People from the era tell their stories.
» GBH Studios / Andrew Peters
GBH Studios / Andrew Peters
It began in the mid 1970s when I bought a Revox A77 from Radford Hi-Fi on the Gloucester Road in Bristol. It cost me a mere £440 (ex-display) which I estimate is approx. £4500 in today's money!! I had a decent sound set-up at home in my bedroom and fancied recording some stuff off the radio and editing it together to make what would now be a called ‘a mix'.
At the same time a school friend (Clive Williamson) had begun drumming in a band called ‘Steppin' Out' with his brother in law, Phil who played guitar in a Hendrixish fashion and the mighty bass playing of one Steve Street. Steppin' Out practiced at the famous GBH studios and Steve and I began setting up a very simple recording facility for local bands.
As far as I can remember, the first recording session we did was with ‘The Cortinas' (or it may have been The Verdict). Using the Revox and a newly purchased MM 12 into 2 mixing desk, some hired microphones and a brazen pretence at knowing what we were doing we spent the day laying down a number of demo tracks straight to stereo ¼” tape, no overdubs, no edits, no effects or processing at all. That session is now available on CD. Other sessions including recording bands such as The Verdict, Color Tapes and The Posers.
The Verdict was a pop/ new wave-ish sort of combo featuring Stuart Morgan (George) on vocals, Shaun Harvey (Le Havre) on guitar, Graham Parsons (Grendell) on bass and Andy Welsford on the kit. Stuart later became guitar tech with the bloke who plays guitar with U2 (don't know anything about U2 I'm afraid) and still is I gather. I haven't seen any of them for 25 years. Andy Welsford (as Andy Wells) later drummed with Meatloaf's live outfit.
Color Tapes (and I'm not too sure about this) was band involving some twins called Jonathan and (?), the mighty bass of Mr Street again and another guitarist.
The Posers was a punk band from Keynsham. I played bass (usually someone else's; thanks Dexter!), Shaun Harvey played guitar in a Steve Jones' fashion, Simon Wakeling sang and wrote the lyrics and the drummer was Clive Williamson. We had a great deal of success in a very short space of time - the highlight being support for Sham 69 at The Locarno in Bristol in early 1978. We were given notice of the gig only two days before and had a set of anything up to 3 numbers! Clearly we needed some more and wrote another half dozen in a day; our standards were fairly low and everything sounded pretty much the same. The set lasted about 12 minutes at normal speed and about 9 in a gigging situation. On the night we simply played the whole set twice to fill up the time; we hardly noticed and I'm sure the crowd didn't have a clue. As far as composing and arranging our songs was concerned we worked on an Intro, Verse, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Middle bit, Chorus, Outro template ( or there abouts) and found this method of working highly lucrative and indeed I think we were paid a total of £25 for the Sham gig. The posers also played at Bower Ashton (where Dexter spotted me playing his bass - sorry Dexter), The Hat and Feather in Bath amongst other fine venues.
The highlight of the Sham evening was being attacked by the bouncers at the end of the gig after Jimmy Pursey had deemed it a good idea to dedicate Sham's cover of the song ‘Monkey Man' to those charming security chaps. At the end of the night we were treated to their robust behaviour as well as the ends of their Dr Martin boots and at one point I found myself travelling head first down the external escalator. Another fine moment, sadly overshadowed, was the invitation by an attractive young lady to join ‘The Slugs' on bass. I was told I was great. Looking back I think there may have been an element of exaggeration about that statement and I am still a little upset that she didn't mention my accomplished bass playing.
In March of 1978 Simon, our vocalist, left to live in South Africa where his brother lived. The band dissolved, thousands filled the streets and the scenes were similar to the night Elvis died a few months before. I spent my time in the studio at GBH recording a number of other bands.
In October 1978 I started work as a sound engineer with BBC Television in London. This obviously meant leaving Bristol and GBH. End of an era.
More to come but very briefly, 48 hours (usually known as the Chinese Radio Operators) formed in South London with Shaun Harvey on guitar vocals, me on guitar and vocals, Paul Atkinson (Blue) on drums and Bob Barneveld (Bob) on bass. We recorded a track for the 4-Alternatives EP that somehow ended up being called ‘Back to Ireland' which I always found a bit embarrassing as I knew nothing about Ireland or being in the army. It was really about (and a common theme, here) a young lad being out of work and having few choices in life. We spent a day in the studio at Duffy's in Anerley before re-recording it at Crescent in Bath a few weeks later. The second session went on the EP...my only regret was that we were starting to sound a bit like Thin Lizzy.
We went onto record a session at GBH on the 8-track 1” (which I still have)...Reality Blaze, Off goes the roof, Avantgarde, Kebabs in the Mall, Another Croydon. Soon after Bob left to pursue a career in freezing cans of lager (to test their levels of alchol) and as much as we tried to find a decent replacement the band split and that was that.
Andrew Peters recalls the old days (January 2010)