Under The Radar: The Prisoners

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Meaning I may not hear your album right away, but if it’s good, someday I’ll eventually get tipped to it. I stumbled backwards into The Prisoners after being knocked out by Graham Day and the Gaolers and retracing the steps. Always a fan of the Mod sound and the garage-pop-punk from the Medway scene, I’m a bit surprised that I missed this the first time around. But better late than never – I’ve scooped up all their stuff over the past couple of years.

The band formed around 1980 and drew heavily from the usual pop psych influences like The Small Faces and The Pretty Things, although having The (Thee) Milkshakes as virtual neighbors didn’t hurt either. The Jam might have become far more popular, but if you think Paul Weller was the shit, you should listen to A Taste Of Pink immediately. If the opener “Better In Black” doesn’t grab you in three seconds flat, call the doctor.

The Prisoners boast a tight punchy sound shaped primarily by Day’s ringing guitars and the great organ playing of James Taylor, who channeled a synth through a loudspeaker to create unique Casio/Farfisa sounds as well as pumping out classic Hammond riffs. Allan Crockford on bass and Johnny Symons on drums held down the bottom with manic energy.

Video: “Hide and Seek

As with all good things, it didn’t last – four albums later, the band was done by 1986. But in its wake, among other projects, The Solarflares (with Day and Crockford) carried the torch and now Graham Day is back with more. Fans of The White Stripes and the Underground Garage playlist as well as devotees of the original influences will find much to like here; their 80s music is as exciting as anything being released today.

The Prisoners at MySpace

The Prisoners discography at Ace Records

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