Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
The path to my discovery of the band The Only Ones is a curious one. In the early to mid 90s my obsession with The Cure had completely taken hold, to the point of obscuring other gems in the music world. I became aware that The Cure had covered a tune called Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones during a soundcheck in 1987. Of course, I hunted down a bootleg and added it to my growing collection of rarities. I also decided to grab the original version of the song, released on the self titled debut record in 1978. This is a case of me not really getting the band until years later – shame on me. The Only Ones released 3 albums from 1978 to 1980 that were lumped in with the punk scene, but had nods to power pop, classic rock, and especially the proto / pre punk sound of Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell, and the New York Dolls. I just don’t think the 16 year old version of me was ready for music that was of such a timeless nature. The late 30’s (no, I mean 29-year-old) version of me plays The Only Ones at least once a month and sings along with enthusiasm. Another Girl, Another Planet kind of qualifies The Only Ones as 1 hit wonders, but what a song! You have a band putting forth all of its strengths into a perfect song. The long instrumental intro lays the groundwork for the positively explosive chorus. John Perry’s guitar work straddles the line between punk and rock classicism, Alan Mair’s bass bounces along like a freight train, and Peter Perrett’s vocals recall a New York poet punk spouting off lines about life, love, and death: “I always flirt with death / I look ill but I don’t care about it / I can face your threats / Stand up tall and scream and shout about it”. The demo of the song was so strong that the band wanted to keep most of the sound whilst fleshing out certain elements in a studio (bassist Alan Mair also served as producer). Mike Kellie’s drum sound was achieved by drumming over top of the demo and mixing the elements together on the master copy (necessary because of the way the demo was recorded – it was impossible to separate elements in the mixing process). All of these elements contributed to a perfect song that has stood the test of time, covered by many, many artists over the years. Yes, including that version by The Cure that I hunted down 20 years ago.