Friday, 19 July 2013

ALBUM: Mega City Four - "Tranzophobia" (1989)

UK - Decoy/Vinyl Solution DYL3

The summer of 1989 was a good one for me. It was the last one of the 80's for one thing, but I'd just left school too. That summer just seemed to go on forever.

Four of us would just hang out, play records, watch films, or loiter in what was then the only subway in our village. There was Mad, Em, Mike and Me, usually with Em's little personal stereo which rather usefully had a built-in speaker. Not much volume, but in that subway the echoing acoustics gave it another dimension. More often than not, the tape in that little machine would be Tranzophobia. Spacemen 3 would get the odd look-in, or whatever we'd taped off that week's John Peel shows, but invariably the MC4 would return.

Tranzophobia came out at a perfect moment: June 1989. We all had a copy. How the others laughed at me for buying it on CD. Yes, I know. They were quite right. It was a real novelty then, but my dalliance with the dreaded format was short lived and my allegiance switched back to vinyl pretty sharpish after a Jimi Hendrix CD left me sonically nonplussed.

We would play the opening parts of Start and January over and over, jumping off Em's parents' sofa and laughing our heads off as Wiz shouted "Go!", and we collapsed in a heap on the floor.

We would occasionally try to figure out where that sample at the end of On Another Planet came from. I still have no idea, and it still pops into my head now and again to torment me.

Mega City Four, four Hampshire lads from Farnborough. Wiz (guitar/vocals), Danny (rhythm guitar/vocals), Gerry (bass) and Chris (drums). They had produced an absolute perfect rush of a poppy, punky, melodic album. Fourteen songs, all short and snappy, the sort that grab you by the scruff of the neck and make you jump around, before letting go and launching into another. It was like they had 14 great singles lined up before deciding not to bother with the singles bit and jumping straight to a greatest hits record.

Except there were no singles on the album. In the meantime, they had other songs out as singles: Miles Apart, Clear Blue Sky, Awkward Kid, Less Than Senseless. There was an EP too.They were amazingly prolific over an 18 month period.

Our band, Illogical Tortoises (don't try Googling us - it'll get you nowhere) would try to play along with Severe Attack Of The Truth, Twenty One Again, What You've Got... Em and Mad on guitars, Mike on bass, and me thumping an array of pans and Tupperware containers in lieu of an actual drum kit. (I also wrote a song around this time called Ramsay Street Massacre. Yes, quite.)

Eventually... Life moved on. We variously finished A-Levels, dropped out, found jobs, moved out of the village, went to University, followed different paths, lost touch...

Mega City Four moved on too, for a bigger deal with a bigger label who promised bigger things.

Me? I went off to college in, of all places, Farnborough...

Wiz passed away far too soon, just before Christmas 2006. After that I couldn't listen to anything by Mega City Four for a long time. It was just too painful. Just lately, though I've been wanting to hear Tranzophobia again, wanting to remember how much fun and joy that record bought all of us.

That village is now a town. The wheat field you could lose yourself in is a giant Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer. The farm that used to be opposite my house is also gone, transformed into a housing estate. The other farm we used to get our eggs from is buried under the M27. I barely recognise the place anymore. But, if I listen to Tranzophobia, it's still the same, the four of us are in that subway, sharing a surreptitious bottle of cider, listening to that tinny little cassette player and all is right with the world.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Cherry Red CD - CDM RED 197 (2002)

And here's a taster...


  1. The quote is from "Brimstone and Treacle", to put you out of your misery. And the quote at the start of "Severe Attack of the Truth" is from the slightly less highbrow "Aliens 2".

  2. Thank you!!! You have solved a 24 year mystery - all the best :-)