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It’s October 2013 now, the album is ‘New Hope For The Dead’ by UK Decay

  • UK Decay are recording their second album Guitarist Steve Sponblogs the lo-down Part 1: Blue skies over, the White Cliffs of Dover! On a Sunday afternoon in late February 2012, members of UK Decay began arriving for their booking at the recording studio situated above the famous white cliffs of Dover. The recording sessions will be our first since we recorded the 'Rising From The Dread EP' almost thirty years ago. Together with the help of the www.pledge.com website and our 'Pledgers', we had managed to raise much of the funding required to hire out the services of one the rock-guitar worlds most eminent producers, Chris Tsangarides, better known to many as "The Dark Lord" ("TDL").TDL's studio is perfectly situated, away from the beaten track, overlooking a holiday park with magnificent views across the sea all the way to France on a clear day. As the light faded to dusk we arrived and unloaded our packed vehicles into a 'Hi de Hi' type holiday cabin nearby to the studio, that was to be our lodgings for the next ten days or so. Utilising the studios facilities at this quiet time of the year meant that we had the holiday park to ourselves for the duration, which was real cool! We had a mammoth task ahead, not many bands had left it thirty one years between recording albums! Since the proper reformation of UK Decay in 2008, there has been a lot of talk about new songs and possible recordings. The recent shows have seen us featuring a small number of new tracks in the set. In October 2011, the decision was taken to go ahead with recording a new album. Abbo suggested that we find a specialist producer, who had mastered the art and understanding of recording a guitar and drum oriented band. It wasn't long before TDL came to light, although primarily a Heavy Metal producer, Abbo recommended that he might be the right guy for us. Back in the first era of UK Decay, most of the band were based in Luton with Ed the bassist making a short journey down the M1 from Northampton for rehearsals, we had it easy then! Nowadays, members of UK Decay live and work far apart from each other and even a simple rehearsal can accrue many hundreds of combined travelling miles. Not very good for our carbon footprint, we know! But for us there is no alternative, saving for working across the internet, sending ideas via mp3's etc. we had done a lot of that but its still necessary to play together in the same room at times. Over the last few months, ideas and activities have increased as the booked studio dates got closer, culminating in a very active couple weeks before the deadline. Then with one week to go, a serious problem manifested that would affect our plans. Ed the bassist was contending with a serious personal family problem that meant we would not be able to have all the band in the studio in the initial days. He would be arriving later in the session. Initially we tried to change the dates, but this was impossible as TDL had other bands and projects booked after us. So we would have to lay down the drums to a guide and have Ed overdub his bass later on. This is not the usual method of recording bands but then hey! when were we ever a 'usual' kind of band! Luckily we had worked out guide tracks on our song demo's on computer software, complete with raw bass parts, so by utilising these, it would be possible to get around Ed not being available in the initial stages. So in the evening before the first day of recording, drummer Ray and I set up my PC in the 'Hi de Hi' cabin and poured through the songs that were about to be recorded. Additionally, having structured the new songs with this software, this enabled Ray and I to really get our heads around the arrangements and the work we had to do. So with a few beers we sat at the computer writing notes and rehearsing parts until at 2am we hit our bunks for the night, tomorrow would be a big day. Ray was up bright and early the following morning and he was eager to get the 'she-bang' on the road. Personally mornings are not my best time, but with the inspiration of the blue-skied vista outside and the sea air, I soon got my act together. It was a glorious day! Ray phoned TDL who was ready and waiting for us not one hundred metres away in his studio. Ray had gone ahead, he would be using a kit largely supplied by TDL augmented with his own cymbals and snare. Before I ventured down to meet TDL for the first time, I took a few steps away from the Hi de Hi cabin to take in the magnificent view. I noted the cross channel ferry disappearing into the distant haze, beyond I could just make out a faint impression of distant french cliffs. I had read up about TDL and his impressive array of achievements of production and had watched youtube videos of interviews with the man. He came across as very experienced and a genuinely interesting chap whom amongst other achievements had invented a revolutionary method for recording guitars, namely "The Vortex Guitar" recording technique. My years since the first era of UK Decay had seen me working and producing music for innumerable others, but now it was my turn to be 'produced' by someone else! As a musician it made me very aware of my personal 'shortcomings', I had after all abandoned playing the guitar for over twenty five years, only picking it up once again in recent years! I was about to meet the producer-maestro otherwise known as 'The Dark Lord'. I headed toward the white painted bungalow, round the back were some run down wooden barns, alongside a heavy duty looking outbuilding also painted white. I proceeded to a semi opened laminate door, knocked politely and entered. Inside Ray sat on a chair working on his drum pedal on a table leant against a wall in a slim room. Above the table on the wall there were several presented gold discs on display. The far end of the room contained a small kitchen and in-between, a door leading to what must be the studio. Ray took me through the door to the studio control room, nice I thought, plenty of valve technology! It was small and compact compared to what you might expect but I could see it was well equipped and designed. The very large mixing desk faced a window tucked between two very nice looking studio monitors. Through the window you could see the cliffs and sea beyond. I continued following Ray through two smaller rooms containing a plethora of musical instruments and recording studio accessories including an upright piano and Hammond organ with Leslie cabinet. We rounded a corner and entered a larger room and in it was The Dark Lord himself, placing microphones round a drum kit. We entered the room and I shook hands with TDL as Ray introduced us. "Coffee?" TDL offered, "Yes please" I answered and TDL took us back to the kitchen where a pot of freshly brewed coffee was awaiting.We sat down at the table and after introductions, we discussed the plan of action for the session. Ray had already filled TDL in with the situation with Ed, so we moved on to how we could go about recording the drums for the songs. We worked out a plan for transferring our PC based guide music files onto his Radar/Pro Tools recording system. That would turn out to involve me running back and forth between TDL's studio and our Hi de Hi cabin armed with a memory stick, transferring files for much of the first day! The system took a little tweeking to get right at first, but improved as the day went on. TDL's years of experience and empathy with his vocation shone like a wise beacon, here was a studio seer, a music magus that had worked with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Killing Joke, Depeche Mode and Samantha Fox! To name but a few! I felt humbled and yet he had a warmth and sense of inclusiveness that immediately made one feel at home. He had a down to earth attitude with a cunning plan to solve our problems! He led us back through the studio, this time with a narrated tour. At the back of the 'live room' with the drum kit was a covered rack, TDL pulled back a large cover and exposed the large rack, perhaps three metres long, bristling with guitars of all denominations. "Feel free to utilise any of these if you like" TDL offered, "Hmm" I thought of my trusted Antoria custom, "Thanks very much – perhaps!". After a further coffee, I returned to Hi de Hi with memory stick to prepare the first batch of three songs. I needed to export the guide tracks from my software and import the results on to TDL's system. TDL in the mean time finished the microphone placement and started work on the drum sound in the control room. Ray tweeked the kit and limbered up. Eventually I returned with a working file and we were go for recording the first three songs. Ray played along to the prepared guide tracks which were now in sync with TDL's system. I hung around whilst Ray went through a few takes on the first of the three tracks. With some adjustments of the monitors eventually we were happy to have the first take in the can. The drum sound on its own was absolutely awesome! I headed back to Hi de Hi to prepare the next batch of songs, on return I noticed it was already dusk, "My God! its already six o’clock" I thought. Ray had recorded a second track and was about to start on the third when TDL announced that we were finishing the first day's recordings. This was ok as we were now set up to steam into everything first thing the following day. We would have the evening to make sure all the guide tracks were prepared for the remaining songs. Abbo would be arriving later that evening so we would be able to discuss the arrangements with him then. Ray and I drove the car to a local chippy, on return we sat at the large table in the Hi de Hi cabin and ate our nosh. Afterwards we got back to the PC to check over the next bunch of songs and work through some ideas on my guitar. Eventually, Abbo phoned Ray to say he was on his way with Jim. The time was 11.30pm, Ray was knackered, he had a long day Abbo was going to be late. I carried on with my guitar for a bit longer but I too was getting tired. At 1am, Abbo called again to say that he was twenty minutes away. Ray decided to wait up a little longer and eventually at 1.30am, Abbo and Jim arrived. Complete with 100% Nob Creek Bourbon, Baileys, bottle of Rum and fat cuban cigars, the guys waltzed in. We could have been forgiven for taking a swift nightcap and departing for a well earned slumber, but not this time. Abbo, fresh faced and brimming with ideas, wanted to pour over the songs right away. Out came his mobile ipac, laptop and guitar and before we knew it we were back in the thick of working out songs, this time lashed with Jims cocktail concoctions and cigar smoke. Abbo had two brand new ideas for songs he would like to record, I shuddered as I thought about the technicalities involved in making them happen at this stage of the proceedings. Eventually at 4.30am we finally ground to a halt, we discussed a plan of action for the following day and turned in. Day one over! Spon, Abbo, Chris Tsangarides (TDL), RayThanks to Pirate Hatter Jim for photosTO BE CONTINUED.....when I get a chance!Steve Spon
  • Hot on the heels of Leighton Buzzards budding writer Julian Wolfendale's 'Damaged Goods' comes fellow 'LU7' co patriot, Ian Lee, with his"1000 Gigs - A Life Well Lived" Here's a book by a man who's obsession in life is attending gigs - lots of them. Ian Lee has included within this book with the zeal of an eagle eyed accountant, a detailed list of the gigs he has attended covering twenty years.Much of Ian's love of Punk and Alternative music sources from the same place as many of us -the legendary late John Peel. A quick scan through the book will reveal a strong correlation between gigs visited and what JP was championing around the same time. Such was the respect and influence of the great man in shaping the music scene between the years 1978 - 1998, which happen to be the same years covered in Ian's book. What this book is not - and this is important to point out - is a detailed review of every gig visited. This would have been a project of encyclopedic proportion but what it is instead is a list of venues and bands/artists and dates, spiced together with Ian's thoughts, notes, pictures and experiences.This book makes for a truly unique and personal perspective on Ian's Journey, that will be relate-able for many. I doubt whether most would remember events in such detail going back twenty years, but this book is an interesting snapshot of bygone times, that many of us let's say more mature folk, might relate to. Particularly for those that may hail from the Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Milton Keynes and surrounding districts - the mid shires of England you could say. For the aforementioned, this book is a treasure to behold, that includes this writer. I had immense fun re-tracing and remembering events and bands that I had forgotten about, for me it has helped piece together vast parts of my lost 'rock n roll' lifestyle years. I too had shared many events in Ian's listings, in fact he has actually visited many events that I played at or promoted. Ian's journey has lead to a deep and knowledgeable wisdom of alternative music. He starts in the late seventies with classic punk, hardcore, post-punk and goth type bands. Then through the eighties to the Manchester, scene, britpop and trash bands carefully avoiding the out and out bland commercial shite. He flirts briefly in the nineties with rave and techno outfits, then continuing with the more adventuress aspects of dub, ambient and avante garde etc. Often he returns to his roots and favourites with the odd iconic sixties and seventies classic, thrown in for good measure. Occasionally adding the odd alternative comedian into the mix as well. All bands and artist are meticulously listed - so to are the venues and places visited. The occasional visits to 'foreign climes' including Amsterdam and a token-nary visit or two to the US of A are also included.Embedded within are occurrences wrapped around Ian's personal life and meetings with some of Ian's personal hero's.There are newspaper cuttings relating to some of the stories told, concert tickets and other memorabilia coupled with photographs included.The accounts of all of this including a summing-up listing of all bands, artists and venues visited are included at the end of the book. Although one slight criticism was that I found the ticks in the columns a bit confusing and unexplained, perhaps this was an unnecessary inclusion in my humble opinion. But this aside its all there written in a chronological order, easy to understand and fascinating, Ian can be proud of his gig attending life. The book is reminiscent of Cimaric's 'Punk Diary', although written from a very personal perspective. A kind of memoirs I guess.Would it have a wider appeal? I have to say I doubt it in the sense of a best selling novel but at the same time it is easy to pick up and put down. I would rather see a book like this placed in a doctors waiting room than the usual 'Hello' or 'Country Life' dross the unfortunate patient has to endure. Better still it could sit happily in any discerning Punk and Indy disciples bookshelf. Inevitably visiting so many gigs statistically would lead to unplanned occurrences such as getting arrested as a murder suspect in one case.The more obvious, missing the last train or bus home are covered in spine tingling detail including a thirteen mile walk home from a Crass and UK Decay concert and breaking his arm in a fall on the way.Such is Ian's love of bands and gigs that he would go to such lengths to sustain his passion. Highly recommended !Steve SponFurther details and purchase "1000 GIGS - A LIFE WELL LIVED"Next TOP ARTICLE: CLOPHILL CHURCH
  • In the midst of one of Englands middle shires and nestled amongst a ridge of sandy Pine and Chesnut wooded hills, lies the little village of Clophill.Now blighted by a busy arterial road junction just off the roundabout lies the old high street. Passing the Flying Horse Inn and past the picture postcard cotts to the far end of the village, there is a turn, a green lane that drifts up a low hill and dwindles to a very rough track. Eventually round a few twists and turns and near the summit lies a knoll crowned with a ruined church. In 1979 a young punk rock band from nearby Luton had the idea of taking some cover shots for their forthcoming record release. It was around the time off, but not the day off - Halloween. The photographer was booked for an evening shoot to capture the atmosphere and also to take advantage of when it was (hopefully) quiet.The Story below is taken from the UK Decay CommunitiesPunk Gothique Forum. The ruined Clophill Church of St MarysThis church has had a rich history of myths and legends within the worldof the Paranormal and the Occult, eg. it is down on record as being thesite of the last reported incidence of Necromancy in the UK!Situated 10 miles north of Luton, Clophill Church lies in ruins some 3/4of mile north east of Clophill village on a lonely hilltop. God only knowswhy they chose to build a Church there or why it was abandoned, but itcan be accsesed via an unmettled lane winding its way through deepancient hedgerows slowly up a low hill. The Church is situated on a knollof high ground near the summit. One mile to the west lies 'Dead Mans Hill'infamous for the A6 murders that led to the last instance of the deathpenalty being impossed on the convicted perpatrator, James HanrattyThese days the gravestones have been moved and the terrainsurrounding the church, flattened and grassed over, so it has lost someof its former 'spooky' atmosphere. The Ruined Church todayAt the time of the photo for the 'Black Cat EP' in late 1979, thegraveyard of the church with decaying tombs and crumbling gravestoneswas completely overgrown. The path leading up to the entrance to thechurch had sunk 3 or 4 feet below the level of the graveyard and withmist rolling around, it was truly terrifying to walk up alone on a dark night!Going there in the dark of the night became a 'rights of passage' ritualfor kids living both locally and in the nearby towns. It is on record thatBlack Occultists have also used the church for their ungodly rituals.At the time that the band took the 'Black Cat EP’ photos, there was agigantic pentagram engraved into one of the walls and other occultsymbols placed around!Shortly after the shot that appeared on the front cover was taken, theband became spooked, they fled back to the car in blind terror and madeof back down the lane towards the main road. Travelling at speed downthe dirt track the car rounded the bend and came to a screeching halt asthe headlights picked up a magnificent white horse strolling down the lane.The car came to a halt with hearts pounding and a moment’s pause asthe horse disappeared round the bend a few yards in front. With that thecar pulled of again, the band realising that it must have been an escapedhorse had gathered their senses together again and followed the horseround the bend, not five or six seconds behind!There was absolutely no sign of the horse, neither any obvious placewhence it could have escaped in the short time it took to round the bend!The hedgerows were dense and over 10 feet high with no gates! it was ifit had vanished before their very eyes!The band were said to be really spooked by this and that it was said to havehad a significant influence on their musical approach.One things for sure with twenty thousand 'Black 45's sold accross the globe, theruined church of Clophill St Marys captured the imaginations of many.Cursed EarthThe band felt cursed by the above experience! You know that saying' when you break a mirror, you get seven years bad luck!' well thatwas the impression the band got resulting in the following few monthsbecoming fraught with bad luck!A number of years later I told the story to an individual who grew upin the villages of Bedfordshire of the 'incident' with the white horsewhom on hearing it was not surprised. He had been brought up in theatmosphere's of 'small-time' village 'myths and folklore' surrounding themid Beds villages. To my surprise, he told me that the 'ghostly' whitehorse was a well-known local legend of Clophill and the surroundingarea and indeed the memory in folklore still exists in the name of thevillage public house, 'The Flying Horse'. This I found incredible until Ivisited the Pub for myself a few years back.The Public Houses sign depicted a flying white horse, reminiscent ofPegasus. This struck me as odd; it got me thinking about the bandsstory of that night of the photo session, where the white horse hadapparently disappeared into thin air. Could it not be possible that thedisappearance of the white horse may be explained, by it’s sproutingof wings and flying away? Incredible nonsense? Maybe, or maybe not!Indeed, may the band have been privy to a sighting of Pegasus fromancient Greek legends? It does seem arguably far-fetched but the Greekwriters based their myths and legends on older and more profaneshamanic deities. The Roman's too had a fertility goddess -Epona who"led the soul in the ride of the afterlife".The Celtic Mabinogi had Rhiannon, whom some interperate as a Horsedeity. The iconic Uffington White Horse comes to mind with similarimages appearing on celtic coinage. We can only glimps like passingshadows into the ancient mindset and create reallity that pleases thecontemporary orthodoxy. We can never know for sure.The 'genus - loci' of the knoll of St Mary would suggest a sense ofcontinuity from the pagan past, to the present day.PegasusEponaOne things for certain,It's there in the landscape with a maginficent view of thenorthern Chilterns hills. The vista is impressive and it would behard to believe that it wouldn't have inspired anyone anywhere intime and history Some have reported very peculiar earth energies that emanate fromthe area of Clophill Church, people have seen glowing orbs, heardstrange heavy breathing sounds and many have had mind alteringexperiences here. Most are probably narcotic based, howeversome are unexplainable.On a visit there some years ago, I met a chap who was meditating onthe newly grassed over graveyard, he told me that he was a memberof an occult society in nearby Bedford. He said the church was builtthere deliberately in the fifteenth century to cap a 'negative energyvortex'. Before that, it had been a leper colony. He went on to saythat the real reason for the church becoming abandoned, was thatthe church authorities had given up the fight to cleanse the 'negative'energies and had built a new church closer to the village instead!He went on to say that people who do not see or respect the powersof the ruins will become 'cursed'. He particularly said that it wasextremely unwise to actually touch or 'lay hands' on the stone orsubstance of the ruined Church! Cainho and the barony of AlbiniOne mile to the south east of Clophill Church on the other side of theriver Flit, lays Cainhoe Castle; today all you will see are ruins in a fieldto north of the Shefford road. The hamlet of Cainhoe, is mentioned inthe Domesday Book and William the Conqueror granted this area toone of his top baron’s. Cainhoe was the center of the Barony of Cainhoe,held by the d'Aubigny family from the Conquest until the mid thirteenthcentury. Nigel d’Albini who probably built the castle, is said to have beena powerful mover who controlled a huge area and was involved in thecrusades and he was said to have been a member of the order of theKnights Templar. Around the castle, a small town grew up and for a whileprospered but by 1272 it had vanished! All that’s lefts of Cainhoe today,are the castle ruins and a large farmhouse that is named Cainhoe Manor,where legend has it that Queen Anne Boleyn; one of Henry the 8th's sixwives, spent some time.It is proposed that for some reason that the mysterious disappearance ofCainhoe may be explained by the relocation of the town, to the higherground north of the river. This ‘new’ area was on the hill where thecurrent ruined church now lies. This did not last long however, as thevillage was decimated by the endemic plaques of the Middle Ages.In the early 16th century, the future site of St. Mary’s Church was saidto have been a leper colony. However, later in that century, the churchof St. Mary’s was built on the site. In Victorian times the village againrelocated from the hillside adjoining the church, to it’s current position;at the foot of Dead Mans Hill and a new Church built closer to the villagecenter. Therefore it is probable that the ‘lost’ town of Cainhoe physicallyand phonetically mutated into the current village of Clophill.The Church of St. Mary’s, somehow kept going until the middle of thelast century but sometime during the 1950’s, it fell into disuse.Further readingClophill EchoesMore info and pictures of Cainho hereA visit to Clophill Church six months laterSpon ( to the left), Hughie Byrne ( on the right, photographic artist ) andMatt Love ( Scotish Film Director, who took the pic!) made a trek to thedeepest depths of the occult landscape's of Bedfordshire, UK. namellyClophill and its mysterious ruined church.Spooky!Here is Spon posing the same way he did in that cover shot - he is probabllywondering what the other three guys in the band are up to!It was a pleasant afternoon and the guys took some good shots and marvelledat the combinations of a bright evening light and Urban and Occult graffiti thatcarressed the multi structured layers of red sandstone masonary of the ruins.Of there being a certain resonance to the 'sense of place'.Well on a nice sunny day with tourists and dogwalkers enjoying the sunshine itwould be difficult to detect the legendry negative or haunted vibes! but as theevening progressed and the sun made its exit the guys made a 'sharp exit'!On leaving, a large white owl startled, flew rapidlly out of the bell tower.The guys gave chase with the cameras cliking but it was too fast forthem! Later the same owl was ducking and diving in the fields next to thelane, perhaps he was out for his evening meal!.We all had the impression that the bell tower of the church was its domain andwhat a fine Gaurdian spirit providing your not a field mouse or vole!Our welsh 'seer' told us later that it was a good omen!..we shall see.Hughie made a youtube movie of the day, Spon provided a sound backdropPostScriptThe original post in the popular UK Decay Communitiy Forumshas achieved 55,000 views and has proved somewhat of acontroversy. Kids and Youth will be Youth! The excitment ofa haunted ruined church is bound to inspire 'adventure' and'missfit'.I have been there myself on many occasions and for manyreasons including when I was an excitable teenager.But now all these years later I am standing on the summit ofNoone Hill, which is directly opposite, about five miles to the south.With my binoculars on a pleasant sunny day I can see the littleknoll on the distant hills and on the summit, lit by a golden sunburstis the tower of the iconic ruined church of St Marys of Clophill.A moment later the sun went behind a cloud and so too the churchand knoll it was standing on. It had dissapeared into the gloom ofDead Mans Hill in the background.......My youthfull sense of adventure, had evolved into a quest for deeperinformation.What a golden jewel of the Dark Imagination is the ruined church ofSt Marys of Clophill within its landscape.Original Forum posting with comments and moreWWW.UKDECAY/CLOPHILL
  • Some notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70's and 80's.First posted: Aug 16, 2004 - Updated Febuary 14th 2008 We thought it might be a nice idea to see the sites of some of the Punk venues that were home to the Luton Punk scene in the late 70's early 80's. So we sent our photographer out on his bicycle to get some pictures of what may be left of some of these venues. Here's what we found:The 'Cork and Bull' on the corner of Park street and Cumberland street. (Feb 2008; the venue is now called Manhatten's.) In 1979 it was called 'The Grapevine' and was the main Luton Town Centre 'Punk' meeting point. We thought we would start here as for many this was where it all 'happened' in 1978/79.With the floor covered with sawdust and furnished with large wooden beer casks and many cubbyholes for groups to sit in. It was decorated suitably in dark wooden colours and had ornamental Grapevine signs hanging on the walls. At the time there was 2 main bar areas with the odd band playing in the rear area.The Grapevine certainly lived up to its name with many of Luton's Punks meeting there for the first time.Many a band was formed after a few pints 'The Grapevine' didn't get away without the odd punch-up either!We think it shut down in 1980 or perhaps early 81 and on the last day we completely De-furbished the entire pub! After rolling out the great beer casks, denuding the internal hanging signs and making away with everything that would move inside, Steve the Voice who had climbed up the Pub Sign post and was trying to 'relieve' the sign, was caught out by the landlord!Halcyon Days!! Can anybody remember the landlord's name? (was it George?)The Cork and Bull was trading up until 2006, it was re-opened as Manhatten's later that year. In summer 2005 many ex-Grapeviner's visited the venue to witness 'The Pokers' who 'Punk and Rolled' the joint!Later that year in December, UK Decay Communities held their first 'Class of 1979 - 1989 Reunion I' event at the Cork and Bull. An original Grapevine sign was hung up on the stage behind the bands, a symbolic gesture that many in attendance would have seen all those years ago. In the spirit of the occasion some even dug out their old bondage trousers and 'Seditionary' T-shirts and pogo-ed along.As the Cork and BulL, it was much the same internally with the stairs still leading down to the toilets near the front door although they have knocked the 2 areas into one large area now. We have not yet visited Manhattens! (Do the new management realise they need one of those blue plaques!?)The 33 Arts Centre (1978-2002) situated at 33 Guildford Street now sadly demolished. The 33 Arts Centre as seen in 2006!If the Grapevine provided the early social fabric for Luton's Punk life, then '33' provided the 'nuts and bolts' services for the Punk infrastructure. It took a few years to get the centre fully up and running but in the early days there was much work to be done. The centre was obtained and developed by the 'Reflex' arts group who promoted arts and music in the town.Previously it had been a school and a Hat factory and was completely full of relics from the previous owners, which all needed sorting out before they could get going. There were little or no funds available so volunteers, many of whom happened to be Punks, carried out the early work.With the promise of badly needed rehearsal rooms, green room and performance space, arts workshops, restaurant and bar it was an exciting time and provided a bridge between the Punk movement and the perhaps more thoughtful 'fringe' arts and 'Jazz' cultures in the town.In about 1980 the small performance space (maximum capacity of about 70) became established as a music venue both for Jazz and Punk music events, as well as fringe theatre (The world famous 'People show' for instance performed there several times)The 'Plastic Records Audition Nights' established 33 as a frontline Punk gig! And for the next 20 years or so the centre became a Luton institution. Swallowing up next door (no35) in about 1981, which eventually housed the 33 video collective (they produced amongst other things channel 4 's 'Death Valley Days') and later on the 33 recording studio as well as photographic workshops.The 33 centre had always been the place in town for the 'alternative' sub-culture, to meet up in the veggie cafe or later on in the bar not without its critics either however, but 33 has earned its place in the towns history with world famous producer (Dave Arnold) and film director (Danny Cannon) who used the facilities in their early days.In the 90's the 'Exodus' sound system put on a couple of Dub sessions there and 'Hypnagogia' would fill out every space with pounding drums and chill vibes. Over the years there was so much that came out of '33', too much to mention here!In 2002/3 the remnants of '33' finally moved into the newly furbished 'Hat Factory' Art's Centre, leaving the old building to its ghosts and memoriesMatrix records and Clothes 1979/81(now demolished!) John Street LutonAprox situated near the blue doors in the middle of the'University Hostel' This is the current scene of Luton's first independent Punk and New Wave records and Clothes shop.Set up by 'Plastic records' and UK Decay to provide the Punk community with all their needs here in Luton as opposed to having to go down to London to get them. At least that was the plan!The premises had 4 floors including the basement, which had been converted to a rehearsal room. The ground floor which was taken up by the shop, the first floor being for the Plastic Records official office and the 2nd top floor being for 2 flats (Steve Harle and Spon)The shop attracted many from far and wide but the proprietors were perhaps a little 'over optimistic' in their business plans! And it became increasingly difficult to maintain a steady supply of merchandise for the consumers!In the shop there sat a table-top space invader machine that many will remember spending hours blasting away at!The shop also became something of a meeting place in the time shortly after the Grapevine had closed and at the same time as the Baron of Beef was becoming established! UK Decay had written many of their finest tunes in the rehearsal room that also once housed a memorable after tour party with The Dead Kennedys. During the proceedings Jello Biafra from the 'DK's and the UK DK's, ran amok amidst the Arndale car parks where Jello graffiti-ed his name over the place.These scrawling's allegedly lasted for years. A week after that event, after a torrential downpour the basement became totally flooded out. The 'death-knell' of Matrix!The Baron of Beef, 1980-1982ish, later changed to The Elephant and Tassle and then something else. Current name unknown! (up for sale again!)After the Grapevine shut down the vacuum created was soon filled by The Baron of Beef. As a bar built into the dreadful arndale centre it seemed an unlikely venue however in a stormy atmosphere the landlord welcomed the displaced Punk community with open arms!Although small The Baron of Beef put on many a fine Punk gig and later on perhaps after a change of management and name the early 'Switch Club' events were held here.The Blockers Arms 1981-ish to the 90's. Now known as The Well, HightownRoad, LutonCurrently closed, as of mid Febuary, 2008)After 'The Baron' days the next venue became The Blockers.The bar in those days was long and narrow with a courtyard out the back for those hot summer evenings. Punks and other punters would meet up here before moving on to the Stingray club or The Switch club or perhaps occasionally rioting, as they did in the early 80's copycat riots in Luton!!The Blockers Arms was regarded by the authorities as a 'den of aniquity' yet somehow it managed to survive throughout the eighties. Most of Luton's alternative tribes would gather there and exchange drugs and occasional fisticuff's, to a background of live music.In the early 2000's the pub was reopened as The Well , a music venue and Thia Restaurant until it shut down in 2007, it is not known what it's future holds.The Bricklayers Arms 1984ish to present, Hightown Road LutonThe Blockers shut for a period in the mid eighties after one too many drug bust's and increasing friction between the differing tribal groups. The punkier, alternative and goth types started dissipating to The Coopers Arms and The George 11 in Bute Street.At least another section of the now changing scene moved across the Hightown Road to the newly furbished Bricklayers Arms, where DJ Crazy Fish would often spin some of his jazzier and proto house grooves.'The Brickies' as it is affectionately known as, is still pretty much the same as it was some 17 or 18 years ago. Alison is still the Landlady some of the barstaff still work there and if you listen carefully you can occasionally hear some of Crazy fish's grooves pounding away in the corner.Wins the prize for Longevity!The Royal Hotel, 197? To the mid 80's. Corner of Bridge Street/ Old Bedford Road(Later to be known as Mirage) During the late 70's was the home to the 'Reflex' events that would range from the then jazz funk scenes (Quantum Jump), to the Damned's 10th gig!This also could also claim to be Luton's first introduction to punk, silly buggers left all the tables and chairs in sittu. Dave Vanium clambered all over them knocking over drinks and spitting out theatrical blood. Much to the annoyance of most of the regular clientelle, whom were not ready for Punk just yet. After the show Dave Vanium, Captain Sensible and co, ran amok in town, ended up trying to break into first an off licence and them a chemist in Farley Hill.The Royal was Luton's premier music venue for the late 70's. UK Decay played a memorable gig their hosted by 'The Mad Caps' a local biker chapter. Later on it became a mainline nightclub Mirage whom The Switch Club would use to host their events.The Tech College 1979. Now Luton University. Vicarage Street Luton.Many gigs here over the years, currently the Students Union are very wary of letting in non members so most of us 'humble' Luton folk don't get to go to any of their 'do's'Back in late 1979, the policy was different and their were several major Punk events that happened here including the legendary dual headlining gig with UK Decay and Bauhaus.The Hall (the left part of the building in the Photo) has now been rebuilt and now is part of the University facilities.Today (February 2008) literally underneath the building in the picture, underground, lies the ~University of Bedfordshire Student Union 'Sub Club', a 300 plus capacity live music venue.The Sub Club host's live events catering for today's generations of Scene-kid/Emo/Goth/Metal/Indie' kid's.It is apparently at times open for non-students and even dare I say, Lutonian's!Note: The reformed UK Decay went on to play their come-back concert there in June 2008The Mad Hatters Mid 80's to the late 90's. Now known as Club M. Cheapside, LutonHome for a period to The Stingray Club and later to The Switch Club, as well as a host of other events in its 15 years or so history.You could rub shoulders with Luton 'Superstar' Paul Young as well as hosts of Luton's 'Music royalty' here, at an early Stingray Club. Notorious for its brawls and seedy gangland shenanigans after many closures and re-openings it has now resurfaced as Club M.An aesthetically pleasing looking building in the photo!The Five-O Club Mid 80's till 2001. Dunstable Road, Luton. (Now demolished)An Afro-Caribbean Social club with a restaurant and late license. This clubs usual repertoire of Jamaican Sound Systems, talent contests and Dominoes contests also became home to the M.A.D. club and later The Switch Club in the 80's with many bands and DJ's putting on events there.The venue hosted some really great evenings but there were also some bad incidents that marred the atmosphere for many unfortunately.At the M.A.D. club in the late 80's,you could see such bands as Click Click, The Cookie Crew, Mark Stewart and the Mafia, Renegade Soundwave as well as many other bands and DJ's pounding the beats late into the night.Later in the 90's the club was hired by Exodus spin offs, The Eviction Sound System and other rave sound systems. The proprietors struggled through the late 90's to keep the club going but sadly it was finally demolished last year It used to be at the back of that car park!Library Theatre St Georges Square, Luton 1964 to present.The Library theatre, which is at the top of the library building, was hired out on numerous occasions. Many Luton bands performed there including. Karma Sutra, Corpelia Party Girlz etc, in the mid eighties.Its still there and still available for hire.No thanks too many rules and regs!Luton Carnival 1979-1982. Stuart Street viaduct. UK Decay and many other Luton Punk bands performed at the Luton Carnival. The actual venue of the stage varied from year to year. UK Decay performed three times at the world famous carnival. Twice they were banned because of trouble breaking out amidst the crowd.. The best venue for a few years was a car park under the Stuart Street viaduct.They played at the main music stage that was situated at the bottom of this car park. Nothings changed here apart from the appearance of the office block in the background.Identitiy Early 80's New Romance Fashion Clothes Shop Barbers Lane, Luton. This Bleak block brick building used to be the home to Rick and Kass's Identity fashion clothes shop, behind the shop in the same building was the Barbers Lane recording studio Hero's, which was run by the late Geronimo Geoff and Captain Blute.Rick and Kass ran the shop that specialised in radical fashions for the new romantic and goth sub cultures!Many used this shop to 'dress-up' for the nightclub scene. They eventually moved to Kensington market (I think?) and resurfaced years later as hosts for an upper class rave (the name escapes me at the moment!)The studio behind the shop was run and engineered by Geromino Geoff and amongst its clients were The Friction and UK Decay. The building was left empty up until the last few years then it was bought and god only knows what it is today? The River Lea actually runs right underneath the premises!"Lung Function" Bute Street Click Click rehearsal room and Pan club next door.Late 70's, The 80's The Pan Club was set up in myth as being a secret venue for the Sex Pistols (S.P.O.T.S.) early on in their history.It was a 'gay' nightclub but was hired out for various events in the Eighties."Lung Function" was the name given to Click Clicks rehearsal rooms (scaffolded building). It became a kind of drop-in centre for post punk/early "Electronic Body Music" musical renegades, who were treated to many a fine Click Click performance.Many other bands rehearsed there including In Excelsis, Corpalia, Passchendale Party Girls etc it was indeed an informal venue. Both venues now under new management.Sadly no longer any musical functionality!The Bag Shop Wellington Street, Luton. Now demolished.This is where everyone got his or her Studded Belts! Don't know how long its been shut down and don't know what's happening now but it is still there!And this is a close-up of the shop window! complete with watchstraps for 30p!The Plume of Feathers, Bridge Street, Luton. 1982 1990s? Photo, 2004. Now demolished. The 'Plume' Hosted Luton Punk bands such as Screaming Blue Murder, Phallic Symbols and Government Lies in 1982 and continued right up to the 90's hosting live music although not necessarily Punk.Oddly last year (2003), there were signs that the premise was going to open up again under the controversial name 'The Nine Bar'!The refurbishment continued for some time And then when it was nearly ready for opening it went quiet and has remained so ever since! (Thanks for the info Blink)The George 2nd Bute street, Luton 1800 to Date! Still in use. A regular Live Music venue right next to the bus and train stations. The Punk scene in the early 80's had a slight honeymoon there a couple of times but it never really took off for one reason or another.Nevertheless the venue which has refurbished a few times is still hosting Live Music today.The Edge Club Park Street, Luton. Mid Eighties to present.Original name not known. Hosted The Stingray Club and perhaps later the Switch Club.Now the Edge Club is host to a Student Nightclub audience.The Town Hall well we all know what that is!Punks were under pressure from all sides in the late seventies in Luton. At the same time they quickly learnt to adapt new techniques for finding venues. Someone had a eureeka moment and remembered the large hall for rent inside Luton Town Hall.There was a small run of anarchy at the town hall with a handfull of memorable punk gigs - but it was only a matter of time before the authorities found a legal reason to ban it.Well thats it for the time being. this list is by no means complete but should go some way to highlight some of the main venues of some 25 years ago! Please feel free to correct us as in some of the details, we do our best but the fog of time can sometime's blur. Further info on Luton 1978 to 1988 punk scene at the 'Friction' website MORE on LU PX 'Clubbing in Luton 1984' History is made at nightThe Black Horse Thanks Tony, we sent our 'cyclo-photographer' out to get this shot of the Black Horse, as it is today. (11.11.04) The Black HorseLooks like its been recently 'tarted-up'. but its still there! 1984 was a funny time in the Luton Punk Scene with the closing down of many of the classic earlier mentioned venues.It was 5 years since the 'Grapevines' heyday and many of that generation of Punks had moved on., or were moving from venue to venue. Meanwhile a 'new wave' of 'alternative' and 'Post-Punk' types were establishing a new scene in town complete with new venues, The Black Horse being one!The Cross "God So Loved The World"!!The Crucifiction This just had to be included in the list of 'notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70’s and 80’s.'As it stands today (11.11.04) at the junction of Wellington st. and Russel st In full-on 'Coronation st.' land, it looks even shabbier now than it did when the picture (above) was taken for the front cover of UK Decays first single. Proof that both the Church and the UK, really are in Decay!Apologies for the ‘slightly-out-of-focus’ feel, we could really do with a new ‘didgy’ here!There are more venues to be included here from time to time, such as: 'The Unigate Club', 'The Marsh House Nissan Hut' (venue of the legendary 1979 Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig) and 'The Pink Elephant', maybe 'The Kingsway Tavern' as well.Please feel free to visit the forum and post up any comments or dont hesitate to point out any venues that are not included here! The Nissan Hut Marsh Farm The Nissan Hut Today.Venue of the legendary 1979 Crass, Poison Girls and UK Decay gig.The Flyer for that gig. This was an extraordinary venue that was chosen for that most memorable event. The only time Crass & Poison Girls ever played in Luton.It was set up as a benefit gig for the Cobalt Hate fanzine. Unbelievably, 250 anarcho Punx squashed into the hut to witness the live action. It was at a heightened time of tension in town between Punks and Skins and everybody was expecting a visit from the 'Bone-eds'.When they did arrive, they were duly chased off!At the time UK Decay were involved in the Fanzine co-operative hence the benefit gig for Cobalt Hate who's writers were 'unfairy victimised' by the authorities. It is unsure how much 'benefit' was made for the Fanzine but the gig cemented a relationship between the 3 bands that would continue for another 3 years!Bernard Chandler who played Bass? I think for the Poison Girls would later design the artwork for The UK Decay covers, For Madmen Only, Sexual and Rising from the Dread Crass and particularly Penny Rimbaud would later form Chorpus Christie Records on which the Rising from the Dread EP was released. Also it cemented in peoples minds the idea that these 3 bands were related to the same idiom. An idea that was later to prove a double edged sword! It is not known if there were any more gigs in the old World War Nisan Hut.On another tip........CristchurchPete Brennan wrote:The Church up by the labour club (now demolished i think) housed a few bands.It's actually still there, well kind off!The Christchurch, Upper George st. Luton. May 24th 2006The Christchurch at the top of Upper George, previously, yes youguessed…A Church (another disappearing institution!) Before it wasconverted into prime office space, for a short time it became a livemusic venue. Think it was run by a Mr. Madden who owned a recordingstudio in Brantwood road.Local Punk band ‘The Traitors’ come to mind as playing there but that’sit as far as I can remember. Can anyone fill us in with any other bandsthat played there?OK so long for now, there is more to be added including the KingswayArms, The Pink Elephant and a church in Marsh Farm!November 2011So the above highlighted the state of the old 'punk venues' in Luton during the mid 2000'sWhat has become of them since?Find out some of the answers and comments by visiting the forum posting hereWerewolfPs. A radical view of Luton's anarchic past is good further readingStraight outta LutonVisit UK Decay Community Forums
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