1988

Work in progress.


I was working in Our Price in Aldershot when a splendid 12″ ‘The Well of Loneliness‘ by McCarthy was released. I loved it. When they went on tour to promote their debut album, ‘I Am A Wallet’ a few months later, I booked them to play the Buzz Club.

Both Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier from McCarthy went on to form Stereolab.

‘I Am A Wallet’ has since been described by Nicky Wire as “the most perfect record, a Communist manifesto with tunes” On the album cover of the 2007 re-release he writes that McCarthy “are partly to blame for the realisation of the Manic Street Preachers“. James Dean Bradfield rated ‘I Am a Wallet’ as his top British album of all time.

McCarthy are one of three bands to have played the Buzz Club twice (along with Primal Scream and That Petrol Emotion), this was their first appearance.

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Local band, The Deadbeats supported – Jason, their singer now runs Musical Bear Records, who release music by my band Kodiak Island. 

Jason also went on to have a top 30 hit in Bennet with ‘Thank God Mum’s Gone To Iceland‘. Bennet also featured Bluetrain‘s drummer Kevin Moorey.

The other local support, The Orbisons, feature Dave Driscoll, the man responsible for loads of the live recordings on this site – including the McCarthy one below.

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My brother Tom was living in Spain so Danny and I went to stay with him for a few days, while we went to see Lloyd Cole and the Commotions in Barcelona . This gig was in January 1988. That was exciting, being among European Lloyd Cole fans. Same clothes, hair and style.

I had first seen The Stone Roses in 1987, at Dingwalls in Camden, supporting The Raw Herbs and was completely smitten. I checked the music press each week to see when they would come back down south and it was a few months until I saw they were due to play in London again. They were to support The La’s back at Dingwalls. Another Panic Station night.  ‘There She Goes’ had come out a little earlier in the year and obviously I loved it. 

Danny and I had both been banging on to our friends about The Stone Roses, so we took our Bluetrain guitarist, an American currently living over in the U.K.; Mark ‘Frank’ Nemetz and Danny’s mate Gary Wollen with us.

This time, the venue was full. The Stone Roses were incredible again. I’ve read that Zomba and Rough Trade were in the crowd to see them. More than the music though, my memories of this night are the looking around at the amount of people – to see The La’s and The Stone Roses and realising The Roses were starting to get popular. I was already feeling part of something special. Feeling a bit cocky because we had already seen them and were fans. Starting to recognise the songs. Cheering and singing along when they played ‘Sally Cinnamon’!

The fact that The La’s then also played is pretty awesome. What a night.

Mark; ‘Hardly did I know how cool that was and even more so how cool that would be. Ya know, when I got back to the States the Roses were the band to be hip to. So I had major indie cred for having seen them’. 


The Wolfhounds
were on the NME C86 tape and a perfect band for the Buzz Club.

We did ok as I recall, the usual amount through the door for a band like this – just over 100. As would often be the way though, when the headline band were actually on stage, Danny and I would be upstairs in the office with Jem Barnes, the manager of the West End Centre, sorting though the finances. Door take, money for the bands, money back to us we had spent on posters and fliers, then split what was left between the venue and ourselves. On a night like this we would probably walk away with about £50.

I went downstairs not long after the last sounds of guitars and cheers had finished and the crowd were shuffling out, money in envelopes for the various bands. Looking for the singers or band members to pay them. I saw Dave Callahan from The Wolfhounds and went up to him with my usual, ‘Great gig’. ‘What?!’ he replied, giving me a very odd look. ‘Didn’t you see the fight?’. This was a life lesson to me. Never congratulate a band on their gig if you didn’t actually see it…

Luckily for the purposes of indie history, our man Dave Driscoll (AKA Fruitier Than Thou) was on hand to not only record the gig but also to pass on to us what actually happened that night. Here’s ‘Anti Midas Touch‘ recorded early on in the set, before things got nasty. Below we have Dave’s account of the evening plus a recording, including the fight – it happens at about 1:20.

Who said there c86 bands were twee?

WOLFHOUNDS/WHIRL Buzz Club FIGHT CLUB I can only give my side of what happened at the end. There were 2 incidents at the same time… which is why it did look like a bar fight in a western at one point…….It was a shame because WHIRL & THE WOLFHOUNDS in particular were absolutely brilliant.. Abridged version… A few songs in a number of skinheads, no boots & braces just the haircuts.. I never saw them previously or afterwards at any gigs.. Brushed passed us… One of them turned for half a dozen songs just chirping at me, I could hear what he is saying, but I suspect that it wasn’t complimentary, I just have a face that people want to punch… If you listen carefully, you can hear Mikey (Weare) say “Cheer up Dave it may never happen” to which my reply was “I think its gonna happen”… I went to the loo, thinking maybe the gobbo & his mates would follow me… So I was having a pee with my head constantly checking over my shoulder… Nothing happened… I went back into the hall, Gobbo & his mates were gone… I thought great… Then halfway through “LA Juice” they all came back flying pass me, knocking me to the left… As they rushed forward Gobbo thumped a lass that was in front of me, as I regained my balance I went after him & took a swing but he ducked I caught him in the ear rather than his chin I was aiming for… However, it did knock him over, as he went down some other lad jumped on him & started beating the crap out of him… If you listen at the end of the tape you can hear Harris shouting “get off him you’ll get the place closed down…” Two of gobbo’s mates got to the front & started on an indie kid who would have made Stephen Pastel look positively musclebound.. That’s when Callahan jumped in off the stage & probably saved that lad some serious injury… The bastards all ran out.. & that was the end of the gig…. I know you & Danny were in blissful ignorance at the time… It was strange because West End Centre gigs could always be a bit leary & vocal at times in the 1980’s & performers had to have a bit of metal about them to deal with it but I can’t remember punch ups… Whereas Reading at the same time at say; The Caribbean Club, After Dark, The Majestic there were always time outs for punch ups when the pubs closed at 11 & the clubs filled with the delights of an additional hour of drinking… A shame.. Like I said, to that point THE WOLFHOUNDS were astoundingly good….. Dave…x

So….here’s where Mark, without a visa had to head home to California.

And, we needed another guitarist! This time he arrived in the form of local chap, from Fleet, Richard Handyside. (Richard and I play together in Kodiak Island these days)

We decided to go up onto the roof again for some photos! (Thanks Tim Paton)

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We recorded a couple of songs. ‘20 Years’ and ’You’re My Reason To Be’ – both of which are on the ’Best of Bluetrain’ released on Plastilina Records in 2008.

We played The Buzz Club, a couple of times. Once in colour…

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and once in black and white…

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Dave Driscoll, a man who luckily recorded loads of those Buzz Club gigs on his Sony Walkman recently gave me all his Buzz Club recordings and this version of Bluetrain was pretty great actually. (See lots of Dave’s live recordings in The Buzz Club section of this blog).

But….Danny and I had decided it was our turn to leave this time. We headed off to California to join Mark and give Bluetrain USA a go. So, we organised a farewell party with us and some of the best local bands and played The Buzz Club one more time before heading off.

This is the American version, Mark back on guitar and joined by Joey Stafford on drums.

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Live on stage in Riverside, California.

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Joey Stafford.

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In the mountains somewhere!

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At the rehearsal studio where we were filmed for commiunity television.

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Here’s a little clip of that filming.

That’s it! Goodbye Bluetrain in all your wonderful guises – we certainly crammed a lot into just under two years! Oh, Cherry Red released an album called C-88 in June 2017 – ‘Land of Gold’ by Bluetrain is included.

C-88 featuring Bluetrain, The Stone Roses, The Darling Buds, The Bridewell Taxis, The Flatmates, The Vaselines and many more. Released on Cherry Red in 2017.

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