Alien City

Band members               Related acts

- Richard Arujo -- horns
- Brendstar -- backing vocals
- Chinas -- backing vocals
- Jennifer Downs -- backing vocals
- Garbo -- rhythm guitar
- Paco -- guitar, bass, backing vocals
- Richard Riggins -- guitar
- Al Sharp - bass
- Sue Sunlily -- backing vocals
- John Turnbow -- vocals, keyboards, drums



- Strongbow (John Turnbow)





Genre: bizarre

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Alien City

Company: Dog Star

Catalog: DSP 1945

Year: 1979

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring wear on front; includes rare lyric insert; inscription on back

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $100.00


Here's what the liner notes say: "Alien City was composed over a period of five years. It is a song cycle of epic proportions centering around the incarnation of Celestial Visitors to this planet. They take youthful bodies with the soul mission off increasing the intelligence of the human race. Alas, in their compassionate endeavors they become trapped in the pernicious web of the world and their aim becomes warped and sarcastic. In taking mortal bodies they lose their reference point, their center of gravity, and they eventually become as depraved and stupified as the very people they initially intended to illuminate. There is no story line; no characters are introduced. The work is arranged in four movements."

Hum, not sure what else to add to this baby ... Living in Seattle, Washington, Alien City was the brainchild of singer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Turnbow. Written and recorded over a five year span, 1979's "Alien City" is definitely different. Having listened to the album a dozen times, I'll readily admit to be totally confused by the storyline.  While the eclectic concept was certainly unique, Turnbow didn't have much of a voice. On the other hand, exemplified by tracks such as "Information Overload", "Older Men" and the instrumental "Suffer", he had a knack for crafting surprisingly catchy material.  I've read a couple of brief reviews that compare the effort to mid-career Bowie. That's not a bad comparison - think "Ziggy Stardust" era glam and you'll have a feel for much of the project.  Apparently a vanity project, the album's rather rare (500 copies were reportedly pressed), making it a growing collectable.  Just be forewarned that this collection isn't the easiest thing to sit through.

"Alien City" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Alien City (overture)   (Jon Turnbow) - 
2.) Get Away   (Jon Turnbow) - 
3.) Cathode Rays   (Jon Turnbow) - 
4.) Information Overload   (Jon Turnbow) - 
5.) Older Men   (Jon Turnbow) - 

6.) Suffer (instrumental)   (Jon Turnbow) - 

(side 2)

1.) Almost Every Day   (Jon Turnbow) - 
2.) Target Area   (Jon Turnbow) - 
3.) Between the Lines (Ruby's Blues)   (Jon Turnbow) - 
4.) You're Being Used   (Jon Turnbow) -
5.) Dirty Heaven   (Jon Turnbow) - 

Not sure what this has to do with anything, but following the album's release Turnbow reportedly was briefly incarcerated in a mental institution.  He subsequently reappeared as a member of Strongbow (see separate entry).