Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spizzenergi - Spizz Not Dead Shock! 1978-1988 (2000)

A dictionary definition of the word "pioneer" is "one of those who are first or earilest in any field of inquiry, enterprise or progress." By that definition, Spizz was not a pioneer.

But just behind every pioneer is a "second wave," which appreciates the pioneer's discoveries and learns how to implement them. Spizz falls into that group. During an all-day music festival held August 27, 1977, fledgling punk cadet, Kenneth Spiers, aka “Spizz” haphazardly hopped on stage at a Siouxsie and the Banshees set and performed a brief improvised series of songs on the microphone with a borrowed guitar, unknowingly spawning his musical career. He obviously made an impression on some label folk attending the show as he was signed backstage afterwards. He soon teamed up with fellow punk and like-minded guitarist Pete Petrol and they went on to record some lo-fi, but promising material under the moniker Spizz 77. After several name and line-up changes, Spizz 77 became Spizzoil, until reforming in 1979 as Spizzenergi, who quickly rose to popularity and became the first number one band on the embryonic UK Indie Chart in January of 1980. They recorded through Rough Trade and later A&M Records, and their music was a fundamental cadre of the underground punk movement. Combining his love for Star Trek, science fiction and futurism in general, these motifs often permeated his polytonal pop punk and were found at the staple of his sound.

This CD compilation of his work between 1978-1988, released by Cherry Red Records is filled to the brim with hooks and raw punk energy, complemented by the aforementioned science fiction themes which gave his bands an unequivocal style. Herein contains hits such as the classic “Where’s Captain Kirk,” (which Spizz did the artwork himself for the single using felt pens and showcasing his talent as an artist as well as a musician. He later went on to focus on painting when his musical projects were on a hiatus) “Spock’s Missing,” (both odes to Star Trek) “Soldier Soldier” “Mega City 3,” (As Spizzenergi: 2) “Work,” among a plethora of others. Because of the ever changing musical environments during the early 80’s, the band sort of fell apart due to their failure to adapt and stray away from the combering punk rock movement they embraced so adamantly and progress towards the more popular new wave sound that was beginning to take over. Although this could be argued to be inaccurate, and that the group from Athletico Spizz 80 onwards did espouse with new wave to an extent, I personally still label them solely as a punk band, outside of a few releases which leaned in a more progressive direction. All of this led to a lack of interest with record labels and the band sort of fizzed out briefly.

However, they were persistent and got back with Rough Trade, under the moniker Spizzenergi: 2, which saw the release of two singles, both of which were up to par with their earlier material. Eventually, despite Spizz’s perseverance throughout the remainder of the 80s, they more or less died off. Spizz still continues to occasionally tour and record, but its mostly sporadic. His legacy and influence, however, live on today as there has been a recent resurgence of interest in the group with the release of this compilation in 2000 and with their inclusion of "Where's Captain Kirk" on Mojo's best punk rock singles of all time. Spizz not dead indeed.

Rating: 8.5/10


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