Myspace bulletin 25.11.07

Chat about Ed Ball and his many groups.

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Myspace bulletin 25.11.07

Post by Keg » Sun Nov 25, 2007 2:50 pm

Ed Ball has just posted this on Myspace. I think it's worth repeating here in full.

The REAL unsung heroes of 1979.

This may be the first time I've written a bulletin not directly concerning one of my little indulgences (videos, lyrics etc) but I'd like to draw your attention to a group of people who've inspired me personally and have been lucky enough to collaborate with in various permutations.

I could start this blog in 1981 with Dan Treacy and I rehearsing in Covent Garden, several doors down from where Syd Barrett lived and wrote Piper At The Gates Of Dawn 15 years earlier . . . Or that Rob Vasey's guitar style of blurred chord stylings coupled with continous tremolo arm pre-empted My Bloody Valentine (or anyone else) by the best part of a decade . . . But I won't. Instead I'll begin somewhere near the beginning. I've also included contemporary diary entries for context . . .

DRY RIB ... =124672096 were a late '70s three piece group of some indefinable power - not Powerful in the obvious sense, as in everyone slugging out the same riff - how you might perceive three pieces to be "Muscular". More the power of musical and lyrical imagination.

For a start, their writer/guitarist/singer Rob Vasey wasn't like Eric Clapton or Paul Weller in way/shape/form. Which could only be a good thing because, he superseded these fellows for sheer guitar innovation and songscapes that neither could even conceive of.

Rob was ably supported by two equally intelligent musicians - Andrew Goodwin (one of the best two drummers I've ever played with - and that includes the so-called shit-hot session guys) and Mike Mullholland (who could make a Fender Precision sound like Entwistle, Matlock or a distressed horsefly!)

My privileged part in their story began early April 1978 when I met Andrew through Sharon English. I'd encountered Sharon six months earlier at a party in Hammersmith, where we sat and proceeded to decimate everyone in spitting radius. Apart from Poly Styrene, if ever a girl was post-punk in '77 it was Sharon - an extraordinary character with an Olde English (no intentional pun meant) Surreal humour/imagination entirely of her own making. I was, to say the least very fond of her.

My band at the time O Level, had fallen apart (John and Gerard leaving to start Reacta) and I needed a drummer for the 23rd April recording session I'd booked for He's A Professional and The John Peel March. She suggested Andrew and a lifelong friendship ensued.

The three of us, Sharon, Andrew and I shared a passion for The Prisoner. That was a good start right there. In our various chats, Andrew made reference to this friend of his who wrote stuff "like you've never heard" and asked if I'd like to play bass guitar. To the eternal benefit of the future Dry Rib I declined and heard nothing from him. That is, until early '79 when he came 'round with Rob and Mike to my flat in Pond Place, South Kensington with the recordings they'd made.


30 Tuesday : TVPs photo session with NME at 355 Kings Road (Dan's flat).

31 Wednesday: Meet Dry Ribs (sic).

Not usually easily intimidated I found Rob to be an odd mix of eeriness and politeness, a measured voice and vocabulary with a hint of North East England - all in all, fabulous casting as a vampire; Mike despite his great stature equally polite. I think I'd invited Daniel as well for back up!

Myself and Dan had made a series of 7" singles as TV Personalities and O Level and wanted to put out records by other bands. Having just released the "We Love Malcolm" EP on the Kings Road "label of Convenience" that both Dan and I used, and being in funds to launch a "proper" label, I couldn't believe my luck when I heard Alaska, Cruelty Of The Victim and Quailseed the three titles that Rob, Andrew and Mike were playing me that evening.

At a time when Rough Trade were treating bands like Scritti Politti and Prag Vec as the future of independent music I thought I might get away with making a EP with them and then Dry Rib would be borne off to stardom with Mute or Factory.


28 Wednesday: Receive tape COR 001 from Dry Rib.


1 Thursday: Sent £198.72 to Lyntone (pressing plant) for 1,000 copies (of We Love Malcolm EP).

7 Wednesday: Send COR 001 tape and £617.76 to County Recording Service for 2500 7" discs with orange labels.


17 Tuesday: Recording Teenage Filmstars EP "Cloud Over Liverpool" with Dan, Joe Foster at IPS.

In evening we go to see Dry Rib at the Two Brewers.

The Dry Season EP (as the 3 songs in context came to be known) was released to all intents and purposes on 24th May when John Peel played Alaska off a test pressing - he fairly went bonkers over it. The following day I took receipt of two and a half thousand lumps of vinyl with orange centres. Copycatting our own blueprint of blank labels and wrap-round sleeves one step beyond our Kings Road EPs (and a precursor to the Whaam! Records initiative) and proceeded to wrap A4 sheets of paper around them. Daniel did the same with Reacta, my pals from O Level.


28 Monday: Peel plays Quailseed from test pressing.

29 Tuesday: Print Dry Rib sleeves.

30 Wednesday: Pick up sleeves.

31 Thursday: Dry Rib rehearsal 54 St Agnes Place, Kennington.


1 Friday: Meet Peel for lunch outside Radio One.

In evening Dry Rib play gig at St Agnes Place, arranged by Sharon.

4 Monday: Meet Paul Morley at NME with Dry Rib EP.

In the NME singles review, Morley collected the Dry Season together with four others as Single Of The Week. All the way through July, Peel persisted with plays of all three tracks from the EP and by July 21st it was No 11 in the Alternative chart. Rough Trade loved it too, as did all the immediate shops Small Wonder, Bonaparte etc - I was picking out my yacht from the Freeman's catalogue ready to photograph for the Clockwork label logo.

But by around 1,149 sales it stalled - out there in the General Psyche Of Planet Earth something had resisted - was it fear of the Vasey Unknown? Had Cruelty Of The Victim backfired? Did they miss the humour? I don't know - but before anything else could be done, there was some agitation within the chemical compound DrRb3 . . .

In scenes reminiscent of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, ELO and Wizzard, Rob left Dry Rib to start anew with As Hem Syrup. Andrew and Mike kept the Dry Rib ship afloat by expanding the ranks with guitarist Bernie Martin, ... =282958253 Sax Paul Kendall ... d=39916139 and vocalist Joni Sackett, who later featured prominently with Fad Gadget. This creature was quite different and in many ways could've had a broader appeal. When you saw these guys you knew they weren't to be fucked with. Not least because 3 of them were little short of 6foot 5 and built like brick shithouses - but also because they sounded like the wars they so strongly opposed, devastating, crucial and vicious.

Andrew wrote most of the new material - Belgrade 88, Satellites, When Miss World Goes To Vietnam (which I adapted for my Anti-American Times LP opus Enjoy). They recorded an albums-worth of material on a cassette, the infamous Golden Oldies Of The 1980s (this being late '79, mind!) which I played til I wore it out.

"Sometimes I just want to spit and scream, caught in the image of a frozen frame. I'm so tired of distant video dreams, I'm so tired of playing the same old games".


PoliticalHistory / FutureVision lyrics to riffs that were so simple yet effective, like they were there waiting to be plucked from the fretboard. I once asked Andrew how he came up with these riffs he said Rob encouraged him to play, to seek them out.

Ah Rob . . . With Lindsay Evans on bass guitar and Ray Kent playing drums, they built a new group with a new sound, As Hem Syrup, and continued to create bewildering songs about a great many things - In Persia, Men With Coats Thrashing, In Thailand - often using animals - notably birds, dogs and monkeys. This animal thing would always remind me of Daniel's short stories at school - his peccadillo was squirrels. In fact, I think I drew personal comparisons between Rob and Dan, Andrew and myself - essential working parallels, if you will.

With Paul Kendall at the helm as the manager / producer / engineer of this basement studio in Endell Street Covent Garden, it may be said that a true "Whaam!" scene was now being created. With Dan and I rehearsing and recording as The Times and The TV Personalities of an evening, Dry Rib in the afternoon and As Hem Syrup all night.

There'd be some cross-pollination too, mostly Times - related; Andrew played drums with us, Daniel and me at the Clarendon Hammersmith 1981 - Ray Kent joined us in 1982 as keyboardist, Joni Sackett made a single Here Come The Holidays, with us , Rob Vasey played lead guitar on our single David Jones (Is On His Way), on the 1985 German tour and half of the Enjoy LP, Paul Kendall worked with on Up Against It and Enjoy . . .

And in return, I applauded everything they wrote, played, produced and performed.

Now my dear MySpace Friends, it's your turn. As U.S. label of renown to those of us in the know, Messthetics/Hyped To Death prepare the Vasey Canon, perhaps the other projects may follow . . .

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