There are many people on the indie music and punk scene who have never heard of Punishment of Luxury. While their one and only album, 'The Laughing Academy' was acclaimed at the time it was released in 1979, it is a much under-rated punk record and one that has been largely forgotten about now.
Punishment of Luxury, or Punilux as they were sometimes called for short, formed in the North East of England in 1976. The group, which initially consisted of Brian Bond (vocals, keyboards), Jeff Thwaite (drums), Malla Caballa (guitar, vocals), Nevill Luxury (guitar, keyboards) and Jimmy Giro (bass), released their debut single, 'Puppet Life', in 1978. If you can imagine a punk band, all of whose members were suffering from schizophrenia, then that is something like what Punishment of Luxury sound like on the demented 'The Laughing Academy'. While the album has a very earthy punk sound, the mood and the tempo of the songs changes constantly throughout. I donвЂ™t think that you could get a band more individual. 'The Laughing Academy' is like a story book. Each track on the album tells a tale very different from the last one. It is the equivalent of watching a video or a DVD consisting of several different episodes of 'The Twilight Zone'..
The album opens with the raucous first single, 'Puppet Life', and on it a worn-down Brian Bond sings of having his opinions oppressed.["Once I had my own mind/ but in your sewer I was blinded/ wallowing around like a albino crocodile"]
The second song is called 'Funk Me' and, in contrast a funny track, pokes fun at medallion men who go to discos. ["Funk me til I'm crazy/Sex is just a dream/I drink your gaze and soak in dust and cream]. 'The Message' shows off an adventurous, fantastical side to the band and is the story of a satellite station picking up another life form on its equipment and trying to make contact.
Last but not least, there is 'Obsession', which is a well-crafted horror tale. 25 years on from first hearing it, its lyrics still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It tells of a man obsessed with a girl he fancies. One is tricked into believing that he simply wants to seduce her, but as the song nears its end you realise heвЂ™s abducted and killed her. The song ends with these chilling words: "It only seems to happen with a corpse or a dream/Dead bodies donвЂ™t betray you/They never try to scream/Scream!вЂ�
Thatthen is an overview of the album Punishment of Luxury's 'Laughing Academy', which is one of my favourite albums of all time because itвЂ™s so diverse musical and lyrically.
If youвЂ™ve never heard the album try to get hold of a copy . ItвЂ™s an experience
What was really sad was that in 1980 United Artists , Punishment of Luxury's label, were taken over by EMI and they broke up shortly after being dropped for the likes of the Cockney Rejects and Vice Squad. excerps from review by Dave Toynton. Tracks 1. Puppet Life (3:03) 2. Funk Me (3:59) 3. Message (3:56) 4. All White Jack (3:59) 5. Obsession (4:40) 6. Radar Bug / Metropolis (5:42) 7. British Baboon (4:03) 8. Babalon (4:02) 9. Excess Bleeding Heart (2:40) 10. Laughing Academy (5:02) Listen