The Vibrators – Pure Mania
Plastic Man!
The Vibrators – Pure Mania.

Much maligned back in their day - thanx to dubious associations with Micky Most, RAK Records & Chris Spedding – The Vibrators were on the back foot from almost the day they joined UK Punk’s 1st wave vanguard. Bandwagon jumpers, pub rock losers & wannabe pop stars – that’s what those in the know said. Admittedly, both early 45s - “We Vibrate” & “Pogo Dancing” - were not strictly the fare of Punk Rock dreams – but by the time The Vibrators dropped their debut LP, “Pure Mania”, in June 1978 – their reputation had been comprehensively re-assessed.

The Vibrators were formed in London in February 1976 by Knox (Ian Carnochan), John Ellis, Eddie & Pat Collier. Knox had already racked up serious experience playing in R&B groups for much of the 60s & early 70s. He’d played in an Irish show-band, a Rock n Roll combo & a band ironically monikered, Despair.

The Vibrators played their 1st show supporting The Stranglers @ Hornsey College Of Art in March 1976. A residency at the Lord Nelson on Holloway Road followed - & The Vibrators were firmly marked on the Punk Rock map of London. They eventually got themselves on the bill for the 100 Club Punk Festival in September 1976, joining Punk’s other luminaries for a two day riot of Punk Rock, swearing & glass throwing.

John Peel sessions, nationwide tours, a switch from RAK to Epic - & The Vibrators were ready to unleash the bomb that was: “Baby Baby”. Their (epic) Epic debut 7” was truly a 45 to cherish. The guitar solo still raises the hairs on the back of the neck 25 years after the fact. The Vibrators were happening – The Vibrators were buzzing – The Vibrators were soon laying down their debut LP with producer, Robin Mayhew.
“Pure Mania” (EPC 82097) was as immediate as Punk itself - & still stands proud today as one of the finest examples of its genre:

Side 1 opened with the squalling gtrs of “Into The Future” – just one listen made you instantly believe that there was a journey to undertake - & a destination at the end of it. This was future music, indeed – whatever its credentials. “Yeah Yeah Yeah” beat a bunch of NYC art students to the name a quarter of a century early - & still managed to sound more vibrant. “Sweet Sweet Heart” was knowing-pop of the highest order – with just enough balls to get served (even though it was criminally under-aged!) “Keep It Clean” advised the uninitiated of the dangers induced by involvement with either cocaine, speed or heroin: “I don’t stick the needle in”. The aforementioned “Baby Baby” remains Punk’s undisputed love song high. Perfectly formed, 4 sugars sweet & as craftily crafted as ‘Crenshaw’s Country Crafts’ of Craftington – “Baby Baby” still cuts the mustard every time. “No Heart” castigated ‘her’ for her woeful armoury of ‘feelings’ & surmises that the only logical explanation must be a lack of a functioning aorta! “She’s Bringing You Down” tore a sizeable hole in the end of Side 1.

Side 2 kicked off with “Petrol” (as previously aired on The Vibrators 3rd Peel session) - the energy flowed via the needle, through the speakers, to the brain – where it refused to leave (“You set me on fire”). “London Girls” (a later 45 & a firm stage favourite) kept the pressure up – one of The Vibrators finest moments. “You Broke My Heart” set the gtrs to stun & welded a gargantuan riff to the floor. “Whips & Furs” (a song written early doors when Knox was in ‘Despair’) rolls along like the Stones mobile recording suite in full flow (just check Pat Collier’s expansive bass runs – Collier was up there with JJ Burnel - one of Punk’s most effective bass players). Stiff Little Fingers were so impressed with the title: “Stiff Little Fingers” - they named their group after the song - & why not? Imitation is the purest form of flattery. Jake & the boys knew which direction to doff their caps. “Wrecked On You” was another slice of scuzzy pop sus – as glamorous as The Sweet in ripped leathers (except without the camp). “I Need A Slave” took the group’s S&M flirtations to their logical conclusion. The LP closed with “Bad Time” – a Stones washed intro & fuzzy logic akimbo.

“Pure Mania” stands the test of time very well – which is timely – as those marvellous bods down there at Captain Oi have just re-released it on CD (Ahoy CD 241) with it’s original iconic artwork & 4 bonus cuts (“London Girls” (Live), “Stiff Little Fingers” (Live), “We Vibrate” & “Whips & Furs” (single version).

There was another LP, “V2”, but that would entail writing about Gary Tibbs, Roxy Music, Adam & The Ants & session musicians - & you know we don’t go out like that. Needless to say, “Pure Mania” is all you really want - & all you really need. There is a ‘best of’ – “25 Years Of Pure Mania” (Epic 500631 2) - with a bonus live show from The Marquee in 1977 for those of you who want the moon on a stick.

The Vibrators – lubricate them, turn them on, stick them in - & let the juices flow.

Marquee Smith – tMx 16 – 08/04

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