12 May 1979 – Uncle Llama – Town Hall

A fairly elaborate folder out poster/flyer, from my own collection, is the only evidence I have of a gig by Uncle Llama at High Wycombe Town Hall on Saturday 12th May 1979.  The poster folds-out to an advert for the gig, while on the reverse there are details of the band line-up and for some bizarre reason, a food recipe!  My best guess, based on the photos of the band on the reverse of the poster, are they fell into the ‘prog rock’ category.  I’m fairly certain I would have picked up the poster, either from Scorpion or Venus record shops in High Wycombe.

Uncle LLama – High Wycombe Town Hall – 12th May 1979
Poster/Flyer montage by www.wycombegigs.co.uk

For the record and search engine recognition, the line-up quoted was John Hill (lead guitar and 12 string), Steve McDaniel (synth, string and organ), Joe Pritchard (bass), Tim Medcalf (drums and percussion) and Clive Brooks (vocals and 12 string).

The only online reference to Uncle Llama I could find at the time of this post was a comment by Andy Glass of Buckinghamshire based ‘prog rock’ band Solistice on www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk. It was in relation to their gig at Aylesbury Friars in 1983, where Glass said: “We also had a great time playing with Marrillion and Uncle Llama (whose keyboard player Steve McDaniel is now a member of Solstice).”

If nothing else, evidence of this gig, re-affirms that gigs in High Wycombe during 1979 were not limited to ‘punk’ and ‘new-wave’ acts. Indeed, the ever changing face of music at the time of this gig had seen the first release by ska band, The Specials – their ‘Gangsters’ single being released on 4th May 1979 on the Two-Tone record label.  Meanwhile, a month or so later, a Mod revival would begin with the likes of Merton Parkas, Chords, Purple Hearts and Secret Affair all enjoying a degree of chart success.  The latter revival had initially been sparked by The Jam but more specifically by the filming of ‘Quadrophonia’ and its cinema release later in 1979.  The differing styles of music and the sometimes obsessive tribalism (often media fuelled) connected with these ‘scenes’ did not always make gig going a pleasant experience, especially where promoters attempted a mix of bands.

References and further reading

Solistice

https://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk/solstice83.html

http://www.solsticewebsite.com/

.

 

26 May 2019 – FrogFest – High Wycombe

The annual FREE FrogFest festival takes place in and around High Wycombe High Street on Sunday 26th May 2019.  As per previous years, as well as the live music, there are food stalls, drinks and kids entertainment.  The festival aims to promote High Wycombe as a vibrant and attractive destination and encourage families to visit the town centre.  Please support this free event.

FrogFest 2019 -High Wycombe – Sunday 26th May 2019 – 11.30am to 10.30pm
image from @HWFrogfest

The line-up for the 2019 event is expected to be as follows

MAIN STAGE

11.30 – 11.50 – SOL SAMBA
12.10 – 12.35 – GEORGE JACK
12.55 – 13.20 – CASUAL MADNESS
13.45 – 14.15 – THE SOBERNAUGHTS
14.40 – 15.10 – XCS
15.40 – 16.10 – STEPH WILLIS
16.40 – 17.10 – TINY TINA TURNER
17.40 – 18.20 – DOLLY AND THE DINOSAUR
19.00 – 19.45 – MILLIE MANDERS AND THE SHUT UP
20.30 – 21.30 – THE HAWKMEN

SQUIRREL STAGE

11.50 – 12.10 – VIBES STEEL BAND
12.35 – 12.55 – MY MATE DAVE
13.20 – 13.45 – GARANCE LOU LOU
14.15 – 14.40 – SLOTH IN THE CITY
15.10 – 15.40 – MIB
16.10 – 16.40 – CARA MEANS FRIEND
17.10 -17.40 – ROBERT J HUNTER
18.20 – 19.00 – SUZY CONDRAD-SHE ROBOT
19.45 – 20.30 – JOCEE

Facebook event pages 

FrogFest – High Street and The Mad Squirrel

https://www.facebook.com/HWFrogfestLineUp 

The Antelope has also arranged for live acts throughout the day, including headline performances, after the main FrofFest has closed, that include tribute acts for Muse and The Rolling Stones. 

Antelope: FrogFest 2019

https://en-gb.facebook.com/events/390303571822939/

 

 

6 May 1979 – XTC/Camera Club/Ladykillers – Town Hall

XTC were another band to return to the High Wycombe having played the town during their embryonic years.  The Swindon based outfit had appeared twice at The Nag’s Head in 1977 and the gig at The Town Hall on Sunday 6th May 1979 was most likely a favour to promoter Ron Watts.  Support on the night were local band The Ladykillers and Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club.  Attendees of the gig would have left the gig unware they had witnessed a live rendition of a future No.1 single in the UK charts.

Events at High Wycombe Town Hall – May 1979 from Bucks Free Press Midweek
Including XTC on Sunday 6th May 1979 showing Brian James Band as the original support.
Jack Thackeray also billed and just look at those prizes for the Miss Teenage Wycombe Contest!

Originally billed as support for the XTC gig were The Brian James Band.  However, James, a former guitarist and founder member of The Damned, would not appear.

Support on the night came from High Wycombe band The Ladykillers – the latest outfit to include local boy Kris Jozajtis (ex Deathwish, The Pretty, Good Guys and Four Daughters) on guitar.  Other band members were Stuart Rillstone (lead vocals), Ian Hutchby (bass) and Dave ‘Dudge’ Williams (drums).  Jozajtis and Hutchby were the co-writers of the original songs in their set-list.

Kris Jozajtis recalls that Rillstone came from Chorley Wood and had previously been in a band called Nuclear Rouge. Jozajtis, Williams and Hutchby had also played together in two other High Wycombe based bands, Good Guys and Four Daughters, but with Dom Williams on vocals.  Four Daughters had supported The Rich Kids at High Wycombe Town Hall in September 1978 and the rock/pop style of Glen Matlock’s band is the best comparison I can come up with for The Ladykillers.

Their set on 6th May 1979 is believed to have followed their debut live appearance at The Nag’s Head earlier in 1979.  The familiarity of some of the band members with the audience, plus songs recognised from their former groups, was a factor in them receiving a decent reaction from the audience.  Unusually for a first band on, they were called back for an encore and then promoter Ron Watts insisted they played one more song in ‘30 seconds’.  I was delighted to be reminded of this incident while sorting through a number of live recordings from that era.  A YouTube clip of the audio is posted at the foot of this article.

Ladykillers – set-list from my own records included the following – some titles guessed.

  • Under The Skin
  • Fear of the Night
  • Mother Hates Me Hair
  • You’ve Been Seeing Another Women
  • Hear The Sound
  • Bad Guys
  • White Boys, Making Noise

As far as I can tell, The Ladykillers did not commit any of their songs to official recordings. They played further dates in the High Wycombe area during 1979 but appear to have split up before the end of the year. Kris Jozajtis would go on to join The Folk Devils in 1983.

Any other memories of The Ladykillers gratefully received.

The final support act were Camera Club, a relatively unknown band featuring Bruce Woolley on guitar and lead vocals, Matthew Seligman on bass, Rod Johnson on drums, Dave Birch (ex-Vibrators) on guitar and a 21 year old Thomas Dolby on keyboards.

Bruce Woolley and Camera Club – still from BBC Old Grey Whistle Test appearance just a few months after their Town Hall gig supporting XTC

Midway through their set that evening they would play a catchy song called ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ – a tune that Woolley penned with friends Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn in 1977. In September 1979 the same song would be released by The Buggles (featuring Downes and Horn) – it proved to be quite popular, reaching No.1 in the UK charts, plus topping the charts in at least nine other countries.  For those at High Wycombe Town Hall on 6th May 1979, this would have been the first of many times they had heard the song.  By chance, I manage to record the audio of that evening on fairly primitive equipment – it was a Boots ‘Walkman’ type device and was all I could afford at the time – being still at school.  I’ve uploaded the audio to YouTube as an historical record.

Camera Club – set-list from my own records included the followin

  • Flying Man
  • Too Late For Tears
  • Clean, Clean
  • The Picture is Taken, The Glass is Broken
  • Goodbye to Yesterday
  • Johnny
  • Video Killed The Radio Star
  • No Surrender
  • Dancing with the Sporting Boys

It would be fair to say that the reaction to their set at the Town Hall was mixed. The introduction of synthesisers and keyboards in a live environment so soon after the ‘punk’ explosion came as a surprise to many. However, fast-forward a few years, and the likes of Gary Numan, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were all chart bound with a similar style – plus, of course, local boy Howard Jones, who was often compared to Thomas Dolby when he broke the charts in 1983.

The Camera Club set-list calls mainly from songs that would appear on their ‘English Garden’ LP released on Epic records in November 1979.

It would be fair to say that the reaction to their set at the Town Hall was mixed. The introduction of synthesisers and keyboards in a live environment so soon after the ‘punk’ explosion came as a surprise to many.  However, fast-forward a few years, and the likes of Gary Numan, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were all chart bound with a similar style – plus, of course, local boy Howard Jones, who was often compared to Thomas Dolby when he broke the charts in 1983.

Meanwhile, back at The Town in May 1979, headliners XTC were out on their first tour since original keyboards player Barry Andrews had left the band.  He had been replaced with Dave Gregory, who also hailed from their hometown of Swindon, but in fact played guitar and not keyboards.

XTC – early 1979
Dave Gregory, Andy Partridge, Terry Chambers and Colin Moulding

Andrews had been a member of XTC since 1976 and played with them twice at The Nag’s Head in 1977. The remaining members, Andy Partridge (guitar and vocals), Colin Moulding (bass) and Terry Chambers (drums) were those that linked with Gregory on the stage at the Town Hall in May 1979.

Gregory’s first work with XTC was on their new single ‘Life Begins at The Hop’, released on 27th April 1979.  Considering their previous 7” releases (including, ‘This is Pop!’ and ‘Statue of Liberty’), it is surprising to find that this was their first single that troubled the UK charts – peaking at No.54 and prompting their first Top of the Pops appearance on 17th May 1979.

It was their persistence that finally earned them the chart success they deserved.   They were using the April/May 1979 tour to debut some of the material that would feature on their August 1979 album release, ‘Drums and Wires’.  One of the songs falling into that category and played at the Town was, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’.  Released as a single in September 1979 it reached No.17 in the UK charts but deserved much higher.  ‘Computer errors’ have since been blamed for the single not reaching higher but the song remains an iconic pop tune and its distinctive drum and guitar sounds deserved so much more recognition at the time.

XTC – set-list from my own records

  • Beatown
  • Meccanik Dancing
  • Making Plans For Nigel
  • The Rhythm
  • Roads Girdle The Globe
  • Science Friction
  • Life Begins At The Hop
  • This Is Pop
  • Battery Brides
  • Cross Wires
  • Outside World
  • I’m Bugged
  • Crowded Room
  • Radios In Motion
  • Are You Receiving Me
  • Set Myself On Fire
  • Dance Band (encore)
  • Statue Of Liberty (encore)

The XTC set-list drew material from their three albums to date, their single back catalogue and previews of tracks from their yet to be recorded ‘Drums and Wires’ album.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Under The Skin – The Ladykillers – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979

Video Killed The Radio Star – Camera Club – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979

WW9/Clean Clean – Camera Club – BBC Old Grey Whistle Test – 30 October 1979

Making Plans For Nigel – XTC – live video from Bristol Locarno 13 May 1979

Further reading and references:

XTC history

http://chalkhills.org/

XTC gigography

http://www.optimismsflames.com/Gigs%20Text%20Only.htm

Bruce Woolley

http://www.brucewoolleyhq.com/pop.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Woolley

27 April 2019 – Sex Pistols Experience/Rebel Station – Antelope

The Sex Pistols Experience return to High Wycombe on Saturday 27th April 2019 with a gig on the outside ‘festival’ stage at The Antelope pub just off the High Street.  Support comes from London punk/rock ‘n’ rollers, Rebel Station.

Sex Pistols Experience with Rebel Station support
Poster from gig at The Antelope Saturday 27th April 2019

This is the opening night of The Antelope’s summer run of gigs and I would recommend you check out the links below for the latest information regarding other forthcoming gigs at this long running venue of live music in High Wycombe.

Returning to the Sex Pistols Experience, they are widely regarding as the leading tribute to the punk icons and their appearance gives me the usual opportunity to link to the February 1976 gig at the college featuring the original band – some 43 years previous!  Sex Pistols also returned to play at The Nag’s Head in September 1976.  The fact their music is still be played, puts to bed the thought at the time that ‘punk’ was just a passing trend.

So, if you want to wallow in nostalgia and hear some classic tunes at the same time, get on down to The Antelope and support live music in the town.

Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/1104775026394350/

Venue

https://www.thelope.co.uk/

Band links

http://www.sexpistolsexperience.co.uk/start.htm

http://www.rebelstation.uk/

3/4/5 May 2019 – Animals Rock II – Dashwood Arms

The second annual Animals Rock charity event at The Dashwood Arms, Piddington – raising funds for Animal SOS Sri Lanka – takes place from the evening of Friday 3rd May 2019, through to the evening of Sunday 5th May 2019.

The event follows the success of the inaugural event in May 2018.

Animals Rock II – Dashwood Arms
3rd, 4th and 5th May 2019

Dates/Times

Friday 3 May 7.30-Midnight – £5

Saturday 4 May 1.30-Midnight – £7

Sunday 5 May 1.30-Midnight – £7

Children (up to 16 years of age) – FREE

Weekend pass also available at £15 direct from the venue if purchase on or before 2nd May 2019.

Expected running order

FRIDAY 4TH MAY

7.30-8.30 – 2NONBLONDES

8.30-9.00 – STEPH WILLIS

9.00-10.00 – BEST KEPT SECRET

9.00-12.00 – NBS

 

SATURDAY 4TH MAY

1.30-2.30 – ZARAK

2.30-3.00 – DAVE DUNBAR

3.00-4.00 – TINY TINA

4.00-4.30 – VICKY ROY

4.30-5.30 – THE OUTPATIENTS

5.30-6.00 – HIM & SHE

6.00-7.00 – THE LERNERZ

7.00-7.30 – PHIL DAY

7.30-8.30 – FRET HEADS

8.30-9.00 – MOJO

9.00-10.00 – SULTANS ON SWINGS

10.00-12.00 – HUSTLER

 

SUNDAY 5TH MAY

1.30-2.30 – OVERTIME ROCK

2.30-3.00 – TONY GOFF

3.00-4.00 – RENEGADE

4.00-4.30 – SANDY LENNY

4.30-5.30 – CIRCA NEVER

5.30-6.00 – RUSSELL LEAK

6.00-7.00 – NeoN

7.00-7.30 – TERY CUSTACE

7.30-8.30 – HELL FIRE CLUB

8.30-9.00 – RAFFLE DRAW

9.00-10.00 – WORLD GONE CRAZY

10.00-12.00 – THE MFU

See Animals SOS Facebook page for more details

https://www.facebook.com/165576613502654/photos/a.191294430930872/2299446383448989/?type=3&theater

18 April 1979 – Damned/Ruts/Beez/Auntie Pus – Town Hall

The Damned returned to High Wycombe for the first time since their infamous appearance at The Nag’s Head in October 1976, with a headlining slot at the Town Hall  on Wednesday 18th April 1979 – Support were local Chesham band The Beez plus up and coming West London punk lads, The RutsAuntie Pus, a one man target for verbal abuse from the crowd, was also on the bill for well attended Ron Watts promoted gig.  However, the gig ended in chaotic scenes as punters were ushered out of the venue by the local police following The Damned’s refusal to leave after they claimed that former Manager Watts had massaged the band’s cut of the takings.

Damned, Ruts, Beez – High Wycombe Town Hall advert from Bucks Free Press Midweek – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

The Beez, who had first performed live in 1978, were playing their biggest venue to date in their short history after promoter Ron Watts had been impressed with the local following they bought along to a support slot at The Nag’s Head on 8th March 1979.

Their debut single ‘Easy/’The Vagrant’ – on their own Edible records label – was set for release around the time of this gig and they went down well enough with the expectant crowd that evening to be called back for an encore.

The Beez – outside Quest studios – promo photos complete with autographs from my own collection

The Beez confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Without You
  • The Vagrant
  • Back Street Love
  • Do The Suicide
  • Girls
  • Hangover
  • Apathy
  • Something Wicked
  • Easy
  • Get Ahead With The Feds
  • All You Need’s A Brain
  • Questions and Answers (Encore)

The Ruts’ appearance in High Wycombe came just as they were gaining a wider audience following the release of their ‘In a Rut’ single in January 1979 on the People Unite label and the constant championing of this track by John Peel on his BBC radio show.

The Ruts had appeared at the Town Hall back in October 1977 as support to Wayne County and ATV but barely drew a cheer from the handful of punters who had arrived in time to see the opening act.  Less than 18 months later it was totally different story.  A John Peel session from January 1979 featuring ‘Savage Circle’, Babylon’s Burning’, ‘Dope for Guns’, Blackman’s Pinch’ and ‘Criminal Mind’, would make much of The Ruts set that night already familiar to the crowd.  Damned drummer, Rat Scabies’ guested on drums during Blackman’s Pinch (later renamed to Jah Wars).

The Ruts line-up that night at High Wycombe Town Hall was Malcolm Owen (vocals), Paul Fox (guitar), John “Segs” Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums)

Early Ruts picture from the rutsdc website – note the home made t-shirt with what would become their iconic logo

The Ruts confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Savage Circle
  • I Ain’t Sophisticated
  • H Eyes
  • Lobotomy
  • Suss
  • You’re Just A..
  • Something That I Said
  • Blackman’s Pinch
  • Criminal Mind
  • Dope For Guns
  • In A Rut
  • You’re Out of Order
  • Babylon’s Burning
  • Society

The Ruts were called back for an encore and played ‘Human Punk’ – a crowd participation number where lead singer Malcolm Owen passed the microphone along the front of the stage.  Most of the songs that night would feature on their debut album, ‘The Crack’ – released in September 1979.

Warming-up the audience up prior to The Damned was Auntie Pus (real name Julian Isaacs).  He had been on the punk scene since 1977, playing a one-man old style rock ‘n’ roll guitar act.  Essentially between each ‘song’ he would lead the chant of ‘off the stage with Auntie Pus’ – if the crowd didn’t join-in he would continue.  This carried on until Ron Watts took the stage and asked the audience, “OK, let’s get rid of this c**t”.

His short ‘set’ included ‘Halfway to Venezuela’ and ‘Blues Suede Shoes’. Some of his recorded material would eventually be released in 1980 with Chris Millar (Rat Scabies) credited on drums.

The Damned had been on a roller-coaster journey since their arrival on the scene in the summer of 1976.  They had played twice at The Nag’s Head in the autumn of 1976 – their appearance in October 1976 being their first ever headline slot at any venue but that ended in chaos.

They had released a series of singles and two albums before playing a ‘farewell’ gig at The Rainbow, London in April 1978.  Leader singer Dave Vanian went on to perform with Doctors of Madness, while Brian James, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies formed their own bands, Tanz Der Youth, King and White Cats, respectively.  The latter saw Scabies continue his taunts of the High Wycombe crowd at a Town Hall gig in July 1978.

But The Damned would not die, reforming originally as The Doomed in late 1978 and then returning under the original name.  The new look band would be minus guitarist Brian James – Captain Sensible taking over the lead guitar role and ‘Algy’ Ward on bass. 20 year old Ward had previously been in The Saints.  They coupled with founding members, Dave Vanian (vocals) and Rat Scabies (drums).

The Damned – Chiswick promo pic 1979
Algy Ward, Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian and Rat Scabies

Their return to the punk scene had gained them an ever increasing following thanks to their boisterous live shows but they were still finding their feet and new musical direction by the time of the Town Hall show in April 1979.  It would be fair to say that many of the audience were there out if curiosity value, rather than their recorded out of the time.

It was therefore with a sense of anti-climax that headliners, The Damned, eventually took to the stage to the sound of the traditional version of ‘God Save The Queen’, – not The Sex Pistols version.

The Damned confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Jet Boy, Jet Girl
  • Teenage Dream
  • Stretcher Case Baby
  • Ballroom Blitz
  • Born to Kill
  • Burglar
  • Melody Lee
  • Problem Child
  • Lookin at You
  • Love Song
  • So Messed Up
  • New Rose
  • Neat, Neat, Neat

The set was played through with barely a break to breath.  ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ saw Captain Sensible take vocals on a song to the tune of Plastic Bertrand’s 1978 hit ‘Ça plane pour moi’.

The gig preceded the forthcoming General Election by two weeks (3 May 1979) – by this stage it was widely predicted that a Margaret Thatcher led Conservative Party would run out victors – hence The Damned had their own eloquent way of predicting the future of the country – including changing the lyrics to Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’, to ‘Great Big Tits’.

The set also included their recently released debut on Chiswick Records, ‘Love Song’.  On the 10 May 1979, The Damned would make their Top of The Pops debut as the song climbed the charts.

The Town Hall set would finish with their two classic punk singles, ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ before the house lights were turned on and the punters ordered out onto Queen Alexandra Road.

An explanation of the chaotic nature to the end of the gig eventually came to light in Ron Watts’ book. Watts commented: “[The Damned] probably hadn’t forgiven me for the way our business partnership had ended three years earlier, refused to leave the stage and the caretaker of the hall called the police, who were stationed next door.  They arrived and lined the side of the hall, with the band finishing sharpish and their fans filtering out, although by now the average age of a Damned fan was about 15 so there was never any danger of a riot ensuing. The band were on a percentage of the door take and reckoned I’d fiddled them, even attempting to sue me.”

Watts claims that the financial situation was eventually sorted out but it proved the last dealings he had with The Damned as a promoter – although Watts does recall meeting Captain Sensible over 25 years later at The 100 Club where he initially said; “That tosser from The Damned is here.  If he wants a fight, he can have one.”  A few minutes later they were chatting away ‘like old mates’, recalling those early pioneering days of punk rock.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

The Vagrant – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B side

In a Rut – The Ruts – live in Paris 1980

Half-Way to Venezuela – Auntie Pus – audio of 1980 single

Love Song – The Damned – live on BBC Top of the Pops – May 1979

References and further reading:

https://www.boredteenagers.co.uk/BEEZ.htm

https://rutsdc.com/

https://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/auntiepus.htm

http://www.fearandloathingfanzine.com/auntie-pus.html

http://www.officialdamned.com/

21 April 2019 – Healthy Junkies/Ragged Charms/Public Service Announcement – Phoenix Bar

There was a three band ‘punk’ influenced event at The Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe on Easter Sunday 21st April 2019 featuring Healthy Junkies, The Ragged Charms and Public Service Announcement.

Entry was a bargain £5 for the chance to see live three bands with differing influences but all with a passion for live music – as always, I urge you to support your local live music venues in High Wycombe and the surrounding areas.

Easter Madness at The Phoenix, High Wycombe – Sunday 21st April 2019
Featuring The Healthy Junkies, The Ragged Charms and Public Service Announcement

Headliners Healthy Junkies are a London based band with a punk/garage sound.  They have been on the live circuit for close to eight years and appeared at The Phoenix in March 2018. Their relentless hard-work has also seen them deliver a wealth of recorded output – including four albums – the most recent ‘Delirious Dream’, released in October 2018.

The band consist of Nina Courson (vocals), Phil-Honey-Jones (guitar), Dave Whitmore (bass) and Pumpy (drums) and provide an energetic mix of punk, metal and pop.

Looking for a reference point for influences, their sound has been compared to the likes of Sonic Youth through to Transvision Vamp, with perhaps an underlying nod to Nirvana. Don’t expect anything but pure on-stage energy and a slick delivery in the process.

Here’s a taste of what expect

Opening the evening were Public Service Announcement.  They are no strangers to The Phoenix, having first played there in 2017 and most recently, a headline slot on 15th March 2019.  The band consists of John Fleming (vocals), Pete Colverd (guitar) Dan Comben (bass) and Al Lane (drums).  John and Pete are former members of High Wycombe post-punk outfit Basta Roc and played their first gig as Public Service Announcement in April 2017 during a charity event in memory of Gareth Jones.

Public Service Announcement
Dan, Pete, John and Al

Nearly two years on and the March 2019 gig marked the release of their debut EP – a five track beauty called ‘The Beginning’. The band originally started out playing a mixture of covers and re-works of Basta Roc songs.  However, the writing bug appears to have kicked-in and the EP boasts tracks to be proud of.

The five tracks are: ‘What’s Happening’, ‘Come Back To Me’, ‘Five Years’, ‘When We Were Young’ and ‘Magnificent One’. Catchy tunes that stick in your ahead and with subject matter related to all ages.  I urge you, at the very least, to take a listen to ‘Come Back to Me’ – written about struggling to cope with relatives and friends with dementia related illness.  I was genuinely blown away when I first heard this played live at The Red Lion in Chinnor in August 2018.

On stage in the lead up to The Healthy Junkies were The Ragged Charms – a band making their first live appearance in High Wycombe but with a number of connections to the historically musical town.

The band were formed a year or so back through a collaboration between lead vocalist Ali Jones and guitarists Carlton Mounsher and Johnny Crees.  The trio had previously worked with The Deadbeat Apostles but branched out to form their own sound and eventually added Andy Chalk and Neil Peters on bass and drums respectively to complete the rhythm section of the band.  The five-piece made their live debut in January 2019 at The Isis River Farmhouse near Oxford.

The Ragged Charms
Ali, Carlton, Johnny, Andy and Neil

And so to the connections with High Wycombe: Carlton Mounsher went to school in High Wycombe and was in what is considered to the first punk band from the town, Deathwish.  Deathwish first gigged in October 1976 and famously/infamously (delete as appropriate) supported Generation X at The Nag’s Head in March 1977.

Andy Chalk also has a history of playing bass in 1980’s High Wycombe based punk/new wave bands but has more recently launched the Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound in November 2016 and briefly played bass for High Wycombe punk originals, The Xtraverts, during 2017.

Drummer Neil Peters comes from a slightly more recent local pedigree – playing with Straylight Interstate in the late 1990’s and then Subrosa5 as we moved into the 21st century.  Neil is no stranger to gigs in High Wycombe having played the Phoenix under its original ‘Roundabout’ name, plus outings at The Antelope and The White Horse.

All this adds up to a version of The Ragged Charms that include an eclectic mix of sounds with influences drawn from Black American music through to traditional blues and straight forward rock ‘n’ roll. Ali’s vocals perhaps give their sound a sub-conscious comparison to PJ Harvey but they have enough variety in their output to let you make your own mind-up.

Band info links

Healthy Junkies

https://en-gb.facebook.com/healthyjunkiesband/

https://twitter.com/HealthyJunkies

http://www.healthyjunkies.co.uk/

 The Ragged Charms

https://en-gb.facebook.com/RaggedCharms/

Public Service Announcement

https://www.facebook.com/PSArocknroll/

4 April 1979 – Tom Robinson Band – Town Hall

The Tom Robinson Band returned to High Wycombe Town Hall on Wednesday 4th April 1979 on a date midway through their promotion of their second studio album, TRB 2.  The Ron Watts promoted concert was a sell-out and the TRB set was recorded by the BBC mobile for a later broadcast on the Saturday evening Radio One ‘In-Concert’ series.  Support came from British rock/pop all-female outfit, The Straits.

During my research for the 40-year anniversary of this gig, the very sad news that TRB guitarist Danny Kustow had passed-away came to light.  Kustow’s guitar provided much of the musical power behind the lyrics of Tom Robinson and his band.  This article is dedicated to his memory and may his many wonderful licks and solos live on forever.

Tom Robinson Band – montage of memorabilia from the 4th April 1979 gig at High Wycombe Town Hall.
Left to right – Danny Kustow, Ian Parker, Charlie Morgan, Tom Robinson
Specially created for wycombegigs.co.uk

TRB had last officially played High Wycombe in a Town Hall concert in November 1977.  However, my research suggests they were also lined-up for a secret gig at The Nag’s Head on 30th July 1978, shortly after the release of their debut album ‘Power in the Darkness’, but I’ve been unable to confirm if the appearance actually took place.  Previous to the Town Hall gig in November 1977, they had also graced the stage at The Nag’s Head on two occasions, making their return in April 1979 as long awaited ‘homecoming’ following the rise to fame through late 1977 and 1978.

Their move into the media spotlight had also seen the band feature in a Granada TV documentary, recorded in the main during their tour of Autumn 1978 and broadcast for the first time on national UK TV in February 1979.  However, fame had taken its toll on relationships in the band.  By the time of the TRB Two tour, original drummer ‘Dolphin’ Taylor had left and been replaced with Charlie Morgan.  Keyboard player Mark Ambler had also flown ship and replaced by Ian Parker.  That left lead singer/bassist Tom Robinson and guitarist Danny Kustow, the remaining original members from the foursome that burst onto the seen during 1977 with their heavily polictical rock/pop collaborations.  More than 40 years after its release, the messages with the debut album, ‘Power In The Darkness’ remained eerily valid at a time when the UK was being tortured with the political farce of Brexit.

Politics were not the main agenda for support act for the TRB Two tour UK in 1979.  Leeds based band, The Straits, had their influences heavily entrenched from 1970’s glam rock.

Their set-list included original songs ‘Strait To The Point’, ‘Release My Soul’, ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘Studio 54’, ‘Come Fly With Me’, ‘Fairground Boys’ and ‘Sacha Shoes Mafia’.  However, it was the T.Rex cover ‘Get in On’ that brought the best reaction from a crowd mainly in waiting for the main act.

The Straits – article from Sounds magazine 1979 – taken from the TRB bulletin No.14 given away on the TRB Two tour

For the record, band members, according to a Sounds article published shortly before the tour, were Judi Rock (lead guitar/vocals), Di Harde (bass/vocals), Shirley Newman (rhythm guitar) and Suzi Roll (drums).  With the exception of Ms Newman, I think it’s fair to assume those names are pseudonyms.  They were touted as heading for success but at the time of this post there appears to be no record of what became of them.  Anybody have any clues?

TRB burst onto stage to loud cheers from the packed house and went straight into the opening track of TRB Two, ‘All Right, All Night’, quickly followed by the classic ‘Winter of ’79 – the latter seeing new keyboard player Ian Parker showing his creativity by taking the mid-song instrumental break to a new level – definitely worth a listen on the YouTube audio at the foot of the post.

Tom Robinson Band set list for the Town Hall gig on 4th April 1979

  • All Right, All Night
  • Winter of ‘79
  • Black Angel
  • Blue Murder
  • Too Good To Be True
  • Getting Tighter
  • Law and Order (**)
  • Sorry Mr Harris (*)(+)
  • I Shall Be Released (**)
  • Glad to be Gay (**)
  • Martin (**)
  • Bully For You
  • Don’t Take No For An Answer (**)
  • Ain’t Gonna Take It
  • 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  • Right on Sister (encore) (*) (+)
  • Jumping Jack Flash (encore) (*) (**)

An edited version of the concert was broadcast on BBC Radio One in May 1979.

The tracks indicated (*) were NOT broadcast by the BBC.

In 2013 a TRB Anthology collection was released with a slightly different selection of tracks.

The tracks indicated (**) were NOT included on the Anthology release.

The tracks indicated (+) were included on the Anthology release but not the BBC broadcast.

The second encore, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ remains the only track not available from the BBC mobile recording.  And if by magic, I’ve managed to find a recording of that in my own collection and include it below (via YouTuber) as further tribute to Danny Kustow, who took on lead vocals for the Rolling Stones cover.

Tom Robinson’s affection for High Wycombe was confirmed in a brief interview for the Bucks Free Press published in the 12th April 1979 edition. Robinson said:

“I don’t know why we’re so popular here but I know why I like playing here, because the people are so friendly and the audience is one of the best I’ve ever played to.”

TRB were to split later in 1979 but Tom Robinson and Danny Kustow would return to High Wycombe within the year – Robinson as a member of his new band, Sector 27 and Kustow as a guitarist with ‘punk’ super-group, Jimmy Norton’s Explosion – the latter featuring Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and drummer Budgie.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

 Winter of ’79 (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979

At the end of the track Tom Robinson reveals to the audience that the gig is being recorded for Radio 1.

”Tonight High Wycombe is to be immortalised again (cheers).   I wish those at home could see the sight that confronts us here at High Wycombe Town Hall tonight.  Strong men would cry”.

Note: The video is incorrectly dated 1 January 1979

Too good to be true? – Granada TV documentary – broadcast UK TV February 1979

Jumping Jack Flash (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979

References and further reading

https://tomrobinson.com/

Tom Robinson’s tribute to Danny Kustow, as read at his funeral on 14 March 2019

https://www.facebook.com/tomrobinsonmusic/posts/1146208828880788

 

8 March 1979 – The Beez – Nag’s Head

The Beez, a local band from Chesham, made what is believed to be their Nag’s Head debut on 8th March 1979 when they supported The Alligators.

Formed in 1977, they originally performed under the name of Bloo Lite – making their live debut as The Beez at a gig in April 1978 at The Elgiva Hall in Chesham.

Line-up for The Beez was Robert Boughton (guitar/vocals), Gordon Watson (guitar/vocals), Tim Heal (bass) and Paul Morris (drums/vocals).

The Beez quickly built up a local following and recorded their first material in December 1978 at Quest Studios in Luton. A demo tape from The Quest Studio sessions was circulated in order to gain more gigs and two tracks would eventually become their debut single –‘Easy’ coupled with ‘The Vagrant’.

The Beez – outside Quest studios – promo photos complete with autographs from my own collection

They  clearly impressed local promoter Ron Watts at The Nag’s Head on 8th March 1979.  Watts would have been delighted with the paying punters they attracted to the London Road venue and rewarded them with support slot  on the Town Hall stage on 18th April 1979 next to The Damned and The Ruts – it was by far the biggest venue they had played in their short history to that date.

The band would continue their rise to relative local fame with support appearances at Aylesbury Friars, plus further support slots at High Wycombe Town Hall and headline slots at The Nag’s Head.

An EP would follow later in 1979 but by 1980, perhaps frustrated with their lack of wider success, they had split-up. However, their recorded output remains the perfect example of truly independent record releases and the vinyl copies are collectors’ items.

For your listening pleasure

Easy – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B’ side

The Vagrant – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B’ side

References and further reading

https://www.boredteenagers.co.uk/BEEZ.htm

1 March 2019 – Punkarolla – Damned special

On Friday 1st March 2019 I was back as a guest on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound.  This time sitting alongside another long-time friend, Martin Percival, talking more about the 40th anniversary of gigs in High Wycombe and reminiscing in particular about an appearance by The Damned at The Town Hall on 18th April 1979 – a gig where the punk originals were supported by a then up and coming punk/reggae group The Ruts and local band The Beez.

We played a selection of our Damned favourites from throughout the years, plus tracks from the support acts on the night.  There was also the usual stuff old and new.  It was broadcast  between 9pm and 11pm on the new monthly (1st Friday of each month) time slot – hosted as usual by Andy.

It is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and radio player.

Shows are also available to ‘Listen Again’ for four weeks via www.wycombesound.org.uk

The direct link to the Punkarolla ‘Listen Again’ page is:

http://listenagain.wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/shows/punkarolla/

Shows from the earlier series are also available to listen to via MixCloud

https://www.mixcloud.com/WycombeSound/playlists/punkarolla/

Andy also has a Punkarolla Public Group Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/224313594628909/

I have since posted up more details of The Damned gig from April 1979 as a mark for 40th anniversary.  This include set-lists from the all the acts that played that evening.  If you want to hear previously un-circulated audio clips, please leave a comment and I’ll try to get these online.

An enhanced version of the advert from the Bucks Free Press is included below.

Damned, Ruts, Beez – High Wycombe Town Hall advert from Bucks Free Press Midweek – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

More on the 18th April 1979 gig via this link >>