I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

From a soul classic to a punk rarity

I love this gritty version of The O’Jays’ superb “Back Stabbers” by Soo Catwoman, one of the most famous faces of the early punk days. Soo was the cover star of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK fanzine and her distinctive hairstyle was later copied by Keith Flint of The Prodigy. She’s backed on this 1998 cut by one-time Generation X, Empire and Westworld guitarist Derwood Andrews (who also crafted the video) and drummer turned grail hunter Rat Scabies. It was recorded at The Arch, Rat’s studio under Kew Bridge, and I believe I am right in saying it was the first time Soo had committed her vocals to tape. Although the track wasn’t released back then, it’s now available as a download at CD Baby. Click here for Soo Catwoman’s CD Baby artist page and here for her website, where you’ll find some great merchandising on the store page.

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Gaye Advert’s pants

The longer this blog goes on (and I’m surprised it has gone on this long), the more hits I’m getting through search engines. Which is great. Every hit is a good hit.

I’m very intrigued by the search engine terms that have brought some visitors here, though. They include “sweaty Marquee” (just about everything about The Marquee was sweaty, especially the sticky floor), “Marco & Tony Leeds bouncers 1980s”, “lego ladies”, “quick police sex” (two different searches, presumably pulled in by the Sex Pistols and Police tags), “poor Mrs Bonky”, “hysterical injury”, “sticks fingers up his nose” (I’m glad I don’t know why someone was looking for that) and “Scabies anak kucing” (answers on a postcard). But my favourites so far have to be “PJ Harvey pushes nose up” (what is it with noses, people?), “Georgian bukkake” (if we’re talking about some recently discovered 18th century pastime, I do hope Tony Robinson will soon be making a telly programme about it), and “Gaye Advert pants down”.

“Gaye Advert pants down” had me spluttering coffee everywhere when I saw it come up as one of my search engine referrals, but then I remembered there is an old photo of Gaye, The Adverts’ panda-eyed bass player, with her jeans round her knees and her knickers proudly on display to the world. Jolly nice knickers they are too. You can find the shot at the Punk 77 website. Tell them Google sent you.

Shooting John Lydon

I love this shot of John Lydon, the sometime Sex Pistol and PiL ringmaster. It was taken outside The Limelight in London in 1987 by Mark Baker.

I worked with Mark at a cracking magazine called The Buzz during the late 1980s (after which he became the in-house photographer for Sony Records in the UK) and I was with him the night that he took this picture. John Lydon was going into The Limelight just as Mark was coming out. Or, to be slightly more accurate, Lydon was going in just as Mark was getting chucked out – quite literally, as it goes – having had a bit of a tussle with a couple of the club’s bouncers.

As Mark lay bloodied and battered on the pavement, he spotted Lydon heading up the steps to the club and shouted, “Hey, you don’t wanna go in there John, look what the bastards do to you”. At which, Lydon walked back down the steps, helped Mark to his feet and gave him a big hug. Mark, a consummate professional no matter how much booze he’s necked or how many times he’s been thumped (he was forever having tussles with bouncers), pulled his camera from his bag and asked Lydon if he’d pose for him. “You can have one shot,” answered Lydon – and one shot turned out to be enough. The V-sign was a lovely touch, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Mark Baker has now produced a digital print of his John Lydon photograph in a limited edition of 45 copies at £45 each. The prints are 28 x 24 cm (paper size 33 x 48 cm), numbered and signed by Mark. They also come with a certificate of authenticity. Get in touch with Mark through his website – click here if you missed the link in the first paragraph – if you’d like to have one on your wall or you need more information.


Punk collage (from Sounds, 2 April 1977)

I can’t find the words to tell you just how much I love this. It was printed across the middle pages of Sounds in April 1977, accompanying an A-to-Z of the first wave of UK punk bands. I’ve lost the first and last pages of the article, and there are no credits on the pages that I do have, but I think the A-to-Z was written by Jonh Ingham and I presume the collage was put together by the Sounds art team, in a style in keeping with the fanzines of the time.

Sounds was several leagues ahead of the rest of the music press in covering the embryonic days of punk. The collage features all the obvious names – Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash and so on – but it also includes less well known acts such as The Models, The Cortinas and Suburban Studs. Click the image to see it in its full glory and keep an eye out for The Police (before they got hold of the peroxide bottle), Skrewdriver (before Ian Stuart Donaldson turned into a Nazi bastard) and a terrific early photo of The Slits. One outfit that you won’t see on there is Iron Maiden – but then you wouldn’t expect to, would you? Well, as it goes, Iron Maiden do appear in the A-to-Z, where they describe themselves as “bloody shock rock”. They were fronted by Den Ace at this point and had somebody called Ron Rebel playing drums.

I had the collage on my bedroom wall for ages and ages, so it’s badly discoloured, but I’d say that adds to its historic value. I’m not sure history will look kindly on me for having censored the “Fuck Off” on Gaye Advert’s T-shirt with a biro, though. At least I think that was me. I don’t remember doing it, but the scribbling out seems to be in blue ink rather than being an original feature of the collage. If it was me, I suspect I did it in case my mum ever took a close look at it on my wall.

UPDATE (posted 30/10/2011)

I was wrong about Jonh Ingham writing the A-to-Z that accompanied the collage. Jonh has been in touch to say that he wrote a big article about punk for Sounds in around October 1976 (The “?” Rock Special), but he had nothing to do with this piece. My next best guess is the A-to-Z was by the late Giovanni Dadomo, another early champion of punk in the music press. As well as being a journalist, Giovanni was a member of Arthur Comics (later known as The Snivelling Shits), who appear in the article between Alternative T-TV [sic] and The Boys.