There haven't been many bands like the Monochrome Set. They should have been absolutely massive, but instead were sidelined by their post-punk peers and were too clever by half for the Noel Edmonds mainstream.
Lost in the mists of musical history, the Monochrome Set appeared in the hazy period just after punk and hung around for a good two decades, releasing clever albums full of hook-crammed melodies and coloured with a dark sense of humour. Frontman Bid's arch vocals gave the band a wonderful camp quality, and it was probably his lyrical smarts that alerted a young Morrissey to their presence; they were even one of his favourite groups before he formed the Smiths. Johnny Marr recalls first meeting Morrissey and flicking through his singles collection that Morrissey had whittled down to just 10 seven-inchs. Along with some girl groups and T-Rex, were the Monochrome Set. This must have impressed Marr, because they too were one of his favourite bands.
The Smiths have an air of the Monochrome Set about them: that brisk beat, 1960s twist, mystique, brilliant guitar tunes, and a strong sense of humour. You could say that the only difference is that the Smiths became the most important British band of the 1980s, while the Monochrome Set were relegated to such obscurity that only fevered specialists like Graham Coxon or Norman Cook (whose Brighton Port Authority covered He's Frank) would notice.
Another Monochrome Set devotee was Alex Kapranos who, in his pre-Franz Ferdinand incarnation of Karelia, coaxed Bid out of semi-retirement to produce him. When Franz Ferdinand emerged in 2002 they were bizarrely compared to Gang of Four – a band they sounded nothing like – when their most obvious role model was the Monochrome Set.
The band had formed in 1977 from the ashes of the B-Sides, whose bass player Stuart Goddard decided he would rather be Adam Ant. Initially, both bands shared an audience of freaks who were too bizarre for punk. Then Adam became a superstar.
John Robb (THE GUARDIAN)