional resources...
Full Bio
Ptoof!, The Deviants
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