Monday, July 17, 2017

Music Monday: Peter Perrett 'How the West was Won'

'How the West was Won' is the new solo album from Peter Perrett (Domino, 2017).

Perrett is best known as the former lead singer of The Only Ones, responsible for one of the greatest songs of the punk era 'Another Girl, Another Planet'. He  was born at Kings in Camberwell in 1952, and after being kicked out of boarding school ended up at school in New Cross: 'My first school was called Bancroft’s on the edge of Epping Forest. I got a scholarship to go there because I was brainy. I got expelled from there when I was 15 and then went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s in New Cross. One of my classmates was [Cockney Rebel singer] Steve Harley – called Steve Nice back then. He was one of the only two people who were into Dylan; the difference was he was a skinhead and I was a longhair'.

After The Only Ones split up in 1981, Perrett 'vanished from public view. Sequestered in a crumbling gothic house in Forest Hill that he fortified against police raids, Perrett took and dealt heroin' (Alex Petridis, 2007)). I believe this house was in Manor Mount, SE23.  Perrett once told Mojo Magazine that while living here 'On two or three occasions we had the police living opposite us, for a period of months. I mean, they spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on operations to bust us, and they got close on a couple of occasions. Luckily, we lived in a fortress, it was impossible to get in. We’d watch them try and break the door down but the door was at the very top of a steep flight of stairs. So, they would have to try and run up the stairs, and they could never get full contact on the door with their battering ram – it just used to slide off'. Barney Hoskyns mentions that in this period he visited Perrett 'in his huge decaying home in Forest Hill, though my efforts to help him... were wholly in vain' (Never Enough: a way through addiction, 2017). I think Perrett later moved to Norwood.

The new album is not dissimilar to The Only Ones output of nearly 40 years ago- songs of love as a metaphor for addiction and vice versa, performed in a world weary tone. But this time underpinned by a note of defiance as a survivor; as he sings on 'Something in my brain':

'Just like the experiment with the rat,
He could choose food or he could choose crack.
Well the rat he starved to death
But I didn't die, at least not yet'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

incredibly Perrett's voice at 65 sounds almost exactly the same as it did in the late 70's. But man, the lyrics - his musings on J-Lo and Kim Kardashian are hilariously off beam - but you have to hand it to him, he's still standing, kind of. Not to mention his miraculously preserved thatch.....