First vinyl reissue of the recordings of 'O' Level, one of
the early bands of maverick pop artisan Ed Ball, also a
member of Teenage Filmstars, Television Personalities
and The Times.
Ed Ball has one of the most interesting careers to come
out of UK punk, spanning over three decades under
different names and as a solo artist, and touching on
pop, punk, new wave, psychedelia and anything else in
order to create pure pop art.
Munster Records presents, in a co-release with Discos Alehop!, the first vinyl
reissue of the two official singles of British band 'O' Level: 'East Sheen' (recorded
in November 1977 and released on Psycho) and 'The Malcolm EP' (recorded in
December 1978 and released by the Kings Road label). This compilation also includes
three tracks from February 1979 never released on vinyl before, plus a rawer
alternative version of 'East Sheen' dating from March 1978.
'O' Level was created in 1976 by London guitarist Ed Ball along with two friends from
school, the Benett brothers (John on drums and Gerard on bass), who would leave
the band in March 1978. That same line-up plus Dan Treacy (another school friend of
Ball's) recorded the first Television Personalities single in 1977, titled '14th Floor'.
'O' Level self-released that same year a first single which included three tracks
strongly influenced by punk's energy (Buzzcocks and Undertones guitars and melody
on 'East Sheen') and attitude (with ironic comments about fake punks on 'Pseudo
Punk'), but all of as if seen from a distance, outside a decadent scene which had
already been absorbed by the establishment. The single also features a sort of
homonymous anthem called ''O' Levels'. As a record collector anecdote, there are
two versions of the single with different covers, which go for very high prices.
Ed Ball, DIY superhero, returned in late 1978 with four more hits, displaying a sound
more oriented towards 60s pop but with the new wave spirit of the time. On this
occasion he was accompanied on bass, drums and backing vocals by… himself, Ball
played everything! The single, titled 'The Malcolm EP', contains a new hit in "homage"
to Malcolm McLaren, 'We Love Malcolm'; a portrait of the scene, 'Everybody's On
Revolver Tonight' (where the pseudo punks and part time punks make another
appearance); and two tracks with 60s melodies: 'Leave Me Alone' (with a very
Love-esque chorus) and 'Stairway To Boredom' (pure new wave sound).
But Ed Ball's music career didn't end with this second single. After recording three
more tracks in February 1979 which have never been released on vinyl until now, he
continued developing the same strand of wonderful pop through the 80s and 90s with
bands such as Teenage Filmstars, Television Personalities, The Times and many more,
ending with four records as a solo artist. 'O' Level was Ed Ball, a passionate pop
artisan who deserves to be rediscovered.
1. EAST SHEEN
2. PSEUDO PUNK
3. 'O' LEVELS
4. WE LOVE MALCOLM
5. LEAVE ME
6. EVERYBODY'S ON REVOLVER TONIGHT
1. STAIRWAY TO BOREDOM
2. MANY UNHAPPY RETURNS
3. I LOVE TO CLEAN MY POLARIS MISSILE
4. DON'T PLAY GOD WITH MY LIFE
5. EAST SHEEN REVISITED