The Ramones,3rd album was Rocket To Russia,released in 1977 this was one of the 1st albums i bought,it may have been the 3rd one actually, i bought this back in 1977 as a 13 year old from virgin records in Sheffield which at the time was situated at the bottom of the soon to be pedestrianised Moor, it was a great hangout for all the new punks and kids who liked this “new music” that had just arrived,So why you may ask am i posting regarding this band and album? well I’ve been going back over stuff that I’ve had for years and at present I’m struggling to find anything newish that takes my fancy,and plus the Ramones are a F**king truly great underrated band!,plus i have a small tale to tell regarding the images you see on this post,this album was the last with the original drummer Tommy ramone,the album is a cross between surf rock and punk which was recorded in Manhattan New York,as is the norm with the ramones,the album was all short 2 minute long songs, so if you ever got bored with one track then you could just pick the needle up and move it along! or nowadays just program your cd/mp3 player to play the ones you like! how times have changed,Here’s the tracklisting on the original vinyl album,from the opening guitar riff of cretin hop i was totally hooked on this great band
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
I Don’t Care
Sheena Is a Punk Rocker
We’re a Happy Family
Do You Wanna Dance?
I Wanna Be Well
I Can’t Give You Anything
Why Is It Always This Way?
looking at the inside cover of this album the graphics are truly great and point very much towards a band who did what they wanted to do and didnt need a stylist etc to create an image for them,i got to see the band in 1980 and it’s the only time ive seen them alas,so heres the story behind the autographs.myself and a few mates would always be hanging around outside various venues in sheffield in the late 70s and early 80s,at first wagging school and later having days off work or leaving early,the ramones where playing the sheffield top rank it was a sunday and we would usually hang around trying to get in for the soundchecks etc,there was quite a few other lads and lasses hanging around and the ramones road crew in and out with stuff,we finally got in for the soundcheck around 30 or so of us and the ramones run thru a few numbers stopping every so often to adjust some piece of equipment, when the sound check was over the band just jumped off the stage and everybody started talking to them and it was a nice friendly atmosphere with the band as curious about us as we where about them,others had various items such as records and posters tee shirts etc i had this album with me,the band where great, nothing was too much trouble for them, fans posed for photos with them, i went round the band getting the cover signed,and as usual with me something happened,my pen ran out! as you can see i have 3 autographs on this cover,all in all we must have had 2 hours in there chatting and mulling around with other fans,oh yeah and it was a truly great concert that night as well! around 1992 i took the cover to a record fair to get a valuation on it,not that i was going to sell,there was a couple of stalls selling stuff like this and a guy on one reckoned around £10! which was greeted with loads of abuse from me!after all he was a long haired rocker anyway!here we are now in 2017 minus dee dee ramone,johnny ramone,and we cant forget joey ramone, 3 truly great musicians now reformed in another life!looking back on my youth, what are the chances now of meeting your favourite band or artist? probably not good if you hang around the venues,they have security all over the place and just dont have the time for the people that really matter to them ie the fans,they treat you as if you are some crazy stalker hellbent on inflicting pain or attacking them,im glad i grew up in that era,where everything now seems so simple!! enjoy the ramones!!
This event is 39 years old and obviously the few memories i have of this are jaded to say the least!im not quite sure if we had tickets or it was a pay on the door,but one thing is you had to be signed in,this was of course back in the days when the “students” where all a bit elitist,ie you had to be one to drink cheap cider in the students union bar even tho you had put fuck all in to the system,all that type of shit,keeping the riff raff out type of thing,it was a nightmare and as a 14 year old you can only stand being told to fuck off so many times,the thing with the students around that time was it was there kind of music circuit which was basically for them and nobody else like i mentioned earlier an elite club,so there we where me and jimmy and im not sure who else was with us,standing around trying our hardest when the man himself paul weller came walking down the steps in a parka,we managed to grab him and have a word about getting us in,but no chance there was nowt he could do as there was loads on the guest list,somehow one by one we managed to get in, and assemble at the bottom of the steps that went upto the concert hall,i remember there being a table selling tee shirts and stuff but not purchasing anything at all,on getting to the door that lead into the concert hall i can clearly remember the sound of patrik fitzgerald banging away on his guitar the song “safety pin stuck in my heart” i think we worked our way down to the front as all 14 year olds would do at the time! and next up where the dickies a great band from america who played everything at 100MPH, i already knew both artists from the peel show,so they where another 2 added to my slowly growing list of bands i had seen.So showtime and to this day i can hardly remember anything about the jam playing this night, it was the 1st time i had ever seen the jam and hardly anything i can remember!One thing is, i went in as a 14 year big jam fan but came out a massive jam fan,this gig along with a few others put me on to a lifetime of listening to this great band and paul weller solo stuff and the style council and the future recordings of bruce foxton and rick buckler,why post this you may ask? well it’s 39 years to the day that i saw this band which changed everything in my life after coming out of the now demolished sheffield polytechnic building things where different,these events in life may not really be important to a lot of us,however over the next 4 years i went on to see the jam 25 times,along that way i had some truly great times,met some great lads and lasses,and of course watched a truly great band just get better and better,would i swap this event for anything? NO! in fact i won’t swap any of the 25 times i saw the jam,probably not even to see the pistols who are the only one of my favourite bands ive never got to see.
I got a part time job with a couple of my mates collecting glasses at Smithywood Working mens club, outside it was 1979 but inside it was still definitely 1972, it was frequented by the local lotharios still dressed in flares, kipper ties and jackets with huge lapels, the shoulders of said jackets caked in brylcream or huge dandruff flakes, facial hair shaped into Emperor Ming style moustaches or bushy sideburns shaped and trimmed by Seagraves the barbers further along woodseats, they stood around the bar holding court with there cheap pints of stones or wards and even cheaper crap jewellery dangling from there wrists and medallions around there necks, they strutted off to the same table they’ve sat at for years, the wives sat waiting dressed in the latest grattan catalogue fashions, faces caked in cheap make up drinking Barley wine whilst constantly chain smoking park drive cigarettes.
Various members of the committee would walk in and instantly be hero worshipped, by day a road sweeper but by night a celebrity, men falling over themselves to be seen on first name terms with “the committee ” they always sat at the front , the best seats in the house as they say, people moved out of the way for them, Las Vegas had definitely come to woodseats. The scene in the film “Goodfellas ” where the waiters bring out a table for the mobster Henry Hill and place it right in front of the stage always reminds me of how these characters where worshipped in there.
My favourite nights where when there was a comedian on, I use the term “comedian” loosely, they where usually crap, some tenth rate loser spewing out the same jokes and the same act that wasnt funny 20 years ago so hardly funny now, the positive was they would always take the piss out of the committee, they would sit there with there cheap pints of bitter pretending to laugh along whilst looking around to see who also dared to laugh at them, they loved it, but the club was laughing at them , not with them!
Then there was the bingo, this was the main event, this was what the women came for, there had to be complete silence, woe betide anyone who dared make the slightest noise even the proverbial pin dropping would bring tsunami size uproar, I had not been there long and I took it upon myself to collect glasses during bingo and I dropped a glass, it shattered the silence like a bomb going off, 400 adults screaming and shouting at me, baying for the blood of a 15 year old, I was the gazelle at the watering hole surrounded by lions, when a line was called one of the lesser committee members was duly dispatched to check it calling out the numbers whilst the bingo caller nodded his head confirming each number, full house brought out the nastiness in most of the women, no matter who won it, it was always a fix, or they where lucky, she’s not won it again, these phrases always filled the smoke filled air, it was always “well done ” when a committee members wife won it strangly enough.
We were to young to drink so we would have fizzy drinks, a lad worked with us who was 18 and he thought he was jack biscuit because he could buy a beer, he would put his beer down and go and collect a few glasses and then sit down again drinking whilst we did most of the collecting, he loved himself but to us he was a complete bellend he still had the flares and longish hair and at 18 why would you want to collect glasses on a Saturday night when you could be out in town with your mates having it large? He was Billy no mates that’s why, it probably took him years to get the wrapper off and then he no doubt paid for it. After a while we starting taking the piss as one night I had a swig of his drink and it was Lager shandy, the fucking lightweight,we drank more then him on youth club nights!
We had a basket to stack glasses up in, “No more than 6 high” we got told by the bar manager, he was more concerned with breakages then he was about us young lads doing ourselves an injury ,they could get quite heavy at times as well especially if we also put bottles in,back then bottles had a money value as there would be a small return on them from the brewery, recycling had yet to enter this prehistoric world frequented by these lumbering hairy cavemen. i would clear a table and some bloke would give me grief because I’d took his empty glass away, a lot of them would go back to the bar with the same glass, women could be worse, most drunk Barley wine and they would go apeshit if you took the bottle away and there was a tiny drop left in the bottom, I once got chased through the lounge by a blue rinsed psychotic monster with a park drive hanging from the corner of her mouth screaming at me to stop as I had taken her bottle away. Me and my mates made a conscious decision then never to frequent this place or any like them in the future, and I’m glad to say in nearly 40 years I’ve been in a WMC less than a dozen times.
Saturday nights the tables would be filled with food, it was party night so to speak, the blue rinses and the chain smoking caked in make up cheap catalogue wearing wifes would lay out various disgusting sandwiches and pork pies on the tables, all trying to outdo each other in the rancid food stakes, most of it was not fit for human consumption, the catering industry definitely had nothing to fear from these park drive smoking creatures. There would be food left and they would offer it to us as we cleared the tables, I always said no, the odd time the drunks would take offence at our refusal to accept there offering of curled up ham and mouldy cheese sandwiches drowning in cheap mustard and pickles and rock hard pork pies, the shallow end of the gene pool was always overcrowded on a Saturday night in the smithy!!
A 2nd visit to Chesterfield this year to a new venue recently opened called The Avenue, previously a Rileys Snooker centre (so I was told). The first “proper ” concert i went to was The Tom Robinson Band back in 1978 they where supported by tonight’s band Stiff Little Fingers, billed as a 40th anniversary tour it was a first time ever in Chesterfield for the mighty SLF,the last time I saw them was maybe 5/6 years ago at the plug in Sheffield and overall I’ve seen them 6/7 times over the last 39 years (f**kin ell!) My first time at this venue and I was impressed, fairly wide stage so plenty of opportunities to stand near the front, a balcony looking down at the stage was quite crowded so you had options of which view you could have, huge downside was the bar, at least 10 deep with 4 people serving, 25 minutes before we got served so my mate and I got 2 pints each, maybe the fact that this was probably the first big band they had put on and never expected it to be this busy, so hopefully they get that sorted for this cracking venue.
Jake burns, Ali McMordie on bass, Ian McMallun on guitar and Steve Grantley on drums came bounding on stage and quickly straight into “breakout” minus his singing as it was so distorted “straw Dogs” followed and sound corrected and Mr burns could now be heard quite clearly, dressed in a polka dot shirt and looking rather portly I may add! “Fade away” followed and a quick breather as jake introduced the next song “my dark places” what I like about jake burns is he always explains his songs, about the backgrounds to them and how he came to write them.
“Safe as houses” “nobody’s hero” “at the edge” followed next then a real oldie in “barbed wire love” and “roots ” then a newish (well this century ) “Strummerville” Jakes tribute to the legend Joe strummer, who was instrumental in the Fingers first footsteps on the punk scene.
The heat is turned up as early classics are played “wasted life” “tin soldiers” and the classic “suspect device ” one of my all time favourite punk records, play it at full blast and hear the anger in his voice, jake burns was well and truly pissed off with his lot back in 1977, and that’s your lot! We missed the encores due to running for the last bus back to sheffield ( tight gits) but a cracking show none the less, this was no going through the motions, no nostalgia circuit performance, it still means a lot and the songs mean a hell of a lot to this band whether they are last century or this century the Fingers are still as important today as they were back in the days when they came full throttle at you courtesy of John Peel.
My dark places
Safe as houses
At the edge
Barbed wire love
Guilty as sin
We were young
As usual our bible of the time,The NME (New Musical Express) announced a Jam tour and as usual my mates and I got our heads together and decided to do a few dates mainly to venues we hadn’t been to before, as luck would have it i was due some holidays from work, tickets all sorted by the usual SAE And Cheque method, no booking fees back in those days! As I had 2 weeks off work i made the most of it and went to a few gigs on this tour and saw a few other bands as well.
1981 is a hell of a long time ago 36 years if we are going to be precise and my recollections of these times are hazy to say the least, however they where good times.Apart from getting the tickets, which was easy it was how do we get there? None of us could drive yet so it was going to be the train, I was 17 and this was the first time I had ever been on a train, along with my 2 best mates at the time jimmy and John we where joined with andy a mate from work, Andy was a year or so older then us and was a good lad who loved his music and was a big Stranglers and joy division fan, I’m glad to say I’m still mates with him 36 years later, I reckon jimmy booked the train as he was good at that sort of thing, if it had been left to me we would have ended up in Inverness or somewhere.
Somehow we had got to discussing getting to Skegness a few weeks before and what I can remember was one of the lads reckoned he could ride a bike to Skegness rather than use the train, Steve was a bit of a lad, always stage diving at gigs, mad as a hatter, but a great lad who again loved his music,and over the years he learnt to play both bass and lead guitar pretty well and played in quite a few bands, but sheffield to Skegness on a bike? It’s a long way even in a car, I’m sure he borrowed some standard bike no gears at all, my memory is telling me it was a kids bike which would be about right for Steve, I seem to recall he set off on the Thursday and basically just pointed his bike in the direction of Lincolnshire and fair play to him on doing it as I didn’t have a clue in which direction Skegness was.Saturday morning and we are on the platform at Sheffield Midland station waiting for our train, I’m nervous, I’ve never been on a train before and I’ve got a thousand and one things running through my head, will we be on the right train? Will it crash? Does it go fast? John is winding me up even more, he can’t believe I’ve never been on a train, at 17 I had never ventured anywhere, my parents never took me anywhere, anytime soon I’m going to clip John, he’s my best mate but he’s pushing his luck! Our train pulls up and there’s a few more assorted mods and Herbert’s boarding the train so it eases my worry of getting on the wrong train, there’s a gap between the train and platform of around 4 inch so I take a running jump and leap across this bottomless void and I land halfway across the carriage I turn and look around and my mates are falling about laughing at me along with most of the people in the carriage, “you where lucky there Pete, none of us have a rope to pull you back up if you had fallen thru that 4 inch gap” jimmy tells me as he wipes the tears from his eyes, I shuffle down the train taking it all in, I’m looking in the various cabins as I make my way down the carriage,in those days most of the carriages had a long corridor with cabins off to one side that sitted 6 or 8 people unlike today where most train carriages are open with seats facing both ways. We settle down and the train leaves and after a while I wonder why the train is going backwards, it’s then that I realise I’m sitting with my back to the engine, I’m just about to say something about it but decide not to purely as more piss taking will ensue, we pull in at various stations and various shady characters get on all looking like they are heading to the same destination as us.We get talking to some lads from Mansfield and we all swap stories of bands we’ve seen and different jam concerts we’ve been to, cans of beer duly arrive and our carriage party is in full swing .We pull into Boston station and change trains for Skegness, it was a mixture of mods, skinheads, punks and families all going to skegvegas for there own variation of the bucket and spade tour, we eventually arrive at skeggy train station and we make our way up into the town centre, now I’m not sure if we had booked a B&B but we end up in one on the corner where the clock tower is,and bang across the road from the seafront and the pavilion, huge added bonus of a pub next door as well!
We are all in the same room and there’s 2 single beds and 1 double and I cop for the double with andy, John and jimmy snigger at us and try there hardest to wind myself and Andy up with gay jokes etc,which are duly noted and filed away until my moment comes. A quick wash and brush up and change of clothes and we are in the chippy next to the pub, this is what we came for, there’s hundreds of jam fans and mods mulling around, there’s small groups of scooters arriving laden down with overnight bags and tents strapped to luggage racks, the pub below us has its patio doors open and “tubestation” is blasting out,we sit on the wall outside chips in one hand, lager in the other,the jam in the background, does life get any better than this? (I was only 17!!) We got chatting to some lads from Lincoln who had hung around the pavilion whilst the band’s equipment was being set up and they are going back over later for the sound check so we decided to do the same, I always hung around for the soundchecks when I was a teenager, I wagged school a lot around the ages of 14-16 I just loved that hanging around and watching bands soundcheck, hopefully getting to chat to the bands, all the times I got in I never encountered any nastiness from bands and roadies to fans who at times could get in the way, bands where on that level with fans, punk rock got rid of all that “aloofness ” We decide to have a wander around and go across to the pavilion and see what’s happening, this is where my memory starts to play tricks on me and I’m struggling to put things in order, we made the soundcheck and also copped for a brucey bonus as we bumped into Rick Buckler in a bar on what remained of Skegness pier, like the “chicken and egg” scenario I’m unsure if we went to the soundcheck first and bumped into rick later, or the other way round?
Common sense would tell me any musician would soundcheck first then go for a beer later, we played the state of the art video games (rather badly in my case) pinball machines (rather good in my case) lost money on the slots and bumped into rick! Along with a few more jam fans we had a chat with rick who was quite willing to chat to this bunch of teenagers which steadily grew in size, I can remember one lad asking where Paul was and his answer was “probably on the dodgems with his dad ” which brought quite a few laughs and giggles from everybody especially ricks mates, where divisions already setting in back in 1981? One of ricks entourage politely declared drummers question time over and everybody went away with a smile on there face. How would the same scenario look here in 2017? Loads of “selfies” fucking Facebook check ins, texting and ringing mates “guess who I’m with?” Tweeting etc, and that’s if you’ve not been told to do one by some self important minion! It was definitely simpler times last century!
From memory there was quite a gathering of excited lads and lasses who charged into Skegness pavilion on that Saturday afternoon when the doors where flung open for the soundcheck, Paul as ever looking the style icon dressed in sky blue trousers, blue bowling shoes, black Fred Perry and a white denim jacket and longer hair,Bruce more casual in jeans and sweatshirt, rick in jeans and tubestation tee shirt, the hundred or so lads and lasses got treated to an hour or so of snippets from the nights set list, that’s all I can remember apart from the band finishing up and signing autographs before floating to the nearest bar or the dodgems.
Somewhere between this point and the gig we got talking to 4 lads from Sheffield who i think had been on our train, over the next couple of years I became best friends with 2 of these characters doing lots of gigs and spending a lot of time on West Street and in particular The limit club, again I’m proud to say I’m still friends with one of these lads, following The Jam back then created many friendships and nearly 40 years on they are still creating new friendships of like minded souls who gladly have a story or two to swap about “the best F**king band in the world ”
The evening started off back in the bar next door to our beds for the night,which again was rammed with Ben Shermans,Fred Perry’s, boating jackets, the odd parka, lads in suits, girls in sixties dresses, the odd punk or two, jam tunes blasting out again amongst a healthy mixture of Mod Revival bands such as purple Hearts and the chords, a great singalong to “Time For Action ” with all the pub shouting “Wankerrrrrrr” as the record faded out ( turn the volume up at the end) some 2 tone sneaked it’s way in between some Small Faces and The Who records, such a great atmatmosphere, that’s what being a teenager was about then, that’s what I miss from those days, I can’t see it happening now, the mobile phone and (anti) Social media killed all that, we are all a bit tipsy by now, at 17 we where still at entry level drinking so we decided to make our way across to the pavilion and catch the support, and that’s about all I can remember of that night! A mixture of alcohol and adolescent excitement wiped the memory banks of that night, I can’t remember the support bands but I can remember at one stage being down the front and soaking wet with sweat bouncing away with teenage adrenaline to Eton Rifles and not giving a fuck actually! Towards the end of the set we made our Way to the back of the hall gasping for breath and needing a drink desperately, what I do remember is as we made our way out into the cool seaside air Andy egging me on about a girl at my side eyeing me up and saying something about her night would be complete if she got to meet a nice mod boy as she stared at me, I never got the hint really and Andy gave me some stick about “how much on a plate do you want it”? I’m not not ashamed even now at 53 to say that I was one nieve teenager, or just an innocent one?
We went back to the pub buzzing and full of ourselves over the concert, the pub filled up quickly with hot and thirsty teenagers downing pints at a rapid pace, everybody going over different parts of the concert with voices raised above the sound of the music being played, soon there was kids dancing on the tables outside and one lad got everybody singing acapella style to Eton Rifles, it was such a fantastic night but it had to end,1981 had licencing hours back then and it was last orders, across the road was a nightclub and a fair few made it over and up the stairs, we swerved it and retired to our B&B exhausted but having again had the time of our lives , I had loads more weekends out like this over the next few years be it concerts, scooter rallies or football, in fact some of the best times in my life.
The next day we dragged our arses out of bed and made our way home, a quick jaunt along the beach and a few photographs and it’s homeward bound changing at Boston for Nottingham for sheffield! We sat around the station with our new mates and other rather subdued lads who had been to the concert, addresses and phone numbers exchanged and “see you Wednesday in Leicester ” and other cities could be heard. Over the next couple of weeks I went to 3 more The Jam concerts, I caught The Teardrop Explodes a couple of times as well during those 2 weeks, I wasnt home much but that’s what being 17 was like during the early 80s there was so much music going around.
Over the years I’ve seen many bands, my memory has never been great recalling the hundreds of concerts I’ve been to, 25 times I’ve seen the jam and there’s not much I remember, mates I’ve been with have filled me in on details, my photographs have added pieces to the jigsaw I form around every concert , we all see things in different ways and interpret them in our own way so there’s never a true account of events. At the start I mentioned our mate Steve betting he could ride a bike to Skegness, setting out on Thursday he made it by Saturday morning! He slept in bushes, fell off a few times and got a lift the last few miles by a van load of mods from Coventry who he ended up drinking with all weekend, we saw him around early evening on Saturday but the next time I saw him was back in Sheffield 4 days later, and to this day i don’t know how he got home!!
Waterstones in Sheffield town city have been holding regular book signings over the last couple of weeks and with Jarvis having a new book out it just couldn’t go amiss now could it?The book is called Mother,Brother,Lover and is basically his lyrics from early days to present,and how he approaches writing them,as I’m born and bred in Sheffield quite a lot of the words mean something to me,places mentioned and characters from Sheffield who i either know or know off,Now Jarvis is a a great one off character,who as we all know stuck to his guns from the late 70s early 80s with his band pulp until finely they made it big time,Anyway here we where on a rainy Thursday afternoon,myself ,wife and son outside waterstones where a queue had been forming from 11.30ish although the signing didn’t start till 5.30,and there was loads arriving to join the queue which was all nice and friendly with staff giving out numbered tickets to stop people pushing in etc,A very mixed crowd with students rubbing shoulders with middle aged fans,young teenagers stood at the side of office workers all with one thing in common,they liked Jarvis cocker! and all clutching newly purchased copies of said book,finely the queue started moving and we all followed it around the shop (by way of the Xmas best sellers!) and there we where when the great man himself walked in! sporting long hair dripping with rain and a knee length overcoat and best of all his little dog in a coat on a lead!! great stuff! no superstar here! the queue steadily moved over the next hour and finely we made it to the signing area where we patiently waited until we where “Summoned” by the great cocker,with his dog laid on a settee resting his neck on the arm it made a great sight,and as my wife handed Jarvis her book he enquired of my son’s name and said hi to him and he pointed to some light refreshments and came out with a great quote “help yourself to biscuits and grapes”what a great star! my wife was speechless which is unusual for her! thanks Jarvis you are a great star!!
My usual bandcamp band hunt brought me to searching tags with “old punk ” and ” Sheffield” and luckily for me these sheffield scallywags popped up begging to be played and bought! Brought to the world by the “kids of the Lughole ” label, the Lughole being a small practice/small gig room next to one of the dodgist Ale houses in Sheffield on a back Street in the city centre, General Public EP is 4 slices of pure punk, straight out of 1977, extremely loud, catchy Riffs, a short sharp statement of no frills no nonsense 100% punk rock.
Less than 6 minutes long this ep released in may 2016 on limited edition vinyl features the following 4 tracks
1.. General Public
I think this may be there 3rd release, maybe the 2nd vinyl issue, I strongly recommend giving the “No Salvation” single a listen to if you can get the vinyl format, otherwise there’s a free download via there bandcamp page. Here’s a band I will be keeping a beady eye on in 2017 and hopefully get to see them live, if your penchant is for old style punk this is the band to watch!