Further Temptations (Valer)
THERE'S A dull ache in my head - The Drones. An album already? A few months ago they were moaning how everyone and everything was against them. They'd released an EP, "The Temptations Of A White Collar Worker" . . .You can sell anything as long as "it" lasts, their manager states - "it" being the punk, etc boom (chaos by any other name). Meanwhile the EP sells fairly well. They meet The Stranglers, who take a fancy to them. They play a few 'Prestige' dates with the nice chappies and make solid contacts. Valer Records, Manchester's very own K-Tel (vegetable slicers. that kind of thing . . .), grope for a punk group to wrap for the consumers. The Drones are ideal - professional musicians with a fair local following. A single, "Bone Idol", gleans further sales. And then an album. Already??? We're not talking about creativity here. Just a quick return. What a pleasing package, no hard edges, little to upset your mum. Pop punk, file alongside Eater, then dissect with morbid reluctance, see where they're coming from, admire performance and production, snigger at the mottos, shrug the shoulders. Who needs it? Just like Status Quo, The Drones can never be anyone's favourite group. On stage they're pleasing with their choreographed vigour. The hardly charming HM echoes coupled with unhappily redundant and negative 'modernism' hardly matters. This is how you pogo.
But don't think about it, runs the scam, just buy it. No amount of studio cleverness or tidying up can help The Drones, the routine riffs, bass runs, flat phrasing and generally limited view - a palatable package. Producer Simon Humphreys has done a fine job, putting plenty of air into the band, balancing everything well, wrapping it all around the constant vacuum guitar.
Singer M.J. Drone has injected some endearing tricks into his delivery; Whispa Cundall's bass has found almost Burnellian consistency. Eleven of the thirteen tracks are predictably clean riff rock.
There are two oddities; "Be My Baby", which begins authentically before careering into faithless ruin, and "The Underdog", a spectulative filler, a curious Sabbath-/"Diamond Dogs" hybrid. The words are well prepared but exasperatingly chip-on-shoulder, self-centred, pointlessly semi-rhetorical outbursts. There's no disguising what we have here - HM, cut, shampooed and blow-dried. Worse still. The Drones' reactionary motivation doesn't seem grounded in any actual love for rock and roll. It would all have been a lot more attractive if they'd evinced some addiction to whatever it is they plunder so mercilessly. Serious Sweet, dashes of Clash, Quo and Led Zep, down from there through Queen. All thrown in a pan and boiled tasteless.Who need it? Consumers.
(Paul Morley - New Musical Express December 3rd 1977)