This page is about what influenced me growing up between 1977 until 1989, the music that I came in contact with. not only the music but the literature, the TV programmes,the groups, styles of dressing, anything that was not “local” to what was around me.
The first ever band I saw was “Mud” at the The Cosmo’ Ball room at Harraby, Carlisle. I must have been quite young, about 11 or 12? I went with my mother and got a wave from the lead singer. I was also a fan of Gary Glitter, The Bay City Rollers, The Carpenters, ABBA, The Osmonds, Boney M, Music from “Greece“, The New Seekers, David Soul (I was a big “Starsky and Hutch” fan)… you get the idea!
Then you change…I dont know how or why, but change happens.
Later on (1979) I was also listening to Squeeze “Cool for Cats”, and Dr. Feelgood’s “Milk and Alchohol“, and Banana Splits by The Dickies, I was amazed how they could play so fast! Also the song had a reference to my childhood favourite TV series “The Banana Splits, which I used to watch religiously on a Saturday mornings.
I saw the Boomtown Rats at Carlisle’s Market Hall on October 18th, 1978, this was my first Punk gig ever and as I was heavily into The Boomtown Rats at the time it was a memorial event. There is a mention of the Carlisle concert here Tour Dates and I had seen them previously on TV playing Rat Trap and Like Clockwork and on TOTP She’s So Modern. I had heard them on the Radio 1 programme, and seen them on TV on the “Rock Goes to College” concert as well as others…I could go on. When I went to the Carlisle gig it was my first step into another world. My aunty drove me there and the area around was a mass of people wearing strange and wonderful clothes, not much leather around, but sprayed shirts and ripped clothing (I had on a Parker jacket). I went with my cousin as I was too “young” to go by myself but he left before they came on, he only stayed for the support band (a reggae band). We all were seated on chairs inside, but we all stood on them to get a better view. Brilliant gig. I was loosing interest by the time “I Don’t Like Mondays” came out (1979), a song about Brenda Spencer shooting up a school in the USA. Although I did go and see Pink Floyd’s “The Wall“, which had Geldoff in it on the 6/11/82 at the Lonsdale Cinema.
Then it all changed again, when I started listening to The Sex Pistols. I was introduced to them via Keith Robertson while at school in 1977/8. He lent me a cassette of them “Never Mind the Bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols“. I copied it, as I was recording everything on my cassette player from the radio.
I listened to it all the time, I must have been obsessed by it as I remember not talking for a long time except if it concerned The Sex Pistols. I remember Keith turning away from me, as I only used to talk to him about the Pistols, he must have been bored. John Peel used to play the countdown to his “Christmas Top 40” and I heard the number 1 of 1977, I did not know the track then but I thought it was a brilliant song, a little later I must have got the cassette as I realized it was “Anarchy in the UK“, even today it gives me a shiver down my spine, I also remember when years later John Peel played his Christmas Top 40 and the Pistols were no longer at No. 1 after being there for years, he said “an end of an era”. The Pistols inspired me so much, I wrote “Pravda” after listening to it and a lot of my other songs. Another inspiration was reading the black and white version of the “Sex Pistols File” with lots of articles and photos that gave me a lot of background info about their music and the band.While listening to songs like “Bodies” I would have to turn the volume down because of the swearing! I remember my dad telling me to “shut up” as I was repeating “Problems” over and over again with my headphones on… I must of sounded very strange.
I had gone to see “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle” at the Londsdale Cinema, I was not impressed too much with the film, except for the punks (Telf and Dougie) in the audience who shouted things all the way through it. I saw the interview with Sid Vicious on “Nationwide“, and I also saw them (I think) on a TV show my dad was watching with my mother when we lived in Carlisle. I was too young to know anything, I walk into the front room and there was a punk band. The music was “horrible” loud and out of tune, but at the end of the studio performance the singer stabbed himself and people rushed onto the set to help him. I guess it was all stage managed? My dad said “they are singing against the queen, is n’t that terrible?” I remember saying yes! This TV programme could of been the Pistols from Manchester.
I never went to any of the reunion gigs, I do not regret it too much, but to see them now I am not sure why I would go?
I bought the LP “Sid Sings” with live recordings done in the USA, a bit disapointing but you did not get to hear them live much in them days. I also bought “Some Product – Come on Sex Pistols” a mish-mash of spoken word recordings, interviews and dialogues from the Pistols.
On the 18/11/83 went to see P.I.L. at Leeds University/Poly with David Candlin, a great show and at the end when I heard “Anarchy in the Uk” the whole place erupted. This is their single “Death Disco” and the B side “And No Birds Do Sing” I heard that the single was because of his mother dying (?).
The Clash were a big influence on me, I listened to them religiously for years. The first LP “The Clash” I listened to it everyday for over 1 year as I came home from school. They were enormously important to my education in politics, social issues, how my guitar should should, how I looked in the street, how I wanted to be, how I wanted to be on stage. Joe Strummer was a father figure…more than my own. I learned to play different chords because of The Clash’s 1st and 2nd song books, and the Clash’s Anthology chord book.
Before these books I believed in the 3 chord wonder…the bar chord. I bought the first song book on the 7.10.82. The Clash’s song books taught me that there were more to playing music than the bar chord…it had minor chords and 7th, 9ths… probably they never used them on stage on the 1st LP or the 2nd LP, but I did not know that at the time. If it was in the song book….if they did it I would learn it, and I learned all the songs in the 2 books. I also ordered a fanzine/story of “The Clash”, by Miles, it had some interesting photos and a not to detailed account of the band in the early days. I bought a rhythm “Dance Band” chord book and started to learn chord inversions. There is a 3rd Clash song/chord book “The Clash Anthology” I bought on the 18/3/83, a compilation of songs mainly from the “Sandinista” LP
The Clash’s “White Riot“
The Clash’s fanzine “Armageddon Times” I got from the official fan club, here are the first few pages to the 1st edition, the first 4 pages :
I bought the Clash’s “Cost of Living EP” on the 12/6/82 and that evening I saw the perform “I Fought the Law” on TV from the EP, which was a Bobby Fuller Four single, which I had bought from the Pink Panther Record Shop.
I bought the Book “Before and After” was black and white photos of the Clash on tour. Then there were articles in the various music press and magazines such as “History of Rock”
The film “Rude Boy” was my first real glimpse into how they looked, talked, acted besides the magazine photos and LP covers, I started to increase my chords on the piano because of that film. I saw them finally in Edinburgh in 1984 at Edinburgh Playhouse, on March 3rd. I went up there with Johnny and Kate, I got talking to some Scottish lads and they had stolen the drink from the Clash’s van, we drank it. I remember drinking cognac and other spirits and remembering how well they lived! I was smashed and it was Kate saying “act sober or you will not get passed the bouncers on the door”. I did get in we got a mention in NME. I was dancing while on the balcony seats and Johnny had to pull me back or I would have been over the top…I had lost it. I was disappointed though in Strummer, as he just stood still with his microphone over his shoulder, he did not move. Paul Simonon played bass with his fingers.
The 101ers, was an off-shoot from The Clash. They were an RnB band and they preceded The Clash. Joe Strummer (singer) disbanded The 101ers to join/form The Clash. So, The 101ers were definitely a band to look into being a Clash fan. I found their LP “Elgin Avenue Breakdown” when I was visiting Birmingham. I was probably the only person to have it in those days in Carlisle and I played it religiously. It is an amazing LP as it combines the energy of punk with clean guitars. In fact, the sound of the guitar, especially Strummer’s guitar was mimicked in my own style. Often, I was ridiculed for “playing the banjo” in Havana Affair, and “put more fuzz on it” but in my mind it was the “click, click, click” of Strummer’s Telecaster guitar I wanted to sound like. This 101ers sound was transferred onto The Clash via this “click Click” sound with Strummer’s guitar, you can hear it on the recording of “Tommy Gun” in the verse. I also played that style in Porcelain Dolls, which you can hear in the live recording of Tommy Gun. The best sound I got was playing through a Vox amp (Peter’s/Frenzy), it had a natural sound like the 101ers. The Jam used Vox amps and they have that raw/natural distortion. I got the single “Keys to you Hart” later.
My LP got covered in drink a lot, and although it was a treasured item it got abused. The LP I got was cheaply pressed (wobbly vinyl) and it jumped all the way through, especially on the “Letsagetabitofrocking“; even putting a 2p piece on the needle/arm would not keep it still, But in a way it added to the effect.
The Buzzcocks played Carlisle on the 24th March 1979, I was there in my Parker and red woollen jumper looking more like a train-spotter, I remember dancing and getting pushed by a much larger bloke than myself…that put a stop to that. I went with Keith Robertson from school. The Buzzcocks had on clean white shirts, not what I expected, as they were one of the “original bands” from 1976; but the sound was excellent. I had seen them on The Old Grey Whistle Test doing “16 Again“. The first LP I got was the single compilation “Singles Going Steady“. The first single of the Buzzcocks was “Promises” and on the B side “Lipstick”
I really liked The Members, not your run of the mill Punk band, but a mixture of musical styles with tongue-in-cheek lyrics. I bought “The Sound of the Suburbs” single and later their LP “At The Chelsea Night Club” on the 18/11/83 when I was down in Leeds seeing the P.I.L gig. Their 2nd LP “1980 – The Choice is Yours“was in the same style as the first with a mixture of clean and distorted guitar playing, with humour in their lyrics. They also did a “white Reggae” style of music which I liked, The Clash did this style too and S.L.F.
Another band that influenced me was X-Ray Specs, I bought the single “Worrier in Woolworths” when it came out, and the single “O Bondage Up Yours” was the talk of the town at one point. I bought the LP “Germ Free Adolescence“. I saw the Arena Documentary about the group, but mainly it was about Polystyrene. and I also like what Polystyrene (real name Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) did after X-Ray Specs broke up. Poly went to join a Hari-Krishna group and disappeared from the spot light, she later emerged with a solo LP called “Translucence” (1981) which I bought 18/11/83. Polystyrene died at the age of 53, too young for such a talented and interesting character, R.I.P. Poly.
Siouxsie and the Banshees LP. In the early days I really liked “Hong Kong Gardens” although I never bought the single. I went to see Siouxie and the Banshees at Newcastle on the 19/6/84. I came away furious as during the gig Siouxie made a comment to the audience like “why aren’t you dancing” as though it was our fault, but she obviously did not know that if anyone moved from their seats they got pushed back by the bouncers. Basically we were fixed to the spot. I went back stage to tell her so but gave up, a classic case of bands getting out of touch with their audience and playing in places that were made for theatre and not punk music. The LP “The Scream” was an excellent album especially the first track and I listened with interest to Helter Skelter (a Beatles cover), as I had just finished the book “Helter Skelter” which was a harrowing account of the Mason Family, a small obsession when I was younger after seeing a film of the same name.
The Damned & The Adverts had played at Maxim’s, in Barrow-In-Furness/Cumbria on Sunday 12th June 1977, but I did know know about it all then. I first heard The Damned on radio, John Peel, “The Peel Sessions”. The 1st LP I bought was “Machine Gun Etiquette” and thanks to the inside cover I learned the chords to “Smash It Up” which was a standard in the Havana Affair repertoire. I bought the 1st LP “Damned Damned Damned” through mail-order, a brilliant record. I later bought “The Black Album” and I heard the other LPs from other people. The first single I bought was “Love Song” I saw The Damned at Dingwalls, Newcastle on Tuesday 22 March 1983 (you can download the gig here). We went through in the car from Carlisle with Dung, Grebo and a few others. It was a great atmosphere, and I remember feeling inside the gig how did not want it “all to change”. The place was small, a small stage area but the atmosphere was electric. The Damned were another of the early punk bands I had wanted to see, although I had seen them at Leeds the previous year at “Christmas on Earth” they were too far away to get any real sense of them. The Dingwall gig was close and personal. There is a blog with this quote I include it in full with references to the original
“Tuesday 22 March – Dingwalls, Newcastle
Set: Ignite, Disco Man, Generals, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Plan 9 Channel 7, Stranger On The Town, Wait For The Blackout, Born To Kill, Bad Time For Bonzo, Limit Club, Melody Lee, Looking At You, Love Song, Neat Neat Neat, New Rose, Smash It Up, Noise Noise Noise, Hippy Hippy Shake, Happy Talk. Comments: Support on the night was from The Threats. A contributor to this site states “Although the venue was sold out well in advance, bouncers taking backhanders let in an estimated 400 punters on the night. It was ridiculous, the stage barrier collapsed, PA fucked up, and the place ended up trashed!” Another contributor wrote “The ceiling also partly caved in as well! Earlier, while waiting outside in the queue in the freezing cold, Rat and the Captain came out and announced that they were going to the ‘Dog & Parrot’ to drink real ale and off they went down the street. The gig was really late starting as a result” The was no obvious encore break on the recording that this set was sourced from“.
A big influence on me was a band which belonged to the Mod/Rock genre of music “The Who” but since they had a big influence on The Jam, it seemed to fit in with me ok. The Who influenced my clothes, my music making, I took learning music seriously, I learned a wider range of chords structures and progressions because of Townsend’s playing. Lyrically they were more subtle than the Punk’s lyrics but meaning was still there. I played a couple of their numbers in Business Controlled. I used to learn chords from The Tommy song book in the Public Library after school, and their Rock Opera/film “Tommy” inspired me to start my own Rock opera in Business Controlled. I bought a compilation of their music in the Pink Panther, and I bought “Odds and Sods” a mix of Who numbers compiled by John Entwhistle (bassist) on the 14/10/82 and on the 4/2/83 I bought The Who’s song/chord book, a compilation of various songs. I went to see “Quadrophenia” at the Lonsdale Cinema on the 16/2/83 although I did not buy the LP of the film, Paddy gave me it (nice of him) and I bought “Who’s Next” LP on the 17/2/83.
Another band from the 60s that I listen too was The Small Faces, I bought a compilation of their early material. I especially liked the song “All or Nothing“, which I played busking and with Business Controlled
Another big influence was The Jam, but I had gotten into them later on, after The Clash and The Who. I saw The Jam on September 28th 1982 at The Ice Rink, Whitley Bay. There is the set list available, as well as the ticket for the night. I bought 2 of The Jam’s song books on the 7/10/82 and on the 26/10/82 I bought “The Gift” LP. On the 30/10/82 I bought The Jams’s “Sound Effects” LP. On the 5/11/82 I saw the Jam on TV (possibly The Tube). On the 11/1/83 I bought The Jam’s “The Gift Song/Chord Book” and the single “Beat Surrender” single, with “Shopping” on the B side. The first single I bought was “Strange Town“
I saw Sigue Sigue Sputnik at Stars and Strips on the 18th July, 1985. I was not impressed, they tried hard to be different but they were too fabricated for us northern chaps. Although not a recording from the gig they would sound something like this live
I saw The Undertones play Carlisle Market Hall. As my first name is Kevin, a friend took me on his shoulders when they played “My Perfect Cousin” and I had my mothers “sheep skin jacket” on…
Other bands I was listening to at the time that I did not have a lot of information about were The Skids, I only bought their single “Into the Valley” with a white record inside the sleeve, and an amazing sound on the first riff from the guitar, a new sound if every there was one.
I did not have any other records by them, but I liked “Working for the Yankee Dollar”
The Ruts were a band I liked but I never had a lot of information about at the time. dung had the 1st LP “The Crack“. I heard them on John Peel’s Sessions, I also liked the single “Staring at the Rude Boys” and “Babylon’s Burning“. “Jah War” was a “White Reggae” genre of music that I liked so they had a mixture of distorted guitar and using it in other ways and this track what influenced my music such as the track “Bristol” (Business Controlled) about the riots there. With all this seriousness and lyrical content it should be remembered that there was a lot of fun too. After The Ruts broke up and a few weeks later Malcolm Owen (singer) commit suicide, The Ruts formed (?) into a new band called Ruts DC, I bought the album “Animal Now” which had a similar feel to The Ruts but a less intensive production, brilliant LP.
Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) Were a great band from Northern Ireland, I saw them twice at Carlisle’s Market Hall in 1979 and I enjoyed their music very much. Their first LP “Inflamable Material” was so full of energy and great lyrics, I bought and their 2nd “No Bodies Heroes” and their 3rd LP “Got for It“. They had songs of the “white Reggae” genre which I think they did a really good job with it, as well as distorted guitars and singing/shouting all mixed in together. Here are some photos I took from the 1979 gig at Carlisle’s Market Hall.