12 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Only Ones were minor pop stars in their U.K. homeland in 1979 when Epic Records put out this U.S. collection of tracks from the band’s first two great British albums. The Only Ones were reductively dismissed stateside as “punk new wave” (and therefore bombed)—but a closer listen tells a different story. If songwriter Peter Perrett’s unkempt Dickensian rock star appearance somewhat explained the heroin ennui that would hinder him for years, here he plays it out like an energetic kid who grew up on Dylan, Syd Barrett, and The New York Dolls. The best songs (“You’ve Got to Pay,” “Lovers of Today,” “Out There in the Night,” “The Whole of the Law”) have the inescapable charm of a young, well-read, and fragile guitarist/storyteller who’s backed by a worthy band. The band’s absolute classic “Another Girl, Another Planet” is more than that—it’s one of the best pop songs of a generation (see affectionate covers by Belle & Sebastian, Blink 182, The Replacements, The Libertines, etc.) with a completely misunderstood junkie metaphor. Perrett was clever like that.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Only Ones were minor pop stars in their U.K. homeland in 1979 when Epic Records put out this U.S. collection of tracks from the band’s first two great British albums. The Only Ones were reductively dismissed stateside as “punk new wave” (and therefore bombed)—but a closer listen tells a different story. If songwriter Peter Perrett’s unkempt Dickensian rock star appearance somewhat explained the heroin ennui that would hinder him for years, here he plays it out like an energetic kid who grew up on Dylan, Syd Barrett, and The New York Dolls. The best songs (“You’ve Got to Pay,” “Lovers of Today,” “Out There in the Night,” “The Whole of the Law”) have the inescapable charm of a young, well-read, and fragile guitarist/storyteller who’s backed by a worthy band. The band’s absolute classic “Another Girl, Another Planet” is more than that—it’s one of the best pop songs of a generation (see affectionate covers by Belle & Sebastian, Blink 182, The Replacements, The Libertines, etc.) with a completely misunderstood junkie metaphor. Perrett was clever like that.

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About The Only Ones

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 youthful exuberance with gracefully aging veterans (non-punk drummer Mike Kellie had done time with early-'70s clod-rockers Spooky Tooth, bassist Alan Mair was nearly 40), Perrett was an astute chronicler of the vagaries of modern, dysfunctional love. Despite a career that lasted from 1978-1981 and one certifiable "hit" song to their credit (the brilliant "Another Girl, Another Planet"), the Only Ones became the archetypal contenders that never broke big, despite assurances from fans and critics that they couldn't miss.

Although they split up in 1981 after only three records, the Only Ones, due in large part to "Another Girl, Another Planet," became more influential than one would have guessed. Listen to Paul Westerberg and you'll hear more than a little Peter Perrett (in fact, the Replacements covered "Another Girl"); look at the number of Only Ones releases over the past decade (a half-dozen at least) and you soon realize that a significant cult surrounding the band grew after their breakup. Ironically, it was the posthumous release of the sessions for John Peel's BBC show that, more than any of the proper studio releases, accurately displayed the muscle and smarts of this fine band. There have been many rumors surrounding Perrett's life after the Only Ones, many of them involving an alleged heroin addiction. Perrett did continue to record and release solo projects during the '80s, including a project known as the One in the mid-'90s. ~ John Dougan

  • ORIGIN
    London, England
  • GENRE
    Pop
  • FORMED
    1977

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