You could count on one hand the number of bands on the first two discs of the Living In Oblivion collection that are still performing live in 2007, and 999 would be one of them. This sounds unusual – twenty-odd years is a long time for any band to play together – but not unthinkable. Until you place it a modern-day context, that is.
Imagine that you find a time machine and travel into the future – specifically the year 2031 – and after getting your hands on a sports almanac, Back To The Future-style so you can make a few well-placed bets later on, you start paging through the A&E section of your Chicago Tribune Personal KeyPadd Edition touchscreen, to discover that Sum 41 is still touring and recording the occasional album every couple of years. How shocked would you be? Despite the strength of “Homicide,” 999 were the Sum 41 of their day, neither the best or the worst of the UK punk movement, but certainly not the band most likely to succeed.
“Homicide” is off 999’s 2nd album, Separates, and was followed by an album replete with covers, so this could fairly be called the band’s artistic peak. From the outset, it sounds a bit like a slowed-down version of Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself” then transmogrifies into a kind of Stiff Records pub rock crossed with AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
Even with this meager C.V., 999 still tours regularly in the U.K. and if their website is to be believed, they’ll be releasing their first album of original material later this summer. I suppose if Iggy can do it, so can they.
Depending on the lyric sheet you read, the song is either a prima facie uber-anarchist call to arms, or a dark, foreboding cautionary tale. I’d be more inclined to believe the latter if the band’s website wasn’t otherwise riddled with typos, leading me to wonder if they’d bollixed up their own lyrics. But since “I believe in homicide/I rest my case” is like saying “Your honor, that man is a murderer, and the state calls no further witnesses,” I’m going to side with 999 on this matter.
Plus, this video puts to rest any questions of whether the band had cum for your children. Seriously, what the hell is going on here? Vocalist Nick Cash is wearing a brown vest AND a red bow tie* over a yellow shirt and yellow pants. It’s as if he is dressed up for Halloween as the first accountant made entirely of banana pudding. Also: if you are the costumer designer for this video, and the band is being filmed against a stark white background, what color pants would you put on the bassist? If you said “white,” then congrats, you will have a job in show business if that time machine of yours can make it back to 1978, while millions of children scream in horror at the disembodied torso fiddling around on the Fender.
“Homicide” also reveals that while Living in Oblivion may have a lot more charm to the modern ear than your average Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation, the motives for both are the same. See, “Homicide” came out in 1978, and as a result, it sounds very out of place here. But no matter. It’s making someone some money. It won’t be the last track here to play fast and loose with the subtitle (“The 80s Greatest Hits”), but you could argue that most of the tracks here don’t live up to that boast. And frankly, slotting it here – right before Combo Audio’s “Romanticide,” is a sly move, and a nice palette cleanser after the mush that preceded it.
* By the way, is that thing made of tissue paper? It sure looks like it.