Sunday, 15 July 2012

‘Radio Birdman, etc. – Brilliant!’

It’s all getting hazy, and hard to pin point when exactly, but as ’82 rumbled on, I began to scratch beneath the surface of the Brighton gig scene, discovering small clubs, pubs, and local bands… Gatecrash, The Drill, Gun Control, Fatal Mistake, and others whose names are long since gone to me. My soon to become favourites were Tales From The Tube, Worthing’s answer to The Heartbreakers, and Brighton’s Defectors, a wild quintet of degenerates fixated on The Stooges, MC5, and NY Dolls. I’d previously started my own preliminary investigations in to the world of ‘proto-punk’, so to hit upon local bands kicking out similarly influenced jams was just perfect. I’d go see both bands at every opportunity.  I was 17, and 2 or 3 years younger than most of those guys, but they saw me turning up regularly to their gigs, and before long took me under their wings. Being turned on to great old and new music was a regular part of the ride. In the summer of ’83 I stumbled upon a copy of Radio Birdman’s ‘Radios Appear’ (overseas edition) for £2.99 in the second-hand mecca that was Vinyl Demand (on Sydney Street). Needless to say I was totally bowled over by the music I was hearing, and passed on my enthusiasm to the Defectors, with the tip that there had in fact been 2 copies for sale. I believe it was Defectors guitarist John who was fastest off the mark to snap up the 2nd copy. Sure enough, he was equally enthused by ‘Radios Appear’, as were the rest of his band mates. Sometime in ’84 The Defectors changed their name to The Violet White, and in early ’85 they self-released an album which was a big let-down. The production was weak, and the front cover was cheesy. But, the back sleeve was much more entertaining, with its border made up of scrappy caricatures (by John) of fellow band mates, promoters, sound-men, punters, friends, and the like. Looking at it now sends me right back in the time tunnel. One of the drawings was of me, curly hair (ack!) glasses (check!) and proclaiming ‘Radio Birdman, etc. – Brilliant!’… Damn right - The Birdman word was out… well, in Brighton at least!    

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