The Professionals – “I Didn’t See It Coming” (1981)

So what do you do when you’re a member of one of the biggest punk bands in the world, the Sex Pistols, and your band falls apart? If you’re John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) you go on to even greater fame with your new band PiL. If you’re Sid Vicious, you stab your girlfriend to death in a hotel room, then later overdose on heroin. What about Steve Jones and Paul Cook, the Pistols who didn’t get super-cool-fancy punk monikers like Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten? You form a new band of course, and that band was The Professionals.

I Didn’t See It Coming was the band’s second (and last) studio album, released in 1981. I picked up this used copy today at Easy Street Records simply because of the Jones / Cook connection – I’d never heard of the band, but it sounded like it was worth checking out.

While considered punk by many, The Professionals definitely seem to have anticipated the New Wave movement, particularly with this album. If you look at the band picture on the back cover you’ll be even more convinced that this isn’t punk – certainly not with those haircuts (see incriminating evidence below). I showed the picture to Holly while this record was playing, and her response was simply, “This is straight-up New Wave”.

So what about the music? Holly decreed that “this is not a punk album,” and I have to agree. There’s a little punk influence… I catch just a hint of Iggy and the Stooges in the music of “Friday Night Square” on Side A, but that’s about all. It’s decent, mind you, but there is nothing in here that will going to get you sliding around the floor in your socks like Tom Cruise in Risky Business (which is dangerous to attempt if (1) your house has carpet and (2) you live in a dry climate, as the static electricity build-up caused by socks-on-carpet will lead to some nasty shocks).

The tempo is a bit faster on Side B, but it’s just steady rock ‘n roll. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing special. I hoped for something more from half of the Sex Pistols recording while the smoldering ruins of the 70s were still visible on the horizon, but in all fairness the picture on the reverse served as fair warning. I’m glad I checked it out, but I doubt this will make it into steady rotation on the turntable.