The Times – This Is London
Label: Tapete Records – TR387
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
CD, Album, Reissue
Released: 2 Feb 2018
Style: New Wave, Power Pop, Mod
"Lost, Found & Great: Obscure Pop Gems Of The Past" is the title of a series under which Tapete sporadically re-releases brilliant, but hard-to-get or even out-of-print POP albums. Now it is the time for The Times' legendary albums "This Is London" and "Go! With The Times" which were originally released in 1983 and 1985.
More than four decades on, with yet another round of punk anniversaries safely behind us, here's a chance to remind ourselves that not everyone believed or indeed peddled the myth of the Year Zero. Maybe that's because they were young enough not to have to prove their youth. A good three years junior to Johnny Rotten and six years to Joe Strummer, Edward Ball had spent his 1960s childhood equally entranced by the Beatles on the radio and Patrick McGoohan playing The Prisoner on TV. And while the promises of a popular culture infused with fresh art school ideas had gone stale by the 1970s, a teenage Ed Ball would recognise the dawning of an independent DIY culture as a chance to rekindle them in a brand new way. To do so he had to bypass the corporate machine, then otherwise busy selling the Year Zero narrative to a gullible media, and set out on an unbeaten path that would soon converge with the leftmost edges of the nascent mod revival. Having formed his first band O-Level in 1976, Ball found a kindred spirit in schoolfriend Daniel Treacy. For a while their bands Television Personalities (fronted by Treacy) and Teenage Filmstars (fronted by Ball) existed in tandem until the latter morphed into The Times. Following a legal dispute around the name of their DIY label Whaam!, obviously monikered after Roy Lichtenstein's 1963 painting as opposed to a certain pop band of the day, Ball launched his band's very own Artpop! imprint (Deep into the next century Lady Gaga would have the same idea, albeit stopping short of hand-painting her record sleeves as the Times had done).
Having released six Times LPs between 1982 and 1986, by the end of the decade Ball reemerged on Alan McGee's Creation Records, delving into electronic psychedelia and supplementing his recording career with a day job as a friendly executive/receptionist at the company's London office. There he would sit behind a desk in front of one of his own paintings, sometimes speaking dismissively of himself in the third person to unsuspecting visitors.
Some time later, Ball would return to writing observational pop songs destined for the lower reaches of the charts as a fully paid up member of the Mill Hill Self Hate Club. By that time, Britpop had come and gone without giving its by now bald-headed prophet much credit for his services to the cause. But then you could also see that as a blessing. Here then is that rarest of things: British guitar pop history without baggage. Because only the best went with The Times back in the early eighties.
Robert Rotifer, Canterbury, 2017
A1 This Is London
A2 Goodbye Piccadilly
A3 Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat
A4 If Only
A5 Big Painting
A6 Goodnight Children Everywhere
B1 The Party
B2 Stranger Than Fiction
B3 (There's A) Cloud Over Liverpool
B4 Will Success Spoil Frank Summit?
B5 The Chimes Of Big Ben
B6 This Green And Pleasant Land
CD-1 This Is London
CD-2 Goodbye Piccadilly
CD-3 Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat?
CD-4 If Only
CD-5 Big Painting
CD-6 Goodnight Children Everywhere
CD-7 The Party
CD-8 Stranger Than Fiction
CD-9 (There's A) Cloud Over Liverpool
CD-10 Will Success Spoil Frank Summit?
CD-11 The Chimes Of Big Ben
CD-12 This Green And Pleasant Land