The Only Ones – No Peace For The Wicked / The Beast

15th March 2023 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

In April 1978 my favourite group of that time, The Only Ones, released their eponymous* debut album. Everyone’s favourite track was Another Girl, Another Planet. Except me.

I did love it (I loved everything they did) but my favourite was The Beast, the nearly-six-minute epic that closed Side 1, devoted to Peter Perrett’s favourite subject – heroin – and showcasing the guitar playing of John Perry.

Perrett was a front man for whom the term “elegantly wasted” seemed to have been invented and his languorous drawl and lyrical preoccupations (drugs, doomed romance and more drugs) made him our own answer to Lou Reed.

Then there was John Perry’s guitar playing; unfashionably virtuosic yet still somehow within the framework of the New Wave, making him the nearest thing we had to my other favourite guitarist, Television’s late lamented Tom Verlaine.

I went to pretty much every gig The Only Ones did from the moment I first heard their debut single, Lovers Of Today, in 1977. So I was thrilled when they appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test.

I was accustomed to old Whispering Bob Harris knocking or mocking anything punkish (his “mock-rock” jibe at The New York Dolls was fresh in the memory) but he seemed to like The Only Ones, perhaps because they’re not really very punkish.

And, for Whispering Bob, there was the band’s inclusion of two veterans in drummer Mike Kellie, once of Spooky Tooth – a band from before my time – and Scottish bass guitarist Alan Mair, both of whom seemed almost old enough to be my dad.

*The music papers loved that word “eponymous”, almost as much as writers like Paul Morley, Ian Penman and Nick Kent loved the word “solipsistic.”