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By West Briton
Thursday, July 25, 2013
ONCE described as coming "from Penzance via Mars", the Brainiac 5 have gone down in history as one of Cornwall's great bands.
And now they're back ....
The group inhaled the prevalent punk spirit of the times but were equally happy to ingest the plentiful psilocybin mushrooms growing naturally in their home county and take their music to the outer reaches of the mind.
Their 1978 debut EP, Mushy Doubt, was a wondrous melting pot of punk and acid rock that drew not only on punk's short sharp shock attack and the outlandish dub explorations of Lee Perry, but also dreamy guitar extemporisations, and found favour with DJ John Peel who played the waxing regularly on his show.
The EP featured great songs like Vegetable which packed a Pistols-type punch with more esoteric leanings. The set's centre piece was Endless River, a West Coast-sounding number that drew very favourable comparisons with vintage Country Joe & the Fish.
Sadly the band split in late 1980 after releasing a further 7" and completing an album that was posthumously released on Reckless Records.
In the intervening years the band's cachet has grown and they have been recognised as one of the fore-runners of the 1980s psychedelic revival alongside such outfits as the Soft Boys and the Colours Out Of Time.
In 2010 Brainiac songwriter Charles Taylor returned to live in the UK after a couple of decades roaming the globe and found himself back in the company of the Brainiacs' bass player John 'Woody' Wood.
Their thoughts turned to a full-blown Brainiac reunion. After recruiting pal Duncan Kerr on guitar and backing vocals (ex-Plummet Airlines), the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when original drummer Steve 'Heartbeat' Hudson' was lured out of retirement to fill the drum stool.
A few rehearsals later and a few gigs under their belt, the band was firing on all cylinders again and quite as potent as in their Seventies heyday.
The three tracks that comprise their new Space Is The Place 10" EP were recorded live in autumn 2012 and are released with a minimum of studio trickery. The standout cut is Space Is The Place, a classic from the halcyon days of yore which sadly never got committed to analogue tape first time around and survived only on old bootleg live recordings. Tipping its hat to the great Sun Ra, this sees the Brainiacs eight miles high and soaring – a beautiful flowing piece of cosmic brilliance containing some of the finest modal guitar playing since the heyday of Television.
Shortly after recording the EP Steve Hudson left the band and was replaced by Wayne Worrell. They were also joined by Nick Onley on sax and flute, adding a whole new dimension to their sound. The new band, gigging regularly in London, returns to Cornwall this week.
You can see them at Bunters, Truro, on Friday with Nervosa and the Farmer's Arms, Penzance, on Saturday.
Richard "Wild Man" Booth, the band's lead guitarist from 1978 to 1981, will be playing on a few numbers at both gigs.
For the Bunters gig they will also have the pleasure of Truro boy, Councillor Bert Biscoe, the band's original lead vocalist, joining them for a few numbers. A retrospective CD of old and rare recordings from the late 1970s will be released later in the year.