The Times – This Is London + I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape

With ArtPop! getting under the Cherry Red roster of labels, here come the first two chapters of the life and “times” of Edward Ball, an ex-and-current Television Personality, and all-round MODernist in the truest sense of the word.

Instead of the usual so called review-scribble, I might as well quote the likes of the “Creator” Eddie Phillips himself, saying that he “just wish he’d known him (Ed Ball) when he was young and crazy”, as well as describing him “to be Midnite Blue going Pink to Orange”, supposedly in the Red-with-Purple-flashes sense of comprehension.

Alan McGee praising his work as being “Pop Art Genius”, or his soul mate Paul Bevoir stating that “if his own band The Jetset, were The Monkees of the Swinging ’80s London scene, and if The Direct Hits were The Beatles, then The Times were The Kinks”, and after all the man himself, declaring the he “hates people who don’t like The Beatles and The Prisoner, the most perfect stories after the bible”.

The first of the ArtPop! creations, is the 6-track release from 1983, here expanded with no less than 13 bonus cuts (7 of which already available on Rev-Ola’s 1992 re-issue), opening with the mini album’s title tune, being a snappy little piece of mod-ish Carnabeat, most associated with the band, and also a formula taken to it’s full-blown application on the follow up This Is London album, being most audible in yet another opening title tune, as well as in Goodbye Piccadilly, Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat or Goodnight Children Everywhere.

Other examples of audio PopArtistry from these particular moments in “times” are also the moodier pair of All Systems Are Go! and Up Against It, both getting slightlydelic by way of latter days Jam (the latter complete with an extensive dub finale), Big Painting, which might’ve been considered for the ‘80s mod-revival generation’s Painter Man, and there’s also Song For Joe Orton, another sign of Ed’s fascination with the writer of the original Up Against It, sounding kinda like The Times’ own I’ve Just The Face by way of Ray Davies.

For some less obvious picks, take David Jones (Is On His Way), paying a tribute to the “sound and vision” of David Bowie of course, as does the cover of London Boys, or the pair of shoulda-been-‘80s-mainstream-classics, complete with Yazoo-like-synths-and-all, Power Forever and I’ll See You In My Dreams, with the latter supposedly being written for Brian Ferry (!).

Back to the “London” Time then, where besides the already mentioned ones, you’ll also find what might’ve been their own That’s Entertainment “If only” they’d been The Jam, another acoustic-based Kinky neighborhood observation called (There’s) A Cloud Over Liverpool, a witty piece of Who-ish quirkiness Will Success Spoil Frank Summit?, while The Chimes Of Big Ben, after an equally Kinky opening, though in a more garagey sense, turns into a kind of a melodic “madness”.

With Ed Ball’s accompanying, and just as appropriately modernistic song-by-song comments, being equally amusing as the music itself, this seems like the most awaited re-beginning of “times” and “times” again and again.

[Released by ArtPop! 2006]

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