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Spizzenergi

Entry updated 27 September 2021. Tagged: Music.

British punk band led by Kenneth "Spizz" Spiers from Solihull. This was the best known iteration of the group he led during the punk/post-punk era, whose name would regularly change and be variations of his nickname.

By and large, early punk had little time for sf, partially due to its focus on the present but also because of its hostility towards Progressive Rock (see SF Music), which commonly used genre themes. There were a few exceptions, most notably The Skids' first single "Charles" (1978), about a worker who becomes a Cyborg and ends up affixed to the factory's machinery; but also The Art Attacks' self-explanatory "I Am a Dalek" (1978) (see Daleks) and the Only Ones' (more new wave than punk) single "Another Girl, Another Planet" (1978), though strictly speaking the latter's lyrics are metaphorical rather than literal.

However, Spizz often used sf imagery, if sometimes obscurely: his first band Spizzoil, formed with Pete Petrol (Pete O'Dowd), released the "6000 Crazy" EP in 1978. The title track is bleak ("We will take control of you, we will help you see the light; if you are incapable, you will have no right to life"), another, "1989", looks to the Near Future, being glum about 1989 before moving onto 2029 – when the beer is OK, but expensive. The "Cold City: 4" EP (1979) had "Solarisation (Shun)" (sample lyric: "Polarisation, solarisation, interstellar station, a brand new creation, of brave emancipation, new baby production") and "Red & Black", the colours of the uniform worn by members of what might be a time patrol ("A restless sleep in a Time Machine ... what will become of you if I don't intervene?") (see Time Police). It was the fourth single, "Where's Captain Kirk?" (1979), released as by Spizzenergi (with a new line-up, Petrol now having left and with Mark Coalfield writing or co-writing many songs), that gave Spizz his greatest success, selling 60,000 copies in the first six months: the narrator beams aboard the Enterprise (see Star Trek), meeting the crew but wondering why he hasn't met Captain Kirk – it turns out that he is Kirk. Fittingly, the B-side was called "Amnesia", which referenced George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932). Changing their name to Athletico Spizz 80, the band's next single was "No Room" (1980), whose the A-side is possibly genre and whose B-side definitely is: "Spock's Missing", with Kirk overwrought from having left Spock behind on a planet.

Their first album was Do A Runner (1980), which included "New Species" (about "new species in silicon flesh ... they are going to set us free from the bonds of Christianity") (see Religion); "Energy Crisis", a Dystopian tale of fuel shortages (see Power Sources) leading to martial rule, with global warming (see Climate Change) and ozone layer depletion (see Pollution) meaning people only go out at night; "Personimpersonator" ("He tells me his name Harry – but I don't believe it") might be sf, but like a couple of other possible genre songs, the lyrics are unclear. The next album, Spikey Dream Flowers (1981), released as by The Spizzles (with Coalfield departing and Jim Solar joining as main co-writer), included "Five Year Mission", a sequel to "Spock's Missing" (he returns); the self-explanatory "Robot Holiday" (see Robots) and "Dangers of Living", about facing the future, which has much sf imagery ("Transformation Memory chip, science fiction/science fact, you can't go forward if you keep going back"). The B-side to "Work" (1982), as by Spizzenergi2, was "Megacity 3", a Judge Dredd reference, praising the City's virtues over those of Megacities 1 and 2.

"Where's Captain Kirk?" is a punk-era classic; the rest of the 1979/1980 releases are good, though not reaching that single's heights. [SP]

works (selected)

  • "6000 Crazy" (EP) as Spizzoil (UK: Rough Trade, 1978)
  • "Cold City" (EP) as Spizzoil (UK: Rough Trade, 1979)
  • "Soldier, Soldier" (single) as Spizzenergi (UK: Rough Trade, 1979)
  • "Where's Captain Kirk?" (single) as Spizzenergi (UK: Rough Trade, 1979)
  • "No Room" (single) as Athletico Spizz 80 (UK: Rough Trade, 1980)
  • "Hot Deserts" (single) (as Athletico Spizz 80, UK: A&M, 1980)
  • Do a Runner (album) as Athletico Spizz 80 (UK: A&M, 1980)
  • Spikey Dream Flower (album) as The Spizzles (UK: A&M, 1981)
  • "Work" (single) as Spizzenergi2 (UK: Rough Trade, 1982)

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