Three Dimensional Tanx – ‘A Compulsion For Propulsion’

Do you remember the iconic cartoon, Racing Car #9? The glory days of Hannah-Barbera and Saturday mornings? If you never saw it, Racing Car #9 followed the exploits of our hero, Spacey Tanx, the long-haired, shoeless driver of the eponymous cherry red speedster/dragster and their adventures. The car was of course designed by Loz Tanx, the brother of Spacey, who invented the I-Am-Go turbo drive.

Racing Car #9 would take part in death-defying races each week, pitted against their nemesis; the Jonestown Sludge Monster, intent on covering everyone in its gloopy morass. But when they weren’t racing, the British government would call on Spacey to do the occasional mission. One standout episode was when Spacey and Loz, piloting Racing Car #9, raced the Trans Europe Express.

The show ran for an incredible 169 episodes. Many decades later it continues to be played around the world and enthrals generation after generation.

One mystery remained though. What is the truth behind the band that made the iconic theme tune? The end credits cite the bizarrely named Three Dimensional Tanx, and they have been clouded in mystery until two men; Richard and Sean, decided to find out the truth.

A full length version of the song on YouTube lit a fire in them. Habituated to the short TV version, the long, hypnotic alter-ego hugs the curves just like the famous car. Fuelled by this track; intense research led them to Lancaster, where Three Dimensional Tanx lived a mysterious life of ale, strong cheese and coincidentally, a lack of shoes. The band were seemingly mostly active in the 1970s and any possible explanations as to how they got involved with the TV show have been lost, but the intrepid investigators did uncover rumours involving a holidaying Peter Falk. 

In an abandoned monastery, former home to The Brothers Of The Psychedelic Sun, Richard and John discovered reel to reel tapes containing a wealth of songs by the mysterious band that had never seen the light of day. It seems that the band met and recorded at the monastery, but little more can be ascertained about their real identities, though they did apparently appear in the background of an episode of Some Mother Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Richard and Sean rushed off, dusted off the recordings and what they found knocked them out. After months of intense remastering (turning it up a bit) they compiled the tracks into an album which they entitled ‘A Compulsion For Propulsion’, named after an episode of Racing Car #9, in which Spacey had just hours to transport an atomic device to the Australian outback, saving Sydney from nuclear desolation.

Cunningly, the theme tune appears last on the album, defying expectations. The music is a breakneck collection of garage-punk with a muscular Northern Soul dedication.

‘His Latest Apparatus’ starts with merry-go-round keys and slabs of fuzzy guitars. Talk of accelerators and stimulators emphasise the love of speed. Handclaps, those universal identifiers of a good time, are also present.

As we get well into side one we have ‘Monk On’ s gnarled guitars intercut with twirling keys. ‘Medication’s barely 90 seconds rushes towards it’s one word chorus in a act of song dismantling that would make Wire proud. ‘The Human Stupid’ is more drum orientated, while ‘Right Place, Wrong Life’ puts an alarm clock into it’s tight punk-funk workout. ‘Ah Diddums’ is a more aggressive guitar piece over tumbling bass.

‘Dawn’ ends side one with a trippy freaky wig-out, that puts you in the heart of the monastery drinking ale and eating strong cheese. Sci fi keys mixes it with diamond guitars and an unstoppable Stooges-esque bass groove.

Side two kicks off with ‘E is for Engine’ which sounds like the whole band falling down the stairs. ‘Chemical Cubical’ is poppy, a little like The Dukes Of Stratosfear. And more hand claps. ‘Spiderman Pinball’ reductionism boils guitar and keys into a call and response cat fight like a Sweeney punch up..

And then… the moment you have been waiting for! The full, turned up version of the theme from Racing Car #9. Here, it’s intro is long and ominous, drama drums coming in slowly. Guitars twang as the car hits high gear, Spacey ready for action. Then the I-Am-Go motor fires into life and the adventure starts!! Careering round curves, drums hitting brakes, a world of technicolour joy unfolds. Each phase fires the song up into higher adrenaline. High tension!! Then at fever pitch the chorus slams into us and we reel back under the memory of all those escapades, all those fizzy drinks after school.

“Racing Car #9, nose in front all the time, you may shout, you may scream, Racing Car on the TV screen.”

‘A Compulsion For Propulsion’ can be bought here

And… super rare super 8 footage of Three Dimensional Tanx!!

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