Thames Polytechnic – Indie Music

My time at Thames mostly involved going to see bands, and trying to get off with girls in the Poly bars. One of these aims was more successful than the other. I didn;t usually take my camera to gigs with me, but here are a couple of occasions when I did. Top - the March Violets at Woolwich Coronet:

Genuine Goth action from the 1980s there!

Terry and Gerry in the Cellar Bar - that's Terry, left, on the double bass and Gerry is on the right:
and Doreen Deville (aka Su Richardson, Su Sonic) - washboard and singing, behind Gerry.

Terry again:

I've still got their album which I bought at the gig. It's in the Buddy Holly style - hence Buddy's birthplace appearing in the title of their album, which had a picture of Birmingham's Bull Ring centre on the front.

After a faultering start in the world of Indie music I fully immersed myself. At first, I had hundreds of pounds in the bank account and the temptation to fritter it away on records was overwhelming. But, actually, I was really good. Apart from a few early purchases, I bought hardly any music through the college years. I picked up some cheapo tapes from WHSmiths - Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Beatles live, Blues compilations, etc. as I hadn't been able to bring my record collection with me, and only had a few tapes.

On the radio there was the John Peel show, and now I could go and see the bands he played - Plymouth might as well have been the Moon in musical terms. I suspect you could have received John Peel on the Moon too if you stood in the right place. I started to shed my old tastes, gradually. Most of the electronic acts had gone wrong by 1985 though I kept buying Numan albums on into the early 90s stopping just short of his career low. OMD's new material was offensively poppy, so much for their experimental remit. And my main hero - Bowie - was pissing his talent away at that point with, firstly a seriously substandard album, though not yet his worse, and a series of one off singles of variable quality. I made the decision to become a dedicated Elvis Costello fan. I'd loved Imperial Bedroom and in 1985/86 he released probably the two greatest albums of his career, "King of America" and "Blood & Chocolate". Though sorely tested at times, I remain a dedicated Costello fan.

But the sea change for me in 1985 was my immersion in the Independent scene, which at that point was still largely undefined and pretty much seperate from mainstream. occasionally a band would break through, such as Aztec Camera, or Orange Juice, but only after being signed to a major. Early on I became a Wedding Present fan - they played the cellar bar performing their one EP at that point and a couple of extra songs, but the show was over after about 30 minutes. I stood at the front and kept shouting "Felicity" which was an Orange Juice cover they used to do.

Other bands that pushed my buttons were Stump, Jesus & Mary Chain, Half Man Half Biscuit, Cocteau Twins, The Fall, Nico & The Faction, The Men they Couldn't Hang, the Pogues, etc. but not yet The Smiths.

Started going to gigs with Dave. We saw the Wedding Present and Soup Dragons. There were others too - Jamie Wednesday who later became Carter the unstoppable Sex Machine... Went to see The Fall, who I already liked, from the Beggars Banquet sampler tape that came out earlier in the year, and from John Peel. It was in the Coronet. I got roped into giving leaflets out before the gig by the Labour Society. They mainly got used as paper aeroplanes during the gig. I’m pleased that I helped influence a Fall gig in such an important way.

By Christmas I saw Nico and the Faction, got big into Velvet Underground. Made idiot of myself at party in Plymouth by drinking vodka like water and getitng way too pissed.

I first got into the Fall while still at school - a sampler compilation from Beggars Banquest came out and contained a track from their current album. Through 1985 I taped new and old sessions form the John Peel show and bought a couple of their albums on my meagre grant. Then The Fall came to Woolwich!

This is an exceprt from The Fall gigography website:

Thursday, 6 February 1986 Coronet, Woolwich, London SE18
Mansion (intro tape) / My New House / Bombast / Disney's Dream Debased / Rowche Rumble / Lay of the Land / Hey! Luciani / Gut of the Quantifier / Dktr Faustus (two attempts) / Hot Aftershave Bop / Cruiser's Creek / Lie Dream of a Casino Soul / L.A. / Couldn't Get Ahead / 2 x 4
Supported by Alternative TV. £3.50.
Peter: "Paul Hanley drummed here at short notice in place of Karl and couldn't get Dktr Faustus right as you can tell from the tape and 2 attempts at it. Mansion as per 10.85 tour on tape only. Definitely source for Rowche Rumble on Crash Course promo."

Funnily enough - I can't remember seeing Alternative TV, but I do have one of their records and like it very much - and I'm pretty sure I would have known who they were at thetime even - but, alas, memory is a very fragile thing.