Mostly missed, Newcastle’s Punishment Of Luxury formed in 1976, named after a painting by Giovanni Segantini. They sounded something like Devo meets Gang Of Four and could probably be classed as bright lefties that saw a political climate as it existed in Punk, using the opportunity to express all the Punk principals of alienation in a hopeless future that could only begin to be addressed by awareness through energy and lyrics that observed the world for what it was. Phew, that was quite a sentence!
I love this band, although they are mostly off people’s radar, they were brimming over with ideas. The line-up was Brian Bond (Brian Rapkin) vocals Neville Luxury (Neville Atkinson) on guitar and vocals, Red Helmet on guitar and vocals, Jimi Giro on bass and vocals, and “Liquid” Les Denham on drums. (Jim Giro and Red Helmet may not actually be their real names, adding to their mystery).
They released their first single, Puppet Life on the Small Wonder label in 1978 (Bauhaus released their legendary Bela Lugosi’s Dead single on the same label in 1979). Killing An Arab by The Cure and singles by Leyton Buzzards, Patrick Fitzgerald, Crass and other odd records of the day were released on the label. But by 1979 Punishment of Luxury had been signed by United Artists and were releasing their one and only album, The Laughing Academy. Steve Sekrit (Steven Robson) had replaced Liquid Les on drums and Engine Of Excess/Jellyfish was released as a single.
After touring the album they went back into the studio to record concept album, Gigantic Days but were dropped in a take over of United Artists by EMI. This was the end for singer Brian Bond who left the band. (The record wasn’t released until 1998). More line up changes followed with Tim Magenta coming in on guitar presumably to free up Neville Luxury to sing. They changed their name to Punilux and released 7 on Red Rhino in 1983. Neville Luxury went solo in 1984 and released an EP, Feels Like Dancing Wartime, but that was their lot. They reformed briefly in 2007 and have since reappeared with an EP of new material called 5 in 2012.
This band had a vision, engaging songs, an unbridled energy and a great guitarist in Neville Luxury. They had a special sound that was both edgy and melodic, somehow anthemic whilst remaining down to earth – they were classic Post Punk intellectuals.
Wires stick through my soul, my actions are controlled
Turning me from free man to puppet life suspended
Suspended, in puppet life, puppet life
Your demands are my role, lost in space and time
I crawl for you
Once I had my own mind but in your sewer I was blinded
Wallowing around like an albino crocodile,
In puppet life, puppet life
I used to laugh and make the sun shine
But then you came and made me freeze
I haven’t had a friend for such a long time
Cut the strings, free me please, oh please, I beg you
Once my world was wild but clear
No-one over me to watch and overhear
Now I have only dreams to sell
I’m going cheap at the gates of hell, at the gates of hell, hell
Our bodies can take no more
The fascist always ends up on the floor
Our day will come we pray, I’ll be OK when I’ve
Been mended, mended
But until then I will be swinging on your rope, with no hope
All I have, all I know are puppets.
This from Wikipedia:
“Also known as The Punishment of Luxury (1891) this painting was bought by the Walker Art Gallery from the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1893 where it was known as The Punishment of Lust. However, this title was thought to be provocative and it was thus changed from The Punishment of Lust to The Punishment of Luxury.
The Punishment of Lust is one of three pictures by Segantini inspired by a passage in the Italian poem ‘Pangiavahli’, which describes the punishment meted out to women who have rejected the biological role of motherhood.”
“Thus the bad mother in the livid valley, in the eternal cold where no branch turns green and no flower blossoms, turns ceaselessly.”
Band photo is by Rik Walton.
Note: I’m not sure if this is ‘real’ or a fan video but it’s great, see Brains from Thunderbirds giving it all.