Birmingham’s original punk group The Prefects had been part of The Clash’s ‘White Riot Tour’, recorded a couple of Peel sessions, released a 45 on Rough Trade and, years after splitting up, had a retrospective CD released by NY label Acute Records to all round glowing reviews – from Rolling Stone to webzines.
The Nightingales was formed by a few members of The Prefects following that band’s demise in 1979.
Described in John Robb’s definitive book on post punk (“Death To Trad Rock”) as “The misfits’ misfits” and comprising an ever fluctuating line up, based around lyricist/singer Robert Lloyd, the Nightingales enjoyed cult status in the early ’80’s as darlings of the credible music scene and were championed by John Peel, who said of them – “Their performances will serve to confirm their excellence when we are far enough distanced from the 1980’s to look at the period rationally and other, infinitely better known, bands stand revealed as charlatans”.
The group recorded a bunch of critically acclaimed singles – pretty much always ‘Single Of The Week’ in the music press – and three albums, plus many radio sessions for their great supporter Peel. They also regularly toured the UK and Northern Europe, as headliners and supporting acts as diverse as Bo Diddley and Nico.
In the late Eighties the Nightingales stopped working but, following the occasional gig between times, they re-grouped in 2004.
After fucking about with various part timers, starry eyed wastrels, precious sorts and mercenaries the group arrived at it’s current line up, which features Lloyd, Andreas Schmid from Faust on bass, ex Violet Violet drummer Fliss Kitson and on guitar James Smith, who Lloyd had spotted playing with Damo Suzuki.
Since restarting the group have been more productive than ever – releasing six 7″ vinyl singles, two 10″ EPs and six studio albums, touring England, mainland Europe and USA numerous times, playing various festivals and recording many radio sessions along the way.
Until recently the Nightingales made one record for a label and then moved on. They continue to operate with no manager, booking agent, publisher, et al. They work equally well with pop musicians, rock n rollers and the avant garde. Independent, maverick, diligent, daft, blah blah.
The band’s latest releases for their new mates at Tiny Global Productions, are a six track 10” mini album “Become Not Becoming” (2017) and a 7” 45 collaboration with the great Vic Godard in May 2018 – “Commercial Suicide Man”.
Later in the year a new album, titled “Perish The Thought”, will be released with an extensive UK/Euro tour to coincide.
By hook or by crook, more adventures will follow.
Shrug were formed by Robert Nichols, Richard Pink and sometimes Robert March in the summer of 1985 or thereabouts. October 2005 was the 20th anniversary of our first ever gig, upstairs at The Albert, Middlesbrough. We celebrated that 20th birthday week with a support slot for The Fall (lifetime ambition) and a headline gig for John Peel Day in Stockton's Georgian Theatre. Some week.
We started out with no drummers, then co-opted a drum machine which wouldn't keep time! We being Kev Wall, Richard and Rob Nichols. Sarah O'Brien soon played keyboards for us. Eventually we bit the bullet and brought in some percussion, double trouble, with future Space Raider Gary Bradford and Richie O'Brien.
We released an EP Nevil Wanless in 1988 - and album Septober Octember Nowonder a year later, rushing it out for a German tour - which included a gig in East Berlin and featured 3 drummers, Weg Hornby at 6ft 7" the tallest of our drummers. Carl Sims and earlier Michael "Monk" Sanderson also plied the sticks. Carl sticking (bad joke!) around till 1999.
It's as a live band that most people know us. Whether it was for the 3 drummers drumming. Or me haring around the stage in loads of stupid costumes and masks or just that dynamic orange 60s organ. Oh and there's always the horses head!
There were several more singles, Beardo Weirdo, Building Society and (Return) Mission From Todd and tours abroad in Holland, France, Belgium. A high speed van crash. Not good. Tours with Sebadoh and The Ex. TV appearances, and all sorts of stuff. Richard left, replaced by Dale and then Nathan. And the drummers eventually worked their way back down to one.
We gradually wound down and Kevin grew older. No I'm lying the rest of us grew older, Kevin has a picture in the attic. Then in 2005 we got invited back, Oli joined, Richard rejoined and now we're back with plans for gigs and who knows recordings etc. Should be fun.
We are featured in a new book and Cd out on Cherry Red called DEATH TO TRAD ROCK. The book is by brother John Robb and talks about the post post punk scene of the mid-80s. The compilation includes Van With Square Wheels along with contributions by The Ex, Membranes, Dog Faced Hermans - many bands we used to play with or promote in Middlesbrough and some we didn't.
The Subterranean Gentlemen are a trio based in Scarborough and were recommended to us by Ryan Pilot of The Shakin' Nightmares. You can listen to them here.