Swansea Punk 1977 - 80's.... so far
News n stuff
- site started october 2006.
Punkhouse Records presents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Swansea Punk Rock.On the 18th October 2013 four vinyl offerings will be released on the same day.
An Album on 2 x 7" by the Autonomes (TIDY 2)
Classic recordings by the Venom (TIDY 3)
A double a side by the Urge/Dodo's (TIDY 5)
An EP release of the Lost Boys (TIDY 6)
More info, including info on how to buy as well as future plans etc, can be found at punkhouserecordshop.com
The Urge reform for a one-off show at the Garage in Swansea to be held on 18th October. Supporting them on the night are The Lost Boys who have also got back together for this one show, and MC-ing the proceedings is Mr Ray "Roughler" Jones, who'll perform some Dyfatty Flats and Page3 classics.
A reformed Autonomes, plus 999 and the Lurkers play at the Garage, Uplands to a packed crowd. The first 50 customers each received a free, Autonomes cassette (TIDY 1) of the band, recorded in Nelly's bedroom back in 1979 (No longer available)
Publication of Ray Jones book, "Drowning on Dry Land" (pub. Bone 2010)
"Very few people have seen life from as many angles as Ray Jones. After a regular upbringing in a working-class area of Swansea, Ray veered off the rails into a life of shoplifting and small-time drug dealing fuelled by alcohol and driven by gambling. Inevitably, Ray was sent to prison and eventually left Swansea for London such was his growing notoriety with the police and magistrates in his home town."Available from "Tangent Books"here
Updated history pages with a few more Pics and posters (including Circles Poster, notes and corrections kindly supplied by Gareth Brown) , also ammended and fixed some points and removed a couple of dead links
Added Adam and the Ants pics from Circles (- here) (-thanks to John Davies), 1979. Also additional tracks and more info about the Tunnelrunners
Added a few Shrapnel tunes which I'd inadvertently deleted by mistake (sorry Dai). Thanks to Chris Leek for the Skinny Bodies and Living Legends posters, piccies and articles
More Info about the progress of the film of Ian Bone's book, "Bash the Rich" can be found at filmmaker Greg Hall's blog here: bashtherichfilm.wordpress.com/
Page 3 (Ray Jones and Ian Bone) on youtube:-
Chuck Warner's excellent "Hyped to Death" label has released the latest in the Messthetics series, featuring bands from the South Wales area. As Nuggets and Pebbles were to '60s garage-bands, the Messthetics series documents the essential bands of the DIY and the (very) indie postpunk generation ( '77-81) of the British Isles, Messthetics #104 features rarities by Tax Exiles, What To Wear, Crash Action Winners, and the 12- and 13-year-old splendor of the Autonomes amongst others.
"By the end of 1977, years of music industry neglect (and the abrupt departure for London of the few feckless punks who'd landed record-deals) had left South Wales' fertile ground for D.I.Y. The most basic instrumentation, one-take recordings and black and white graphics ruled the day, so it's no surprise that not one of the records here sold more than 1200 copies. Mindful of these feeble sales, a dozen alumni of Cardiff's Z-Block label (and various mates) gave up releasing records altogether, and busied themselves in a frenzy of increasingly-sophisticated home recording. Here's just the tip of that iceberg 23 songs on the CD, plus six bonus MP3 tracks. 24-page booklet, lovingly documented with histories & photos galore."
Get it from here- hypedtodeath.com
6th jan 2008
The Page 3/Autonomes/&etc &etc Re-union gig, originally planned for July, has had to be put back, firstly due to Ray Jones breaking a bone then because of Ian Bone's moving back to London. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen.
Talk is that film maker Greg Hall is intending to make a film of "Bash The Rich", including a full-on LIVING LEGENDS/PAGE 3 soundtrack plus a recreation of some of the scenes from PAGE3's glory years, according to Bones blog, "It should take about 6 weeks to film with mainly unknown actors/non- actors shot in Swansea and London and hopefully for general release in autumn 2009. Greg has "The Plague" and "Kapital" to his credits and is a top geezer so the film should be a chance to get the laughter and tears of contemporary anarchism into the mainstream for all to see!"
More to follow soon...
Early Days 1977
Well, the Sex Pistols played in Circles on September 23nd 1976, in between the infamous 100 Club festival and the much bootlegged Burton on Trent gig, Was there anyone who actually saw them? Well, rumours abounded of at least 20 people being there.
The late (and notoriously factually inaccurate) Dave Goodman recalled that night in his diary (now sadly defunct following his passing):-
" At this gig I was approached at the bar by two members of Bad Company. They’d been high in the charts that year and I hadn’t really expected to see them in Swansea. They said they’d cut short a recording session in France to fly over and see the Pistols, as they were intrigued by the group's growing reputation. After the show they told me they definitely wanted the Pistols to have the support slot on their next UK tour.... After the gig, the Bad Company boys came backstage to announce their tour offer. "Fucking hell!" said John, smiling with unexpected enthusiasm. "Yeah? A whole tour?" said Steve, looking up from some girl's cleavage. "Yeah," said one of Bad Company, "we really do like your band. That was some great in- your-face rock 'n' roll you played out there tonight!" "We were shit," said Rotten deadpan, regaining his cool as he spoke in his usual wry tones. We later joined the Bad Company guys at the bar and listened to their stories of country mansions, studios in the south of France, platinum girls who could be seduced in under two minutes and platinum LPs that took over two years to record. The Pistols didn't seem overly impressed with any of it.…"
(Though whether Goodman was even there is debatable, as punk DJ John Davies, who was also at the gig says,
"I Don't care what Dave Goodman says but I don't remember any of Bad Company there... I do remember Jacko throwing a pint over Johnny Rotten though."
The Clash played Swansea University on May 16th as part of the White Riot tour, supported by the Subway Sect
I can't actually remember much of the Clash's set, just vague recollections of White Riot and Police and Thieves, mainly because of the large volume of cheap cider which I'd taken advantage of in the student bar earlier in the evening. It was Subway Sect that really impressed me the most. They came onto a foot high stage, dressed in old, dark grey postman uniforms and black slip-on's (with no socks!) and who ran through a sharp barrage of songs, mainly white noise with nasally vocals that all sounded pretty much the same, I'd never seen or heard anything like it before, especially when Vic Goddard (the vocalist) shouted to the bass player that he'd just played the wrong song and nobody seemed to notice....
Nigel Drean remembers,
"I was such a fan back then. I was the first one through the door at the top of the stairs and took the large black poster off the wall as II went in. I rolled it up and guarded it with my life as I braced my knees against the stage and suffered the pogoing punks in my back as Subway Sect played their set. As if that wasn't mad enough, the place went wild when The clash came on.
I sold the posters when times were tight and would gladly sell my mother to get them back. Top gig!".
Clash at Swansea University, Pics by Anthony Thomas @ -euroshots.com (now defunct)
Then the Stranglers supported by the Dictators played at the Top Rank suite on 24th October and things were never quite the same again.
.Punk Rock was just starting to catch on in big time in South Wales when The Stranglers came to town and this was the first real punk band that many people had seen, and they acted accordingly. Spitting and throwing beer was punk; Jean Jaques Burnel was a black belt in jujitsu karate and the Finchley Boys were a fucking rock-hard gang of hells angels, bikers and other assorted nutcases, who carried knives ands chains and baseball bats to the away gigs and created havoc - it said so in the Sun!
Jean Jaques Burnel, (after 20 minutes and many requests to stop spitting)-
"Right, the next person to throw a beer can gets it".A guy chucked his beer at him so John dived head first into the crowd and started pummeling this geezer, whos buddies started fighting back. Out came the Finchley boys from backstage (which antagonized the local "big boys and bikers even more ") and then the bouncers charged in, lashing out indiscriminately.
Kunzle Kate later reviewed the gig in ALARM! :-
"I've often wondered why bands prefer playing Cardiff rather than Swansea. Well, after going to see the Stranglers at the Top Rank (ticket price £1.60), I can see why now. The Dictators who supported played really good exiting set to the accompinment of thrown beer glasses all around them. When the Stranglers came on it got even worse, fuck, I wouldn't play with nerks hurling beer glasses at me. The bass player over reacted in some peoples eyes, when he dived into the audience, grabbing someone who'd been throwing glasses or something. Of course, then the glasses really started coming over.All in all it was an 'orrible night. The bouncers there must be some of the most brutal I've ever seen, one of them, lashed out and hit a young girl in the face, sending her sprawling about six feet. The atmosphere of the place was such that, I dont care what band plays there, I'll be fucked if I ever go in there again. I can think of better ways to entertain myself, which I'll elaborate on next week"
This is how a Finchley boy remembers it:-
just want to curl up and die, kind of cold
Shut your eyes and let the clouds of icy breath billow upwards and take your frozen soul with it, kind of cold.
I envied all those who were blissfully unaware of impending doom. Me? I just hid it really well. Maybe they did too, who knows? but no one displayed any emotion when we discussed the Swansea gig.
By now, the Finchley boys were well known,...articles with references to our antics (often exaggerated) appeared weekly. Our reputation preceded us and and we were now considered "legitimate targets for any group of nutters who fancied "having a go."...
The band had "Finchley Boy" t-shirts produced,...we were issued two each. We wore them with pride. We might as just as well have painted the roundels of targets on our backs.
...As I walked slowly across the room I was aware of a crunching sound. I was walking over a carpeted area that was literally covered in shattered glass. The atmosphere was electric, I could feel the tension.
These tough old welsh boyo's were going to show the finchley boys how they were going to finish the job properly....Boots and fists seemed to explode from every direction, circles opening and closing around skirmishes in the large crowd, sending shock waves and rippling people in an involuntary Mexican wave.
The Stranglers were aware of the happenings in the hall. I remember John giving back some verbal to a section of the crowd with his usual sneering "fuck you" attitude. That was the way it had to be dealt with. No quarter asked and certainly none given.
Needless to say, the Stranglers didnt play an encore
SSA bar, Union St
Now a dance studio. The SSA Student bar on the top floor of the Mond buildings was where most of the local bands first got to play.. One of the first was the Skinny Bodies in May 78 and, once word started getting round. others followed. One Sunday in July 1978 featured a benefit gig for Rock Against Racism and featured Mannequin, The Trendies, and Johnny And The Nuforms. It soon became a regular sunday nighter with other bands, The End, Johnny and the Exits, The Noise and Next Step taking their first tentative steps here.
It closed abruptly and with no warning in early 1979
Townhill Training College
Reggae band Misty In Roots played in the main hall in the summer of 1978, supporting were local punk band, Skinny Bodies, who's drummer, Steve Lovell was frequently seen hanging about in Virgin records and guitarist, Chris Leek could often be seen around the place, trying to sell an Alarm!. After that, it slowly built a reputation as a good venue to play and nearly every local band had some sort of gig here, either in the bar (more so in the early days) or in the main hall, playing alongside bands including as The Lurkers, The Rezillo's, Here And Now and Splodgenessabounds (+Capt Sensible).Following trouble at a Venom/PayDay gig, including a plate glass window getting broken, the College banned all gigs -for ever!
Circles (AKA- 'Dirty 'Doras, "The Pit", Marina Nitespot)
Pandora's... Circles, "thats a fucking rough place mate, you dont wanna be going there", or so went the rumours. And it was a whole new experience when you first paid your money and went down those stairs into the club. A dingy black/red gloss painted room set off by mirror-panelled walls, perpetually sticky carpet and a bar running down the back, but set back into the room a bit so you could walk all the way around it, past bouncers who reminded you of the baddies in "For a Fews More" , the clientele of ex hippy bikers, valley boys, voyeurs, and dodgy looking women (who all seemed to consider this influx of grotty, skinny punks into their envioronment with mild contempt) where you could finally get yourself an expensive luke warm, watered -down beer in areused plastic glass, And it had a revolving stage,(although I only saw it revolve once- and even that time it fucked-up)
A couple of punk bands played there during 1976 and '77 (including the Sex PIstols and the Radiators From Space) but it wasn't until the beginning of 1978 that Circles nightclub in Adelaide street started doing regular punk nights on Mondays and Thursdays. The first few I remember were The Boys, on 6th March, the Slits supporting Buzzcocks a few days later and the Vibrators the following week. Other memorial names to play there included; 999, Johnny Moped (with Dave Berk perched atop the PA), Lurkers, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs (featuring authentic vomiting on stage), Ultravox!, Adam and the Ants (violent nights), Sham69 (non violent) and Crass/Poison Girls. X-Ray Spex were scheduled to appear there one time, but Poly discovered religion that same night - so couldnt make it
The club stopped putting on bands in the early eighties but continued as a flea-pit until it closed in the mid-90's. More recently the whole building of which Circles was part of (The Exchange Buildings) has been converted into a prestigious office development
In addition to the infamous Stranglers gig, Played host to many of the more commercial punk and new wave acts such as Ian Dury and the Blockheads +Squeeze, Eddie and the Hot Rods, , the Police and the Buzzcocks
Old Nicks Art Workshop
A tiny little venue in Gloucester Place directly opposite the Dylan Thomas Theatre was once an ex mission church for seamen. It is now an acclaimed art gallery( Mission Gallery). Hosted local bands such as Dyfatty Flats, The Urge and Pseudo Sadists, plus, on occasion, one or two more widely-known bands. PinPoint is one such that has been pointed out to me
@ The Refectory and "Debates" (Nelson Mandela Bar)
Apart from the aforementioned Clash/ Subway Sect gig in 1977 and, the following year, when the Stage collapsed when the Lurkers performed there, gigs at the Uni were very sporadic. They became more popular when events moved from the Refectory to the Mandela Bar on the top floor of the student union block, with reggae bands such as Misty in Roots, Asward and Steel Pulse all performing there.
Page 3 also performed a rather spectacular performace there one night (see review here)
Media, movers and shakers
Virgin Records, Union Street
So punk was slow to kick off in Swansea. but, luckily the town was blessed with a local Virgin Records shop which became a sort of refuge and the only place to hear punk rock and hang out. It started with a few boxes on the counter but soon there were rows and rows of picture sleeves, all screaming anarchy. The staff, Jerry, Jeff, Merrell, Nigel, Mitchell and the very sexy "trendy" Wendy ( who was also the sister of Arturo of the Lurkers) behind the counter,were always helpful and obliging and would always play a record before you bought it (if it wasn't too busy) Jerry was to put on the first punk "discos" -at swansea University and Townhill College in late '77, Mitchell Edmond joined the DC10's in 1980. He later went on to manage a prestigious Virgin Mega-Store, and Wendy May went on to sing for original cow-punk band, the Boothill Foot Tappers from 1982-1985 (click here for youtube video), as well as a presenter on Channel 4's music show "The Tube" with (Paula Yates and Jools Holland) and DJ on "Capital Radio".
Virgin closed quickly and quietly one wednesday afternoon in 1982 when the area manager, who was already concerned that the shop was not making any money came to check the books at the very same time that Ivor (of the Pseudo Sadists) chose to walk his goat through the shop, which promptly has a piss against the singles rack.
Herald of Wales - Graham Larkbey
Mentioned in the Zigzag small labels catalogue of 1978, Graham Larkbey had been the first person in Swansea to release a DIY single, the thrash/folk nonsense of Aunt Fortesques BluesRockers was released in in 1975. John Peel wrote back to Graham saying he'd see if he could play it but wasn't sure if the Beeb would allow him as it wasn't on a proper label...
Sleever was his next band, playing anything they fancied from Dylan to their own stuff also including some Hot Rods and Ramones numbers
"I suppose we were to Swansea punk what pub rock was to the London end of things, ie a bit before it and a bit older than everyone else. We played all sorts of stuff, and we were the first band in town to put a few vaguely punkish numbers into our set (everyone one else was still doing Man & Wishbone Ash covers), so the few pioneering Swansea punks used to come along to our regular hot and sweaty Saturday night gigs at the White Swan in High Street, sit politely through the Dylan stuff & the bluesy stuff, and go mental at the end. When we split up (gradually, painfully and acrimoniously) I decided I'd had enough of the hassle of being in a band and decided to do a spell promoting gigs and backroom stuff instead, I couldn't get a slot in the Evening Post as they didn't take freelance work so I wrote to the then editor of the Herald Of Wales, Con Atkin, saying I really thought they needed a rock column, and to my surprise he gave me one."
His weekly Rock 'N' All Column frequently promoted the newer bands (as well as hosting the all important weekly gig guide) I remember being dead chuffed when he wrote a headline about The Venom entitled, "Things Come Back To Life Again" after he's attended a boisterous evening of ours at the Hafod Inn. There was another time, shortly after we'd recorded our second demo,when four of us called at his house early one Saturday morning (much to his disconcertion) to drop off the tape and get his (hopefully) written approval (which in this case however, come the following Thursday, was far too critical for our liking and talk was of going to see him again on the following Saturday to put him right !!).
With much work behind the scenes,not least the publiction of the fanzine "Dollar Gas" in late 78/early '79, he helped set up Sonic International records (with Steve Mitchell). Left Swansea in early 80's but still makes the occasional appearance at Pontadawe folk festival Top bloke!
- Gower inn.
- coach house.
- hafod inn.
The main bands from this period were:
Out on their own
Do they care...
The Urge / The Dodos
I dont care what you say...
The meek ones...
this is your number one enemy speaking
. why cant we just be free?
- coming next!!
Wants some satisfaction
Coming shorty:(see old links)
Next step - View More
Page3/Living Legends - View More
Pseudo Sadists - View More
What to wear - View More
No Label - View More
Shrapnel - View More
Loop - View More
The Inserts - View More
More pics to follow shortly
- Next Step
- Dyfatty Flats
- What To Wear
- Pseudo Sadists
- No Label
- Nocturnal Pimples
- Mannequin etc