With a strong claim to being the first Swansea punk band, Mannequin were formed around the James brothers, Simon and Roger (known as 'Wolfe'), and their classmate Simon Rogers, in the countryside suburbia of Bishopston - 6 miles out of Swansea, on the South coast of the Gower peninsula. Practising in the James household in the early months of '78, the covers de jour (Wire, The Clash, The Stranglers, The Vibrators) started to be augmented by a few of the brothers' own compositions, while thoughts turned to doing this stuff in a public performance.
The Gowerton Comprehensive class of '78 also included Andrew Reader and his band, Johnny & The Nuforms, so the two groups joined forces and rented out a church hall/scout hut further down the Gower coast, deep in the sticks. Pennard Parish Hall on 22 April was essentially a glorified rehearsal for Mannequin and The Nuforms, with guest assistance from various friends. The extended family of friends and schoolmates in attendance numbered less than twenty but there's no record of an earlier 'punk' event in the Swansea area and amongst those that were there were future members of The Trendies, Next Step, The Lost Boys, DC10s, The Partizans, and the King Snakes.
A week later, one and all were on the coach to London for the Rock Against Racism rally at Victoria Park and there was a feeling that something exciting was happening. Both bands practised hard, wrote more new songs, played for the first time at the SSA Bar in town and, on July 22nd, the Pennard Parish Hall event was repeated - this time with Wendy and her gang, The Nocturnal Pimples, on the bill, bringing the Bish contingent and the Cwmdonkin/Virgin/What To Wear contingent together.
Mannequin got a new drummer, Neil, and over the remainder of 1978 and into '79 played something of a residency at the SSA Bar while also turning out at Circles, Old Nicks art Workshop, The Waen Wen Inn, Townhill Technical College and an unnamed pub in Llanelli. But by the anniversary of the first Parish Hall gig, Mannequin were no more, though they did leave behind a fantastic session of originals - recorded in a barn on Jeff Evans' dad's farm - and a handful of classic photos that speak volumes about punk in suburbia, hundreds of miles from the bright lights of London.
Recordings made at Jeff Evans Barn are soon to see the light of day as an E.P.
For more info on this, see PunkHouse Records
Simon James - Guitar,
Roger (Wolfe) James - vocals,
Simon Rogers - guitar
Neil - drums.