As a writer of local music books, it’s exciting to see someone coming up with the goods and putting in the hours to research a book that encapsulates a whole music scene.
All praise then to Keith Hancock and Jim Layton who have published the new title ‘Fire In The Belly’.
It’s a straight talking ride through the history of Leamington and Warwick music and its various music scenes.
Sorry to coin a major cliché here, but I certainly couldn’t put it down, band after band, artist after artist and fact after fact held my interest as this great town laid bare its musical wares.
It begins in the 1950s, with Arthur Renton’s influential record shop in 25 High Street, Leamington.
For many, it was a key place to buy your records, especially for Caribbean workers who stocked up with Ska and Bluebeat.
The first glimpse of an act you would call ‘pop’ came with The Sunshine Skiffle Group, formed by members of St Paul’s church youth club.
The year was 1957.
It was no surprise for me to read that one of its members was none other than Bob Saunders, a stalwart on the Leamington music scene, who would go on to be a member of Woody Allen and The Challengers, one of Leamington (and the whole area’s) first
The book really brings out the characters of Leamington – people like The Edgar Broughton Blues Band, led by brothers Robert and Steve Broughton, and Arthur Grant.
Their anarchic brand of ‘in your face’ blues and rock saw them sign to EMI’s progressive label Harvest.
They were accused in their early days of being musical upstarts who knew only three chords.
Their reply was, “It wasn’t the chords that counted but the fire in your belly”, hence the book’s title.
Their biggest hit was ‘Apache Dropout’, a mashup of the instrumental Apache, made famous by The Shadows, and ‘Dropout Boogie’ by Captain Beefheart and his magic band.
The book tells the lovely story of when the band were in the process of recording the song at Abbey Road studios. A bespectacled
man was brought in to listen.
It turned out to be Hank Marvin (who was recording in the next studio), who fell about laughing on hearing the song (apparently he did like it though).
Big players of the town are well represented – rock band Chevy, creators of the great and the very underrated album ‘The Taker;
The Shapes and their unique sideways look at punk rock; the legendary Rod Goodwin of Flack Off fame; Peppermint Circus; The wonderful Varukers; the ever changing Mosquitoes; the ‘rev it up and let it roar’ sound of The DTs.
The list goes on; The Joyce McKinney Experience, Mummy Calls, The Pump Rooms, The Crown Hotel , the very famous Woodbine studios and of course coauthor and musician Keith Hancock.
If you love your local music it’s a must buy.
You can get your copy at Head Music Shop, Leamington, W a t e r s t o n e ’ s in Leamington, Kenilworth Books, Warwick
Books and at The 2-Tone Village, Coventry.