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Thread: A Steel City Score. 20 DIY tracks from Sheffield 1979-1981

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    Default A Steel City Score. 20 DIY tracks from Sheffield 1979-1981

    Sheffield, Steel City, late 70s, early 80s … and it wasn’t all lopsided haircuts and gold lame jackets round here.

    Here’s a chart which tries to encapsulate what was going off on the DIY scene in Sheffield, post Punk. The time frame I’ve chosen roughly corresponds to a period of 2 years, beginning after the initial success of the first wave of Sheffield bands (Human League, Cabaret Voltaire), the startpoint being arbitrarily marked by the Human League signing to Virgin (April 79) and issuing their first non-DIY single (‘I don’t depend on you’ under a pseudonym of ‘The Men’), and ending when the Human League breakaway group – Heaven 17, issued their first single (‘Fascist Groove Thang’) in April 81.

    There had been a smattering of DIY singles coming out of Sheffield before this time: The Push ‘Cambridge Stomp’ on the Sticky Label, featuring future film star (as ‘Ringo’) and soap star (Corrie/Emmerdale/Bill) in the form of lead singer Ray Ashcroft (July 78), the Human League’s own ‘Being Boiled’ on Fast (June 78), and 2.3’s ‘All time Low’ (March 78), also on Fast Records.

    A good DIY-friendly infrastructure was in place – good fanzines (Gunrubber, from Feb 77, NMX from March 79, Pink Flag, Bath Banker, and many more following); supportive venues: NowSoc at the university, Limit Club, Blitz), willing audiences and a handful of cheap and cheerful studios. By mid 81 the 'scene' had petered out, and the likes of Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and ABC were household names...

    Much of those happy days have been documented in a superb book ‘Beats working for a living’, by Martin Lilleker, and, back in the day, by fanzine NMX (whose main man, Martin Lacy, published the aforementioned book). Heavily recommended reads, even if you only have a passing interested in the subject

    Anyway, to the vinyl: Mostly 7” singles, exceptions being a couple of tracks taken from a compilation LP issued at the time, of ‘up and coming’ band who had not yet made a record, and a track from a ‘various artists’ 12” EP. The list is in chronological order of release.

    The tracks vary from pop, powerpop, mod, post-punk, punk and minimal synth, to experimental, hopefully something for everyone ... anyway .. here they are:

    Tracks available to listen to here or download here

    Other credits on 45cat.com

    1. 04/1979 ComSat Angels – “Red Planet” (7” single, Junta Records JUNTA 1)



    In a previous incarnation as ‘Radio Earth’, this band had recorded some demos up for Radar (‘complex pop, strange time signatures’), but that label had gone bust before they could be released. An ‘epiphany’ gig supporting Pere Ubu led them to a re-think, and a change of name, shortly followed by this single, reflecting a more ‘natural’ sound. First 2000 in black vinyl, second 2000 in red vinyl

    2. 05/1979 Graph – "Drowning" (taken from the ‘Earcom 1’ 12” EP, Fast Records, FAST9a)




    A trio whose first official gig was as support at the legendary Human League/Def Leppard gig at the Limit Club in September 78. Rhythmic, with strong bass lines and much improvisation, they claimed no influences, all having been brought up overseas with no access to pop radio or TV.

    3. 06/1979 Artery – "Mother Moon" (7” single Limited Edition Records TAKE1)



    Sheffield’s original and best post-punk band, the core of which was a group of lads who’d grown up near each other, in a band called ‘The’. A couple of line-up changes, and they became Artery. This is the band that Jarvis Cocker claims were his inspiration to start Pulp, after witnessing an incendiary gig of theirs. Although the band had been split for many years, Jarvis recently got them to reform to play at his South Bank shows, after which they decided to keep going.

    4. 06/1979 They Must Be Russians – "Nagasaki’s Children" (7” EP, private press LYN6714)



    Record produced by Cabaret Voltaire. TMBR were a shambolic but loveable group, with an ever-changing line-up. Song subject matter ranged from the after effects of an A-bomb (Nagasaki’s Children) to … ‘Nellie the Elephant’ (also on the EP).

    5. 09/1979 Vice Versa – "New girls, Neutrons" (7” EP ‘Music 4’, Neutron NT001)




    Synth band who would later add Martin Fry to their line-up and mutate some months later into 80s pop megastars ABC.

    6. 10/1979 The Deaf Aids – "Do It Again" (7” single Regional Records REG1)



    Named after John Lennon’s ad-lib on ”Let it be” (“… I dig a pygmy, by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids…”), this single was only issued as an afterthought by these power-poppers, in a run of 250 7” vinyl. I found a copy with what looked like a home-made pic sleeve in a Sheffield charity shop a few years ago, turns out it was the actual planned artwork for the original pic sleeve which never made it to production. After seeing the single’s entry on 45cat.com, a New York re-issue label (Sing-Sing) re-issued it. The band released a further single as a 7” & 12”, and had a track on a live comp.

    7. 10/1979 Prams – "Modern Men" &
    8. 10/1979 TV Product – "Nowhere’s Safe" (7” split single, Limited Edition Records TAKE2/TAKE4)




    A four –track split single, 2 tracks per side by each of Prams and TV Product, on local impresario Marcus Featherby’s label. Prams are the archetypal post-punk group (check out those angular guitars and furious drumming). TV Product were a Wire/Mekons-influence band, going through a few line-up changes before recording the tracks on this EP. Keyboard player Simon Hinkler left shortly thereafter to join Artery, and thence to The Mission.

    9. 11/1979 Hobbies of Today – "Metal Boys" (7” single Waxworks H.O.T WAX01)



    From nearby Mexborough, the band started out as a punk outfit and 77, but by 79 had added synthesiser, and braved Numan/Human League comparisons to produce this single. Leader Kevin Hobbi produced an LP of acoustic arrangements of the band’s set, each in a handmade sleeve. I never managed to acquire one of these at the time, anyone seen any spares knocking about?

    10. 01/1980 The Negatives – "Money Talk" (7” single Aardvark STEAL1)



    Modernism comes to Sheffield! This record made ‘Single of the week’ in one of the national music papers. The band would cunningly be their own support band at gigs, using such stunts as performing in disguise (in full ski outfits, as ‘The Ski Jumps’), or by merely anagramising their own name (‘The Viga Teens’).

    11. 02/1980 Clock DVA – "Brigade "
    12. 02/1980 I’m So Hollow – "I don’t know" (both from 7” EP 1980 the first 15 minutes Neutron NT003)




    An important record for post Punk Sheffield, containing a track from each of the City’s best bands at that time: Vice Versa, Stunt Kites, Clock DVA and I’m So Hollow. This was the vinyl debut for the last three bands, although Clock DVA had much material circulating on cassette prior to this time. An insert with the Ep advertised a forthcoming EP entitled ‘Space Race’ by Robotnik – although I’ve never seen this.

    13. 03/1980 Fraebbblarnir - "True Death" (7” single Limited Edition records TAKE3)



    Here’s a strange one: the debut release by an Icelandic punk band, on a Sheffield label? Rumour is that label boss Marcus had ligged onto a Stranglers tour which stopped off in Iceland, and eager to get acts for the new label, had signed these guys up. White vinyl, and an … erm … interesting picture sleeve. One of the tracks is a cover version of the ‘Grease’ song ‘Summer Nights’.

    14. 04/80 de tian – "Question of Gender" (7” EP ‘Two Spires Split’ Oblique Sound 1)



    de tian were Paul Shaft's band after he left 2.3, formed with the intent of making avant-garde music that could be played in pubs and clubs, adding films, slides and an onstage magician to shows. de tian released this EP and one compilation track before a name change to the much jazzier Bass Tone Trap.

    15. 08/1980 Vendino Pact – "Secret Thinking" and
    16. 08/1980 Musical Janeens - "Glen Miller and his contemporary intimacies meets the Musical Janeens uptown with a packet of jellies and a Caribbean monolith" (both from LP Bouquet of Steel Aardvark Records STEAL2)




    Two tracks from a compilation of unsigned (at the time) local bands on a Sheffield-based label. The Musical Janeens were formerly Graph (see 2 above)

    17. 11/1980 The Naughtiest Girl was a Monitor – "All the naked heroes" (7” single Aardvark STEEL4)



    Minimal synth band whose main claim to fame is that a gig of theirs at Rotherham’s Arts Centre gave Pulp their debut gig…

    18. 01/1981 I’m So Hollow – "Dreams to fill the vacuum" (7” single Hollogram records ISH001/ISH002)



    Clear vinyl single, with separately numbered A and B sides. No apologies for having 2 ISH tracks in this chart, they were my favourite local band of this era

    19. 03/1981 Past Seven Days – "Raindance" (7” single 4AD AD102)




    OK, not strictly DIY, but only the second release on 4AD! This band were the evolution of a more rock oriented band called Xero, and like UB40, named after the legend on a benefits form. This single made single of the week in the Melody Maker, and tours with John Cale & Clock DVA followed.

    20. 04/1981 Disease – "I Know How" (7" single Disease Discs DD1)




    ‘Poppy and tuneful’ songs, belying the band’s political and intense live shows (sample early songs: Parasites, Young Thug and Crazy Gang)
    Last edited by e3sa934; 23-05-2010 at 12:53 PM. Reason: adding download link

  2. #2

    Thumbs up

    I love diy

    don't have loads, but am building a little collection - recently copped dum dum dum which is fricking ace and I never thought I'd find - its really a bottomless pit this area, depsite all the messthetics comps etc there are so many one offs - looking forward to checking this ooot

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    wow! looks very interesting - - can't wait to get stuck in... thanks a lot for posting.

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    Nice one Jon, looking forward to this
    Last edited by medlar; 13-05-2010 at 05:43 PM.
    some times play g+ with back noise,some times vg , super psyché juju lpfront sleeve is very nice vg back vg , but the top corne left is eating buy rats, ask for picture

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    Thumbs up

    This looks great!

    I've not used Soundcloud before can you download the mix or do you have to listen to the stream from their site?

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    Quote Originally Posted by highland cow View Post
    This looks great!

    I've not used Soundcloud before can you download the mix or do you have to listen to the stream from their site?
    You can specify just streaming or downloadable ... I've selected 'streaming only' ... but seeing as it's you, I'll zip the tracks up and PM you a link for the mp3 downloads.

    Anyone else wanting the link, please PM

    Jon

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    Superb, thanks for this. Haven't listened yet, but looking forward to it!

    This is the time i was lying on my bed at night listening to Peel & consuming as much of this kind of stuff as i could.
    Many of these are new to me though, so will be a refreshing trip back in time.

    Is it just me, or does a lot of the artwork shown seem very ahead of its time? Some remind me of some early 90's sleeves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by e3sa934 View Post
    15. 08/1980 Vendino Pact – "Secret Thinking" and
    16. 08/1980 Musical Janeens - "Glen Miller and his contemporary intimacies meets the Musical Janeens uptown with a packet of jellies and a Caribbean monolith" (both from LP Bouquet of Steel Aardvark Records STEAL2)




    Two tracks from a compilation of unsigned (at the time) local bands on a Sheffield-based label. The Musical Janeens were formerly Graph (see 2 above)
    Was up at Anarchy on Mansfield Road earlier, and he's got a copy of this comp on the wall (likely to be priced very reasonably - few things are more than £3 - £10 in there) just in case anyone's interested in going over and obtaining a copy. He's just had a load of '79 - mid-00's postpunk and indie type gear in, too. Probably worth a look if that's your bag...
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    Thanks for this e3sa934 (can I call you e3?)
    when you posted some of these in the Finds thread and said you'd do a chart I was looking forward to it, and I'm really pleased you came through.
    Some really good stuff - who'd have thought A Dr Rhythm could sound so evocative? My faves on first listen are the shambolic artschool Kopicat antics of the Musical Janeens, The Prams and the the other synthy ones.

    Sheffield was amazing for a few years and I'd like to check out the Lilleker book, too.
    Vardy.....¡¡¡PELIGRO!!!

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    Thumbs up

    much appreciated for this, this is very much my bag, and i know some of them but own none, great to finally hear them, and much appreciated for the download, will make my trip to work all the more enjoyable.
    will be checking out that Martin Lilleke book too, cheers for the tip

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    also ...



    .... describes the scene during these years, and includes live footage of I'm So Hollow, Artery & Vice Versa

    I'm thinking of a Volume 2 chart, mid 1981 onwards, prompted by the recent release of this:



    http://www.thebeatisthelaw.com/film-...d-has-arrived/

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    Quote Originally Posted by e3sa934 View Post
    5. 09/1979 Vice Versa – "New girls, Neutrons" (7” EP ‘Music 4’, Neutron NT001)



    Synth band who would later add Martin Fry to their line-up and mutate some months later into 80s pop megastars ABC.
    Rare live footage of Vice Versa playing live ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnxUMuyjSM0

    (more footage from the same uploader, too)

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    Thanks a lot e3sa934 - somehow this sneaked by me during the festive confusion, but I'm on the d/l as I write! As a Sheffield lad who was just coming of age in the period you cover I'm sure it will take me back. Just a quick scan through your text reminds me of many people I knew either then or subsequently, and I'll give both it and the tunes the attention they deserve just as soon as I've got some time!

    Is the Lilleker book any good then? I'm currently working (nay, trudging) my way through Neil Anderson's 'Take It To The Limit' which is something of a low rent disappointment (even if the supporting installation on The Moor (according to my bro) features a piccy of me back then!) and I'd like to read something a bit more substantial!
    you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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    Hi GC, glad you found this thread, and I hope that you're enjoying the tunes. Did you manage to get to see any of the bands play live?

    I'd say that the Lilleker book is pretty much essential for people with an interest in the scene & music coming out of Sheffield between 73 - 84. Lots of detail, even for the smaller bands - and intelligent commentary. My only minor gripe is that there's no formal discography, but having said that, mentions are made in the text where a band released a single or LP.

    As you're probably aware, Martin was (is) a well-respected music journalist, having reported in the local media since 78. (He also co-authored a book which covered the Sheffield music scene in the period 55 - 75 'Not like a proper job')

    Here's a pic of the contents page to 'Beats working for a living' to further whet your appetite. (Looks like there's a used copy on both eBay and Amazon at the moment, btw):



    Re the Limit book, I lent Neil my collection of NMX magazines as source material, and there's a contemporary photo of mine and a couple of quotes in there too.

    Further documentation of the South Yorkshire scene in the 70s/80s appears in other recent books 'Out of Control: Punk Rock at the Doncaster Outlook and Rotherham Windmill 1976-1978' and 'Our Generation: The Punk and Mod Children of Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster 1976-1985' both by Tony Beesley.
    Last edited by e3sa934; 08-01-2011 at 11:25 PM.

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    I've just rediscovered this on the ipod this morning, on a quest for things postpunk and I have to say it's a blinder! If you've not listened yet do yourself a favour and do so! Am really loving the tracks of Bouquet of Steel..
    "As technology has advanced, vinyl records are outdated as they are music from the 19th Century so only hipsters and elderly people buy vinyl records".

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    Default !

    Only just noticed this too, a fascinating panoply of goodies there.

    Would lurve to get my mitts on the Vice Versa 7", seems to do £40ish too oft for my liking!

    I also have a live LP by the Musical Janeens, recorded in Amsterdam I think - shambolic Can-esque jams. Will have to check out the comp track and compare!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viva Chiba View Post
    Would lurve to get my mitts on the Vice Versa 7", seems to do £40ish too oft for my liking!
    I don't think they're going to get cheaper anytime soon ... but one or two on the chart fly under the radar on eBay for a couple of quid from time to time, e.g. the '1980 - the first 15 minutes' ep (which contains a Vice Versa track)

    I'll start a separate thread for Volume 2, but here's a peek at the source material (1981 - 1983)


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    This looks really promising Jon, and hopefully will feed into that project of ours!!
    Spirit Duplicator—collectable, charming, affordable... and also socially networked on FB / Twitter / Instagram.

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    Quote Originally Posted by e3sa934 View Post
    I'll start a separate thread for Volume 2, but here's a peek at the source material (1981 - 1983)
    Looking forward to that! Money talk gets regular spins at my place, found a copy for about a tenner after hearing it here. Every time I go to visit my parents I hope to turn up more from theis chart but they never appear

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    Really interesting stuff - remember seeing many of the bands listed...lived in Sheffield from late 70s until late 80s and used to go out an watch live music several nights a week even if some of the bands were pretty dire...I was busy discovering soul and funk from the 99p boxes at Record Collector and Mojo/Contempo demos from the 10p singles box from a shop upstairs at Castle Market - and, of course, Violet May off the Moor (think a book came about this fabled record shop last year??).

    Remember seeing the Human League at Psalter Lane Art College - slide show and "Being Boiled" period - think I have a poster somewhere and one or two copies of NMX...think the following week Jedward lookey-likeys "In the Nursery" played...happy days!

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    Some of Sheffield's finest in Weston Park, 30-odd years ago ....

    Stunt Kites, I'm So Hollow, Paul Bower's 2.3 and Artery, videoed by Pete Hill.

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks e3 for bumping this thread - no idea why I didn't see this before - first post was May 2010 - where was I - stranded in the US with ash cloud action I believe..?

    Enjoying the soundcloud mix action just now

    Would love to find a copy of "Beats Working For a Living: The Story of Popular Music in Sheffield 1973-1984" - but not for 115 Euros on-line - never seen or heard of the book before...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MPFlapp View Post
    Would love to find a copy of "Beats Working For a Living: The Story of Popular Music in Sheffield 1973-1984" - but not for 115 Euros on-line - never seen or heard of the book before...
    PM sent .....

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    Quote Originally Posted by MPFlapp View Post
    Would love to find a copy of "Beats Working For a Living: The Story of Popular Music in Sheffield 1973-1984" - but not for 115 Euros on-line - never seen or heard of the book before...

    The book is great!
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    Did you see this on Facebook Jon? Thought other would also like to see:

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