Legendary hard rock band Pernicious Phlegm are set to return to the public eye after an absence of over twenty years with the release of a new Greatest Hits compilation. Frontman Ed Bastard - the man who, famously, once bared his behind to Princess Margaret - believes that now, more than ever, the time is ripe for a comeback.
"The world needs a band like Pernicious Phlegm right now," he says. "The music scene today is too tame, too predictable. Back in the seventies we had a real edge, but these new bands have lost that. The music is way too bland, way too... safe."
Bastard feels confident that a Pernicious Phlegm revival could be the antidote, and he could be right. One thing the band could never be accused of was being safe. In their day they were considered one of the most dangerous rock bands around, and their live performances were notoriously hazardous. It was a rare occasion indeed if they ever managed to get through the set without at least one of the band members being seriously injured, and more often than not there weren't any of them left standing by the end of the gig.
Not that their act was particularly tempestuous. In fact, compared to some of their contemporaries it was comparatively tame. But the band themselves were remarkably clumsy, and calamity seemed to follow them wherever they went. Between them they have been crushed, smashed, burnt and electrocuted more times than they care to remember. Indeed, due to the physical and mental trauma that each of them has suffered through the years they are unable to recall many of their ordeals, which is perhaps something of a blessing.
Their most memorable concert was at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. The show opened promisingly with Bastard striding out onto the stage to a tumultuous welcome from a sell out crowd. In his excitement he tripped over a cable and crashed headfirst into an amp. The equipment short-circuited, delivering an almost fatal shock to guitarist Manny Deth. Rushing to help, drummer Dave Davy Davestone was blinded by the glare from a spotlight, stumbled forward and impaled himself on a high hat. Then, just as bass player Jimmy Vee began to think that the worst was over, he was attacked by an aardvark.
At two minutes and thirty-four seconds, it was the shortest gig that Pernicious Phlegm ever played. It was also their last. Now - despite the unfortunate death of Manny Deth, who drowned in his sleep in 1998 - the three surviving members of the band hope that this new album will revive their fortunes and give them the opportunity to tour again.
"It would be nice to get back together with the lads," says Bastard. "We went through a lot together, and we've kept in touch ever since. And after all, unlike most bands it wasn't petty jealousy or so-called 'musical differences' that forced us to split up. It was the spiralling insurance premiums."
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