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Elton Motello and Its French Confusion

Few folks readily recall the name Elton Motello - and just like Jennifer Gentle, this isn't a single individual, but a group of musicians. Elton Motello was actually made up of Peter Goff (guitar), Willie Change (bass), and Nobby Goff (drums) in addition to vocalist and jack of all trades Alan Ward (aka Alan Timms). Ward, before solidifying the line up for the first disc from this group, briefly did time in a band called Bastard with soon to be Damned guitarist Brian James. There's a reason that the paths of James and Ward crossing is rather important, but wait for it.

The Damned were the first British punk act to release a single - beating the Pistols by putting out a disc in '76. It's also arguable that the Damned served to inspire more homegrown acts than the Pistols during the first wave of punk - included on that list would of course be the Buzzcocks. But I digress. After doing time in the same band as Ward, Jones and the Damned recorded a version of "Jet Boy Jet Girl." While theirs is probably the best well known, there still exist two other and earlier versions of the song.

Initially, a Frenchy named Plastic Bertrand released the tune. Seeing as Bertrand wasn't an adept musician, he hired a band. Oddly enough, though, that group happened to be Elton Motello. It's been subject to dispute who wrote the song and who actually sung it on that first single. Moving into a prolonged court proceeding, the 2006 verdict resulted ended up validating Bertrand. But who knows. Courts aren't always correct. Anyway...

In 1979 Elton Motello released a disc entitled Victim of Time. And on that disc was an almost seven minute rendition of "Jet Boy Jet Girl." With that track being a sort of center piece, the album moves between well calculated punk and some deft new wave leaning work. While the punk stuff comes off the best, some of the more '80s sounding music doesn't seem as dated as it should - "He's a Rebel" and the following "He's Crying" being the most notable. But there's a reason that the (ridiculously) revered website named itself after this album - or track. Either way.

"Victim of Time," which leads off the disc, sports some punk tempo with Ward spitting quick couplets about some chick named Jenny and is accompanied by an aggressive saxophone. The track doesn't stray from the strict definition of punk even with the addition of that horn and probably because of the addition ends up being one of the classic lost tracks from the initial blossoming of punk.

The cover of "Pipeline" and the Small Faces "Sha La La La Lee" serve to explicate the band's background, but the final three tracks off of Victim of Time might match the frenetic, fancifulness of the band's best known song. While "Artificial Incemination" is shocking to be shocking, the b-side to "Jet Boy Jet Girl," "Pogo Pogo," might seem like a band attempting to cash in on the popularity of punk, but there aren't too many songs that seem this danceable.

This isn't the best punk disc ever recorded and Elton Motello's follow up "Pop Art" might be ill conceived, but these dudes certainly deserve their due deference.