Bristol Archive Records Blog

Posts Tagged ‘1978’

The Cortinas – ‘Summer in the City’ – Free Download

Thursday, March 10th, 2016



The Cortinas – ‘Summer in The City’ (Previously unreleased and never heard before)

Available from 14th March 2016
The Cortinas - Summer In The City jpeg

To download and listen click on the link or copy/paste into your browser:

Summer in City was recorded on Wednesday 5 April 1978 (’12 noon- 8am’) at Trident Studio, London W1. It was produced by Will Birch who reviewed one of our earliest gigs at The Roxy in Sounds (one of 3 or 4 national weekly music papers. Imagine.), perhaps our first, supporting The Stranglers. Anyway it would have been very early 1977, the first 100 days. The review was outstanding so we assumed that he had got the name of the band wrong. We also recognised the writer; Will Birch was the drummer in the Kursaal Flyers, a band that we had admired from the mid – 70s. The Kursaals were from Southend and played what can only be described as western-swing-tinged classic pop. They were a great live band, very theatrical and retro. Paul Shuttleworth, the singer, had a sort of flamboyant spiv image. They didn’t just play music. They were an act. They were a show. So the review was an endorsement from someone we admired.

That initial connection with the Kursaals was cemented later that year when we toured with them as support, having passed on an offer to tour with The Stranglers to the Pop Group (whatever happened to them?). By then we had done two Step Forward singles and were growing out of the punk thing, writing songs that were looking for pop magic, and had somehow obtained a contract with CBS. So the tour was an opportunity to test and refine the songs. It was also a great laugh. At the end of it, for reasons we didn’t quite grasp, the Kursaals called it a day.
kursals leeds poly

After that we did the album, True Romances. I think that during the recording everyone had some sense of waiting for something to happen. It didn’t. What we didn’t understand was production. And neither did the producer. It’s very flat and doesn’t have a direction. That’s not to say it would have been any better with a proper producer and we made the mistake of thinking in terms of a live sound which, it turns out, has to be produced. But the songs had actually moved away from that and we didn’t know it. The album slipped out to, at best, sympathetic reviews, although John Peel had some kind words for it. CBS had probably been expecting a more cartoonish punky-wunky Vibrators record.

So after that, we were at a bit of a loose end. In fact, we were a bit bored. Then Miles Copeland suggested we do some recording with Will Birch. It was logical and exciting. We decided to do a cover and after having a go at Love’s version of Bacharach’s Little Red Book, (to sing Bacharach you actually have to be able to sing) The Lovin Spoonful’s Summer In The City was rehearsed and off we trotted to the world famous Trident Studios. It was as if we had been beamed onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

I think we had imagined that producing records was all about someone knowing how to push some secret buttons on a machine. That’s part of it. But the main thing is about getting a performance. I think this recording shows that Will Birch knew how to do that. No big fuss or mystique. No psychology. But it wasn’t really enough to revive our enthusiasm. Other moods had started to emerge and we were pretty clear that we didn’t want to end up like those rock casualties reminiscing 40 years later about what might have been. Will went on to form The Records and subsequently produced (The Yachts, The Long Ryders), wrote music, journalism, and No Sleep Till Canvey Island: The Great Pub Rock Revolution (2004) and Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography (2010. who once, during the Kursaals Tour, told me to ‘fuck off’).

A few years ago Will contacted me – because of the internet – and told me that he had transferred the analogue tape to digital. We didn’t have any copies so of course we wanted to hear it. I think we thought it was better than we remembered. Then we ummed and ahhed about what to do with it! Eventually we decided that Bristol Archive Records was the right outlet. There were a few wobbles on the original so Steve Street, engineer on The Cortinas GBH demos (also available through Bristol Archive Records), pressed some secret buttons and sorted them out. I have heard it said that The Cortinas were whisked away from punkdom and exploited by the evil music industry. If only. Who knows? We might have got a Huey Lewis and The News support slot – Touring Germany – In February.

Jeremy Valentine – March 2016.

The Bristol Reggae Explosion – NOW ON RED VINYL

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

We have a limited pressing – 500 copies only available to preorder now on beautiful RED Vinyl


The X-Certs Album

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


 Vinyl LP – Limited Edition 500 Pressing with Insert plus Strictly Limited Replica CD and Download


Released 8th August 2011


1978 and especially 1979 were confusing times for young punks in the provinces. If you didn’t want to go all arty and post-punk, or buy a stupid skinny tie and go New Wave, you were doomed to be terminally unfashionable. Two years later, you were still terminally unfashionable, but you could sell records. But that’s another story.


As 1978 wore on, we thanked God for the likes of UK Subs and Angelic Upstarts, and here in Brizzle…the mighty X-Certs! With Clive Arnold (vocals and guitar), Simon Justice (guitar), Taf (bass) and Neil Mackie (drums), The X-Certs served up welcome blasts of Clash-style punk anthems. They were politically charged and passionate, friendly and down to earth, and a great live act, but for some reason their recordings were relatively few and far between. One track, Blue Movies, on Hearbeat Records’ 4-Alternatives EP, and another called Anthem on the same label’s acclaimed Avon Calling compilation album. And that’s yer lot with the original line up.


Live, though, they were real contenders, pulling as many as 500 people into Trinity Church before they even had a record out, and supporting the likes of the afore-mentioned Angelic Upstarts, Pere Ubu, Misty In Roots, The Only Ones, and most famously, The Clash, at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, on 11 February 1980, on the 16 Tons Tour, with none other than Topper Headon mixing their sound.


By the Clash gig the line-up had changed and so had the band’s style, exploring new musical territories including reggae, but this album captures the original four-piece at the peak of their Punk Rock powers.


“We Are What We Are. We Are – The X-Certs”


ARTIST: The X-Certs

TITLE: ‘Rated XXX’

FORMAT: Limited Edition  500 Pressing Vinyl LP plus strictly limited edition hand made replica CD and Download

LABEL: Bristol Archive Records


CAT NO: ARC138V and ARC138CD

RELEASE DATE: 8th August  2011


CONTACT: Mike Darby, E:  T: 07885 498 402

The X-Certs Album to be released later in 2011

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The X-Certs   Album    ‘Rated XXX’          ARC138V   (Vinyl Release later this year)




  1. Anthem          (Simon Justice)        Heartbeat Music 1979
  2. Together        (Clive Arnold)            Recreational Music 1979
  3. Blue Movies   (Simon Justice)     Heartbeat Music 1979
  4. People Of Today  (Simon Justice)  Copyright Control 1978
  5. You Have Been Warned   (Taf)    Copyright Control 1978
  6. Spotlight   (Arnold, Justice, Mackie, Taf) Copyright Control 1978
  7. City Claustrophobia   (Clive Arnold)   Copyright Control 1978
  8. Suicide   (Clive Arnold)   Copyright Control 1978
  9. Fight Back   (Simon Justice)  Copyright Control 1978
  10. Gotta Get Away   (Simon Justice)   Copyright Control 1978


Track 1 and 3 Recorded at Crescent Studios, Bath Engineered by David Lord and Glen Tommey. Track 3 Recorded April 8th 1979.


All other tracks either recorded at GBH Studios, Bristol in 1978/79 or Drone Studios in Manchester 1978. The Bristol tracks were engineered and produced by Steve Street.


Here’s a snippet of the text from the sleeve notes. There are fantastic photos included as well.



Neil Mackie – Drums


The X-Certs were one of the true original punk bands of Bristol. Even though they were not among the very first wave of bands to be born of this New Wave movement (like The Cortinas for instance) when punk rock exploded initially, they were one of, if not the first band to come from the areas of the city you wouldn’t want to go to. With cheap Woolworths guitars that sounded just as good as their illustrious peers, a worn out 2nd hand drum kit and broken amplifiers, they made a sound totally different but totally of their time.


Hailing from the housing estates and the working class underbelly of East Bristol with attitude belying their roots and heavily influenced by the sights, sounds and smells of the Black and Asian communities they grew up with, The X-certs quickly became a powerful and influential force on the scene with a huge local following, inspiring countless others like them to pick up their instruments as the weapon of choice and be heard. Before they formed their own band Vice squad were often seen at those incendiary early gigs.


The X-Certs grew out of a politically charged era and atmosphere, under the cloud of power cuts, strikes, riots, dole queues and heavy handed police tactics on anyone that didn’t conform. This included Black, Asian, ‘the looney left’ and anyone who looked different or appeared out of place, so growing up in these areas of the city meant they were constantly being hounded with stop and search tactics. Add this to the fact that these were violent times; they were often the target for NF thugs, football hooligans and biker gangs. It’s no wonder they had plenty to rage about compared with their uptown cousins, taking the option to let the music vent their anger rather than just giving up hope like so many around them. Yes, “A working class hero is something to be” someone once wrote!


The first official X-Certs gig was at the Crown Tavern on Stapleton Road, a grotty, smoky dive frequented by hardcore IRA supporters and anarchist groups. They were the first band to play there ahead of a few New Wave acts who dared to venture into the wrong end of town. Even today the Stapleton Road area of Bristol has a reputation for drug dealers, muggers and prostitutes, some of whom would follow the band at those early gigs. Taff, the bass player with the group, made the first hand-made poster with the legendary words: ‘X-Certs are coming – you have been warned’, to be plastered across the city which was also the title of one of the first songs written by the group. The first gig was full of power, sweat, blood and tears, the packed audience all swept up in the moment. The hand-built, makeshift stage survived and the legend was born.


The X-Certs went on to become hugely popular and the first choice as local support for visiting bands, especially when playing at Trinity Hall, Old Market, close to their fanbase from the estates of Easton and Barton Hill.


They opened for the likes of Misty in Roots, Angelic Upstarts and Pere Ubu as well as playing several headline sell-out shows of their own at Trinity Hall.  The X-Certs played everywhere from city centre established music venues, halls and community centres in the suburbs, political rallies, backs of lorries, to ramshackle fleapits in every corner of the West Country in those early days, often in places where others feared to tread. They had the plug pulled on them or were closed down by the police on several occasions and still they kept coming. As their fanbase grew so did their notoriety and were even banned from several venues. Even this didn’t deter them as The X-Certs were fast becoming the local band of choice for all the disenfranchised outcasts throughout the region and were now getting attention from further afield.


In summer 1978 they were asked to perform at the now legendary Rock Against Racism carnival in East London. There they performed on the back of a truck with The Ruts who were a like-minded group, politically charged and from a similar background. The two bands took it in turns to play several sets each between the marching and the banner waving.


The X-Certs went on to record twice for Heartbeat Records in those early days: Blue Movies on the Avon Calling compilation album and Anthem on the 4 Alternatives EP, both full of intensity and that trademark X-Certs sound which had power, melody, angst and great tunes, often being compared with the early incarnation of Adam and the Ants or a band that was just coming out of Northern Ireland at the time, Stiff little Fingers.


But to really capture the feel and awesome power of this influential group and to really get a grip on what it all meant, you just had to be there, in the no-job no-money no-future, times of the 70s…..enjoy!


The Private Dicks

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

The Private Dicks play the Prom on Gloucester Road in Bristol this coming Friday the 14th January 2011.

Huw ‘Shugs’ Davies Bass, Mark ‘Sybs’ Seabright Drums, Paul ‘Guivey’ Guiver Guitar, Gavin ‘Ol’ Man King Vocals.

The band has it’s roots in the summer of ’78. GK had left his previous band Uncle Po – which included Helen O’Hara later of Dexys Midnight Runners – and one night attended a gig by the Wild Beasts, whose bass player Andy Franks became Robbie Williams and then Coldplay’s tour manager, while the drummer, Kenny Wheeler, owned Sound Conception Studios where most demos were recorded.

GK: “I was watching the Beasts when a couple of guys I knew slightly carried this bloke over to me – he was drooling and couldn’t stand up. They asked if I was still looking for someone to write with. ‘This guy’s brilliant’. They said he would come over to see me next week. Sure enough, next week I saw this bloke with a guitar outside my flat. I thought, I’m not letting him in, he’ll soon go away. But he didn’t. And I let him in and he stayed till about three in the morning, and we wrote half a dozen songs that night, including ‘She Said Go’. That was Paul Guiver.

We needed some collaborators though. Uncle Po’s ex-drummer, Jimmer Hill, ended up playing in Sneak Preview, who also appeared on Avon Calling. The main man behind that band was Neil Taylor, now Robbie William’s lead guitarist. Neil often played with the Dicks live and on a few recordings. Jimmer’s girlfriend cautiously mentioned that her young brother was in a band called The X-Spurtz and that they had parted company with their singer. They were very much a three-chord punk band, 15 or 16 years old. It is rumoured that they recorded one notorious single , ‘Rape’, about a serial rapist at large in the Clifton area of Bristol. Guivey and I drove down to see them in Somerset but weren’t particularly optimistic. However the rhythm section blew us away. They were shit hot. Sybs – the drummer – was stunning, even though he was only 16. And Shugs, the bass player, played a Gibson Grabber with the treble turned incredibly high, like Jean-Jacques of the Stranglers. The guitarist was a bit arty, and he was more into Siouxsie And The Banshees – which was ironic because later on, one of the guitarists who used to jam with us a lot was Jon Klein who became a Banshee after his time with Specimen.

This band – under the working title of Cliff Ton and The Trendies – rehearsed down at The Docklands in St Paul’s, Bristol (the site of the Riots in 1981) and the other guitarist decided to move to London. The remainder of us were sat in the bar:

PG: ‘Look, we’ve been trying to accommodate this guy, but Gav and I have a ton of material that doesn’t suit him. Do you want to give that a try? Pints finished, the band returned refreshed, we struggled through the Dub Disco to our rehearsal room – and gave ‘She Said Go’ a shot. Twenty minutes later we looked at each other in amazement at what had been achieved.

GK: Nowadays we are often asked about the origin of the band ‘s name. It appears that most youngsters see it in rather a different context than more aged folk, in a nudge-nudge way if you like. However, it came about in a far more innocent way. I was a big fan of Philip Marlow and made the guys watch Bogie in the title role. At one point he is asked ‘what are you some kinda cop ?’ He says ‘Me ? I’m a Private Dick’. We were searching for a name, we’d considered a few – The Plagiarists, Psychotesseracts amongst others – but the words from Bogies lips just seemed to jump out of the screen at us. We all looked at each other and said ‘We ARE Private Dicks. (Umm, I think that drugs may have played a part in this also). That’s it’. The song Private Dicks (very tongue in cheek, thrown together for the B-side of She Said Go) was based around another Bogies movie which we thought drew some threads together. Lauren Bacal says to Bogie ‘If you want me just whistle . . . you know how to whistle dontcha ?’ That answers many people’s questions about the ‘whistling’ lyric on the song Private Dicks itself.

At the time I would say that Elvis Costello’s first album really inspired us apart from all the usual suspects. The song writing and delivery just blew us all away. As a child the first single I bought was ‘I Get Around, by the Beach Boys. I was a chorister and so learnt about harmonies at an early stage and that must be where my fascination came from. Someone once likened us to a mix of the Hollies and Queen. Well the Hollies I’d take cos I just loved their harmonies but Queen? Do me a favour. I reckon it’s just that I had a (ahem) big voice and Mr Mercury weren’t much more than a shouter either.

We began to go through a ritual in rehearsal. Turn up, play those songs that had been rehearsed to satisfaction, run through them again – until satisfied – and then start work on a new one. This way we soon built up a well-rehearsed set of songs. After a few weeks it became obvious that we had something that was worth recording and got in touch with Ken Wheeler and booked an eight hour session one Saturday. It was eight weeks since the other guitarist had left and She Said Go worked out. We picked out three songs – She Said Go, Forget the Night and Green is in the Red. We worked so hard on getting these so well rehearsed that we could just play them live in the studio and get them down. Remember, this was really the first experience that the young guys had had of studio work. The songs were laid down in 8 hours and mixed the following Tuesday in 4 hours.

We couldn’t stop playing the tape. We dragged everyone and anyone back to listen to them. We honestly did think they were the bees knees (again I think drink and drugs may have coloured our opinion). However, we knocked on Simon Heartbeat’s door and played them to him and he immediately asked to put one of them on Avon Calling. Three days later he rang back and said ‘stuff putting She Said Go’ on the album I’m going to put it out as my next single’. One of our most explicit memories is going to the Music Machine to play a gig (to about six people) and before going on going over the road to a kebab shop to eat. They had Mike Read’s show on Radio 1 playing and as we were waiting to get served he played our single. Honest, it’s a feeling you can’t beat.

PG: The mainstay of our early days was the Crown pub situated in the centre of Bristol which had a dank “Cavernesque” old cellar bar run by an old German lady who greeted us as her “little darlinks”. It was often frequented by Biker’s who, after a while stopped trying to kill us. The deal at the Crown was that we would only receive payment if the bar showed a profit of something like £100. After three or four gigs, we packed the place and actually got paid! The Private Dicks were at that time a fast punky band just playing to its strengths really. After all I was actually a bass player and the drummer and bass player had no more than 12 months experience. However the song writing soon became the strong focal point and daily rehearsals suddenly saw us turn into more than three-chord wonders.

GK: After the great reception that our single received, we were on the verge of recording the follow up ‘Don’t follow my Lead’ when we played The Hope Chapel with Jon Klein guesting. In the audience was Simon from Heartbeat and afterwards he introduced us to one Mark Dean (see the introduction to Simon Garfield’s book ‘Expensive Habits). He didn’t actually say ‘I’m gonna make you stars boys’, but he did say that he could see our faces plastered over millions of girls walls, t-shirts etc. He invited us to breakfast at the Holiday Inn the next day where he presented us with a sample contract to take away with us. He would negotiate a release from Heartbeat and get us signed and in the studio double-quick. I should have known better with my experience and should have kept the young guys feet on the ground. As it was I was the one who led the hugging and singing in the Holiday Inn bog.

We immediately did what was natural to us and went to the Kenny in Redland to celebrate the news. After a good session we reached the notorious Elmgrove squat (see The Elmgrove Story below) in the pouring rain, the contract fell out of the grip of a drunken guitarist, into the rain soaked gutter. Said guitarist accidentally trod on it leaving his dirty size nine footprint on the front. It was just like we didn’t value it instead of it being the most important thing that had ever happened to any of us. As it was treating it like a piece of shite was actually very appropriate (again, see Simon Garfield’s book ‘Expensive Habits’ and the problems that signing exactly the same contract caused for George Michael and Andrew Ridgley).

By this time we were in all probability totally out of control, rehearsals a distraction from going to the (again notorious) Dug Out and getting laid. We did manage to fit in our best ever gig at The Granary – a benefit for Cambodia – but once Mark Dean got involved he steered us in all sorts of wrong directions. If I had managed to stay straight long enough then I would have been able to ensure he was steering in the direction that I knew we should be going. As it was I was an arsehole. We did however manage a Radio 1 session which was recorded in January 1980.

The memory of this event is a little different for all of us. I remember the session going really well – the version of ‘Don’t follow My Lead’ on the Homelife album shows how powerful the session was. However, it deteriorated when we couldn’t get the tuning correct for an overdub and Chris ‘Wyper’ Lycett who was producing began to run out of patience. In fact when you consider that Sybs forgot his cymbals (he gate crashed a recording of the BBC Concert orchestra to blag some) and that the only memories the rhythm section have are of wheelbarrow races up and down the corridors, flicking peas at Kate Bush in the BBC canteen and as usual, being pissed for the whole experience, I feel were lucky to come out with something they could broadcast. As I say ‘arseholes’.

PG: My memory was that I was laying down guitar overdubs for ‘catalogue girls,” I could not get the guitar in tune. It would be fair to say that I always tuned guitars by ear and that the tuning of all the Dicks recordings varied subsequently. I tried, Franksy(Tour manager) tried and anyone who might have walked past a guitar shop in their life had a go, with no joy.

Franksy returned with a big grin on his face and with a metal object in his hand, I looked puzzle. To an uncultured punk/new wave guitarist it might well have been the last remaining egg of the Dodo and about as much use. “What that the fuck am I supposed to do with that” I asked. With that Franksy struck it on the edge of a grand piano sitting in the studio and stabbed on its body.” Its a tuning fork you tosser, try tuning your guitar to it”. Well that didn’t help either.

We did however finish the overdubs to “Catalogue Girls” with an out of tune guitar, I think the guitar was getting its own back for me thrashing the living daylights out it for years. The session was played 3 times during 1980 and I cringed every time I heard “catalogue girls”. Luckily there isn’t a copy of that session in existence, as the BBC destroyed the session some time in the eighties.

GK: Although if you know different . . . rumour has that King of the Loan – John Ashton – took the only copy . . . I’ll ask him when he gets parole (sorry John).

Whilst hearing the session broadcast (ignoring the tuning problem) was such a thrill we were being badgered to sign Mark Dean’s contract. I wanted him to first put money into the band (he wanted us to move to London and survive by servicing ladies for money – allegedly) so that we could rehearse with a sound and lighting crew. He just said sign or I walk. I told him the contract was crap and that refusal by me led to his departure and to the inevitable arguments and finally a quick flounce out the door by the singer (I’m a good flouncer me). Oh, and hey, 30 years later they’ve forgiven me enough to play with me again – they say I’m still the same arsehole tho’).


Taken from:



The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-1983 – Album Review

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

West Country Reggae

Bristol Reggae ExplosionWith a significant 50′s Windrush era West Indian community, the St Paul’s riot in 1980 and it’s earlier history as a port central to the 18th Century transatlantic slave trade, Bristol has been something of a microcosm of the trials and tribulations of the black community in the UK. As such it’s hardly surprising that in the 70′s and beyond the city should have had a thriving reggae scene.

Joshua Moses – Africa Is Our Land

The Bristol Reggae Explosion 1978-83 from Bristol Archive Records, available for download now and on CD and LP in February of next year celebrates the bands and artists that in the face of some adversity produced some great and memorable reggae music. The biggest bands of the period, Talisman and Black Roots are well represented with three tracks each and the great Africa Is Our Land by Joshua Moses, is present and correct (which will save you £60-£100 on the cost of the original 12″ on ebay). Rescued from obscurity are a couple of solid 80′s roots tunes from Restiction and some lovers tracks by The Radicals, Sandra Bengamin and Buggs Durant.

Restriction – Four Point Plan

On the face of this release it’s hard to understand why a couple of the bands/artists represented didn’t go further, sign to bigger labels and release LP’s alongside the greats of UK reggae like Aswad and Steel Pulse. But even in the reggae world circa 1980 Bristol was Bristol and London was London, all to often the only recognition came on locally produced and self released limited run 7″ and 12″ singles. To Bristol Archive Recordings, though the style of music may differ from their usual punkier projects, the ethos of the DIY project by overlooked local musicians is their bread and butter, they’ve got a fine release on their hands here and hopefully this time round more of the music will reach a wider audience it always deserved.