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Funboy Five and Milkshake Melon - Landmarks, Ruins and Memories 12" (Ave Phoenix)

Funboy Five Milkshake Melon Landmarks Ruins and Memories Ave Phoenix
5 July 2016

In January of 1980, a relatively unknown post-punk quartet from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK (a town just 24 miles northwest of Greater London) called Funboy Five released their debut – and only – 7”, “Life After Death” b/w “Compulsive Eater.” The group disbanded only a year later, allowing the single to become a rabidly sought-after collector’s item, perhaps due to their October 1979 John Peel session. Now that single joins forces with demo recordings and frontman/guitarist Mick Sinclair’s concurrent oddball solo project, Milkshake Melon, for a comprehensive vinyl collection.

Beginning with Funboy Five’s early demos, Landmarks, Ruins and Memories portrays a band that probably would have succeeded had they been from Manchester. The tinny guitar and abrasive keyboards recall Blue Orchids with a touch of early Fall, though marked by a pop sensibility reminiscent of Buzzcocks. A less dour Stranglers with a strong resemblance to the later recordings of early LA punks The Eyes, they helped lay the groundwork for modern bands like Cosines. Milkshake Melon, on the other hand, represents Mick Sinclair’s quirky English humor through acoustic punk songs augmented by distorted electric guitar leads. Lewis Carroll, spy TV themes and the ever-present H-bomb all serve as inspiration to his musings, which sound a bit like Love’s Forever Changes on happy pills. It’s an enjoyable collection all around, sure to please those interested early punk’s unheard voices.

In the grander scheme of things, Funboy Five barely blipped the radar, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t any good. Sometimes the stars simply do not align properly. Fortunately, this record exists to remind us they were there.

 

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