June 06, 2014

Judge Dredd speaks! (1985)

The first time ever I heard Judge Dredd...

Judge Dredd has always been coy about showing his face. In the early years, 2000 AD comic fans of all ages would send in drawings of what his face might look like. There was also on ongoing conversation in the letters page about which actors could or should play the character onscreen. 

At a time when we were desperate for Judge Dredd to be brought to life in some way, before there were any video games or movies, there was an initial thrill in hearing him speak for the first time. In 1985, ten years before he was first portrayed in a movie, Joe Dredd's voice was first heard in this unlikely project...

'Mutants In Mega-City One' by The Fink Brothers was released as a single in 1985. It alternates between an electronic saxy dance track and dialogue from a parade of different characters from the Judge Dredd stories, including the man himself.

Written as a mini-adventure, with mutants breaching the city walls, the soundscape to this track has sirens and screams that evoke the chaotic life of Mega-City One. Particularly like the robotic voice of Dredd's Lawmaster bike grimly reciting his percentage chances of survival.

On the back of the record sleeve, each of the character voices was identified in this unorthodox lyric sheet...

It was no secret that The Fink Brothers were actually Carl and Suggs of Madness who were huge 2000 A.D. fans - proof that the comic was already popular with adults (not even many graphic novels around back then). Despite the zany antics usually associated with the band, The Finks' track was played as seriously as the comic, post-apocalyptic with a hint of dark humour. It was released on their record label, Zarjazz, as a 7inch and 12inch single, but never on CD.

Brian Bolland drew a superb front and back cover for the vinyl sleeve, reprinted as a "What's Up Earthlets?" poster, free with some of the records (not mine, dammit!) and also used on the Prog 403 cover of 2000 AD to further promote the song.

Brian Bolland's original pencil art for the sleeve

Hear 'Mutants In Mega-City One' by The Fink Brothers

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