Paranoia - Shattered Glass LP
Label: Rot Records; Year: 1984; Format: Vinyl LP
Stoke-On-Trent in the West Midlands gifted us one of the most prolific Rock'N'Rollers ever, being the one and only Lemmy of Motorhead. But said city also gave us Paranoia, a band I assume not many are familiar with. I for one came across Paranoia around 1988 when I bought a copy of the Double-LP "The End of an Era - The Best of Rot Records". Said two-record set which I shall review here at some point is a representation as to what Rot Records released until it ceased to exist with bands like Riot Squad, English Dogs, The Varukers or Skeptix kind of representative of what the label's sound stood for. Even though at the age of eighteen I was very much into the more chaotic and fast sounds of above mentioned acts the two Paranoia tracks "Dead Man's Dreams" and "1984" really stood out to me and I instantly fell in love with the female-fronted melodic punk sound equally influenced by gothic rock and post-punk. Ever since those days back in the late '80s I set out to find a copy of the "Shattered Glass" LP released in 1984 but it would take more than twenty years to do so. In 2007 when I moved to London from Switzerland I thought I'd have a better chance finding a copy but I was proven very wrong. Even in England the band was not known, not even to some of the older Punks I had gotten to know. In 2008 I started a job for an EU Government Agency located in East London (thanks to Brexit no longer there) and one of my co-workers in the Archives was a fellow from Spain who was funny as hell and let's just say crazy at times too. One day he asked me what I liked to do in my free-time and I told him about my passion for records. He then proceeded to ask me whether there were any records I really liked to have and I told him about Paranoia's "Shattered Glass" and that they were from Stoke-On-Trent. Daniel (the co-worker) immediately googled Stoke-On-Trent's record stores and came up with some geezer's stall in Stoke. He picked up the phone and called the fella in Stoke and told him in somewhat broken English the following: "Hey, I am Daniel and calling you from London. My friend here is looking for a record by a band from your city, Paranoia. Do you know them?" Record Stall guy: "Yes mate, I do know them but that LP is rare as hell and I sure don't have a copy. Sorry mate and good luck finding one". It must have been around 2011 that I not only won my copy through eBay for about forty bucks, but pretty much at the same time found another copy for a similar price through a used record site. So, after all those years I ended up with not one but two copies and gave one to a good friend of mine in Switzerland who was after the record for a long time as well.
So, at this point you probably ask yourself what the deal is with this LP. Paranoia came out of the remnants of Civil Defense, a band that was started by the two brothers Paul on Guitar and Phil on Drums. At some point their sister Janet or 'Jan' joined the band along her husband Mick and by 1983 changed their name from Civil Defense to Paranoia. "Shattered Glass" is a truly outstanding LP in the sense that it effortlessly combines melodic punk rock with elements of goth rock and post-punk drawing influences from bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Penetration and Joy Division to name a few. The ten tracks on the LP are all winners in their own way, be it the absolutely brilliant opener "Dead Man's Dreams" the fast and furious "Graveyards from Hell" or the more subtle and tribal sounding songs such as "Vietnam", "Man in Black" or "The Gig". What you get on this LP are songs that will draw you into a post-apocalyptic world through their lyrics but will leave you with hope at the other end. At some point I will want to interview Phil and hopefully other band members about the band's past but for now I will leave you with Phil's thoughts about how they ended up on Rot Records after having reached out to him over e-mail.
"We came to be on Rot Records when I saw an advert ‘Punk Bands Wanted’. If I remember correctly, the ad was in the classifieds of SOUNDS, the national, weekly music publication. We had just recorded a demo tape, so I just thought I’d send one to see what the feedback was.
The advert had been placed by Dunk of Rot Records and formerly of Riot Squad.
We had previously been a 6 piece band with keyboards and an additional guitarist, under the name of Civil Defence. The guitarist decided to leave the band and so his wife (keyboard player) also left. So we were now a 4 piece, changed our name to Paranoia, and had started to experiment with a different style. So sending the tape to Dunk was mainly to see what people thought about the new style and new songs, cos although we’d done lots of gigs as ‘Civil Defence’, we’d not done any gigs as Paranoia.
We got a reply from Dunk, a letter saying that he liked the demo tape and asking if he could include one or two of the tracks on a new compilation album (Wet Dreams) that was to be released by his label. Of course, we agreed, as we had still not done any gigs and would be a good opportunity for more feedback.
The compilation was released and the feedback was awesome! We received so many letters, from all over the world, asking about the band, fanzines wanting to do interviews and people asking if there was more material/tapes available of Paranoia. It was at this point Dunk wanted us to sign up to the label, go into the studio to record an album and a single to be released on Rot Records. We signed to Rot Records, still having done no gigs as Paranoia. Now signed to Rot Records, that changed quickly as Dunk set up gigs for us in Nottingham and London aswell as a gig we set up locally with Resistance 77, who were also on the compilation album.
Our single was getting ‘AirPlay’ on radio stations including John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show.
I remember the day that the single was released. Dunk said he would send us a few complimentary copies of the single but we hadn’t received them yet and we couldn’t wait to hear it. So me and my brother took a trip over to the local record shop to buy a copy of ‘Dead Man’s Dreams’ and walked up to the counter…
“Have you got a copy of Dead Man’s Dreams by Paranoia?”
“Sorry no, we’ve just sold the last copy”.
That was the only time ever I’ve had the feeling of disappointment and buzzing at the same time!"
Well folks, good news is that the LP has finally been reissued and has just very recently come out through Radiation Records from Italy. It just proves it's never too late and I can only hope that Paranoia will find a new generation of fans as they bloody deserve it! Grab a copy while they last!