I’m The Genius Of Love
I Got An Honours Degree
Baby You’re In Luck
I’m Gonna Teach You For Free
Lines written not by myself, as you’d be forgiven for thinking, but by a real 80’s favourite of mine Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction. They burst into my life via the Prime Mover single, which is to this day one of the two or three best singles I have ever bought and the hilarious video directed by Ade Edmondson is a treat – unconvincing laser-eyes? check! Nun-slutification? check! Gratuitous teddy bear immolation? check! It remains my favourite video featuring a band driving a tank through a convent wall to this day and that’s not an accolade I bestow lightly.
I bought the single, some rockers of my acquaintance bought the LP Tattooed Beat Messiah and everyone taped it, so by late ’88 it was firmly established car music in between Permanent Vacation and Electric. The verdict was it was good, sounded a bit like the Cult. My girlfriend owned a copy, had access to her mum’s Renault 5 and was a big fan … so I’m going to stop reminiscing right here and now for reasons of propriety.
Not that propriety was ever a concern for Mr Mindwarp and his trusty lieutenants, Cobalt Stargazer, Evil Bastard, Thrash D. Garbage and Slam Thunderhide*. Nope propriety doesn’t live here, in fact she moved out a month ago, taking refinement, understatement and chastity with it. Instead we’re in the company of five demon sex-fire hell bikers from the land that taste forgot^ intent on rocking out in a clever and really rather amusing way. I know it’s basically all down to my stunted emotional development but I simply can’t resist stuff that’s this gloriously, knowingly childish. Musically we’re within touching distance of the Cult and possibly even Circus of Power**, proper late 80’s rock, basically. We get odes to shagging in cars (Backseat Education), shagging generally (Prime Mover), shagging bad girls (Bad Girl City), shagging generally v2.0 (Planet Girl), shagging energetically (Spasm Gang) and being a certified bad ass (every other track on the LP).
It’s all done wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, which surely is the only way you can belt out lines like:
Well I Love Tv And I Love T. Rex
I Can See Through Your Skirt, I’ve Got X-Ray Spex
I Came From The Sky Like A 747
I’m The Bad Boy Baby, I Fell Out Of Heaven
Sex Fuhrer Baby, I’m A Love Dictator
Blitzkrieg Romance, I’m A Cool Dominator
The first two lines of ‘Prime Mover’ there are genuinely my favourite opening lines of any song ever, I can’t help it chunks of my psyche are forever frozen at 16 years-old and I can’t help smirking at lines like ‘your lipstick flickers around my lightning rod’ and ‘working up a sweat on the leatherette’ every single time I hear them. But Tattooed Beat Messiah is an album full of great lines, Zodiac is all bragging machismo undercut with a knowing leer at just how daft the whole thing is, but he goes and does it just the same as any self-respecting ‘psychotronic love commando’ surely has to.
But Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction were very far from being a joke band, they did genuinely rock hard enough so they didn’t sound like a lame piss-take. Exhibit A for the Defence: ‘Skull Spark Joker’, a rocking tale of badassery and leather, which has a guitar solo that puts me in mind of Roxx Gang and has some real pop smarts too. Mind you I could say the same for most of the tracks here, ‘Driving On Holy Gasoline’ and, inevitably, ‘Backseat Education’ also turn my head. Okay it’s not a total classic, there is a bit of filler dotted about (I’m looking at you ‘Let’s Break The Law’ and ‘Untamed Stare’) but it is a damn good time, they even throw in a change of mood, ‘Kids Stuff’ at the end, no ballad but definitely a slowie.
If a combination of pop-smarts, brains and grand, wild statements of intent^^ ring a bell then a quick look at the LP credits is instructional. Tattooed Beat Messiah was produced by Bill Drummond (of KLF fame) and David Balfe (founder of Food Records, subject of the Blur track ‘Country House’), providing an unlikely Echo & The Bunnymen link. But, to get back on track, it’s the KLF link that’s instructional here, big ideas, big sounds and raw nonsense, all wrapped up in one big irresistible package. In fact if you really want to me to get all linkytronic on your ass, then Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction initially featured Jimmy Cauty (founder of the KLF and 1537-ambient-uber-faves The Orb) AND Kid Chaos (Stephen Harris later of the Cult and Four Horsemen). You want even odder links? Zodiac sang on a track by UK dance dudes The Grid that Robert Fripp also performed on, Mr Fripp being unlikely to ever ask someone on one of his tracks to ‘kiss the barrel baby, meet your God’ I reckon.
I’ve had lots of fun listening to Tattooed Beat Messiah again, they were a good flashy band and we teenage Welsh metalheads weren’t wrong about them back in the day. I’m not really sure what happened next, but Zodiac and his chums just faded away from popular view, whether it was just that he’d shot his creative bolt early, or whether the band got caught in the humour/credibility trap I can’t honestly remember. Either way next time any of you rockers sees this LP in a charity shop, buy it and groove along to the prime mover.
… If love is an art, baby I’m surreal …
PS – Goddamn PC problems have meant that I’ve been trying to write this for
three four days now!
PPS – Can’t believe my spell-checker doesn’t recognise the words – slutification, shagging, or linkytronic! What sort of illiterate cowboys set these things up?!
*surely 5 of the best names in rock?!
^no, NOT Wales!! You bunch of racists!!
**comparison stolen from Jhubner73, now owned by me, no royalties paid.
^^I’m still not totes sure what being a ‘Psychotronic Love Commando’ involves, but at an educated guess I’d say it probably involves access to ladies’ foibles.