NEON - Neon (Stone Premonitions)

Following on from the live album by Neon also released on Stone Premonitions, this CD collects together their session for the John Peel Show, their two vinyl 7” singles, and some tracks recorded at the Manor with Martin Rushent. Consequently the sound quality is much better than the live album, and the intricacies of the band shine through. Tim Jones’ vocals are instantly recognisable from his stint with The Rabbit’s Hat, while Mark and Paddy provide a sturdy rhythm section for this collection of fast-paced rockers. Despite the 1977 – 1979 time-span for these recordings they do sound remarkably fresh, and at times it is hard to believe that they are nigh on thirty years old. The most interesting thing about these archive recordings is that a couple of the songs – ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ and ‘Bottles’ – were rerecorded some years later by The Rabbit’s Hat, and they hardly needed to change the arrangements at all to bring them up to date for the 90’s. All of the songs have the energy that characterised punk in the 70’s, and the band were obviously accomplished musicians, meaning that tracks like ‘Hanging Off An O’ and ‘Whizzo’ are catchy enough to repay repeated hearings, but still have twists and turns to keep the listener interested. For ‘Don’t Eat Bricks’ the rhythm section takes a reggae turning, but vocals and guitar keep to the rock road, making for an intriguing crossover. The only out of place song here is the bonus track of ‘Jerusalem’, done in a jokey reggae version by Neon and some of their mates in 1979. It is totally out of place on this otherwise excellent retrospective album, but still cannot spoil the quality of the rest of the music featured on this CD. To be honest I can’t understand how I missed them at the time, having listened to just about every John Peel show since 1975, but it is good to hear the band now and re-assess how good they were.