Snappy dystopian punk-pop chugger from ex-101er Dan Kelleher
Label: Red Planet
Year of Release: 1979
If you were an avid John Peel listener in the eighties, chances are you'll have heard him begin his first show of 1980 with this self-released dose of DIY punk. "Life In The 1980s" forecast a bleak, bored, dystopian near-future, with lots of lyrical references to "depression zones" and starvation.
While there's little doubt that the group were being slightly tongue-in-cheek, it was nonetheless not much of a New Year tonic - the late seventies had been a chaotic period for many in the UK, and there were those who thought worse was to come (and, depending on where they lived, they might not have been far wrong). "Life In The 1980s" was snappy and scrappy enough to punch the very worst possible scenarios across in its retro-futuristic lyrical style - you can almost imagine the ghost of Joe Meek giving an enthusiastic gold star to the group's sci-fi poetry.
The Martian Schoolgirls were a short-lived band formed by Dan Kelleher, who was originally bassist and backing vocalist alongside Joe Strummer in The 101'ers. When Joe sniffed a swift change in the zeitgeist and left to form The Clash, the band disintegrated and Kelleher initially moved on to The Derelicts, then finally this lot. While they were given some care and attention by Peel, and eventually picked up by Albion Records for one single in 1981 ("Motion") the group never quite rose above a fringe cult status.
Listeners to John Peel's Festive Fifty were in for an unexpected surprise in 1989, though, when the DJ made an announcement after playing The Sundays "Can't Be Sure" to explain that the listener John L Paines had written in asking him if he would consider finishing his final show of the eighties with this track. Peel duly obliged, and listeners were treated to its charms all over again.
After the track finished, Peel could be heard to ask "Whatever happened to them?". Had he dug deep enough in his record pile, he might have found a more recent one-off effort from them entitled "Life In The 1990s" - apparently a much more synthesiser dominated track I must admit I've never heard. That really was their last hurrah, though, presumably created for sentimental reasons, and when the nineties also came to a conclusion, anyone expecting another prophetic utterance from Kellher and his buddies will have found themselves disappointed.