2000 AD Prog Slog

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prog 403

At last, over a year after it was first mentioned, The Mega–Plan stands revealed. It isn't, as I had originally thought it might be, an all new Judge Dredd comic but a seven inch single called Mutants in Mega City One recorded by two guys from Madness, Suggs and Chas Smash. Actually, it was exciting news just the same. Madness had been enjoying constant chart success since the very late seventies and there was no reason why this association shouldn't boost 2000 AD from street hit into the hearts of the nation.

2000 AD was no stranger to pop music tributes during the eighties. Already, Judge Dredd had been the star of Human League song I am the Law from the album Dare. Later, Anthrax recorded a single about him; same name, different song. Shriekback released a single called Nemesis which may or may not have been about the alien warlock but the character did make a cameo appearance in the video at least. Boy band Halo James named themselves after Halo Jones but altered it slightly for some reason unknown to me. The comic was making cool indie rock associations too. It was frequently mentioned in the NME while The Fall are supposed to have advertised in it (although I've yet to see this ad during The Slog). Being interviewed live on BBC Breakfast television, Billy Bragg was asked what publications he read. Expecting to hear him to answer with some intellectual, socialist paper or other Bragg replied, (and I'm paraphrasing here) "I read a very informed and intelligent magazine called 2000 AD."

How I thought Mutants in Mega City One could have been a hit, I don’t know. It received very little air play, for starters. I used to listen to Radio One all the time (it’s all we had in 1985 where I lived) and I only remember hearing it on new release show, Round Table. (One of the guests thought that it would be “big in the clubs”). I did manage to get in played on Anne Nightingale’s Sunday evening request show once. (Younger Slog readers might be surprised to learn that Anne Nightingale is old enough to have been on Radio One as long ago as 1985. The reason her 2007 Radio One show is on at 5 AM on a Saturday morning isn’t because she’s been out clubbing all night but because she usually wakes up to let her dog out into the garden at 4 AM and can’t get beck to sleep after.) I remember Suggs and Chas appearing in character on the ITV Saturday morning kids show of the time but I was so appalled that I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

For me, the fundamental problem was the name that they chose for themselves; The Fink Brothers. There have never been any characters in Judge Dredd called “The Fink Brothers”. Clearly, Suggs and Chas were meant to be Mean Machine and Fink Angel and so, therefore, they should have been called “The Angel Bothers” if anything. Why they, big 2000 AD readers as they were, used “Fink” in this context is a mystery to me. Perhaps they thought it was “cooler”. Using a name that contradicts the fundamentals of the thing that you’re supposed to be paying homage to reveals to me a commercial desperation that your audience can see through, at least subconsciously. Anyway, Mutants in Mega City One was the least successful single Suggs and Chas had been involved in at that time peaking in the charts at number 50. Even Madness' cover of Scritti Politti’s Sweetest Girl did better.

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  • I rushed out and bought the 12" version - which I still own. It's not a good record. At the time I recall wondering how the heck a band like Madness could do anything sensible with it - to me the whole 2000ad mythos, and specifically JD, would've been served better by a heavy rock band, and to hell with chart success!

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 11:13 am  

  • Yeah, okay it's not 'Madness' per se, with only Chas and Suggs, but why oh why did they feel it necessary to 'synth' it all up? Because it's 'futuristic'?? Please.

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 11:14 am  

  • I got the 12-inch a few years ago, and played it once. I thought briefly that it might be fun to build a complete Zarjazz Records discography - I have Feargal Sharkey's "Listen to Your Father" on 7-inch picture disc - but then I decided that I really don't like Madness enough to bother...

    By Blogger Grant, at 1:58 pm  

  • I have the 12" too although I haven't played it for years because I don't have a record player. (Shame on me). I have a tendency for electronic music so I didn't really have an immediate aversion to it. Weirdly, I find myself humming it occasionally.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:01 pm  

  • I only heard it for the first time a couple of years ago. It's dreadful.

    Don't recall the The Fall advertising, but Mega City Four(although this probably wouldn't be until 87/88) and Alien Sex Fiend were regulars.

    By Blogger Peter, at 8:25 pm  

  • Peter, thanks for the reminder.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:25 pm  

  • At the time, a friend and I were pretty sure that The Mega-Plan was not in fact a record, but the long-delayed Judge Dredd role-playing game (which I think came out several more years after the Fink Brothers single). Anyone know if this is the case, or if the Mega Plan was meant to be somethine else entirely?
    Even to my teenage mind, it didn't feel mega, I have to say (not heard the record, so maybe it IS mega after all)...

    By Blogger John Soanes, at 4:21 pm  

  • As a Madness fan, it grieved me that the record was, to be blunt, rubbish. I had completed forgotten that the Nutty Boys went on to form their own record label and call it 'Zarjazz'. Thanks for the memory, Grant.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 4:29 pm  

  • I actually bumped into Suggs at Glasto 2007 whilst walking around through the sloshy shitty mud. It completely escaped my memory that 2 days before Graham McPhearson block was in Judge Dredd. Either way he wasn't in chatty mode. Had i been sober i may have brought this and 'Mutants' to his attention. Still, i bumped into Suggs was cool enough.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:11 am  

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