Thursday, 26 February 2015

Klark Kent (1980)

I know it's hard to like the Police these days in light of the vast and shitty shadow subsequently cast by their most cheekboned member, but they caught me at just the right point of my growing up and getting into music, making such an impact that even Ouch at his most tantrically rain-forest homeopathiary cannot diminish their light. The objections I've heard mostly seem to revolve around the Police having attempted to pass themselves off as a punk band and their playing crap reggae. I was eleven in 1977 and living in rural Warwickshire and was thus indisposed that night down the 100 Club when the Sex Pistols invented safety pins, the word fuck, and ruthless authenticity, so can't really comment on the first; and whilst it's true that the constabular version of reggae may have been a poor substitute for the actual thing, I'm not sure Stewart, Andy, and Ouch were ever really claiming to be anything they weren't, or that they ever had any serious intention of putting Gregory Isaacs out of business.

Klark Kent was of course the cunning disguise of Stewart Copeland, drummer of Curved Air and then the Police. Given some of the rubbish for which Ouch has been responsible since 1986, I'd venture to say he was also probably the main reason that the Police were ever any good, and you can sort of hear it on this bright green 10" oddity. Klark Kent slapped out a couple of wonderfully bratty pop singles before this, Don't Care and Too Kool to Kalypso, establishing himself as some sort of pseudo-fratpunk pioneer, which would seem comical with hindsight had he not made such fucking great records. His voice was never so strong as that of Ouch, but then it didn't need to be because his compositions were so weird and distinctive, a mish-mash of unorthodox influences welded into his own unique form of alien bunny hop and somehow smuggled onto vinyl as the Beach Boys in straight trousers. It's not that we're talking anything quite so bizarre or terrifying as the Residents, but Klark Kent always made more sense stood next to them than next to the Rolling Stones or whoever. The Police were never punk obviously, and neither was Klark Kent, although you might smuggle him in under the radar on the grounds of bands like Split Enz or Talking Heads ending up on the same misjudged compilation albums of the time, you know - picture of some sneering and suspiciously glamorous punkette with red spikey hair and increasingly generic ransom note lettering.

This is another one of those records it's taken me thirty years to get hold of, and it sounds as great as I knew it would. I still don't quite understand why it was just a 10" and why no Thrills or Office Girls - the two tracks on the flip of Don't Care comprising one of the greatest ever b-sides in the history of stuff - but frankly ah couldnae gie twa shites. It's a shame that my Klark Kent kollection should be complete now that I have all eleven songs, but that's still eleven better than anything Ouch ever managed on his own.

No comments:

Post a Comment