In the late '70s, numerous British acts followed the same trajectory as Animals & Men: they were initially catalyzed by punk, briefly made it onto vinyl, received airplay on the John Peel show, and then disappeared, leaving few traces. In 1978, inspired by punk's sound, attitude, and look, guitarist Ralph Mitchard quit his pub rock and blues outfit, the Bad Detectives, and formed a new band with drummer Geoff Norcott and bassist Nigel House. When the members of the fledgling trio (briefly called Psychotic Reaction) found themselves unable to shake the vocal influence of Dr. Feelgood, they added a new ingredient in the form of singer Susan Wells, whom Mitchard had met at an early-1978 Wire/Adam & the Ants gig.
Settling on the name Animals & Men -- after an Adam & the Ants song -- the quartet drew on influences ranging from '60s American garage rock to contemporaneous post-punk. Their first single, "Don't Misbehave in the New Age"/"We Are Machines," appeared in September 1979, followed by June 1980's "Terraplane Fixation"/"Shell Shock." The band underwent a makeover after House quit and Norcott received a Royal Navy posting to Gibraltar. In their place, Mitchard and Wells eventually recruited Andy Payne (drums) and Dave Mackay (bass) and reinvented themselves as the Terraplanes, a more R&B and blues-flavored act. They released the single "Evil Going On"/"It's Hip" in May 1981 and experimented with a Burundi-inspired two-drummer setup when Norcott returned from the sea in 1982. Adam Ant's plans to make Mitchard and Wells stars (he had been a pen pal over the years) came to naught and they eventually settled back into their day jobs.
A subsequent Mitchard project, Red Hot & the Sans Culottes (think rockabilly meets the French Revolution), didn't get much further than the drawing board. In 2003, Messthetics put out Terraplane Fixation, an Animals & Men/Terraplanes retrospective. An expanded and repackaged compilation, Revel in the Static, followed in 2005. ~ Wilson Neate