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Mark Perry in New York City, 2003
|Genres||Punk rock, post-punk|
|Years active||1976–79, 1981, 1985–98|
|Labels||Deptford Fun City
I. R. S.
|Past members||Mark Perry
Alternative TV (sometimes known as ATV) were an English post-punk band, formed in London in 1976. Their punk rock and post-punk sound was influential for several musical artists. Author Steve Taylor writes, "Alternative TV pioneered reggae rhythms in punk and then moved on to redefine the musical rules".
Alternative TV were formed by Mark Perry, the founding editor of Sniffin' Glue punk fanzine, with Perry, Michael Abbott (aka Mick Smith) on bass guitar and Alex Fergusson. Early rehearsals took place at Throbbing Gristle's Industrial Records studio with Genesis P-Orridge on drums; recordings from this period appeared, long afterwards, on the Industrial Sessions CD. The band's first live appearance was in Nottingham supporting The Adverts.
The band's debut on record was "Love Lies Limp", a free flexi disc issued with the final edition of Perry's Sniffin' Glue fanzine. On this single Perry and Fergusson were accompanied by John Towe (ex-Generation X) and Tyrone Thomas. Towe left to join The Rage and was replaced by Chris Bennett. This lineup was the most straightforwardly "punk" version of ATV, although they combined short fast songs with extended pieces such as "Alternatives to NATO", in which Perry read an anarchist political text and envisaged the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Britain. Shortly afterwards they released the "How Much Longer"/"You Bastard" 7" in December 1977. The A-side was a pointed critique of punk style: "How much longer will people wear/Nazi armbands and dye their hair?"
At the end of 1977, Perry sacked his chief collaborator and co-writer Fergusson. The latter went on to form the short-lived Cash Pussies and, a few years later, Psychic TV along with Genesis P-Orridge. He was replaced in ATV by Dennis Burns.
A dub-influenced single, "Life After Life", was released, followed by the band's debut album, The Image Has Cracked. The band's second album, Vibing Up the Senile Man (Part One), saw the band take a more explicitly experimental direction, however, which alienated both the music press and audiences. A recording of one gig which ended in a violent stage invasion can be heard on the cassette-only release Scars on Sunday. Around the same time, a live LP, split with commune-dwelling hippy band Here and Now was released (a document of their tour together), marking the band's movement further away from the ever more predictable punk/new wave scene. Alternative TV soon evolved into the avant-garde project The Good Missionaries (taking the name from a track on the Vibing album), releasing one album, Fire From Heaven, in 1979. Perry released a solo album, Snappy Turns, the following year, and joined the experimental duo The Door and the Window on their debut album Detailed Twang before he, Burns and Fergusson briefly reformed Alternative TV along with former members of Fergusson's Cash Pussies in 1981. The reconstituted ATV released one album, Strange Kicks, a venture into light pop songs unlike any of their previous work, produced by Richard Mazda.
From 1981 to 1982 Perry had a new project, The Reflections, a band with Nag from The Door and the Window, Karl Blake (of The Lemon Kittens) and Grant Showbiz, among others. They produced an album, Slugs and Toads, and a single, "4 Countries", before disintegrating.
Perry reformed ATV in 1985. This line up started with Karl Blake, Steve Cannell and Allison Philips.Protag and then Clive Giblin featured later on guitar and ATV released further records on and off over the following decade or so with varying line-ups, Perry being the only constant member. Another lineup followed with James Kyllo and Steve Cannell which lead to the releases of "Sol" and "Dragon Love".
Lost Moment Records released the 2001 studio album, "Revolution", followed in 2003 by the official bootleg album "Viva La Rock'n' Roll – consisting of live performances recorded in the UK, France, Germany and the US. In 2004 Mark recorded the Ramones classic "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" for a Lost Moment single and an Argentinian Ramones tribute CD, and the world heard at last his version of the song that his pioneering fanzine took its name from. Cleopatra Records released a compilation of the Lost Moment output for the US market in February 2006, entitled "In Control".
In late 2006, Mark Perry was in the process of forming the new Sniffin' Glue Records label, which would feature a third Long Decline album as its first release.
The Chameleons regularly closed their gigs with a cover of "Splitting in 2".
Savage Republic covered "Viva La Rock n' Roll" on their 1988 LP Jamahiriya democratique et populaire de sauvage
- Studio albums
- The Image Has Cracked (1978)
- Vibing Up the Senile Man (Part One) (1979)
- Strange Kicks (1981)
- Peep Show (1987)
- Dragon Love (1990)
- My Life As a Child Star (1994)
- Punk Life (1998)
- Apollo (1999)
- Split albums
- Scars on Sunday (1980) (with The Good Missionaries)
- An Ye As Well (1980) (with The Good Missionaries)
- Live albums
- What You See Is What You Are (1978)
- Live at the Rat Club '77 (1979)
- Live 1978 (1993)
- The Radio Sessions (1995)
- The Industrial Sessions 1977 (1996)
- 25 Years of ATV (2002)
- Black and White: Live (2009)
- Compilation albums
- Action Time Vision (1980)
- Splitting in 2 – Selected Viewing (1989)
- The Image Has Cracked – The Alternative TV Collection (1994)
- Vibing Up the Senile Man – The Second Alternative TV Collection (1996)
- "Love Lies Limp" (1977)
- "How Much Longer" (1977)
- "Life After Life" (1977)
- "Action Time Vision" (1978)
- "Life"/"Love Lies Limp" (1978)
- "The Force Is Blind" (1979)
- "The Ancient Rebels" (1981)
- "Communicate" (1981)
- "Welcome to the End of Fun" (1986)
- Love/Sex EP (1986)
- "My Baby's Laughing (Empty Summer's Dream)" (1987)
- The Sol EP (1990)
- "Best Wishes" (1994)
- "Purpose In My Life" (1995)