So, what's it like? Well, from the 5 Star rating I have assigned to this album you can see that I rather like it! But that does not go far enough! Listening to the newly released CD version of Wyngarde's classic is an experience that I would say most-closely resembles a deeply religous experience: On its release, the album proved too controversial and difficult for the frankly two-dimensional minds of the era's critics: They could not even begin to comprehend the enormity of the album's scale and vision.
Imagine if the same treatment had been dished out to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band by The Beatles, and it had only been re-released 35 years later: Well, listen up so-called Muzos, because such a crime has already been perpetrated; and it involves the very same album that I am reviewing here!
Anyway, enough hyberbole, what about the songs themselves. The album starts with the amazing "Come in". The fantastic guitarwork hits home immediately with a song intro so heavenly that the Almighty could have written it Himself. Interestingly, The Stone Roses would later borrow the same introduction for one of their own songs, slightly modifying it for the barnstorming intro into 'Elephant Stone'. Personally I feel they didn't do the original justice and failed to entirely capture the quintessential spirit of the song that raises one's soul to a higher level of consciousness with each listen.
From here the album changes style mid-song in an almost 'Beefheartian' kind of way. If you've ever listened to "The N. Smith yells 'Switch' and the song changes character entirely. Here, the introduction gives way to Wyngarde's intoxicating vocal, soothing the listener into an almost trance-like state. We are how in the calm before the storm: Wyngarde gives the briefest hint of things to come with the lyric: All this and we haven't even reached the end of the first track!
The album's centrepoint is undoubtedly its third track, "Rape", the song which caused a lot of the original controversy. Nothing will ever prepare you for the song opening with Wyngarde repeatedly shouting 'Rape' at the top of his voice, before sublimely launching into a reading explicitly informing the listener about how different countries perform rape in different ways. It is initially shocking: If I had to choose another highlight its impossible really: Here, Wyngarde reads a letter from 'The Times' newspaper written by two female skinheads.
Then the music starts and Wyngarde begins to sing an outwardly un-PC set of lyrics about 'Billy the Queer'. The song is actually about the repression of minority groups and suchlike by small-minded bigots, and it takes an artist of Wyngarde's integrity to use such evocative language to get his point across.
Here he has risked being pigeon-holed as having the same extreme views as the very people he is satirising. This song really does show how far Wyngarde would go fulfil his titanic musical vision.
I believe it is the duty of every music-lover to purchase this album and set Wyngarde roaming freely in your minds. For only then will you appreciate the fallacy behind the empty-shell that is contemporary music and raise your spirit to a new level of enlightenment that only Peter Wyngarde can provide you with.