Monday, October 30, 2006

Picking Over The Scabs Pt 2 (Exeter Punk In Print-The Soundtrack!)

“People tend to forget that it (punk) wasn't all about postcard punks on the King’s Road - the heart of it all was scruffy little shits in small towns getting beaten up by bikers and skinheads all the time”
(Kenny Brooks, The Brakes, pictured, quoted in ‘No More Heroes’ by Alex Ogg.)

As a belated footnote (after thought?!) to the recent Scabs post, a couple of books that I helped out on with some Exeter punk related info have recently been published by Cherry Red Books.

Firstly ’No More Heroes’ by Alex Ogg covers some of the many obscure KBD/DIY bands from the seventies UK punk scene and features interviews/articles on The Scabs, The Brakes and the Dangerous Girls. The second book which features Exeter bands Metro Youth and The Waste, is 'The Day The Country Died', Ian Glasper’s follow up to his acclaimed look at the UK82 punk scene 'Burning Britain', which concentrates on the anarcho bands that followed in the wake of Crass during the late seventies and eighties. The third and final volume in Ian’s look at the eighties UK punk scene, focussing on early UK hardcore, will feature a band from my own punk rock past, Mad At The Sun.

Here’s some related music featuring a track each by The Fans (‘Looking Glass World’, an unreleased studio track from 1978 featuring one of the prime movers on the early Exeter punk scene, Len Gammon, who is interviewed in ‘No More Heroes’), Dangerous Girls (‘I Don’t Want To Eat With The Family’, a track from the bands first 7’’ from 1979), Metro Youth (‘Brutalised’, taken from the ‘Year Zero-Exeter Punk 1977-2000’ compilation album) and Mad At The Sun (‘When Vision Becomes Blurred’, recorded in 1989 and currently available on Boss Tuneage Records Mad At The Sun anthology CD ‘Hot Snow Falling’)

Exeter Punk In Print-The Soundtrack!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Picking Over The Scabs (The Scabs...& bonus Avant Gardener)

“The Scabs could have gone further but a couple of us hated each other! Nobody liked the guitarist so it was never going to last. We didn't fight or anything but you just knew that it wasn't going to be a long-term thing...”
(Ex Scabs drummer Patrick Cunningham interviewed by myself in 2000)

My old hometown, Exeter, has a long and varied punk rock history dating right back to 1976 and it’s a scene that has continued on and off right up to the present day, with hordes of bands passing through the city’s punk rock H.Q, the Cavern Club.

Exeter’s first punk band circa late ‘76/early ’77 was The Brakes but the first Exeter band to release a record was The Scabs. The bands sole 7’’ EP from 1979 is a quintessential slice of DIY UK punk rock and from the very first day I heard it, it never fails to bring a knowing smile to my face.

The band may have really meant it maaan but the vocals come close to being a parody of Rottens sneer (the sarcasm levels in singer James Young’s voice are set to the absolute max!), guitars buzz, bass and drums keep things zipping along and the whole thing is topped of by cheap and cheesy keyboards. This is a great EP (ok, three out of four songs are great) which has rightly received due recognition by being bootlegged on numerous KBD style compilations over the years.

The band, who were all students at Exeter University, managed to sell enough of these to press up two separate pressings (2000 copies in total) and they also completed a small tour of the UK to promote it before splitting up. A lot of music has come out of Exeter since but this first release still stands up as being one of the very best. Get it while you can:

The Scabs-Untitled EP

(One Exeter punk related release predates The Scabs 7’’. Avant Gardener were a band that released a 7’’ EP on Virgin Records in 1977 and who regularly played in Exeter. They actually came from the nearby Dartmoor town of Okehampton though and played a primitive mix of Captain Beefheart/Velvet Underground influenced noise. Y’know what? I’m feeling generous! While I used the version of ‘Back Door’ here for a comp CD I put out a while ago and enjoy it’s beyond raw qualities, the rest of this isn’t my cup of tea but here is the bands 1977 demo that predates the Virgin EP. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore!)