Take a look at that cover, an austere English home is ravaged by fire, no one is around, or perhaps they are still inside drinking tea as flames engulf their anglo way of life. It's a fitting image to accompany The Swell Maps debut album A Trip To Marineville. The Swell Maps formed in Birmingham back in 1972 by a pair of brothers with really cool names, Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks, and some mates with equally cool names like Phones Sportsman, Jowe Head, and John Cockrill. It wasn't until 1977 that The Swell Maps got it together and cut a single called "Read About Seymour," which has appeared on numerous punk retrospective comps over the years. A Trip To Marineville was released in 1979. Like the house on the jacket, The Swell Maps are unmistakably English, and seem determined to set alight all conventions before them. The Swell Maps (like Wire) were the reaction of UK punk going stale and having too much in common with the boring geezer rock it initially set about to destroy. This boredom and disillusionment incited a slew of innovative young bands who added wit and art sensibilities to their vocabulary. The Swell Maps took a looser approach than Wire, even having some distinctly Kraut Rock influences at work. My friend Robert Price of the band Kreamy 'Lectric Santa turned me on to this record when we were much younger. I was immediately drawn to its eccentricity and humor (despite most of the lyrics being beyond me.) It also came to me at a time where I too was bored with formulaic punk. The album kicks off with a an adolescent English voice declaring "Say, that's a swell map" and then we are dragged off into The Swell Maps universe. A trip indeed.