Last month, after twenty-eight years of plunderphonic, electro-dysfunctional skullfuckery (well, closer to thirty, actually, if the “1977” on the cover to the forthcoming five-LP box set is their real ‘birthday’) Tom Ellard and Severed Heads made it crystal clear the lid to the coffin was being closed on any further collaborations with those who were enough of a threat to themselves and others to join him and, thus, the band responsible for the very first album released as an MP2—for good. Visiting hours are over. The family requests you not send flowers. Keep the gifts.
Dead eyes closed.
Nevertheless, all told, SH released 18 albums, the first five full-lengths and two EP’s unleashing the absolutely vindictive, unbridled experimental dementia for which a small group of doting tossers (this writer included) still lustfully pine. At the tender age of 16 I heard “Brassiere, in Rome?” and that was it; no more Mighty Lemon Drops or Xymox for me. Tape manipulation and unmetered beats were my new dextroamphetamines of choice. Then Stretcher (1985) came along and, for the most part, the Heads really just begun channeling New Order from there until Under Gail Succubus. With the exception of “Petrol”, “Mambo Fist Miasma 2” and “Don’t Say It”, Stretcher was the beginning of the end of the Severed Heads I cared about.
But do not mourn this passing. There are probably as many past and present Ellard and Garry Bradbury solo projects--about fifteen for Ellard, six for Bradbury--for every song they ever cut as Severed Heads since ’79: Coklacoma, Pissy Relay Switches, Inch Urch, Hiroshima Chair, Wet Taxis, the like. If you get right down to it, Ellard is the Robert Pollard of experimental electronic music. In March, though, he will be releasing his own Box, only this time a final celebration of the Heads by showcasing their deranged beginnings instead of a final mourning. Unfortunately, for the time being, you have to own a phonograph to buy it. Adenoids: 1977-1982 is a collection of five vinyl LP's featuring all tracks from Ear Bitten, Clean, and Blubberknife as well as previously unreleased Mr. and Mrs. No Smoking Sign--the pre-Heads group with original founding members Richard Fielding and Andrew Wright.
We have a couple YouTube videos for you to remember these lunatics by. The first is from a 1986 edition of the ABC Australia program "Edge of the Wedge" with Ellard and sporadic member Stephen Jones micing a piece of fruit; the other, a magnificent 1982 Melbourne performance of "J. Edgar Hoover".
Okay, okay, wake's over. Go in peace.