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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneers of the British underground, 3 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Ptooff! (Audio CD)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 28 Mar 2014
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HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ptooff! (Audio CD)
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 .
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars garage rock sesentero, 15 April 2013
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This review is from: Ptooff! (Audio CD)
acepto que este grupo me llamo la atenciön por la portada de comic pero al escuchar la música me enganche rápido, creo que en la decada de los 60's eran mas vanguardistas que ahora y aqui tienen una prueba de elloy aparte un combo divertido que más puedes pedir.
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