Alternative TV

Action Time Vision: The ATV Anthology

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Mark Perry (aka Mark P.) was one of the first great theoreticians of the British punk scene; he was the editor and guiding voice behind Sniffin' Glue, the U.K.'s first punk fanzine (whose incendiary prose and purposefully rough finish made it the model literally thousands would follow), and he was among the first punk fans/writers to start putting his ideas into action by forming his own band, Alternative TV. But Perry was by no standards a run-of-the-mill punk, and Action Time Vision: The ATV Anthology is the work of a man who wasn't just looking for a riot but wanted to confront the expectations and frameworks of popular culture on any number of levels. Right out of the box, Perry was doing stuff his own way -- the band's first recorded number, "Love Lies Limp," is a slow reggae pastiche about sexual disinterest, and while "You Bastard" and "Life" found the group embracing the loud 'n' fast thing, "How Much Longer" made it clear Perry had already grown tired of the trapping of punk. By the time Alternative TV's first album came out in 1978, Perry and company were covering Frank Zappa and experimenting with prog rock, improvisation, and spoken word material, and the bulk of Action Time Vision finds the group confounding expectations by making their way through any of the side streets of contemporary music that happen to strike their fancy. The majority of this music can charitably be called "challenging" listening (especially since Perry was always more of a ranter than a singer), but Perry's intelligence and willingness to storm the boundaries are present on every cut of this two-disc set, and love it or loathe it, Action Time Vision makes a strong case for Perry's consistently brave vision, whether accompanied by electric guitars, sound effects recordings, or samplers. Complete with detailed liner notes from Perry, Action Time Vision: The ATV Anthology is the definitive portrait of Alternative TV's long, strange career in music, though only the most broad-minded will be able to embrace every track with equal enthusiasm.

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