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Paige / Psychic TV

What Album is Getting You Through Quarantine? Allegory and Self by Psychic TV

Paige Roth, REVERB Manager of Volunteer and Community Programs

Music is getting us through these Quarantimes; it’s been established. The album getting ME through is Allegory & Self by Psychic TV. Never heard of it? That’s okay; it’s kind of obscure. I’m hoping to turn you on to something new…

Sunday, March 14, 2020.

The day before the first “official” week of quarantine. Scrolling Instagram, I saw that the artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge had passed away at 70. I wasn’t surprised Gen had “dropped h/er body” because s/he had documented her long illness on social media (Gen’s prefered pronouns were s/he and h/er). But the news fit the gloom of the day.

How to explain Genesis Breyer P-Orridge?

For brevity’s sake: Gen was born in 1950 in England. H/er fifty-year career included Throbbing Gristle (inventors of industrial music), experimental new-wave band Psychic TV (which brings us here today), and The Pandrogyne Project. Curious much? Here’s a full piece on Genesis by the New York Times.

Genesis was endlessly interesting. I don’t like every piece of art Gen made, but I LOVE the 1988 Psychic TV album Allegory & Self. Particularly the opening track Godstar, a bouncy-perfect, ironic two-minute pop song about the death of Brian Jones. What more could you want from a song?

I have a huge record collection. On the day Gen dropped h/er body, guess what album I DIDN’T have? That’s right – I didn’t have ONE Psychic TV record! They are hard to find in the wild. In Gen’s honor, I had to right this wrong. My local record store was closed because of the crisis so I did the next best thing… ordered the album from England on eBay.

Weeks later, my record arrived!

Still stuck in quarantine, I tossed it on the turntable. Gen’s slightly-sinister English-accented voice came through the speaker:

This is a story
A very special story
It’s about Brian Jones
One of the Rolling Stones

Just as the first time I heard it, I giggled. Then, I cried a little. I cried for Gen and for me. I cried for everyone sick with Covid-19, everyone with a sick loved-one, anyone working the frontlines. I cried for the live music industry, for record stores, for REVERB and the rapidly changing world around us.

Then I got out my laptop and got on with my work for REVERB, Genesis witchily warbling in the background, howling like a werewolf yet bopping like Boy George.

Life is weird; and so, art imitates.