Sunday, November 06, 2005

Merton Parkas - another face in the crowd

To hear
Merton Parkas
click here!!!

The Merton Parkas began life as the Sneakers
in south Merton, London around 1975, playing old Motown Records classics. The line-up comprised brothers Mick (b. 11 September 1958, London, England; keyboards) and Danny Talbot (vocals), Neil Wurrell (bass) and Simon Smith (drums), and they chose their new name from Merton (the area of south London from which they came) and Parka (the ubiquitous item of mod attire). The Merton Parkas were great live favourites at the Bridgehouse in Canning Town, London, but were unable to appear on the Mods Mayday '79 live compilation because they were negotiating contracts with Beggars Banquet Records, after the label's first signing, the Lurkers (The), had recommended them. They were one of the first neo-mod bands to record, and their debut single, "You Need Wheels", was a hit in August 1979.

Unfortunately, the rather trite lyrics
had the Mertons branded as a novelty act, and they were often unfairly dismissed as bandwagon jumpers. Subsequent singles such as "Plastic Smile", "Give It To Me Now" (produced by Dennis Bovell of Matumbi), and "Put Me In The Picture" failed to match the success of their debut. Mick Talbot was meanwhile making his name as an in-demand keyboard player on the Jam (The)'s Setting Sons and an album by the Chords. The Mertons soon disbanded and Talbot went on to join Dexys Midnight Runners and the Bureau, and formed the Style Council with Weller, Paul. Smith, meanwhile, joined the psychedelic revivalists Mood Six, and spent a while with the Times (The), before returning to the re-formed Mood Six.
If the Merton Parkas had called their debut LP Just Another Face in the Neo-Mod Crowd, no further explanation would have been needed. This unmemorable group had nondescript vocals, tame playing (guitar and piano so polite as to be biteless even at high volume) and dull songs (a cover of Tears of a Clown not excepted).
They do deserve two points for the name,
a pun combining the band's South London neighbourhood (Merton Park) and the essential Mod garment - Ha, ha. The band was formed by brothers Mick and Danny Talbot along with Neil Hurrel and Simon Smith in 1978, and known in a past life as The Sneakers. They became one of the first mod-revivalists to release an album, Face in the Crowd, which featured the hit single You Need Wheels.

While many of the movement's followers
took a more serious approach, the Merton Parkas tapped into the novelty side of the genre, becoming something of a mod version of Madness, though less innovative (and less interesting). A follow-up single, Plastic Smile, was a far superior selection from the Face In The Crowd album. Even better was their final single, Put Me In The Picture (1980).

The group finally earned posthumous notoriety
when keyboardist Mick Talbot became Paul Weller's partner in the Style Council (following a stint in Dexys Midnight Runners), while Simon Smith later played with Mood Six and The Times.

Taken from:

Best Buy!?
Merton Parkas the comlplete mod collection
(anagram/cherry red rec.)

wich includes all their best tracks and more...

1. Face In The Crowd 2. Plastic Smile 3. Empty Room 4. Tears Of A Clown 5. Hard Times 6. Silent People 7. When Will It Be 8. Give It To Me 9. You Need Wheels 10. You Should Be So Lucky 11. I Don't Want To Know You 12. I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone 13. Man With The Disguise 14. Give It To Me Now 15. Gi's It 16. Put Me In The Picture 17. In The Midnight Hour 18. Band Of Gold 19. Flat 19 20. You Say You Will 21. Dangerous Man 22. Put Me In The Picture

Saturday, November 05, 2005

the Threads - a teenagedream

Once upon a time, many moons ago in a far off land called Lincolnshire our story began. It was back in 1982 when Paul Hooper Keeley and Tim Mitchell Smith got together with their newly purchased guitars and decided that it was time to start a band. Of course, with them both being Mods (and Small Faces mad) it made perfect sense that the embryonic ensemble would have to be a Mod band!
With Paul on Rhythm and Tim on Lead,
Lisa joined on Bass, James on Guitar and Ian on Keyboards. These new recruits didn't last long and soon Chris had become the bands first drummer, with Andy taking over the Bass thing. In these early days of garage rehearsals The Threads, as they were now known, were already playing original songs, such as "Break Down The Barriers" and "Sorry", as well as covers of "Substitute", "All or Nothing", "That's Entertainment", "Private Hell", "Heatwave", "In The Midnight Hour", "Batman", "Rat Race" and "Bed and Breakfast Man". As the rehearsals continued through 1983 the routine was extended to included additional original material such as "She's The One", "In This Town", and the first version of "Alison".

1984 beckoned and it was time for the band
to come out from the relative safety of the garage and do their thing "live" in front of an audience. Irritated neighbours and people from all across town had commented upon the improvement of the sound from within the garage and so a number of College Parties and Youth Clubs throughout Lincolnshire were hijacked for this purpose. Our great self-promotion from the start ensured that almost 30 Mods from Spalding gatecrashed our first ever gig and almost caused a riot. It was safe to say that The Threads had arrived!

More gigs followed and the word soon spread,
with our core following from Spilsby, Boston and Spalding growing rapidly. It was February 1985 and, following another series of gigs, Andy decided to concentrate on the college band that he was also in. A search for a replacement drew a blank so Tim made the ultimate sacrifice and packed away his lead guitar and bought a Bass. With a longer neck and less strings to contend with the band went back into rehearsal – this time promoted to the double glazed dining room at Tim's parent's house. With a tight sound developing, a newly painted backdrop and a photo session completed it was time to address the National scene.

One of the best known photos of the band ever
was the picture of the 3 of us in Parkas, on the War Memorial in Spilsby, over which we had draped a Union flag. This picture, along with a brief biography, featured in many modzines throughout the summer of 1985 but most notably within "Fire ‘n' Skill" – Paul Sawtell's excellent publication from Cambridgeshire. With our new found profile we headlined a Mod event in Peterborough while more coverage was received, this time from "In The Crowd". This was important – from this feature we were contacted by Michael Bull who noted that we were looking for a keyboard player. He was invited to rehearsals and joined the band immediately. The summer of '85 saw great changes to the band – no sooner had Michael joined than we were introduced to Guy Brader, a Mod lead guitarist from Boston who was between bands. Chris lost interest in the drum stool so as we signed up Guy he brought along an excellent drummer he had previously played with – Tony Wheeler. What had now been created was the best line-up The Threads were to have, with a whirlwind of gigs, features, recordings and releases to follow.

Intensive rehearsals of a new line up and a new set followed. The original material was now complemented with covers of "For Your Love", "Till The End Of The Day", "Stepping Stone", "Wipe Out", "Almost Grown", "With A Girl Like You" and "Just Can't Seem To Stop" along with the more regular covers of "Substitute", "All or Nothing", and "In The Midnight Hour". A number of low key gigs followed building up to their support to The Rage at the Lincoln Mod Rally in September 1985. The Threads played their hearts out to which the crowd immediately responded with great enthusiasm, so much so that the crowd had little left to give to The Rage who played a great set with Derwent commenting upon our great performance. Following the "live" set the band were swamped by requests to play at other such events up and down the country, including a Mod Alldayer in Mansfield (also featuring Yeh-Yeh and the 5:30), headlining at the Leeds Astoria, playing in the Countdown Cup 5-a-side tournament on Hackney Marshes and an invitation to play at the Mod Aid Alldayer at Walthamstow in December.
In the meantime The Threads decided it was time to
record some of their original works and so in October they hired a studio in Spalding and recorded what became the "Mind The Threads, John!" demo tape. These recordings featured 4 songs, "Alison", "Sorry", "She's The One" and "In This Town" and captured all of the energy and excitement of the "live" sets, as well as the rawness of a band going into the studio for the first time. For light relief The Threads played at a charity event in Michael Bull's village along with The Inclyned. Simon Groom and Goldie from Blue Peter were hosting the event and in a surreal and bizarre sequence Simon Groom ended up playing drums for the band during an encore of "Stepping Stone" while Tim and Michael almost raffled Goldie off to a local scout. Needless to say we didn't earn a Blue Peter badge but did get mentioned on the next edition of the programme. December brought the Mod Aid Alldayer and what a great and well attended event it was. Paul reminded the crowd that we were all there to help raise money for Ronnie Lane's ARMS charity before the band went into a blistering version of "Almost Grown". Playing along side the likes of Makin' Time, The Moment, The Way Out etc was superb. Paul and Myk were invited to play in Eleanor Rigby's band along with Derwent and the Way Out, although in the end Paul dropped out but Michael "Myk" Bull's big keyboard sound certainly made a large contribution to the overall sound. In fact it was following this event that Waterloo Sunset Records started to take an interest in The Threads. From this gig came a "live" double album on the Phoenix label with The Threads track used being "Sorry".

1986 arrived and more gigs came rolling in
with the pick of the bunch being The Purple Hearts Allnighter at The Wirrina in Peterborough. With approx. 2000 in attendance The Threads received a tremendous response to their set which now included additional originals such as "With Ourselves", "Step Back", "Hey Little Lady" and "Lou's Blues". It was also the night that Russell from Waterloo Sunset asked The Threads to appear on a 4 artist EP with Eleanor Rigby, Martha Reeves and The Reaction – quite a varied combination. Being in constant contact with the Phoenix List meant that any opportunities were often mentioned to them. The Waterloo Sunset scenario was not well received by Mark Johnson who was currently having a spat with them over Eleanor's non appearance on the Mod Aid album, Russell's rival "Britannia List" and who knows what else. Our news prompted Mark, within a few days, to come back to us with a counter offer – and hence the formation of Unicorn Records. It was decided that an established artist would be required to get the label going and so The Times version of "London Boys" was the initial 7" release. Then came The Threads, in what was to become the Phase III series in which each band had one side of a 7" EP to put out a double A-side single.

Further gigs followed around the country,
some supporting the Moment, others headlining ourselves. We played the Lowestoft Mod Rally at Easter in what was a fantastic rally and weekend for many reasons. Many new friends were made in what was a very happy time for The Threads. With Ed Ball of The Times in charge of production, the band set sail for the Slaughterhouse Studio in Driffield, Yorkshire. This was the home of Prism Records, the record label and recording studio responsible for bringing us The Gents. In these northern surroundings, with the World Cup on TV, the band settled down to record "Step Back" and "Alison" for the Unicorn project as well as the original version of "A Teenage Dream". The addition of Al Wood to the sessions embellished our sound to include brass. After the recording sessions it was back on the road with a mini tour of Scotland and some gigs back in our native Lincolnshire. It was also a time for writing and rehearsing new material such as "The Man With A Thousand Faces", "Joanna", "She Is A Stranger", "The Art Of Making A Living", and "Good Life". Around this time Guy parted company with the band and The Threads carried on as a 4 piece.

While using the Slaughterhouse studios
the label MD took a liking to the band and before we knew it we were discussing a 2 singles and an album deal with Prism Records. The plan was to record 5 songs for a 7" and 12" single, then record a full length album which would have a single taken from it (with a couple of bonus tracks for the B-side). Back into the studios we went and recorded "Hey Little Lady" as the A-side of the first single (with a shortened version for the 7"). We recorded "Joanna" and "With Ourselves" as the proposed B-side with "Teenage Dream" and "She Is A Stranger" being recorded to add to the 12" single. These tracks were mixed in the early days of 1987 and were mastered, stamped and pressed onto white label copies. The proposed album was discussed and had the working title of "The Art Of Making A Living" with various tracks rehearsed and rearranged in anticipation of the recording sessions. We awaited the release of the single on Prism, and waited, and waited, and……………waited. Various conflicting stories were passed on via Prism such as heavy release schedules, awaiting promotional materials etc. In the interim we were asked to contribute a track to a forthcoming Unicorn compilation album and so on FA Cup Final day in 1987 we recorded "The Man With A Thousand Faces" at The Blue Rooms studio in London. Tony Wheeler had thrown in the towel (probably due to the long wait with Prism) and so Nick Foreman of The Inclyned took over the sticks for this recording.
Unicorn to the rescue once more – it was suggested that with the 5 songs "in the can", with remixes of the Phase III tracks, and the recording for "Unicorn II – Modern Times", there was enough material to put out a mini album. We agreed, and put the Prism delay behind us. Unicorn put out a release to tell the world of this album, but because we hadn't decided on a name had put "As Yet Untitled" on it. Paul decided that this should be the title of the album much to the dismay of the record label (and Record Week who called it "the annoyingly titled As Yet Untitled"). The album was well received by the music world, the modzines, and the scene itself – with it's big keyboard sound and pop sensibilities creating quite a groove. It went to number 10 in the French Radio Lille charts and showed at number 8 in the Lincolnshire regional charts. Off again for more "live" work The Threads toured England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Back again to England they help to organise the National Mod Meeting and weekend event in Lincoln that saw The Threads and The Risk play both nights. They met up again in November at the 100 Club in Oxford Street to appear at a Unicorn night and where both bands were recorded. The latest Unicorn project eventually saw the light of day as "Out and About", a "live" album that dedicated itself on one side to The Threads, with The Risk having a side to themselves.
It was the end of 1987 that saw the departure from the band of Myk.
Paul and Tim went into the studio and recorded "Goodbye" and "Happy", and were subsequently joined by David "Tetley" Edley on guitar/vocals. Another studio date saw the recording of "Memories of my Misspent Youth", "Square One" and "Lonely Street" (plus radio jingles) and was followed by the return of Tony Wheeler on drums. On the road again, this time the destination was Germany with the band playing in Hamburg supported by Studio 68. Returning from Europe the band went into the studio to record a new 7" single which it was to release on it's own label. "Feeling Blue" and "You Say…I Say" were the tracks recorded but, before the label really got going (and with the second Mod Aid Alldayer coming up) everyone drifted in their own separate directions. Not to be beaten, Paul played the Mod Aid event as a solo set (headlined by Steve Marriott it was a fantastic opportunity for Paul to meet his all time hero) , and then went away to carry on. With new band members and a few low key gigs under their belts The Threads went off and toured Europe, returning to record a 4 song tape called "Ten Days On The Reeperbahn", before embarking on a full scale UK tour through 1989 playing every venue possible. Gaining interest from Voltage Records "Cold" was The Threads contribution to a 4 band EP. In 1990 "Dare" was recorded and released as a 7" Flexi single and attracted interest from a number of major labels. Unfortunately, due to differences, the bass player walked out just before a showcase gig had been arranged in London with Fiction Records, and another near miss occurred. Changing the line up again, The Threads continued to play all over the UK, but for Paul it wasn't the same as before. Therefore after one final UK tour, which culminated in 5 nights in London, The Threads unofficially ended on 1 st May 1991.

But that is not quite the end of the story…….
Guy Brader jetted back into the UK for a few weeks, during which time Paul, Tim, Myk, Guy and Tony (plus Tetley) were back together in a rehearsal room in Staffordshire. Detour Records then released a 22 song anthology CD of The Threads called “Step Back In Time” (DRCD026) and this line up played a 40 minute set of Small Faces covers at the Small Faces Annual Convention in 2000. November 2001 saw this line-up (minus Guy Brader who had returned to America) record two Small Faces covers, “Green Circles” & “Almost Grown” for Tribute Album Projects, and the a new double A-sided 7” single, “Sorry” & “In This Town”, for Twist Records. The Threads are then going to go back into the studio over the winter months to record all the songs intended for the Prism album, plus others that were played "live" but never properly recorded for a new album, “Long Apart and Worlds Ago” for Twist, which will feature a number of high profile “special guests” from all periods of the Mod scene. A number of selected gigs are being planned for the UK, including a guest appearance at John's Children's Christmas/New Year party show at The Monarch, Camden Town, on 29 th December 2001.

Friday, October 21, 2005

PoP Noir - sexy jazzpunk

When it comes to innovation `Pop Noir' are one of just a few acts truly delivering the goods. The band was previous known under the moniker of 'Box Office Poison' but with a change of line up they decided to change thier name to the genre of music they invented called 'Pop Noir'. However you can also learn about thier previous history as Box Office Poison on this page as well.

THE MUSIC They describe their music as having a jazz/punk attitude, a classical ambience, hypnotic grooves, catchy melodies, poignant gritty or sexy lyrics and a filmic feel and atmosphere. Their sound is based around classical and punk Cello, Sax, Harpsichord, koto, Spanish Trumpet,multiple Percussion and experimental backing vocals. The song writing is done totally different to the way most people compose and this also helps to create a different feel. People (particularly musicians) are often shocked when they hear how the songs are written. The production is often experimental and the producer is reluctant to leave the studio until he invents a new sound or way of doing things on the tracks,The production also has a very Erotic and sexy feel to it which gives the music a very distinctive feel. As usual, people have tried to pigeon hole the music. They have been likened to Bauhaus, Enigma, Portishead, Shakespears Sister, Bjork and Kate Bush, Goldfrapp, Mono and even a cross between Nancy Sinatra and the Doors with a bit of John Barry thrown in.. Although elements of those acts do appear in the music and if you like those acts in particular you will definately like Pop Noir's music, Pop Noir's music really is unlike anything that's been around before.

THE LINE UP Pop Noir decided to take a leaf out of the book of KLF and Soul to Soul, who were known to have a fluid line up with the songwriting and destinctive production sound done by one person. In the case of those bands it Was Bill Drummond and Jazzy B respectively.Pop Noirs main man is Russell C. Brennan (Aka Russell C. Writer).He is the bands Punk Cellist,the Songwriter and producer amongst other things. As a record producer he has had over 250 tracks releasd Worldwide and was recently listed in the Top 20 Most Innovative Record Producers of All Time in the Record Producers Hall of fame.He started off as the songwriter and producer of Cult artist Eleanor Rigby Who can be found elsewhere on this site. He was then one half of the seminal Ministry of SKa and created the new 'Ska Surf Genre of music.He then began to concerntrate on becoming an innovative record producer and invented the Cult Themes trend in the 90's producing new version of Cult T.V and Film themes as a new way to help break new acts. He is also the published author of the book 'Music Business Bastards (How to do well in the music business without getting ripped off) and more recently has made a dent in the world of Photography and art. Pop Noir's line up can stretch from two people to ten depending on what is required but are currently a duo for recording purposes but when playing live will probably be at least an 8 piece outfit. Russell's current partner in crime is Female vocalist Natasha North. She is a Russian beauty who was lead singer of succesful Ukrainian band 'X-base'. She then came to London in search of something new and exciting in music and found that 'Pop Noir' fitted the bill perfectly. Luckily this coincided with the departure of Misty Woods the former lead singer

RELEASES So far Pop Noir have sneaked out one release Alien on the album 'Cult themes from the 80's Which can be found elsewhere and features previous vocalist Misty.

The debut single release featuring Natasha will be the Cyber dance version of 'Sex on the Internet'. This looks like being a worldwide release and will be available in a number of different languages including Russian, Spanish and French. (Watch this space for the release date or just send us an email requesting to be informed when it is released).

Although Pop Noir are not a dance band, with Russell having been a Top D.J some time ago he likes to do the odd dance version of a Pop Noir song. As far as the lyrical content goes this is what is getting many people excited as it reflects the times we live in regarding internet dating as well as the seedier side of the net. The lyrics also have a good sense of humour and the song could never have been written or released in another time period. So in some ways its like The Who's 'My Generation' but for today. Box Office Poison have now changed their name to ‘Pop Noir’ (after the music genre they created) They have a sexy new Singer Natasha North. Their debut single from them is a dance track ‘Sex on the Internet’. Its very sexy and controversial with a sense of humour’ (If you like your dance Hypnoitic and sexy this is for you). The CD Single contains A 7” and 12” Mix Plus a French and Russian Version.(For Natasha is in fact Russian. We are now doing what is called a pre release. We are currently licensing the single to other record labels around the World. It is likely to be out early 2006 but you can get it exclusively through us for October 17th until the end of November.THere are only 100 Copies available so don't hang around. This version also has a special bonus track ‘Popcorn’ The famous instrumental recently massacred by the Crazy Frog. £2.99 plus P&P (Order Details at bottom of the page)

ATTITUDE We all know of bands who've said they are doing something really different, only to find that they're dong the same old thing as everybody else or whats been done before. Being a rebel is to go against the grain and the establishment. Nearly everyone who decides to be in a band picks up a guitar as a starting point or becomes a rapper or does bland RnB. This is as far away from being a real rebel as it gets. POP NOIR do not use guitars in any of their tracks. They feel they are the only true rebels coming out in music these days. This is not a vain attempt to hype themselves into the press. It's just that they'd rather pick up a cello when indie guitar is flavour of the month. They don't just sit there ripping off different bits of other people's hits or pigging backing on previous hit records like rappers. They set about a totally new way of composing songs and playing their instruments. There's plenty more we could say but we think you get the picture. Apart from Russell (punk Cello, Percussion/Drums, Koto, Ocassional Vocals and some other instruments the Box Office Poison Line ups have included sax players RON RAGE (aka Ron Howe and ex of The Cure,The Damned and Fools Dance)Dafadil LIl and Bowler.Keyboard players Paul Poulden and Avril Eglington and Vocalists, Debbie Detroit, Jo Sharp, Mouse and Misty. (The latter two are picture below (Mouse left and Misty right) If you click on thier photos you can check out thier solo pages for solo releases.You can also get to thier pages via the front page.


. The debut, a double A-side called `1995/Checkmate' was voted best single of the year by many UK college radio stations when it was first released a few years ago. Various underground magazines described it as `single of the decade...' and `Like a hurricane of fresh air'.

. B.O.P.'s second single, `Mysteries', was rated very highly and said to be one of the most ground-breaking singles in recent years. The band also took the trouble to do French and Spanish versions of the track.

The Third Single 'Teenage Sex/Alien' was banned in the U.K but the video for 'Teenage Sex' went to number one in Russia.

The Fourth single 'Think For Yourself/Lady Grinning Soul' got alot of coverage with 'Think for yourself being called a bit of a masterpiece. Bowie fans and the great man himself gave the thumbs up to the cover of 'Lady Grinning Soul'which featured on the same EP The C.D also features two great bonus tracks 'Louie Louie' which one radio stations listeners voted the best ever version of this classic song (Considering the amount of people who have covered it, thats some compliment)This track was also featureing on the best selling Compilation 'Generation to Generation' Put out on the Dr.Martens Record Label. Finally the E.P is finished off with a track that should have been the Title Theme for 'Nightmare on Elm street Pt.6' but wasn't used (A long story) but it suits the film down to the ground.

When the debut album, `BEYOND THE TWILIGHT ZONE' was released critics said. 'Each track throws you into a 3 minute epic and makes you feel like you've experienced the subject to each song. Lyrics go from the extremes of being homeless, having sex with an alien, time travel, saving the world or passing from it, through to the more mundane emotions of everyday life, such as divorce, drugs, alcohol abuse and the general pressures of living in general(not too many love songs here!). You could conceivably say it's like `virtual reality' for the soul, as well for your ears.

The second Album HEAVY BREATHING DECADE was banned from shops and is available exclusively to this site. it features songs that feature Orgasms, a woman's right to shag without being a slag, sexual jealousy, sex with a stranger, strippers, lesbianism, obsession, sleazy sex, prostitution, porno videos, babies without fathers, teenagers attitudes to sex and last but not least the ins and outs of sex on the internet (classifieds, porn, fantasies etc). Yes folks it's all here, how to have a sleazy life without the dangers of living it (unless that's what turns you on). But that's just one level. Some important issues are raised within the songs - many come from a women's point of view making it an essential album for women with attitude, but both sexes will no doubt find this album a turn on for different reasons, for not only does it contain one of the best orgasms ever recorded but two of the sexiest voices in pop with Misty and Mouse. But what of the music? Far from being tacky, it is quality material that would sit comfortably alongside any top pop act you could care to mention. Yes the subject matter can be strong but the music is best described as a cross between Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye), Je t'aime (Jane Birkin & Serges Gainsborough) and Erotica/Justify my Love (Madonna).
But of course it has the band's own innovative 'Pop Noir' sound and instrumentation.It's got thrusting and husky 'cello, arpeggio fingerings of harpsichord riffs and a sleazy sexy jazz club saxophone, plus hypnotic percussion, swelling organ and 'to die for' backing vocals (a small sample from this album is downloadable for you to check out. Click on'Come with me'at the end of the paragraph and download onto your system for playback) Come with me sound clip

Eleanor Rigby - a girl before her time

to hear
Eleanor Rigby
click here!!!
Described as a cross between The Kinks, Blondie and The Jam at their best on her arrival on the pop scene in 1985, although no longer around she has influenced many of todays female singers and when Britpop appeared in the mid 90's she was regularly being name checked. She was ahead of the game, but if you want to catch up with her career or find out the full controversial and interesting story then read on...

Eleanor's career was short yet controversial and mysterious, and this, along with the quality and limited quantity of her releases has led to her becoming a cult figure on the collector's market. Her total output was only 4 singles and one album (Censorship) which now changes hands for big money. Her legendary debut single `I Want To Sleep With You' was released in 1985 and came complete with free condom. This caused quite a stir and although the record was subsequently banned, it went on to become a mod classic that every mod of the time and today had to have in their collection. With the video and concerts also banned shortly afterwards it was like the Sex Pistols all over again. More singles followed. `Take Another Shot At My heart', `Mad Xmas' and the classic `Over and Over' which one journalist described as the best single Ray Davies never wrote! After another controversial bit of press where Eleanor turned down half a million pounds to pose nude for a Japanese porn magazine, she released her one and only album `Censorship' which came complete with a very tasteful nude poster, more reminiscent of Marilyn Munroe's calendar shot than Maddona's full frontals. This vinyl only release currently changes hands for up to £50 on the collectors market and is often descibed as a Mod classic that would have sat nicely next to classic sixites or the 90's Britpop albums.

Three years after her splash onto the world of pop she was selling out 3,000 capacity venues and being courted by a number of major record companies, some offering serious money. But with the world at her feet she suddenly resigned, and like the character `No.6' from the T.V. show `The Prisoner', upped and disappeared. People still don't know the reasons behind her resignation. Russell (Her ex husband and Songwriter/Producer) says she did contact him from Miami after about 18 months, saying she was about to take a trip to the Caribbean and would make a decision upon her return about her career, but at that moment in time she felt like changing her name and becoming anonymous. Eleanor has not been seen or heard of since.

Since then there has been another mini mod revival and Britpop, she is at last getting the recognition she deserves, which has led to the release of two 'Best of albums' containing all her work. Just prior to these albums a single 'You only Live twice', which featured on Themes from the 60's was released after gaining lots of airplay and this went to number one in Italy (Which also resulted in her appearing on a Number Ones hits comppilation that also featured the likes of The Supremes, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Sinatra, Billy Ocean, Dusty Springfield etc). When an artist dies or disappears this is one reason they reach cult status and this seems to be where Eleanor is currently lodged in the scheme of things. Eleanor Rigby could have been the Queen of Britpop had she only stuck it out. Why she resigned is still a mystery.

Monday, October 17, 2005

To LOUD for Quadrophenia!!!

to hear
the Chords
click here!!!
The Chords story starts with cousins Billy Hassett and Martin Mason rehearsing Beatles and Who songs, etc, together at school. Via a New Musical Express advert Chris Pope joins in January 1978. They spend the year writing, rehearsing and playing a couple of gigs. They also fail to become the band in Quadrophenia - too loud apparently!. With the dawn of 1979 Paul Halpin (the original drummer and eventual road manager) is replaced with Brett (Buddy) Ascott. Buddy adds the final element the band is looking for. A powerhouse drummer with far too much energy and a desire to be Keith Moon, Buddy is the final link in the chain. By the end of March the band are playing the Wellington in Waterloo to packed crowds. In the audience are Paul Weller, NME and Polydor. This helps the band secure more gigs and an important support slot to The Jam. The band play with many bands including, The Purple Hearts, Secret Affair, The Scooters and Back to Zero. From then it goes very quickly: Jimmy Pursey, he of Sham 69, signs the band for his new label - this end in tears with Pursey disrupting an Undertones gig (The Chords are the support band on the tour). Luckily or (unluckily?) Polydor take The Chords on. From here, as the band see it, it all starts to go wrong.

The first single 'Now it's Gone' is the second version the band has had to record. It's released in September and gets to 63 in the charts. The band is disappointed it doesn't get further, but for a debut it sells well. In the U.K. at the time the Mod Revival is in full swing with the release of the movie Quadrophenia and The Jam are making their mark on the charts. The band receives press and airplay by association with the Mod scene. It can be said that they were part of the revival, but sensing this is a bad move the band try to distance themselves from the scene. This would have been a wise move but the press weren't going to let them get away with it. Anyway, enough bad vibes - what about the tunes?

'Maybe Tomorrow' is recorded in December and released in the New Year. A brilliant 45, a pure blast from start to end. This song alone has more balls than any tune at the time and by the end you are knackered just listening to it. It gets them an appearance on 'Top of the Pops'. It is followed by 'Something's Missing' - another slap of energy. If these songs had been the sole output of the band it would have been great. April see the release of 'So Far Away'. Highlights of the LP are 'Breaks My Heart', 'It's No Use' and the mighty title track 'So Far Away'. If this LP were released now the Stereophonics would pack and go home. The LP charts at number 30. The past year has gone well for The Chords and for rest of the year they seem to be making headway. Two more singles are released, 'British Way of Life' and 'In My Street'. Several radio sessions are recorded and transmitted. The band seem to be on tour continually - highlights include Loch Lomond Festival, Scotland, with Bad Manners, Stiff Little Fingers, The Tourists and The Jam; and their first gigs abroad. But by November Billy Hassett is no longer a Chord, ousted for reasons known only to the group. The band are looking for a new singer and a replacement is found in Kip - ex-Vibrators. New songs are recorded and it's make or break time for the band. The single 'One More Minute' is brilliant - imagine 'It's Gonna Happen' by the Undertones, but better. When it fails to achieve the success the band hope for, they are only one more single from the end. 'Turn Away Again' is released and nothing happens. So it's time to call it a day as they say.

Usual excuses are given for the band breaking up i.e. 'not flavour of the month anymore', 'they're just a bunch of Mods aren't they?', and 'no manager to help keep them together'. Buddy and Chris start 'Agent Orange', Martin stops playing and goes back to normality. Billy is in the world somewhere (Ireland I think) and Kip, well I don't know what happened to Kip.
A bitterly cold Saturday night in Soho.

The Chords are playing The Marquee for the second night running and a parka clad queue stretches loafer to loafer along the Wardour street pavement tailing off to The Ship where some skinheads have just been shown the door, for well, nothing more than being skinheads, or so it seems.There is a sense of apprehension, particularly at the club doors where the keenest have staked out their territorial claims at the head of the file. Tickets are clutched in anticipation of the House Full signs that will go up later on. But the charged up atmosphere that hangs in the air above the queue outside is misleading. Scratch beneath the surface excitement and the spirits of most mods are flagging fast. Disillusionment is widespread. As a cohesive youth movement, lacking the clearer focus and sometime moral muscle of punk, mod is already all but finished. And the mods themselves know it. Inside The Marquee, Brian Betteridge, former vocalist with Back To Zero, one of the earliest of the new mod bands, reflects on the ragbag of contradictions and the sense of anticlimax.

“Most of the same old faces who were at the mod gigs last year still go along to a gig like this. But it’s like nostalgia, isn’t it? They want to re-create the feel of last summer, but it’s just not the same now.” Back To Zero split up last month after less than a year as a working band. The Maximum Speed fanzine team, who always had a much clearer perspective on the new mod than the music press, have also called it a day. The latest issue (number ten) is to be the last. As Goffe, one of the three-strong Enfield editorial team puts it: “Last spring you felt that you just couldn’t afford to miss a gig. I went to about 25 gigs a month then. You just can’t get as excited as about it now.” And that is as concise a summary of mod’s current standing as you are likely to get. This time last year, the best of the early mod bands had a raw freshness about them that was comparable with the early days of punk. ‘Now Its Gone’, the first Chords single, was all too apt an obituary.
But where does all this leave The Chords themselves? Generally looked upon as one of the prime initiators of the movement, they could sink back into oblivion with it. I reckon not, though, and I can think of at least three valid reasons why. The first is the bands excellent ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ single, a record which has deservedly brought them Top 40 status and even a TOTP appearance with only their second release. The second is their live form. On The Marquee stage they are no less blistering a live group than when I first saw them at the Wellington in Waterloo some ten months ago. But to that energy, they have welded control and structure in the shape of guitarist Chris Pope’s increasingly sensitive and mature songwriting. The third reason to be confident that The Chords can step over mod’s decaying carcass is their own attitude. They share the dismay at the commercialisation of mod off the field and lack of musical originality on it. But their disillusionment is tempered with hope and a confidence in their own ability. In their publicist’s office, no more than a stone’s throw away from The Marquee, The Chords grasp for the words that convey exactly where mod went wrong “It didn’t have the time to grow at the roots the way that punk did”, asserts the Deptford band’s blond vocalist Billy Hassett. “At first it was just happening in a few pubs like the Wellington in Waterloo and the next moment a whole film came out about it! Then you suddenly had everyone rushing out to buy their Fred Perry and The Who, these big gods telling us what we had to wear.” Hassett is referring to the range of mod fashions marketed, with The Who as their main selling point, to coincide with the release of Quadrophenia.

“I mean, The Who were the beginning,” he continues in sarcastic, mocking tones. “The Who know what it’s all about, man. They know what we’ve all got to wear. That was the pain of the whole fashion part of mod. We like the image but not the mass produced ones, like the target on the back of your parka and your ‘I’m A Mod’ T-shirts."Ian Page and Secret Affair, of course were others who blew the fashion aspect of mod out of all proportion. Page grandly saw the mods as ‘suited subversives’ who, by going to work in their ‘glory boy’ three button mohair suits, were in fact sticking two fingers up at the unsuspecting boss. The self-deception and conceit is laughable. The Chords concur that Page, for all his hot air, was a destructive factor in mod’s decline.
Best Buy!?
So Far Away
(Captain Mod rec. MODSKACD 010)
In later years, the Chords were often cursorily dismissed as little more than Jam copyists, and while there's no denying that the two groups traveled in very similar musical waters, both drawing from the British beat and Northern soul that filled their youths and sending it soaring through the prism of punk, it's there that the comparisons end. While Paul Weller coyly played footsy with both the punk and mod scenes, refusing to commit to either, there was no doubt that his soul lay with the latter, and regardless of the trio's aggressive punk-fueled delivery, his lyrics lacked punk's burning fury. Regardless of the class warfare related in "Eton Rifles," the racism reflected in "Down in the Tube Station," or the alienation of "Strange Town," no matter his country's evident flaws (and Weller etched them vividly), he still couldn't shake his love of his homeland and optimistic hope that her problems would eventually be solved. Guitarist and songwriter Chris Pope refused to see the world through the Jam's English rose-colored glasses, turning his own equally eloquent pen to scathing vignettes virtually the flip of Weller's own. In this respect, the Jam comparisons are red herrings, for if anything, Pope played the snottier, rebellious younger brother to Weller's more respectful good son. This was apparent from the start with the Chords' debut 45, "Now It's Gone," where the group's dream of love is trampled underfoot, and driven home by its follow-up, "Maybe Tomorrow," which firmly puts the boot into the Jam's sanguine vision of Britain and turns it into a fascist horror. That single would kick off the group's sole album, So Far Away, 12 fierce tracks that defined mod's potential as punk's successor. Filled with fire and fury, the set skips from affairs of the heart to the pitiful state of the nation. Musically it's a revelation; the band's two guitarists give the group much more scope for aural assault than a trio, and with a much more aggressive rhythm section in tow, Far is as vociferous as many of its punk contemporaries. In fact, reviews threw bands like the Buzzcocks and the Undertones into the brew of the Chords' notable inspirations. For while the Chords' melodies were shaped by the '60s, their delivery was forged in punk, with even Sham 69's anthemic stomp stirred into the mix. This set reissues the stellar Far, a U.K. Top 30 album, in full, then tacks on all five of the original lineup's singles along with its B-sides, as well as the free 45 that was included with early copies of the album. The bonus tracks are helpfully sequenced in chronological order, and a full discography and excellent biography complete this phenomenal package. Of course, the two-CD This Is What They Want album made this set redundant, but if your wallet doesn't stretch that far, this will easily suffice.

who wrote its a Mod Mod World

To hear
the Squ!re
click here...
The Squ!re In June 1978 Anthony Meynell was a songwriter/guitarist with a fistful of sharp '60s inspired pop songs but no band to perform them with. SQUIRE were already an establihed local group performing mainly covers and consisting of Enzo Esposito (bass/vocals), Steve Baker (guitar), and Ross Di'Landa (drums). Meynell talked Esposito into letting him join the band and thus squeezed into Squire line up on lead guitar just in time for their prestigious support at the Guildford Civic Hall to those other local boys, The JAM.

The gig at the Guildford Civic provided the group with their first press coverage: a live review in 'SOUNDS' which described their style as "Bantam-weight punk". In mid-1978 no one had thought of calling it mod. As 1978 progressed Meynell engineered the band into their new musical direction and it was as early as this that he penned many of the Squire songs that were to become favourites the following year. But meynell did more than just provide the musical inspiration for the group, he also brought along the image. They were already beginning to be seen in the sta-Press trousers and boating blazers that were to become the Squire trademark.

Early in 1979 Squire signed a one-off deal with ROK Records, which resulted in the group having track released on one side of the label's first single. The single was "Get Ready To Go", ironically a pre-Squire composition but importantly the first ever vinyl release from the 1979 British mod scene. It was an enthusiastic and speedy number with lyrics that amounted to little more than a constant repetition of the title, but the message was clear: Squire were ready to go! And it was this unusual single that helped them on their way. It gained them their first radio airplay (on the John Peel show) and their first London gig. On the strenght of the ROK single, Squire gained further London gigs before their next big break came with the recording of the now legendary "Mods Mayday" album. But their place on the record was secured by little more than luck. Hearing that a concert at The Bridgehouse was to be recorded for a live album. Squire turned up on the off-chance of being able to play.

The Little Roosters didn't arrive and Squire were slotted on to the bill. They performed a 25-minute set from which "Walking Down The kings Road", "Live Without Herlove" and "B-A-B-Y Baby love" were chosen as the group's contribution to the LP. The "Mods Mayday" album stirred up quite a bit of interest in Squire, most notably from Ian Page of Secret Affair who was soon to sign the group to the I-Spy label. In the meantime, however, Squire were in the process of recording "B-A-B-Y Baby Love" for Soho Records. The signing to I-Spy prevented the eventual release of this but the recording did highlight a signifiant deficiency in the Squire line up. If the group were to go any further they needed a new drummer. Out went Di'Landa and in came Meynell's younger brother Kevin. Steve Baker then quit, angry at what seemed to him to be take over within the band. Squire were left as a three piece.Records companies were slowly beginning to realise that mod music might be a marketable product. All had watched with interest as The Merton parkas entered the top 40 in august 1979 and by September everybody wanted a piece of the action. Secret Affair, The Purple Hearts, The Chords, and Back To Zero all release their debut singles, while Squire too hoped to make a sizeable dent in the charts with their own mod classic "Walking Down The Kings Road". Combining a crisply simplistic finger snapping pop tune and delightfully extravagant over-produced finale, 'Kings Road' had all the ingredients for sucess, but despite extensive radio airplay, it scraped into the top 75 and surprisingly climbed no higher.

Their third single was again released on I-Spy, coupling perfectly "The Face Of Youth Today" and "I Know A girl". This saw Squire at their most Beatlesque: simple but infectious melodies and inviting vocals were bound together by the perfectly sparing Page/Cairns production. Perhaps neither of the tracks possessed theobvious chart potential of "Kings Road" but the result was a single that earnestly implored you to believe that it was taken from the soundtrack of "A Hard Days Night". Just after the release of "The Face Of Youth Today", I-Spy's parent company Arista was taken-over by Ariola and the entire I-Spy set-up looked increasingly insecure. Taking the advice of Secret Affair's Dave Cairns, Squire left I-Spy in order to find a deal elsewhere. Thus they entedred 1980 with an unpromoted single, no record deal, and considerable problems with their management.

In March 1980 Squire signed a deal with the independant Stage one label and released "My Mind Goes Round In Circles", a gusty piece of mod-pop. On the flip was "Does Stephanie Know?" - with its staccato rhythm guitar, rolling drum sound and perfect harmonies (provided by Kristy McColl), it proved to be the perfect complement to the A-side. For a while it seemed as if Squire had split-up. Enzo had left the band (not tobe replaced until Jon Bicknell joined much later) and Meynell was trying to sort the legal tangles which had resulted from bad management. It was during this time that he decided to set up Hi-Lo Records to achieve a greater control over Squire's output. The first release came in 1981 with a compilation of old Squire demos, marketed for various legal reasons under the name of Anthony Meynell. The album, entitled "Hits from 3,000 Years ago", disposed of all the old Squire material leaving the path clear for future releases.

After what had been some 18 months of little real activity Squire finally re-emerged in February 1982 with the psychedelic-soundong "No Time Tomorrow". Possibly one the best Squire recordings, it captured them playing in a style that they had bever previously attempted. Meynell claims that "No Time Tomorrow" was typical of most of his songs at that time but no others were to surface. The next single combined two of Anthony Meynell's favourite compositions. The a-side was "Girl On a Train", a typical Squire song, heavily, reliant on close harmonies and a strong pop tune. It quickly became Squire's best known track in the US. On the B-side was a number called "Every Trick(In The book Of Love)" which has been released in several versions - and it is the "Get Smart" album version that appears here. The next project was due to be the recording of the first proper Squire album, "Get smart", but this was delayed by the urgent requests that Meynell visit America. Both "Hits From 3,000 Years Ago" and "The Squire Fan Club Album" had sold well in the USA, where Squire were being recognized as a versatile pop outfit. While in Britain the music press and radio stations were still defiantly anti-Squire, Meynell returned from a short trip to California having played four shows to capacity crowds. The future for Squire, it seemed, could quite possibly lie abroad.

After many delays and much planning, the long awaited "Get Smart" was finally released in August 1983. Recorded in London and Los angeles, it was an album for the '80s from a new Squire. "Get smart" was the product of Squire - the pop band, and was thus lavishly packaged and superbly produced. Above all it was an album that should have been acknowledged, but it ran straight into a critical brick wall. "Jesamine", the single from the album suffered the same fate. What "Get Smart" did archieve, however, was to pick up many new fans for the group - connaisseurs of good pop music who were not particulary aware of the band's mod heritage. In May 1984 Squire released "September Gurls", a jangly grown up mini-album of cover versions and originals compositions. The title track, an Alex Chilton composition, again brought plaudits from new quarters, helping them to selling increasing quantities abroad, but still the band were ignored in their own country. At about the same time the Squire fan club released a single entitled "The young Idea". Compared to the subtlety of "September Gurls", it was an out-and-out mod record aimed at the Squire hardcore who had claimed that the band could no longer play music with guts. Squire proved they could but sales were disappointing. "With "The young idea" I found myself taking a step backwards to satisfy what turned to out be a minority", remembers

Meynell. "We'd had sucess in Europe, we were picking up new fans all the time, but I began to realise I couldn't satisfy myself and them while shackled to the name of Squire. It was time for a great leap forward. To play new material with all the passion and enthusiasm that a new band brings, that excited me." Meynell cancelled the recording of "Smash" (the next Squire album) realising that he would be wasting time putting out another album to be critically ignored. It was time to leave Squire behind. There were no more Squire releases, but the memory lives on. Unlike other groups whose failed attempts at chart fame have long since faded from memory, Squire are a group whose name and reputation will live on.

Though they never received the recognition they deserved, Squire was one of the earliest and finest mod-revival bands of the late 70s. Squire were able to transcend the limits of the genre with their high quality pop which drew equal parts from punk spirit and the 60s. Named because they rehearsed above a shop called Squires, this lot went to school with Paul Weller in Woking, Surrey and formed in Guildford not long after The Jam as a covers band consisting of Enzo Esposito (vocals/bass), Steve Baker (guitar) and Ross Di'Landa (drums).

In June 1978, songwriter/guitarist Anthony Meynell joined just prior to a high profile gig opening for The Jam. The addition of Meynell changed the band's focus to producing original material, and by 1979, they had released their first single for ROK Records, Get Ready to Go. While the single gained them some airplay, their biggest break came with the newly termed mod-revival movement and their appearance on the legendary Mods Mayday '79 album which featured two new songs by the band. Ian Page of
Secret Affair (one of Squire's mod peers) had just started his own I-Spy label and signed the band on the merits of their appearance on Mods Mayday '79. The signing led to some personnel changes. First, Di'Landa was replaced by Kevin Meynell, then Baker quit without replacement.

In 1979, Squire released two wonderful singles for I-Spy: Walking Down the Kings Road and The Face of Youth Today. Out of the two singles, only Walking Down the Kings Road charted (and had the sensational B-Side It's A Mod Mod world!). In 1980, Squire switched record labels, signing with another independent, Stage One Records. The band's first release on Stage One was My Mind Goes Round in Circles which, like its predecessors, barely made an impact on the charts. Frustrated by a lack of success, the band essentially dissolved when the last original member, Esposito, left. Anthony Meynell decided to give it another try when he started his own label, Hi-lo in 1981. The first release was Hits from 3000 Years Ago, a collection of demos and leftovers from the original Squire line-up.

England ignored it but American (and Australian) power-pop fans stumbled on to it and as word spread, it sold respectably, and deservedly so, the music here is pure pop, hook-filled, melodic and instantly endearing. Meynell reactivated the band, adding Jon Bicknell on bass, and releasing a new single, No Time for Tomorrow, in 1982. Their first proper album, Get Smart, was finally released late in 1983. They never made the breakthrough into the mainstream, but the album and its follow-up EP, September Gurls, (the title track was a cover of the Big Star classic) in 1984 became cult classics in American and Australian power-pop circles. Squire began preparation for their next album, Smash, but decided to call it quits before its completion.
Best Buy?!
Big Smashes
(Tangerine rec. Tang CD5)
Somewhere between the delicate power pop of Shoes and the classy British pop of mid-period Jam sits the wonderful world of Squire. No, not Billy "The Stroke" Squier. This is Squire, the groovy mod trio fronted by Anthony Meynell, one of pop music's unsung heroes. Spanning the years 1980-1984, this exceptional compilation concentrates on the latter half of the band's career, and contains almost their entire Get Smart album. By this point in the band's career, Meynell had tired of the musical restrictions that the mod scene had thrust upon him. Adding more overdubs in the studio (including a horn section), Meynell created some of the brightest, most exhilarating, guitar-based pop music of the early '80s. Sidestepping such influences as the Who and the Kinks, and embracing Lennon's edge from the Beatles ("No Time Tomorrow"), and the bright, sunny vibe from the Monkees ("Standing In The Rain"), Squire did not create disposable pop, they created timeless pop. Many of these tracks could have been released in the mid-'60s or even in the early '90s at the height of Brit-pop. "Every Trick In The Book Of Love," "You're the One," "My Mind Goes Round In Circles," "Girl On A Train," "Stop That Girl," and "Take A Look" are nothing less than perfect pop songs. When Meynell puts down his pen and records a cover version (including Shoes' "Boys Don't Lie" and Big Star's "September Gurls"), the results are nothing less than Squire-like. Sadly, the only low point on this disc is the A-side of their fan club-only final single, "The Young Idea," which, strangely enough, was probably considered a high point when first released! Mod and power pop fans should keep their eyes peeled for this gem of a CD. It's worth the hype! ~ Stephen SPAZ Schnee, All Music Guide
Get Ready to Go!
(Tangerine rec. Tang CD7)
A nice companion to the Big Smashes collection, Get Ready focuses on the early work of the original lineup from their mod days. This release supplants Hits from 3000 Years Ago by picking the highlights (most of the album) and combining their first single, the brilliant "Get Ready Go," with B-sides, previously unreleased material, a track from the Odd Bods, Mods and Sods compilation, and a track from a fan club release. ~ Chris Woodstra, All Music Guide

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Noise a Noise - much too much too soon

To hear
Noise a Noise
Click here!!!

Short-lived powerpop trio, noise a noise of Los Angeles formed in May, 2004. The group, which included singer/guitarist Alex Shahverdiloo, bassist Bruno Pittelli and percussionist Jason Jeffrey, recorded their debut EP, "Looking Ahead" three months after forming. In the following month after recording, their track "Nicotine" aired on Los Angeles radio station, Indie 103FM. 2005 also began optimisticly for noise a noise, with plans made to schedule several shows in and around Los Angeles, book a west coast tour of the US and release another EP by spring time. With several hiatuses tainting their progress, they were never able to gain any momentum.

Although highly praised by various music-zines in Europe by evidence of their EP, with one even quoting that they'd be picked up right away were they from the UK, the reality on the other side of the Atlantic was that they were barely known by the city they hailed from. None of the plans for the new year ever came to fruition and the band called it quits in May, 2005. During the one year period they were together, noise a noise played a total of only four shows: Transistor 11.04.2004, The Derby 11.12.2004, Lava Lounge 04.08.2005 & The Derby again on 04.12.2005.


Lookin' ahead EP (2004)







the Killermeters - Metric Noise

To hear
click here!!!
The Killermeters began as a punk band in 1977 when, like thousands of others across the country they swapped their clothes, modified their Rock/R'n'B sound and took a lot of speed. They were the best and most energetic band in the industrial Yorkshire town of Huddersfield and played all the club and pub venues in the North. Influenced by Dr Feelgood, The Killer Meters' (as they were know at that satge) main attraction was bass player Vic Szczesniwicz (his punk monitor was Vic Vomit). Their lead/fhythm guitar was Mick Moore who worshipped Keith Richards. Another Rolling Stones obsessive was Killer Meters vocalist Owen Ford and their line-up was completed by young Graham 'Jez' Jessop on drums. They where a good live act, their sound was a little too derivative to make it as a punk band, although Vic and Mick clearly had talent and one or two of their songs shone above the standart punk trash.

Fed up with the limitations of genre, the band broke up in early 1978, only to reform at Vic's suggestion as The Killermeters' in October of the same year. Another suggestion of Vic's was to adopt a 'Mod' style and their first new song 'Back In The Business' would indicate this new direction. With Vic (now know as Vic Vespa) on vocals, Jez on drums and Mick on lead guitar, this new line-up expanded to incude two more musicians, the brothers Sid & Tony Ruttle. The Killermeters were now a much more exciting propect. They looked right, sounded right, and their songwriting had taken on a more melodic sixties influence. Vic had come a long way, and the best of his songs were rooted in the stormy relationship between him and his girlfriend.

They soon developped into a very tight outfit, lacing their set with a few choice covers like Edwin Starr's 'SOS' and The Who's 'A Legal Matter'. With up to a dozen gigs a month, they built up a large following as the first 79' Mod band in the north. Fans included numerous Scooter Clubs which undoubtely influenced the Killermeters anthem 'SX 225'. The band's debut 45 was 'Why Should It Happen To Me' c/w 'Cardiac Arrest' on their own Psycho label. With just 1000 copies pressed, it generated wider interest in the, until then, London based Mod scene (north/south mod rivalry was encountered at a joint gig with Secret Affair in May 1979. A successful support slot on a tour of Scotland and the north by The Undertones was quickly followed by a large feature in 'Sounds' in October '79. Sounds scribe Gary Bushell enthused about their "strong, well structured perfect pop" and went on to describe their live act as "A lovely fresh pop sound...a creamy twelve song recipe that puts them well up in Mod's Division One". With mounting record company interest and an impending 'Observer' magazine cover, in November '79 the band played an exhibition gig at London's 'Moonlight Club'. Sadly, their ill-timed consumption of pre-gig alcohol took it's toll on their performance, resulting in a rapid loss of interest by the major record companies. Eventually the band signed to GEM Records, who despite their initial enthusiasm, never really understood the mod scene or the band's important place in it.

With a new drummer, Gary Westwell, and a new single "Twisted Wheel" (which was written about the 60's Manchester mod club), the band should have broken through. Howerver, the single was poorly produced by Cliff richard producers and failed to chart. The Killermeters hastily undertook a promotional tour with Eddie & The Hot Rods, but it turned out to be an expensive mistake. Although they were well received, it was completely the wrong audience for them. In the true tradition of their sixties counterparts, the band began to experiment, learning in a psychedelic direction and adding 12 string guitar to enhance their sound. In 1981, Vic, Mick and Horace (later replaced by Steve Dutton) along with local guitar wizard Mick Massey evolved The Killermeters into 'Soldiers Are Dreamers' taking their name from the Sassoon poem. Strongly influenced byt the film 'Apocalypse Now' the band developed a great new live act and produced what was described by Dave McCullough in 'Sounds' as "very fine-edged pop music". Unfortunately the band were dogged by bad debts from their Killermeters days and never really took off. With their highly collectable and well respected two 45's, and their album "Metric Noise" (Detour Rds) The Killermeters will always have a place in the mass of pop music!
Stephen Dorill

Best Buy!?
Metric Noise
(Detour rec. DRLP/CD013)
Back in 1979 when the original Mod revival took the Country by such storm there were a handful of Mod bands that stood out proud above the others. The Chords, Secret Affair, The Purple Hearts and Squire to name just a few. Hot on their heels were the Killermeters, not quite so well known but well accepted by the music press of the day. Full pages were written in Sounds and the NME and a minor hit was nicely tucked under their belts courtesy of RCA. Becoming the pride of the North the Killermeters stuck around for a number of years until they split in the early 80s. Like so many others the Killermeters started life as a punk band the "Killer Meters" as they were then, split in 1978, reforming in the October as the mod band The Killermeters, kicking back into life with a new song that said it all; "Back In Business". During their time they were warned by John Peel that the Mod image would lead them down a blind alley but they were also raved about in Sounds by Gary Bushell, supported Secret Affair and the Undertones and finally went on tour with Eddie and the Hot Rods. Unfortunately the tour was to leave them badly in the red and as a result the Killermeters finally came to an end, coming back to life as Soldiers are Dreamers in 1981, taking their name from the Sassoon poem. This double album takes the listener through the legend that was the Killermeters. With tracks taken from various sources this is the definitive Killermeters recordings including demo versions of their better known tracks "Twisted Wheel" and "SX225". Finishing with six of the best tracks from the Psychedelic period of the Soldiers Are Dreamers this album could be described as the This is your life LP.
Are you ready
(detour rec. DR065)
Are You Ready ....? For the new Killermeters Single - brand new recordings and the first time they’ve stepped foot in a studio as a band in almost 20 years!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

modfather of the revivals

to hear
the JAM
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Paul Weller formed The Jam with drummer Rick Buckler, bassist Bruce Foxton, and guitarist Steve Brookes while they were still in school in 1975; Brookes quickly left the band and they remained a trio for the rest of their career. For the next year, the band played gigs around London, building a local following. In February 1977, the group signed a record contract with Polydor records; two months later, they released their debut single, "In the City," which reached the U.K. Top 40. The following month, the group released their debut album, also called In the City. Recorded in just 11 days, the album featured a combinations of R&B covers and Weller originals, all of which sounded a bit like faster, more ragged versions of the Who's early records. Their second single, "All Around the World," nearly broke into the British Top Ten and the group embarked on a successful British tour. During the summer of 1977, they recorded their second album, This Is the Modern World, which was released toward the end of the year. "The Modern World" made it into the Top 40 in November, just as the Jam were beginning their first American tour. Although it was brief, the tour was not successful, leaving bitter memories of the U.S. in the minds of the band.

This Is the Modern World peaked in the British charts at number 22, yet it received criticism for repeating the sound of the debut. The band began a headlining tour of the U.K., yet it was derailed shortly after it started when the group got into a nasty fight with a bunch of rugby players in a Leeds hotel. Weller broke several bones and was charged with assault, although the Leeds Crown Court would eventually acquit him. The Jam departed for another American tour in March of 1978 and it was yet another unsuccessful tour, as they opened for Blue yster Cult. It did nothing to win new American fans, yet their star continued to rise in Britain. Bands copying the group's mod look and sound popped up across Britain and the Jam itself performed at the Reading Festival in August. All Mod Cons, released late in 1979, marked a turning point in the Jam's career, illustrating that Weller's songwriting was becoming more melodic, complex, and lyrically incisive, resembling Ray Davies more than Pete Townshend. Even as their sound became more pop-oriented, the group lost none of their tightly controlled energy. All Mod Cons was a major success, peaking at number six on the U.K. charts, even if it didn't make a dent in the U.S. Every one of the band's singles were now charting in the Top 20, with the driving "Eton Rifles" becoming their first Top Ten in November 1979, charting at number three.

Setting Sons, released at the end of 1979, climbed to number four in the U.K. and marked their first charting album in the U.S., hitting number 137 in spring of 1980. At that time, the Jam had become full-fledged rock stars in Britain, with their new "Going Underground" single entering the charts at number one. During the summer, the band recorded their fifth album, with the "Taxman"-inspired "Start" released as a teaser single in August; "Start" became their second straight number one. Its accompanying album, the ambitious Sound Affects, hit number two in the U.K. at the end of the year; it was also the band's high-water mark in the U.S., peaking at number 72. "That's Entertainment," one of the standout tracks from Sound Affects, charted at number 21 in the U.K. charts as an import single, confirming the band's enormous popularity.

"Funeral Pyre," the band's summer 1981 single, showed signs that Weller was becoming fascinated with American soul and R&B, as did the punchy, horn-driven "Absolute Beginners," which hit number four in the fall of the year. As the Jam were recording their sixth album, Weller suffered a nervous breakdown, which prompted him to stop drinking. In February 1982, the first single from the new sessions -- the double-A-sided "Town Called Malice"/"Precious" -- became their third number one single and the band became the first group since the Beatles to play two songs on BBC's Top of the Pops. The Gift, released in March of 1982, showcased the band's soul infatuation and became the group's first number one album in the U.K. "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero" hit number eight in July, becoming the group's second import single to make the U.K. charts.

Although The Jam was at the height of its popularity, Paul Weller was becoming frustrated with the trio's sound and made the decision to disband the group. On the heels of the number two hit "The Bitterest Pill," the Jam announced their breakup in October of 1982. The band played a farewell tour in the fall and their final single, "Beat Surrender," entered the charts at number one. Dig the New Breed, a compilation of live tracks, charted at number two in December of 1982. All 16 of the group's singles were re-released by Polydor in the U.K. at the beginning of 1983; all of them re-charted simultaneously. Bruce Foxton released a solo album, Touch Sensitive, and Rick Buckler played with the Time U.K.; neither of the efforts were as noteworthy as the Jam biography the two wrote in the early '90s, which contained many vicious attacks on Paul Weller. Immediately after the breakup of the Jam, Weller formed the Style Council with Mick Talbot, a member of the Merton Parkas.
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Best Buy!?
Compact Snap
(Polydor pcd8217122)
Snap! collects all of the Jam's singles, from "In the City" to "Beat Surrender," including several B-sides ("'A' Bomb in Wardour Street," "Dreams of Children") and a handful of rarities, like a demo of "That's Entertainment" and the rock version of "Smithers-Jones." For its compact disc release, several songs were trimmed, but Snap! remains a brilliant summation of why the Jam were one of the most important and beloved British bands of their era. The latter-day collection Greatest Hits covers much the same ground as Snap!, but the earlier compilation remains preferable because of sequencing and its inclusion of essential items like "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street" and "Dreams of Children." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
the list could be much longer but since they are so big i dont think its necesary...