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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Placebo - 1982 England's Trance
Placebo - 1982 England's Trance

ARTIST: Placebo
ALBUM: England's Trance
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1998, See for Miles Records, SEECD 488


LINEUP: Michelle Wild - vocals * Gary Wild - guitar, synthesizer * George Handleigh - synthesizer, guitar * Brian Dixson - bass * Stephen Robson - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Poppy Dance * 02 Comrade * 03 Velvet Claws * 04 Gita * 05 Blot * 06 Fabian Policy * 07 Punishing Pierrot * 08 Paying Homage * 09 Pseudo Silhouette

Not to be confused with the less interesting major label alternative band and when this sought after album was reissued; See for Miles went to great pains to make sure everyone knew which Placebo they were buying. The band name was prefaced as 'The Original Placebo' and each CD came with a disclaimer stuck on the jewel case that it was not written, performed, recorded or associated with the current Placebo and its labels. A smart move, saving their asses from a costly lawsuit I imagine but just who is this Placebo? Unfortunately there's not a lot of info available and I only came across them in the late 90's in a brief description found in Jerry Lucky's AOR friendly book 'The Progressive Rock Files'. Formed in Newcastle by Michelle and Gary Wild and signed to the tiny Aura label; reviews for their debut compared them to The Byrds, Curved Air and Wishbone Ash. Now in 1982 this should have been the band's death sentence, but the write-ups in 'Sounds' and 'Melody Maker' were surprisingly positive and while they managed a second album 'Shells' in 1983, they quickly fell out of sight.

The Songs
Placebo is rarely if ever associated with the then burgeoning neo-progressive movement but it's clearly where their sound lies. Yes, Gary Wild's guitar meandering does recall The Byrds, but the songs while highly melodic are very progressive in their arrangements and Michelle Wild recalls both Kate Bush and Annie Haslam while comparisons to parts of Renaissance's 'Time-Line' album can be made as well. Opener 'Poppy Dance' is a jangly up-tempo rocker with stabbing keys and a Cocteau Twins influence can be heard on the haunting 'Comrade' with Michelle Wild coming across like an easier to understand Liz Fraser. Moving forward 'Gita' has a lovely Renaissance styled melody, backed by Wild's Byrds styled guitar and taken a step further on the stunning 'Blot' which sounds like an under produced Kate Bush song and that's meant as a compliment. With titles like 'Punishing Pierrot' and 'Pseudo Silhouette' you can't help but think neo-prog and that's exactly what you get with tunes that could easily dovetail into any Solstice album, the latter featuring a very cool Middle Eastern vibe that clocks in at over 8 minutes.

In Summary
I have both the Vinyl and CD versions of 'England's Trance' and while the original LP is easy to find and still affordable, the reissue is more expensive and difficult to locate so expect to fork over at least 50 dollars or more but for Neo fans this is a must have. [word count 432]

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