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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A psychedelic punk classic, 14 Jan 2001
This review is from: Ptooff! the Deviants (Audio CD)
First and best of the three albums recorded by the original Deviants lineup, Ptooff! is capable of sharply polarizing attitudes. To a number of ex-Swinging London cognoscenti (see Jonathon Green's Days In The Life) the Deviants remain a byword for musical incompetence; even their former manager, Steve Sparkes, recently dubbed Ptooff! "the worst record in the history of man." In hindsight, though, the Deviants were simply a decade ahead of their time, their alleged "ineptitude" making perfect sense in light of Punk's back-to-basics ethos. There's a large dollop of justice in Mick Farren's claim that, along with the MC5 and the Stooges, the Deviants had more to do with the way rock developed than the likes of Ten Years After. Led Zep they weren't, but who'd want them to be? (Paul Rudolph, apparently, but that's another episode.)
    Ptooff!'s significance lies as much in the manner of its making as in its music. Mick Farren, anarchist, hustler, underground writer and sometime doorman at London's groovy UFO club, puts together a shambolic R&B band called the Social Deviants. By dint of persistence and massive drug ingestion the band overcomes opposition from those among the cognoscenti who like their freakouts on the mellow side, and becomes something of a fixture on the London scene. Eschewing the standard music-biz route to getting a record out, Farren persuades a whacked-out hippie son of a millionaire to put up the cash for an album. Mercifully free of any record company pressure to make "product", and fuelled by even more drugs and the will to attempt radical sonic experiments, the band parlay their technical limitations and studio naïvete into a flawed masterpiece of Zappaesque garage psychedelia.
(The band further challenge established music-biz practice by distributing Ptooff! themselves, even seizing control of the means of packaging by paying street hippies with enough amphetamines to keep them up all night wrapping the disc into its glorious multi-foldout pop-art sleeve.)
This salutary tale - of imagination and do-it-yourself fervour wresting control of a popular art form from the commodifying clutches of the music industry - would in 1977 come to serve as a blueprint for the indie tendencies of punk. Its ramifications continue to this day: that obscure techno/dance outfit working out of the basement of the café round the corner from your apartment, making CDs and artwork on primitive MIDI lashups and pirated software, can trace its lineage back to Ptooff! and the Deviants.
Enough of the sociology lecture, already - what's the music like? Imagine early Who and Stones filtered through a musique concrete scrambler and supercoded with oblique hippie satire, and you're getting there.
The band's R&B roots show through most clearly on the first track proper, "I'm Coming Home", an urgent, sinister blues groove, Farren all strangulated lustful menace, building to an explosive climax which recalls uncannily the Ron Asheton fuzz-wah panzer-guitar incursion on the Stooges' 1969. A true case of parallel evolution. Rumour that the Deviants used this song as an extended thrash during their stage shows makes one salivate for a contemporary live bootleg.
"Charlie" is a throwaway jogalong boogie replete with Farren narrative which prefigures some of his later fictional mutated-Wild West themes. The case for the Deviants' "incompetence" comes nearest to being made here. Not that there's anything wrong with it, really - just that, with contemporaries like the Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac and a hundred others already mining the blues seam, you better be pretty hot instrumentally if you're gonna stand out. The Deviants aren't, and don't.
"Child Of The Sky" is an acoustic ballad with recorder accompaniment, rather cute in its own way but somewhat out of place on this record. So's "Bun", a mock-Tudor instrumental included as a show-off for Cord Rees's solo guitar.
Things start to get seriously interesting on the last three tracks. "Nothing Man" is a collage of multilayered treated percussion, electronic noise and tape loops framing disembodied lyrical snatches, reminiscent of the Velvets' "Murder Mystery" and very close to the kind of stuff Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle would be putting out ten years down the line.
"Garbage" is a real oddity, a stop-start rummage through rock's dustbin of used riffs, more electronic noise, probably the first vomiting ever committed to vinyl (thereby sealing the Deviants' punk credentials!) and harmonica interjections from Mick which must surely rank as the most perfunctory inter-stanza harp on record since Bob Dylan first crawled into a studio. Is it a comment on the disposability of pop? A swipe at the band's detractors? Finally, "Deviation Street", a mindbending psychedelic variant on the "Louie Louie" riff interspersed with feedback, sinister poetry, Beatlemania screams, a glorious "Speed - speed - speed - speed" hookline (who needs veiled drug allusions when you got the Deviants?) which eventually mutates into a panoramic soundtrack tour through the lower depths of Swinging London, sampling Bo Diddley and Jimi Hendrix en route.
The original sleeve of Ptooff! contained a quote, allegedly from Plato (it ain't in the standard translations) but attributed to Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs: "When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake." The Deviants set up a tremor which was hardly noticed in their own time, but which still resonates down the years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deviants - 'Ptooff' (Alive Records), 17 Nov 2007
This review is from: Ptooff! the Deviants (Audio CD)
Absolutely an essential disc for every psych fan alive (no pun intended). 'Ptooff' is the Deviant's 1967 brilliant debut record. I could listen to this CD reissue once a week - it's that good. Just an all around fun piece of humorous UK underground psychedelia to sink your teeth into. "I'm Coming Home" certainly hits you in the face, as "Child Of The Sky" is a nice sounding acoustically done composition. "Garbage" is like the band's anthem, with it's razor sharp guitar work and creative arrangement. "Bun" is an awesome adventurous instrumental and "Nothing Man" speaks of a misguided soul who hates everyone. As far as what I've heard, the Deviants still exist in one form or another to this day. 'Ptooff' is a must-have. A true keeper.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Lost Album, 20 Mar 2008
By 
Lozarithm (Wilts, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Ptooff! the Deviants (Audio CD)
Although Mick Farren had quite a high profile in the sixties, his involvement in counter-culture activities, especially his work for the International Times and other alternative presses, overshadowed his role as lead singer for the Deviants (originally the Social Deviants). Independent labels were very much a rarity in the UK in the sixties, not really surfacing until the advent of punk a decade later, although fitting very much with the ethos of the times. One of the reasons why Ptooff! is one of the great lost albums of 1967 is because it was only available on mail order from the underground Underground Impresarios, and never achieved the level of sales necessary to trigger the establishment publicity machine, although an edition of it did reappear on Decca two years later.

The band did have quite a following thanks to their live gigging, and if memory serves, were frequent visitors to Birmingham's Mothers, Mick Farren calling out "We don't care about rules and regulations!" as management turned off the mains power after an over-extended set.

Those that did get Ptooff! through the post found that it came housed in a three-foot wide pop-art poster with PTOOFF! in huge cartoon letters across it, de rigueur home decoration for the anti-establishment hippy. Those that consider 1967 to be the Summer of Love will be surprised at the sneering cynicism throughout the record, especially on tracks like I'm Coming Home, Garbage and the nine-minute tour de force Deviation Street.

While we were listening to the Dead and the Airplane, Mick Farren clearly had the Fugs, the Mothers of Invention, Spirit and the Motor City Five (as they were still called) on his turntable, and came up with a sound that at times pre-figures the Stooges (Iggy Pop and Mick Farren shared a love of Bo Diddley and that shuffling Mona-beat undercurrent is also present on a couple of Ptooff!'s tracks, just as it was on early Stooges records). I'm Coming Home is a fair reflection of the Deviants live, with the line-up of Mick Farren leather-posture vocals, Sid Bishop's psyche-power guitar, Cord Rees anchoring it all on bass, with Russell Hunter's garage drums, but there is a range of styles on the record, none more innovative than on the proto-electronic piece The Nothing Man, realized in collaboration with Jack Henry Moore, who had studied with John Cage. Loops of radio excerpts are collaged with cut-ups, reference tones and percussion as the multiple deficiencies of the said character are snarlingly intoned.

Helping out on the album at Sound Techniques in Autumn 1967 were Jenny Ashworth, Stephen Sparks and Duncan Sanderson, who was to replace Cord Rees in the band for the next album. Ptooff! is unique, a flower with a barb-wire stem, and the message is, "No, let's not go to San Francisco". It could have been heavily influential in 1967 and 1968, if only it had been more widely heard.

"If you can't trip on garbage, then you can't trip on nothing!!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 11 Mar 2013
By 
HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Punk music's "White Album", 28 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Ptooff! the Deviants (Audio CD)
A juxtaposition of ballads and psychedelia, of tunefulness and atonality in the spirit of the Beatles White Album. A raucous, rebellious, primeval punk celebration of all forms of "rock and roll."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT UK CD!, 14 Nov 2007
This review is from: Ptooff (Audio CD)
Released by Demon / Drop Out Records UK in 1992.

Track listing:

1. Opening
2. I'm Coming Home
3. Child Of The Sky
4. Garbage
5. Bun
6. Nothing Man
7. Charlie
8. Deviation Street
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 28 Mar 2014
By 
HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 28 Mar 2014
By 
HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 28 Mar 2014
By 
HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars THE SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND, 28 Mar 2014
By 
HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (HBMV) "Hayling Is... (26 Rails Lane Hayling Island) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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 .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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