NME - 08/10/1983

Sleeve Notes 'Best Of'

Red Muze Ltd

TrouserPress.com

All Music Guide

 

(FROM RED MUZE LTD)

This Leeds, Yorkshire pop punk band, formed on Royal Wedding Day in 1981, set themselves a characteristic precedent by being refused permission to play a "Funk The Wedding" gig because they were drunk. The line-up featured John Brennan (ex-25 Rifles; bass), John Langford (ex-Mekons; guitar) and John Hyatt (ex-Sheeny And The Goys, Another Colour; vocals).

They met in Leeds while they were at college, although individually they are from Wales, Belfast and Wolverhampton. A drum machine was used in preference to an extra member, although, ironically, all three musicians were competent percussionists. They signed to CNT Records in 1982 and released two singles, one of which, "English White Boy Engineer", was a reworking of an old Mekons number. The lyrical focus of the song attacked hypocritical attitudes towards South Africa and apartheid, and the group were quickly designated as left-wing rockers, albeit heavy drinking ones: "We all have socialist convictions and obviously that comes through . . . but we're not a socialist band. We're a group of socialists who are in a band. It's a fine distinction but an important one". They quickly made their reputation via frenetic and comic live shows, even performing a version of Madonna's "Like A Virgin". A legacy of fine singles populated the independent charts, including "Pink Headed Bug", "Men Like Monkeys" and "Do The Square Thing'.

1985"s "Death Of A European" was a New Musical Express Single Of The Week, although by misfortune it emerged in the aftermath of the Heysel football tragedy and hence achieved no airplay. Unfortunately, there was insufficient success to allow the band to give up their day jobs. Langford earned his living as a part-time graphic designer for the Health Education Service, and Hyatt (who designed the band's covers) was a teacher of Fine Art at Leeds Polytechnic. Their debut album, Atom Drum Bop, bore the legend "Rock 'n' Roll versus Thatcherism', and included contributions from schoolgirl Kate Morath on oboe.

They worked with Adrian Sherwood on 1987's Never And Always, while 1988"s The Death Of Everything And More was summed up by one critic as "messy, snappy, guttural". After that came a long break in their musical endeavours: "We basically stopped working after our last gig in December 1988. We'd done a US tour which was a total disaster and we didn't speak to each other after that, we were all too busy having babies and things". Hyatt produced an art exhibition at Liverpool's Tate Gallery, and Langford continued to work with the Mekons. They returned with Eat Your Sons in 1990, a concept album dealing with, of all things, cannibalism.