The Only Ones were perhaps the most severely underrated British band of the late-1970s. Sure, “Another Girl, Another Planet” is a cult hit in underground circles, but they were so much more than that one song, having put out a trio of great records from 1978-1980 that rivals just about any of their contemporaries. Getting lumped in with punk probably didn’t help their fortunes much since they didn’t subscribe to its image or sound, functioning more like a mix of The Velvet Underground, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Bowie that just happened to land right in the middle of the punk era. If anything, they were British equivalent of Television, right down to the fearless guitar solos and casual cool sound of the vocals.
Live From Chicago captures the band at Mothers Club on 10/3/79, seven months after their excellent sophomore record, Even Serpents Shine. The show was taped for radio broadcast, so the sound quality is loud and punchy, giving these live versions a more visceral feeling than their familiar studio counterparts. Peter Perrett and John Perry’s guitar interplay is, as usual, fantastic, but the rhythm section of Alan Mair and Mike Kellie really benefits from the raw immediacy of this recording. At times they even recall John Entwhistle and Keith Moon thunderous high-volume attack from Live at Leeds, but streamlined for a punk-era club date. The twelve songs include highlights like “Miles From Nowhere,” “No Solution,” and the obligatory (though no less powerful) “Another Girl, Another Planet.” There’s also a version of “The Guest”, a song by Peter Perrett’s pre-Only Ones band, England’s Glory, that The Only Ones never recorded in the studio. Personal favorite “The Beast” draws the album to an exciting close after forty all-too-brief minutes, leaving me with a reignited passion for a band I’ve already loved for decades. Do yourself a favor and buy this one! Your ears and your soul will thank you.