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Main » 2007 » March » 7 » The Count Bishops - 1996 - Speedball Plus 11
The Count Bishops - 1996 - Speedball Plus 11

July '75 and a band called CHROME were sculling  around the third rate pub circuit long before Mr Rotten and Co. had pissed in  their first ash tray. Ted Carroll looked at the Melody Maker gig guide(erama),  pushed his glasses back up his nose and decided that with a name like that they  had to be the first band on CHISWICK RECORDS. A week later, accompanied by  diminutive partner, Roger Armstrong, he slunk into a seedy pub in Highbury and  was confronted by four mean looking characters playing Chuck Berry riffs as if  their lives depended on it. To the right, chewing gum and looking like he would  eat your cat was ZENON HIEROWSKY; (later de Fleur) by any other name THE COUNT  BISHOPS had arrived. Maniac American Mike Spencer inveigled his way into the  operation several weeks later, sacked most of the band, brought JOHNNY GUTTAR  over from the States on the promise of a vast record deal (CHISWICK RECORDS I  ask you?) and gave birth to THE (original) COUNT BISHOPS. After one disastrous  recording session, where the bass player couldn't even play "Walkin' The Dog",  they went into Pathway Studios (8 tracks and no air) in August '75 and in about  7 hours laid down 13 blistering rock and roll tracks from which, in November of  that year emerged the first release on CHISWICK, THE COUNT BISHOPS SPEEDBALL  E.P.

It didn't exactly set the world on  fire, but through the vast Rock On Empire of two market stalls and few  sympathetic dealers it managed to shift its initial pressing of 1,000 copies in  a surprising short space of time.

Not long after the band drifted  away from CHISWICK, for a while to a small Dutch label called Dynamite for which  they recorded Taking It Easy/Train Train. CHISWICK picked up the rights for  this, flipped it to make Train Train the A side and released it as their fifth  single. In the meantime Mike Spencer had left the band in an incident involving  an unfriendly plate glass window. The four piece band that had recorded Train  Train allowed an album of what were essentially demos to escape in Holland and  went on to lay down backing tracks for what was to become the first 'official'  COUNT BISHOPS album.

At this point singer DAVE TICE was  drafted by drummer and fellow Australian PAUL BALBI to complete the five piece  line up that recorded "THE COUNT BISHOPS" album. Dave overdubbed his vocals on  the already recorded backing tracks and the album came out in July '77. The  single Baby Your Wrong/stay Free had already been pulled in April of that  year.

During the rest of '77 and the  early part of '78 the band gigged extensively building up a strong personal  following despite being fairly unfashionable in the face of the punk publicity  onslaught. In the Spring of '78 they recorded some live material at the  Roundhouse for a projected live CHISWICK album featuring 6 different CHISWICK  acts. Although the projected album never got off the ground THE BISHOPS set was  so good that it warranted an album of its own. 'LIVE BISHOPS' was released later  that summer in 10"and 12"form with a name abbreviation to simply THE BISHOPS and  a further personal change, PAT MCMULLAN replacing original bass player Steve  Lewins. On the back of the album they toured with Motorhead equalling themselves  more than adequately in front of the braying heavy metal fanatics with their red  hot rock and roll.

In April '78 the Sam & Dave  classic "I Take What I Want" was unleashed to excellent radio play but slightly  disappointing sales. The blistering "I Want Candy" came out in September as the  first release through the EMI deal with CHISWICK, and though the sales were  encouraging this time and the band made their first Top of The Pops appearance,  the lack of radio action could not sustain the record to give it the chart  placing it deserved.

And so into '79 with a lot of road  work behind them, two critically acclaimed albums (and rightly so) one single  that got the play but not the sales and one that got the initial sales but not  the play (not to mention one bona fide classic in Train Train).

Three weeks ago the BISHOPS  completed the album that they had been working on since early '78. Two days  later ZENON DE FLEUR crashed his DB6 into a tree and died in hospital one week  later. Despite the tragic loss, the band decided to continue as doubtless ZEN  would have wished. Ironically, this looks like the one to break them.

CROSSCUTS will be out at the  beginning of May with MR JONES lifted as the single, and if hard work and  commitment still mean anything then this album deserves to make it, for these  boys have paid their dues several times over.

The original Speedball EP featured just four tracks, including the similarly  superlative "Teenage Letter," a performance which sounds like the Flamin'  Groovies if they really were on fire. The eleven extras round up a mass of  material which never saw release during the band's own lifetime, but packs a  similarly psychotic visceral kick.

Category: Alternative/Punk | Views: 1935 | Added by: innocent76 | Rating: 0.0/0 |

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