Bristol Archive Records Blog

Posts Tagged ‘punk rock’

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 Cortinas – UK Tour 2012

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

It is with regret that The Cortinas have had to cancel their proposed tour dates this summer.


Due to circumstances beyond their control the band have made the disappointing decision.


They hope to revisit the idea at some stage in the future, until then the reunion is off.


Mike Darby



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!