Bristol Archive Records Blog

The Long March – Album Review

Bristol Archive Records

William Waine (bass/vocals) seems the mainstay, having seen Dave Cullum (Rhythm Puppet) on guitar and even Mike Darby himself on vocals fall by the wayside, before David Simpson on guitar and the percussively powered Shane Leonard cemented the lineup, occasionally enlivened by string players Justine and Kate Dobbins, although it all occurred between 1986 and 1988 so it may have veered around for all I know. William now sings and swings with Dynamos Rhythm Aces. Snotty punk Dave suggests, “If, when you’re listening to these old tunes, you don’t like them, you can still fuck off!” Well said, that man.


‘When Reason Sleeps’ makes a fabulous impact immediately with keenly explorative vocals pushing through a lean but busy indie song, with muscular drums, and gently detonating guitar, it’s all very melodic, all very spirited. ‘Drowning’ pitches along with tumultuous despair through throttled guitar and wild vocal curves, like a darker version of Hurrah! ‘Weakness’ finds the drums escalate, the vocals drift away as a guitar vibrates cautiously and strings introduce more discretion. Whistles, percussion and drums buffet storytelling vocals in the cute ‘Black Friday’ which makes for an unusual approach, so they were inventive characters. The pattering drums, tight strings and constant vocal presence throughout ‘Themes For Dance’ seems like a bit of a mess when the melody could have been more all-embracing. ‘Risk’ is just as jumbled, with skittish strings poking against tumbling drums and feverish, bright vocals swooping madly, with plenty of gnashing energy evident, so regardless of their odd approach they carry you with them.

‘Heaven And Hell’ didn’t do much for me, as it surged along but the twirly twang of ‘My Six Miracles’ is more involving, despite the jolly guitar and tremulous vocals failing to explain what the six miracles actually were, which annoyed me. ‘Pride And Joy’ is simple agonised indie, with the more rhythmically pointy ‘Laugh Until You Cry’ doing the jostling pop thing. ‘Arena Days’ is pale but well propelled, then a live version of ‘I Am Your Ghost’ from the 1988 Ashton Court Festival maybe hints at what the website throws up, about the band loving punk and classical, because the terse delivery and sudden string moodiness creates an interesting collision. ‘Infantry’ drifts off on sorrowful strains, emoting quietly with some muted samples, before rough guitar goes off on some poisoned wrangling.

An odd indie band then, full of strange, winning elements. I don’t think I’d have followed them avidly at the time had I known about them, but they certainly had something.

(Mick Mercer –

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