(This photo is of loads of the live recordings of various Buzz Clubs by Dave Driscoll. I’ll include them as I write about the relevant gig)
From 1985 until 1993 myself and Danny Hagan put bands on in Surrey and Hampshire (and once in London) as The Buzz Club. Over the years we put on The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Blur, The Happy Mondays, Suede, Elastica, The Charlatans, Cornershop, Shed 7, Dodgy, Spiritualized and in the early days, lots of the C-86 bands.
I’ll document all the fliers, posters, live recordings and memories I have here. The Buzz Club lasted 7 years, mainly from The West End Centre in Aldershot. It’s taken me about 10 years to gather what I have so far…who knows, maybe more stuff will get sent to me and I’ll keep going! Please do get in touch if you went to any of these Buzz Club gigs, I’d love to hear from you.
That Petrol Emotion / The Mighty Lemon Drops November 1985
This poster is from the first ever one – That Petrol Emotion and The Mighty Lemon Drops at The Agincourt in Camberley, Surrey 17th November 1985.
Myself and Danny were in Go! Service and Bluetrain who released 12″s on Dan Treacy’s (of The TV Personalities) Dreamworld label. We often played gigs at Dan’s Room At The Top club, above The Enterprise pub in Chalk Farm, London.
These gigs proved to be an inspiration to start The Buzz Club (and later, The Green Man Festival). This first Buzz Club featured label mates The Mighty Lemon Drops. I remember being excited that Geoff Travis from Rough Trade was in the audience to see them. That Petrol Emotion headlined the show, Go! Service had supported them a few months before at The Room At The Top..
I got these photos from that night relatively recently – I can’t remember if it was David Newton from The Mighty Lemon Drops or Iain Baker who sent them to me – who ever it was, thanks very much! Here’s Damian O’Neil, previously of The Undertones. That Petrol Emotion were Damian and his brother John’s new band when they played The Buzz Club and we were thrilled to have them play. Their debut single, ‘Keen’ had been released on the wonderful Pink label a few months earlier.
Singer, Steve Mack.
Paul Marsh of The Mighty Lemon Drops
The Mighty Lemon Drops, who were just about to release their debut single, the awesome, ‘Like An Angel’ on Dreamworld Records – the label my band, Go! Service was also on.
Dan Treacy of The T.V. Personalities / Dreamworld Records and Iain Baker, later of Jesus Jones.
Finally, here’s a live recording of That Petrol Emotion singing ‘Good Thing’ from that first Buzz Club.
The Blow Monkeys / Go! Service December 1985
I was a big fan of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. Danny and I went to see them a few times when ‘Rattlesnakes‘ (up there as one of my all time favourite albums) came out in 1984 (and many times after that, including going on tour with Lloyd Cole, but that’s another story). Anyway, we also really liked the support band, The Blow Monkeys.
Dr Robert, the lead singer had a cool black quiff. We got as far as buying a bottle of black dye to use on Danny but thankfully, it stayed unopened and unused by the record player in my bedroom.
We had both got jobs at Our Price Records at around this time. I worked in Woking and Danny was in Camberley. One of us bought the 12″ of ‘Wild Flower‘ which we played at my house all the time. We decided to book The Blow Monkeys for the second Buzz Club.
We were still hiring The Agincourt in Camberley to use – a 600 capacity hall on the London Road. (Now famous locally for hosting a Friday night rock club).
The band had brought their own PA with them. It was massive. When we arrived in the afternoon, it was taking up every bit of floor space, while being put together by the sound man and roadies. Dave, the manager of The Agincourt, (who also doubled up as main doorman / bouncer) left us to it, with just one rule – ‘I’ve locked the kitchen door, I don’t want anyone in there’. When the PA was built the engineer showed me a huge fat core cable and asked where the mains were so he could wire it in direct. No plug, just this ridiculous cable. I had no idea what I was looking for (I was still in my teens, not yet a seasoned promoter), after a while it was decided that it must be on the other side of the locked kitchen door.
The bands were all starting to arrive and I had no number for Dave so I gave the all clear for them to get into the kitchen. This involved four burly roadies smashing the door down.
Luckily they were able to wire the system up and the sound checks started. I was running around trying to sort various things out and didn’t notice when Dave returned. I did hear the shouts and swearing as he found not only his kitchen door smashed in, but all of The Blow Monkeys and their girlfriends in there making cups of tea and cooking food from the fridge. I managed to calm him down with the promise I would organise a new door and pay for it to get fitted myself. ‘I’ve had The Swinging Blue Jeans here you know, even they didn’t get to use the kitchen’ he fairly spat out as he left to organise his fellow bouncers for door duty.
We lost money that night, my Dad and brother Sam were good enough to put a new door up for me the next day. So, not too costly, however I think in hindsight having a junkie on the door wasn’t the brightest move as most of the money we did take went into his pocket. I didn’t know what a junkie was, I just thought he was a bit pale and tired.
Oh well, we live and learn. I can’t remember much about the gig, I know my band Go! Service supported (what’s the point of having your own club if you can’t play?) and that The Blow Monkeys had an effect on the sale of polo necks and cardigans in the area for a couple of weeks afterwards. Thanks to Tim Paton for the photo.
A few months later The Blow Monkeys were in the charts and on tv with ‘Digging Your Scene‘. People kept saying to me ‘you put them on didn’t you? I wish I’d gone to that’. Yeah, so do I!
The June Brides December 7th 1985
After two Buzz Clubs at The Agincourt in Camberley we decided to move to The West End Centre in Aldershot – smaller, friendlier and more suited to our type of music. The June Brides were one of Danny’s and my favourite bands at the time. We had the wonderful 7″singles, ‘In The Rain‘ and ‘Every Conversation‘ released on the equally wonderful Pink Records.
Our band Go! Service had previously supported them in London at Dan Treacy’s (from The T.V. Personalities) Room at the Top night, above The Enterprise in Chalk Farm. We didn’t know it then, but this was the start of what is now called the C-86 scene. Books and articles are being written about those days, with album releases and celebration gigs organised, as it is now looked back on as the start of the British indie scene.
Dan Treacy released a 12″ by Go! Service on his Dreamworld label. (Plus Jon from The June Brides played trumpet on ‘Parade’ by a later band of mine, Bluetrain, on the 12″ also released on Dreamworld.)
Anyway, we were very chuffed to have The June Brides play our club. Danny and myself both worked in local Our Price Record shops at the time, so we were able to stock the records by bands we liked and had coming to play, plus we were able to get our fliers displayed in all the local Our Price shops. I think it helped the indie scene in the area that we were stocking the records and putting the bands on. I remember that we went up to one of the London Our Price shops for our job interviews and seeing The June Brides album, ‘There Are Eight Million Stories‘ in the rack there knew we would be happy working for them!
This is ‘In The Rain‘ recorded by Dave Driscoll on his hand held Walkman from that night.
Terry and Gerry The Buzz Club 16th February 1986
There was a healthy rockabilly / psychobilly scene around us in Surrey. Lots of colourful quiffs, bleached jeans and sleeveless tee shirts. Bands like The Meteors and King Kurt were very popular. Not really our thing, there was however also a more indie side, that produced bands like Terry and Gerry. Their album, ‘From Lubbock To Clintwood East’ was popular in Our Price Woking where I was working, amongst the staff along with the customers, plus they’d been on tv. So I decided to book them.
Here they are performing live on seminal tv show ‘The Tube’ in 1985.
It was freezing in early 1986. I got a call at work on the day of our Terry and Gerry gig to say that there was too much snow on the roof of The West End Centre and they couldn’t open the venue that night. By luck a larger venue, also in Aldershot; The Princess Hall, was free and we were able to hold the gig there. This turned out to be very lucky as more people than we could have fitted into The W.E.C. turned up. We were happily able to accommodate them all at The Princess Hall. It was the first time we made money! I can’t remember how much, maybe £100.
Buzz Club regular, Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson got in touch with me in August 2018 to say he had found loads of Buzz Club photos and live recordings at the bottom of his garden shed. Here are his extensive Terry & Gerry photos from that night!
Support came in the shape of Guildford buskers Inspector Tuppence and the Sexy Firemen. Here are a couple of photos captured also by Hutch.
I had the live recording from that night for a few years now – recorded on his hand-held Sony Walkman by Dave Driscoll. Here is ‘C.A.R.S.’ recorded live at The Buzz Club on 16th February 1986.
Skiff Skats The Buzz Club 15th March 1986
Keeping in the vibe of quiffs, stand up bass guitars and British hilly billy music, we booked Skiff Skats. Back at the West End Centre, we got a pretty good crowd in as I recall.
Support came from two local bands, The Vulgar Brothers and Catfish. Once again I have some photos, sent to me by Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson in August 2018, but taken on that night in 1986 to add to this post:
We had a local band night next – not sure of the date.
Screaming Hearts / Inspector Tuppence and the Sexy Firemen / New Tennessee Waltz / Zaz Turned Blue
The June Brides Saturday 24th May 1986
Well, the C-86 era was definitely with us now! We re booked The June Brides. They had first played the previous December and now this fledgling indie scene was gathering some momentum. My band Go! Service had supported The June Brides at Dan Treacy‘s Room at the Top club in Chalk Farm, North London and we’d taken a trip to see them in Brighton in Gary’s old Triumph Herald. We sat shivering on the stoney beach before heading over to see them play the Escape. We invited them back to The Buzz Club.
They had a new drummer and I seem to remember that the back drop behind the stage fell on his head mid -set. Sorry mate! He carried on but did look a little miffed (understandably so really).
Luckily, this is one of the gigs that Phillip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson was at. We made contact again after many years in August 2018 and he searched for, found and sent me, loads of photos and recordings from the gigs he had been at.
Here are his photos of The June Brides from this gig – thanks Hutch!
Jon Hunter on trumpet – Jon also played trumpet on ‘Parade’ by my band Bluetrain.
We used to go to Guildford University on a Sunday night where they had cool free gigs in the students union. We got chatting to a guy who went there one night when my band Go! Service were playing. He handed us a demo by The Desert Wolves . I liked it, so booked them for The Buzz Club.
A Certain Ratio 14th June 1986
By the summer of 1986, I was working in Our Price Records by day and either rehearsing or playing with my band Bluetrain or drinking the The Hero in Bagshot on Friday and Saturday nights. It was brilliant at The Hero – there was a d.j. some nights, playing great music. I remember falling in love to the 12″ of ‘She Sells Sanctuary‘ by The Cult when I heard at played at there.
My band had changed from Go! Service after our European tour when drummer Mike Auton was replaced by Kevin Moorey, also regular at that pub. A very cool fella and most importantly a friend from primary school days. Danny, Kevinand my brother Tom had all been in the same class at school, I was a couple of years younger and our guitarist, Rudy a couple of classes below me.
When Kevin joined the band, he brought with him a slightly cooler taste in clothes and music. I was into New Order and Factory Records but Kevin first made me aware of A Certain Ratio.
Danny and I decided to book them for The Buzz Club. We phoned their manager, Mick Paterson and sorted out a date. (Mick by the way popped up briefly again into our lives when he managed Spiritualized – the only band to have played both The Buzz Club and The Green Man.) Although, funnily enough – A.C.R. are now playing the Green Man in 2019 – not booked by me, but it does actually make them the second band to play both!
We got the fliers and posters done and started telling everyone A.C.R. were coming to Aldershot.
We used to make our own contracts, printed on my Dad’s Amstrad word processor and about three clauses long. Basically saying the band agreed to play at our venue, the date and fee.
A Certain Ratio hadn’t sent theirs back yet, and we started to worry. I ‘phoned Mick a couple of times and he said all was fine. We were still nervous though.
We saw that A.C.R. were playing at Ronnie Scott‘s in London so we went up early to see if we could catch them while they were sound checking. We printed off another copy of the ‘contract’ and headed up to London.
When we arrived at Ronnie Scots at about 4pm we just asked if we could see Mick the band’s manager and we were let it. Mick was surprised to see us, and happily signed the piece of paper. We watched the band sound check and Mick asked us if we’d like to go on the guest list for the gig.
Another Hero regular was Dave Harvey. Dave used to run the Get Downs at The Agincourtin Camberley. Funk and soul from the ’60s and ’70s..
It just so happens that there was a Get Down that night in Camberley. We knew everyone would be there and so, rather stay and get on the guest list for A.C.R., we were so excited that we’d met them and seen them sound check, we declined the offer of the gig and headed back to Camberley to tell everyone about our adventure! Haha!
So on June 6th 1986, A Certain Ratio came to Aldershot.
Luckily Dave Driscoll with in with his trusty Walkman and so was able to record the night, here’s the set opener ‘Flight’.
Also luckily photographer Tim Paton was there and took this great shot.
And now, over 30 years later, I have been sent this selection of photos from the gig. Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson got in touch with me in august 2018 and after searching in various places, including his garden shed, he sent me lots of fantastic photos and recordings of some of those Buzz Clubs.
In this treasure trove, he found this lovely selection of previously unseen A Certain Ration photos, from June 1986 at the Buzz Club!
The Pale Fountain September 1986
One of the good things about putting bands on, is sometimes you can put a band on for your friends as much as for yourself. Not to make money, (although making a little was always a good feeling!) but just because you know they’ll really enjoy it. Such was the case with The Pale Fountains. I’ve mentioned before my band Bluetrain. Our drummer Kevin Moorey introduced Danny and myself to The Pale Fountains, and so we booked them and got Bluetrain to support. It took a while to organise as I recall. I got main man Michael Head‘s home ‘phone number (I don’t remember how) and used to call him quite frequently until he agreed to play! I remember he said he was thinking of changing the band’s name, or words to that effect, so I’m guessing it was one of the last, if not the last, Pale Fountains gig. The wiki page for Michael Head’s next band, Shack, says they formed in 1986. This gig was in September of that year.
Anyway. I loved the two Albums by The Pale Fountains; ‘Pacific Street‘ and ‘From Across The Kitchen Table‘.
I recorded ‘Pacific Street’ onto a TDK C90 tape with New Order ‘Low-Life‘ on the other side. In the summer of 1986 me and my friends used to sunbathe on the roof of my parent’s house or down at the lakes in The Hatches in Frimley Green. I’d take my Sanyo tape player with either compilations I’d made or that one with The Pale Fountains and New Order on, sun bathe, mess around and feel just great.
Here’s ‘Jean’s Not Happening’ from their second album, ‘From Across The Kitchen Table’
I started to collate what Buzz Club fliers, posters and photos I had in about 2008. Scanning away and putting word out to see if anyone had anything from those days for me to add to my collection. I was annoyed to have no evidence of this Pale Fountains gig, as it was a particularly special one.
Looking through some old photos recently though, to my delight I spotted over my shoulder…..a poster!
Look also at the tickets and posters on the walls. Lots of Lloyd Cole, a couple of R.E.M..
Even more recently, in August 2018, I was contacted by an Buzz Club regular, Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. He had recorded a few Buzz Club gigs and also taken photos at a few more. It was going to take him a while to find out where he had stored everything (we are talking over 30 years ago!). But he searched, and he found the tapes and pictures. Oh my!
So, I am delighted to share this – the full gig by The Pale Fountains, from September 1986:
Plus, here is the sound check:
Very exciting indeed!
Andy White 18th October 1986
I saw Andy White perform ‘Religious Persuasion‘ on ‘Whistle Test’ in 1986 and knew he was to be our next Buzz Club booking. In fact, we mentioned it on the flier…
Local Band night December 1986:
Steel Bill and the Buffalos / Second Balcony Jump / The Jeremiahs / West One
The Brilliant Corners – 10th January 1987
Working in Our Price gave me a chance to listen to records by bands I had read about but never heard. ‘Growing Up Absurd’ by The Brilliant Corners was one such record. A classic piece of ’80s indie guitar music. The band were from Bristol, I got their address and I wrote to Davey the lead singer. That was how I booked lots of the early gigs, by writing letters or somehow getting ‘phone numbers and calling people at home.
We were lucky, the night before The Buzz Club gig The Brilliant Corners had a track played on The Tube on Channel 4. It meant the gig was packed.
Here they are having a drink in the bar before they played. They were pretty confused that so many people had come to see them and couldn’t quite believe the crowd was really for them!
Here they are on stage. Whisps of smoke in the air, you were still allowed to smoke at gigs.
Tim Paton took this picture. I think Guy Van Steene took the ones above.
I recently got sent these two photos by Pat Doherty who worked at the West End Centre – a lovely colour shot plus below, Kevin, the Bluetrain drummer (we supported that night) back stage.
It was a fantastic night and we invited them back to play a few months later at Camberley Football Club….more of that one, including live recordings soon.
Mighty Mighty 7th February 1987
I was working in Our Price Aldershot. I had worked for Our Price Records for a year or so by now and was confident in my role. Sales assistants would get moved to a different shop every few months. The area manager would visit the shop, and after a chat with the store manager would talk to you and let you know from Monday you’d be in a new town. Woking had been my first shop, Aldershot my second.
I started to stock specific records. I made an ‘indie’ section and ordered records by The June Brides, Hurrah!, The Loft, The Television Personalities, The Room, Benny Profane, 10, 000 Maniacs, old New Order albums, Postcard and Creation 7″s. Bands like The Smiths, R.E.M., Lloyd Cole were stocked by head office as they were big sellers. I listened to Bluenote albums. Discovered John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon.
We started to get regular customers, indie kids, coming in to check out what we had in stock. Dressed in slightly too large suits from charity shops and Dr Martin shoes, quiffs and Argyle socks. I actually don’t remember there being many girls buying indie records in those early days. I was wearing baggy Levi 501s bought second hand from Camden Market, with turn ups and stripy tee shirts, I too wore Dr Martin shoes and Argyle socks.
Sometimes customers would ask for records we didn’t have in stock yet or weren’t out yet. I’d order it in for them. ‘Have you got the new Mighty Mighty 12″?” was one customer’s weekly question. The release had got delayed but he came in each week to ask for it, just in case this was the day we would have it. So, I decided to ask them to play The Buzz Club. It helped that The Buzz Club was also in Aldershot. We started to build a local indie scene.
I had one record by Mighty Mighty and they are one of the original bands featured on the N.M.E. C-86 tape.
This is another ‘lost’ recording found and sent to me by Buzz Club regular, Phillip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson in August 2018.
The gig got reviewed by Record Mirror.
Support came from local bands The Bridge and The Jeremiahs, who were managed by Tim Paton who took many great photos for us over the years.
We used to borrow an old tv and stand it on a chair on the little stage in the bar area of the West End Centre. Mark Nelms, a Buzz Club regular, helped us compile videos to play. I got in touch with various labels who would post physical vhs tapes to me with videos by their bands. Mark would then do a tape to tape for me and so we worked on the compilation tape for the bar. We put stuff like clips from cartoons and live footage of bands we liked on there too. High tech stuff! We put bands on that stage sometimes too. People would come and just hang out in the bar, even if they didn’t want to buy a ticket to see what was going on in the hall. It was a great vibe. Here’s local heroes Jim Jiminee in the bar. They had their song ‘Do It On Thursday‘ played by Simon Bates on daytime Radio 1.
You can see me watching with a bottle of beer at my lips!
The Brilliant Corners 8th March 1987 inc previously unseen photos
March 3, 2019
Danny was working in the Camberley Our Price Records, so we decided to hire Camberley Football Club for this Buzz Club. We were both really into Bristol’s The Brilliant Corners and he had been selling a few of their records in his shop, so it made sense. They had played before, earlier in the year, to a packed audience at the West End Centre in Aldershot for us and we decided to book them again and change the venue and town.
The ‘Growing Up Absurd’ album and the ‘Fruit Machine e.p.’ were both pretty popular records.
It was a brilliant night. First on was Rodney Allen, a young man, also from the Bristol area. I loved his ‘Happy Sad’ album, released on the Subway Organisation (SUBORG 2 in fact). He was too young to drive, so his Mum and Dad gave him a lift. I remember them sitting happily in the bar watching all the bands. Rodney later joined The Chesterfields for a while and then, The Blue Aeroplanes with whom he toured Europe supporting R.E.M.. Rodney played the Buzz Club again, so more about him next time.
Next on were local band, New Tennessee Waltz. Danny got to know their singer Gary through working in the record shop. Gary loved indie music and he bought The June Brides album (and The Brilliant Corners) and fell into conversation with Danny and is still a great friend of ours today. More about New Tennessee Waltz soon too.
After N.T.W. was Bluetrain, the band Danny and I were in. Here’s a live recording, by Dave ‘Fruitier Than Thou’ Driscoll from that night. This is ‘Parade’ from our ‘Land of Gold’ 12″, released on Dan Treacy’s Dreamworld label, it was due out soon after this gig I think. This photo is us sitting under the bridge by the canal in Frimley Green in Surrey, the village I grew up in.
Danny and Kevin live at Camberley Football Club.
And so to the headline band. These photos are by Tim Paton, who we were so lucky to have capture many great nights for us.
Here’s ‘Brian Rix’, again recorded by Dave Driscoll – and again, we were so lucky to have Dave make so many recordings of these Buzz Clubs. After watching Bluetrain, Davey asked me if I would sing backing vocals on this, as they were due to go in the studio in a couple of weeks to record it. I was very chuffed and obviously said ‘yes’! At the end of this recording, he mentions ‘a local celebrity’ would be doing backing vocals…
And finally, here are some more of the unearthed treasures from Phillip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. Found in his garden shed last summer, scanned and sent to me. Colour photos of The Brilliant Corners, live in Camberley and not seen before.
A classic night from start to finish.
The Buzz Club London: Yeah Jazz 1986/7
I’ve just remembered this Buzz Club! It’s not written down anywhere in my notes so I’m not 100% sure when it actually took place. This review from ‘Sounds’ reminded me of it. Breaks my heart a little bit to read the review, ‘So that big time, small-brained music business no marks can forget to turn up. Jo is a very special person and she has it within herself to be a big time rock ‘n’ roll star.’ *Sigh*.
Funnily enough, the ‘fanzine ed’ referred to in the review actually did become a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll star – Iain Baker, of Jesus Jones.
I seem to recall we decided to take The Buzz Club up to The Clarendon in Hammersmith as a few A&R men had said they’d like to see my band, Bluetrain. As we gather from the review, they didn’t turn up.
Working in Our Price, I had got a 7″ by Yeah Jazz – clear vinyl with confetti sprinkled through it. I really liked it and so contacted them and asked them if they’d like to headline this gig. I hired the basement of The Clarendon in Hammersmith, put a small advert in the N.M.E. and that was it – The Buzz Club went to London!
My friend from the same shop as me, Julie was on the door and was quite surprised when Martin Gore from Depeche Mode turned up and said he was on the guest list. I don’t know who was more confused, Julie or Martin. It turned out the Mute Records Christmas party was upstairs in the far larger venue and he had made a mistake. Maybe the A&R men were all up there too?
The Chesterfields 4 April 1987
This was a great night, really good line up.
First on was a work-mate from Our Price Records – Tony Duckworth and his band The Rain. Tony and I worked together in a few different shops and we had a healthy musical rivalry. I was jealous of him because his band, The Rain were signed to the wonderful Medium Cool label from Manchester. Medium Cool was run by Andy Wake, and had already released a brilliant 12″ by The Waltones, featuring future guitarist with The Charlatans, Mark Collins. My band didn’t have a label at this point and I was desperate to be on Medium Cool.
Anyway, The Rain were a great band, here’s the lovely ‘First of May’
In between the bands we had in the main hall, we were starting to add entertainments to the bar area now too. With the help of Buzz Club regular Mark Nelmes, I had made a compilation video of cool stuff – The June Brides, Lloyd Cole, New Order, That Petrol Emotion, clips from cartoons. We literally had to connect two VHS players together and record from one machine to the other. High tech stuff. We then put an old tv on a chair on the small stage in the bar and hit play. We also started to put live music on in the bar. It meant that some people didn’t buy a ticket to go through to the main hall but the bar was full all night and there was a great vibe through the venue. The West End Centre in Aldershot is a wonderful place. A converted old Victorian school building with lots of cool spaces. Still running and still has a brilliant vibe.
In the bar that night we had the Buzz Club return of Rodney Allen. Rodney had previously played with The Brilliant Corners and my band, Bluetrain at the Buzz Club we did at Camberley Football Club.
Rodney later joined the Bristol favourites, the Blue Aeroplanes (and in fact, The Chesterfields) and supported R.E.M. ’round Europe. He also invited Bluetrain to play Glastonbury in 1987. We played the Cinema tent which Rodney was booking. It was a very wet one. My first trip to Glastonbury. We went down in my Mum’s nursery school mini bus, which doubled as the band’s van and the nursery united football bus.
This is us supporting The Chesterfields that night at the Buzz Club. On guitar, we had the American, Mark, ‘Frank’ Nemetz. I think we ‘re looking pretty good, both Mark and Danny in black polo-necks. Nice guitars. Mark’s black Rickenbacker and my semi-acoustic.
We had a magnificent time at Glastonbury. A friend (Gary from New Tennessee Waltz) got there before us phoned us to say it was muddy and to wear boots. I wore my pink Converse ones. After many slow hours driving through the single lane roads leading up to Glastonbury, part of a huge snake of traffic, we arrived and pitched camp at about 5am. Full of energy and excitement we then went for a walk on site. The mud was instant and deep. I slid down a hill, just keeping my balance and looked down at the shin deep mud. My pink Converse hidden beneath the brown slime.
We played on the Sunday so the band had all split to the the far corners of the massive festival site by the time our stage time loomed. I walked up to the cinema tent and asked the security guy who was next on. ‘Bluetrain but they’re not here yet’. Oops. Frantic running through the slightly dryer mud (the sun had shone the day before) backwards and forwards to the van. We found Mark and Kevin. We made it and played a very adrenalin fuelled set, Kevin drumming in his muddy wellies.
Anyway, a few moths earlier, Bluetrain were next on in the main hall.
We sounded like this.
So to the main band – The Chesterfields. Photo from The Buzz Club – Tim Paton.
(I’d like to mention at this point – the posters we had made for the gig, all had the ‘s’ missing at the end of the band’s name. Danny and I had to write the ‘s’, with black marker pens, on 100 posters before pasting them up!)
The Chesterfields were from Yeovil in Somerset. They released records on the Subway label, (which made them label-mates with The Flatmates and The Shop Assistants) and were truly part of the C-86 movement. They also played the 1987 Glastonbury Festival.
They immortalised the music journalist Johnny Dee.
A great night indeed.
The Close Lobsters 2 May 1987
The first song I really got into by The Close Lobsters was ‘Never Seen Before’. A cracking 7″ single released on Fire Records in 1987, just before this Buzz Club show and the reason we booked them.
I was aware of them as they were on the original N.M.E. C-86 tape with ‘Fire Station Towers’ the year before. We were starting to book lots of C-86 bands to play in Aldershot now. We’d already had The June Brides, The Chesterfields, Mighty Mighty and The Mighty Lemon Drops. Danny and I had started The Buzz Club originally so we could see (and support) bands we were curious about. Now, there was a real scene, with bands from Bristol, London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Close Lobsters were one of the Scottish ones, somehow Scottish guitars jangled in their own fantastic way.
I was working at Our Price Records – I think actually in the Aldershot branch for this gig. It was very handy as it meant I could put the fliers on the counter and chat to customers about the gigs we had coming up at The West End Centre. Here’s the flier I made, using Letraset and the photocopy shop across the Green in Frimley Green.
Thanks to Tim Paton for this live shot, taken on the night.
This is another of the gigs Philip Hutchinson found photos and live cassette recordings in his garden shed in 2018. Here are his previously unseen photos of The Close Lobsters at The Buzz Club.
(Thanks to Justin Thomas for tidying the photos up a little for me.)
Philip also found not just the gig, but also the sound check on cassette, recorded on his hand held Sony Walkman.
‘Hello we’re called U2 and this is ‘With or Without You’!
The Flatmates 6 June 1987
Inspired by the legendary Creation Records from Glasgow, great labels were springing up all over the U.K. and releasing 7″s by indie guitar bands. There was the wonderful 53rd and 3rd also from Glasgow, set up by Stephen Pastel and releasing records by The Shop Assistants, Talulah Gosh, B.M.X. Bandits and The Vaselines. There was Dreamworld Records from London, run by Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities who had The Mighty Lemon Drops, 1,000 Violins and my band, Bluetrain.
Bristol had a couple of great labels, Sarah Records, who in 1987 had only released one song so far, The Sea Urchins ‘Pristine Christine’, and The Subway Organisation, run by Martin Whitehead. Martin also had his own band, The Flatmates, whose debut single ‘I Could Be In Heaven‘ was released in 1986.
I was working in Our Price Records and I was collecting all these various 7″ singles. They would come in a wrapround paper sleeve inside a plastic outer sleeve. Creation Records had started this as far as I knew, and to be a proper indie label, that’s how you released your 7″ singles.
Here’s a fab live clip of The Flatmates performing ‘I Could Be In Heaven’ in 1986.
In April 1987 The Flatmates released their second single ‘Happy All The Time‘ and we booked them to appear at The Buzz Club in June of that year.
Support came from North Of Cornwallis, who featured the marvelous Lester Noel. Lester had previously been in Grab Grab The Haddock with ex Marine Girls Jane and Alice Fox. The Marine Girls had been Tracey Thorn‘s band and were included on the celebrated Cherry Red Records ‘Pillows and Prayers’ compilation album. So we knew Noel already had a great indie past. Out of interest, Noel would actually have a great pop star future as lead singer of Norman Cooke’s Beats International, he would have a number one hit with ‘Dub Be Good To Me‘.
Back in 1987, this is how he and his band sounded.
Also on the bill were The Word Merchants who I have a feeling came from Oxford, but I stand to be corrected!
We were also putting acts on in the bar of the West End Centre. Free to see, as the ticket got you into the main hall to see the other acts. It meant we got people coming who didn’t buy a ticket but came to hang out at The Buzz Club bar. It really made for a great atmosphere. The Caretaker AKA Giles who I worked with at Our Price was a solo singer, guitarist. He would later move to Manchester and stay with Reni from The Stone Roses, but that’s another story….
Happy Mondays 3 July 1987
I was working in Our Price Records in Aldershot, when a strange album, with an even stranger title, was released on Factory Records. The band were from Manchester and were called the Happy Mondays. The album, ‘Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)’ was produced by John Cale, so I put it on the shop’s stereo. I didn’t really know what to make of it, but I did know I liked it. A lot.
I booked them for the Buzz Club. I can’t remember how, through an agent, the label or their manager. I got sent this photo and a few photocopied press sheets to help with the promotion.
My band Bluetrain had done a little tour of Scotland around that time and the promoter of our gig in Perth, Derek Moir, was in a great band called This Poison!. I asked if they would like to play. They didn’t make it in the end, but they are on the flier, so it gives me a nice excuse to post this track!
‘We really enjoyed putting on Bluetrain. You were one of the first bands that we put on in Perth. Our club was called Strasbourg– after the Julian Cope song but also after the idea that it is a symbol of EU unity (we have been on several demos lately).
The success of Bluetrain enabled us to put on The Wedding Present and McCarthy several times in conjunction with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen mates – also 1000 Violins and MBV among others and This Poison! Played return support slots in other cities. It was very exciting.
I remember the discussion about playing in Aldershot well but we were either working or at college, so couldn’t make it. At that time I was a bit sceptical about the HM’s – had seen them supporting James and any other Factory bands when they came to Scotland probably saw them 5 times from ‘85-87. They just seemed to be square pegs and I didn’t get them – even though my mate (This Poison! bass player ) had bought Squirrel, I just didn’t get it. Like you, I thought that they were a bit scary!
Then we moved to London in October ‘88 and Bummed had been the record of that summer of our transition down. It was weird and mad (Country songs about fat lady wrestlers??? ) and getting oiled up! – not quite The June Brides! Our bass player was living with Malcolm McCarthy – lyrical Marxist genius, so how did that fit! My London mates were blasting this out every where. I still Was unconvinced. Until we went to see them at Dingwalls. They played twice that autumn and it was like seeing The Pistols in ‘76. Tiny club, new scene didn’t quite get it in ‘87 but something big and exciting was happening. They had brought a bus load of Mancs, which my London mates were pretty apprehensive about until they realised they they were actually very friendly….Very friendly indeed! (I wonder why?) it was the beginning of such an even more exciting time which led us into a new club scene.’
In fact, both the main support bands failed to make their epic journeys down south. The Waltones from Manchester, who were on the fabulous Medium Cool label run by Andy Wake, were also meant to play, but also failed to make it.
I adored this single – Mark Collins from the band later joined The Charlatans.
We had started to put bands on in the bar. You didn’t have to have a ticket to watch them or have a drink there, it made for a great atmosphere. Local band the Stigmata Club and solo artist The Caretaker aka Giles Sennett played. They didn’t have to travel far, so fortunately made it! Giles remembers ‘I played a few songs by Billy Bragg and a Microdisney fave ”Armadillo Man”
I don’t have any of the posters for this gig – but a poster on the wall in the background in a photo of Mark from Bluetrain and a ripped up poster on the Buzz Club display at the West End Centre recently revealed these –
It was a hot summer evening on the 3 July 1987. It was also a Friday – we usually had the Buzz Clubs on a Saturday. No one had really heard of the Happy Mondays yet and so, not many people turned up. I think about 30 or so. I remember sitting on the steps outside the West End Centre and looking down the street, realising that no one else was coming. At that stage it was a bit of a blessing as the band themselves hadn’t turned up yet. They were about three hours late. I have a feeling, since neither of the main support acts were there, once the Mondays were there and sound checking, they just kept playing and it turned into the gig. I also remember being pretty scared of them. Southern softies that we were. I hadn’t really ever come across anyone like Shaun Ryder or Bez before. Probably haven’t since to be fair.
One of the people who was there, was Buzz Club regular, Jason Cox. He recalls;
‘One of the most memorable Buzz Club gigs I’ve been to. Having bought the record on the back of an NME review and giving it a test drive in Our Price (Aldershot branch of course!) remember turning up for the gig and counting just 17 of us in the audience at one point. Nobody knew what to make of this strange new band of Mancunian rogues on Factory records as they certainly didn’t fit the usual jingle jangle template of the time. But I do remember Shaun Ryder sporting the type of hat later made famous by Reni in the Stone Roses. He wore it for most of the gig and it covered the top part of is face but he also had a big spliff on the go. I don’t think Bez had completely mastered his freaky dancing at this point and was doing a kind of nodding dog with his feet nailed to the floor movement thing which was none the less unusual for its time. The whole gig for us Southerm indie kids was as brilliant as it was bemusing and I was a fan from there on in. Another Buzz Club triumph of sorts!’
Luckily, the scattering of people who were there also included Dave Driscoll aka Fruitier Than Thou who recorded the gig. Dave says;
‘A number of things that I remember about this gig… I remember Jo saying she desperately put some sandwiches together for them (being the good egg she is) as they turned up “Fookin’ Starvin’ “ Shaun & the drummer asked me “Have you got any gear?” when I was expecting them to say “Do you want to buy some gear?” … I obviously looked like a gearmeister… I like to think that the encounter lead to the comment at the end of the first track “Keep Britain drug free move to Aldershot…” As Jason said.. Most of the gig you could just see Shaun’s nose from under his beanie hat… Not only that but Bez actually had a rack of percussion stuff which he occasionally whacked rather than just doing that squat thrust breast stroke dance…. At the end of this track you can also hear Mr Paul Maguire Esq. suggesting that Shaun sounded like Frankie Sidebottom…. I’ll put the whole gig up sometime’
Also, in the crowd was Philip ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. His memories of the night are:
‘I didn’t recall it being a Friday, but it clearly was. My dad must have dropped me off as usually, had it been a Saturday, I would have come from my weekend job at Foster Bros Menswear at the bottom of Union Street. I hated that job. I started on £1.24 an hour, and everyone who worked there was so different to me.
I don’t remember anyone being flustered or the band not having arrived, but I DO remember them soundchecking shortly before the doors opened. I did record the soundcheck on my £30 Sony dictating machine (which served me well for three years of solid gigging, though the quality was rubbish) and the full show (about 35-40 minutes, I recall) but I loaned the tape to someone about 20 years ago and never got it back (I have a feeling I know who!). They soundchecked with ‘Yahoo‘, most of which was just the bass intro.
I have to concur with the ‘scary’ tag everyone is giving them. I was just 17 at the time, and not at all worldly-wise. Even then, though, I figured that this band had seen a lot and probably had various degrees of ‘form’. Bez scared me because I wasn’t used to a band member not really having a role. He had a shaved head and was stick-thin and his eyes were pretty glazed. At that age I was thinking more ‘cult’ than ‘drugs’. The rest of the band (except Shaun) seemed very serious. No laughing or larking. Apart from when A Certain Ratio had played in June the previous year, I had never seen that from a Buzz Club headliner; they had all been friendly and jocular.
I clearly, like everyone else, remember the gig being very poorly attended. My ticket was number 70, so obviously a lot had gone to outlets who didn’t sell them or purchasers who never came. I felt there were about 30 people there.
I really couldn’t get a handle on the music. I liked the drone style of some of the tracks, and the rhythms, but I was less enamored of the funkiness. I had never heard the band before, but I had heard OF them. Peel had mentioned them and they were already the darlings of the music press. Shaun had a huge face picture on the front of the NME and I remember thinking how incredibly unattractive he looked!
Not being familiar with the tracks, they all sounded pretty similar to me. Only ‘Yahoo’ (which they also opened with) stuck in my mind, and that was because of the catchy bass line.
Shaun certainly made the occasional reference to Aldershot from memory but the band seemed to be working by numbers, almost like they were playing half-asleep (or half-stoned).
At the end of the set, I picked up the hand-written setlist which was on a fluorescent green sheet of paper (how 80s, eh?) I still have it somewhere, but God knows where it is. I met Tony Wilson in 2002 (and he was REALLY nice) and showed him the setlist. He said it was a rare piece of history as he signed it for me.
After the gig, I met the band backstage. They were all perfectly nice to me, to be honest. Shaun was asking me what it was like in Aldershot – did the Army go after people and were the police used to using CS gas? They all signed the back of a gig flyer for me (also still owned, also still in an unknown place) and Bez signed himself as ‘Skaghead’. In my innocence, I thought it was some kind of Manc slang for a shaved head. I knew what ‘skag’ was, but I thought no way would I ever meet someone who had a connection to it!
Jo and Danny drove me home and I remember Jo being quite shocked that Shaun had asked her where he could score some heroin in Aldershot.’
Hutch and I recently got back in touch and he very kindly dug deep into his family garden shed and was able to find lots of joyous recordings and photos of various Buzz Clubs. Including these. Never seen before – thanks so much Hutch!