It‘s always a special pleasure to flip through that box of singles. This diminutive format in black vinyl made it possible for a musician‘s own productions to be released in the smallest of runs. Very often for lack of funds they only came out as 7“s, in contrast to the big labels. Long since unavailable or, if to be had at all, then sadly only at hefty collectors‘ prices.
Sometimes the B-side is an eye-opener: the A-side a let-down. And of course a centre puck is standard equipment for any lover of the 7”!
A pity, though, that they‘ve got to be turned over after three minutes, so if you‘re planning on an evening‘s wall-to-wall listening then it‘s best to make yourself comfortable next to the turntable with your box of singles within arm‘s reach.
7“ UP! is our song of praise to a fine little medium that only a few labels are still putting out. No promotion for vinyl, though, in these days of mp3 and the iPod...
A compilation of British rarities from 1978 to 1982, 7“ UP! offers little-known, pristine pearls of pop, punk and new wave for people who haven‘t heard everything yet. And for all of those who came into the world a bit later, of course, too.
Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
Here‘s an example of an artist with precious few releases to his name. With a sustained mood of tranquillity, musically Mark Beer has more affinity with the Young Marble Giants and their follow-up projects than with the din that otherwise pervaded the sceptred isle. On his third single ”Pretty“ he would seem to have been inspired by reggae singles, where he recorded the basic melody with the bass and put an even groovier dub version of the title piece on the B-side. On his only LP “Dust On The Road”, such flights into the more atmospheric reaches did not always quite come off but his early singles will be fondly remembered well into the future.
At the end of the ’70s the Glaxo Babies, together with Rip, Rig + Panic, The Pop Group and Pigbag, were one of the most significant bands in Bristol. As Gerard Langley from the Blue Aeroplanes recalls: ”I think the key to the whole set-up at the time is comprehending the importance of the Glaxo Babies. The Glaxo Babies‘ performance at the 1978 Ashton Court Festival has lived long in many people’s memory. The intensity! The dyed-blond hair! The guitar played with a vibrator! Subsequent journalistic takes have seen The Pop Group placed at the centre of that era but I remember it differently. For me, the Glaxos were the cornerstone of the whole Bristol scene. Both sophisticated and primitive, they were basically pre post-punk punk. The Gang Of Four didn’t come as the shock of the new round here, mate. I had read that Iggy Pop cut himself with a glass, but it was different seeing Rob Chapman do it immediately in front of you at the Stonehouse pub. They were real, man, and I loved them.“...until, that is, reality caught up with them in 1981 when the pharmaceutical company Glaxo forced them to part with their name. Which they did, and re-formed as Maximum Joy.
The Manchester-based Object label provides illuminating material for the study of the ”ten people have eight bands“ phenomenon. Tony Friel was with Nuclear Angel, then formed The Fall with Mark E. Smith, then The Passage with Dick Watts, and then was involved with Teardrop Explodes. And Duncan Prestbury‘s list follows similar lines: Steve Miro & The Eyes, Spherical Objects, Future Primitives, Warriors. The ”Future/Past“ 7“ was their one and only release.
I Jog & the Tracksuits
It‘s bands like this that lend this compilation its special appeal. Internet forums are filled with fans filing desperate calls for help, fans who at some time have heard these singles,
or even possess them, but have no idea who‘s behind them. 4.
I Jog & the Tracksuits
It‘s bands like this that lend this compilation its special appeal. I Jog & The Tracksuits were
I Jog:guitar vocals
Barry Tracksuit: drums
Dave Tracksuit: bass
Piers Heavy Manners production
they also recorded a 2nd single Bedroom Tune / Optimists Song.
After that I Jog became Graham Tracksuit and went off with Piers and Piers mate to record as The Tracksuits for 1 single.
Later Graham Tracksuit and Barry played as The Optimists, they never recorded.
I Jog & The Tracksuits reformed for 1 gig Autumn 2005 with Alan Bass on bass and Clive Product helping out on vocals. Clive lives in Berlin and sometimes he records for 9AM.
Dave (now David) Tracksuit and Barry still play together with Alan Bass and a few others. They also put a single out on Tyger as The Statistics called Dumb / Home Movies. Barry recorded a solo track for Tyger 'Tell me why the Tape Wobbles' which was sampled by DJ Shadow and appears on his 2nd album! Bizarre.
Gerry & the Holograms
As with I Jog & The Tracksuits, there‘s another 7“ besides this one, but as it‘s glued into the cover, it cannot be played. Who knows more than our London source? „I’m pretty sure I have one or two singles by them, 1980, probably from Sheffield 79-80 ... not at home so I can’t check! I think the chorus on the single goes ‚we’re gerry and the holograms’ in an electronic vocodered voice.“ Heard once and by dint of the splendid refrain stored for eternity.
Restlessness is another character trait that marks out many a musician, and Martin Atkins must surely be restlessness personified – and this to the present day.
Mynd was the band he started off with, before being snatched away first by John Lydon (ex-Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) for the latter‘s Public Image Ltd. Then disagreements arose and soon afterwards Atkins left the band, formed Brian Brain with Pete Jones and in 1980 they rapidly released their first singles and an LP. In 1982 they both joined Public Image (PIL) again, which would mark the beginning of the end of this mutual project. While Jones stayed with Lydon, Atkins was wooed away by Killing Joke in 1988. After stopping off for a while with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, he got together with such illustrious comrades-in-arms as Steve Albini and Trent Reznor to found the industrial supergroup Pigface in 1991. At the same time he worked on the side with Skinny Puppy‘s Nivek Ogre on the Rx project. And this is but a brief sample of Atkins‘ projects. Today he teaches The Business of Touring at Chicago‘s Columbia College, as well as having several other projects on the go in addition to Pigface.
They Must Be Russians
„They Must Be Russians“ was the headline in Britain‘s yellow press in reaction to the Sex Pistols‘ single ”God Save The Queen“. This quote was of course handing it on a plate to all the bands on the look-out for a suitable name. One of at least two They Must Be Russians came from Sheffield: this band‘s leading figures called themselves Russ Russian and Paul Russian and were quite well known at the time. Cabaret Voltaire helped to produce the first EP ”Nellie The Elephant“, which was then followed by ”Don‘t Try To Cure Yourself“ – if it‘s a dose of VD you‘ve got, that is.
There can be no talk of The Moondogs without mention of The Undertones at the same time. Both bands come from Northern Ireland, both share a predilection for the mod groups of the ’60s, and, highly regarded by John Peel, both were repeatedly invited to sessions. The Moondogs again and again came very close to the group they modelled themselves upon: they had their first gig just five months after being formed as a warm-up group for The Undertones. The Kinks‘ Ray Davies was so taken with The Moondogs that he offered to produce ”Imposter“. In the end they followed in the footsteps of The Monkees and were given their own TV show entitled ”Moondogs Matinee“. The title track ”Powerpop“ made it clear what musical pigeon-hole they felt at home in. After recordings made with Todd Rundgren, however, the band then disintegrated.
The fact that Thomas Leer recorded his début single ”Private Plane“ with the most basic of equipment in his bedroom at home was destined not just to impress The The‘s Matt Johnson and inspire him to form a band of his own. Today we also know that this song from 1978, together with The Normal‘s ”Leatherette“ and Robert Rental‘s ”Double Heart“, constituted the first releases of the synthpop wave that would not reach its peak until some years later. And should you be wondering why his voice on this recording sounds so
whispered... Quite simple: when he recorded the vocals, his girlfriend was asleep in bed near him and he didn‘t want to wake her up.
Just how Cult Figures came into existence is another nice example of that laid-back, Do-It-Yourself approach at that time. Gary Jones and Jonny Hodgson got to know each other at an art course that Epic Soundtracks and Richard Earl of Swell Maps were also attending. Jonny was already playing with the Scent Organs, and both bands had already scored some considerable successes. Encouraged by the mood of ”everybody‘s got a band and is having fun“, Gary, without further do and together with Tim Wilday, another friend from the art course, formed a band himself: the Cult Figures. The small fact that neither could play an instrument was not to be an obstacle. Jonny begged The Jam‘s drummer Rick Buckler to give him some drumsticks while Gary, having paid a neighbour £20 for a guitar and an amplifier, learnt how to cobble a song together in next to no time with a minimum of barré fingerings. Taken with their first results, the Swell Maps offered to play as backing group at recording sessions as well as to release a 7” on the newly formed Rather label.
Are there days when Bid perhaps wonders what might have become of him if he had followed Lester, Andy and Adam, his former fellow musicians with The B-Sides, and started Adam & The Ants? We at least can breathe a sigh of relief: he didn‘t. Lester Square and Andy Warren soon came to their senses, left and joined up with Bid to form Monochrome Set. And it can be of little importance to us today that they never experienced the classic fate of those beloved of the critics. Their excursions to major labels were short-lived, their glamour after all being a touch too subtle for that snow-sprinkled society. What we have left are a handful of high-quality records and the band The Scarlet‘s Well, the new form of expression for Bid‘s richly ornamented escapism. And what would have become of him if, faithful to his aristocratic Indian descent, he had opted for a life at court? And that‘s not an uninteresting question, either...
After frustration caused him to give up on his art studies, Henry Badowski was persuaded by friend James Stevenson to join Chelsea, surely one of the very first punk bands. ”It wasn‘t exactly my sort of music,“ he would later say – a fact evidenced by his subsequent career. Although he had a decisive influence on punk in that he played in many of the very earliest bands – such as Chelsea, Wreckless Eric, Alternative TV, Captain Sensible and The Damned – he was never able to endure it for long. Until he finally brought out his first single. And the title track ”Making Love With My Wife“ finds him recording all the instruments himself, too. ”Life Is A Grand...“ is another outstanding record that he produced just like that, yet it was not sufficiently commercial for the record company‘s liking.
The Young Marble Giants were unquestionably one of the most influential and memorable bands of the period. After just one LP and two singles they subdivided into two equally impressive groups: guitarist Stuart Moxham set up The Gist, while singer Alison Statton founded Weekend along with fellow musicians who had experience in jazz. Indie had hardly been invented before Weekend began jettisoning the dogmatism that came with it. The insubstantial ease that had already characterized YMG is further underscored with a waft of bossa nova. Regrettably, aside from a handful of singles and EPs, they only released one LP. It just remains a mystery why they are not accorded recognition today.
cdhw103 | cd
01. Mark Beer - The man man man
02. Glaxo Babies – This is your life
03. Contact – Constant beat
04. I Jog & The Tracksuits – Redbox
05. Gerry and the Holograms - Gerry and the Holograms
06. Brian Brain – Jive, jive
07. They must be Russians – Don´t try to cure yourself
08. Moondogs – Imposter
09. Thomas Leer – Private plane
10. Cult Figures – Zip Nolan
11. Monochrome Set – Eine Symphonie des Grauens
12. Henry Badowski – Making love with my wife
13. Weekend – Drumbeat for baby