Alternative TV was one of the bands that expanded punk-rock's vocabulary
with keyboards and experimental touches.
Mark Perry, a radio disc jockey and the editor of one of the first punk fanzines, "Sniffin' Glue",
started the band in March 1977 with
Alex Ferguson on guitar, Micky Smith (and later Tyrone Thomas and then
Dennies Burns) on bass, John Towe (and later Chris Bennett) on drums.
The singles Love Lies Limp (Sniffing Glue, 1977),
Knights of the Future/ Alternatives to Normal Eating (Red Ronnie's Bazar, 1977)
and How Much Longer/ You Bastard (Deptford Fun City, november 1977)
heralded a new era for British rock music, an era that would soon revel in
the modernist sounds of XTC and
Ferguson had already left by this time. Alternative TV's songs were melodic
and complex, although they still boasted punk's angry "take-no-prisoners"
The Image Has Cracked (Deptford Fun City, 1978) is a milestone of
that era, as are the singles
Life After Life/ Life After Dub (Deptford Fun City, 1978),
Life/ Love Lies Limp (Deptford Fun City, 1978) and
Action Time Vision/ Another Coke (Deptford Fun City, 1978).
But the band was falling apart. Only Perry and the bassist were left on
Vibing Up the Senile Man (Deptford Fun City, 1979), a much more
experimental album at the border between free-jazz and electronica, while the
market also received a couple of live albums and a bootleg or two.
The last single was
The Force Is Blind/ Lost in a Room (Depford Fun City, 1979).
Perry also released a solo album, Snoppy TUrns (Deptford, 1981) and
released records under the names Good Missionaries and Here And Now.
The original line-up reformed for the album
Strange Kicks (IRS, 1981) and the singles
The Ancient Rebels/ Dub in Bed (IRS, 1981) and
Communicate/Obsessed (IRS, 1981).
Perry used different line-ups for the album
Peep Show (Anagram, 1987)
the EP Sol (Chapter 22, 1990).
Splitting in 2 (Anagram, 1989) is an anthology of material from the
first album and the singles.
Alex Fergusson joined Psychic Tv and later started a
solo career devoted to a baroque and psychedelic pop sound with
Perverse Ballads (Overground, 1996).
The Essence (Trisol, 2001) is even more sophisticated, with help from
Strawberry Switchblade's Rose McDowell.
Alternative TV resurrected for the single
Purpose In My Life/ Company Of Lies (Feel Good All Over, 1993) and the
My Life As A Child Star (Feel Good All Over, 1993), mostly in the vein
of 1970s' pub-rock.
Yet another incarnation of the band would convert to trip-hop with
Punk Life (Overground, 1998).
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