Alternative TV – Deptford Fun City Records – 1977

How Much Longer

You Bastard

How Much Longer Alternative Version

You Bastard Alternative Version 


Two versions of the debut hard vinyl  7″ single by Alternative TV, that makes four gloriously great songs in all. Go on count them!

It was the old, old story. Bored bank clerk falls in love with punk rock, writes a few pages about it, Xeroxes a fanzine, sells it at gigs, creates a monster, starts a new fashion. The first issue of Sniffin’ Glue featured the Ramones and Blue Öyster Cult; the Punk Reviews page hit the Flamin’ Groovies and the Stranglers, and the intro hinted at treats to follow: the Nazz, Roogalator, the Raspberries, and the Count Bishops. There really wasn’t much punk around in those days.

The magazine grew with the scene it championed, and for a year, it ruled the British fanzine roost. But the bank clerk, Mark Perry, was sick of writing — he wanted to step out and be written about himself. His last band, the New Beatles, had done nothing; his next, Alternative TV, could scarcely do any worse.

Featuring Perry on vocals, ex-Generation X drummer John Towe, Mickey Smith (bass), and former Nobodies guitarist Alex Fergusson, the band formed in March 1977, rehearsing at Throbbing Gristle’s studios in Hackney — both “Love Lies Limp” and “Alternative to NATO” were written and recorded there — and on May 6, 1977, ATV made their live debut in Nottingham.

The first lineup splintered almost immediately. Smith was replaced by New Beatle Tyrone Thomas, and on June 5 ATV opened for Wayne County’s Electric Chairs in Brighton. Six gigs later, Towe quit, but not before ATV released their first single, “Love Lies Limp,” as a free flexidisc with the final, August 1977 issue of Sniffin’ Glue.

Towe was replaced by Chris Bennett, and in this form the band continued to gig, at the same time as preparing the ground for their debut album. They are caught rehearsing in The Punk Rock Movie, the cinéma vérité documentary of punk’s first savage summer; more exposure came in December, when the “How Much Longer” single appeared on Perry’s own Deptford Fun City wing of Miles Copeland’s Illegal setup. The Image Has Cracked, the group’s live and studio debut album, appeared the following spring.

Singles “Action Time Vision” and “Life After Life” followed, together with the archive Towe-era “Life,” but ATV were changing first, as Perry rocketed on toward the Throbbing Gristle sound which by now captivated him (the official bootleg Live at the Rat ’77, incidentally, was recorded by Genesis P-Orridge).

By the time of Vibing Up the Senile Man (Part One), the second ATV album, and its accompanying single, “The Force Is Blind,” only Perry remained from the original band; only bassist Dennis Burns remained from any of those who had followed. And, of ATV’s original, punk-era press disciples, even Sounds found the album unlistenable.

Unperturbed, Perry took the new album out on the road, but an end of sorts was in sight. In March 1979, on-stage at Chelmsford, ATV called it a day. Side one of the valedictory Scars on Sunday album preserves highlights from this final show; side two introduces the Good Missionaries, the band that would pick up exactly where ATV left off, only without the encumbrance of such an historically resonant name.

  1. alistairliv
    September 13, 2008 at 9:26 am

    “we all don’t know nuffing “… I didn’t know there were alternative versions of these songs. So know I know something. It is a bit hard to remember back to 1977 and work out when I bought “How much longer”, but it made punk more interesting for me. Punk as an attitude rather than a style of music.

    ATV were an ‘Alternative to television’ – don’t just sit around watching television, stop being a passive consumer watching your life go by. Like the famous west London graffitti “Get up go to work go home go to bed get up go to work… 1 in ten crack up, how much more can you take?”

    Punk was exhilarating and scary. And – at least with Mark P and ATV – self- critical. As the song says it isn’t just the ‘ippies and the straights who don’t know nothing – the punks don’t know nothing neither.

    The ‘self-criticism’ bit reminds me now (but did it then?) of Maoist China’s cultural revolution when students dragged their lecturers out the class-rooms to make them confess to a failure of revolutionary zeal…which fits with punk’s year zero approach to the older UK counter-culture. Or the way Guy Debord ended up expelling everyone but himself and his wife from the Situationist International.

    With Mark Perry the self- criticism pushed him beyond punk as a genre/ sub-culture to work and tour with Here and Now, playing at Stonehenge in 1978 – and then on to the Good Missionaries and London Musicians Collective style experimentalism. At the time I didn’t get it, but in 1996 or 7 me and Tinsel went to a Mark P/ ATV gig ats Chats Palace and they played the Good Missionaries stuff and I was thinking “Fucking hell, this is brilliant stuff”… maybe the Good Missionaries were 20 years ahead of their time? Or was I just a a bit slow on the uptake?

    The Maoist / cultural revolution self-critical aspect of ‘How much longer’ took a different and ‘history repeats itself – first time as tragedy, second time as farce’ with the anarcho-punk’s puritanical obsession with ‘putity’. Millions did not starve to death, Crass were not the Khmer Rouge, but so what if – as breathlessly outraged rumour had it in 1983- “Andy Palmer was in a chip shop on Upper Street – and bought a meat pie!!!!”

    Despite this manufactured outrage, Andy joined the Black Sheep Co-op, lived at Cross Street and – I think – became our Chairperson. Not having been a Crass fan, I was most impressed. “Member of Crass actually a human being” -shock horror.

    Enough of this. Postman just handed me a 638 page book “Making Ireland British 1580- 1650” by Nicholas Canny which I have to have read by next Tuesday.

    AL Puppy

  2. Farmer Glitch
    Farmer Glitch
    September 13, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Excellent single – I got both versions when they came out (purely by accident having picked up a copy for someone else – and realising them to be different!) – must admit they seem a tad dated these days to these ears – although Vibing up the Senile Man – and later Good Missionaries stuff now sounds fresher than ever …

  3. Stewart
    September 14, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    No, I had no idea there were two versions either! I loved their first singles. First band I ever saw play live – they got bottled off…

  4. Jim V
    Jim V
    September 14, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Anyone know M Perry’s email…he had hoped for a gig at 100 club, this year, at an earlier small pub gig promoting ‘Sulphate Strip 77’ book launch?

  5. Steve
    September 14, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Both versions are also on the Cherry Red edition of The Image Has Cracked…

  6. Chris
    September 14, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Best ‘punk’ band ever in my opinion.

    Jim V: I’ve got Mark’s email but he never checks it! Been trying to get hold of him myself for ages but lost his number when I lost my phone. If anyone else has any ideas maybe they could pass a contact on via this site. Last I heard ATV were meant to be playing a gig in Brighton with Sutcliffe Jugend.

  7. Jim V
    Jim V
    September 14, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Chris …cheers will try something else for Mark
    ..any luck with the Apostles singles CD?…

  8. Chris
    September 15, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Jim, funnily enough, jut got an email back from the guy who’s working on the re-mastering. he’s back on the 18th so will try to do more on it then. can assure you it shall be worth the wait! for the first time ever – the singles as they SHOULD have been heard!

  9. chris
    September 19, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Incidentally, I always wondered why Mark opted for releasing “love lies limp” as the flexi with the last Sniffin’ Glue when , to me anyway, “How Much Longer” would have been an infinitely more profound and iconoclastic statement to have had as an epitaph for the ‘zine?

  10. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    October 21, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Now were talking.
    The essence of ‘punk’ questioning.
    Obviously we cant underestimate how influencial this Mr Perry was.
    This and all me punk singles got nicked from Snipers squat off the Holoway road, Models, Drones all of it from ’77 and ’78 etc. Someone made abit of cash that day.
    The image has cracked had punk instrumentals. That was outragous.
    That other guy in ATV, forget his name, did he go onto be a TV star. Same name anyway.

  11. Sam
    October 21, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Danny Baker was associated with Mark P early on.

  12. Kent
    November 29, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Its been ages since Ive heard these little nuggets !!
    Thanks for the link Penguin

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