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Thursday, 1 June 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: Step-Forward Records - New Releases

Step-Forward Records released its first three 7" Singles on 3rd June 1977. There are quite a few links below to hear the singles and more. Click on them to enjoy the sounds of 1977.

The label is one that was run by Mark Perry (you remember him, the bloke who put out the Sniffin' Glue Fanzine) but the Money Man was Miles Copeland. He already had one label, BTM, which had gone down the tubes, but hey Prog Rock was never gonna last was it? 😀

Stewart Copeland (drums) had been part of the Prog Rock band Curved Air (signed to BTM) and after witnessing the Sex Pistols live he went about putting his own Punk band together. He brought in Gordon Sumner (nicknamed Sting, an ex-school teacher who had been playing in a Jazz-Rock band in Newcastle called Last Exit) and Henry Padovini on guitar (Padovani would go on to many other musical ventures including instrumental band The Flying Padovanis and he also held the position at Miles Copeland's label I.R.S. Records of Vice President until 1994) .

Miles got himself on the Punk/New Wave bandwagon by creating Illegal Records and releasing in May 1977 the Debut Single from his brother Stewart's band - The Police. (Fall Out / Nothing Achieving - IL 001). The band had not even played a gig before they had recorded the single (Stewart Copeland plays drums and guitar on it with Henry Padovani only providing the guitar solos!). Personally I thought the record was absolutely wretched and time and distance from it certainly hasn't changed my opinion of it! I'm not too certain that I agree with Stewart Copeland's assessment of the record either: "It sold purely on the strength of the cover, because of the fashion at the time. Punk was in and it was one of the first punk records – and there weren't very many to choose from. The average punk had every punk record that was available and when the next one came out which was the Police record, he bought that, too. But still I think it was a good record, so it did more than the average punk single." (Stewart Copeland, Melody Maker, 9/1979) Actually I do agree that it must have sold purely on the strength of the cover because if anyone had actually heard it first they would never have bought it in the first place! 😲 I digress...

So, with Illegal Records launched Miles also instigated a couple of Sub-Labels: Step-Forward Records and Deptford Fun City (which would release the Debut EP from Squeeze, Jools Holland's first outing as a Solo performer and music from Mark Perry's band Alternative TV).

Mark Perry had wanted to make the first signing to the new label The Adverts but they had signed a deal with Stiff Records (who released their Debut Single One Chord Wonders in April 1977) and then later with Anchor Records. Instead of them he got The Cortinas, Chelsea and the Models as first artists on Step-Forward Records

The Cortinas hailed from Bristol. Their name, according to the band, doesn't signify anything in particular. It was picked simply "because it represents something cheap and nasty"

The band had begun in 1976 and it was as a result of playing shows at The Roxy (supporting The Stranglers) that they got offered a deal with Step-Forward Records

In July 1977 they also did their first session for John Peel that featured Defiant Pose, Television Families, Having It and Further Education.

The band would go on to release a second single (Defiant Pose/Independence) with Step-Forward Records in December 1977 before signing to CBS Records and then seemingly vanishing off the face of the planet after one single in November 1978 (Heartache/Ask Mr Waverley) and one album in April 1978 (True Romances).

Guitarist Nick Sheppard went on to play with Bristol showband The Spics before joining the final embodiment of The Clash where he had the unenviable position of filling the boots of Mick Jones! He played on their 6th and final studio album Cut The Crap. He also played with Head.

Guitarist Mike Fewings went on to play with other Bristol bands Colortapes and Essential Bop.

Bass guitarist Dexter Dalwood went on to become a painter, earning representation from Gagosian Gallery, and a nomination for the 2010 Turner Prize.

Jeremy Valentine is currently (at least I think he still is) a lecturer in Media at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Daniel Swan moved to the United States and played with The Sneetches. In the early nineties he worked for Cahn-Man Management in Oakland California who at the time managed Green Day, Jawbreaker and 510 records (Dance Hall Crashers). In 1998 he founded Swan Entertainment, a booking agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Facist Dictator / Television Families
Produced by M.C. (Miles Copeland) and M.P. (Mark Perry)

Chelsea begun life in 1976 and actually almost ended in 1976 when three members of the band (Billy Idol, Tony James and John Towe) left to form their own band Generation X. But Gene October (lead vocalist) never let a line-up change or two disrupt his intent to get Chelsea playing live and recording. He recruited Carey Fortune (drums), Martin Stacy (guitar) and Bob Jessie (bass), with the last two soon replaced by Henry Daze (Henry Badowski) and James Stevenson (who also later joined Generation X and a host of other bands). The rapid turnover of personnel was a constant with Chelsea and Gene was and still is the only stable factor within the group (though saying that James Stevenson has been back playing with Chelsea among his other duties with The Alarm etc for a good few years now). 

Right To Work, the Debut Single, was largely interpreted as a some form of battle cry for employment but it actually wasn't "Dole Queue Rock" as some defined it but rather it was an attack against the Unions who were not allowing some people to work if they wouldn't sign up to the Union!

Now, whilst the single is deemed as a Punk Rock Classic, personally I am not overly fussed by it. I actually prefer the B-Side The Loner.

On the 27th June 1977 John Peel played the Debut Session by Chelsea that included No Admission, High Rise Living, Right To Work, Pretty Vacant (not the Pistols song but an original Chelsea song) and Blind Date.

Between 1977 - 1982 Chelsea recorded twelve singles and two albums for Step-Forward Records, that is actually the most any artist on the label recorded.

The band also appear in the film Urgh! A Music War where they are performing I'm On Fire. My mate Mickey Howard, who was playing guitar for them, had one of those unforgettable moments that is fully preserved on film for all to enjoy! (He'll give me a tough time for mentioning it again! 😎)

In 2015 Chelsea released their first studio album for 10 years called Saturday Night Sunday Morning. Last year they were out on the road celebrating 40 years!

Right To Work / The Loner
Produced by M.C. (Miles Copeland) and M.P. (Mark Perry)

A-Side: Right To Work

B-Side: The Loner

The Models (or just Models) formed in 1977 out of the ashes of The Beastly Kads. Marco Pirroni had played guitar for Siouxsie and the Banshees at the 100 Club for their debut show in 1976.

They only recorded the one Single before disbanding, they also did a Session for John Peel in July 1977 that featured Man Of The Year, Censorship, Brainwash, and Freeze.

The band toured with The Heartbreakers and The Killjoys and played the Rainbow Theatre as well, they were bottom of the bill to Siouxsie and The Banshees and headliners The Heartbreakers

Freeze/Man Of The Year is one of my all-time favourite Punk/New Wave Singles.

Pirroni and Mick Allen would go on to form Rema-Rema, who also only had one EP released, Wheels In The Roses on 4AD in 1980.

Drummer Terry Day would reunite with Marco Pirroni (though Day was then named as Terry Lee Miall) as part of Adam and The Ants gaining some success with the singles Kings of The Wild Frontier, Dog Eat Dog, Ant Music, Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming and Ant Rap as well as the albums Kings of The Wild Frontier and Prince Charming.

Freeze / Man Of The Year
Produced by Models

A-Side: Freeze

AA-Side: Man Of The Year

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