Sounding like Bowie-produced Lou Reed, especially ‘Transformer’ era, Terminal Tokyo by Garage Class (formally The Pits) is a heady mix of punk rock with a sprinkling of glam.
Sung by lead singer Tim Shutt with a sardonic sneer, and an arrogance borne from youth, frustration and supreme confidence, the song seems to addresses a former lover, suggesting they can do what they want but don’t tell him about it. However, it is more lyrically complex than your standard spurned lover shtick, with some real burners (“You can drown in the sea, you can stand on the ledge, but don’t push me”) followed by a tenderness of sorts (“You can cry on my shoulder, you can bed on the floor”) indicating a lingering fondness for the subject in question.
Garage class were formed in 1978 and this, sadly, is their only single. Despite the very ‘N.Y’s East Village meets L.A’s Skid Row’ sound, the band actually hail from Alsagar in North West England, and were part of a UK DIY wave that was sweeping the country at the time. Although on first listen you can initially hear the exciting messiness of that DIY movement, upon further listens Terminal Tokyo is a brilliantly constructed and tightly played piece, with great rhythm, beat, double-time handclaps and a brief 1950s-style surf guitar riff. Tim Shutt’s vocals hold it all together, with him singing endearingly out of time ever so slightly on the chorus, holding your attention and never letting you fully relax.
Terminal Tokyo was released in 1984 but actually recorded in 1980. The single, (with B side I Got Standards), was a posthumous release - the band having already split due in part to their brand of punk and otherness never being fully embraced by any particular scene. This was not helped by their own seeming determination to self-sabotage wherever they could. Belligerent, bawdy and boisterous, their first live shows were stopped by the Police, and they had a blatant animosity towards acceptance. The single was released only as a means of covering the cost Shutt had incurred in paying for the pressings four years previously – The name ‘Garage Class’ used initially because the rest of the band disliked Terminal Tokyo and didn’t want it to tarnish The Pits name.
However, the single went on to achieve a cult status of sorts, with the engaging lyricism and driving rhythm being finally recognised for the flash of brilliance over a dark part of England that it is. Subsequently, it has a new release (the first ever release for the song I Got Standards) on London label Outer Reaches, who specialise in DIY music.
A must have.
Released September 19, 2018