Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Controls - "Sock it to 'em, Dave" (Stupid Rabbit Tapes SRT001) 1980

Controls' debut cassette ep from 1980,as advertised in Sounds' DIY corner.......

.......is a briskly played rendition of classic garage rehearsed,(or in this case Sports Hall rehearsed) post punk pop from 1979. Controls give us four slabs of Joy Division on whizz, with the bass prominant (curtosy of Tim Naylor) in a style that is a melange of Peter Hook and Captain Hook. Quite infectious with its youthful exhuberance and enthusiasm, and the added charm of the toilet block acoustics provided by 1970's low budget,functional architecture.Why can't you find that reverb setting on yer digital effects units?
Such was the power of Sounds and the cassette swapping underground in 1980, that they sold 500 copies of this!!!......that's 500 Quid!!!!...a kings ransom in 1980,and probably more than many chart acts today come away with after the corporate theives that are "record Companies" have finished "recouping" their advances.Its a terrible pity that these contemptable multinational cess-pits are gonna be bankrupt very soon.

What follows is the "COMPLETE" history of Controls, provided by the mighty pen of Tim Naylor. This is what REAL life was like for us "punks" back in the 70's,pretty much the same as what the pioneers in the wild west had to go through.
Anyway,I'm surprised he's got any fingers to write with left after playing bass for Controls, but here goes:

"Controls were formed in 1978 from the remnants of three bands - the Grunties (the areas first punk band to play a gig), Keine Namen (Fleet-based one gig wonders) and The Fastnets (local Grammar school kids).

Ex-Grunties Melvyn Crawford (gtr) and Kerry Kirk (drums) originally wanted to audition Keine Namen’s Tim Naylor as a replacement singer when original vocalist - Tim Freeman (later of Frazier Chorus) - left due to ‘musical’ differences. Various hybrids of the Grunties and Keine Namen rehearsed over a few weeks around Xmas ’78 with the lineout stabilising around Melvyn who also took on vocal duties, Kerry on drums and Tim on bass and a bit of shouting. Keine Namen drummer Dave took on the manager’s mantle. Meanwhile, The Fastnets guitarist Jon Monks took on duties engineering the band’s sound and documenting various recordings, eventually joining the band as second guitarist.

Following a party debut at Ewshot Village Hall, a couple of private gigs and some endless self-promotion, Controls went public at the Prince of Wales pub in December 79 followed by a gig supporting LonesomeNoMore at the Tumbledown Dick in Farnborough.

Various school, college, club and pub gigs followed, including arguably Controls finest performance at what became known as the Crondall Village Hall Riot. A selection of notable events follows;

May 79 – Ewshott Village Hall (3 piece + 1)

Then playing under their original name of ‘Bright Young Things’ this was a private party attended by circa 200 people. The whole gig is taped for posterity and includes an interlude mid-set where manager Dave plays drums for one number (Videosville). It is also the source of the ‘Sock it to ‘em Dave’ heckle that became the name of Controls first musical endeavour (see below)

Set list: BYT/Funny Bunny/She’s so Dirty/ Videosville/Biggest Bomb-Marriage/Pipes/Commuter/Pricktease. Encore - Funny Bunny / BYT

June 79 – Private party Aldershot (3 piece)

Set list: similar to Ewshott and again played as Bright Young Things.

A party for trainee journalists at an expensive property in Aldershot (Arthur English was a neighbour). Set included a lengthy 12-bar blues jam (a different version posted as video ‘wastin’ on Tim’s YouTube account. Again gig was taped which documents the band’s increasingly pointed displeasure at being ignored by the small throng of punters. It’s not often you hear a band heckle the audience…

Dec 5th ‘79 - Prince of Wales, Fleet (4 piece). Short matinee pub gig

Set list - ‘Nobody’s daughter’, ‘Mars Baby’, ‘So Soon I Forget’, ‘Invited Few’, ‘Bright Young Things’.

A brief warm-up gig for the Tumbledown gig the following week….

Dec 11th 79 – Tumbledown Dick (4 piece)

Set list - Included ‘Nobody’s daughter’, ‘Mars Baby’, ‘So Soon I Forget’, ‘Invited Few’, ‘Now Metal’, ‘Bright Young Things’, ‘Posing Down the Dik’, ‘Caffeinated Housewives’.

The band that played the Prince and the Tumbledown was far removed from the original Bright Young Things (which really had been The Grunties Mk 2, using mainly Melvyn’s material and a couple of Tim’s earliest efforts).

For a start the band was a proper four piece with the addition of Jon on rhythm guitar and had written an entire new set of material and adopted the name Controls at Tim’s behest. While Melvyn continued to be the lyricist, the songwriting axis had started to move away from Melvyn and Tim to Jon and Tim (and would continue to do so even when Jon was not playing fully with the band), and the band was tightly drilled and rehearsed. Which makes the complete cock-up of the Tumbledown gig even harder to understand. No sound engineer, no fold-back, usual story. Near-comatose from alcohol rhythm guitarist barely coaxed onto stage didn’t help either.

The Tumbledown Dick

The Tumbledown Dick had a long tradition as a live venue going back to the sixties and early seventies – the Jam played there many times in 1975. In late 79 the venue staged a small season (approximately half a dozen gigs) featuring named punk/new wave acts -Angelic Upstarts, Purple Hearts, The Wall, The Nips, Classix Nouveaux - with established local acts as support (The Mode, Thieves, Impulse, Virginia Doesn’t,). Then repeated the trick using the established local acts as headliners with ‘new’ local bands supporting (Between Pictures, Controls, Lopez).

Jan 80 - ‘Sock it to ‘em Dave’ released. Controls unwitting pioneering approach to releasing indie cassettes of their material got the band noticed. A short mention in Sounds resulted in around 500 sales of this 4 track cassette featuring ‘So Soon I Forget’, ‘Secrets’, ‘Nobodies Daughter’ and ‘Invited Few’, as well as numerous fanzine pieces and distribution offers.

July 80 – Albert St Social Club, Fleet (4 piece – power pulled after four numbers as band were disturbing the regulars in the Snug)

Set List ‘Nobody’s daughter’, ‘Mars Baby’, ‘So Soon I Forget’, ‘Invited Few’, A night of insurrection as Controls bassist Tim started a fight in the club with local hard cases. Ended up with the band walking home followed by a group of around 20 youths threatening them….

June 21 1980 – Don’t Adjust the Controls recording session

The bands second cassette was a ten track ‘LP’ recorded live to a pro- two-track cassette on June 21st 1980. Around 14 tracks were recorded but several were dropped – Caffeinated Housewives, Welcome to Sunday, Nobodies daughter and the full version of Invited Few. June 1980 – Court Moor School Main Hall (3 piece).

Jon had stepped down from playing duties by this stage so the band continued as a three piece. A number of slower Joy Division/Cure influenced numbers had crept into the set – ‘Observers’ and ‘Metropolis’ in particular. Band were watched by around 200 youngsters and played a storming set.

Around this time, Controls used to let a young thrash punk band borrow their equipment after rehearsals every Saturday – this band included Richard Jennings (who would later join Tim and Jon in Beating Hearts), Shaun Burt who became lead singer of anarcho-punk band Black Easter and – bizarrely – Mick Delahunty who went on to minor fame and fortune with one-hit boy band Breathe (Hands to Heaven)

June 80 – Crondall Village Hall (3 piece) (aka the Crondall Riot)

A landmark event in local punk folklore. This was a private party staged by Jon Monks and Bill Tootle who used to play in an early punk band as The Fastnets. Controls provided the PA and backline and co-headlined with Basingstoke punks ‘The Mental’. The Mental had lots of connections with the south-west anarcho punk scene and invited all their mates and told them it was a free festival. Bands started turning up expecting to play, drum kits were being set up in the corner of the hall and everything was getting out of hand.

A quick conference was staged between the headliners and it was agreed that Bill Tootle’s band (Anonymous Sisters) would open, then Controls would play with the Mental headlining…then everyone would sneak out the back door and let the crowd – now around 200 people, most of whom claimed to be in band - get on with it.

A large number of Fleet hooligans had also turned up, who were recruited by Tim as security – an uneasy truce that was never going to last long…

Anonymous Sisters played a short set of quirky pop songs, then Controls got on the small stage. The band had intended playing some of the slower new material, but Melvyn took one look at the by now seething crowd of punks and very deliberately picked up the set list and slowly ripped it in half… ‘We’ll play some old numbers…’ he said and proceeded to shout out titles to Tim and Kerry and the band played on the fly at about 100 miles an hour – Marriage, Vices, She’s so dirty, Commuter, Proximity, Bright Young Things. The crowd went batshit, with scraps breaking out all over and missiles being launched.

One memory seared on the band forever was the sight of around 20 punks trying to force their way on stage, while just one member of the Fleet goon squad holding the door shut – luckily it was a well known local trouble maker who weighed about 20 stone.

The Controls tore through a truncated set then stayed put with the gear as the Mental got on stage. They were equally brief playing around ten short sharp fuzz guitar punk songs… more stage invasions took place and in a moment of balletic chaos one punter was kicked squarely in the chest by Tim because he got too close to the bass amp and sailed gracefully back into the melee… another ventured near to Kerry’s drum kit and was rewarded with a cigarette flicked in his face.

As the Mental finished and sloped off backstage, Controls mobilised themselves and quickly lifted the backline and drumkit out of a sidedoor, stashing everything in the cars and returned to the throng. The crowd in the hall by now realised that everything had gone from the stage and proceeded to wreck the place, before spilling out into Crondall itself – a small rural idyll populated by harrumphing Majors and blue-rinse Tories - and started to destroy the village green. Some of the Mental’s gear also went missing. Jon’s car was stolen and was wrapped around the as yet incomplete Crondall by-pass.

Four days later the local Aldershot News group reported a front page story of the ‘Crondall Village Hall Riot’… A bit of a do all told….

July 80 – Aldershot Lido (café roof gig) (started as 3 piece, ended as a rhythm section)

As Aldershot Lido celebrated its 50th Anniversary someone thought it would be a good idea if Controls played a short set on the roof of the Lido cafeteria. It was a bad idea. Out of the 5,000 people present around 100 watched while the rest studiously avoided the area. The band got all arsy, both with the crowd and each other. Melvyn turned up late, nearly fell off the roof then fell in the pool. The band split up.

Meanwhile a local guitarist had heard all the commotion and was playing in his garage opposite the Lido. Tim – by now in a state of high stress – marched across to where he was playing and told the guitarist (Mick Pendleton) that if he was any good he better get his backside over to Fleet for an audition the next Saturday. He did and a few weeks later following some singer auditions at which Jim Rump was installed, Controls Mk 2 was born. This band was one of the X-Cassettes house bands and appeared on three releases on the label – ‘Anything Could Happen in the Next Half Hour’, ‘Bits’ and ‘Dance’ as well as a Stupid Rabbit Release ‘Late Night Love Songs’."



Anonymous said...

Stupid rabbit? More like lucky rabbit methinks. Also this is a great band and I think I got this from you from the first incarnation of this blog.


Anonymous said...

AS you say 500 tapes =£500 which was a fortune in 1980, not bad even now. With Bandcamp you get 500 plays but modern buggers are too tight to buy downloads...

sweet-hooligan said...

Thanks anonymous posters... there is a Stupid Rabbit Facebook page if you would like to join in the 'fun' https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stupid-Rabbit-Tapes/250596941814962

Bill T said...

It was actually Men Like Gods at the time of the Crondall Village Hall gig, Anonymous Sisters followed about 6 months later. But excellent historical record Tim, far more went on than I remembered (and not just at Crondall !).

sweet-hooligan said...

So it was Bill... I will amend the history to reflect that!