Glaxo Babies – Nine months to the Disco

I’ve gone a little mainstream in my listening pleasures in the last couple of nights.  Its been an intense listening period as I’ve prepared some reviews and I do like to unwind with some old favourites, my disdain for sound colonization not withstanding. Glazxo Babies have been high on the rotation with a little Nick Cave (always a staple) and P.J. Harvey gracing the ears. I’d forgotten how much I love Glaxo Babies.  I swear, sometimes I think punk’s greatest contribution was the post-punk era! (Blasphemy I know)

Like many post-punk bands, Glaxo Babies took a little from column A, a little from Column Z and everything from the columns in between. This is not so much deconstruction at work as reconstruction at work and these days it adds a retro chic to the already clever sounds so that the extra vibe takes you on a properly contexted journey. One of the problems (I find) with a lot of mainstream contemporary music is the difficulty in associating with a certain “feel” as competing influences battle for the psyche. When one has the pleasure of listening forty years on (I’m in love with the earl;y stuff so we’re talking late 1970’s here) is context is free to flow almost as if it were one of the instruments. For this happy listener that successfully takes the place of being in the right place and the right time, if I may be a little too young to have been able to achieve that.

To quote Mutant Sounds, this album (the One I am listening to is Nine Months to the Disco) takes in ev everything from  mutant funk, nebulous atmospheric jams, sax squawk-driven post punk improv, dub technique, and itchy-scratchy Gang Of Four angularity and fuses it all in a way that’s beautifully un-obvious.

Of course by the time this great album was released in 1980, the band had broken up for the second time and were officially out of their “second phase”. I know the first phase includes Rob Chapman and the great song Christine Keeler, but I’m more into the second phase when they move into the free jazz that seems emblematic of their own disintegration. Pretty much all the members went off to form other groups, all their disputes being about artistic differences, and when you listen to NIne MOnths to the Disco it almost feels like everyone was in a room doing their own thing and it accidentally worked brilliantly.

Glaxo Babies were formed in the winter of 1977 in Bristol, UK. The line up was Dan Catsis, guitar, Tom Nichols, Bass, Geoff Allsop, Drums and Rob Chapman vocals and lyrics. The band’s influences include German bands like Can andFaust, The Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, William Burroughs, Dub reggae and Jazz. Read Rob Chapman’s brilliant account of his time in the band which comes with the current compilation. Except for three song-like tracks that actually resemble rock music, Nine Minutes to the Discoconsists mainly of formless sonic experiments, piling up seemingly unrelated sounds into an electronic jungle full of disjointed voices. Somehow, there’s a pleasing quality to these random adventures into low-budget ambient insanity.

Formless sonic experiments?

I’m so there!