Despite the occasional glimmer of greatness, the Lurkers were never much more than a lightweight, second-string suburban London punk band, playing simple numbers in a plodding manner over repetitive drum figures. The tantalizing bits suggested a much better band lurking (sorry) inside; the post-split record by southpaw guitarist Pete Stride and part-time Lurker Honest John Plain (otherwise in the Boys) proves that the group was not without talent, but simply lacked the ability to express itself successfully.
Fulham Fallout has the advantage of crystal-clear sound (thanks to producer Mick Glossop) and a few impressive songs (“Ain’t Got a Clue,” “Shadow”), but suffers from tedium and general punky cloddishness. God’s Lonely Men seems to employ only one beat; the overbearing rhythm section’s dense, muffled pounding gives the record an air of mock metal. Two poppier tracks hint at better things ahead musically, but time had run out for the Lurkers.
Greatest Hit gathers up twelve numbers from the two LPs and adds a half-dozen single sides. Surprisingly enough, it’s much better than either of the preceding albums, and has enough fun times to make it a worthwhile investment in low-brow punk. Not essential, but good enough.
The relationship between the Boys and the Lurkers began sometime before the latter broke up — guitarist Honest John Plain appears on two of the Greatest Hit tracks, including one called “New Guitar in Town” — so it took only a melding of the two bands to provide backing for the collaborative effort by Stride and Plain. New Guitars in Town starts off with a Spectoresque version of Sonny Bono’s “Laugh at Me” (also recorded by Mott the Hoople) and gets better from there. Rather than a flashy collection of solos as the title suggests, the two stringleaders show off their singing and songwriting more than guitar pyrotechnics, which remain decidedly in the background. All in all, a delicious collection of rollicking pop-rock, played with spit and spirit.
After a short non-existence, Stride, bassist Nigel Moore and drummer Dan Tozer reformed the Lurkers with a different singer and began releasing new singles inna old punk style. This Dirty Town (named for the reincarnated quartet’s 1982 debut) collects up — for better and worse — all of the band’s tracks (A’s, B’s and EP) from this era, demonstrating both a shameless connection to slowed-down Clash/Pistols punk and a little stylistic progress (note the keyboards and dub mixing on “Lets Dance Now”). As ever, the Lurkers rise above their chosen genre, but not enough to escape it.
In early 1989, again swapping singers (this time for Arturo Bassick, who had been the Lurkers’ bassist at one early point), the Lurkers cut the crisply melodic King of the Mountain, an ace mini-album that compares very favorably to vintage Ramones. Highlights include “Barbara Blue” and the weirdly topical “Going Monkee Again (Hey Hey Hey).”
The live album, recorded later in ’89, is also loads of casual fun, energetically recapitulating the band’s career in 19 merry selections, from “Ain’t Got a Clue” to “Barbara Blue.”