We rarely had cancellations at The Buzz Club, twice I think. Each time, frustratingly, we had just got the posters done. For this particular night, two of the three bands we advertised, cancelled the week of the gig. Afghan Whigs pulled out on the Wednesday – they had scrapped the whole tour. I took the call at work, and although it wasn’t forbidden for me to have Buzz Club conversations on my work telephone, I had to play-down how annoying this was. Being at work, I couldn’t get straight on the case and I needed to get a line up sorted sharpish. I can’t remember why Jacob’s Mouse couldn’t make it but they had phoned me the day before. And so, the only band, still due to play on the poster, with three days to go, was my own; Poise.
Roger from the Falcon heard we had a problem and so put an American band, called The Loud Family our way. In desperation I booked them. I then, very luckily, bumped into Justine from Elastica on Royal College Street. She said they had some publishers looking to sign them and could they play The Buzz Club as soon as possible? I said, delightedly, ‘yes!’.
The first time I saw The Loud Family they were sound checking at my club, they were very out of step with the current scene in the UK and my heart sank. Elastica arrived and we watched them for a bit, I explained to Justine that The Afghan Whigs had let us down and this was the best I could do. She didn’t seem too bothered.
And until very recently, that would be all I could say about 2nd October 1993. But, in June 2022, I got sent a video of Elastica’s Buzz Club performance! Filmed by Russell Gould who was one of the publishers interested in signing them. Unseen for nearly thirty years – here is ‘Stutter‘. (If you would like to see their full 20 minute set, click here.) Thanks very much to Steve Dinsdale for getting in touch and letting me know about the recording.
We had an Ultimate Records compilation album pressed up to circulate around Europe, to see which labels in which territories would release our catalogue. It wasn’t for review but I had a few copies to give out to certain journalists and radio people.
‘Thanks to Maurice Bacon, Andrew Winters and Jo Bartlett without whom none of this would have been….’
It’s a great compilation featuring Levitation, Submarine, The Belltower, The Werefrogs, The Honey Smugglers, Sidi Bou Said and new signings who wouldn’t actually release anything on Ultimate for a year, 8 Storey Window.
It also features both the Ultimate logo and the A&M Records one. (Senser weren’t on it as they had already signed a worldwide deal with A&M, through Ultimate Records.)
8 October – John Major launches his Back to Basics campaign
There was a Megadog in Manchester to go to on Saturday 9th October, Senser were playing. Maurice got me to organise a hire car, then he, myself and Andy all drove up together the next day, Maurice at the wheel. An incredible line up, Senser were first on.
We met up with the band when we arrived and agreed to take them out to Chinatown to get a bite to eat, after they played. It felt like each time I saw them, Senser were getting better and better and it was particularly inspiring seeing them on a big stage with a wonderful light show and fantastic sound. Even though they were away from home, outside London, they went down a storm. Loads of people clearly had the singles. We were all in vibrant moods as we headed under the archway on Faulkner Street, towards the restaurants. A large and lively basement awaited us. Full of chat and clatter. We ate, drank and laughed our way through a couple of hours then headed back over to the Academy. Aphex Twin was a good way through his set, dry ice, warm air, drilling noises and thumping bass shook us back into Megadog world. We caught up with Michael Dog before The Grid went on and talked about future releases on his label.
I love The Grid, ‘Floatation‘ was in my 12″ collection and a firm favourite post clubbing, all back at ours. This was my first time seeing them live and they were awesome.
Megadog made the cover of Melody Maker.
From Lisa, Sidi Bou Said’s manager’s diary:
-Fri 1 Oct Paris. Black Session. (‘the French John Peel’! (live radio session, outside broadcast from a club
-Thurs 7 Oct Queen Mary College London. 10.30pm. Jo+1 on guest list, also Ann Scanlon from Select
-Fri 8 Oct. Imperial College London, guest list Jo+1, Maurice+1, Danny Hagan + 1 Cherry Red, Sara Manning Melody Maker, Mark Sutherland NME, Martin Aston Q mag,
11-13 Oct Ireland (tour dates with Catherine Wheel)
-Sat 16 Oct . Albany Empire London
-Mon 25 Oct. Swedish radio interview 7pm Claire’s house. Also that day, TIME Out ‘Hotshots’ phone interview , Mel 4.30pm
-Tues 26 Oct SBS – The Beat TV (2-3 songs?) – The Astoria downstairs 9.30am.
?also Stud Bros interview – photos Houses of Parliament (?)
‘Unplugged‘ by Nirvana was released.
Things were super busy and super exciting at work. A couple of days after traveling up to Manchester to see Senser, we were filming a special In Concert for ‘The Beat‘ at the Astoria.
Here are ‘No Comply’ and their take on the Beastie Boys track ‘Looking Down The Barrel of a Gun‘ from that gig.
Another night, another gig. This time Americans, Madder Rose at The Garage on the Holloway Road on 14th October. Here’s the fab, ‘Beautiful John’.
On the 25th October, a brilliant compilation was released on Planet Dog – ‘Feed Your Head’ Volume 1 (Barkcd002). As Michael’s sleeve notes say:
‘Welcome to a 74-minute journey through sound, featuring pieces of music created to reach the braincells that some others just cannot reach.
This album has been digitally mastered for optimum listening between the hours of 3 and 8 A.M. Try it and see!
Now sit back and glisten.’
The album was mixed together by Michael Dog and features artists including, Drum Club, Eat Static, Banco De Gaia and System 7. It was going down very well at the press. Planet Dog was getting taken seriously as a dance label, even with the specialist magazines like ‘D.J.‘ and ‘Mixmag‘. Michael‘s vision was working.
The wonderful ‘Fuzzy’ by L.A.’s Grant Lee Buffalo was released on Chrysalis Records.
Things with my own band, Poise, were getting interesting. Towards the end of October, we played a gig at the Powerhaus in Islington, North London. It went ok. A Scottish guy came back stage and started talking to us, saying how much he enjoyed our set. He said he managed Lloyd Cole. I gushed some reply and we exchanged numbers. Derek McKillop then came to see us at The Water Rats in Kings Cross and brought along Malcolm Dunbar from Mother Records. Malcolm was interested enough to pay for some demos to be recorded in a studio at the back of Camden. Derek took myself and Rudy out for a meal at the Groucho Club in Soho to talk to us about the upcoming session. We rehearsed in Vauxhall getting songs in a fit shape and then spent a couple of days recording. It was over a weekend, so on the Sunday we had a break and went and checked out the market.
9 November – Princess Diana sues the Daily Mirror over photographs that were taken of her at a gym.
The Sidi Bou Said album, ‘Broooch’ was released on 1st November (Toppcd005) and got a good reaction. They were very busy promoting it.
From Lisa, Sidi Bou Said’s manager’s diary:
-Mon 1 Nov. GLR Session 12.10 am
-Thurs 4 Nov Mean Fiddler London gig
-Fri 5 Nov Gloucester gig
-Sat 6 Nov Salisbury gig
-Mon 8 Nov. Radio 5 10-midnight, acoustic set Johnny Vaughan
-Thurs 11 Nov SBS Leicester gig
-Fri 12 Nov Wolverhampton Uni gig
-Sat 13 Nov Marquee gig
-Sun 14 Nov Portsmouth gig
-Mon 15 Nov The Beat TV broadcast
-Wed 17 Nov supported Lunachicks at LA2
-Thurs 18 Nov Mean Fiddler Acoustic Room gig
-Mon 22 Nov, gig Lille France
-Wed 24 Nov gig Rennes France
-Thurs 25 Nov gig Brest France
-Fri 26 Nov gig Le Mans France
-Sat 27 Nov gig Paris
-Sun 28 Nov gig S Clermond Ferrand. France
– Mon 29 Nov gig Toulouse
-Tues 30 Nov gig Montpellier
Here they are, as mentioned above, on 15th November for ‘The Beat‘ with ‘Thing‘.
Eat Static were playing live and promoting their wonderful ‘Abduction‘ album. On 12th November I travelled to the Salisbury Art Centre to see them, they were on spectacular form. I met a journalist from the ‘N.M.E.’ (Roger Morton) at the gig as he was reviewing it.
The success of ‘Abduction’ encouraged a follow-up release of more new material on the ‘Lost in Time’ e.p. also released in 1993. A copy of this e.p. found it’s way to one of the UK’s top DJ’s at the time, Sasha. He fell in love with the track ‘Gulf Breeze‘, and offered to record two remixes just for the fun of it, as long as Planet Dog released them (as the limited edition Sasha Remixes e.p.). 1993 rounded off nicely for Eat Static as they were voted Best Dance Act in the ‘N.M.E.‘ annual Reader’s Poll.
Here’s ‘The Chart Show’ indie chart run down, November 1993, with Eat Static at no. 2. Some great records in this chart.
Having played the Buzz Club twice, June and October ’93, before releasing anything, it was great to hear Elastica‘s debut single ‘Stutter‘ at last. Released on ‘N.M.E.’ journalist / Radio 1 Evening Session presenter, Steve Lamacq‘s new label, Deceptive Records. Steve started the label with Tony Smith and radio plugger, Alan James.
‘Stutter’ is a blistering debut single and the video is just great.
17 November – The England national football team fails to qualify for the World Cup in America next summer, despite winning their final qualifying match 7–1 against San Marino. National manager Graham Taylor is expected to leave the job imminently. The Welsh national side also missed out on a place in the World Cup after Paul Bodin misses a penalty in a 2–1 defeat at home to Romania.
3 December – Diana, Princess of Wales, announces her withdrawal from public life
And so, to the very last Buzz Club. Danny and myself were both busy day and night with our jobs. We would come down mid-week to put posters up and then again on the night of the gigs, once or twice a month. We decided to call it a day.
A band called Shed 7 were looking for a label and had come down from York to play London. Ultimate had gone along to check them out and they had come into the office for a meeting. They signed to Polydor in the end but I booked them for The Buzz Club anyway.
Andrew Winters who ran Ultimate Records (with Maurice Bacon), also managed Dodgy. They had played The Buzz Club once before when their first single was released and agreed to come down and help us wave a fond farewell to the Buzz Club with a wonderful acoustic set. (Which included a great cover of ‘I Got The Key’ by Urban Cookie Collective.)
Luckily, for this special occasion, I had my camera with me.
And that was that. An incredible eight years, promoting so many fantastic bands. The funny thing was, I expected to miss it, but I didn’t really. Too much going on I guess. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure writing about, and looking back on those days now. I love it when people still get in touch with flyers and memories – or even videos.
9 December – Despite the steady economic recovery, the Conservative government is now 18 points behind Labour (who have 47% of the vote) in the latest MORI poll. The Liberal Democrats have also eaten into their support and now have 20% of the vote.
25 December – The Queen speaks of her hopes for peace in Northern Ireland in her Christmas Day speech.
29 December – The Provisional IRA vows to fight on against the British presence in Northern Ireland.
For New Year’s Eve a group of us booked a suite at The Metropole Hotel in London. We all chipped in to cover the cost and went back there to carry on partying after going out to the Sign Of The Times bash.
To finish off this chapter, I found some footage of London, December 1993 on YouTube and added live music from Eat Static, which was recorded at a gig, also winter 1993. Fun looking back on how the city, cars and people looked.