C-86, for those that don’t know, is the name commonly given to the start of what is now called ‘indie’. One of the N.M.E.’s series of free cover mounted tapes, C-86 was compiled by NME writers Roy Carr, Neil Taylor and Adrian Thrills. They licensed tracks from labels like Creation, Subway and Dan Treacy’s Dreamworld Records. The ‘C-86’ name was so influential it is now used as a term to cover that early indie sound. Although we weren’t on the original tape, we were very much part of that scene. We released two 12″ singles on Dreamworld Records.
Dreamworld Records – Go! Service and Bluetrain 1983 – 1988
I had been in my first band aged 14, singing and playing bass in The Essential Extras. We played a couple of gigs and I knew I would always be in a band. Here’s our demo, Rudy on guitar aged 12 and Kieran on drums is 17. It makes me smile to hear it.
It started properly for me in 1983, with The Service. Myself on guitar and vocals, Danny Hagan on bass, Dom ‘Rudy’ Carroll on guitar and vocals and Mick ‘Hi Hat’ Highgate on drums.
We practised at my parents house in Frimley Green in Surrey and borrowed my Mum’s nursery school mini-bus to play gigs.
We recorded a couple of songs and sent them off to various pubs, clubs and independent record labels.
This is me on stage at Fleet Country Club in 1983 when I was 17.
We sent one of the tapes to Dan Treacy at Whaam! Records. Our drummer had heard that they were signing bands. Here’s a little flavour how how we sounded….
Dan Treacy phoned up a few weeks later saying he loved our music and wanted to put as 12″ out by us.
We had a line-up change – Mick Highgate was replaced by Mick Auton on drums and we started to sound better. We had some photos taken by Tim Paton.
(Danny Hagan, Jo Bartlett, Mike Auton and Rudy Carroll)
We played our debut gig as Go! Service at Dingwalls in Camden.
Dan Treacy was in a band called – The Television Personalities and ran his own club, The Room At The Top above The Enterprise in Chalk Farm, North London. We played there on numerous wonderful occasions. Dan and his girl friend Emily‘s (from the band The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters) fliers were hand written and photo-copied for the gigs. These are now considered to be iconic artwork from those early indie days. Plus look at the line-ups, along with Go! Service and The Television Personalities, classic C-86 bands like The Pastels, The Shop Assistants, The Wedding Present, That Petrol Emotion, The Soup Dragons and our label mates, The Might Lemon Drops and 1,000 Violins.
Here we are playing The Room at the Top in 1985. Rudy is playing his lovely Rickenbacker guitar. Mine is a Maya semi-acoustic.
Here’s some rare footage of The Mighty Lemon Drops playing The Room at the Top in January 1986.
We started to get our first bits in the ’N.M.E’, ‘Melody Maker’ and ’Sounds’. The three weekly, national music papers in the U.K. back then.
This is one from when we supported The Housemartins. We were pretty happy with this one.
Ourselves and The June Brides.
Here’s Dan on stage with the Television Personalities at The Room at the Top in 1985.
So we went into Gold Dust studios in London and recorded three tracks for the 12″ release. There had been a slight delay – Wham, the band didn’t like the name of Dan’s Whaam! label, so they gave him some cash to change it, which he did – to Dreamworld Records.
’The Camberley News’ weekly pop column was written by Adrian Creek. It was always a thrill to be in there!
While we waited for the delayed single release, we supported the Television Personalities around Europe. This is Autumn 1984, I am 18 and Rudy had his 17 birthday on tour! Oh, and it was brilliant.
The Loft in Berlin’s flier. Such an amazing list of bands – every gig looks awesome.
Dave Newton from The Mighty Lemon Drops recently sent me these scanned images from a live recording made on this tour. It seems to be called ‘I Know Where Dan Treacy Lives’. I seem to remember it later getting released on vinyl and being called ‘Look Back In Enger’.
When we returned from Europe, I made this little booklet, which I sent round with a cassette to try and secure some gigs.
This is where Danny and I made our recording debut then, in 1985. This is also a rare thing – a Bartlett composition. On pretty much all our songs it’s Danny’s lyrics and my music, but on this one, you get to hear the inner most thoughts of my 17 year old self. Lucky you! I think Rudy had just turned 17 when we recorded this.
It got reviewed!
We played as often as we could. At The West End Centre in Aldershot (where Danny and I also ran The Buzz Club.)
At The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden….
…where we were joined on stage by Tracy on trumpet.
When we supported label mates 1,000 Violins there.
Rudy backstage at the Mean Fiddler.
Danny..playing my lovely old Framus semi-acoustic.
Playing the Frimley Green Football Club. I think this is the first gig we ever organised!
The Rock Garden in Covent Garden (where years later I became the band booker)
We had another line-up change. Again with the departure of the drummer. Mike Auton left the band and Kevin Morey joined. This meant all four members had gone to the same primary school, St, Tarcisius in Camberley. Kevin’s first gig was in Germany at a mod all-nighter. A very strange gig indeed. We all had to sleep on the floor of a horrid, damp flat. Our host was a slightly crazed left-wing skinhead. Plus we missed our flight home the next day. Anyway, welcome aboard Kevin…..time to change the band’s name to Bluetrain too.
In 2010 Cherry Red Records re issued the NME C-86 album on cd and also including more bands from that scene – including Go! Service ‘Real Life’. We never made it to the original N.M.E. C-86 and we were pleased to be included on this expanded version!
Bluetrain 1986 – 1988
Pretty much the first thing we did once Kevin Moorey had joined on drums, and we changed the name from Go! Service to Bluetrain, was to record a new 12″ single, again for Dan Treacy’s Dreamworld Records.
We recorded 4 tracks, with ‘Land of Gold’ and ‘Wheels Go Round’ (one of Rudy’s songs, which he sings and also plays saxophone on) on side 1. ’Parade’ (with Jon from The June Brides on trumpet) and my first instrumental, ’Because of the Dollars’, on side 2. 3/4 of our later psych/prog instrumental group, The Yellow Moon Band are gathered here – myself, Danny and Rudy.
We were lucky enough to also make a video as Dan Treacy knew a film student, Daniel Weinstein, who wanted to film a band. We filmed it in the London Docklands in 1987. The area is being knocked down all around us, to make way for the skyscrapers and Canary Wharf.
Phil King who at the time was in C-86 band, The Servants (and has since been in Felt, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush) recently sent me these magnificent photos taken at the video shoot by Sandy Flemming.
Here’s Phil sitting with Rudy’s Rickenbacker guitar while director Daniel Weinstein and the camera man organising a shot.
Here’s Dan sitting with The Servants. I thought that band looked so cool, all in thier black polo necks -even when just hanging out together!
Dan Treacy was a real inspiration to us. We started The Buzz Club after we had played at Dan’s club, The Room At The Top in Chalk Farm, in North London, on numerous occasions. We decided to start putting bands on ourselves in Surrey and then Hampshire. This gave us some of the knowledge we needed to start the Green Man Festival a few years down the line. Dan was a real maverick. His labels, Whaam! and then Dreamworld were both wonderful. The Mighty Lemon Drops and 1,000 Violins were label-mates and we often played gigs together. Dan’s hand-drawn fliers are now a classic example of indie d.i.y. art. At the gig below, where Bluetrain supported The Soup Dragons in Brixton, Dan had also organised films and a light show. It made the night feel more like a ‘happening’ then just a simple gig.
Dan was also the main man in the T.V. Personalities, who we had supported on tour around Europe as Go! Service. We realised that you could be in a band and also promote gigs. Dan wrote the sleeve notes to the debut It’s Jo and Danny album, ’Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy’ in 1999 and MGMT wrote ‘Song For Dan Treacy’ about him in 2010.
Here are some more shots of the video shoot.
Rudy, Kevin and myself
Danny being filmed.
The crew working.
The actor who played the lead and a couple of the crew.
I think this is what that area looks like now!
Anyway, here’s the end result, ’Land of Gold’ was released on Dreamworld Records in 1987.
The single gathered some reviews and bits of press.
A poster designed by Nick Pyne
We’d been getting radio plays in France, so played live in Tours in Mid-France – a gig organised by JD Beauvallet who now edits the France music magazine ‘Les Inrocks’ (and promoted It’s Jo and Danny in Paris in 2000).
Live at The Forum in Tours.
Champagne backstage afterwards!
Various Bluetrain photos and fliers….
Live at The West End Centre / The Buzz Club, the club Danny and I ran.
We put The Brilliant Corners on at Camberley Football Club – this is them on stage there. It was packed! We supported them and they asked me if I’d do the backing vocals on their new single, ’Brian Rix’, which I did. We recorded it at Battery Studios in London (where The Stone Roses would later record their debut album).
Here’s Danny and Kev on stage at Camberley Football Club.
We put The Brilliant Corners on a second time – this time at The West End Centre. The single I had sung on, ’Brian Rix’, had the video shown on ’The Tube’ that week and once again, this slightly larger venue, was packed – they couldn’t believe it.
Here we are in the doorway of Farnborough Abbey. This photo was later used as the cover to ’Some Greater Love: The Best of Bluetrain’ which was released on the Plastilina label in Peru in 2008.
Rudy in the studio.
Rudy decided to leave the band at this point and head off around Europe busking. His last Bluetrain gig was supporting The Bodines in Western Super-Mare. Our musical paths would cross again a few years later though.
So, we were on the look out for a new guitarist.
He came in the form of a Californian living in London, one Mark ‘Frank’ Nemetz.
Mark would get the coach down from Hammersmith to Camberley to rehearse. We were still living in Surrey and I was lucky enough to be at my parent’s house in Frimley Green, where we were able to rehearse and Mark could stay over. My Mum ran a large nursery school from the house and we were a big family, so the vibe was always fantastic there.
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.
We played at The Buzz Club (of course).
We supported The Mighty Lemon Drops at Guildford University.
We played the Glastonbury Festival in 1987. Rodney Allen (who had played The Buzz Club a few times) was booking bands to play the Cinema Tent and we were asked to play. We had a wild weekend! Just about made our slot on time – running backwards and forwards through the mud to get our gear set up. I’m fairly sure Kev played the set with his muddy wellies on!
We toured Scotland, supporting The Pastels in Edinburgh. No pics of that i’m afraid. I think these are mainly of Dundee. We certainly had a good time!
We had French TV come along to a gig we played with label-mates, 1,000 Violins at The Green Man pub on the Edgware Road. (Don’t know if the pub name help to inspire our festival name!).
We put out an appeal to get people to come along to the gig, via the Adrian Creek column in the Camberley News – which is also writing about 1,000 Violins playing The Buzz Club.
Here from that night is ’Some Greater Love’ – unfortunately Danny is hidden behind the PA speakers!
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)
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…
and once in black and white…
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.
Bluetrain USA didn’t really last long. We played a few gigs and went on a community tv show, but that was it really. Danny and I flew home at the end of 1988 after 6 months in California and moved to London, without a band.
This is the American version, Mark back on guitar and joined by Joey Stafford on drums.
Live on stage in Riverside, California.
In the mountains somewhere!
At the rehearsal studio where we were filmed for commiunity television.
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.