Sounds, August 28, 1982
UV PØP / The Basking Sharks
WHEN HE returned to the live concert scene in the early
part of 1980, Richard Strange’s backing band consisted of nothing more than a tape recorder. He justified this arrangement by observing that ‘A Revox doesn’t answer back’. Now Strange’s utilitarian approach is being extended by
UV PØP, a one-man group from the Sheffield area.
John White is the mastermind behind UV PØP, a twenty-odd year old Yorkshireman with a whipcord body and a casque of oily black hair. Onstage he looks vaguely out of control,
as if he might suddenly launch into an aimless destructive charge, knocking over mikes and amps. Musically he has one or two things going for him, not the least of which is his talent as a songwriter.
His material is intense
and challenging, not exactly experimental but certainly pretty unconventional. ‘Have Fun Kiddies’, ‘Sleep Don’t Talk’ and ‘Commitment’ are all quite startling sound collages, heavy and uncompromising.
White acts them out to
a pre-recorded backing tape, slashing at an oversized guitar and spitting out the lyrics with concentrated venom. A powerful, often nerve-racking performance.
Only ‘Arcade Fun’ fails to generate any real excitement largely
due to White’s pained vocals. Still, his android music shows considerable promise - there’s already talk of a one-off single on Sheffield’s trendsetting PAX label - and if White continues at this rate, it won’t be long before
he’s firmly established not just as an artist to watch, but as one from whom it’s impossible to take your eyes.
The Basking Sharks prove to be a very different kettle of fish. A three-piece electro-pop group with an unfortunate penchant for
schoolboy ‘humour’ (I refuse to use the word without inverted commas) Two frontmen share the vocal chores, a leering Scouse (unless I miss my guess) wide-boy and chinless Captain Webb lookalike, complete with a bushy handlebar
Technically, the Basking Sharks can’t be faulted. Their skill as musicians is often exemplary. Unfortunately they are severly limited by their selfindulgence; their music encompasses a wide variety of styles, but
only for purposes of parody. Songs like ‘Nag’, ‘War Theatre’ and ‘Rap Do-Lally Tap’ strive to amuse but as often as not merely irritate.
Offstage, the Sharks are likeable and genuinely conscientious fellows but that doesn’t
alter the fact that their music leaves a lot to be desired. After all, the road to mediocrity is paved with good intentions...