Couldn't Believe A Word The 45's (2)
That's the 45s U.K., veterans of south London's pubrock circuit who should not to be confused with the all-girl punk trio from Annapolis, Maryland of the same name - the latter outfit so strapped for equipment they actually borrowed the dustbin-worthy gear of my old outfit Thee Katatonix when we played gigs together. In fact, our Annapolis gig with these gals earned us our worst-ever - and hence most beloved - review in the Arundel Living Sun ("New Wave band revels in playing songs wrong," July 24, 1980): "Such a vile feeling we had not experienced since our last anchovy pizza with extra anchovies...there was very little in the way of musical ingenuity. There was a whole lot in the way of perverse anger...we left the bar wondering who would have mercy on us after having been subjected to the band that adds assault to insult." And we were the headliners, folks!
So, in other words, it's highly unlikely that anyone would mistake the 45s from across the pond with the minimalist Annapolitans who the Baltimore City Paper described as "somewhat more artful than the Shaggs and somewhat more artless than the Raincoats"; in fact, these Blighty blokes are pure Powerpop, with melodies akin to Pezband or early Rubinoos. Originally university students from Newcastle upon Tyne, where they initially busked and later performed in pubs under the name The Famous Five, the Geordie lads headed south to London with a demo tape of "Couldn't Believe a Word," catching the eye of Chopper Records. But despite the single becoming "Record of the Week" on John Peel's Radio 1 playlist (as well as influential music papers like Melody Maker), Chopper Records was a small label with limited distribution; it was hard to get hold of it! But thanks to hearing it on Radio 1, Stiff Records contacted the group and subsequently brought the single out under their label. Alas, the 45s' lone single for Stiff remains infamous for being "the lowest selling Stiff single ever"! Bollocks, I say! The single may have stiffed, but this hook-friendly tune is far from lame!
Phil Johnstone went on to co-write and produce three albums for Robert Plant. He is still in the music business and owns a studio in Devon, England.
Rock / Power Pop / Pop Rock