The Only Ones emerged in 1977 with an independent single, Lovers Of Today b/w Peter & The Pets, and a swag of Velvet Underground-like songs of heroin addiction and the futility of existence.
Preferring flawed romance to fiery nihilism, street urchin poet Peter Perrett – with his leopard-skin jacket and Lou Reed drawl – melded his flair for trembled lyrical gush with his band’s polished punk finesse, which distinguished them in an era when most of their peers were scratching their heads over the whereabouts of the fourth chord.
The self-titled debut album (1978) won considerable music press attention and was very well received. The album peaked with the preposterously brilliant flourish of broken-hearted pop, Another Girl, Another Planet – a bonafide classic.
Although touted as a New Wave group, The Only Ones actually included several old lags – bassist Alan Mair had previously worked with Glaswegian favourites The Beatstalkers in the 1960s, while Mike Kellie had drummed with Spooky Tooth and Peter Frampton, and John Perry had played in late-60s pop rockers Grapefruit.
A second self-produced collection, Even Serpents Shine, was also distinctive, but internal group friction and disagreements with their record company hampered their progress.
Producer Colin Thurston (Magazine, Duran Duran, Human League) took control of their third album, Baby’s Got A Gun, which included a guest appearance by Pauline Murray of Penetration, but the album lacked the punch of their earlier work.
With sales dwindling, CBS dropped the group from their roster and The Only Ones finally broke up in 1981. Almost two decades of heroin-addicted anonymity followed for Perrett, foggying the productivity of this deeply gifted songwriter. He resurfaced in 2004 to perform Another Girl, Another Planet with The Libertines.
Perrett’s former band, England’s Glory, had their demos released retrospectively (on the Skyclad label in 1989) after The Only Ones’ demise. Peter Perrett’s sons Peter Jnr and Jamie play in a band called Love Minus Zero and were also (briefly) members of Babyshambles with Pete Doherty.