The Prefects release first full-length vinyl collection of studio recordings ‘Going Through The Motions’
Despite punk’s initial revolutionary fervour, its prime originators soon bowed to same static paths leading to chart hits and financial success which had lingered since the advent of The Beatles – faux rebellion, coordinated stage wear, “heartfelt” performances . . .
The Prefects? Not too bothered. Singer Robert Lloyd made self-effacing jokes and shaved on stage, band members came and went quickly, non-members contributed tunes. No one even remembers who started the band.
In punk’s early days, The Prefects played around Birmingham, blagged their way onto The Clash’s White Riot tour when The Jam couldn’t hack it, toured with The Buzzcocks, and shared bills with Ultravox, The Fall, Generation X, and The Damned.
Despite tours and music press notoriety, the band was not once approached by even the sketchiest of labels. Nor did they go looking. Originally taken by the energy he heard in The Ramones, singer Robert Lloyd soon saw limitations in that approach and, as he puts it, “. . . simply realised I enjoyed Faust and Beefheart more.” What passions the band members shared soon dissipated.
Over the next few months, there were three more shows, a quick follow-up second Peel session, a final hometown performance . . . and that was it. They never even managed a demo.
‘Going Through The Motions’ is the first full-length vinyl collection of their studio recordings.
Although a few tunes don’t stray from the general sounds of their time, there’s innovation and humour here. ‘Escort Girls’ may be the first recorded forerunner of American hardcore. ‘The Bristol Road Leads To Dachau’ hints at Joy Division’s later The Atrocity Exhibition. Taking it a step further than Alternative TV’s ‘How Much Longer’ with its deliberate dirge, ‘Going Through The Motions’, mocks punk expectation against an almost psychedelic haze. ‘Total Luck’ bears the early evidence of Lloyd’s lone-man confessional style, and ‘Barbarella’s’ is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to their most-played local venue.
Versions of The Modern Lovers’ She Cracked and the Prefects’ original 625 Lines were recorded live by Virgin on the final two nights of Manchester’s Electric Circus and later issued as a compilation with tracks by The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division and others. The Prefects refused release of their material, believing their first outing should be a studio recording, not a live track or two on a compilation.
During the White Riot tour, members of Subway Sect, The Slits and The Prefects joined in on a live encore loosely based on Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray. Incredibly difficult to listen to, the song was bootlegged widely before eventually appearing on The Slits’ 1980 album of early demos in a 5’20” version called “No More Rock And Roll For You”. Twenty years later, Vic Godard of Subway Sect edited a minute from the recording and released it on his Twenty Odd Years compilation. Two decades later, The Prefects have edited more than a minute from it and retitled it White Riot Tour. In another twenty years, it is hoped that the prolonged rite of ritual shortening of this song will leave no trace of it at all. For the record, it’s Robert Lloyd going “wooo-ooo” in the background, in what he says was an attempt to mimic the organ part from Sister Ray, which, listeners may note, is no longer being played.
This is the opening salvo in the telling of Robert Lloyd’s career, which will include King Rocker: A film about Robert Lloyd & The Nightingales, by comedian and writer Stewart Lee, director Michael Cumming and Fire Films’ James Nicholls.
‘Going Through The Motions’ will be available on vinyl via new label Call Of The Void.
1. Going Through The Motions
2. Escort Girls
3. Bristol Road Leads to Dachau
5. 625 Lines (live at the Electric Circus)
7. Things In General
8. Agony Column
9. Total Luck
10. She Cracked (live at the Electric Circus)
11. White Riot Tour (live)