The Professor and the Madman aren’t household names in the Punk Rock, Power Pop fraternity, although they should be. Not just because former Damned drummer Rat Scabies has played on all three of the band’s studio albums or for the latest “Disintegrate Me”. Rat’s bass playing former colleague Paul Gray lends his considerable talent to it, but because the mainstays of Alfie Agnew and Sean Elliot have just as much Punk cred, having been in the likes of D.I. and The Adolescents and exuded more DIY ethos than both Wickes and B&Q combined.
The birth of this live album deserves a whole section dedicated it itself; publishing approval, Art(?) Work(??) copyright issues, Pressing problems and almost the final nail in the coffin PledgeMusic that had the band putting their hands in their own pockets to fulfill the orders, but enough of the back story let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of The Professor and the Mad Man live at the 100 Club album.
The album was recorded just over a year ago at, obviously, the legendary 100 Club in Oxford Street where Messers Gray and Scabies would be playing together live, something that they hadn’t done since July 1992 when the Damned were either departing or reforming. The twelve tracks that make up this 50 minute album span the bands 3 album career to date with “Peace Bombs” from the “Elixir II – Election” album leading straight into a cover of US Power Pop band 20/20’s “Nuclear Boy” and then “Nightmare” that had me thinking that the band have arranged the setlist as some sort of post-apocalyptic concept. It’s almost as if this live album should’ve been a studio one, no doubt to thanks to various Streaming Services it can be. Even the cover of Eddie and the Hot Rods “Quit This Town”, that features a guest appearance from former Hot Rods guitarist Graeme Douglas, lends weight to this. Either that or this is The Professor and the Mad Man’s stab at their own version of The Monkees “Head” soundtrack done live; brilliantly off the rails but bang on the money. The production is super well balanced; you can hear everybody and everything, no one is too loud or understated. The only thing missing is the crowd appreciation and reaction between songs, until “Quit This Town”, where it springs into life, before mysteriously receding into the background; I was at the gig and remember the crowd to have been on the lively, boisterous side with a lot more stories and antidotes between songs (Adam Ant) and I’m sure “Electroconvulsive Therapy” was the penultimate track and not, as on the CD, the last. Maybe that’s why it fades out?
Overall, it’s a great snapshot of something special that at the time was billed as “For One Night Only”. However, with Alfie, Sean, Paul and Rat working on new material I hope to see “A Welcome Return” sometime next year.
Author: Armitage Smith
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