The Table – Do The Standing Still

The Table – Do The Standing Still // The Magical Melon of the Tropics (Virgin) 1977. How do you even explain this one? I mean really. It comes out in 1977, the year of all things punk, and yet here they are already fucking with the format. Who was responsible for communications on this project? Because along with Wire, The Soft Boys and Big in Japan, The Table clearly didn’t get the memo. Or maybe they did and they just decided to throw it away and carry on with what they were doing. There is a pre-punk thing going on here that is manifested most obviously in the bands graphics, song titles and lyricism. How about that organ solo at 1:26 of The Magical Melon of the Tropics? Check out 1:48. Very psychedelic. Were the Table a bunch of Soft Machine acid droppers who got energized by punk rock and released two kick-ass 45s in 77-78? Who knows. That will be my hypothesis until evidence proves otherwise. Strange thing is, especially with Do The Standing Still, this things sounds pretty post-punk as well. How is that possible? I think it might be the acid.

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41 Responses to The Table – Do The Standing Still

  1. The Racing Rabbit says:

    Man …
    What’s that?
    How can anyone own this one?

    I only know the a-side fron the guillotine-compilation and haven’t heard it for (a lot of) years.

    thanks for the post!!!

  2. ib says:

    Fantastically good post, Joe. I have this 45, but I’ve never seen the picture sleeve for it. I love this one. Respect.

  3. Hank says:

    Out of left field, if anything ever was… remember getting this in 77, and it was just the oddest thing. I also had their 2nd 45, Sex Cells, but that has gone missing. You wouldn’t by any chance be able to post that one too? I would love to hear it again. Can’t remember if it was as good as Standing Still.

  4. ray says:

    Is it me or is there Warm Jets / Tiger Mountain era Eno written all over this?

  5. Joe says:

    TOTALLY. Especially the A side. I am suprised I didn’t hear that.

  6. mrpoopy says:

    I have the 1978 7″. Came out on Cheswick. Pretty much the same shtick as this one–acid-damaged ’77 punk.

  7. garychching says:

    Outstanding post Joe, I still had this in my pile, but yours is a far better recording than my very scratched copy.


  8. Dan Selzer says:

    I’ve got two of these and one of Sex Cells! Great record. Strangest thing about them is the only place to find any info is the last place you’d look….All Music Guide…

    I’ve never understood how they got such an in-depth write up.

  9. Damian Meres says:

    I did a couple of Googles on The Table and came up with these sites. The story gets weirder and weirder! Telling Branson they wouldn’t tour, not owning their own instruments etc etc. It also explains why the pre-punk theory is dead right! Also – is this the first band to have an Indian drummer? I even Googled ‘The Magical Melon of the Tropics’ – turns out this is another name for the Papaya! Best of all is the site with the lyrics for ‘Do The Standing Still’ – someone had certainly been taking something! The photo of them on Wikipedia (yes!) looks like four blokes on day release from somewhere, wondering why they’re standing in a comic shop.

  10. Damian Meres says:

    Sorry – that first link has to have the (punk_band) bit on the end, or you get something about a mountain! For some reason it didn’t get to be blue up there!

  11. Joe says:

    Damian — Thanks for all this research. I loved this:

    “they did not own any instruments, refused to tour, and stated that they were not a “real” band and had no future in the music industry. Despite this, they were signed to Virgin Records”

    So note, all you struggling rockers, do nothing and you will get a contract.

    Its also interesting that the banc recorded a lot more and ‘avant-garded itself out of existence’ in 1982 . Makes me think Dan Selzer should contemplate a Table release!

  12. Damian Meres says:

    The Table – the missing link between psych-prog and punk! When you compare this record to ‘proper’ punk ones that came afterwards (say, ‘Right to Work’ by Chelsea), it does seem like they were from another planet!

  13. Dan Selzer says:

    hey joe-

    I’d love to. But while I’m hear…I got my sister reading your site (she was into the Jersey hardcore scene, though after much of what you covered, more the Rorschach/Born Against or whatever days) and she saw my name and noticed you added a “T”. It’s a sore spot for her I suppose as it’s a common mistake we both get a lot!

    Dan Selzer (no T)

  14. Joe says:

    Dan — I do not know what you or your sister are talking about… ;)

  15. Theresa says:

    Mind-blowingly good!! The A-side reminds me of the poppier side of The Homosexuals — or even early Scritti Politti (“Skank Bloc Bologna” etc.) Definitely a lost classic. Copious thanks for posting this.


  16. john says:

    I met two of them later, both brilliant animators, (explains the comic shop). Len Lewis had his own buisiness producing animated commercials in the 80′s, (sadly deceased now), Tony Barnes kick started the Welsh animation industry, before animating most of the Viz comic stuff and creating ‘Dr Zitbags Transylvania pet shop’ and other children’s favorites of the 80′s – 90′s. Always writing the signature tune himself too! Now I never heard these records only as punk folklore, would love to find them on here somewhere one day.

  17. dj spellchecka says:

    for those not in the know…much of the lyric references marvel comics

    part of first verse:
    where where where monsters dwell, now
    where creatures roam
    monsters, monsters on the prowl, now
    creatures on the loose

    those are all titles of marvel monster reprint comics

    part of the second verse:
    a house there was
    within this tortured land
    the mark of the madman
    the gentleman’s name is doom

    these are all titles to fantastic four stories….

    part of third verse:
    behold! a distant star!
    lo! there shall be an ending!
    well, there are worlds within worlds
    and so it ends…

    these are also stories titles from stan lee and jack kirby…not certain, but i think they are all from “the mighty thor” comics…
    still have my copy..and it does have the sleeve….

  18. Damian Meres says:

    Well, that’s an eye-opener! I’ve listened to this song loads of times and never picked up on that (but I’m not a Marvel expert). Now if we can sort the rest of those lyrics out, we’ll know what the hell this song was about! I bet The Table guys never thought their song would be being dissected over thirty years after it was recorded!

  19. ravi swami says:

    I worked with Len Lewis in the 80′s (my first job in animation & first break…) and remember seeing his drum kit with the name “The Table” stencilled on the side – I had no idea about the rest of it though…mind you, I was at St Martins when the Sex Pistols played their first gig and it totally went over my head.

    interesting re the Marvel references though… & nice to see some info on Len, he really was a very talented animator and a popular personality in London animation circles.

  20. Joycey says:

    A real gem from that year. Lots of stuff got chucked in with punk that didn’t really ‘qualify’ – Ian Dury, Stranglers to cite obvious examples – but they got an audience because there was so much change going on. Besides which it wasn’t ABBA, or Genesis, or Yes…you get the picture. Art-rockers, anyway. Hadn’t a clue about the lyrics – nice to discover the Marvel references so cheers dj spellchecka!

  21. Tony Barnes says:

    I wrote DTSS in 1975 or so – we were an awesome band and writers if I may say. Lots of trash written about us. We were not druggies or camp followers – get in contact if you wanna know the truth. Well done about sussing the Marvel comic refs btw, it means a lot!


  22. Haze says:

    Is Tony Barnes still in the building? If you are, Hi Tony!

    If not, then I could be typing to myself… but also to all those still to come in search of information about The Table. Sorry to say that I have no answers only more questions. As I type this I am listening to a rather excellent cassette given to me by a friend in the late 70′s. The tape has “That guy from The Table” written on the side but that is all the information I have. It most certainly is The Table (or at least one of them), of the 45 minutes on here some possible titles are “Enjoy Ill Health”, I Hate Girls” and “Kinky Dolly Bird Gogo Girls”. If anyone knows anything about this tape please let us all know…..


  23. Tony Barnes says:

    Hi Haze
    I check this out from time to time so apologies for speed of response. Those were Russell’s songs. We did ‘I Hate Girls’ and ‘Kinky Dolly Bird Go-Go Girls’ live (on our very few gigs) but I don’t think we did ‘Ill Health’ (not in my opinion a crowd-pleaser). Perhaps it was titled something else, to confuse our pretend audience. KDBGGG was great imho, and we had loads of other terrific stuff too. Russ was more prolific, but I came up with a few gems too – like DTSS which was largely mine except for Russ’s ‘bedroom/disco/dead bodies ending flourish. I still write, and assumedly Russ does too. I have a bit of a repertoire and I’m sure he has an even bigger one. We very much saw ourselves as writers so the performance side was somewhat difficult but necessary in some quarters. I think only John Peel played us at the time, as we were lumped in with the whole punk think, which in fairness was the only reason we got some kind of a single deal in the first place.

    If you have ‘band’ versions of the 3 you mention, maybe it was after I ‘left’ to become a Brian Wilson figure! Ho Ho Ho. I think we rehearsed these demented, but sadly forgotten classics somewhere in Denmark Street, so if there’s sparse guitar strums in the verses and one-note twanging accompaniment to the chorus that’d probably be me. Perhaps we were a little too far ahead of the curve with our ironic, on-the-nose, stripped-down material so audiences never caught on. Then.

    The trouble with all this arty stuff (which frankly was what we were attempting) was getting it to work on a sustainable level, which we plainly failed to do, so faded out eventually even from our position of non-showbiz fame. It’s great that decades later folks like you ‘dig’ – in both senses of the word – what we were up to, and fantastic that there’s some intelligent appreciation out there. Thanks to you all. Now, if only we had a time machine…..

  24. Steve Pick says:

    Tony – I first heard “Do the Standing Still” on a St. Louis college radio station back in 1978. I was just about done collecting comic books, but still enough of a fan to immediately connect with your record, which I still think after all these years was one of the great singles in a time of great singles!

  25. Rayge says:

    This is a real treat, especially hearing from Tony Barnes. I bought both the singles back in the day, and still have them, pic sleeves and all. I particularly love MMM and Sex Cells, both of which I’ve been proselytising ever since, but have no way of ripping the vinyl to share with other interested parties…

  26. Tony Barnes says:

    Thanks Steve and Rayge, it’s great to be appreciated.

  27. Tony Barnes says:

    Bizarrely Do The Standing Still got a mention in yesterdays GUARDIAN (UK Newspaper) letters page. Not sure how to scan it in here for the ever-increasing legions of Table fans, so I posted it on for all you zillions. You never know, I might get my second wind thanks to this massive surge of interest in a band nobody gave 2 poops about anyway and use it to brainwash starry-eyed catamites to accompany me on a World Tour in 2012. The diary’s empty at the moment. We could play garages, bus shelters and public toilets in your area. Unless you pay us not to of course. Who knows, Russ might be arsed to give it a shot, too – providing his insane ‘conditions’ are met…….

  28. Haze says:

    Hi Tony,

    I’ve just become your first follower (well it would be rude not to) does this entitle me to a free badge?

    Would you or Russel mind if I shared these demos with the world (wide web)?


  29. Tony Barnes says:

    Hi Haze

    Sadly they don’t allow me have anything sharp in here let alone shiny badges. You can have some flecks of drool if you want. Not mine, though….

    Ok then. When there are badges available you will have the first to thank you for being the first!

    I’ve pointed Russ to this site (if he doesn’t know about it and lurk here anyway) so prepare for an answer to your request. I wouldn’t mind giving the tracks a listen either!

  30. Haze says:

    OK, no metal pin badges. How about a sheet of Avery address labels drawn with a non-toxic felt tip?
    I’ve just sent you a message and now seem to be following you twice. Do not adjust you glasses there are two of me…

  31. Tony Barnes says:

    Here’s the track listing of the Demos just received from Haze. Russ is going to let me know who played on what and when etc, but I’m pretty sure my deranged fretwork appears not to be on any of the tracks. We did play a lot of this stuff live before I ‘left’ under mysterious circumstances.

    01) Yes
    02) Enjoy Ill Health
    03) Tableau Noir*
    04) Bad Influence
    06) Vox Anum
    07) Corpus TV IV
    08) Offbeat
    09) Roccoco Vermin
    10) Rag Tag & Bobtail
    11) (The Fight Between) God & The Devil
    12) Colours of Death
    13) Mad Racket*
    14) I Hate Girls
    15) Looking For Lucy*
    16) Kinky Dolly-Bird Go-Go Girls

    Russ wrote the bulk of these, me having created the ones marked with an *

    Will let y’all know if he / we give permission to post them, possibly on my newly-revitalized blog: I might dig out some other visual and aural Table goodies in due course, depending on interest / demand, and all that.


  32. Joe says:

    This is exciting! Anything I can do to help spread the word!

  33. Haze says:

    Thanks for the tracklisting, I had guessed some titles but others eluded me. Does Russ remember where these originated? I had always assumed they were something to do with Virgin as I got the tape from a friend who worked there.

  34. Haze says:

    Check out Tony’s blog for a demo recording.
    Show him we want more…..

  35. Dave says:

    I bought DTSS when it came out, and have listened to it a few times a year ever since. It’s always been one of my favorites, I even deciphered the lyrics. Always wondered why you guys didn’t record more!

  36. Tony Barnes says:

    Russ just sent me this, asking why The Guardian can’t just leave us alone……….

  37. Just now catching all this excitement! The Fight Between God and the Devil…amazing! Can we (I) hear the rest??? How does one get in touch directly?

  38. Tony Barnes says:

    catch up with my blog and TABLE facebook page – new (archive) stuff going up there….

  39. Mike Barry says:

    I have this with a picture sleeve and im pretty sure that its the best record ever made.We used to stand on disco floors not moving at all annoying all the punters.It could have been the final dance craze!The disco is full of sweaty bodies but my bedroon is full of dead bodies pure genius and puts psycho killer to the sword by Talking Heads without even trying.

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