The Times

Up Against It

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In 1984 and 1985, Ed Ball of the Times and Tony Conway of Mood Six collaborated on the score of a West End theater production of Joe Orton's unproduced film script Up Against It, which had been written for and rejected by the Beatles as the script to their third film in 1966. (Somehow, Brian Epstein thought that a film starring the Liverpool lads as homosexual anarchists conspiring to assassinate the British Prime Minister just wasn't right for their image.) Conway and Ball, whose bands were clearly obsessed with both Orton and the whole Swinging London scene, were obvious choices for the job, and their score fit the script brilliantly. Unfortunately, Ball and Conway had a falling out over the score when Mood Six signed with Cherry Red records, which wanted to release the score as an album. Ball responded by dropping Conway's six songs from the score, writing six replacement songs of his own, and releasing his revised version of the score on his own Artpop label. Although like most albums of musical scores, the songs don't quite stand on their own without the structure of the script supporting them, they're full of Ball's usual mix of whimsy and proto-Brit-pop guitar hooks. The title track especially is one of Ball's finest. This can be seen as Ball's farewell to his Carnaby Street obsession; future Times albums would be much less backwards-looking.