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Brainiac 5

Formed in 1975 in order to perform on the odd Cornwall pub and festival front, The BRAINIAC FIVE – named after the DC comic strip superhero – initially consisted of singer/rhythm guitarist Bert Biscoe, composer/lead guitarist/backing vocalist Dickie Hart (alias Richard Booth), bassist Woody (alias John Wood) and drummer/percussionist Steve Hudson. Subsequently relocating to London to be near the emerging punk/new wave scene, the quartet explored acid-rock psychedelia on the John Peel-endorsed debut EP, `Mushy Doubt’. Released in 1978 for Roach Records, the record highlighted a few good tunes in `(I Was A) Vegetable’ and `Move Up Trotsky’.
Possibly influenced by the likes of GANG OF FOUR or MAN, and now in tow with Biscoe’s replacement Charlie Nothing (aka Taylor from The Half Human Band), the same Roche Records – spelling adjusted appropriately to suit their studios – BRAINIAC 5 delivered what turned out to be their swansong offering, `Working’, before calling it a day in 1980; they’d just added keyboard player Duncan Kerr. But really that’s where the story began, as Charlie later launched his own Reckless Records enterprise – a shop and, in turn, an independent imprint.
An ideal opportunity to issue their near long-lost tapes from 1979 (some live), the 1988-released, Martin Griffin-produced WORLD INSIDE {*7} was worthy of inspection. `Primal Screaming’, `Addicted’ and the aforesaid single fodder re-recorded, there was a sense of d.i.y. déjà vu about these versions from the vaults. Reckless Records was strictly for the connoisseur, releasing oddities from The CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN, their respective spin-off Rustic Hinge, MU, SOFT MACHINE. BLACK SUN ENSEMBLE and The BEVIS FROND.
Shutting up shop in 1992 to concentrate branching out in Chicago and San Francisco, Charlie and his cohorts disappeared from view for two decades, until he lured in Wood, Hudson and Kerr (now on guitar) to unveil BRAINIAC FIVE’s 3-track 10-inch for Shagrat Records, `Space Is The Place’ (b/w `Matelot Mick’ and `Kabul’, also culled from CT’s Half Human Band). Dedicated to the SUN RA Orchestra, the cosmic combo were now inspired to take it further.
Sadly without Hudson, but with like-minded gents, Wayne Worrell (drums) and Nick Onley (sax), the resurrection of Reckless Records was completed via The BRAINIAC 5’s debut set proper, EXPLODING UNIVERSE (2015) {*6} – who else has unleashed their inaugural album 40 years after their formation?!
A potpourri of styles from the HAWKWIND-like `Haphazard!’ to the pub-rock-generated `Ordinary Man’ and the heavy-laden `Empty And Blue’, there was even room to recall Bert Biscoe (now a Truro County councillor) to guest on `Your Body’s Alright’. Former HAWKWIND drummer Griffin was called upon again to play his part in the production, but although there were infectious grooves stirring from the cod-reggae pieces, `Stars Plans Ahead’ and `Exorcist Plan’, it all just seemed like fun for ageing rockers in their Indian summer.
© MC Strong/MCS Aug2015

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