by Ian Simmons
[ cdreviews ]
Ah, The Homosexuals! The great lost punk band of the Seventies. Coming from the same Deptford council estate as This Heat and, uh, Dire Straits, they emerged from ur-punk band The Rejects (not to be confused with godawful Oi!-mongers, The Cockney Rejects) who played The Roxy with The Damned, The Jam and Wire in early '77, then imploded. Stunningly ugly (even by punk standards) front man Bruno then hooked up with pals Anton and Jim; together they became The Homosexuals, and did, well, essentially nothing. Completely absent from the live circuit and not issuing any records during their brief 1978-81 lifespan, they might as well have not existed as far as anyone else was concerned. But what they did do was hole up in the Surrey Sound studio where their mates worked and grab scraps of studio time between sessions from 10CC and The Police and put down the songs gathered together here.
Originally, this stuff was put out on vinyl by ReR (then Recommended Records) in 1984, but even then did not gain much currency. Run by ex-Henry Cow man Chris Cutler and better known for its careful nurturing of the legacy of Seventies art and kraut rock, it was not the obvious place to find fervid insurrectional punk. Needless to say, it did little to put The Homosexuals on the radar in any serious way. Now, remastered and with some of the scabby cassette mixes digitally sorted out, plus five extra tracks, The Homosexuals are back. Only having encountered Walk Before Imitate on an Eighties Recommended compilation, along with the Art Bears, Cassiber, Etron Fou Leloublan and the like, I had no idea what they were actually like. What they are is a tight, thrashy post-punk band sparkling with energy, wit and humour and exploring territory that was also being mined by the Gang of Four, Wire and a range of other adventurous late-Seventies souls. Sometimes they sound like a more creative Sham 69 without the prole-pose and playpen join-the-dots street politics. With songs like Hearts in Exile pointing at even more interesting possibilities, it is a pity The Homosexuals never got to take their music further on vinyl and a crying shame that at the peak of their powers they were about as obscure as it is possible to get. One can only wonder where we'd be if The Homosexuals had achieved superstardom and all that The Police left us was a few short sessions from Surrey Sounds instead. I can't help thinking the world would be a better place.