Sunday, May 22, 2011


It's Sunday and I still haven't got dressed. The windows in our compact and bijou London bolt-hole are wide open and the traffic sounds like it's in the living room, police cars and the occasional horn of an irate driver who doesn't understand the concept of a cycle lane. Anyway, I decided to sprinkle a little bit of fairy dust on this otherwise dull but sunny day with this...

It's rare for 'celebrity' records to warrant the amount of hype that can surround them but in the case of Peter Wyngarde's effort I can happily say that most of it is justified.

Putting out an album was hardly an unusual step for an early 70s television or film icon, with this Wyngarde joined the ranks of William Shatner, David McCallum, Richard Harris and many others. What was odd was the subject choice. We knew it was going to be saucy, the man's Jason King character was the blue-print for Mike Myers' Austin Powers persona after all. What the world hadn't prepared itself for was 'Rape' the song that owns the first side of the album.

Many reviews cite this as a social commentary on different types of rape across the world. I have a different take on it: The track comes after 'You Wonder How These Things Happen' (She was asking for it?) and the albums seductive opener in which Peter invites us in to his bachelor bad, asks us to sit down and pours us a drink, it's a first person narrative. I think the second track 'Rape' is also from Wyngarde's POV and it tells of a series of events that follows whatever was dropped in the opener's drink.

Well that's pretty shocking. Yes in 2011 it is, but then what isn't? You have to remember that this came very roughly around the same time that Jones and Moon were cavorting about in SS uniforms. The world was a very different place, one where terrorism was sexy, where children didn't go missing at the hands of paedophiles but rather 'ran off to join the circus'. I doubt very much that it even an eyebrow was raised back in 1970 when it appeared.

Years later though you don't need to wonder why it was never re-issued as is. The album is available in it's complete form as part of the Wyngarde compilation 'When Sex Leeers it's Inquisitive Head' where it is re-contextualized minus the above artwork.

Talking of the artwork, I imagine that just below the shot on the front sleeve our man is holding up a prisoner number and slimy moustache and bouffant comb forward is about to be dressed not in leather pants or a stylish safari number but prison blues marked with a nonce-wing ident.

The problem is that with an absolute juggernaut of a song like 'Rape' on it is that the rest of the album rarely gets a look in. I went through a period of putting the song on whenever anybody (potential girlfriends withstanding) came over. Never once did it receive anything less than a

'What the fuck?'

I first heard about this in the mid 90's and was lucky enough to come across a copy around then. The rest of the album is surprisingly well orchestrated and in places very catchy. 'Hippie And The Skinhead' is a standout as is 'Neville Thumbcatch' and in amongst the songs are a couple of breaks that would sit perfectly on 'Ill Communication' era Beastie Boys tracks.

Anyway, whether this is the worlds first and only 'date rape' concept album or not it's incredibly catchy and well worth a look.

No comments:

Post a Comment