- Record Label
- Outer Reaches
About this item
‘Garage bands suddenly obtain cult status and become the antithesis of their initial appeal’
Garage Class were a group of reluctant outliers who produced one of the finest contributions to the wave of UK DIY music that emerged during the late 70s and early to mid-80s.
Hailing from Alsager in North West England and comprised of Tim Shutt (vocals) Phil Murphy (lead guitar) Clive Williams (guitar) Lynne Sanders (bass) and Phil Bourne (drums / bass on studio recordings) Garage Class originally went by the name of The Pits before their then manager Steve Hurt imposed an alias which, though unpopular within their ranks, would nevertheless reflect the shambolic art they would eventually capture on their first and only single.
As The Pits the group offered a loutish inflection on glam-punk flamboyance, evoking Johnny Thunder hitting the north and remaining disowned yet undeterred in a dreary old boozer. But as Garage Class the group distilled a roughcast and homespun primitivism that felt quintessentially their own. In this they proved too unruly to be assimilated into any wider scene. Early gigs descended into acrimony and recognition proved elusive. Yet what they managed to make back then now sounds like an extraordinary article of underdog ambition.
Released in 1984, four years after it was originally recorded, the Terminal Tokyo single is an unlikely triumph of exceptional messthetic punk. Though raw and unpolished the songs here are precariously pop-minded and indisputably anthemic. The titular A-side reveals the dry and detached drawl of Shutt aka The Subliminal Kid, a sharp, jaded and poetic voice that has some of the most iconic lines never heard in punk. Accompanied by second-hand guitars, on-the-fly handclaps and a chorus like a terrace chant this is the cult hit that never was, a heroically artless masterpiece that has all the ragged character and misfit euphoria of Swell Maps and The Buzzcocks if they were more impulsive and boisterous, and left to their own devices in the remote margins of a Cheshire town. The original B-side is here substituted for I Got Standards, a track that, until now, has somehow remained unreleased. An ideal twin to Terminal Tokyo there’s the same brusque and dog-eared quality to the band’s delivery, as well as the same upfront emphasis on strong hooks and insistent momentum. Yet again, Shutt is on impeccable form, perfecting an inflated, adolescent antagonism that has all the sardonic, malcontented charm of similarly ‘shirty’ buggers like Dan Treacy (Television Personalities), Patrik Fitzgerald and Mark Perry (Alternative TV).
Although never accepted in their own time both tracks represent a brief but inspired moment of fervent imperfection, one that epitomized the best of a diffuse and autonomous underground movement spearheaded by The Desperate Bicycles and built upon by the likes of Amos & Sara, The Homosexuals, The Cleaners From Venus and Family Fodder. Like them Garage Class were situated at a point where punk, art, humour and a sense of stubborn independence all intersected.
In the years since Terminal Tokyo has accumulated a retrospective appeal among certain trusted circles, with Jon Dale celebrating the single in his exhaustive and essential Story of UK DIY for Fact Magazine, and original copies regularly changing hands for a foolish forty quid or so. With this inaugural release on the Outer Reaches label Terminal Tokyo is not only restored for the very first time but given a worthy expansion courtesy of JD Twitch (Optimo).
Continuing his own fascination with the fringe history of UK DIY – documented on his own outstanding compilation Cease & Desist: DIY! (Cult Classics From The Post Punk Era 1978-1982) and in his re-edits of Crass Records classics for an early release on RVNG INTL – Twitch reinterprets I Got Standards as an incisive, dubwise outing that pictures Jaki Liebezeit and Muslimgauze on a bender in England’s provinces, tasked with remixing the raw product of local punks. A new slant on Garage Class’ crude magnificence, built to play loud on contemporary soundsystems.
Although the latter part of 1980 spelled the end for Garage Class with members moving on to other projects (Bourne fell in with The Colours Out of Time, Murphy went on to front The Regular Guys and Shutt eventually left to form Happy Refugees) this reissue attempts to give their fleeting time together and the unique single statement they made the treatment it deserves. If this means Garage Class have obtained cult status, their initial appeal remains. Just listen for yourself.
A1. Terminal Tokyo
B1. I Got Standards
B2. I Got Standards (JD Twitch’s Say It Again)