Spizzenergi – “Spizz History” (1982)

This is another one of those records that makes me desperate to find out how it ended up on the Miscellaneous S bin at a record store in Bellevue, Washington, a 1982 Italian pressing of a comp record from an OG UK punk band. Did someone buy this on a trip to Europe as a teen in the 1980s (♣) and obsess over it in their bedroom until they were finally forced by society to “grow up”, the remnants of their youth eventually finding their way various second hand shops and landfills? Or is it something less mundane, like someone bought it on Discogs and decided they didn’t want it any more? Life in the Vinyl Lane is probably as much about me as it is about music, so I wonder about the stories of other music obsessives sometimes. Will someone come across a handful of my Þeyr and Purrkur Pillnikk albums at a record store someday and wonder how they got there? Maybe. Probably not.

So back to Spizzenergi, aka The Spizzles, aka Athletico Spizz 80, aka any number of other names that have “Spizz” in them. I’d never heard this band before; I’m sure I’ve come across their name(s) in various books and articles, but this is the first time I’m sitting down and giving them a listen. Spizz History is a 15-song compilation covering the 1978-81 period and includes arguably the band’s most famous track, “Where’s Captain Kirk?”, which has the distinction of being the first #1 song on the UK Indie Chart when it was established in 1980 and probably the best song ever about the original Star Trek series. (♠)

I’m intrigued by the band’s sound. Musically it’s fairly stripped down, lacking the punk speed and leaning more in the direction of avant garde/experimental. It’s certainly punk in attitude, but the instrumentation isn’t very full or dense. If anything it reminds me quite a bit of a bare-bones version of the Dead Kennedys, especially Spizz’s vocals (yes, the main guy goes by Spizz). Hell, I don’t think there’s a single instrument other than a guitar on the first seven tracks – no bass, no keys, no percussion, which is kind of a trip because it’s not like this is singer-songwriter stuff. The B side gives us a fuller range of instruments as well as a pair of Star Trek-themed tunes, “Where’s Captain Kirk?” and “Spock’s Missing,” though alas it doesn’t include the song that completed the trifecta, “Five Year Mission (Featuring the Return of Spock)”. If the A side was more Dead Kennedys, the B side is more The Clash. And Star Trek.

Spizz History was much better than I expected it to be – intriguing and interesting without being totally-out-there-weird. There are enough familiar elements to keep you grounded so that your senses aren’t overwhelmed and you can sit back and enjoy.

(♣) I came back from spending part of the summer of 1987 in Europe with a vinyl copy of the Scorpions’ World Wide Live and a cassette of Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut. Not very adventuresome on my part.

(♠) Though D.O.A.‘s “Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Bones” is also a strong contender.