Spizzoil Cold City 7” (Rough Trade, 1978)
Poor Spizz! One catchy song about Star Trek (Spizzenergi’s Where’s Captain Kirk?), a horrible album (Athletico Spizz 80’s Do a Runner), and one very embarrassing band (Spizzenergi: 2) and all the guys work is written off as novelty pap or just plain pap. Of course, Spizz didn’t help things by turning out versions of Captain Kirk well into the late Eighties. Not to mention, releasing some pretty dire records in the Nineties, at an age when the old chap should have been pushing paper for some local agency and enjoying a nice cider at the pub after work.
Bad judgment aside, Spizz - with the help of Pete Petrol - did turn out some great records. Where’s Captain Kirk? might have been played to death, but take the Star Trek out of it and imagine the lyrics to be about gray skies and living on the dole and your tolerance level for it goes up. Really, it is a catchy song. And Spizzenergi’s version of Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain is worthy of repeated listening.
Unfortunately, most folks blank when it comes to Spizzoil, the duo of Spizz and Pete Petrol (petrol = oil: get it?). The band started out as Spizz 77, doing on-the-fly performances, mostly improv, with Spizz on vocals and kazoo and Petrol flailing away at guitar. The result was a mess of plunking and screaming but it did lead them to an opening slot on a Siouxsie & the Banshees show, where they were seen by John Peel. Peel recorded them and broadcast them on his radio show. Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records heard them and the rest is on wax.
In October 1978, Spizzoil released a fantastic 3 song debut 7” (6,000 Crazy) and exposed the world to their stripped-down minimalist primitive sound. March ‘79, saw Spizzoil’s second record, Cold City.
Cold City is a step up from 6,000 Crazy. Six more months on earth “matured” the band. The songs are little less crazy primitive but certainly not slick. Petrol plays simple chords while Spizz shouts and screams and sometimes even whispers. He also honks on his ever handy kazoo.
As the song titles suggest (Cold City, Red & Black, Solarisation, Platform 3), Spizz sings about bleak, post-industrial London. The music reflects the lyrics’ desolate desperation. From regimented punk down strums to picked stark notes, the songs both march and drone. Percussion is limited to one drum (at times) and what sound like pot and pans - all drenched with reverb.
For the last couple years, the punk collector set has gone wild over British DIY punk from the late 70s and early 80s. Spizzoil fits into this genre well. In fact, based in their first two records, they should be considered one of the genre’s top bands. However, collectors are like anyone else. They care intensely what their peers think and would never admit to liking something done by the same people who “did that lame Captain Kirk song.” Good for them. They can keep ignoring great records like Cold City. It just keeps the price down and the records easy to obtain.
that will be all
oh, apart from one of Spizz's greatest singles was "No Room" not mentioned above.