COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
Staring at the Rude Boys
Staring at the Rude Boys, is a triple CD that showcases British Ska revival from 1979 to 1989, so if it’s Toots and Dandy Livingstone you are after then look elsewhere, but there are many compilations like that on the market.
But this is a welcome change, lovingly researched and packaged – I’m proud to get named-checked on here for my small contribution.
It’s a pretty diverse mix on here, yes, the usual suspects are in evidence = The Specials, Rico, Bad Manners, Judge Dread, The Selecter, The Beat, Madness and The Bodysnatchers.
Rubbing shoulders with them are the less likely, artists not necessarily known for the Ska sensibilities, like Kim Wilde and the track ‘2-6-5-8-0’, and ‘Tom Hark’ from The Piranhas and ‘Mouth and Trousers’ from Splodge and of course Graduate and ‘Elvis Should Play Ska’ who later emerged as electro pop duo Tears for Fears.
Then you get for me are the lovely local Ska gems, Coventry’s Reluctant Stereotypes bag a place with the album track ‘Lofaska’ and a band that began with a jazz art sound and eventually became King (well half of them anyway).
Another Coventry band that had King Connections was The MPs and their only single ‘Housewives Choice’ (I preferred the other side ‘Life On The Dole’), it included King keyboard player Mike Roberts.
Machine (later Hot Snacks) were another local outfit, they included original Specials drummer Silverton and the sadly missed Ollie (Dr Mustard), their song featured on this CD ‘Character Change’ was for me a highlight of the Coventry compilation LP ‘Sent From Coventry’.
Kenilworth Ska kings The Ak Band, put out some great singles and an LP on RCA in the early 80s.
‘Pink Slippers’ is on here, and quite rightly so, and wonderful band that should have gone much further.
21 Guns are here too with the track also called ’21 Guns’ they were on Shack Records a label owned by Neville Staple – the band were something of a local super-group that included former Specials roadies Trevor Evans and Johnny Rex and Squad vocalist Gus (Gary) Chambers, with Kevin Tanner and top bloke Stuart Maclean.
There is a total of 70 tracks on here, some of my forgotten faves like King Hammond and ‘King Hammond Shuffle’, ‘Phoenix City’ by Rockers Express (Judge Dread) and The Gangsters with ‘We Are The Gangsters’ with our own Ray King of course.
It’s around £20 for three CDs – if you like your Ska and what to hear it in its many forms then this collection is for you.
Now for something completely different
Thanks to musicologist Trev Teasdel for reminding me that tomorrow it is 50 years since Monty Python’s Flying Circus made their live debut at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre.
It was part of the 1971 Lanch Festival and was down to local Bron Agency promoter Colin Richardson who eventually persuaded the comedy troupe to go live with their unique brand of comedy.
I can’t write about Python and Coventry without mentioning the iconic ‘Communist Quiz’ sketch, when Che Guevara (Terry Gilliam) is asked which year Coventry City FC last won the FA Cup?
Unable to answer, the response from the quizmaster (Eric Idle) is: “Well, I’m not surprised you didn’t get that. It was in fact a trick question – Coventry City have never won the FA Cup.”
They did 17 years later mind.