“I’m Christ in shades, I’m a napalm god”: Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction’s “Prime Mover”

By on October 26, 2017

Night Flight’s “Take Off to New Metal” — which originally aired on March 25, 1988 — featured the video for “Prime Mover” by sleazy biker rock thugs Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction, directed by Adrian “Ade” Edmondson of “The Young Ones.” Watch it now on Night Flight Plus!

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Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction were led by Mark Manning, a former comic illustrator and self-confessed acid casualty who worked as a graphic artist at the music magazine Metal Fury and he was later editor of Flexipop magazine (1980-1983), which featured a free flexidisc with each issue.

At some point Manning took up the alter-ego/stage name “Zodiac Mindwarp” (apparently his friends call him “Zed”) and formed the first lineup of his band in 1985 with guitarist “Rockman Rock” (Jimmy Cauty), bassist “Kid Chaos” (Stephen Harris) and drummer “Boom Boom” Kaboomski.

The “Love Reaction” part of their name came from an unlikely source, the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”

They were ultimately signed to Phonogram Records’ Food label.

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The video for “Prime Mover” featured the band as alien invaders launching an explosion-filled blitzkreig inside a quiet convent, where nuns attempt to shelter innocent teen girls from the sex god stormtrooper Zodiac and his gang of biker thugs.

With lightning-strike bolts blasting from Zodiac’s fingers and blazing like laser beams from his eyeballs, the virginal innocents are instantly turned into scantily-clad sex kittens, while the nuns heads explode.

At one point Zodiac uses his laser beam eyes to set a girl’s teddy bear ablaze, and he jumps through a stained glass window.

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The song’s lyrics — lascivious, misogynist and intentionally hilarious, a self-proclamation of a raging libido and sexual prowess — can be read as a warning of sorts:

“Well, I’m Christ in shades, I’m A napalm god/Your lipstick flickers ’round my lightnin’ rod/You fever pitch bitch, you love to tease/Well, I’m a hot dog daddy, up on your knees/Sex führer, baby, I’m a love dictator/Blitzkrieg romance, I’m a living detonator…”

Read more about Zodiac Mindwarp and “Prime Mover” below.

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In the late ’80s, when leather-clad cock-rockers and hair bands like Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Warrant and Guns N’ Roses were planting a flag on the Sunset Strip, claiming Hollywood as the center of the world’s new metal revolution, there were similar bands in the UK making the very same claim, like Ian Astbury’s band the Cult, and Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction.

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Originally, they were lumped in with the “Grebo” movement, a dance-oriented sub-genre that combined heavy rock, punk, electronic dance music, hip hop and psychedelia, all of it blended up in a swirling vibrant blast of sound defying easy classification but essentially giving record store clerks a handy term for lazy bin-card filing.

(A “grebo” is a British slang term for long-haired bikers/rockers).

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Hailing mostly from East Midlands towns in England, including Leicester and Birmingham, the movement featured bands like Gaye Bykers on Acid, the Wonder Stuff, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Doctor & the Medics, Crazyhead and Pop Will Eat Itself (“Oh Grebo I Think I Love You” and “Grebo Guru” were two of their songs).

Zodiac Mindwarp  weren’t really Grebo, though, preferring the chest-thumping rock of bands like Motörhead.

They adopted a more psychedelic Mad Max-ian look too, with facial hair, tattoos and leather jackets, instead of the colorful big shorts and dreadlocks that most Grebo bands and their fans sported.

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Honestly, we think they were supposed to be some kind of post-modern piss-take on Spinal Tap-ish British new metal bands, and maybe that’s one reason Zodiac’s band members didn’t stick around very long.

Kid Chaos quit to join the Cult, and Cauty — later one half of The KLF and co-founder of the Orb —  was replaced by guitarist “Cobalt Stargazer” (Geoff Bird, ex-member of Wham!), and Zodiac found a new drummer in “Slam Thunderhide” (Stephen Landrum).

These were just the first changes in the band’s revolving-door lineups, with Zodiac being the only constant.

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Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction’s High Priest Of Love EP (1986) charted at #1 on the UK Indie Chart, and their Wild Child EP topped out at #9 on the same chart in ’86.

Their February 1988 album Tattooed Beat Messiah (#20 UK) was probably the band’s creative peak, particularly after their hit single “Prime Mover” —  inspired by Hawkwind’s 1977 hit “Quark, Strangeness and Charm” — landed at #18 on the UK Singles chart.

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Rik and Ade are Bad News

The video for “Prime Mover” was directed by Adrian “Ade” Edmondson, who began directing music videos in the late ’80s.

Edmondson is best known perhaps for playing “Vyvyan Basterd” on “The Young Ones (1982-1984), and “Eddie Hitler” on “Bottom” (1991-1995), which Edmondson wrote with long-time collaborative partner Rik Mayall.

In 1983, Edmondson and Mayall had spoofed British heavy metal bands on the “The Comic Strip Presents…” TV series.

The episode — a “fly on the wall” rockumentary about a band called Bad News — was coincidentally produced around the same time Rob Reiner was directing This Is Spinal Tap.

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Zodiac Mindwarp would, for a  time, achieve massive worldwide success, even touring with Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden.

They had a sizeable cult following in America too, in part due to Zodiac’s song “Feed Your Frankenstein” becoming a massive hit for Alice Cooper when it was featured in Wayne’s World.

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More recently, Manning has penned a number of memoirs about his sordid sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll experiences, with titles like Crucify Me Again, Get Your Cock Out, and Fucked By Rock: The Unspeakable Confessions of Zodiac Mindwarp.

Watch this episode of Night Flight’s “Take Off to New Metal” from 1988 — also featuring videos by Megadeth, Ezo, Warlock and more, including a Def Leppard Video Profile — over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.