Frequency Rotation

Frequency Rotation: The Rezillos, “Destination Venus”

Each week, Frequency Rotation examines a different song with a speculative-fiction theme. Genre, quality, and seriousness may vary.

It seems only fitting that the first installment of Frequency Rotation should spotlight the song that inspired that title: “Destination Venus” by the cartoony Scottish punk band The Rezillos, a bizarrely costumed, glitter-caked group of geeks steeped in all things campy and trashy. “Further modulation / of the frequency rotation,” growls frontman Eugene Reynolds as he swaps vocals with hiccuppy chanteuse Fay Fife; the two, it appears, are tangled in an interplanetary tryst in some indeterminate yet retro-styled future, one in which the practice of “probing through the airwaves”—despite the lack of air—is the only way for the lovers to consummate their passion.

Will the moonstruck, radio-linked couple rendezvous on Venus and ultimately overcome “twenty million miles of bleakness / human weakness?” We may never know. But one thing’s for sure: The Rezillos, who formed in 1976 with one foot on the ashes of glam and the other in the bonfire of punk, are still going strong. And the band’s obsession with B-movie science fiction doesn’t end with “Destination Venus”—in fact, they’re also infamous for the alien-invasion anthem, “Flying Saucer Attack,” which appears on the 1978 album, Can’t Stand the Rezillos, a spastic, campy classic of early pop-punk. (The English ambient outfit Flying Saucer Attack would later take its name from the song, but that’s a story for another blog.)

Jason Heller writes for The A.V. Club, plays guitar, and enjoys making up stories to gross himself out.


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