Agony Shorthand

Friday, July 15, 2005

(Note - revisiting this post in early 2016, I'll say it's one of my more favorite posts from over a decade ago,'s pretty off-base. Took a while, but the whole wild world of L. Voag and The Homosexuals really grew on me and took over my brain. Read this as a first reaction to the box set and an attempt to get a rise out of some people, and not as gospel, OK....?)

No, not the sexual preference, but the overhyped, overloaded, overrated genre-hopping early 80s UK DIY rock band THE HOMOSEXUALS. Are you with me here? I’ve struggled two years to come to this conclusion – that for all the limited edition 45s, all the bedroom-closet recordings unleashed under a plethora of pseudonyms, and for all the hype that surrounded last year’s “Astral Glamour” triple CD box, The Homosexuals were really a C-level, not-so-bad-to-listen-to-once-a-decade sort of band. Not the coming of the four horsemen. Not the rebirth of the messiah. Check out some of the needless frothing that accompanied that thing’s release:


"Astral Glamour might be the collection by which the best punk band that no one heard finally get their due… This is the sound of history revising itself toward perfection."

Not sure what that means, and while it’s true that virtually no one heard them at the time, that’s hardly a yardstick for accomplishment. After the big unearthing, however, we’re left with a mediocre set of tracks of which maybe 2 are fantastic ("Flying" and "Total Drop"), 6 are B+-level, another 5 are at about the tolerable level of early ADAM AND THE ANTS, and the rest are either worthless, boring or unlistenable. 13 tracks out of 81 -- not good, a .161 clip that's good for a one-way pass back to AAA if you know what I'm saying.

WFMU’s New Bin:

“Simply put, one of the most flawlessly great British punk/post-punk bands”

Flawless? Come on. All of Disc 2 alone is wholly flawed outside of the mediocre mewling pop track "Prestel"– a sprawling, chaotic mess of experiments and tinkering while even the tape machine snored. There's good "look what we did while the tape ran" 80s DIY, usually British, and this isn't it. Disc 2 makes the SWELL MAPS’ “Whatever Happens Next” flailing sound-search come off as balls-out as THE HUMPERS or something. Why not call a duck and duck and admit that you can't really listen to this shit? Or that you smoke illegal marijuana cigarettes without informing the police??

Maximum Rock and Roll:

"A one sitting listen is mind bending....Certainly the best reissue of the year, if not the last few".

With all deserved due respect to author Henry Yu, a one-sitting listen to nearly 220 minutes worth of The Homosexuals would certainly be mind-bending, in a “Jesus Christ when the fuck can I get something to eat, hit the loo, smoke a fag, sit me arse down on the bog, play some Nautical Almanac – anything to make this stop??” way. Sure, I'm very impressed with the packaging and the general completeness of this collection of micro-obscurities -- it's Hyped2Death's most Revenant-like release to date -- but digesting this over even three sittings, a disc at a time, is a triumph of the will that no way am I man enough for.

I think it's a case for many of itching to find the perfect lost band to wrap some cheerleading & discography-digging skills around. Because it's fun. I'm one of you, folks -- I've been there, but you must truly be careful and expose chaff where it exists. I gave "Astral Glamour" my best shot -- paid for this thing earlier this year after being made a CD-R of much of this stuff two years ago. Bought the hype, despite finding The Homosexuals a third-tier band back then, a level that sinks each time I listen to this set, and I am now renouncing the hype. Speak truth to power -- that's what we said back in the fuckin' 'Nam days, man! Anyone with me here? The Homosexuals = Overrated!