Personal Column? 1982 – A venue called “The Warehouse”. It exists no more. A fire broke out one night and it was closed down (why do all clubs end up having fires?).
I was the keyboard player with “Come in Tokio” at this time and fellow band members suggested we see PC. I don’t recall knowing them at that time but apparently we started our rehearsals straight after their rehearsal finished in the Ministry rehearsal rooms so I must have ignored some of them at one point or another on the stairs.
I remember several things about that
1st gig – which was unusually good for me as in those
days I would be quite drunk and probably pushed to remember my name –
the singer had an attitude and really bad taste in white strings
vests which he wore under a women’s black leather jacket. If
Holly Johnson was in the audience that night then I insist that Marc
Vormawah the singer put in some claim for image royalties. Frankie
came to the warehouse that night indeed. But despite this … what a
band! I recall being with my girlfriend of the time Moira, and being
over how brilliant they were, dissecting every song as it was being
played. Friction stood out, Here's Looking at You was also a
and a song called Liverpool 8 999
got me really excited as well. When
Colin Brown (Keyboard player) crossed stage to join Marc on the front
vocal mike on this song it really did it for me, hairs on the back of
the neck stood up. This was not your usual Liverpool band. There was
not an overcoat in sight. To borrow from an early PC song I was Struck by Lightning.
After the gig I remember mumbling something to Marc who was having a drink in the audience. I can’t remember what it was but it was probably the first of a million conversations I have had with him since. No doubt I was telling him how good the band where and how impressed I was. From this gig I and “Come in Tokio” guitarist and mate John Gillin became good friends with Marc and Colin. We met up initially to see an “Afraid of Mice” gig one lunch time in Macmillan’s in the city centre and afterwards we all traipsed back to my mum and dads house. Playing the piano and my songs (which were embarrassing at that time) and playing records I recommended – CD’s had not been invented then.
One thing I do recall was how much we all had in common – a love for great songs and songwriters. Over the years Marc has become a very close friend and we still exchange songs and recommend things to each other. Back then though it was all new. I was trusted to be given a demo tape of about 8 songs. “A Woman's Place” stood out as well as “His Master's Voice”, the tape done the rounds with other friends and an entourage of us were now going to every Personal Column gig that was set up soon after. Jury Service, Personal Column, and World in Action also were on that initial demo tape.
Other memories of songs; Ignorance is Bliss ( a blistering song and a half) – well I was really disappointed I was not in the right place at the right time when PC recorded this for their 1st single (and dead jealous when I found out my friend John Gillin was and had been asked to make noises in the song). This song was the band’s last song in the set and a powerful one and fan favourite too. PC never did encores in those days, much to everybody’s annoyance.
The other side of the single Dreamer in Babylon was pop reggae
but very commercial, one of those songs that
you find yourself singing without even knowing it. I know the songs
were recorded at Alan Peters studios in the city centre on a 4 or 8
track and PC self financed the project. It was a platform for bigger
things. Me and John Gillin got to play live now and again on these
two songs with PC (and my keyboard got to play live at every gig
after a request for a loan of it by Colin). Many years later when we
had our own band “The Persuaders” we got Marc up and did a
version of Dreamer at a
Christmas gig we had.
Ignorance was also PC’s 1st telly appearance – I think I am the only person who had a copy of their debut TV appearance on Granada’s Exchange flags programme. I also have a clip of Institutions that was recorded as well but not shown in full – another class song.
Week in and out I would be told of new songs being performed at gigs in advance and asked what I thought. Not that my opinion would change things but I think they knew that I would like these songs and liked some confirmation of their own talent. I remember hearing these songs debuted for the first time; Same Old Situation, Astrology (A favourite of mine and played only once I recall), The Nature of Things, Dangerous Places, Point of No Return, Cosmetic Surgery, Terminal Suspicion (I still have the lyric sheet to this one)
In between, the 2nd single
was released and again self financed – The Same Old Situation and Terminal Suspicion (a fave).
PC changed it’s Drummer along the way –Mike Carroll left and Terry Sterling came in, Rob Boardman became an additional guitarist and Phil Hargreaves came in and played Saxophone later on.
I was asked to be the manager at one point due to my enthusiasm for the group and the fact I had got “Come in Tokio” a John Peel session but it was not possible to give 100% and I sadly declined but said I would help if I could and Royce the van driver took over and worked very hard and got them that Peel session that got things moving.
The 1st Peel session: I can happily say I was there at the recording – my main memory was of Marc’s brilliant talent for harmonizing and the multi layered harmonies he did on Dangerous Places. It was a great session; Dangerous Places, Red, Same Old Situation and Friction. Peel was chuffed, he wanted to make an EP out of it and Elvis Costello obviously heard it, as he too was raving about the songs.
Kid Jensen sessions and Another Peel session followed and then the band got a deal with Stiff records and released “Strictly Confidential” with “Here's Looking at You” as the b side. I am not sure but I would like to think I had some influence in the choice of Here's Looking at You. I always suggested this as a single.
Marc and Colin also got a publishing deal with ATV music – PC’s songs are now owned by Michael Jackson who could make a few bob by doing something with them.
New Songs came; Waiting for the Axe to Fall, Hook Line or Sink Without Trace (songs obviously in support of their new record deal!), but live performances were now becoming rare.
I am not sure why it all ended. Today if PC existed I would suggest they sod the major labels and do what they did initially and self finance their material – sell CD’s at gigs – get a following that way.
I have many gigs on tape, and I even have some after show conversations of us trying to get home from places such as Wallasey to Liverpool. I listened to a couple recently and it was just magic. Youth, naivety, that age when you think you can do anything and get away with it, the songs still stand up today. Some of the issues are still so important and still need addressing.
Anyone wishing to take a ride back in time when listening to these songs will find me there too.