Boomkat Product Review:
Reissue of Vic Serf & The Villains’ playful 1983 avant-garde concept disc - a suite of skewed Rock ’N Roll played by aliens for earthfolk. It’s nuts in the best way - imagine Joe Meek meets The Residents ...
“War Extension announces the vinyl re-issue of Rok Y Roll by Vic Serf & The Villains, originally released by It's War Boys on cassette in 1982. Musicians on the album comprised Vic Serf (alias of Jim "Amos" Welton), Cathy Spermwrecker, Rita Chulo, and Larry O'Houlihan, along with guest appearances from Ron Dealo, Lepke B., and Sara Fancy. The recording is situated in a particularly fervent and inventive period of 1980s independent and experimental music-making, in which musicians moved freely between such bands as Milk From Cheltenham, Tesco Bombers, and Raincoats, and record labels such as Rough Trade, Y Records, and Barcelona's UMYU.
This album, however, was more part of a rampant recording program by Welton in which he released, with help from many collaborators, an irrepressible number of bands and their albums, such as by the Just Measurers, Milk From Cheltenham, and Amos and Sara, as well as Vic Serf & The Villains. Rok Y Roll imagines an alien race based on a planet far away who have received radio signals beamed from earth in the '50s: rock and roll music. They assume that these signals are the language of the earth people and, inspired to communicate, concoct a suitable reply. Unfortunately, their culture has no concept of music or song and, as a consequence, their replies are somewhat skewed; Rok Y Roll is the result. The music, recorded mostly on lo-fi tape machines, and borrowed four-track cassette machines, found its locus in the various squats and derelict mansions that defined a now long-ago London. Important to this was the ever-present involvement of non-musicians and the untutored approaches and altered techniques they employed. Rejecting the wannabe naked careerism of 80's pop, the scene around It's War Boys's aim was, as Susan B.
Smoothe said, "nothing less than to turn the whole rotting wriggling carapace of music on its back and carefully prod each segment with a perceptually sharpened stick." The question remains, was Rok Y Roll a mining of past forms of inverted science fiction, in which chronologically displaced music functioned as an alien artifact? Or, was it an all-out attack on popular musical forms? Primarily, Rok Y Roll could be read as a celebration of utter naffness. Vic Serf and his collaborators asked the question, "How atrocious could a music and the idea behind it be? What would result?" Here you have the answer!”