In 1978 Spizzoil released two lo-fi EP singles 6,000 Crazy and Cold City on Rough Trade Records following a John Peel Session in August 1978. In the great tradition of punk / post punk pseudonyms, the duet was known simply as Pete Petrol & Spizz. The Cold City EP included the wonderfully playful Platform 3, my favourite song of all-time to include vocals, guitar and kazoo.
In 1979 the two went their separate ways and Spizz (Kenneth Spiers) formed Spizzenergi, a full group that provided a better outlet for his songwriting skills. The first Spizzenergi single was the brilliant Soldier, Soldier with a great cover version of Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain on the b-side. The single received the coveted NME Single Of The Week. They toured with the likes of Siouxsie & the Banshees and with the release of their second single, Where’s Captain Kirk? (which also received Single of The Week in Melody Maker), looked poised to become the latest new wave band to crossover from cult indie status to find riches and fame with commercial success.
Where’s Captain Kirk is a perfect indie pop song and was released in December 1979. A great infectious tune, witty well written lyrics and a catchy title that hasn’t dated at all. But probably due to the lack of marketing and promotions afforded by Rough Trade, the single didn’t provide Spizz with his big break. Instead it became a new wave cult classic, was the first ever #1 in January 1980 in the newly formed UK Indie Singles Charts; and was apparently described by John Peel as “… the best Star Trek associated song.”
Spizz kept to his word that he would change the name of the band every year, and in doing so Spizzenergi changed their name to Athletico Spizz 80. They released just one single, No Room / Spock’s Missing in June 1980, before signing a major deal with A&M and releasing Hot Deserts just one month later. Again, the expectation for commercial success loomed big for Spizz. But their debut album, Do A Runner peaked at #27 in the UK Album Charts and with it the window of commercial stardom appeared to close. The following year, still signed to A&M, the name was changed to Spizzles; and by 1982 Spizz had appeared to run out of energy and good ideas as he returned to Rough Trade in the guise of Spizzenergi 2.
Good ideas aren’t always good marketing ideas. Everyone appears to err towards Spizzenergi when talking about the wonderfully gifted Kenneth. It’s by far the best name, in my opinion, and the two singles and 1979 Peel Session probably captured the very best of Spizz. He is once again performing live as Spizzenergi and there are rumours of a new album studio album in 2014.
Cherry Red Records compilation Where’s Captain Kirk? – the Very Best of Spizz is a great compilation mostly made up of the best tracks from those early singles including Spizzenergi b-sides, Virginia Plain & Amnesia. But unfortunately doesn’t include Platform 3 or any other songs except for the title tracks of the two Spizzoil singles. This compilation includes 20 tracks, all but four come from the period 1979 – 1982.
Where’s Captain Kirk? – the Very Best of Spizz
1. WHERE’S CAPTAIN KIRK?
2. NO ROOM
3. SOLDIER SOLDIER
4. SPOCK’S MISSING
6. MEGA CITY 3
7. JUNGLE FEVER
8. CENTRAL PARK
9. RED & BLACK
10. THE MODEL
11. THE SUN NEVER SETS…
12. HOT DESERTS
13. RHYTHM INSIDE
15. VIRGINIA PLAIN
16. 6000 CRAZY
17. COLD CITY
19. ON MY OWN
20. WHERE’S CAPTAIN KIRK? (ENHANCED LIVE FOOTAGE)
Where’s Captain Kirk? was also released as a fan club only Christmas single in 1992 by R.E.M.