The success of the 70’s London punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue was almost entirely due to the irreverent, pugnacious sincerity of its founder Mark Perry (pictured below right).
That Perry should form a band seemed a natural progression. Ironically, his band turned out to be far less interesting than his mimeographed fanzine.
Co-founder/guitarist Alex Fergusson split early on and was temporarily replaced by The Police‘s road manager Kim Turner.
By The Image Has Cracked (1978), Perry’s urge to experiment was taking increasingly abstract turns.
Daringly attempting to add the space-rock influences of Can and the satirical art rock damage of Frank Zappa to the (faster and louder) punk zeitgeist, he fell from grace with a resounding thud.
The music meandered, the lyrics sounded painfully overwritten and narcissistic, and Perry’s tuneless ‘singing’ didn’t help at all.
Recorded in the last months of 1978, Vibing Up The Senile Man encompassed tribal percussion, spoken-word recitation, gongs, clarinet, de-tuned piano, shortwave radio, but – pointedly – almost no guitar. Every song was a first-take, with Perry refusing to perfect or fine-tune.
On its release in 1979, the album provoked an almost uniform hostility from reviewers perplexed by Perry’s metamorphosis from working class hero into bourgeois art wanker.
From 1979 – 1980 Mark Perry changed the band’s name to The Good Missionaries. The new band didn’t rehearse, performed in a spontaneous, improvisational way, and had the good sense and manners to call it a career after one record.
In 1981, Perry, Burns and Fergusson reunited as ATV (adding a drummer and a keyboard player) for Strange Kicks. In 1987, a new line-up of ATV appeared with Peep Show – a return to the bile and the old semi-anarchic self-indulgence that characterised much of ATV’s non-Fergusson work (with Perry adding horns and keyboards).