Vague 2

Vague #2
 
December 1979 Joy Division – Gang of Four – Red Crayola – Buzzcocks – Futurama
PIL – Ants – Program – Salisbury bands – Identity Crisis – QTs
Kitchens – Crimmos – Stalag 44 – Magic Mushrooms

 
Vague 2, the hippest most post-punk and local issue, was also the worst produced. There was a rave review of Joy Division at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, at the expense of the headlining Buzzcocks; our first proper interviews with Gang of Four and Red Crayola; Program – the local post-punk heroes; Salisbury bands – Identity Crisis, the QTs, the Kitchens and Crimmos – rounded up by Mike Dyer; Stalag 44 from Warminster – our mates Puddle, Boris and co; and Frank Stocker on magic mushrooms. The single of the month was ‘Transmission’ by Joy Division, the albums were Public Image Limited’s ‘Metal Box’, ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ by Adam and the Ants, and ‘Sid Sings’. Perry’s review of ‘London Calling’ was: Isn’t that good but the Clash might get a hit out of it. The reggae B-side is far better.

Joy Division: Never Mind the Buzzcocks

November 2 1979 We had already seen and been suitably impressed by Joy Division at the first Futurama post-punk sci-fi festival in Leeds on September 8 and on their first album ‘Unknown Pleasures’. Chris Johnson had in fact been unconscious for their set at Leeds having suffered an adverse reaction to some black bombers. I hitched down from Salisbury to their gig at Bournemouth Winter Gardens on the Buzzcocks tour and, having failed to contact Chris who owed me money, begged enough 10ps to get in. Whereupon I found him in the bar with a guest pass for me as the bands were staying at the hotel where he was working as a waiter, the Highcliff. In due course I remember we were somewhat reluctantly herded into the auditorium for Joy Division. In my sketchy review I noted a familiar figure flailing his arms and legs about centre stage, Steve Morris’s strong and eerie drumbeat, Bernard Albrecht’s casual steel-edged guitar riffs. After Joy Division’s set and a “How’s the tour going?” speed interview with Hookie or Barney by the stage, all I could remember about the Buzzcocks is Pete Shelley sounded like George Formby.

Who Dances to Joy Division? I don’t know how this Buzzcocks/Joy Division package ever got together, because as far as I can see the only thing they’ve got in common is they come from the same part of the country. In places like Bournemouth this must make it particularly bad for the latter. Up north Joy Division have a large following but down here they are virtually unheard of. Hence most people at the gig went to see Pete Shelley and co, to the ruination of Joy Division’s set in the end. After begging 10ps outside the Winter Gardens for an hour I got in to discover Chris had a guest pass for me – the bands were staying at his hotel. He celebrated this unfortunate mishap by buying me a few pints. Then it was decision time – Joy Division were coming on. Should we go in and see them or stay in the bar? Our decision is made for us by the bouncers who herd everyone out of the bar.

We seat ourselves amongst the reluctant punters and are immediately enthralled by the gothic strains of Joy Division. A familiar figure starts flailing his arms and legs about in the centre of the stage – Ian Curtis, the star of Leeds Sci-fi Festival. However it looks like we’re the only ones enjoying it. The teeny-bopper audience are dead lethargic, it’s the most they can do to clap condescendingly between numbers. Joy Division are good though, their sharp precise sound fills the Winter Gardens with the best acoustics it’s heard in years. They do ‘Transmission’, the new single, and I can see what all the fuss was about in Leeds. Steve Morris keeps a strong and eerie drumbeat going throughout and the unusually bearded Bernard Albrecht casually strikes out the impressive steel-edged guitar riff.

They continue with ‘She’s Lost Control’ which is excellent. The band are putting everything into it and getting nothing back except a smattering of applause. It’s pathetic considering the pantie-wetting that goes on when Pete Shelley hits the stage. The audience apathy affects the band as well and Ian Curtis walks off before the end of the set quite understandably. The rest of the band follow him and they don’t come back. We retire to the sanctuary of the bar and run into the other 4 people who came to see Joy Division (Cherry, Roy, Clare and ?). We’re hassled out again when the Buzzcocks come on despite Cherry’s protests. We don’t hang around and all I can remember about the Buzzcocks was Pete Shelley sounded like George Formby.

We got booted out from backstage by a friendly obliging bouncer but the next day (at the Highcliff Hotel) Joy Division told Chris that they were not particularly pissed off with Bournemouth but were with the Buzzcocks. They continued to say that they regretted taking the support slot to some extent. But obviously they were nonplussed by the audience response. I would have thought that Joy Division have reached the stage of musical maturity now to do a tour on their own, something like the Gang of Four are doing – instead of just playing up north. There are some of us down here who don’t like the Buzzcocks – I should note I was a once and future Buzzcocks fan but I turned quite vehemently against them in the post-punk days as retro-punky pop stars. Chris Johnson who interviewed Joy Division was the Ian Curtis of the Vagrants, the most attractive and potentially talented one who died young. In the mid-80s he was briefly in the original incarnation of the goth group All About Eve.

At the time of the Control film (which features a reference to the Bournemouth Winter Gardens gig), the AFC Bournemouth photographer Mick Cunningham told the Echo’s Nick Churchill: “From the start I remember the sheer power and simplicity of it. I think many people there were expecting another 1-2-3-4 band like the Buzzcocks, but it was so different. No one got up and moved – everyone sat transfixed by them and the power of the set with Ian Curtis absolutely mesmerising. At the end he was doing a dance I’d never seen before and when he started convulsing on stage near the end of the set I, like everyone, just thought it was because of the sheer energy and emotion he put in. Only when the St John’s Ambulance men went up to treat him did you realise he’d had a fit.”

Gang of Four: In Bournemouth He’s a Tourist

November 22 Cool and the Gang of Four on the 26th anniversary of the JFK assassination: Before their gig at Bournemouth Town Hall the Gang of Four became the subjects/victims of the first classic Vague fanzine interview. They were touring to promote their ‘Entertainment’ album on EMI with Red Crayola of Radar/Rough Trade. Your resourceful Vague reporters visited the Town Hall early in the afternoon for this one, purely in the interests of journalism (well, actually to see if we could get in without paying). We sneaked in to the ‘top south coast’ venue and approached a roadie, he directed us to a bunch of guys crashed out by the stage – looking to all the world like more roadies. “Are you the Gang of Four?” we ask apprehensively. “Yeah, that’s right, can we help?” replies a Gang member. They proceed to fill us in on a few details. They are: John King – vocals, Dave Allen – bass, Andrew Gill – guitar and Hugo Burnham – drums. We discover that we are interviewing Dave Allen. Later we are joined by Hugo Burnham.

Dave in response to predictable opening question: “We’ve been going for about 2 years, obviously we came up through punk but I think we would have made it anyway. I never dyed my hair or anything like that and I was not really into the original punk thing.” Chris: “I’ve always associated you with the Manchester bands scene, is that where you’re based?” Dave: “No, we are from Leeds actually, that’s where we are based but we are involved with the Manchester scene.” Tom: “This is your first headlining tour, how’s it going?” Dave: “It’s going remarkably well, we’ve had a really good response so far. It was especially good last night in Cardiff. Yeah, it’s great to be headlining after supporting the Banshees and Penetration, but when we went to the States we were headlining. We supported the Buzzcocks in Europe. It was great in the States, we played mainly small places but the response was surprisingly good.”

Chris: “What plans have you got for after the tour?” Dave: “You keep saying tour, it’s not that grand, it’s only a promo thing for the album but after we play London tomorrow and Saturday we’re going to work on a new single ‘Blood Free’. We hope to record the single in December for release in January. Then we’ve got a Belgian TV show lined up… I don’t really like touring. It depresses me travelling all day and having to eat food like this…” Hugo: “I suppose if I must name any particular bands it would be Captain Beefheart and Can…” Dave: “We’re not really aware of being hip. We just go out there on stage and people can interpret it how they like. We’re pretty popular with the music press and they tend to go over the top a bit. I suppose it’s because Manchester/Leeds is the hip place for a band to come from at the moment… There’s no politics in our music. We’ve all got political views but none directly in the music.”

Red Crayola: Micro-chips and Fish

We found Red Crayola nice enough but rather arty. Mayo Thompson is from Texas and is 35, he looks like the manager but does in fact sing and play guitar. His musical influences are Pere Ubu, Can and James Blood Ulmer. Lora Logic is 19 and plays sax and sings, as she does with her own band Essential Logic. She told us she had no regrets about her X-Ray-Spex days and really enjoyed that scene. Lora and Gina Birch from the Raincoats reminisce about the Roxy but that’s as far as it goes, Red Crayola are essentially progressive. Lora’s influences are T Rex and Split Enz. Next came Epic Soundtracks, the drummer from Swell Maps (later of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds). He told us he likes Can, TV Personalities, PIL, Robert Wyatt and Subway Sect. His ambition is to go on Multi-coloured Swap Shop and be a walking dictionary. I think Mayo said he is very morose. At this point Gina went off playing with some roadies who pushed her around the hall on a speaker. We continued talking to Mayo, who said Rough Trade were proving a good outlet for the different musical directions he was taking.

Red Crayola have in fact been going for 23 years, I think. None of the original line-up are there anymore but Mayo has been with them since the 60s. Red Crayola signed with Radar in 1978 and did their first gig since 1967 at the Hope and Anchor. Their 1967 album ‘The Parable of the Arable Land’ was re-released, and also a new single ‘Wives in Orbit’. Then they played support to Pere Ubu on their European tour and their album ‘Soldier Talk’ was recorded with help from Pere Ubu. After the album was released Red Crayola embarked on their own tour supported by Scritti Politti. Their new single ‘Micro-chips and Fish’ also features George Oban and Angus Gaye from Aswad. The second album from 1968 ‘God Bless the Red Crayola and All Who Sails With It’ has also been reissued. Red Crayola is a weird set up and what they are about still isn’t clear to me. They told us about another incarnation as a heavy rock band called Womaniser which I think we believed.

Rough Trade/Swell Maps/Scritti Politti/TV Personalities

Swell Maps were the Raincoats’ male counterpart quintessential Rough Trade independent label band. The foremost exponents of quirky/eccentric/idiosyncratic ‘DIY rock’ and silly names; Biggles Books, Jowe Head (possibly real?), Nikki Mattress (aka Nikki Sudden) and Epic Soundtracks; they not only defined indieness with their sub-Rough Trade label Rather pop psychogeography, such as ‘A Trip to Marineville’ and ‘Jane from Occupied Europe’, but also worked part-time in the shop. The Rough Trade shop manager Pete Donne recalls Nikki Mattress and Epic Soundtracks having interminable inter-Swell Map rows, “regarding customers as pests, and playing records they wanted to hear, almost to the point of being a bit intolerant to reggae.”

1979, the year of Rough Trade and the post-punk avant-garde grey mac brigade, began with the release of the Monochrome Set’s ‘He’s Frank’, the Mekons’ ‘Where Were You’ on Bob Last’s Edinburgh label Fast Product, and Scritti Politti’s ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’/‘Is and Ought of the Western World’ on their St Pancras label. At 202 Kensington Park Road, Rough Trade established the indie or alternative rock music tradition in most of its idiosyncratic post-punk forms. As well as the deconstructed DIY rad-fem pop of the Raincoats, Essential Logic and Kleenex, there was Swell Maps and the Monochrome Set’s male equivalent, the radical avant-garde of Scritti Politti and Red Crayola, the industrial music of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, the avant-garde radical rock of the Mekons and Gang of Four, and radical trad rock represented by Stiff Little Fingers.

In another defining indie moment, ‘Part-time Punks’ by the TV Personalities contains the line ‘they go to Rough Trade to buy Siouxsie and the Banshees.’ A pet-play of John Peel, who gave Rough Trade as much airplay as his previous Blenheim Crescent fave raves by Marc Bolan. I have to admit, I went to the Rough Trade shop on Kensington Park Road to buy a Banshees record, after going down King’s Road to Seditionaries. My first impression of Portobello Road on our early fanzine delivery rounds of Rough Trade, Zigzag, Better Badges, and Mike’s café after getting paid, was everyone seemed to be in a pop sub-cult. At this point there were the various punk factions; from arty post-punk to retro-lovable spiky top; Rasta, rude boy, Ted, rockabilly, mod revivalist, skinhead, heavy metal headbanger and old hippy.

Public Image Limited ‘Metal Box’ reviewed by Perry

You may say that paying £7.50 for three 12” singles packaged in a tin box is a rip-off, but if it’s a record you want nothing is a rip-off and ‘Metal Box’ is a record I’m glad to have. After the first couple of plays this album sounded boring and tedious but like all their records it sounds better and better the more you listen to it. The first track is ‘Albatross’ (which fucking jumps on mine) lasting just over 10 minutes and is typical of PIL’s recent recordings with the same thudding drum beat, soft bass rhythm and screeching guitar and vocals. Side 2 has the 2 singles ‘Memories’ and ‘Swan Lake’ (or ‘Death Disco’ as originally titled). ‘Poptones’ and ‘Careering’ follow, again typical PIL although a few keyboards come in here and there. Side 4 has the B-side of ‘Death Disco’, ‘No Birds’ and an instrumental called ‘Graveyard’.

John Lydon seems to have 2 styles of singing, either screeching like on ‘Memories’ and ‘Swan Lake’ or a more serious style of almost reciting the lyric as on ‘The Suit’ and ‘Bad Baby’. The final side is the most interesting and the best. It consists of 3 tracks, ‘Socialist’, ‘Chant’ and ‘Radio 4’, and they show a development in the PIL sound. They are all different styles. ‘Socialist’ is an instrumental and can be described as a usual PIL song speeded up. ‘Chant’ is what the title suggests and I imagine next time the band decide to go on stage there’ll be some singing along. ‘Radio 4’ is the most different track on the album and as it is at the end of the last side it could be pointing in the direction of what is to come. If this is so, PIL could be producing albums like Can and Tangerine Dream, as it is another instrumental with some beautifully soothing keyboards sounds. Perry Harris, the art editor/cartoonist originally billed as Perry M, the successor to Mark P of Sniffin’ Glue, was also the best Vague music journalist or the only one of us who knew anything much about music.

Adam and the Ants ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ reviewed by Tom

Well, this is it, at last the Ants have gone on to vinyl in album form and quite frankly it’s not too much of a disappointment, in fact it’s quite good. This album has been in the pipeline for over a year now and to live up to expectations it had to be pretty sensational. Like all the singles it fails to capture the essence of an Ants gig. The main thing that is missing is the strong bass line… This enables the vocals to come across clearer which is good in a way. However, I can’t help thinking that anybody who hears this album and hasn’t seen the Ants is just going to dismiss it as arty crap. There is a good selection of tracks here but I don’t think the album is very well produced at all. It certainly doesn’t do the Ants justice. They are essentially a live band though.

‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ begins with ‘Cartrouble (Parts 1 and 2’)… followed by a slower more melodic number ‘Digital Tenderness’… The next number is a stage favourite ‘Nine Plan Failed’… followed by a not very good version of ‘Day I Met God’… The only good thing I can say is you can hear the lyrics. But side 1 reaches a climax with the cataclysmic ‘Table Talk’ (about Hitler)… The second side starts with a couple of old favourites. Firstly ‘Cleopatra’, which after its exhilarating intro virtually reverts into punk thrash… ‘Catholic Day’ follows with old newsreel dialogue of JFK interspersed with a very laid back studiofied version of the song. This is one of the Ants’ best live numbers but the most exciting part of the album version is the bullet shot effect… ‘Never Trust A Man (With Egg on his Face)’ is a scanty futuristic jaunt… like all Antmusic it is ambiguous though and there is a more sinister side…

Then it goes into the Futurist ranting thrash of ‘Animals and Men’, which races through to the Ants classic, in my opinion, ‘The Family of Noise’… On this track there’s excellent use of feedback and halfway through when Adam reverts to the Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ is very effective… ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ finishes with ‘The Idea’ which Adam is particularly proud of… It is a laid back track but it comes across well… ‘I could be religious if you didn’t have to kneel down, I could be religious if a god would say hello, I could be religious if an angel touched my shoulder, I could be religious if they set the hymns to disco, like this…’ This album could be so good… I don’t think the Ants will sell out… It’s just not possible that they will go the same way as the Pistols, Clash, Sham… but they could sell out in a different way and turn into an art form… How about that for pop perception?

Program/Product 109

Product 109 were always a bit of a mystery to us. We had seen them advertised and gone to one of their cancelled gigs in Salisbury but didn’t actually know a thing about them – or even if they were a real band – until we met Clare, the lead singer’s girlfriend at the Winter Gardens Joy Division gig. This is what we found: to start with Product 109 no longer exist. They are now called Program. They are from New Milton in Hampshire and they first got together in 1977 as the Inserts. After one gig they became the elusive Product 109, a mainstream punk band who did about 10 gigs in 1978. Then in January ’79 they brought in keyboards and changed their name to Program. Program are: Martin Kitcher – bass/vocals, Kris Yeats – percussion, Simon Warne – guitar, Andrew Robins – keyboards/vocals and Paul Vtrippier – vocals. The 6th member is Rod Howard their manager.

November 11/14 Clare’s flat during party and Bournemouth Town Hall interviews conducted by Tom, Christine Nugent aka Taz and Bournemouth correspondent Simon Loveridge: Tom: “Why did you change the name from Product 109 to Program?” Paul: “Product 109’s importance seems to have been blown up out of all proportion, it was a band that Simon and I started and finished, we have all worked in other bands before, but came together to form Program.” Kris: “Since January we’ve played 17 times around the Bournemouth/Southampton area, since July we’ve played support slots to This Heat at the Tralee and John Otway at Poole Arts Centre.” Paul: “No causes, none of us really understand politics enough for us to want to scream our point of view down someone’s throat but we sing songs about people who we feel affect us and how they can and inevitably will destroy us.”

Tom: “How do you feel about the mod revival?” Paul: “They make us all feel physically sick – the total regression, hypocritical naivety of it all. The triviality of these new generation mods make me wretch.” Andy: “It seems to me that the music is just glamorised powerpop. It is very safe to become a mod. The youth of today have to put themselves in categories. Mod is the safest, most of the mods I know are all ex-punks who failed dismally.” Simon: “Punk/new wave will survive mod because it is multi-dimensional, people are thinking a lot and it can move at tangents in all directions. Mod, ska, etc is very one dimensional.” Kris: “The band works most efficiently as a unit. If one member left it would be a severe blow to all of us because it would be a friend leaving, that is why it is unlikely.”

Paul: “The message is really very simple, it’s about people – the politics of the way people feel to situations that they can come face to face with, decisions we make and how they can affect other people – fighting in other people’s wars, hating, frustration and sometimes sex – just sometimes.” Kris: “We admire Wire. Wire are a band that are going in many different directions and exploring many possibilities. I can relate to Gloria Mundi. I hate boring narrow-minded bands like the Angelic Upstarts, UK Subs, etc. No direction, no future. I can see similarities between ourselves and Magazine, but we are more of a rock band than an electronic band, we’re a real band that play real music about real human conditions.”

From their intro broad comparisons can be drawn with the Ants. To a tape of an extract of Suspira, Program appear and go straight into their opening number ‘A’. Paul keeps a low profile beside Andy’s keyboards which dominate this number but also blend in with the high energy riffs and Martin’s vocals. Then Paul takes over, comes to centre stage and stutters an introduction. There is hardly any chat between numbers which is good. The next number is ‘Programmed Set’ and with this I am won over. Program play rock not self indulgent nouveaux art music like some of their uniformed contemporaries. I must apologise to them about making comparisons with Gary Numan. Although they wear uniforms, which I don’t entirely agree with, Program do not pose on stage. They seem to really enjoy their music but at the same time take it very seriously.

The numbers vary between fast dance and longer deeper ones with a greater emphasis on keyboards. Two of the latter ‘Collapse’ and ‘Costume of Cruelty’ stood out particularly. Their lyrics sometimes drift towards long syllable cosmicness but I’m not by any means saying Program are an arty band. To prove this, during one of their “headbanger” numbers, ‘Nothing to Say’, Paul goes off the stage to sing with some very keen punters down the front. Program do a fairly long set to make up for the absence of a support band. What it is is a blend of Ultravox-like synthesised music with raw rock which I don’t think anybody else has got. They are futurist and original without being superior and pretentious like Numan and clones. After their final number ‘Don’t Let the Children Play Outside’, Rod takes us back stage to meet a very disillusioned Program. They seem to be the only people in the place that didn’t enjoy it.

Salisbury Calling by Mike Dyer

Salisbury is a small cathedral city 80 miles south west of London, set in the heart of Wiltshire. It’s only claims to fame are the cathedral and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. Entertainment in Salisbury lately must be at an all time low. Throughout the early 70s it saw gigs by the likes of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Groundhogs, Alex Harvey, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Budgie, to name but a few. Over the last 2 years only Adam and the Ants, XTC and the Pirates have graced us with their presence. At the moment all we have is discos and lots of pubs, which is all very well but what we want is an alternative scene, a place where bands can play regularly, a club perhaps, regular college or City Hall gigs, anything. The fact is Salisbury has its own bands, good ones at that, but nowhere for them to play. Apart from a small hall at the Rising Sun, Castle Street, and this is not really enough. There are also many bands from the Southampton, Bournemouth and Bath areas who I’m sure would ‘love’ to play Salisbury, such as Purity 16 (formerly Stalag 44 from Warminster), Sterile Androids, Program, Catch 22, etc. The area is full of music lovers of every description; people into old and new wave who would love a regular venue, if only just for a meeting place. Trouble is the local council have not had the push to cater for a younger age group nightclub. Sure there is the Gordon’s Club, Grange, Playhouse, but what about the rock’n’roll lover?

Identity Crisis

As I’ve already said Salisbury has its own bands, here is a small case history on the major ones: (1) Identity Crisis were formed around the nucleus of the Collinson brothers Steve and Lloyd, bass and drums respectively and guitarist Nick Marchant, around spring 1978. They set about rehearsing and writing backing tracks almost immediately. After 6 or 7 numbers were written, vocalist Neil Dalziel was added to the line up, contributing 99% of the band’s lyrics as well as the odd song. They continued rehearsing and booked up time in Pickwick Studios, Corsham, to see if their material worked – it didn’t. Their debut gig was at a private party 4 days later on August 19 1978, which went well. But the band still remained nameless, and for their second gig the landlord demanded a name to be billed. After various daft ideas, a member of the band moaned, “What we’ve got here is an identity crisis,” which they thought apt and kept the name since, despite disliking it. They played a number of gigs throughout the year, culminating in a disastrous gig at Christmas in the City Hall supported by the QTs. A serious rethink was called for. They stopped gigging for 3 months and combed the area for a second guitarist, who came in the form of Colin Gray from Andover. They set about writing new songs and rearranging the old set, kicking out a few numbers. The band’s overall sound improved 100%, the two guitarists’ different styles complimenting each other nicely. So it was back to gigging again with their revitalised sound and extra power. The impression one gets of the live sound is that of a very original, high energy, ‘hard rock’ band, all of whom are excellent musicians that cater for various tastes. Every gig I’ve seen is an improvement on the last.

The QTs

(2) The QTs have been around for about 2 years, the line up consists of Mick Jones drums and vocals, Mike Vickers vocals, Colin Holton bass and vocals, Chris Walsh guitar, and Frogg Moody on keyboards. Mick Jones (Jackboot), Chris and Frog were in a band called Zebeck together which they’d rather not talk about, with ex-manager Simon Kuczera on bass. They did a few gigs, mostly bad ones, then sacked their bass player, decided to change musical direction and advertised for a bass player and vocalist. Mike Vickers came along to a rehearsal and stayed. They tried out a few bass players including Steve Collinson, later of ID Crisis, who persuaded Colin to go and try his luck. They wrote songs together, also rearranging some older ones, and rehearsed for about 2 months. Their first gig was supporting the Kitchens at the Coach and Horses. They gigged throughout the end of ’78, getting slagged and praised depending on who was around; a lot of people compared them with early Stranglers – this was rubbish. They played City Hall Christmas ’78, impressing the ex-Zebeck bass player enough to ask them if they would like a manager. He got the band gigs, to start with in and around Salisbury, including Basingstoke and Devizes. They built up quite a local following, all their Salisbury gigs being well attended.

They also impressed local folk singer Chris Stamford enough to write to the Hall Carter organisation from London, telling him about them. He came down to see them at a local pub, the pukey Conquered Moon, Bemerton Heath. He liked them and signed them up. Then came the job of sacking their present manager, who was understandably very upset about it. They sorted out many differences and Simon took back his beaten-up van and PA. He now manages the Martian Schoolgirls who are doing very well for themselves. During their time with Simon Kuczera, they had an EP cut at ’Arry’s Shack, Poole, which does them no justice at all, ’Arry being too country and western influenced. Their current manager brought down a 48 track recording unit to tape a live gig. The band are also putting down tracks in Threeway studios, London, with hopes of a recording contract. Since their management re-shuffle, not a lot has happened, with no van to get about in, gigs are working out to be expensive. But it has given them a chance to rehearse new numbers which are so superior to the existing set, I think they’ll be better off for it in the long run.

The Kitchens

(3) The Kitchens case history 1: The longest serving Salisbury band to date (disregarding club/dance bands). The original line-up was Andy Lovelock – drums, Duncan Fulton – bass and vocals, and the legendary Fred Phillips – guitar. Their first gigs were at Amesbury Church Hall, followed by Stonehenge Festival in June ’77. After the third gig at the Gordon’s Club, Salisbury, came the first split. A promoter came to see them but left after 10 minutes, suffering from a nervous breakdown and is now a potato seller at Basingstoke market. Colin Holton took over on bass, leaving Duncan with vocals, and Paul Kelly took over guitar. Colin had to leave to look after his ill mother, and was also thinking of working in a kibbutz. He now plays with the QTs. They continued as a 3 piece, with Duncan back on bass guitar, doing many gigs in and around Salisbury, Coach and Horses, etc, giving the QTs their first gig – the only band around this area playing alternative music. Paul left due to disenchantment and 2 local gangsters were brought in. Duncan took over lead guitar, Gavin Lear on rhythm, and Ian Stramm on bass, the latter left to pursue a table tennis career. Gavin was later sacked due to underage alcoholism. The next line up came about when Duncan met guitarist Andy Sprogg, discovering mutual musical affinities. Back to a 3 piece, they played a few more gigs including support act to Wild Horses at the City Hall. Brian Robertson advised the band to get a female bassist. Duncan approached Miss Ruth Jones. She turned up to a practise on her moped and struck up an instant musical relationship. They also swap stamps.

Since then the Kitchens’ live act has improved 100%. The songs are better, 3 of which can be heard on their first single EP ‘The Death of Rock’n’Roll’. They play in Duncan’s own words reactive music. All the songs are self penned. Their influences are the QTs, David Cassidy, alcohol, and Ruth’s mum. Their ambitions are to change the world into a cube. Ruth wants to go to university to get a degree and try to solve the QTs’ drink problem. They have been offered a deal by Polydor but turned it down. Their first single is just out on Red Square Records. (4) The Crimmos: No info available at the moment – they’re moving to London anyway – but believe me they do exist as do Kinetic NRG and a few more I can’t think of at the moment. (5) Kinetic NRG: A 4 piece new wave band who have been together for some time, but only recently started playing gigs as support to the QTs, and will be playing more gigs in their own right. (6) The Strand: Not exactly a Salisbury band, the Strand are from Andover, their first Salisbury gig was at the Blackbird, then they played a few weeks later at the Rising Sun. They are a 5 piece, and their set includes 3 cover versions, Sham’s ‘Borstal Breakout’, the Saints’ ‘I’m Stranded’ and Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’. They also have a record out on Gem Records of UK Subs fame before too long.

Stalag 44/530 Boots

December 7 Stalag 44 and 530 Boots at Bath Trinity. Another MPM Productions gig – that is Martin, Paul and Mike from Corsham, a few of our mates who are really getting things going in Bath on a local scale and getting some big name bands down. Anyway, after unsuccessfully trying to sell fanzines to the punters – average age circa 14, I entered the old church hall to suss out the scene and I wasn’t particularly impressed. They had a disco and a lot of little punks. The first band 530 Boots came on stage. They are basically punk thrash but have some promise. The lead singer Bart has a good stage presence and they are fairly tight. Nothing drastically originally but I was told it was only their second or third gig.

530 Boots do an unusually long set and then there is an unusually long break with a few hitches with the disco followed by Stalag 44. They are supposed to be changing their name and I wish they would hurry up because Stalag 44 is so ’76… Actually tonight they are on form. Puddle the drummer is not too pissed and Boris’s vocals seem to be improving. They do a short set and did not include some of the new numbers, so Tim told me on the way back. I got roped into taking some of their gear – a fucking great amp in the back of my Mini. It is probably the best I’ve ever seen them and they go down well with the Bath kids. They are also tight and I think original but I don’t think they’ve got the drive or confidence at the moment to do anything particular radical. Stop press: Subject to confirmation I have been told by the band that Stalag 44 will change their name to Purity 16 as from the next Mere gig.

November 2 Joy Division and Buzzcocks at Bournemouth Winter Gardens. November 4 The Iranian US Embassy hostage crisis began and Vague 1 came out. November 11/14 Program interview and Town Hall gig. November 22 Gang of Four and Red Crayola interviews at Bournemouth Town Hall. Rough Trade with Vague 1 encouraged by Mayo Thompson of Red Crayola and Sue Donne. December 7 Stalag 44 at Bath Trinity. December 11 This Heat and Program at Bournemouth Tralee Hotel. December 14 Perverts Party at Bath Central Club. December 15 ‘London Calling’ by the Clash was released. December 16 Madness at Bournemouth Stateside. Softies interview in the Mere Ship. December 21 The QTs at the Laverstock Duck. December 27 The Russian invasion of Afghanistan began. December 31 Adam and the Ants at the Electric Ballroom. ‘Walking on the Moon’ by the Police and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by Pink Floyd were number 1. Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter, Fawlty Towers.

 

Tom Vague
(Vague Publishing, 1979)
 
now out of print