paul gray - The I-94 Bar
Seance - Professor and The Madman (Fullertone Records)
Old punks don’t die. They just learn how to play their instruments and make concept albums. Stop right there. Don’t run screaming from the room. Professor and The Madman’s “Seance” is an album completely bereft of excess fat and self indulgence.
This trans-Atlantic band is American singer-guitarists Alfie Agnew (Adolescents, DI) and Sean Elliott (DI, Mind Over Four) joined by Brits Paul Gray (bass) and Rat Scabies, who respectively are current and former members of The Damned. While that's a punk pedigree worth bottline, “Seance” is one diverse pop trip.
What do you get when you mix two veterans of the SoCal punk rawk scene with a couple of its UK equivalent’s most storied names? This here disc, guv’nor, and a fine slice of rockin’ psych-tinged pop it is.
Sometimes worlds collide in the best way possible and here’s a prime I’ll-have-one-thin-and-crispy-with-the-lot-and-don’t-forget-the-anchovies example. Genres are less a restrictive tag than a challenge for these guys.
Alfie Agnew (a real-life maths professor) and Sean Elliott (he’d be the madman) are the US-based principals in Professor and The Madman. The pair played together in D.I., a long-running off-shoot of the Adolescents and Social Distortion, the former being from where Agnew came.
Rat Scabies, of the (stillborn but legendary) London SS, The Mutants and of course The Damned, was co-opted as a recording member after guest-playing “Smash It Up” with Agnew and Elliott at a US show. The hook-up with Paul Gray - surely the best bassist The Damned ever had (and he’s back with them now), whose prior form includes Eddie & The Hotrods and UFO - came via Facebook.
Long term denizens of this scurvy establishment will need no introduction to the names Captain Sensible(nee Ray Burns) and Paul Gray. If there was such a thing as punk rock royalty (and I’m against it on general principle), these guys would at least be Grand Dukes or Princes or some such.
For those of you who are slumming it, Captain Sensible is the more fluorescent face of The Damned. His beret and toilet mat jumper has besmirched the covers of a good many picture covers of hit singles, including a surprise run as a solo star.
Paul Gray came to the world’s attention with fellow graduates of the class of ’76 Eddie and the HotRods. Paul has also had three runs as bass player in the Damned and the kind of resume that would have you blushing with jealousy. He played on Johnny Thunders’ “So Alone” so don’t you go comparing resumes. He’s Paul Gray and you’re not.