Porcelain Dolls

David – bass
Simon – vocals, lead guitar
Trotsky – rhythm guitar
? – drummer

The Porcelain Dolls were friends from Trinity School, Carlisle. In March 1982 we had another name “Rhythm Beat” but it was changed later to The Porcaline Dolls. We were not a school band but we had been in the same school year. I had left school at 16, but I had kept in contact because of the music. Our time as a band was short, but we rehearsed a lot and did some recordings. Our influences were “The Clash”, “The Jam” and “The Stranglers” and Rhythm and Blues.

David and Simon lived in Lowry Hill and we used to practice on a tuesday night at St Peters Church Hall on Scotland Road, Kingmoor. We `ñayed a gig at a disco/community club in that hall which was run by the church (in those days!) I think we did it to give something back for using the hall. We tried to practise at Trinity School but I had left by then and I was not allowed back on the premises. We had a 21 year old drummer, a semi-professional who I remember heard our tape in the car just before the rehearsal and played nearly everything perfectly. He was the cousin of David and had a drum kit worth 1000 pounds, a small fortune in 1982.

St. Peters church Hall

Simon had a H&H combo amp, I had a small 50w Viking Rsc. and David had a set of speakers that his dad had made (speakers put into a box). I eventually bought this box/speakers and cut it in half, making a P.A. to run my Viking through; with the intention of having the speakers each side of the stage; we could put microphones through it as well. I later got myself a 100w FAL Kestrel top amp to go with the David’s speakers. I eventually sold it via the newspaper for 130 pounds to David Smith, and bought a 4×12 speaker cabinet.

FAL Kestrel amp 100w

We played a gig at Victoria’s nightclub on the 15.4.82, we did a set of  6 songs as that is all the drummer could remember! We had volume problems due to Victoria’s licence, the electricity would cut out if it was over a certain volume so out first song was literally cut sort! We had microphone problems on the 5th song, and the 6th song was “all over the place” due to the vocals and guitar solo…not anything to do with me this time! I dedicated the 6th song to a friend “Jaws” who was going off to fight in the Falkland’s War with Argentina very soon. The set list was:
1.   Mony Mony
2.   Janie Jones
3.   12 bar Blues Song
4.   Jar War
5.    Emotions
6.    Tommy Gun

David went to bass lessons and I think he was the only one who had been for lessons that I knew. I remember visiting him one day with his homework of notation, bass lines/patterns in place of chords, if you listen to the recording of “Sometimes” you can hear the bass riffs at the end of the track.

There is a cassette recording done in the St. Peters church hall, the recording is really basic, but the mix is interesting as it reminds me of The Members song “The Sounds of the Suburbs” when it says “…bass is too loud, and I can’t hear the words”. I had swapped my distortion peddle for a phaser on the 10/8/82 so my sound was clean, Simon’s guitar was also played clean. My guitar sound mimicking Joe Strummer’s “101ers sound” with the treble turned to maximum, with a continuous “click, click, click” giving a rhythm. Simon’s has a dirty sound with too much reverb, and thrashing broken chords. David’s bass is very deep and booming.

I wrote down the songs we did, some of the titles are missing but I think they were my songs as I recognize the chord changes…the lyrics I can not make out. I am singing some of them. The ones that were recognizable were cover version of songs from punk numbers to blues, to reggae, such as The Clash’s “Police and Thieves”.

1. Mony Mony
2. Unknown title/original song
3. Jenny Jones (The Clash)
4. Unknown title/original song
5. 12 bar Blues song
6. Emotions (my song, words and music)
7. Jah War (The Ruts)
8. Tommy gun (The Clash)
9. Unknown title/original song
10. Unknown title/original song
11. Just Sit Down and Think (my song, words and music)

There was a other collaborations that were happening too during that time too. On the 28/10/82 I did a gig St. Peters Church Hall with David, Dung on drums, and Mansol singing. We had the typical sound problems and David’s bass amp cutting out during the performance.

4-Track Demo Recording of “Sometimes”
It shows how little I knew in those days, as when I went up to Simon’s house to do the recording I was told that “Sometimes” was their song. Only years later did I know it was a track by The Stranglers. I never used to listen to The Stranglers very much, so how was I to know? I did the recording there and then, learned it on the spot. I did not have a fuzz box, I plugged straight into my phaser/pedal and into the 4 track tape machine, I used the phaser for the instrumental. At the end of the recording the track phases in and out due to the over dubbing. We mixed the tracks using the drum machine having its own track, leaving 3 tracks free to bounce down the bass, a guitar, vocals and backing vocals. I think we dropped Simon’s vocals out while I over dubbed the lead solo, then I went back finger picking the riff. At the end of the recording there is a bass solo with Simon singing along. The track was recorded on 3/2/83.

I guess we broke up when people moved on, perhaps Simon and David were at 6th form then and when they passed their exams they went off to work or to do a University degree? I think David left after a bad practise and we got a guy on bass called “Chopper”, Darren Moor was involved and the possibility of a female singer? We practised in their garage for a while. I was also playing with other bands at the time too, or perhaps it was the long walk up to Lowry Hill most evenings that finally ended it for me!

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