ATHLETICO SPIZZ 80 / DO A RUNNER
By the end of 1979 Spizzenergi were a record breaking band; ‘indie darlings’ on the hip ’Rough Trade’ label, and championed by the (then) powerful music press. Their first three singles had taken top slots in the fledgling independent charts for over a year, and troubled the national charts with hits ‘Soldier Soldier‘ and ‘Captain Kirk‘ (later covered by REM). The band sold out a week’s residency at London’s (original) Marquee Club in Wardour Street, including a matinee for under 16’s. They toured extensively throughout Europe, and with a number of top support slots, including Siouxsie and The Clash and radio sessions for legendary DJ John Peel at the BBC.
In 1980 the band changed its name to ‘Athletico Spizz 80‘, turned its back on quirky punk/pop and unleashed a dark angular jazz-punk inspired album called ‘Do A Runner‘, signing to major label A&M Records - stablemates; The Carpenters and Police.
A dystopian vision; prophesising environmental disaster, religious indoctrination, and terrorism, alienated journalists and fans alike, and the band were roundly slated for forsaking ‘Rough Trade‘, with tirades from the (then) influential music journos such as Steve Sutherland in Melody Maker. The band were vilified for the lengthy rambling anthemic (8 mins) ‘Airships‘, along with the shortest ever punk track ‘Clocks are Big‘, leaving punters and critics scratching their heads; Odd time signatures, droning distorted keyboards, visceral guitar, Mark Coalfield’s introspective existential lyrics and Snare/Solar’s spikey, jazzy rhythm section didn’t align with the musical landscape, but did mark a revolutionary leap into the 80’s, setting the tone influencing a raft of bands.
Despite the bad press ‘Do A Runner’ spent 5 weeks on the UK charts, peaking at 27, selling 30,000 copies in the first week of release, but the relentless music-press backlash had a profound effect and the band’s ‘card was marked’.
The album was the link between the 70’s & 80’s, the see-saw that pivoted between the dying embers of punk and the pomp of new wave. Now hailed as; ‘groundbreaking‘, ‘seminal‘, ‘a collectors’ item‘, and all the more remarkable for being recorded and mixed in three days over the spring bank holiday weekend 1980. The strength of the band’s talent shines in the sublime metallic guitar droning ‘Red & Black’; a rhythm section ‘tour-de-force’; the brilliant Coalfield sung ‘Personimpersonator’ fuelled by Spizz’s raw clattering guitar shimmying across Scott’s shards of glass Gibson SG; and the jagged classic ‘New Species‘ with the Snare/Solar trademark pounding tom/bass theme underpinning Spizz‘s searing robotic carrion call. Gems such as the Brechtian ‘Intimate’, and Kraftwerkesque ‘Rhythm Inside’ demonstrate insight and interpretation well beyond the band’s tender years.
After five years spent searching record label vaults and dogged persistence, drummer Clive Parker has unearthed the original tapes from the A&M Records USA pressing (orig’ cat no. SP4838). Painstakingly restored from the master tapes here is the ‘Do A Runner’ album finally released - after 34 years - with the added bonus of the band’s wonderful second album ’Spikey Dream Flowers’ (guitar from Lu Edmonds of PIL & The Damned) with it’s classic re-working of the band’s punk/disco classic ‘Soldier Soldier‘. The tapes were thought to have been destroyed and could not be found in the UK, making this a very special set.
Lu Edmonds has worked prolifically with PIL as writer and multi-instrumentalist on more than 16 albums, as well as The Mekons, and Kirsty MacColl, and his own solo work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu_Edmonds
Clive Parker formed Big Country with Stuart Adamson, and Bruce Watson creating the distinctive double-bass drum drone and triplet themes used by Mark Breziki on the multi- million selling Crossing album. Then signed to EMI with his self styled synth band Scary Thieves pioneering the use of electro drums. Clive toured with John Moore (Jesus & Mary Chain), and is now a musician, writer, published author, and actor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Parker
Spizz is still performing, using various line-up’s / band names.
Jim Solar (James Little) was a SONY Music Publishing executive, and is now an entertainment agent.
Lead tracks / Radio:
7) Red & Black
9) Personimpersonator 16) Soldier Soldier
Queens of the Stone Age The Skids