1990: July – September

Including Guy Van Steene’s previously unseen photos of Ocean Colour Scene, Flowered Up, The Paris Angels, 5:30, The High and more.

Danny and I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on 1st July, having caught the over night train from Singapore. We had a small cabin with bunk beds where we were served breakfast in the morning. Arriving too early to check into the hotel, we dozed in a park for a couple of hours, in the shadow of a nightclub called FAC 51, presumably after The Hacienda! We stayed one night before flying to the island of Penang, where we stayed for two weeks (using the money we had earned in Singapore). The hotel we was in George Town, an old colonial building painted light blue with faded cream columns, no glass in the windows and a small court yard in the middle. There was only cold water, so showers where fast and caused shrieks every day.

We went on a trishaw ride. Every time we asked if we could get off now, the man would keep cycling to the next destination until we just relaxed and hoped he would eventually return us. In the end I’m glad we did as, even though he put straw hats on our heads which he was very keen for us to wear, he did take us to some places we would never have seen if left to our own devices. We stopped off at various temples, a small fishing village with a ramshackle wooden pier and houses on legs in the sea, plus a few food places to eat food in our hands while he continued to cycle. The whole thing took about six hours, we were convinced we had been kidnapped a couple of times, but boy did he earn his money. We tipped him what we thought was fair and he looked very happy as he cycled off to find his next tourists. 

I got my hair cut in a Chinese style bob, with a fringe.

The World Cup was still on and Danny was keen to see England vs West Germany on July 4th. This meant setting an alarm to get up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t believe it when it rang and we actually did get out of bed and walked down to a cafe with an old tv leaning on the window ledge. We sat outside as it was too small inside. There were some Germans there too. West Germany won on penalties and we wandered back to bed.

Most days we caught the local bus to the gorgeous Ferringhi beach. We went into the jungle, where we were drenched in the tropical heat, climbing up hill, through the trees. A monkey jumped out from one and freaked us out, trying to get food from us.

We went to the cinema a few times, an old building with just one screen, probably built in the 1940s. We saw ‘The Hunt For Red October’ with Malaysian sub titles and the audio still in English. We fell into step with a local man afterwards and chatted to him about the film.

I have sadly lost my photos from this trip, but found some great ones at both Say.com and thecrazytouris.com. Most are from 1990 and are of places we went to.

When the two weeks were up, we flew back to Singapore where we met with Amanda and Rudy again, eating at their friends Kit and (another) Danny’s. There was a guard goose, tied up at the entrance! Rudy was much improved and they were able to start their own adventures not long after.

Our flights back to Heathrow were on 13th July. On Monday 16th, Danny started a new job, at Midnight Music. They were one of the labels he had been production planner for at Mayking. Their roster included McCarthy. He was really pleased to be working at an actual record label now.

The Rock Garden had bought a basement club next door to the restaurant. It was a student bar with a few connecting medium sized rooms and the plan was to convert it into a stylish nightclub. We had several meetings down there with architects looking at plans.

This had been released while we were away.

16 July An official report reveals that High Street sales are at their lowest since 1980, sparking further fears of a recession.

17 July – German food superstore chain Aldi opens its first British store in Birmingham and plans to have up to 200 stores across the country by 1993.

Guy Van Steene and I have known each other since primary school – St. Tarcisius in Camberley. He is a great photographer, and came to quite a few gigs with me around this time. It is in fact a tour de force of Guy’s wonderful photos in these three months.

29th July 5:30 U.LU. Main Hall.

Having seen 5:30 in the bar at University of London student union in March 1990, it was great to see they had become big enough to play the main hall a few months later. They were once again terrific.

31st July Flowered Up The Zap Club, Brighton.

I wasn’t with Guy for this show, (I saw Flowered Up at Shoreditch Town Hall, London, in August on the same tour). I am thrilled to have the opportunity to publish these never before seen photos

1 August – British Airways flight 149 is seized by the Iraqi Army at Kuwait International Airport following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

The Powerhouse was advertising for a new band booker so I applied and was interviewed at their Mean Fiddler offices in Harlesden. I was introduced to Vince Power, a man with the strongest hand shake I have ever met. I tried not to flinch when we shook hands after the interview!

I was offered the job, but things had changed a little bit. Someone who already worked there, Neil Pengelly, was to get The Powerhaus and I was to get the Acoustic Room at the Mean Fiddler. It wasn’t really what I had wanted, but The Mean Fiddler ran the Reading Festival and had a few brilliant venues, so I agreed. 

Next came the tricky part – resigning. I kept trying to say something to Sean the next day and chickening out. Eventually I heard myself say, ‘I’ve been offered another job’. Sean replied ‘And are you going to take it?’ ‘Yes’. I told him where it was, Sean said ‘hang on a minute’ and disappeared from the office.

He came back about ten minutes later and said ‘Right, I’ve spoken to Arthur. We would like to give you a significant pay raise and offer you shares in the new nightclub.’ I called Danny and talked about it. I walked around Covent Garden and thought about it. I called the Mean Fiddler and spoke to Dave-id Phillips. He said ‘We can’t match that, I’d take it if I were you.’ So I said ‘thanks’ to Sean and agreed to stay. I do sometimes wonder what my life would have looked like had I taken that job. Got into festivals via Reading and Vince Power. Who knows?

3 August – The 1990 heat wave peaks with a temperature of 37.1 °C (98.8 °F) recorded at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

7th August The Paris Angels The Zap Club

I wasn’t with Guy for this one either (Guy lived in Brighton) but did see the Paris Angels in London at The Astoria

‘Perfume’ is a song that has lasted the test of time and still sounds cracking.

Once again, these photos have not previously been seen. Guy sent me a few rolls of film as sheets of black and white negatives in 2020. I got them digitalised and revealed an incredible array of photos from this period.

The Paris Angels, 7th August The Zap Brighton by Guy Van Steene.

I had booked a very young Irish band for 9th August at the Rock Garden. The Divine Comedy had just released their debut album, ‘Fanfare For The Comic Muse‘, on Setanta. They crossed the Irish Sea, taking a break from their A Levels, and played a few London dates, including this one, captured by Guy. 

(See more of The Divine Comedy / Rock Garden photos here)

10th August Flowered Up Shoreditch Town Hall. There were way more people trying to get in (especially the guest list queue!) than there was space, but we managed it. Brilliant night.

Clearly there was a ‘new job’ fever with Danny and myself. He had only been at Midnight Music for a few weeks when another client of his from Mayking Records called him up and asked if he would like to be interviewed for a position as their General Manager. Cherry Red Records are can iconic independent label running since 1978 and Danny started work there in early August. Extremely exciting. Their offices were in Fulham. 

16th August The High, Manchester band at The Borderline in London. (The High featured the original Stone Roses guitarists Andy Couzens.) I was also there on this night with Guy.

Danny was looking to sign a few new bands to Cherry Red and Bob Stanley (Saint Etienne also Caff Records, who Danny met though Mayking) had tipped him off about a Birmingham band called Ocean Colour Scene. They released their debut single ‘Sway’ in September on the Pffft label but he had it on cassette a few weeks before it came out. Myself, Danny and Guy drove up to see them in Manchester. There were a few majors also in the small crowd and even though Danny met the band afterwards, it was obvious they would be signing to a much bigger label very soon. 

Guy’s photos from Manchester at The Boardwalk.

Here they are on ‘The Word’ about six weeks after we saw them – Simon obviously loved that top!

I organised a few more gigs for The Ruby Tuesdays. They came down the night before and we all went to The Yellow Book Club at The Rock Garden, meeting John and Sally there. Bobby Gillespie was leaving and asked us if we were going to see Deee-Lite at Dingwalls. We weren’t but we all followed Bobby and somehow managed to get in. After Deee-Lite played a few songs, there were d.j.s and we all stayed until 3am.

September – The new Ford Escort and Orion go on sale, as does a new model from Nissan, the Primera which replaces the Bluebird and is produced in Sunderland.

The next night, The Ruby Tuesdays, again captured by Guy, played The Sausage Machine at The White Horse in Hampstead, with The Honey Smugglers on 1st September. (Run by Paul Cox from Too Pure. Paul’s brother Steve was the keyboard player in The Honey Smugglers)

Chris, the singer with The Honey Smugglers.

A couple of Buzz Clubs over the course of a week down in Aldershot were next for me.

14th September Local band night.

Followed by, 22nd September – The Buzz Club The Bridewell Taxis

Word had got round that The Charlatans were playing a secret gig back at The Buzz Club, under the name of The Bridewell Taxis. This of course was not true but it certainly boosted the crowd for this gig. The Bridewell Taxis were actually a great band from Leeds. Danny and I had gone to a Boys Own party with Simon, their bass player the year before in London.

Here is the indie chart round down from the Chart Show, featuring The Bridewell Taxis at number eight.

26 September – Margaret Thatcher joins in with the politicians who are denying that the British economy is slumping into recession, despite manufacturers reporting their biggest drop in output since 1982, as well as a growing number of bankruptcies.

Read Jan – June 1990 here.

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