Personnel: Mick Farren (vocals); Andy Colquhoun, Larry Wallis, John Tivens (guitars, background vocals); Sid Bishop, Paul Rudolph (guitars); Jack Lancaster (saxophone); Alan Powell , Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, Marc Bell (drums); Leslie Knauer, Boss Goodman, Janis Cafasso (background vocals).
Recording information: 1968-1996.
A companion to the compilation This CD Is Condemned, Fragments of Broken Probes is an all-encompassing roundup of the myriad nooks and crannies that have punctuated Mick Farren's career since he launched the Deviants in 1966. It is also one of the most essential releases in his entire catalog. The sleeve notation merely describes the contents as "alternative recordings, outtakes, remixes and live recordings." Closer examination, however, reveals a treasure trove of hard-to-find singles and compilation cuts: disheveled versions of "Play With Fire" and "To Know Him Is to Love Him" cut for the New York-based Ork label in 1976, "Screwed Up" and "Outrageous Contagious" from an EP recorded for Stiff in 1978, live versions of "Half Price Drinks" and "I Want to Be Called Loretta," and so on. There's also, at long last, a chance to rediscover what remains of perhaps the archetypal Farren performance, his own hyper-speed rendition of "Lost Johnny," a psilocybic sci-fi nightmare co-written with Lemmy and already recorded by both Hawkwind and Motorhead, but never...ever...sounding like this. Vocals scream, guitars keen, and rhythms race by with speed metal density; though the performance pre-dated punk with barely minutes to spare, Farren's claim to godfatherhood could have no better witness. The earliest tracks date from the dog days of the Deviants in 1968-1969; sound collages, interludes, and a clutch of recent recordings take the story up to 1996 and the group's reinvention as aural terrorists for a new generation. But time neither dulls nor detracts from the consistent excellence of the material, and the often scarifying relevance of Farren's worldview. As both a performer and a writer, he was often described as being ahead of his time. With a fiery breath that still smells fresh, Fragments shows listeners just how far ahead he really was. ~ Dave Thompson