April – June
Just as the single was released, Rudy decided to leave the band and head off around Europe busking. We had a few gigs set up to promote the ‘Land of Gold’ 12″, including two back to back, which were his final gigs. (Our musical paths would cross again years later though, most notably as The Yellow Moon Band in 2009)
3rd April The Bodines / Bluerain
We were lucky enough to get the support slot with The Bodines at the Knightstone Pavilion in Weston-Super-Mare. A long drive, but well worth it. The pavilion was on a small island, so quite odd / exciting.
I loved The Bodines, their brilliant single, Skankin’ Queens’ had just been released. They had signed to a major after a couple of classic singles on Creation. The album they recorded for Magnet Records was produced by Ian Brodie but sadly, failed to gain any real success, peaking at number 94 in the charts.
This is the only version of the ‘Skankin’ Queens’ video I can find, the audio doesn’t do it justice as it seems to have been recorded on a ‘phone from the VHS or something. Lovely images though and suits the seaside vibe of the gig.
The Bodines were managed by Nathan McGough, (son of Roger McGough / The Scaffold), who later went on to look after The Happy Mondays. We chatted to Nathan after our soundcheck, he offered advice to Rudy about his upcoming travels.
On the way home, the mini bus was stuck in second gear and Danny couldn’t get it to go over 30 miles an hour. Rudy stayed awake to keep talking to him and help him drive the stressful journey home, Kevin and I fell asleep! We got home eventually at about 3am.
4th April The Buzz Club: The Chesterfields / Bluetrain / The Rain / Rodney Allen
Rudy’s farewell gig, actually a great night, really good line up.
First on was a work-mate from Our Price Records – Tony Duckworth and his band The Rain. Tony and I worked together in a few different shops and we had a healthy musical rivalry. The Rain would later be on the wonderful Medium Cool label.
They were a great band, here’s the lovely ‘First of May’
In between the bands we had in the main hall, we were starting to add entertainments to the bar area now too. With the help of Buzz Club regular Mark Nelmes, I had made a compilation video of cool stuff – The June Brides, Lloyd Cole, New Order, That Petrol Emotion, clips from cartoons. We literally had to connect two VHS players together and record from one machine to the other. High tech stuff. We then put an old tv on a chair on the small stage in the bar and hit play. I also started to put live music on in the bar. It meant that some people didn’t buy a ticket to go through to the main hall but the bar was full all night and there was a great vibe through the venue. The West End Centre in Aldershot is a wonderful place. A converted old Victorian school building with lots of cool spaces. Still running and still brilliant.
In the bar that night we had the Buzz Club return of Rodney Allen. (Rodney had played with The Brilliant Corners and Bluetrain at the Buzz Club we did at Camberley Football Club in March ’87.)
The Chesterfields were from Yeovil in Somerset. They released records on the Subway label, (which made them label-mates with The Shop Assistants)l
They immortalised the music journalist Johnny Dee.
5 April – Arsenal win the Football League Cup for the first time in their history with a 2–1 win over Liverpool, earning them their first major trophy since 1979. Charlie Nicholas scores both of Arsenal’s goals.
So, now, we were on the look out for a new guitarist. I placed an advert in ‘Melody Maker’ and we auditioned a few, choosing a Californian living in London, one Mark ‘Frank’ Nemetz.
Mark would get the coach down from Hammersmith to Camberley, where we’d pick him up and drive to Elm Cottage in Frimley Green. I was lucky enough to be at my parents’ house still, where we were able to rehearse and Mark could stay over.
We had a photoshoot on the roof…
and in the garden….
Like Rudy, Mark played a Rickenbacker guitar. He also used a classic Vox AC30 amp.
I went to a few gigs.
7th April The Jeremiahs The Majestic, Reading
8th April The Raw Herbs / The Caretaker Race / The Sticklebacks Cool Trout Basement London
25th April The Janitors The West End Centre, Aldershot.
May 2nd The Buzz Club: The Close Lobsters
The first song I really got into by The Close Lobsters was ‘Never Seen Before’. A cracking 7″ single released on Fire Records in 1987, just before this Buzz Club show and the reason I booked them.
I was aware of them as they were on the original N.M.E. C-86 tape with ‘Fire Station Towers’ the year before. I was starting to book lots of C-86 bands now. We’d already had The June Brides, The Chesterfields, Mighty Mighty and The Mighty Lemon Drops. Danny and I had started The Buzz Club originally so we could see (and support) bands we were curious about. Now, there was a real scene, with bands from Bristol, London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Close Lobsters were one of the Scottish ones, somehow Scottish guitars jangled in their own glorious way.
This is another of the gigs Philip Hutchinson found photos and live cassette recordings in his garden shed in 2018. Here are his previously unseen photos of The Close Lobsters at The Buzz Club.
4 May – Everton win the Football League First Division title for the ninth time in their history.
Rodney Allen phoned me with an exciting question – he was curating the cinema tent at this year’s Glastonbury Festival and would we like to play? No fee, just weekend tickets for the band – ‘oh yes please!’ Rodney’s Mum was the PA for Michael Eavis, so Rodney had been given a book of tickets and asked to book a tent. Along with ourselves, he invited The Chesterfields, The Flatmates, The Caretaker Race and The Rosehips to play.
I has seen that The Mighty Lemon Drops were playing Guildford University and phoned their management company frequently to see if we could support them. It was Andy Winters, my future boss at Ultimate Records who would answer the ‘phone and let me know that ‘the boys’ – Cerne Canning and Simon Esplen (Cerne went on to manage Franz Ferdinand and The Vaccines among others) were still thinking about it.
Eventually they said ‘yes’ and we had a few very exciting gigs lined up for Mark to make his first Bluetrain appearances.
May 9th The Mighty Lemon Drops / The Stars of Heaven / Bluetrain – Surrey University, Guildford.
Mark was very late. His debut gig and he wasn’t there for the sound check. I was freaking out a little. No word from him. We’d been rehearsing for a few weeks and the set was sounding great. Then, in through the doors of the main hall he came, with his guitar, breaking into a sweat as he had run for about a mile to get there. We had set his amp up on stage already as he’d left it at my house for this reason. He’d got the coach down from London and there had been a massive traffic jam on the M3. He arrived with about ten minutes to spare – blimey I was relieved! We played a blinder and went down really well.
Here we are performing and then quickly breaking everything down so The Stars Of Heaven could play, then chatting afterwards with Guy and Marie Lou who had come to watch. I’m not sure who took these wobbly photos!
Dave Driscoll AKA Fruitier Than Thou, is a man who gave so many of my Buzz Club memories a breath of life via the recordings he regularly made on his Sony Walkman. He was putting a fantastic cassette compilation together, ‘Abigail’s Birthday Party‘ and invited us to contribute a track. We gave him ‘Parade’ from the ‘Land of Gold’ e.p. which featured Jon from The June Brides on trumpet.
Other bands on the tape included Del Amitri, The Blue Aeroplanes, The Daintees, The Rain, The Swell Maps and Hurrah.
25 May – Aldershot F.C. become the first team to win promotion through the new Football League playoffs, winning promotion from the Fourth Division with a 3–0 aggregate win over Wolverhampton Wanderers
25th May The Railway Children and The Waltones – The Africa Centre, Covent Garden.
The Railway Children were on Factory and support, The Waltones (featuring Mark Collins, later of The Charlatans) were on Medium Cool.
A local gig, put together by Buzz Club regular, Mark Nelmes.
6th June The Buzz Club: The Flatmates / North of Cornwallis / The Caretaker
Inspired by the legendary Creation Records from Glasgow, great labels were springing up all over the U.K. and releasing 7″s by indie guitar bands. There was the wonderful 53rd and 3rd also from Glasgow, set up by Stephen Pastel and releasing records by The Shop Assistants, Talulah Gosh, B.M.X. Bandits and The Vaselines. There was Dreamworld Records from London, run by Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities who had The Mighty Lemon Drops, 1,000 Violins and my band, Bluetrain.
Bristol had a couple of great labels, Sarah Records, who in 1987 had only released one song so far, The Sea Urchins ‘Pristine Christine’, and The Subway Organisation, run by Martin Whitehead. Martin also had his own band, The Flatmates, whose debut single ‘I Could Be In Heaven‘ was released in 1986.
I was working in Our Price Records and I was collecting all these various 7″ singles. They would come in a wrapround paper sleeve inside a plastic outer sleeve. Creation Records had started this as far as I knew, and to be a proper indie label, that’s how you released your 7″ singles.
In April 1987 The Flatmates released their second single ‘Happy All The Time‘ and I booked them to appear at The Buzz Club in June of that year.
Here they are live in 1986 with ‘I Could Be In Heaven‘
Support came from North Of Cornwallis, who we had just played with in Camberley.
This time, The Caretaker AKA Giles who I worked with at Our Price was a solo singer, guitarist played in the bar. (He would later move to Manchester and stay with Reni from The Stone Roses, but that’s another story….)
7 June – Chessington Zoo is renamed Chessington World of Adventures and made into a theme park by owner Madame Tussaud’s
11 June – The 1987 general election sees Margaret Thatcher secure her third term in office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
19 – 21st June Glastonbury Festival 1987
(Thanks to the gallery on the Glastonbury site for the photos)
Our friends Gary and the two Pauls had tickets anyway and had left a day earlier than us. Gary queued up to use a phone on site and called me – ‘it’s very muddy, bring boots’.
This was to be my first festival experience and therefore first experience of mud at a festival. Given the tip by Gary, I went upstairs and put on my pink Converse baseball boots.
We set off in the nursery school mini bus at around 7pm on the Thursday evening. The first bit of the drive was uneventful, exciting to see Stonehenge and beyond. When we reached the outskirts of Shepton Mallet everything stopped. And stayed stopped. A long snake of traffic on a single lane road as far as the eye could see. Engine turned off. Sit, making jokes at first then get irritated. Turn the engine back on to drive three feet. Inch our way forward. Slowly, slowly slowly. Midnight comes and goes. Inch a bit more. 2am, 3am. By 4am it’s clear that the festival site is in view. People weighed down with tents and ruck sacks walk past. Old converted ambulances full of peace convoy hippies with dreadlocks have broken down and pulled over onto the grass.
Music is coming from different directions at different volumes. Excitement builds. We’re nearly there! We show our artists’ vehicle pass and get guided to a field away from the other cars and tents. It’s muddy but we’re ok driving in it. The sun is rising as we put our little tents up, just near the mini bus. Right, time to head into the site. I walk a few hundred yards, the mud thick and tricky to navigate, then, there was a bit of a hill and I literally slid the whole way down. Pink boots no longer pink. Blue jeans no longer blue. But, oh my, this was incredible. People walking around, dazzed and confused and happy. The daylight now full. Reggae coming from somewhere. My mind was blown. So many people. At 6am. Drinking from cans. Hysterical laughter for a minute from somewhere. Someone behind me dives into the mud a goes down the hill on their belly. More laughter. Then a bit subdued. Taking it all in. Miraculously the plans we made to meet with Gary and the Pauls worked.
Day one – World Party / The Mighty Lemon Drops / Robert Cray / Julian Cope / The Chesterfields / The Soup Dragons / Michelle Shocked / Billy Bragg / New Order .
We bumped into Kevin’s friend Graham ‘Polo’ Mawdesley who had played bongos in Go! Service the year before. More fun ensued. We lost each other. We found each other. The rain fell. The rain stopped. The toilets were terrifying and getting worse. We walked for miles and miles and miles. Drinking beer then regretting it as it made you need the toilet again.
We slept the night in the mini bus as it was so muddy and wet in the field. We didn’t sleep much but chatted loads. We had parked right next to the dub tent, bass boomed all night anyway.
Day two: Walking around shell shocked. Saw The Weather Prophets. Mark, our new guitarist had travelled down separatley and was camping with his girlfriend. We found him. We went to the cinema tent and asked who was next on ‘Bluetrain, but they’re not here yet’. ‘That’s us!’ ‘Well hurry up, you’ve got 45 minutes before you’re on!’
Speeding to and from the mini bus, through the mud; guitars, amps, drums! How we made it I will never know. Set up and ready to play, Kevin still in his muddy wellies. We played the set a little faster than normal. One crazy man at the front of the stage spinning round and screaming. It started to rain and the tent filled, people sheltering. It was amazing and we loved every minute. Then over and back through the mud to get everything back in the mini bus. Then relief! Mark headed off again, not to be seen for the rest of the weekend. More talking, more tins, more laughter.
We watched Elvis Costello on the Pyramid stage. He did a great cover of ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You‘ by Abba.
We watched ‘Blade Runner‘ at about 2am on a huge open air screen. The scene where fingers get snapped in a door echoed loudly and everyone went ‘argh’ at the same time.
Day 3: The Brilliant Corners / Pop Will Eat Itself / Stump / Van Morrison
A van had been left in a huge puddle in the middle of one of the fields right by the Pyramid Stage on day one. Every time we walked past, it was in a worse and worse state of repair. People smashed the windows and were chucking mud at it. Eventually someone had actually set fire to it. A handy land mark truth be told. ‘See you by the van later’
The sun started to shine and dry the mud.
The toilets were now impossible to use. The hedges and any spare bit of ground, slightly off the beaten track became used. I would gag just walking past.
Finally, as we sat on a hill over looking the Pyramid stage, the sun setting, the glorious music of Van Morrison healing us, Danny and I looked at each other and knew it was time to head home. We walked slowly back to the tent and mini bus, over dried mud of areas we now knew, packing it all away and leaving the site. Back past dishevelled people with ruck sacks back past broken down converted ambulances. Exhausted and desperate to get home and have a bath.
We had survived our first, of many, Glastonbury Festivals.