The Summer of 79 lasted for ages, I left Polytechnic in June and wouldn’t go back until nearly October. I managed to get in the Glastonbury Fayre/Festival in June and a trip to Ireland in August (I have documented these journeys of discovery in earlier post), I also had to find somewhere to live before I returned for the Autumn Term but I still had loads and loads of time to form yet another band and re enact the ‘Summer of 69’ in the summer of 79.
Got myself a crappy old drum kit
Bought it from a man with a ‘tash’
Dad picked it up in his van
I set it up and had a bash
My Bandmates were to be the ever-reliable Phil on guitar and Robbo on bass and vocals. Both at loose ends due to the educational system and the welfare state which was willing to pay us while we hadn’t got a grant or a job. Luckily Phil’s parents were both working so we could set the drum kit up in their living room and play for as long as we liked during the day.
Me and some guys from school
Formed a band and we played all day
We did our best, but we knew it couldn’t last
Me and phil had to move away
We had got together briefly for a bit of a jam the previous summer but music had evolved, a year previous we had been playing the Cream version of ‘Crossroads’ but now we really couldn’t ignore the fact that music has moved on very fast, songs would need to be shorter and faster.
The name was already in place; The Bank Clerks had been incubated at school as a reaction to the nastier side of punk. We had invented a band that would wear suits, would leave their hotel rooms spotless and generally be nice to everyone. A couple of years later and there was a whole new crop of bands playing pop and generally looking more approachable than the Sex Pistols. The time was right for the Bank Clerks to become a reality.
We worked well together, Robbo wasn’t the best singer in the world, but he was the best one in the band. Our blueprint was three albums that had been released fairly recently (more next week) and we set about writing songs around Phil’s riffs and lyrics and my lyrics. It wasn’t all Lennon and McCartney Phil wrote all ‘Evil Machine’, inspired by seeing Port Talbot on our Ireland adventure , I contributed ‘Everything Happens in Norwich’ a scathing diatribe of Norwich nightlife.
Elsewhere there was the putdown of romance in ‘Young Couples’
Young couples have their big night out
Staring blankly at their glass
They don’t have much to talk about
waiting for the night to pass
And corporate greed in ‘bank clerks’
Ask a band clerk what it means
Another face on your TV screen
Clean pressed shirt and stripey ties
Help you live your life of lies
And probably other things we didn’t like.
As well as our self penned songs we did a couple of covers, ‘Bad Boy’ taken from the Beatles cover of the Larry Williams song and ‘All through the City’ from the first Dr Feelgood album. By the end of the summer we had a set!
I still own a collection of cassettes, there are free tapes which came with the music magazines, some classical tapes my mate Dunc gave me when he was working for EMI, I even have cassettes of LPs I recorded and recordings of old John Peel shows. What I don’t have is a load of tapes of bands I played in, including the Bank Clerks. Realising that these recording might be more important to me than Peel’s festive 50 from 1982 I put them somewhere for safe keeping and have never seen them again. It’s a bit academic as I don’t even have a cassette player but I hope somewhere in my home a have a recording of the Bank Clerks set but I’m not banking on it.
The Bank Clerks did actually play a gig in the following Christmas holidays but that was it for the band, it was never a long term proposal and we went our separate ways, at least for a while.
A couple of decades ago when Oasis were the future of music, Noel Gallager was spouting off about how governments should pay young people to sit about smoking dope and making music because that was the way to create future music industry titans.His comments were partly tongue in cheek but he had a point. In 1979 we had a unique chance to be creative no reason, we had an enjoyable summer and, in a remarkable burst of activity wrote a load of songs. It didn’t make any money but on the other hand none of us needed to access mental health services because we couldn’t take exam pressure.
Thank you welfare state.
Man,we were killing time
We were young and restless
Those were the best days of my life