The Only Ones

Darkness & Light: The Complete BBC Recordings

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This two-CD set brings together all five of the band's 1977-1980 sessions for BBC radio, as well as a couple of late-'70s TV appearances on the BBC television show Old Grey Whistle Test (which are as good fidelity-wise as the radio broadcasts). Most of the material comes from their three albums, although there are a few items here and there that only showed up elsewhere in places like the Remains compilation or the Peel Sessions release. This concentration of multiple sessions over a short period of time does mean you get two versions of a few songs (including the celebrated "Another Girl Another Planet") and three of "The Beast," in fact, but they're intelligently widely spaced from each other. There aren't great hidden dimensions to be unveiled by these recordings that you wouldn't get from the studio releases, but they're solid and committed performances of quality early new wave material with a live ambience. Not that anyone suspected this, but they also serve as proof that the group were good live players, better and tighter than many bands of their ilk. If there was no other Only Ones music in print, this would on its own serve as a pretty good summation of their repertoire. As it happens, there will probably always be Only Ones studio recordings available, but even those who own them will find this to be a pretty enjoyable supplement. Additionally, the liner notes nicely condense the Only Ones' story, with plenty of interesting quotes from lead guitarist John Perry.

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