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7 May 2017

The Deviants "Ptooff!“ 1967 UK Underground Psych Rock,Proto Punk

Farren’s band the Deviants in 1970 left to right, Mick Farren, Mike McDonnell, Mike Bunce and Jeni Hurley.

singer and author Mick Farren of The Deviants, onstage in 1970. Photograph Steve Wood

The Deviants  - Ptooff! and Disposable Album 1967 + 1968

The Deviants Advertise

The Deviants in Brighton,summer of 1976

The Deviants  "Ptooff!“ 1967 UK Psych Rock,Garage,Proto Punk
Mick Farren interview…
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..... by Dave Thompson .........

This was the first album of its kind: a sheer, psychedelic punk gunk and unpretty in your face British recording cut in the autumn of ’67. Despite its small distribution through ads in International Times, OZ and select head shops, its Lichtenstein-esque pop art cover folded out into a two-sided 24” x 36” poster made it a no-brainer accoutrement for hippy pads everywhere. This album was the brainchild of IT contributor/vocalist Mick Farren, whose direction for the band would ALMOST contain his near-insane rage at the straight world he had dropped out of. The upper castes of the London underground were not exempt either, and Farren dismissed them as being cut from the same equally lame and clueless cloth. “PTOOFF!” was mean-and-filthy psychedelic street punk as the Farren-directed tracks “I’m Coming Home,” “The Nothing Man,” “Garbage” and “Deviation Street” all burn with the elemental fury of “we suck, we know it, fuck you” attitude that was unique in its time.

The stage is set for the beginning of “PTOOFF!” with the introductory “Opening” track on side one: a hugely intoned fake American “THE DEVIANTS ALBUM” to a mere smattering of fake applause and sarcastic “hoorays” and that’s it, brother. “I’m Coming Home” follows, and it’s “Gloria” meets The Stones’ “Going Home” with guitarist Sid Bishop landing a barrage of fuzzed-out Townshend/Hendrix ‘interference guitar’ while Russell Hunter’s ampouled up clatter hits out at every drum in sight over Farren’s bellowing vocals as the jams are kicked out for the very first time in Britain. There’s not a trace of faux-hippie Orientale stylings anywhere except when bassist Cord Rees’ arrangements on “Bun” or “Child Of The Sky” takes “PTOOFF!” down to that level of soma-soothing-ness. Even Farren’s pedestrian blooz, “Charlie” is better in comparison, and it’s an under-recorded flop as Bishop’s guitar work is too toned down and proud of his blues collection. But then “The Nothing Man” stomps in with the tape loops of Jack Henry Moore, a sound-collagist who had previously studied with John Cage. Tympani, shakers, castanets and loops of radio broadcasts all combine into a percussion groove of Mothers-inspired weirdness as spoken cut-ups switch on and off as a furious rumba careens out of control with high-pitched tone frequency shifting. Side two opens with “Garbage” (who the hell else in 1967 would write a song called “Garbage” anyway besides The Fugs? Only they didn’t.) The Deviants, man: there’s a fuzz/wah burst near the end that erupts out of nowhere, and it’s just about the most hilariously ugly and un-groovy thing you’ve ever heard in English psychedelia. And Farren gagas out a line when they’re on a full head of steam that issues from his mouth backed by absolutely no pre-destined thought whatsoever:

“Garbage can make you feel so large,
Put two cars in your garage...”

That’s pure dum-dum “Surfin’ Bird” stupidity, and it’s important to note that Farren was a rock and roller of high standards. Hell: he loved “Mona” so much, he not only cut two versions of it on his first solo album that he also named “Mona”, but “Mona” also appears here on “PTOOFF!” in two places! “Deviation Street” is the nine minute odyssey of sheer fuck rampage and collaging like a garage “Revolution #9,” starting up with another proto-MC5/Who blitzo-racket that is soon edited into spoken Farren excerpts that are Fugs as all get-out, but even snider. Laughter, explosions, cheering, Saturday night at UFO with an undercover cop, a plastic hippy’s post-trip summation all smear together in an endless parade of detonating sarcasm, cheap thrills, rip offs and mayhem until Farren intones “onetwofreefour” and The Deviants do their whole barrage-garage one more time for you as fighter planes swoop down on them.

Like all good punks ALWAYS do, they shot their first load and had nothing left. The Deviants’ second album, “Disposable” has a minimum of moments as great while their third, tapped out offering, “The Deviants” yields far less. But The Deviants’ attitude paved the way for a tradition of unruly street Rock that continues to annoy to this day. ......Julian Cope..........

Think of England in 1967 and the chances are that images of people wearing flowers in their hair, Jimi Hendrix getting all experienced and the supporting cast on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's will psychedelically swirl into view.
But some railed against what they regarded as a media-spun exercise in perception management right off the bat. The Deviants, led by writer and cultural agent-provocateur, Mick Farren, not only saw dead-hand establishment as the enemy but flower power hippiedom as a dead end in itself.
They regarded both as equally dangerous to the counter-culture and to be avoided at all costs. Their debut album was initially self-produced, self-packaged and sold directly to punters as a means of bypassing 'The Man'. Ptooff! offered something that wasn’t easily incorporated into 1967's homogeneous hallucination.
Gathering up spiky rock 'n' roll remnants along with shards of The Fugs, mutated Bo Diddley riffs, comic book cosmology, avant-garde tape loops suffused with polemics and left-over beat poetry, The Deviants hurled it all at a scene increasingly dominated more by commercialism than karma.
A suite of songs intercut with agitprop poetry, cut-price sci-fi, subliminal skits, sketches and skronking guitar, Ptooff! is a 35-minute manifesto standing against the wide-eyed drift of the day.
To describe the album as rough and ready is something of an understatement. Though musical skills improved over two further albums, Disposable (1968) and Three (1969), perversely this diluted their 'blunt weapon' appeal. The incendiary aspects of what The Deviants were trying to do were never as fiery or as full-blooded as on this first record.
A huge influence on the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind, these guys were proto-punk when Johnny Rotten was just a spotty-faced twelve year old. You don't find Ptooff! mentioned in those '1001 platters to play before you pop your clogs' books, but it should Smith ...BBC review..........

The Deviants were perhaps the most significant complex of British underground music in the '60s, alike with the early Pink Floyds.
The Social Deviants were formed in 1966 by Mick Farren, a young militant who had been suggested by Fugs' agit-prop satire. Farren was one of the protagonists of London's counter-culture, the foremost exponent of the British White Panther, organizer and animator of alternative evenings, an International Times journalist (the official organ of alternative culture) and politician; In short, John Sinclair English. The Social Deviants were simply the musical appendage of its multifaceted activity, an emanation from the jam-happening that the freaks kept at the UFO Club.

The first album, Ptooff (Underground Impresarios, 1967 - Decca, 1969 - Psycho, 1984), is a fantasy of adolescent nightmares that reaches a historical balance between the trash-rock of the garage bands and the social commentary of the Fugs.
The gags are genius and vertiginous: Farren's solos mimicking a whole complex, the 1920s songs, martial rhythms, alcoholic declamations, riff bites, falsets and bass, Slapstick Fugitives like People Of The City, blues hallucinogenous vomits like Garbage (Riff stolen at Defecting Gray of Pretty Things), the tribal and technological nightmare of Nothing Man, underground mini-columns like Deviation Street, rough audiences at Stooges as I'm Coming Home.
The Deviants, one of the few really politicized complexes of English rock, wanted to represent provocation to the utmost, but the salient fact was their rocky sound.

Disposable (Stable, 1968 - Get Back, 1998), with the hymn to Let's Loot The Supermarket's Fugs, the comic Fire In The City, the irrepressible garage-rock of You've Got To Hold On, Normality Jam, Somewhere To Go Doodies of the Slum Lord's wild hard rock, is a much less brilliant, but less irreverent and original, and infinitely more musical disk.

After the last Deviants (Transatlantic, 1969), which sees the entry of Canadian guitarist Paul Rudolph and still contains a chaotic acid-rock epic like Metamorphosis Exploration (nine minutes), a dreary Rambling Black Transit Blues and trance Parody of Billy The Monster, the band melted. While Farren concentrated on non-musical activities, others (bassist Duncan Sanderson, drummer Russell Hunter, guitarist Paul Rudolph) joined John "Twink" Alder and recorded Think Pink (Polydor, 1970) and then followed him in Pink Fairies.

The Deviants records were deeply different from the stereotypes of British rock music. Their songs were militant satire and suite-collages populated with long psychedelic instrumental rides. Antesignans of punk anarchism, the Deviants had little or nothing in common with the flower-power generation. Imitating the MC5, they conceived the revolution as worm violence.

Farren still has Mona The Carnivorous Circus (Transatlantic, 1970 - Psycho, 1984 - Get Back, 1998), accompanied by the Pink Fairies, a splendid revival of devious music (the hyper-psychedelic Carnivorous Circus, Twink and Took's masterpiece, Buckmaster to the cello).

Public Farren still Vampires Stole My Lunch (Logo, 1978), paid tribute to the new punk puppeteers of Portobello (Drunk In The Morning, Bela Lugosi) before finally giving up journalism.

Farren will be dubbed Deviants to record EP Screwed Up (Stiff, 1977), featuring punk rock, and live album Human Garbage (Psycho, 1984) with MC5's Wayne Kramer. With Kramer he also works for a musical, some of which appeared on Who Shot You Dutch (Specter, 1987).

Farren, now relocated to Los Angeles, still has the Tijuana Bible with which he will record Gringo Madness (Big Beat, 1993), a sort of album concept that marries noir movies and poetry beat, and then he will definitely give " -word ".

Farren's new Deviants, with Wayne Kramer and Andy Colquhoin, recorded a decorative Eating Jello With A Heated Fork (Alive, 1997) that marries the fierce anarchy of the early days with the compassed beat style of maturity.

On Your Knees Earthlings (Total Energy, 2001) and This CD is Condemned (Total Energy, 2002) are anthologies of the Deviants curated by Farren.

Mick Farren died in 2013.............

Alongside Pink Floyd, the Deviants were perhaps the most significant band of the British underground music scene of the 1960s. The Social Deviants were formed in 1966 by Mick Farren , a young militant who had been influenced by the satire of agit-prop Fugs. Farren was one of the leading counter-culture figures in London, a leading exponent of the White Panther UK, organizer and promoter of alternative nights at the UFO club, journalist and politician.

The Deviants' debut, 'Ptooff' (1967), is a fantasy of adolescent nightmares that achieves a balance between the aesthetic of trash-rock garage bands and social commentary. Farren's breathtaking gags imitate the songs of the 1920s, martial rhythms, odd riffs, falsetto, Zappa-style slapstick and the vomiting hallucinogenic blues such as the Pretty Things' riff-based 'Garbage' and the tribal and technological nightmare, 'Nothing Man'.

'Deviation Street' is the soundtrack of the underground, whilst the anthem 'I'm Coming Home' is a raw piece of proto-punk that predicted British new-wave by a decade. The Deviants sound was as daring as their politicization was complex. The Deviants approach represented a genuine challenge to the British political establishment of the era and their sound was one of the most influential in the entire history of British rock music........By Daniel Margrain ...............

These are the sleeve notes I wrote for Angel Air's brand new release of the classic album, 'Ptooff!'. They give an insight into the scene at the time and the legendary Peter Shertser, one half of the 'the firm':

`Counterculture: A subculture whose values and norms of behaviour deviate from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural norms.'

The epitome of Sixties counterculture was an entertaining and enigmatic individual by the name of Peter Shertser.

Shertser was part of a group of radical free thinkers who went under the name of `the Firm'. The Firm was artistic, non-conformist and leftfield, undertaking random acts of mischief, as Peter explained to Jonathon Green for his book `Days in the Life, Voices from the English Underground 1961-1971':
"We used to enjoy a bit of wrecking. That started from fourteen or fifteen onwards. It was clever wrecking, not just vandalism. We'd cement a Hoover to a bath. Very Magritte influenced, Man Ray, and all that kind of thing, thinking about Bunuel films."

Peter's `partner in crime' was a creative young man by the name of Ian Sippen. Peter and Ian are colourfully described by Deviant's lead vocalist, Mick Farren in his memoir:

"Our staunch allies in combating the mod/skinhead problem were a motley bunch of Jewish East Londoners known as the Firm. The Firm were ex-mods themselves, but of the earlier, stylish variety whose twin dedications were music - primarily the blues - and creating chaos and mayhem wherever they went. Led by the dire duo Peter Shertser and Ian Sippen, the Firm had taken a bunch of acid but managed to retain a highly mutated version of the traditional mod vision...they'd grown their hair and now dressed in sharp, custom-tailored suits of the most outrageous fabrics they could find. These bespoke monsters were made by an elderly tailor in the East End to whom they would present lengths of William Morris curtain material and demand that he sew it according to the same pattern as three-button Tonik. At UFO, the Firm's capacity for confusion and disorder reached inspired peaks. They spiked a number of people, including the hapless John Peel, attacked the more disoriented hippies with water pistols and, on one memorable night, let off an assortment of fireworks right on the dance floor. After that, the choice was to ban them or co-opt them, and since they would only treat a ban as a challenge to return by hook or by crook, I suggested they become our resident mod neutralisation squad."

Shertser and Sippen's role as part of the Sixties Underground scene drew a crowd of like-minded individuals who bucked the trends of the time, turned their backs on the mainstream and steadfastly ploughed their own furrow. Thankfully (perhaps amazingly!) one half of the `dire duo' is still here to tell the story - Peter Shertser. Sadly, Ian Sippen died forty years ago when he was on holiday with Adrian Gurvitz in Morocco. Ian is thought to have drowned whilst swimming.

Part of the Underground scene at the time was a band that appropriately went by the name of The Social Deviants, fronted by the aforesaid Mick Farren.

The Social Deviants (later shortened to The Deviants) produced a sound that Farren is quoted as describing as `teeth grinding, psychedelic rock'. Influenced by the likes of Zappa, Spirit and the Fugs, they ploughed a furrow which was in stark contrast to the sort of music that was dominating the Hit Parade at this time.

The Deviants signed to Nigel Samuel's independent Underground Impresario label and the release of their first album moved a step closer to reality.

Samuels is well worth a mention for his part in creating `Ptooff!'. In Peter's words, "the Samuels family owned Great Portland Street" and were by all accounts, exceptionally wealthy.

Nigel Samuels lived in Eaton Square and was known for being rather eccentric. He was also apparently very partial to a joint. On one such occasion, the story goes that he was sitting at home getting quietly stoned, when he dropped off to sleep. The smouldering joint slipped out of his hand and on to the floor, setting fire to the house, almost completely gutting the interior...and throughout the chaos, Nigel slept on, oblivious to the mayhem he had caused!
Despite his eccentricities, Nigel could be generous and he stumped up £700 for the pressing of `Ptooff!'
Peter Shertser's role in the whole process was the marketing and selling of the album. Peter was based at the offices of International Times in Betterton Street, London and it was from here that he pushed the album:
"Nigel didn't know how to promote the album, so he brought me on board during my summer vacation. He knew that I was a music aficionado and had a good business mind and some good contacts."
The original release came in a poster sleeve which Peter recalls was incredibly labour-intensive to fold due to its substantial size, particularly when preparing releases for export. The poster idea was innovative, wonderful for the fans but deeply impractical.
Peter was in fact studying for a Pharmacology degree at Barking Polytechnic at the time, but his sales and marketing skills earned him ten times more than he would ever make as a pharmacologist:
"I knew I could make more money working on commission as I was at that time, rather than wearing a white coat full of burn holes with pens sticking out of the top pocket!"
`Ptooff!' went mainstream shortly after its initial release. Sire Records owner Seymour Stein had seen an advert Peter had taken out in Record Retailer magazine for `Ptooff!' and as a direct consequence, Stein met with Peter at the Betterton Street offices and secured a licensing deal for the album in the States.
In turn, Sire licensed the album to Decca, perhaps in some way diminishing the anti-establishment feel of the project.
It was at about this time that Nigel Samuels decided that running a record label was too much hassle and sold it on to Shertser. Peter renamed the label `URE' (`Underground Recording Enterprises') on the basis that "....Underground Impresario was too `poncy'." He later rebranded the label `Red Lightnin''.
The purchase of the label was quite an unnerving experience for Peter. Nigel Samuels had insisted that the first £1,000 payment should be handed over at the notorious Black House in Holloway. The Black House was the power base of the `Black Power' movement, fronted by a dangerous character called Michael X and funded by Samuels. Mr.X declared at the time that "they've made me the archbishop of violence in this country."

Peter has no qualms in admitting it was a scary experience: "these guys had recently machine-gunned the US Embassy!"
Michael X was also known as an extortionist and was later tried and found guilty of murder. Thankfully, Peter survived the experience, though it remains embedded in his memory to this day.
So what about the album?
`Ptooff!' weighed in at a mere 35 minutes, but in that half an hour plus of vinyl was a band flying in the face of commercialism and the so called hippy dream. These guys were `punk' before the word was even attributed to later bands such as the Clash and the Sex Pistols. Rough, ready and utterly unique, the album was the musical equivalent of being coshed with a blunt instrument. The band and those involved with the release of this album sneered at the establishment and stuck two fingers up at the mainstream.
Despite being `spiked' by Shertser and his cohorts, John Peel was taken with the album commenting:
"...On this LP there is little that is not good, much that is excellent and the occasional flash of brilliance. The Underground is a shifting, undefinable and vital force - the same is true of the Deviants."
Two further Deviants albums followed in 1968 and '69 (`Disposable' and `Three'), but neither hit the mark in the same way as `Ptooff!'
The influence of the Deviants resonated throughout the music business and made a lasting impression on bands such as the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind.
The album has been released a few times since, but in the spirit of its original pressing, the Deviants are once again on an independent label - Peter and Shirley Purnell's Angel Air. And whilst you won't get an enormous fold-out poster with this package, you will be transported back to an era and a scene dominated by a group of free thinking, subversive individuals who, in a small way, left their mark on Sixties counterculture.
For good measure, we have also included the original sleeve notes for your enjoyment.
James McCarraher
January 2013
With sincere thanks to Peter Shertser ....By GOODBYE!...........................

Before the project THE DEVIANTS, probably the most anarchoid band of the entire English psychedelic landscape, was Mick Farren (n. 1947). Young by the ideas a bit confused about what he really wants to do, Farren delights in painting, poetry and literature; In the evening it lends itself as a "bouncer" at the entrance of the UFO Club in London, although its physics can not even be compared to a real "doorman". It is 1967, the year of the great psychedelic turn of British rock; In the musical environment of Tottenham Court Road matures in Mick the idea of ​​founding one's own complex.
Social Deviants (Mick Farren: voice), (Russell Hunter: drums), (Clive Maldoon: guitar), (Pete Monroe, first bassist, replaced by Cord Rees and Duncan Sanderson).
The initial repertoire is strictly composed of folk-rock-acid that the group performs alive at the Artesian Well Pub; They get a fairly public audience and participate on April 29 at the 14th Hour Technicolor Dream organized by the IT magazine.
A second guitar player, Sid Bishop, is being hired, carrying a breath of acid-blues; The music of the complex can be identified at this point as an experimental proto-punk-acid-blues. In a few months they combine all the colors: they play in a Dutch festival instead of Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, are banned by most English and Irish clubs for song lyrics, too provocative and sometimes really pushed to excess, Are arrested for public peace disturbance, while Mick also breaks up with Ufo Club's Hoppy Hopkins. Only London-based wealthy Nigel Samuels, who collaborates with the IT magazine, blindly believes in them; Pays enough money to the band to print their first LP; The opportunity is to create an independent label called "Underground Impressary".
The name of the band is shortened by Social Deviants to The Deviants; The album comes out with the title PTOOFF! And it is presented as a real musical manifestation and not only; Will become over the years, thanks in particular to the cover made as a sort of post-manifesto of a new movement, the banner of a host of array of minor British artists and complexes confined to underground rock and marginalized by critics and record companies 'era. The LP contains music that can hardly be compared to classical psychedelic, in the album the condensation blues, rock and heavy intellectual sophistication, fairy and reflective moments with various experiments, including percussion and magnetic tape with sound effects recorded by Jack Henry Moore of IT touring for metros and city parks.
The final product is sold by correspondence only through the IT and OZ music magazines and gets a good impression, the young British of the period seem to appreciate this new type of psychedelic that is much closer to the Red Krayola american garage than to the Beatles "pepper" molasses .
The famous English label DECCA is interested in the Deviants phenomenon and reprint the LP in an official way for a large-scale European distribution; This opens the doors to Ptooff's large-scale success and popularity!...........

- Mick Farren - lead vocals, piano
- Sid Bishop - guitar, sitar
- Russ Hunter - drums, vocals
- Cord Rees - bass, Spanish guitar
- Duncan Sanderson, Stephen Sparkes & Ashworth - vocals, mumbling
- Jonathan Weber - producer

Opening 0:05
I'm Coming Home 5:52
Child Of The Sky 4:25
Charlie 3:50
Nothing Man 4:22
Garbage 5:32
Bun 2:35
Deviation Street 9:08

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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