3. London and Ultimate Records

I’m slowly putting this chapter together. Moving to London from Surrey, when Danny and I returned from California in December 1988. I worked at Ultimate Records, doing press, marketing and plugging. It’s a pretty big section. London / Camden in the early to mid ’90s. Trips to the N.M.E., Radio 1 and MTV. Gigs pretty much every night, often a few in one night. Press trips to Japan and Europe. Glastonbury, Reading, Phoenix.

Ultimate was run by Andrew Winters and Maurice Bacon, I learned loads from these two.

I ended up working on a Top 5 album, and organising many tv appearances, including this one from 1994, Senser on The Word. I’m in the crowd somewhere!

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

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Danny and I moved to London in January 1989. To New North Road in Islington. We had rented a first  floor flat and had got jobs. Mine was in Covent Garden as the band booker for the Rock Garden and Danny was working at a vinyl, cd and tape manufacturer in Battersea, called Mayking Records. Danny handled the accounts for Factory and Creation Records plus loads of other great small labels. He would bring home white labels and test pressings for us to listen to. We heard ‘Wrote For Luck‘ the new Happy Mondays 12″ before anyone else, Danny asked me ‘do you think the Happy Mondays could have a hit?’ I was, ‘no way! Could they??’

We were still doing the Buzz Club for a while after we moved to London. We would drive home a few weeks before the next one was due and put posters up. We drove around in Danny’s Mini, I held a bucket of wall paper paste, Mum’s kitchen floor brush and the posters. Danny would pull up at various poster sites and I would leap out of the car and get a few up before we moved on! We got the posters all printed at Publicity and Display in Godlaming. We saw that they did posters in London for ‘proper’ gigs and we wanted to use them right from the off.

In the first few months that we lived in London, we put both The Stone Roses and Primal Scream on in Aldershot along with loads of other great bands –  Paul Heaton asked if we could put his new band on as one of a handful of first gigs . We’d supported The Housemartins in London a few years before and sort of kept in touch. It ended up that The Beautiful South were on Top of the Pops on the Thursday and playing our gig that Saturday – the show sold out while they were on tv. That was very exciting too – the only Buzz Club to sell out in advance I think!

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I haven’t written about those years yet in my Buzz Club section, so I’ll fill in the details a little further down the line.

We had a party at my parents’ house after the Primal Scream gig. Word got round and my Mum and Dad were actually away for the night. My parents’ house in Frimley Green was pretty well known. My Dad was the village GP and my Mum ran the nursery school from our house. I am the youngest of 6 children, Elm Cottage was always mad crazy. My parents often had parties. Dad played the bagpipes and Mum sang and played the mouth organ. Guests took turns to sing or tell stories and the whiskey and Martinis ran throughout them all!

By the time the whole Primal Scream entourage arrived for the Buzz Club aftershow, I realised to my horror that all my records were now in London, no one was home and all there was to play was my Dad’s pibroch bagpipe music collection.

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One of the most relieved I’ve ever been in my life was when Throb, Primal Scream’s guitarist pulled out a cassette of Sly and the Family Stone, popped it in the cassette deck, whacked the volume up and we had ourselves a party!

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I started a Wednesday indie night at the Rock Garden and asked bands like Kitchens of Distinction, Treebound Story (featuring Richard Hawley), The Waltons (featuring Mark Collins who later joined The Charlatans), and my old Dreamworld Records label mates, 1,000 Violins and The T.V. Personalities to play. I organised a release party for Saint Etienne through Heavenly Records plus had The Orb and Andy Weatherall d.j.ing on different nights.

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Club promoter, Frank Perkins, came in for a meeting with myself and Sean McDonnell, my boss, talking of starting a Boys Own type club night at The Rock Garden. Three months later, The Yellow Book Club started up on Friday nights. It was incredible. D.j.s like Terry Farley, Paul Oakenfold and Andy Weatherall were regulars. Danny and myself went every Friday night, took friends with us and met a whole new crowd there. The music was wonderful. It really was that moment when indie guitars and club beats started to meet.

One night Primal Scream all came along to the Yellow Book Club with Andy Wetherall. I got talking to Andrew Innes, one of the guitarists and we started laughing about the party earlier that year. He said they’d just been in the studio with Andy Weatherall producing and that it was sounding incredible. He told me that Andy had a 12″ of the first single ‘Loaded‘ and he was going to play it that night…..

It sounded fantastic.

I was at the Rock Garden for a year or so before bumping into Andrew Winters one day in Islington. Andy had been a regular at the Room At The Top gigs organised by Dan Treacy. He told me he had started a record label and could do with a hand. I was delighted. As a kid I used to send off to various indie labels and shops like Small Wonder, Beggar’s Banquet and Adrian’s Records, buying 7″ singles.  Then at Our Price I’d always started an indie section when they moved me to a new shop. I loved opening the deliveries from Rough Trade and Pinnacle. The thought of actually working at a record label thrilled me.

I got a taxi to Royal  College Street in Camden, February 1991 and met Andy and his business partner, Maurice Bacon. I was offered the job and given promo 12″s by The Honey Smugglers, The Bellower and P.U.M.P.. I was over the moon!

 

We worked out of Maurice‘s old house, now office, in Camden, where he also managed other artists, such as French singer, Guesch Patti and maverick, John Otway.

Maurice had rented out the top floor to Snub TV. My desk was pretty much  in the shared kitchen so I would chat to them whenever they came downstairs to get the kettle on. I really enjoyed chatting to those guys, Lesley, Brenda and Pinko. I was a fan of Snub TV so this was all very exciting for me!