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Faster Than Lightning – The Only Ones

March 13, 2012

Just too late for Christmas but just in time for the Only Ones new tour comes the first ever DVD release of ‘Faster Than Lightning’, the only official visual record of the Only Ones first incarnation (1977-1981). Originally released under dubious circumstances on video in 1991 – see Nina Antonia’s excellent book for full gory details – this DVD combines footage from live television performances with CBS promos, the songs being linked by interviews with laconic frontman Peter Perrett. Some minor edits means that the DVD appears to flow better than its video predecessor.

The audio re-mastering work done by bass-player Alan Mair has paid off and the sound is considerably improved over the video release. Picture quality is marginally improved throughout and is significantly better on the four live tracks recorded for Dutch cable TV. The improved sound emphasises the crispness and economy of the band on-stage, emphasising that the Only Ones are first and foremost a live band. ‘Planet’ appears twice – mimed as a promo and then live for Belgian TV, the latter also providing a sturdy version of ‘The Beast’. John Perry switches from smoking lead guitar to piano and smoking on ‘Someone Who Cares’ whilst a brace of blonde sirens entice on ‘Out There In The Night’.

The band’s individual fashion sense delights throughout. Peter Perrett favours a hippy-punk-waif combo, all cheesecloth and leather jeans whilst John Perry moves from Bond villain (mirror shades, cream blazer and a red rose) to rocking the gentleman farmer look (tweed suit and Fair-Isle sweater). Alan Mair looks dapper throughout as does drummer Mike Kellie. No wonder the punks never knew what to make of them.

Incidentally the title ‘Faster Than Lightning’ is a line from ‘As My Wife Says’. Needless to say the song itself does not feature here. The DVD is available at gigs or direct from the bands website (www.theonlyones.biz). It makes an excellent companion to the ‘Live At Shepherds Bush 2007’ DVD (released by Cherry Red) and demonstrates that the bands songwriting and performance abilities are timeless. Now how about putting out that Minneapolis gig ?

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