Bristol Archive Records Blog

The Retrospect: The Early work of Alan Griffiths by John Ounsted

  • The Tapes he left Behind
  • On 23rd March 2017 my close and cherished friend Alan Griffiths died after a short illness. A great shock to all those who knew him. The unexpectedness added to the sense of loss. Alan dead! He was only 57, the same age as me, and our friendship was part-based on sharing and exploring a fund of media memories–music, film, TV–stretching back to our 1960’s childhoods. I had known him since 1981, the year he launched his post-punk outfit The Escape, which extended the dark, brooding vibe of his previous band Apartment.In the melancholy aftermath of his death, a large box of reel-to-reel tapes and two scrapbooks were recovered from the “House of Secrets”, (as he had once dubbed his long term address, a semi in Downend). The recordings had been left mouldering in the loft for nearly forty years. On studying these, I was able to piece together a picture of Alan’s early music, recorded prior to his published and better-known work in Apartment, The Escape and Tears for Fears.For those who only knew the later Alan, that house was indeed keeping secrets: Alan mate, you never told me –or anyone else you met later—that Apartment started out as a four-piece…or that a lot of that band’s early (and very tasty) songs were co-written with the fourth guy! (A mystery man with a plain name who is hence difficult to locate now). And you were a bit stingy with the truth when talking to journalists of the time (1980 or so) about your musical tastes and influences, which seemed to be recently-acquired, and impeccably New-Wavy, ignoring or blanking the musical heritage of the sixties to mid-seventies.…But then again, altering or omitting parts of your back story to suit the expectations of the time is creative in its own way- it’s called self-invention-although it plays hell with trying to work out your true musical history from this distance!Anyway mate, the tapes reveal that you’d already absorbed loads of musical influences from childhood onwards, and even written/performed/produced in some of their styles—Blues, Power Pop, even Rockabilly–by the time you were 20. (One of the first recordings is a Gary Glitter cover!)…. The Punk shockwave jolted you into an altogether higher level of creativity, with attractive, memorable songs pouring out in profusion, and then a chill bleakness creeping over the work, soon becoming your trademark.


Full story coming very soon…………………    

06_Spare Ribbs_Granary                 

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