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First and best of the three albums recorded by the original Deviants lineup, Ptooff! is capable of sharply polarizing attitudes. To a number of ex-Swinging London cognoscenti (see Jonathon Green's Days In The Life) the Deviants remain a byword for musical incompetence; even their former manager, Steve Sparkes, recently dubbed Ptooff! "the worst record in the history of man." In hindsight, though, the Deviants were simply a decade ahead of their time, their alleged "ineptitude" making perfect sense in light of Punk's back-to-basics ethos. There's a large dollop of justice in Mick Farren's claim that, along with the MC5 and the Stooges, the Deviants had more to do with the way rock developed than the likes of Ten Years After. Led Zep they weren't, but who'd want them to be? (Paul Rudolph, apparently, but that's another episode.)
    Ptooff!'s significance lies as much in the manner of its making as in its music. Mick Farren, anarchist, hustler, underground writer and sometime doorman at London's groovy UFO club, puts together a shambolic R&B band called the Social Deviants. By dint of persistence and massive drug ingestion the band overcomes opposition from those among the cognoscenti who like their freakouts on the mellow side, and becomes something of a fixture on the London scene. Eschewing the standard music-biz route to getting a record out, Farren persuades a whacked-out hippie son of a millionaire to put up the cash for an album. Mercifully free of any record company pressure to make "product", and fuelled by even more drugs and the will to attempt radical sonic experiments, the band parlay their technical limitations and studio naïvete into a flawed masterpiece of Zappaesque garage psychedelia.
    (The band further challenge established music-biz practice by distributing Ptooff! themselves, even seizing control of the means of packaging by paying street hippies with enough amphetamines to keep them up all night wrapping the disc into its glorious multi-foldout pop-art sleeve.)
    This salutary tale - of imagination and do-it-yourself fervour wresting control of a popular art form from the commodifying clutches of the music industry - would in 1977 come to serve as a blueprint for the indie tendencies of punk. Its ramifications continue to this day: that obscure techno/dance outfit working out of the basement of the café round the corner from your apartment, making CDs and artwork on primitive MIDI lashups and pirated software, can trace its lineage back to Ptooff! and the Deviants.
    Enough of the sociology lecture, already - what's the music like? Imagine early Who and Stones filtered through a musique concrete scrambler and supercoded with oblique hippie satire, and you're getting there.
    The band's R&B roots show through most clearly on the first track proper, "I'm Coming Home", an urgent, sinister blues groove, Farren all strangulated lustful menace, building to an explosive climax which recalls uncannily the Ron Asheton fuzz-wah panzer-guitar incursion on the Stooges' 1969. A true case of parallel evolution. Rumour that the Deviants used this song as an extended thrash during their stage shows makes one salivate for a contemporary live bootleg.
    "Charlie" is a throwaway jogalong boogie replete with Farren narrative which prefigures some of his later fictional mutated-Wild West themes. The case for the Deviants' "incompetence" comes nearest to being made here. Not that there's anything wrong with it, really - just that, with contemporaries like the Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac and a hundred others already mining the blues seam, you better be pretty hot instrumentally if you're gonna stand out. The Deviants aren't, and don't.
    "Child Of The Sky" is an acoustic ballad with recorder accompaniment, rather cute in its own way but somewhat out of place on this record. So's "Bun", a mock-Tudor instrumental included as a show-off for Cord Rees's solo guitar.
    Things start to get seriously interesting on the last three tracks. "Nothing Man" is a collage of multilayered treated percussion, electronic noise and tape loops framing disembodied lyrical snatches, reminiscent of the Velvets' "Murder Mystery" and very close to the kind of stuff Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle would be putting out ten years down the line.
    "Garbage" is a real oddity, a stop-start rummage through rock's dustbin of used riffs, more electronic noise, probably the first vomiting ever committed to vinyl (thereby sealing the Deviants' punk credentials!) and harmonica interjections from Mick which must surely rank as the most perfunctory inter-stanza harp on record since Bob Dylan first crawled into a studio. Is it a comment on the disposability of pop? A swipe at the band's detractors?  
    Finally, "Deviation Street", a mindbending psychedelic variant on the "Louie Louie" riff interspersed with feedback, sinister poetry, Beatlemania screams, a glorious "Speed - speed - speed - speed" hookline (who needs veiled drug allusions when you got the Deviants?) which eventually mutates into a panoramic soundtrack tour through the lower depths of Swinging London, sampling Bo Diddley and Jimi Hendrix en route.
    The original sleeve of Ptooff! contained a quote, allegedly from Plato (it ain't in the standard translations) but attributed to Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs: "When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake." The Deviants set up a tremor which was hardly noticed in their own time, but which still resonates down the years.
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on February 4, 2000
I heard this album playing in a boutique on King's Road in London in 1968 and bought it. Its variety of straight and experimental songs give it an underground cachet comparable to Soft Machine and Pink Floyd of that same period, and it throws in some Zappa-like social satire/criticism for good measure. The group's leader, Mick Farren, has gone on to be an influential writer and critic on both sides of the Atlantic. Among other things, the fantastic fold-out artwork is one of my favorite album covers. It's "underground" in the sense that the group obviously weren't trying to be the next Beatles. They were producing a knowing but humorous commentary on life at that time as it paraded down Portobello Road.
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on March 14, 2000
this band, led by singer Mick Farren, were very hard to get a handle on in 1968. They actually opened for a brand new band called Led Zepplin in November '68 out in Exeter, England. Their music was influenced by the Stones, the Mothers of Invention, the Pretty Things, Velvet Underground, and even a little Charles Mingus. "I'm Coming Home" was a great track. The Deviants were an influence on the MC5 and Iggy's Stooges. Collectors and the curious should get this extremely rare record.
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VINE VOICEon December 14, 2003
Absolutely an essential disc for every psych fan alive (no pun intended). 'Ptooff' has been out for awhile, but who cares? It still deserves a review. This is the brilliant debut 1967 lp of the band. Honestly, I could listen to this CD once a week from now on. It's THAT good! Just an all around fun record. "I'm Coming Home " certainly hits you in the face as "Child Of The Sky" is a nice sounding acoustically done composition. "Garbage" is like the band's anthem, with it's razor sharp guitar work and creative arrangement. "Bun" is an awesome adventurous instrumental, as "Nothing Man" is rather a demented track that speaks of a misguided soul who hates everyone. "Charlie" and the ass-kicking " Deviation Street" round out this MUST-HAVE disc. The Deviants still exist today, in one form or another. Not to long ago, the Japanese label Captain Trip had reissued this title with a special fold-out cover, so I've heard.
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on August 30, 2007
Originally known as The Social Deviants (line-up 'A') this was a London-based community underground band that grew up in the Notting Hill area. Farren and Russell ran into a 21 year old millionaire who put up £700 to finance their first album on their own Underground Impressarios label. This was distributed by mail order through 'Oz' and 'The International Times' and sold sufficiently well for Decca to reissue it.

The material on their three albums was variable. The first included harsh punk (I'm Coming Home), percussion dominated progressivism (Nothing Man) as well as long gimmicky diatribes interspersed with none too imaginative music. Child Of The Sky and Bun were evidence of a softer side, but Deviation Street summarized their intent with a series of political slogans, sound effects and a variety of musical approaches which have not stood the test of time well.

Disposable had its moments, notably with good rock songs like Slum Lord, Jamie's Song, You've Got To Hold On, Fire In The City and Guaranteed. The remainder of the album was eminently disposable, however.

The Deviants also issued a single, which is now a rare collectors' item. After a disappointing third album the band disintegrated during an American tour. The remaining members plus Twink formed Pink Fairies. Rudolph also had a spell with Hawkwind.

In 1977 Farren reformed the band with a new line-up including Andy Colquhoun on bass/vcls and issued an EP for Stiff, entitled Stiff EP. In the same year their first album was reissued on Logo. Readers may also be interested in Human Garbage (Psycho 25), another 1984 reunion album, with a line-up of Farren (vcls), Sanderson (bs), Larry Wallis (gtr), Wayne Kramer (gtr) ex-MC5, and George Butler (drms). Recapturing the band's original sound and spirit quite well, it includes a re-work of Ramblin' Rose, Wallis' Police Car and Zappa's Trouble Coming Every Day. This has also been reissued on CD (Captain Trip CTCD 092) 1998.

Also on Psycho was a Farren solo re-release Mona (Psycho 20).

1996 saw a further re-incarnation as Deviants IXVI with an album Eating Jello With A Heated Fork (Alive Records 1022), and a CD as Mick Farren and The Deviants entitled Fragments Of Broken Probes on Captain Trip Records, from Japan. The band were also due to play the Ptolemaic Terrascope festival in New York on April 25-27th 1997, with Mick Farren, Andy Colquhoun, Nick Saloman (Bevis Frond) and others.

Compilation appearances include: I'm Coming Home on Perfumed Garden Vol. 2 (LP); First Line (Seven The Row), Billy The Monster and Death Of A Dream Machine on The Electric Lemonade Acid Test, Vol. 2 (LP).
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on March 20, 2008
Although Mick Farren had quite a high profile in the sixties, his involvement in counter-culture activities, especially his work for the International Times and other alternative presses, overshadowed his role as lead singer for the Deviants (originally the Social Deviants). Independent labels were very much a rarity in the UK in the sixties, not really surfacing until the advent of punk a decade later, although fitting very much with the ethos of the times. One of the reasons why Ptooff! is one of the great lost albums of 1967 is because it was only available on mail order from the underground Underground Impresarios, and never achieved the level of sales necessary to trigger the establishment publicity machine, although an edition of it did reappear on Decca two years later.

The band did have quite a following thanks to their live gigging, and if memory serves, were frequent visitors to Birmingham's Mothers, Mick Farren calling out "We don't care about rules and regulations!" as management turned off the mains power after an over-extended set.

Those that did get Ptooff! through the post found that it came housed in a three-foot wide pop-art poster with PTOOFF! in huge cartoon letters across it, de rigueur home decoration for the anti-establishment hippy. Those that consider 1967 to be the Summer of Love will be surprised at the sneering cynicism throughout the record, especially on tracks like I'm Coming Home, Garbage and the nine-minute tour de force Deviation Street.

While we were listening to the Dead and the Airplane, Mick Farren clearly had the Fugs, the Mothers of Invention, Spirit and the Motor City Five (as they were still called) on his turntable, and came up with a sound that at times pre-figures the Stooges (Iggy Pop and Mick Farren shared a love of Bo Diddley and that shuffling Mona-beat undercurrent is also present on a couple of Ptooff!'s tracks, just as it was on early Stooges records). I'm Coming Home is a fair reflection of the Deviants live, with the line-up of Mick Farren leather-posture vocals, Sid Bishop's psyche-power guitar, Cord Rees anchoring it all on bass, with Russell Hunter's garage drums, but there is a range of styles on the record, none more innovative than on the proto-electronic piece The Nothing Man, realized in collaboration with Jack Henry Moore, who had studied with John Cage. Loops of radio excerpts are collaged with cut-ups, reference tones and percussion as the multiple deficiencies of the said character are snarlingly intoned.

Helping out on the album at Sound Techniques in Autumn 1967 were Jenny Ashworth, Stephen Sparks and Duncan Sanderson, who was to replace Cord Rees in the band for the next album. Ptooff! is unique, a flower with a barb-wire stem, and the message is, "No, let's not go to San Francisco". It could have been heavily influential in 1967 and 1968, if only it had been more widely heard.

"If you can't trip on garbage, then you can't trip on nothing!!"
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on July 27, 2014
perfectly well done like original and great audio quality!
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on August 19, 2007
Zappa-esque? Sure, if Zappa was a weak player and couldn't do anything as a composer but recycle standard riffs for satirical effect.

The album's keeper track is "Garbage," a perverse, multi-sectioned "love song" which fetishizes trash to pose some sort of loose cultural critique. Fun.

Otherwise, "I'm Coming Home" is a bluesy stomp made somewhat amusing by an intentionally belabored lyric which takes for-EVER to detail the banalities of opening the front door, walking up stairs and the like. A road to nowhere. "Charlie" is a similar, rambling blues parody.

"Nothing Man" and "Deviation Street" are spliced-together drugginess with spoken word, effects and the usual trimmings. Stick with "Help, I'm a Rock" or "The Chrome-Plated Megaphone of Destiny." "Bun" is an Elizabethan acoustic-guitar instrumental which serves no real purpose. "Child of the Sky" is a plodding acoustic ode with some pleasantly warped lines ("She laughs as they play the guilt game and pile up the dead/And the flashing sign spells 'Eichmann' as it burns above each head"), but is maddeningly tedious as music.

I really don't hear anything to warrant labeling this a "lost masterpiece" or other such hyperboles. Nor do I consider it a harbinger of punk, simply because the playing and singing are amateurish. Not much more than a period curiosity for me.
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on May 31, 2016
Excellent !!!
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on September 20, 2001
La psicodelia, tanto en su expresión norteamericana como británica, está plagada de esperpénticos y excesivos ejemplos como los aquí aludidos: The Deviants.
Formados en 1966 como Social Deviants -liderados por una de las mayores figuras del "underground" londinense, Mick Farren, el primer inglés en vestirse con pieles-, éstos nacieron como un colectivo de postura absolutamente anárquica y destructiva. Por lo mismo, su música -consiguiendo ser en algunos momentos altamente irritante para el oyente- era un disparatado cúmulo de frenesí, disparate y desvergüenza sonora-- Los Deviants no enfrentaban sus discos, o al menos así parecía, con la intención de crear obras comedidas y resueltas de forma convencional. Al contrario, el resultado y satisfacción logrados en sus álbumes fue en directa proporción de la incongruencia, sarcasmo y espontaneidad inmejorable que Farren y los suyos ostentaron. En Ptoff! podemos escuchar los más claros antecedentes de los Stooges, en I'm coming home; extraños ejercicios acústicos en "Children of the Sky; percusiones lunáticas en Nothing Man; mofas al esnobismo psicodélico en "Deviation Street", entre guitarras líquidas, ácidas y vocalizaciones enfermizas. "Ptoff" es una muestra exquisita del lado oscuro de la música británica de los sesenta, pero no por esto menos encomiable. Increíble
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