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In the grim grey 80's The Prisoners were groovy targeted modsters taking their name from the 60's TV series. They were a rare taste of colour to those being schooled at the time. They featured a pre-JTQ James Taylor tinkling the ivories of not a Hammond, but a Vox Continental. A template for the current Charlatans and (eek!) inspiration for the Inspiral Carpets, The Prisoners plied their trade on the indie circuit with little success. Retro sound wasn't considered chic enough until the Stone Roses and their baggy mates made plundering the past a positive virtue, instead of an accepted vice. Opening their gigs, Graham Day would announce: "We are The Prisoners, you are not" before launching into a piece of melancholic mod pop. The Prisoners' greatest achievement was 1983's 'TheWiserMiserDemelza' with such gems as 'Hurricane' and 'Here Come the Misunderstood,' a reference to the 60's group whose
'Find a Hidden Door' is resplendent on this outing. The instrumental 'Go Go' pointed James Taylor to his future on Acid Jazz and here we have 'Apollo Go Go' updating the idea with a JTQ cop show spin. Taylor helps out here on 'Hold Your Head Up.' (I said my prayers for it not to be an Argent cover and they were answered.) It's a composition worthy, and reeking of, a Marriot-Lane. It's all bluster and soul over some tremendous organ, with a backing band using wild Billy Childish's rhythm instruments (literally) and a lash-carrying slave master to keep the momentum up. This gives 'TheWiserMiser' a good playground scrap for it's place as a classic. Graham Day hasn't lost a micro-millimetre of edge. Album opener 'Mary's' Who style drum/guitar pyros go off like a chain of firecrackers one by one, each explosion miked up to an old valve amp in an echo chamber. A fine return from an under-acknowledged root of retro. (Steve Hanson) über Psychedelic Tantrum über Psychedelic...
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