Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction
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The band is the brainchild of Mark Manning, a former graphic artist and art editor of the now defunct flexipop magazine. The magazine folded back in 1982 but the hedonistic lifestyle of the frequenting rock and pop stars to the magazine' offices fueled his desire to experience the debauchery of life as a decadent rock star. He joined another music publication called Metal Fury as a graphic designer but would assume the alter ego Zodiac Mindwarp at night. Zodiac soon left Metal Fury and formed the Love Reaction in 1985 with Jimmy Cauty, who later formed The Orb, The JAMS (Justified Ancients of Mu Mu), and The KLF on guitar, Kid Chaos (real name Stephen Harris) on bass and Boom Boom Kaboomski on drums.
The band was signed to the FOOD ltd label of Phonogram Records who soon issued their first recording, the three track twelve incher Wild Child with just Zodiac (playing guitar and vocals), Kid Chaos on bass and Jake Le Mesurier on drums. A demo version of "High Priest of Love" was included on the Melody Maker "Vinyl Conflict 2" free EP in September 1986. By the end of the year the lineup had changed again to accommodate the still present figure of Cobalt Stargazer (real name Geoff Bird) and new drummer Slam Thunderhide (real name Stephen Landrum). That lineup would contribute the studio track, "Drug Shoes," to the FOOD "Imminent 2" various artists compilation.
At various times, the band has also featured Kid Chaos (real name Stephen Harris), Slam Thunderhide (real name Stephen Landrum), Evil Bastard (real name Robert Munro who co-penned and sang on three notable B-sides: Hangover from Hell, Holiday in Hell and Lager Woman from Hell), Thrash D Garbage (real name Paul Bailey), Flash Bastard (real name Jan Cyrka), Suzi X (real name Richard Levy), Tex Diablo (real name Christopher Renshaw), and Robbie Vom (real name Rob Morris).
Zodiac Mindwarp progressed rapidly from their first gig at the Dingwalls (Camden, London. Nov 1985) to playing in front of a packed Reading festival in 1987 but unfortunately was followed by the departure of Kid Chaos who joined the massive rock outfit The Cult. Zodiac regrouped by assigning Thrash D Garbage on Bass and Flash Bastard (Jan Cyrka) on rhythm guitar section. The expanded five member outfit all went on to record Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction's debut album in 1988 entitled Tattooed Beat Messiah. Other band members playing bass include Suzi X, Tex Diablo and Kev Reverb. Previous drummers were Robbie Vomm and The Apocalypse.
- Zodiac Mindwarp (aka Zed) - vocals
- Cobalt Stargazer - Guitars
- Jack Shitt - Bass
- Bruno 'The Cat' Agua - Drums
Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction play a sleazy style of commercial hard rock featuring big riffs and choruses, as was the trend in the band’s heyday of the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s. The camp lyrics are intended as self-parody, and can be seen as either humorous by those who "get the joke", or offensive by those who take them at face value, for their often lascivious and misogynist tone. Song titles like "Back Seat Education", "Feed My Frankenstein", "High Heeled Heaven", and "Trash Madonna" illustrate Mindwarp's tongue-in-cheek approach. Lyrical content also exhibits a send up of cult worship, often of Zodiac Mindwarp's self-proclaimed raging libido, with Mindwarp claiming the titles sex fuhrer, love dictator, and high priest of love. Songs such as "Holy Gasoline", "President of the United States of Love", "Messianic Reprise", and "Elvis Died for You" are similarly inclined. Although often overlooked, Mindwarp has written songs such as "Hoodlum Thunder", from the album of the same name, that offer a scathing take on the then-current political actions of western powers, particularly commenting on war and imperialism.
The act produced a UK Singles Chart Top 20 hit with the breakthrough record "Prime Mover", a song that was inspired musically by Hawkwind's 1977 track "Quark, Strangeness and Charm", itself heavily inspired by the German group NEU!
They toured the US supporting Alice Cooper and Guns N' Roses on dozens of dates in 1988. After a few gigs, they were moved up to the middle of the bill between Cooper and Guns N' Roses. Stargazer, Thunderhide and Bastard were also featured in the film "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II" performing with Slash and Axl Rose (from Guns N' Roses) and Alice Cooper, in an encore from this tour featuring Cooper's hit "Under My Wheels". The Love Reaction's 1987 album Tattooed Beat Messiah failed to sell well enough in the States, resulting in them being dropped by their record label with outstanding debts, according to Zodiac himself. The Tattooed Beat Messiah LP spawned 5 videos that received regular rotation on MTV's "Headbangers Ball" and host Ricki Rachtman claimed the band as one of his all time favorites, and most underrated bands of the era.
Occasionally referred to as "biker rock", the band's style of hard rock is reflected in their outlandish attire, which tends to parody the post-apocalyptic Mad Max biker look. Mötley Crüe declared them to be their favorite band and immediately restyled themselves for the Girls, Girls, Girls record.
They adopted a more common "street look" recently, circa their comeback, around 1999.
In recent years, Manning has established himself as an author, penning Bad Wisdom (1996, with Bill Drummond), Crucify Me Again (2000), Get Your Cock Out (2000), Fucked by Rock (2001), Collateral Damage, The Wild Highway (2005, again with Drummond). Manning is also a regular contributor to The Idler magazine.
- Mindwarp co-wrote the track "There's a Barbarian in the Back of My Car" on the Voice of the Beehive album Let It Bee.
- He also co-wrote the track "Feed My Frankenstein" which appeared on the Alice Cooper album Hey Stoopid. Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction recorded their own version of the song which appeared on the album Hoodlum Thunder.
- In 1992 Mindwarp appeared on the album 456 by The Grid, performing lead vocals on the track "Fire Engine Red". Love Reaction guitarist Cobalt Stargazer also appeared on the album, performing on the tracks "Face the Sun" and "Leave Your Body".
- The Love Reaction once appeared as Belinda Carlisle's (mimed) backing band at a late 80s/early 90s award show for the song "Leave a light on for me".
Singles and EPs
|Year||Title||UK Indie Chart Position||UK Chart Position|
|May||1986||"Wild Child" EP||#9||–|
|Aug||1986||"High Priest of Love" EP||#1||–|
|Nov||1987||"Back Seat Education"||#49|
|1993||"My Life Story" EP||–|
- Tattooed Beat Messiah (1988) – UK No. 20 (re-released in 1997 as The Best of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction)
- Hoodlum Thunder (1991)
- Live at Reading (1993)
- One More Knife (1994)
- I Am Rock (2002) – (re-released in 2005 with 4 demo bonus tracks)
- Weapons of Mass Destruction (live album) (2004)
- Rock Savage (2005)
- Pandora's Grisly Handbag (1986 live album and DVD) (2006)
- We Are Volsung (2010)
- Lazell, Barry (2002). Indie Hits 1980 to 1989 ; the Complete UK Independent Charts. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-9517206-9-1.
- "Zodiac Mindwarp", Chart Stats, retrieved 2011-02-19 Archived October 21, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction", Chart Stats, retrieved 2011-02-19 Archived October 21, 2012 at the Wayback Machine