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Other Stuff: The Solo Career

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Here's an article I wrote a LONG LONG time ago when The Validators had just got together, in order to explain what had gone before.

Sometimes i like to sit on my stoop with the dog and an old pipe, watch the sun set, and think about the times before i had a GRATE band... not very often, but still. I guess it all started way way back in 1979, when i was still wee and tiny, and me, my brother and a couple of cousins recorded a song called "Martian Pop Rocks", under the frighteningly post-modern name of "Us". If i remember correctly, it was about aliens dropping specially confectionary from space - far out huh? - and featured the chorus "Martian pop rocks coming down in dozens - people try to get a few, to stop them they wear muzzles." Even at an early age i was a PARA-RHYMING LYRICAL GANGSTA.

A few years later it was time for secondary school, and i fell into the arms of the GRATE band The Masters Of Nothing, with Mr Paul Myland and Mr Robin Hare. This was a CLASSIC school band, in that none of us could play ANYTHING (we had a guitar which went untuned for six years, as none of us realised it needed to be). We spent most of our time at school arguing and splitting up, though we did manage to record several songs and actually do some GIGS - as with most bits of this tale, you can read more about The Masters of Nothing in the "Who Are These People" bit of Writings. It was a beautiful time, and these are what we did...

1983A Minus Work A Minus Work, It's a Rap, Robin Hare Yeah!, A Little Reggae Song, The Ballad of the Faithful Dog
1985Ticket To Baldock A-Minus Work, Vote Robin Hare, We're All Signing On, Free Nelson Mandela (while stocks last), Ooh ah Bruce
1988Our First, Last, And Everything A Minus Work, We're All Signing On, Rather Spooky, Decapitated Blues, Jim Bowen, My Clone's Got B.O., Gerry Anderson, Baby Don't Leave Me, My Generation, A-Minus Bootleg
1989The Least Bad Bits My Mum's Got A Washing Machine (live), Decapitated Blues (live), We're All Signing On, Gerry Anderson (live), We Are The Fishmen, Baby Don't Leave Me (live), Smiths Song, Daytime TV, Vote Robin Hare, Blokes (live), Rather Spooky, Best, My Clone's Got B.O., My Generation, Revolution 180

Following this it was HO! for University, where i SHUNNED music for a few years, instead doing stand-up comedy, writing plays, and doing radio sketches. Highlights of this were: Getting bottled off at the Edinburgh Fringe for EIGHT HOURS; writing a play called "Poisoned Sherry" and not telling anybody it was me, thus spending three months having people slagging off the "pervert Thomas Amaria", little realising it was ME ALONG; and going to BBC Manchester to attend a script conference for an Arnold Brown radio series, which was a bit rubbish. At the end of all of this i wrote a play called "Some Summers" (a mad bit of Beatles Fanaticism), which a chap called Jon Todd turned into a musical. He wrote the songs, on the condition that he taught me the bass, so i could be in the band. He did, and i did, and this set us off all over again.

For LO! it was around this time that the mighty VOON were formed! You can read all about this in GRATE detail in "The Curse of Voon", but briefly we were EITHER a fantastic band way ahead of its time, challenging preconceptions of what you were allowed to sing about, OR a bloody racket, depending on whether you were EITHER in the band OR not. As it turned out, the best thing we ever did was print a load of stickers saying "I like Voon", which are apparently still all over Leicester, and people still say "Were you in VOON? I've got one of your stickers!" which is not quite as good as "Were you in Voon? You were brilliant", but better than nothing. Those tapes (and a single!) were:

1991 Yoghurt Flange EP Shelving, Stop Wasting My Time, She's A Spaceman, Pylons
1992 Modern and Vivid It'a A Nice Thing, Be With You, What Can I Do?, Rock and Roll, Dedication, Pilchards of Death, She's a Spaceman, Dexion Head, Santa is Coming, Hilary's Boyfriend, Keith Says, Billy Jones (apparently), Radio Bedroom, Trevor and Sarah, Rather Spooky, Frustration, I Like It Outdoors, Not Impressed, Bleak Hotel, Flower Girl, Wasted Sunday, Funny Shaped Head, Surfing Monsters
1993 Interesting Interesting, Denis Curtis, Rocco PI, Found on the Moon, Polite Bicycles, My Name is Famous, About you, Just Sex, Poisonous Yellow Triangles, Flower Girl, The Perfect Love Song, Who Are These People?, Martin Makes a Move
1993 A Taste Of Tea Compilation tape from Tea Records, with "Found On The Moon" and "The Perfect Love Song" on it - also had Alan Jenkins, Cornershop and Prolapse.
1994 How Voon Is Now Dedication, Hammerhead, Try It You Might Like It, Alternative, I Want To Be You, 60's 90's Man
1996 The Legend Of Voon Morgue Dancing, Domestic Bliss, Rather Spooky, She's a Spaceman, Decapitated Blues, Streets of London, Pilchards of Death, Santa is Coming, Vibrator, Get Back, Trevor and Sarah, Baby Don't Leave Me, White Rabbit, Ask, Child of the Moon, Spaceman 9, Really Love Your Girlfriend, How Voon is Now, It's a Message from Another World, Charming, Day Tripper/Day Care Centre, Runaway, All Too Much, Deep Space Dippy, Boom Shake the Room, Prolapse Po and Cornershop, Here's Looking at Euclid, Stay Dead Elvis, Be With You, Hammerhead
NB: The Legend of Voon came with a free book, The Curse Of Voon, which is now viewable online.
1997 Live At The Durham Ox You can shout all you like, Rocco PI, Elmer the happy little bottle opener, Old Freight Train, Clare Grogan, Rectal Seeds, Face in a Meat Slicer, Bands from London (are shit), Rock and Roll, Found on the Moon, Respect the Ganja, Day Care Center
1997 We Are Voon Overture, You can shout all you like, Face in a Meat Slicer, Elmer the happy little bottle opener, Rocco PI, Old Freight Train, Clean Girl, Bands from London (are shit), Frisco Disco, Respect the Ganja
1997 Brain Cakes EP Face In A Meat Slicer (along with 9 tracks from other bands - a PROPER single, from Sorted Records!)

I was also in about a million other bands, including the K-Stars, loads with my friend Chris, and a Gay Irish Folk Band, all of which are detailed under writings. Go and have a look, some of it is Amusing. All of the below were done during this time, it's all tapes, unless Otherwise Indicated:

Chris Lawson (and the unknowns)

1991 Lying To Mr Emerson Here Comes Love, Turn Me On Deadman, Tarzan And Jane Regained, Tied Up, Turn Over, You've Got A Problem, Keeping The Faith, Long In The Tooth, Who Cares?, Everybody Does
1992 Welcome To Heaven Welcome To Heaven, Here Comes Love, Long In The Tooth, Who Cares?, Selfish Love Song, Turn Over, Turn Me On Deadman, Gone To Pieces, Keeping The Faith, You've Got A Problem, Tied Up, Everybody Does
1995 Transparent See-Through Intro, Down To Earth, You Don't Know Me, But..., Without Me, Awake, Am I So Blind?, Jeffrey's An Airplane, Glad You're Cool, One Of Those Days, My Life, Out Of Here, To Be Like You, The Nasty Song, See-Through

Finnegan's Wake

1992 Time To Listen With A Time To Listen, Coming Home, Alistair, Linda's Song, Mourning After, Wise Men Say, Goodnight, Friends, Rub A Dub Dub
1992 Happy Town Dignity, Brown-Eyed Girl, With Friends Like These, Wake Up, Oh Give Over!, Try, The Other One, Wish I Was, Happytown

The Council

1995 Your Haircut Dirty Old Man, Just Sex, Sunday, So Dull, Malignant Work, Your Haircut
1995 Parks and Gardens Department Dirty Old Man, Cheap And Nasty, Your Girlfriend's Friend, Energy, Mind The Death (Gigant Suspensions)
1996 Ashtray Heart A PROPER CD from Sorted Records, also featuring The K-Stars

The K-Stars

1995 Frownland EP Split EP, also featuring Cornershop - whoo!
1996 Every Pillow Is Tethered Like A Rock A companion tape to "Ashtray Heart", available by drinking WHISKEY! Also has the Council

Cha Cha 2000

1995 Autobahn Cover of Kraftwerk song, on Lissy's - ANOTHER proper record!

Blimey! I was BUSY wasn't i? Anyway, due to various Issues, Voon split, became The Council for a bit, then came back as Voon, finally splitting up at Abbey Park Festival in 1997, and it was around this reformation time that i started the GLITTERING SOLO CAREER.

It got off to an inauspicious start, and managed to stay that way. The first year or so involved me doing REALLY REALLY BAD songs in deserted pubs, REALLY BADLY. It was AWFUL. I then RETIRED to My New Flat (as it was then), and recorded my first couple of tapes, which, though they have a couple of OK songs on them, are by and large SHIT. Ventures at this time also included writing a Bloody Rock Opera, "Welcome To The Market", which was not very good but DID mistakenly inspire the "History of Life" massive fiesta, whereby about 30 people from various Leicester bands came together and performed a MASSIVE Rock Opera in Leicester Town Hall Square. I was VERY proud of this. The next year we did "Leicester's Great!" which wasn't QUITE so good, though it did generate the songs "Praise The Traffic Warden" (which we recorded for "Say It With Words") and Mat K-Star's song "Clocktower Lights", now covered by Airport Girl.

Anyway, it was time to REAPPRAISE, and i sat down and decided to write some DIFFERENT songs this time, not Traditional Drippy Self-Pity Songs, or the KER-RAZY MAD ones i'd been writing in Voon, but some that were Actually About Something. This turned out to be a REALLY GOOD IDEA, especially as i combined it with a) actually practicing singing and b) learning another chord, making it a grand total of 5. Over the next few years, things got MUCH better, people stopped minding QUITE so much about having to listen to the tapes, and various things started to happen... here's the tapes then:

1995 Free At Last Nothing Special, Morning After, The Perfect Love Song, Stay The Night, Oh Well, Caroline, My New Flat, About You, Billy Jones, Quarter Life Crisis, Out Tonight, Best Wishes, Wide Awake At 2am, Leftovers, Confidence, The Perfect Love Song, Last Night, Fucking Hippy, Desperation Row, Billy Jones Is Dead, I've Pulled, The Best, Kenneth's Tuesday, Nearly The End, Over You, Would If I Could
1996 The Thoughts Of Chairman Hibbett You Walked In, Can't Believe, The Teacher's Mate, I'll Never Drink Again, Hello, Fucking Hippy, Johnny No-Friends, The Story of Voon, Hero of the Class, Bedsit Jazzfart, Mr Right, Boring, The Primal Rhythms of the Bolivian Nose Flautist, Caroline, Take It Easy, Dreadfully Continental, Don't Be A Teenager All Your Life, I'll Wait, Time To Go , Your Girlfriend's Friend
1997 What's So Bad About Being A Grown-Up Work's All Right (If It's A Proper Job), You Can Shout All You Like, The Gay Train, What's So Bad About Being A Grown-Up, Bands From London (Are Shit), We'll See What We Can Do, We Grew Up In The Cold War, Suits, Polite Bicycles, Maybe I'm Indecisive
1997 A Church Hall Of Sound This Is A Song, The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B), Crying, Down The Narborough Road, Before I Was Cool, We Must Go Into Europe, That's A Bonus, If You Need Loving, Family Wedding 2021, Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line), Geneve
1998 Home Taping Is Killing Music Hung Up, Red And White Sockets, It's Not Like It's A Sin, Another True Story, Carol And The Mandolin, Post-Jazz Prog-Rock Virgin, A Trip To The Zoo, Professional, Competent, Rocking and Tight, I Am Too Polite, Families Being Brave, Born With The Century, Wonderfully Brilliantly You

If you want to see the WORDS to any of those, loads of them are available from the songs page - not all of them, mind. Some must remain SECRET.

Things got better with these - i sent TONS of them out to people, and got on a couple of compilations, as well as EVEN getting a few people singing along at gigs - THIS REALLY HAPPENED. Let us look upon these things...

Put out by uk-indie email list
Intro, THE BIGGER THE GOD - When Martin Met Martine, MJ HIBBETT - I Come From The Fens, SZEKI KURVA - Happy Shopper, VISION - Regardless, JAPANESE FIGHTING GIRLS - Theme From JFG, SIENNA - Trust Him, MiLK PLUS - This Is Kitsch Beat, VOON - Rectal Seeds, MOTORCADE ONE - Evil Jukebox #1, THE BIGGER THE GOD - French Films, MJ HIBBETT - Billy Jones Is Dead, SZEKI KURVA - Ramraid, VISION - Tell The Truth, JAPANESE FIGHTING GIRLS - Elvis Loves You, SIENNA - Charlie Boy, MiLK PLUS - Shout All You Like, AIRPORT GIRL - (I'm A) Social Retard, MOTORCADE ONE - Evil Jukebox #3, Outro
French fanzine tape
TALKING PICTURES - you're living all over me, FOOFIE - love is blind, THE BIO SALOON - spanish megahertz, THE GREEN LOVE EXPERIMENT - ok, AIRPORT GIRL - there's nothing wrong (with me), CALVIN - one last waltz, ROSELICOUER - jazz 722: in hop klurt, TWINKIE - tk1, HIGGINS - ghosts, FOOFIE - angle, DAY MAY - the last holiday day's, FLATUL'S - nothing, MARK 700 - sometimes you suit me fine, FLAKE - rober, SBIDO - wonderboy, MARK HIBBETT - payday is the best day, FLATUL'S - world, MISSMOOD - gepetto's mistake, FOOFIE - a music land as thunder, TED - l'orage, THE GREEN LOVE EXPERIMENT - les yeux ecarquilles, DNA - connection
Promo thing by stranded youngsters fanzine and being cut records
ASTRONAUT - three, BELLATRIX - crash, HAMISH THRUM - wacky song, MOGUL - 2 little 2 late, MJ HIBBETT - bands from london (are shit), BAXENDALE - switzerland
1998's Sorted compilation, this time on vinyl
ZIPPERFISH - francesca, THE CREAMS - wood, DALMATION REX AND THE EIGENTONES - have you seen my brown shoes, JOHN SIMS - red brick shoes, MEL MCCRORY - tweaky dave and the cruel fates, MJ HIBBETT - red and white sockets, JEREMY - i wish i was john peel's son, FISH FROM TAHITI - bed of flint, THE FREED UNIT - atrocity, AIRPORT GIRL - clocktower lights, THE ABANDONED - misery, TWINKIE - my favourite animal is the white tyga, KEVIN HEWICK - the lost childhood, THE MELONS - big freeze, THE NON-WRITTERS - 1996

MEANWHILE i pursued a couple of Other Projects. One such was The Fabians, a sort of cross between Arab Strap and Belle & Sebastian, but in Leicester. We were pretty good, but it all sort of fizzled out after we released our single, which was mastered at - GASP - ABBEY ROAD! The real one! And everything! Walking through the front steps i nearly passed out with excitement, and made all the excuses i could think of to nip out and wander round the building... aaah, what a day! The other main thing was, of course, The Durham Ox Singers. The Brief History of these is that myself and Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey decided to start up our own gig/club thing, called "LollopaLeicester", but wanted something to make it seem like more of a "thing" than just a bunch of gigs. After MUCH thought, on the way home one night it HIT me - get the Durham Ox Singers (which had previously been just a way of describing the bunch of people who'd sang on the World Cup EP) to do a regular spot, covering Hits Of The Avant Garde, like Revolution #9! This was, of course, a CLASSIC Good Idea In The Pub, but it was one that was PURSUED, and was FANTASTIC. We played every LollopaLeicester (as it was called), and even went to play the Off The Tracks Festival, where we CONFUSED a bunch of folkies. A single was recorded, and indeed an ALBUM too, which should be out at some point. Anyway, here's the discographical bit:

SRS015REVOLUTION #9 THE DURHAM OX SINGERS -Revolution #9, Horse Latitudes, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast

And also, of course, there were MY singles... these are on the main discography page, so we'll not worry about it here yet. The important thing about them is to note the Born With The Century single, a song i really wanted to record properly, and finally got round to getting Rob and Tim in to help make it GOOD. We decided to try a few more things, and then got asked to do a gig, hence the entry of Ollie. Meanwhile i met Tom in the pub, and in he came too, and the rest, gentle reader, is history... or possibly the future.
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