Tag Archives: steve spon

Ysbyty Ystwyth to the Devils Bridge

Views From The Dashcam Episode 2

Activity to help alleviate isolation, mental health and loneliness during the 2020 Coronavirus 19 Global Pandemic Lockdowns.

We present another amazing immersive experience! Join us for a spectacular journey into Sound And Vision as we bring you

‘Views From The Dashcam’

“This episode filmed on a late sunny October afternoon, highlighting the autumn colours as Spon and Jon take a drive to Devil’s Bridge for some shamanic shenanigans. This trip reveals the spectacular wooded Cambrian Mountain countryside in Ceredigion, Wales. Although this area is often cold an wet in the winter, palm tress can be spotted amidst the almost alpine scenery. Devils Bridge, Pontarfynach”

On a bright sunny autumn  day back in early October my good friend Jon and I headed out to the mountains around Devils Bridge in Ceredigeon in West Wales. We were looking to travel from our base to the heights above Devils Bridge at the Hafon Arch 1300 foot 375 metres above Sea Level. By Himalayan standards it’s not that high but for this part of the world close to the Sea and at this latitude , that is pretty high. It is the point where the moorland starts. Beyond this area know as Cymystwyth/ Hafon is the “Wilderness” or “Green Desert” of Wales. This is an enormous swathe of unpopulated barren moorland that stretches for tens of miles and it is commonly known as the Cambrian mountains.


The Mountain walks and scenery above Hafon Arch
On the edge of the “Green Desert Of Wales”

There is a minor road an old pack horse route leading through to Rhayader on the other side and then some miles to the north is the main road , the A44 leading from Aberystwyth to Llangurig again on the other side of the mountain range.

We decided that day to visit the area above the Hafon Arch with it’s stunning views and pleasant mountain walkways (and mountain biking tracks) One could set off from here on your nike or by foot and get lost for days! This is nothing on the scale of the ‘wild west’ or Canadian outback but for the southern UK this is one of the remotest areas in England and Wales. Not as busy as Snowdonia but this are in many ways has plenty of scope for discovery and adventure.

Looking south east towards the Cambrian Mountains

It would be good to mention at this point that our mission would include some autumnal foraging and that part of the ‘shamanic’ mission was moderately successful and we had an enjoyable walk . Anyway back to Devils Bridge, one and a half miles downhill from the Arch, the chocolate shop was closed! Ah well

We lit the massive cheech and chong and we forgoes the munchies, the only food available was those white things dotted about in the fields everywhere round here but they were still alive. Or kind off, whether or not there is anything going on behind those wide eyes and non stop munching is hard to know. One thing for sure, there are more Sheep around here than people.

At the time of writing England is once more in lockdown. Earlier this year we invested in a modest 4k webcam for the car and I put in a 64 gig chip. It continuously records but wipes the earliest recordings with the latest. At any one point there are several hours or even days of motoring trips. This year I have driven a lot around beautiful Wales. It struck me that the video footage may be worth watching. So I downloaded everything after our first trip around Llyn Brianne and was gobsmacked at stuff I had missed because I had my eyes more on the dodgy mountain roads than admiring the scenery.

I had been building up a new PC music system and fitting up my Studio and was sifting through some of the work I had been doing under Lockdown and just prior to it, when I hit upon the idea of placing my sounds onto the video footage.

I run music production software called Cubase and this not only allows me to create and record music but it will also play back a video file in sync whilst piecing together the music for it

This I found truly inspiring. Not only was I able to relive those lovely journeys in the autumn colours but composing music became an almost magical shall I dare say a spiritual process?

Devils Bridge

Devils Bridge pic
By Alex Liivet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5614794

Devils Bridge or to give it it’s correct Cymru name “Pontarfynach” without looking into it “Pont” I think means “Bridge” (ie pontoon)  “arf” I am unclear of “y” I think means “The” and “nach” hmm I think this means “Small” Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong So The Small Bridge ?? (I have just read that it actually means the bridge over the river Mynach)

The word Mynach is Welsh for monk; one theory is that the river got its name from the fact that it was near land owned by a monastery. Wikipedia

Watch the video. Please turn up your volume first

Anyway the story oft told is that “

“According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.” Wikipedia


You wouldn’t know it from driving across the bridge that actually there are three bridges each built on top of the other one. It is said that the Romans built the first bridge nearly 2000 years ago which was rebuilt in Medieval times. What we know for sure was that the first bridge was built in Medieval times then built over on two separate occasions each time the newer bridge was built over the older bridge. The latest bridge an iron bridge was built in 1901 and then refurbished in 1971. The bridge spans a deep gorge with a waterfall running through it down to the Rheidol Valley (Cym Rheidol) 230 metres below. Many tourists visit this spot and apparently there is an Annual Welsh car rally that drives through it.

The Hafon Arms Hotel

As written on the Youtube video….

“But why just admire the view when we can add music? Set up your audio speakers and playback loud on a good quality sound system for maximum effect and enjoy the ten minute journey accompanied by “Port Sian” a stunning new track written by Steve Spon for Nostramus. Share this exhilarating experience from your armchair as we take the high roads of Wales. We hope you enjoy the ride! Please click “Like” and “Subscribe” to our Channel below. Also please support us at our Patreon Channel, coming soon! “

Eighteenth century view of Devils Bridge. Wikepedia commons

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Finally please check out our playlist which includes further dashcam roadtrips with more music from Nostramus

40 years of punk in the east documentary

Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.
Matt Hudson and Steve Spon discuss life in punk Luton back in the day.

I was featured  recently in an Anglia TV special marking 40 years since the punk movement. This two part mini documentary series is about punk in the Eastern Counties and was hosted by Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson who was a big punk fan and UK Decay fan.

Matt was the same presenter who featured UK Decay and Bauhaus in “The Origins of Goth” feature back in 2014.

Also featured are Steve Ignorant from Crass, Charlie Harper from UK Subs and author and university lecturer Matt Worley whose new book No Future is an in-depth look at the effect punk had on politics and culture.

There are also some still shots of early 1980’s Luton Punks featured on the show taken from UK Decay’s  Communities web archive.


It comes in two parts…


Marking 40 years since the punk movement
Marking 40 years since the punk movement

Part One

Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region
Punk memories: Looking back at legendary venues in our region

Part Two

Dump it on Parliament Revisited

Dump it on Parliament Revisited: The Documentary

I shall be calling in on the two punk music documentary s, “The Clash: Westway to the World & Dump it on Parliament Revisted” being shown at The Hat Factory Art and Media Centre in Luton on November 3rd. This being part of the Punk 1976 season…

November 2016 marks 40 years since the release of the Sex Pistols' debut single, Anarchy in the UK. To mark the anniversary of the movement, Luton Culture present a short season of Punk events. Punks influence and impact on Luton will be explored, as well as its continuing influence, from fashion to film, politics to identity, and, of course, music.

A film double bill.

The Clash: Westway to the World is a career retrospective of British punk band The Clash, featuring exclusive interviews with the entire band.

Dump It On Parliament Revisited tells the story of how in 1986 a group of Bedfordshire bands put together a music compilation tape to protest against a proposed nuclear waste dump near Elstow, and how that counter culture, DIY ethic still resonates for local bands and musicians today.

The film, created by Andy Willsher, meshes the past and the present, using interviews and original footage, and referencing the cut-up film making techniques that emerged in the Punk & Post Punk era in the late 1970s & 80s.

I make an appearance in the The Dump It On Parliament Revisited documentary a  project I was significantly involved with and very much enjoyed over 2015.

Further info

Record Store Day 2015 – A Cautionary Tale

From an artists point of view

Steve Spon
Steve Spon

I am Steve Spon guitarist with the 1980’s internationally known post punk band UK Decay. I have always been a keen fan of independent record stores and as a band we would go out of our way to support the small retailers. However Record Store Day 2015 has unfortunately made us aware that some areas of criticism are rightfully justified.

Continue reading Record Store Day 2015 – A Cautionary Tale

Terror and Wonder

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
British Library (Open until Tue 20 Jan 2015)

Terror and WonderLast weekend EJ from Diamondseeds and I spent a day visiting exhibitions held at the British Library and at the British Museum in London.
First we visited the British Library near St Pancras to view the exhibition, “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination” where “Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre…”

Ella Jo

Spon, “ere mate….lend us ten pence!”









It was pointed out to me a few weeks back that one of our UK Decay records “The Black 45” was on display at the exhibition as well as a giant sized poster of the seminal “The Face of Punk Gothique” article written by Steve Keaton for Sounds in 1981 (he is still around but today uses his real name, Steve May). A number of years ago we visited the Tate Gallery for “Gothic Nightmares” exploring the dark and gothic side of art, this time the emphasis at the British Library was of course to be expected on the literature side.

So in a clockwise direction we headed into the crowds viewing each of the exhibits, starting with memorabilia centred around Horace Walpole’s “The Castle of Otranto” written 250 years ago , supposedly the first of the ‘Gothic romances’. There were audio clips and video clips to enjoy dotted around the exhibition with the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and Boris Karloff making appearances in the movie realm. A poster for the ‘Night Of The Demon’ loomed, a film that scared the shit out of me as a kid, me and a mate used to rent the super 8 version to play to the other kids in the neighbourhood in our very own ‘garage cinema’. A mention of how Batman was in some way inspired by Victorian bogeyman ‘Spring-Heeled-Jack’ here a spread of Police newspapers with an extended cartoon impression of the Whitechapel murders (Jack The Ripper).

The Wicker Man, The Birds, The Night Of The Living Dead, a Vampire slaying kit, Dracula, Frankenstein, Christopher Lee, Mary Shelley’s first draughts of the literary Frankenstein, Wallace & Gromit’s Were-rabbit sat alongside a host of early and almost unknown 18th and 19th century Gothic romances. Then there was Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Stanley Kubricks The Shining and a selection of recent novels, films and TV, notably clips from BBC 3’s “In The Flesh” a Zombie/Vampire drama series. All in all fascinating stuff, camera’s were banned so unfortunately no pictures! However turning the corner into room 6 , the giant sized poster of “The Face Of Punk Gothique” can’t be missed, it hits you in the face! Sitting right underneath it is the inner spread out sleeve of the Black 45, alongside Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead – we took the opportunity to cheekily snatch a couple of photo’s at this point. They can’t actually do us for breech of copyright can they?

The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition
The Black 45 on display at the Terror And Wonder Exhibition

The Face of Punk Gothique
Spon at the The Face of Punk Gothique

Ella Jo joked about me turning into a museum piece now! Hey we are still active today and writing new stuff although the Black 45 is now pushing forty years , gosh!

The last room contained a series of photographs of the April 2014 Whitby Goth Weekend, of course pertinent to the band and myself as we performed there on that weekend. I saw the odd face in the photo’s that I recognised!

Witches and Wicked Bodies: The British Museum

That was it , time to move on to the British Museum to view amongst other things an exhibition of “Witches and Wicked Bodies” , a fitting supplement to the Terror and Wonder experience earlier.

This was about paintings, sketches, engravings and other artwork examining the portrayal of witches and witchcraft from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. There was nothing to say against taking pictures, so we had a field day. The only difficultly was negotiating the crowds, many of whom we noted and recognised from the gothic exhibition earlier.

Macabre, sublime and succinct images by artists such as Dürer, Fusseli, Goya, Delacroix, Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti held the slow snake like processions transfixed . “The magus, or wise practitioner of ‘natural magic’ or occult ‘sciences’, has traditionally been male, but the majority of those accused and punished for witchcraft, especially since the Reformation, have been women” , so stated the museum blurb on the subject of the art. Sadly this was the last day of the exhibition, for us (and hundreds of others) it was a must see!

Wicked-001 Wicked-002 Wicked-003 Wicked-004 Wicked-006 Wicked-005 Wicked-007

A selection of art from the exhibition.

Anglo Saxon (almost!)

Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring  Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin. Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo... “Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy,  I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song 'Dragon Ships'). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song 'The Hidden Hoard', and in 'The Minstrel's Song' I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past." For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/
Almost Anglo Saxon a new album by Ella Jo, produced by EJ and Steve Spon, featuring Mel Rogers from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass, Steve Spon also from UK Decay on guitar and piano and Fiddlin Flick on violin.
Folk lore, Myths and Stories from a thousand years ago, beautifully crafted into songs, sounds and sung by Ella Jo…
“Only a few bars of music survive from Anglo Saxon times, a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We experimented a lot, as the challenge was to write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. Choosing subjects such as King Ethelred the Un-ready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have known them. I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the Viking ships land (in the song ‘Dragon Ships’). I also allowed a modern point of view such as the discovery of buried treasure in the song ‘The Hidden Hoard’, and in ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”
For a full interview about Almost Anglo Saxon see http://diamondseeds.recklessrelic.co.uk/

After that with the whole of the British Museum at our disposal and too little time and with fatigue beginning to set in we headed for “Ancient Europe” and particularly the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon material. This was befitting because Ella Jo and I have just completed an album project entitled “Almost Anglo Saxon”, which is a collection of (modern) songs depicting myths, legends, life and sounds from the Anglo Saxon period. We marveled at the famous armored helmet and at the Franks Casket with it’s inscriptions of Weland the Smith and at the nearby Lewis Chess set who’s pieces almost comically displaying their bulging eyes and glum expressions.

We also caught a brief glimpse of some of the horrific and dark Aztec material which freaked EJ right out! Very soon we were nearly out of time and in need of a resuscitating coffee, which we drank in the magnificent covered courtyard , just time to enjoy before our journey home.

A very rewarding and enjoyable day.

Steve Spon

Sutton Hoo Helmet
Sutton Hoo Helmet

Franks Casket
Franks Casket

Lewis Chess pieces
Lewis Chess pieces

Early Punk in Luton – Interview with Steve Spon

 Early Punk in Luton - Interview with Steve Spon

Ah , what a lot of punk rock nostalgia is around us these days. Seems churlish not to add to the pile , a little nostalgia never did any harm……

It always struck me that whilst there was a lot of available press interviews etc from the 81/82 “Twiggy Era” , I really knew very little about the early part of the band’s career. Not a lot ever got written about the likes of Pneumania and the Resistors , so I was thinking this  might be some good stuff to get “on the record”.
At the start of 1979 I was a spotty little 14 year old enjoying the delights of Dunstable , we were all into punk bands but it was the mainstream Pistols/Clash/Buzzcocks kind of thing. Gigs in Luton pubs were something you heard mentioned by older kids , but sadly not on the agenda due to lack of transport/cash/ability to get served. So I heard of all the Luton scene from afar , and it wasn’t for another year or so that I got to see any of these bands. By which time UK Decay were probably a lot better live , but I’d missed the formative years. Kindly Spon agreed to submit to an interrogation on the subject , where certain grisly details were dredged up to be preserved for posterity.

Spon, Steve Harle the 'Captain' and Martin Dill; a 'Welly' st. scene.
Spon, Steve Harle the ‘Captain’ and Martin Dill; a ‘Welly’ st. scene.

The Luton Punk Scene..an interview with Steve Spon by Paul Rab John

earlypunkLTN-001Ok , taking it right back , were you actually born in luton? where did you grow up?

Yes I was born at the L& D (Luton and Dunstable Hospital) I grew up in the Swifts Green area of Stopsley. Although I spent a year or so of my early childhood in Widnes, Merseyside.

Looking at pre-punk days , what were you listening to in 75-77?

I was into David Bowie, Roxy Music, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd and The Bonzo Dog band, amongst others. I went to lots of gigs at the California Ballroom and Queensway Hall in Dunstable , mainly Soul and Reggae bands at the ‘Cali’ such as KC and the Sunshine Band, Rufus Thomas and the Fatback Band as well as The Glitter Band and Steve Harley.. At the Queensway Hall the taste was a bit heavier I saw Hawkwind 3 times! And other bands ; Thin Lizzy, Curved Air and Judas Priest amongst others!

Was pneumania your first band or were there others before that? Were you playing guitar before punk , or did you pick it up then?



The first Luton Punk band was The Jets. They appeared on 'Farewell To The Roxy' which was recorded at the famous Covent Garden club in early 1978
The first Luton Punk band was The Jets. They appeared on ‘Farewell To The Roxy’ which was recorded at the famous Covent Garden club in early 1978

I had previously to punk played keyboards in 3 bands, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Poser and K-OS. As punk  kicked in eventually I found myself getting increasingly frustrated in getting my ideas across with keyboards so in late 1978 I picked up the guitar with the idea of forming a brand new band.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – good grief! these are the same guys who did the “Metal for Muthas” track i presume? i saw them live in 81 at the queensway , my memory is of a sort of bluesy rock band , not quite heavy enough to compete with iron maiden/def leppard type acts from that scene who “made it”. were they like that in your days? any of the stuff from your time in the band get recorded (with you or after you’d left)?



earlypunkLTN-002Well yes my very first band was called Dragonfly, later changing their name to Toad the Wet sprocket (From ‘Lord of the Rings’) Based in Studham , that was in 1975 I think. I was on keyboards, the band recruited a guitarist from Dunstable, ‘Curly’ Ridout and had a guy called Mick Mustafa on vocals. They were into the usual‘Dinosaur’ stuff, Led Zep, Deep Turtle etc at first. When the band wanted to get more into serious blues and things, I started losing touch, 1976 happened and I started opening my eyes and ears to Punk. They shunned Punk so a parting of ways was inevitable.

I was aware they moved on and released at least one record, I do know there was a Canadian Band of the same name however, early 90’s or so..

I know ‘TTWS’ became a very highly respected ‘Muso’ band in the Dunstable area during the 80’s developing a Bluesy, Jazzy style, I hear Curly teaches guitar now. There is nothing other than the odd faded C90 rehearsal tape left from the time I was in the band. A time that I guess was necessary for my development I suppose in retrospect.

Hey this makes the uk decay family tree a lot more fascinating now :-

‘Laughing out aloud’ Yes who knows where it could end!

Would you say you had “influences” as a guitarist ( i’d struggle to suggest one….)? who did you really admire when you started playing?

I liked the ragged ‘anti-guitar’ playing style of Gang of Four, the pure energy of the Sex Pistols sound. Around 1978 I started listening to the Velvet Underground and Ramones, Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu. As well as Magazine, XTC, Public Image and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Always in my life there was John Peel, who would continually play new and exciting music in fact I would go as far as saying that ‘Peely’ himself was probably single biggest influence on me for introducing me to a whole world of new music.

From Pneumania right through to Nostramus you’ve always bravely resisted “playing the blues” , or ever doing covers. Does “classic rock” interest you at all?

Yuk! I had dabbled with ‘the blues’ in ‘TTWS’ and ended up feeling there has got to be a better way! It’s why I got into Punk. To see grown men wetting themselves over yet another guitar solo from ‘sonny boy howling lone wolf rogers’ or come to that ‘cock rocking’ themselves to Queen or Status Quo, didn’t then and doesn’t now appeal to me in the slightest.

I have no problem with ‘covers’ providing they are done for the right reason and perhaps with some sense of artistic respectfulness to the original. It’s just not my general style to ‘cover’ other people’s songs.

Luton punk in 1979
Luton punk in 1979

So moving on to Luton in 77 , did you know the other guys in UK Decay / Pneumania before punk took off , or was it then that you met them all?

Not at that time apart from ‘Captain B’ who was playing with ‘The Jets’. They had played at ‘The Roxy’ in the previous year.

At the time I was in a band Called K-OS and we had a support slot in Bishops Stortford with Sham 69 and we had just lost our bass player so ‘Captain’ covered for us in what turned out a most memorable debacle! It was pure Chaos but that’s Punk!

After that I became good friends with ‘Captain’ and we started to get our heads around building a rehearsal room, by the end of 1978 it was finished. Around this time Captain and I had got involved in helping to get the new Art Centre together. It was an old abandoned Hat Factory and was full of crap, one day on arriving to clear one of the upstairs rooms out, we were astonished to find a right proper ‘din’ crescendoing around the old wooden staircases.

We attentively entered the room, which on first appearance seemed empty but on further investigation there was a cupboard door slightly ajar in the far corner. Opening the door there was two young punks; beating the living daylights out of a sprawl of Tupperware boxes with broken drumsticks we were all startled!

It was Steve Harle and Martyn (Segovia) Smith, after a few uncomfortable moments silence we all broke out laughing. We got chatting and learnt Steve and Martyn were forming a new band but money for drum kits amps guitars and rehearsal rooms etc was a bit thin on the ground!




Fanzines, Town Hall and the '33' art centre
Fanzines, Town Hall and the ’33’ art centre

Over the next few months moving into early 1979 we would meet up down the ‘Grapevine’ and met up with Abbo, Gaynor, Steve the voice and the rest of the Luton Punks who were around at the time.

The Jets are generally seen as the original luton punk band , which i guess you’d agree with? what did you make of them?

Undoubtedly they were! They were the role models for all the Luton Bands that followed! They had a background in Art, Jazz, Reggae and Rhythm and Blues. Despite this they had locally at first a huge amount of ‘street cred’ and respect and then they seemed to lose it. They should have gone a lot further!

After that followed a chunk of local punk acts like the Resistors , the Clips , the Friction , Pneumania etc etc. was it easy to get gigs and make things happen locally back then? there certainly seemed to have been a lot of bands in action……

Yes in those Halcyon days down the Grapevine it seemed the entire congregation of punks that drank there also had their own bands. I had been involved in promoting gigs before and so had a bit of experience approaching potential venues in view of promoting Punk Gigs, it was a matter of being ‘economical with the truth’ as far as the venue landlords were concerned and hoping for the best!

There were others too, Abbo was able to get gigs going at the Tech College (now the Uni.) Roger Holdstock ( The Friction) and the Jets/ Tee Vees also put on gigs. Fahim Qureshi out of ‘The Five Year Plan’ managed to sucker Barnfield College into putting on gigs. There was the Luton Carnival and the Marsh Farm Festival as well as the Grapevine and other odd public houses. There was potentially a big audience in town so the ‘carrot’ was the‘rentacrowd’ in the Landlords mind, we got away with it mainly.

Until much later, when we got banned from  everywhere starting with the Town Hall!

Was there much rivalry or was it a big bunch of mates?

I think it would be fair to say there was a kind of ‘rivalry’ amongst the bands at the time, friendly but serious to the point of competitiveness, however we were one big community in the pubs and particularly the ‘awaydays’, we would ‘stick together’ as friends We needed to in those times

Very few of the luton punk bands made records , so a lot of people out there won’t have a clue what they sounded like. who do you think were “the ones that got away” who should have got big but never quite got it together?

It’s a real shame The Statics never recorded their music, they had some classic tunes such as ‘Life is like a Coke in a Mickey Mouse Glass’ and ‘Electric City’ that would I am sure have set the charts on fire had they have been released. They had a very  colourful approach in their music and in their stage presence.

How did Pneumania evolve then?

Gaynor was the most outstanding figure in the Grapevine Which I guess could have been seen as being a bit of a callous way of choosing a vocalist for your band, but that was the plan! In true punk fashion we (me and the Captain) asked her if she would like to try singing in a band. She said she had never sung before but would love to give it a try. That’s where it started; we arranged a jam session in our new rehearsal room a few days later (this is late 78)

Gaynor at play
Gaynor at play

earlypunkLTN-006Gaynor was already a ‘veteran’ of the local Punk scene, she hadn spent the previous couple of years charging the tourists for photos in Kings Road, Chelsea and ‘liggin’ at Seditionaries.

She was awesome, a true London 1978 ‘Madonna Punkette’. She was ‘street-wise’ and had lots of experiences to sing about. Gaynor promptly showed up, bottle of cider in one hand and make up kit in another and a crew of her friends in tow, Tibor, Steve the Voice and Skinny Tony.

Captain was to play drums (he was playing Bass for the Jets at the time!), I was to play guitar (for the first time!) Gaynor of course on voice but there was no bass player!

Steve the Voice said he would give it a go, so we had a band!

After a couple more sessions, there was talk of a gig so we needed a name, as Gaynor had long ‘jack frost’ white style hair she kind of adopted the ‘Snow White’ name, so we used ‘Sno White and the sic Punks’ for that first show.

After a couple of months Captain decided Drums wasn’t his thing after all, so he made way for Nigel Dark. It was then that we changed our name to Pneumania that was just before we recorded the Split Single.

So roughly what was the timescale of Pneumania (with you in it) , when did it start and when did it finish?

In spring 1979 “Sno White and the Sic Punks” changed our name to Pneumania. In about September 1979, I had left Pneumania and joined UK Decay.

Pneumania floundered for a while then Steve the Voice picked up the pieces and formed the second line-up of Pneumania with Elaine O’Brien on voice. They flourished for a while ; they were quite good in their own right! But sadly finished after 18 months.

Pneumania Flyer
Pneumania Flyer

Did you play many gigs? what did you think of yourselves as a live act compared to others on the scene?

Faces of Pneumania
Faces of Pneumania

We probably played about a dozen or so gigs between March and September 1979.

Although I had gigged before it was like starting all over! I was now playing a guitar that missed its last string! This gave my guitar playing a darker sound and I adapted a technique for using this. We were quite ramshackle in our performance, Nigel played a

light energetic almost Jazzy style. Steve the Voice who’s real love was Reggae and Dub gave us a ‘Dubby’ feel. Gaynor would sing her heart out. In retrospect I guess we were living out a kind of Punk fantasy a synthetic dream or soap opera. Pneumania was always going to be a precarious entity.

We would never know until we actually got up on stage and started playing whether we had actually got a band! “Was Nigel going to actually turn up” or “Was Gaynor going to in the right frame of mind to be able to sing in front of a crowd”? such were the vagaries of a Pneumania gig! That did make the odd gig that we successfully completed an even more extra-special event!

The rare moment that everything was running on all four cylinders though seemed to make everything else worthwhile, we felt unbeatable!

I guess very few people ever heard the Resistors , i was a really big UK Decay fan and i’ve never heard a note. is the UK Decay side of the split single a fair indication of what the Resistors sounded like?

The short answer is yes it is! As is ‘Disco Romance’, ‘Rising from the Dead’ and ‘Middle of the Road Man’ from the ‘Black 45’ and the RFTD EP Abbo played the guitar in the Resistors as well as doing vocals, when I joined Abbo was free to concentrate on singing. I learnt the guitar parts formerly played by Abbo and for a long time on certain songs Abbo would continue to reach for his guitar. The Resistors were a really good band in their own right , they summed up and acted out the spirit and aspirations of the Luton Punk movement admirably.

They became the omnipotent voice of the people for the time, so it seemed to me.

UK Decay Flyer
UK Decay Flyer

Spon Joins UK Decay
Spon Joins UK Decay

I think i’m right in thinking the Resistors had various singers in , and then Abbo took over vocals too and it became a three piece. Did you see the much with all these line-ups? did they “have something” back then that made you think they’d be the ones to go far?

You are right in saying that. I think there was a guy called Simon from St. Albans who did vocals, he was around late 78 until early 79.

I don’t remember a lot about him. In early 1979 when I got closer to the band, Paul Wilson was on vocals with Abbo on guitar along of course with Steve and Martin.. Then they lost Paul and became a three piece. The Resistors definitely had a lot of promise back then, they were the champions of the rising Luton Punk scene.

At the time, I was in Pneumania and the 2 bands played many gigs together, we teamed up and by doing so found we could do so much more together, ‘Yin and Yang’! I guess we were a bit of a double act really; sometimes we literally ‘fused’ together to form the ‘Stevie Band’ with the 2 Steve’s from Pneumania and the 2 Steve’s from the Resistors. So there was a lot of fusing together of potential in the embryonic UK Decay days.

So Pneumania recorded 2 tracks for the split single. were these the best 2 songs ? did you have a lot of other material?

‘Exhibition’ and ‘Coming attack’ were written shortly before the recording of the Split Single. Exhibition grew out of an earlier ‘Snow White’ song; Gaynor parodying herself in the lyrics. After recording the ‘S.S’ (about May 1979-Nigel Dark joined just before) we started writing a new batch of songs.

These were unfortunately never properly recorded, although we played them at various gigs over the summer of 1979. Save one live recorded rehearsal using the new at the time, ‘binaural’ recording system they had just got in at the ‘33’ Arts Centre. Unfortunately we only have a very poor copy of this tape and its mostly way too ‘decayed’ to restore! There were some great moments in some of these‘prototype’ songs.


Incidental anecdote; On the day of the’33 Binaural session’’, we took a break midway and legged it up the Grapevine for a swift half; as you do! On the way back (at closing time) we got jumped I nearly had my arm broken by some nutter picking on the ‘Punks’ He jumped out of an alleyway with a baseball bat and started walloping us! I put up my arm to protect my face and took the blow on my elbow.

Somehow we got back and continued our session to the wee hours in extreme agony Ah those were the days!

More Split Single shenanigans
More Split Single shenanigans

Were you happy with how the split single came out? how many did it sell in the end?

I think at the time we were over the moon! At least I was, it was ‘mission successful’, the culmination of a couple months of hard work. We had a launch gig and party to celebrate, we had the local press all over us and school kids wrote in asking if they could have a look round the (‘Plastic’) ‘record factory’! When the New Musical Express review came out, we were at first surprised then when we realised the implications. It was the best thing that could have happened, in true‘Punk’ style!

Rough Trade were on the phone that afternoon asking for more, because they had sold out of their stock. It took a couple of weeks for the pressing plant to do another re-pressing; we were still learning the ropes as far as supply and demand. Overall however when I think back on it the ‘S.S’ was a ‘triumph’ of ‘DIY’ and collaboration between not only the 2 bands but also the enlarged community of people who helped make it all possible.

I think, I am pretty sure that in the 2 presses of the ‘S.S’ we ended up selling something like 1500 at the end of the day.

Is it right that a couple of UK Decay songs were actually re-worked Pneumania numbers? Which ones were they?

Yes, Music-wise obviously, Abbo of course put some new lyrics to a couple of tunes that I had written. Previously they had been worked on with Pneumania.

The songs will be familiar to those who have heard ‘The Black 45’, they were ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘Message Distortion’

Anyway, it all ended when you left for UK Decay. Did they invite you or did you offer your services?

Aha! That’s a question. Pneumania were a ‘temperamental’, ‘finicky’ beast to say the least. There were several factors that lead to the situation of me leaving Pneumania and joining‘Decay’.

There was I suppose a frustration on my behalf with some of the other members lack of serious attitude when it came to things like rehearsals and eventually gigs. I would literally not know whether certain people were going to turn up or not.

The ‘S.S’ had given us a great opportunity to progress further, we were getting offers of gigs left right and centre and we were trying to write new material for the Pneumania follow up to the ‘S.S’ But unfortunately certain members didn’t seem to get it!

I think that Abbo and the boys could plainly see what was going on and saw how they could turn the situation to their advantage, so they asked me to join them on guitar.

I could see that they were dead keen to move on; I weighed everything up and took the offer.

Difficult decision or was it obvious UK Decay had more potential? How did the rest of Pneumania react?

No , at the time it seemed an easy decision for me although it wasn’t easy breaking the news to the other members of Pneumania. Steve the Voice (bless his heart) was the most disappointed. Nigel had already done a disappearing act and Gaynor was smitten with personal problems anyway. I think however that they all respected my decision to leave the band and join up with UK Decay.

Did you ever see “Pneumania mark 2” that Steve the Voice put together later? What did you think of it starting again without you or snow?

I think Steve the Voice did really well forming that new look Pneumania MK2.

I saw them at Barnfield College in 1980/81 I think with new drummer Dave Sidley new vocalist Elaine O’Brian and on guitar Pete Keady (I think!) Steve of course was on Bass.

It was something else witnessing a baby that I had helped to create, playing some of the tunes we used to play! They had a great sound and it’s a real shame they didn’t go any further and record some of their stuff.

I had no problem at all with it, I only wish that I had more time to help them somehow but we by that time were up to our necks in our own work. I have often wondered whether there were any half decent recordings of their music. I have absolutely no idea why or exactly when this line up finished though.

UK Decay late 1979
UK Decay late 1979

More Black 45 EP
More Black 45 EP

So then you joined UK Decay and it was onwards and upwards. to an outsider the “black 45” is like a different band , it all seems to gel and there’s a real band sound which carried on developing over the next 3 years. Did it all come together quickly when you joined?

Yes it all happened very quick, I brought over a couple of songs from Pneumania and learnt the Resistors songs we had a short intense period of rehearsals to work out the new live set and bang! We were in the studio recording the ‘Black 45 EP’.

Next we were playing out of town Oxford, Northampton, London and that moved on to Berlin and Europe. I had worked with Steve and Abbo before in the ‘Stevie Band’ I really liked his powerful rolling style. Martin had a more driving Bass guitar style than Steve the Voice . We very soon were developing a sound, a very raw sound at first, Abbo was left a lot more freedom to concentrate on his vocals and I felt I had much more space to manoeuvre with my developing 5 string style. Steve and Martin had by now developed into a really tight rhythm section so the pieces were in place!

We felt we were on to something. The following period was a blur of activity with the production and release of ‘The Black 45’, more and more gigs, negotiations with ‘Fresh’ records, Fanzines, Indie Record and Punk clothes Shop and John Peel sessions. This lead on to more formalised tours, in Britain and Europe and then on to the Dead Kennedys first British tour in the Autumn of 1980. Then there was‘For My Country’, followed by ‘The Unexpected Guest’ singles! It seems incredible looking back how much shit we did back then in that short while.

Then Martin ‘segovia’ Smith, hit us with a bombshell!

So how many did the black 45 sell then?

That’s a good question Initially of course it came out on our own‘Plastic records’ label and I think we did about 2 or 3 thousand. We ran into supply and demand and cash flow problems pretty soon however as we were a small outfit I guess, some of the shops and distributors thought we could wait for our paychecks! So that’s where Fresh records stepped in with their licensing offer, which is what the relationship Fresh had with the ‘Black 45’ always was.

I don’t actually know exactly how many Fresh went on to sell but it sold consistently over the next couple years. As Fresh went down I don’t suppose anyone will ever know

Is it fair to say you started writing most of the music, or was much of it done collectively? What was the song writing process in the band?

UK Decay - Pneumania shots from the first couple singles.
UK Decay – Pneumania shots from the first couple singles.

When I first joined ‘Decay’ they already had a set. So I had to learn how to play the already established tracks such as ‘UK Decay’,‘Middle of the road Man’, ‘Disco Romance’, ‘Necrophilia’ etc, so that was the very first priority as there were gigs booked. We soon got established and now we had to get some new material together for the forthcoming studio sessions (Black 45) Gradually as time went by new songs replaced the earlier Resistors songs. As I had some sort of formal music training (keyboards) whenI was a kid I was able to work out and put together chord sequences and structure to the songs. I pieced together chords at first by looking at a keyboard and then transposing the notes into chords (very limited at first!) on the guitar. I had been in a couple of bands before so was a little older and wiser and probably more able to articulate composition to the others to begin with at least! Playing the guitar for me unleashed a lot of creative energy, I had got bored with playing keyboards or the sound of them and the guitar sounded fresh and exciting.

So this earlier period of ‘Decay’ for me personally, was a ‘peaking’ period where I felt a lot of energy and enthusiasm and new songs and ideas seemed to flow in abundance.

Steve, Martin and myself, used to jam a lot and in this we would get tighter together and of course songs or parts of songs would develop out of this.

However the vocal department was always well governed by Abbo,who would so often ‘knock us out’ with some of his twisted lyrics and performances.

But it is also fair to say that as time went by we did get more collective’ in our approach to writing music, especially when Eddie‘Twiggy’ joined the band.

Finally, UK Decay were the sum of its component parts. It was the combination of the individuals that made up the whole band. It simply wouldn’t have happened if there had been anything different in the line up, in my opinion.

Well, there you have it. Just think, in a parallel universe EMI heard “Metal for Muthas” and signed Toad the Wet Sprocket rather than Iron Maiden , and Spon ended up in spandex playing to thousands of hairy grebos all over the globe. Hmmmm , maybe we all had a lucky escape there………..

Maybe next issue we will get “The Fresh Years”…..time will tell.

Thanks a lot to Spon for delving deep into the memory banks for that lot.

Questions by Paul Rabjohn for UK Decay Today Two 2006

The Pneumania Story

The Pneumania Story: parts 1 & 2


Pneumania formally known as ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’, were formed early in 1979 in Luton UK by founding members and nihilists, Steve Spon and The Captain (not Sensible!). They had just converted a basement in a soon to be demolished terraced house in Luton, into a rehearsal room and went on a hunt for a Vocalist and Bass player.

Spon, Steve Harle and The Captain
Their search led them to the ‘Grapevine’ public house that was the ‘hub’ of the thriving Luton Punk scene. Amongst the throng of ‘spikey-tops’ and ‘Seditionary’ clothed regulars, one girl stood out from the crowd. Her name turned out to be Gaynor and although she had never sung before, she gladly accepted an offer to come along to a jam session in view of forming a Band.

Gaynor had spent the last year or so, charging tourists along Kings Road in Chelsea for taking her picture. With her bleached white ‘Jack Frost’ haircut and stunning punk fashion clothing she wouldn’t fail to catch the eye, but the ‘real deal’ about Gaynor was in spirit she was a seminal punk Goddess. It wouldn’t matter if in a musical sense whether she could sing or not, what she had to say would be more important.

Gaynor (Sow White) and Steve SponInitially, the Captain who formally played guitars and at the time was currently playing Bass with Luton’s first punk band  ‘The Jets’, would now focus on drums.
Spon who formally played keyboards, would take up the guitar. For the first few sessions this was the line-up and although much ragged round the edges, within a short while a new sound developed with a hand full of songs becoming established.

Recruiting the right Bass Player however, was proving a problem. Cue Steve the Voice, who had been on the sidelines for a little while. An ex-art student with his ‘nose on the streets’ who couldn’t play a note wanted to give it a go. With initial reservations he was given a chance to prove himself on bass, which after a while he did! For the early part of 1979 the new band thrashed away in the basement and gathered together a set of tunes.


A name for the band was chosen, ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ and before long the first live gig was on the horizon. This provided a dilemma for ‘The Captain’ as the ‘Jets’ whom he also played bass for, were booked  on the same bill! This thought the Captain, wouldn’t go down very well with the guys in the Jets. To get round this the Captain played the first ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ gig completely swathed in ‘Mummy’ style bandages, so as not to be noticed by the Jets or so he thought!. Half way through the gig the bandages inevitably started to come adrift eventually leading to severe embarrassment on the Captains behalf. This led to an altercation the following weekend whereby Captain was indignantly thrown down the stairs to the washrooms at the Grapevine by the guys in the Jets. After this, the Captain decided to move into management, vacating the Drum kit.

The first gig at Luton’s Barnfield College was historical in the sense that this was the location where the Idea of ‘The Split Single’ was first conjured up,  alongside fellow Luton punk band ‘The Resistors’ (UK Decay) who were on the same bill. Putting aside ‘Captains’ embarrassment, it turned out to be a really ‘stunning’ gig. However, ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ were now in need of a drummer.

Pneumania on insert of The Split SingleCue Nigel Dark, a friend of Steve the Voices, Nigel was an accomplished drummer with a grounding in Jazz as well as ‘Nihilism’. Within a few rehearsal sessions Nigel had fully integrated himself into the sound and it was at this point that ‘Snow White and the sic Punks’ would now change their name to ‘Pneumania’… TBC..



Part 2

The ‘Welly Street’ abode complete with rehearsal room and outside bathroom – minus roof, during the early part of 1979 quickly became established as the HQ for Pnuemania and The Resistors -who later changed their name to UK Decay. The formal tenancy of the house was at an end and the demolishing contractors were pulling the houses down around to make way for a new development. This sense of uncertainty galvanised much support from the punk community whom rallied round to help.

Punk Girl a disgrace!

The Captain and Spon who were then residing there, decided on a strategy to hang on to the home and base for as long as possible. One day the contractors started demolishing the house next door, the response by the punk residents was to fetch the amplification equipment up from the basement and to set it up in the street outside – then to blast the neighbourhood with loud punk music, in the middle of the working day -in Luton town centre.

Meanwhile Captain got onto to phone to the local press who were based just a few streets away, they could hear the noise from their offices. Very soon, the local press, police and a huge crowd had gathered to see what the fuss was about. Very quickly the demolition work halted and a stay of execution for a couple months was granted for consideration. This created much interest locally and provided motive and a strong sense of mission to achieve as much as possible in the time remaining at ‘Welly Street’.

Around that time a ‘locally -famous’ piece of Luton graffiti appeared – ‘C-O-U-N-C-I-L – V-A-N-D-A-L-S’ – each letter man-sized and painted with a roller-brush of white paint, running along a street full of front doors – each house sadly empty and awaiting demolition. This proved a great spin for the press to use as a certain Mike ‘English’ , made sure he had this as backdrop when the local press took his photo.

It was spring 1979 that the idea of the two bands collaborating came to root amidst this background. Thatcher was now in power, things looked grim all round. An idea was taking shape, the two bands pooled their resources and a new record label – ‘Plastic Records’, was created.

A release date had been set for two months and Pneumania set about writing and perfecting the two songs they had committed for the recording session. Captain now took on a ‘Manager’ role as new drummer Nigel ‘Dark’, who stood tall, aloof and looking every bit a character out of a Hammer movie – took his seat. His style was much more flippant and progressive, compared with the standard ‘2 – 4”s of the usual punk drumming. Grounded on the ‘arty’ and ‘jazz’ side, Nigel’s involvement showed great promise for future progression. He had a highly distinctive and original style. However the nickname ‘Dark’ wasn’t just his punk pseudonym – it was how he was. He would keep everyone guessing as to whether or not he would actually turn up for a rehearsal or even a gig!

Within the ‘Split Single’ development period, the two bands collaborated on a number of self-promoted gigs. They also self-penned their own networking tool – a fanzine called ‘The Suss’ which was released to coincide with these events.
The homogenisation of not just the two bands but by now a thriving community, was working very well. These were very creative times and the whole ‘Plastic Records’ gathering was gaining momentum. The recording studio was booked and the day had arrived.

Pneumania recorded two songs; ‘Exhibition’ and ‘Coming Attack’ that day, it turns out to date the only songs the band ever released. ‘Exhibition’ is the liturgy of a pure raw strangled, angry punk goddess – lamenting the attitudes the rest of society has towards her and her ilk. Her performance on the record was full on with her insides hanging out for all to see. Her ‘naked and beleaguered punkette soul’ – looking into the mirror. The music was raw and cutting with juxtaposed ‘dubby bass’ and ‘staggered drums’. The guitars phaser-slicing – jagged chords from Spon’s five strings. It builds, there’s tension, followed by a finale. “It’s a freakshow – nothing new”. Superficially it was wide open to criticism, but on another level it was a really potent performance by all in the band.

Pneumania side of The Split Single‘Coming Attack’ – the terror at the heart of urban nightmares- is a poem written from the narrative of the deceas-ed’s perspective. The loneliness of the victim succumbing to the inevitable fate in a street attack. Being a ‘Punk’ didn’t necessary mean being any different to anyone else in society. We are all vulnerable and made of flesh and blood. Actually being a punk back in the day, did increase the risk of ‘inviting’ attack.(Sadly, there are still isolated cases today – visa Sophie Lancaster)

This actually happened back in the day, to three of the band whilst returning to the rehearsal room one night. They were ‘jumped’ by a stick wielding thug who nearly broke Spon’s arm.

The music is a very fast paced three-time rhythm with a running bass line, the sheering 5 string guitar plays a single rhythmic chord. It builds, peaks rebuilds and finally crescendos as the knife strikes home. It’s all over in little over a minute – but wow! what a unique idea and production.

The afternoon in the studio had been reasonably successful, the band were happy, now it was time to get the recording released. All systems go on the ‘Slit Single’ project – five weeks to go before the deadline…….

To Be Continued…..

1986 Luton Compilation

Dump it on Parliament: 1986 Luton Compilation (aka the Anti Nirex Tape – BAND)

UK Decay, Furyo and In Excelsis were gone but in their wake, the town of Luton still had a bustling ‘alternative’ scene in the mid eighties. At the time, Click Click, Karma Sutra, the Party Girls, Penumbra Sigh and a host of other acts were ‘wooing’ the local audience’s. Click Click were pioneering new industrial sounds at their Lung Function HQ and Karma Sutra were flying the flag for the ‘anarcho-pacifist’ movement. Both bands were regularly playing gigs out of town and around the country, even playing in Europe by 1986.

Dump It On Parliament - Luton Compilation - Click for stream
Hear this now!

Thatchers government made great issues to protest against, we had seen the Falklands adventure, the Miners strike. So in 1986 when it was announced that an old WW2 supply base near Elstow in Bedfordshire was to be the host of the nations nuclear rubbish dump, it was decided that something had to be done to stop it.
The focus for the towns alternative community at the time bedside’s the obligatory ale houses such as the Blockers Arms and The George, was the 33 art centre in Guildford Street. A three minute walk round the corner in Bute Street was situated the printing workshop. The upstairs rooms hosted Click Click’s ‘Lung Function’ – rehearsal rooms for bands. Both ’33’ and ‘Lung Function’ provided rehearsal spaces and acted as informal gathering and networking havens. So ideas, pre- internet days, would spread quickly.
So it was relatively easy to galvanize the towns alternative community into an action to try and prevent this nuclear waste dump from setting up just 15 miles away. Chernobyl was fresh on folks minds and with this a campaign was started – Bedfordshire Against Nuclear Dumping (B.A.N.D.)
Most of the towns young ‘alternative’ musicians got behind the idea quickly and very soon the idea of a protest – compilation tape would be in order. Bands and individual musicians were asked to contribute a specially written and recorded song or two, protesting against the Governments nuclear agency – Nirex.

In the mid Eighties Government Policy determined that a site in mid-Bedfordshire near Elstow, was to become the main national and an international Nuclear-waste dump.
In the true ‘Punk-spirit’, the Luton ‘alternative’ scene galvanized their protest against Nirex, the government agency responsible for nuclear waste.A 24 track Tape was produced which included works by many local artists.Presented here are the digitized cover scans for the tape and below that, you can download the MP3’s:-

Dump It On Parliament – Luton Compilation


24 Colours-Tortured Soul

Bugsy and the snakes-Open your eyes

Guitars for Ammunition-Brutal

Karma Sutra-The Package

Party Girls-Believe in me

The Click Click-Fear of cats

The Twitch-Look,Look There

Kev- Break DownThe Walls

Occult Radio Disorganisation Unproduction-Dear Mr Nirex


Penumbra Sigh-Televised Murder

Two Little Dicky Birds-Sitting On A Wall

Kul-You’re Not Smiling Anymore

Guitars For Ammunition-DreamPolice

Kev-Men Of Power

and the reverse:-Luton Compilation cover reverse

The Rattlesnakes-No Money

Corpaelia-Mentor Will Rise

Party Girls-DreamHasEnded

Click Click-Shes Chewing Them

Strawberry Speed Trials-The Horror Of Party Beach

Bugsy and J Graham-War Games

Corpaelia-Beyond This Place

Penumbra Sigh-To Serve Them All My Days

The Twitch-Chalets And Bungalows

Windows Media Player required

Play whole selection in windows media player.

It is with good credit to the people involved because an idea is one thing, however turning an idea into reality is another! Recording studios and equipment back in the day wasn’t cheap to come by. The real hard work was holding the idea together until the project was achieved. Most of the tracks ended up being recorded on 4track cassette ‘Porta-studios’ as this was the only method that could be afforded at the time. The process seemed to take forever and at times the project nearly ground to a complete halt. But eventually the tape was finished. According to the hand written text on the back of the Cassette,

“This tape was put together on very cheap equipment, nothing flashy at all. So obviously the quality suffers somewhat and for this I apologise not only to you but to the bands and artists that have contributed their songs and their time completely free. Although it hasn’t quiet turned out as good as it could have done, I think it still proves that anyone can produce D.I.Y. Tapes easily and cheaply. Without the help of the money merchants that control the major record companies but simply with a little trust, solidarity and cooperation”

Profits from the project were to..

to be sent directly to people who have been fined by the courts for their participation in acts of direct action against the plans” (for nuclear dumping)

Ironically it tuned out that soon after the tape was released, the government dropped their plans for Elstow, the whole country at the time was up in arms against the nuclear industry! So victory for the aims of the campaign and reason for the tape, by default! This may have taken the wind out of the sails for the project at the time but today this collection stands as a historical snapshot of Luton’s alternative musicians, community and culture of the mid-late eighties.
In 2004 one of the original artists to have appeared on the tape, Bugsy – digitised and sent the UK Decay Com website the MP3’s to host, which we have hosted to this day, now twenty five years after it was originally released. In 2006 Spon re compiled and remastered using another recently found copy of the original, selecting the best quality to have survived the years of each track on the tape.

So thanks go out to Bugsy, Spon and Ella Jo for the BAND poster and of course all the bands and artists that contributed to this historical and unique Luton collection.

Old anti nirex article on forum

A radical view of Luton’s anarchic past
Straight outta Luton

If you enjoyed this article you may be interested in reading about
Some notorious Luton Punk venues from the 70’s and 80’s.

“Alternative Luton – Grab it, Change it, it’s yours!”

A B.A.N.D. poster


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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UK Decay to Nostramus – Interview

Diamond Seeds talks to Steve Spon on matters Nostramus and UK Decay.

We recently caught up with Steve Spon to ask him about his re mastering of ‘Earthlights’ an album that he wrote and produced in 1997 for Nostramus. Steve Spon (aka ‘Spon’) has recently re-joined the re-formed legendary eighties post-punk-goth pioneers, UK Decay.

We were fascinated to gain a glimpse into the thinking behind the re mastering of the classic nineties ‘D ‘n’ B noir’ album.

Which, according to one reviewer is  “probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard

Where the worlds of drum ‘n’ bass and post-punk and goth collide, stands a man like Spon

We were intrigued…….

D.S.# You have returned to your punk roots playing guitar again with UK Decay, in your musical evolution how does that relate to your D ‘n’ B oriented Nostramus?

“Although it can be argued that the music of Nostramus is completely different from the music of UK Decay, I feel there are threads of similarities between the two. Born out of the alternative punk-post-punk-early goth mela of the early eighties and like many ex punk types, I moved with the musical underground into the heady nineties rave scene. I sacrificed my guitar and took the technological path. It was important for me to continue to create music with an alternative message to counter the commerciality of popular music.”

D.S.# Would Nostramus appeal to the average UK Decay fan given ‘drum and bass’ surely had so much bad press?

“I know Nostramus’s mix of Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dub and Electronica may not appeal to every UK Decay listener but I know it will to some. Most of the guys in UK Decay, actually love Dub and Reggae music and have done so since the 70’s so there is nothing new there. The D ‘n’ B scene has received a lot of bad press in the past. Understandably, for many, the tragic murder of Sophie Lancaster by ‘hoodie’ thugs has put some people off the musical tastes of these low-life monsters. But I believe that mutated minorities in any genre, should not be allowed to hold good music to ransom.”

D.S.# Drum and bass was cool back then?

“From my point of view, the early hedonistic nineties D ‘n’ B scene was an invigorating and exciting proposition for many who wished to carry alternative music forward. The development in recording and playback technologies opened up a new universe of musical exploration and possibilities. Earth shaking bass lines, impossibly tight drum structures, emotive complexity in keyboard sound-scapes and sampling, all led to a new excitement in the then stale music scene. I took the plunge into this maelstrom, as it’s part of my make-up to explore new musical adventures.”

D.S.# Surely being an ex-punk had drawbacks on the emerging drum and bass scene

Spon comming at ya!

Spon on the run

“The movers and shakers of this emerging British scene were young DJ’s who had no hack with the old ‘rules’ of creating music. Like many others, evolving from the former 80’s punk scene I moved into the D ‘n’ B at a early stage in its development.

I liked the anarchic approach to creating the music and found for a time comradeship and a sense of purpose and enjoyment in the underground party scene. Back then I found a refreshing openness and tolerance to the music and the people generally in the scene…anything went!”

D.S.# What gave you the idea, or set you on the journey to creating a drum and bass album?

“Drum and Bass as well as other so-called ‘rave-music’ was developing it’s own set of rules that related to the flux’s and flow of the dance-floor. My tastes were still on the darker, deeper and hopefully more thoughtful side. At that time I was a recording studio engineer/producer and that made me open to a wide input of styles. Steve Harle introduced me to the D ‘n’ B scene back in the very early nineties. He encouraged me to embark on the musical journey that would eventually create my first album under the name Nostramus.

I called the new album ‘Earthlights’ and it summed up four crazy years of my experience of the underground party scene at a time when the music was at its most vibrant, purist form.”

D.S.# What was your aim in creating Earthlights your first album, how did you go about determining what it would be?

“The album was written using Atari computers, but I wanted it to have a live feel. I invited guests to contribute spoken and sung performances. The tunes included obscure iconic samples to create light and dark moods to give a sense of meaning. My aim was to create the most organic quality as possible, to create a journey for the listener. I wanted something that was easy to listen to, yet also had a deeper, substantial level. As a ‘non’ DJ, I even broke the dance mix rules, making it virtually impossible for DJ’s to mix the album with other tracks. I wanted to make ‘Earthlights’ stand out in a crowd.”

D.S.# Sum up Earthlights message?

“‘Earthlights’ takes the listener on a journey through themes, ranging from our pagan past, to future space travel. It questions and studies the doubts and optimisms of the human race.”

D.S.# How many did Earthlights sell back in the nineties, how did it fit in with the drum and bass scene?

Earthlights original 1997 released in the UK by Recordings of Substance

Recordings of Substance version of Earthlights originaly released in 1997

“I released this album first in the UK in 1997, on ‘Recordings of Substance’, and then licensed it to ‘Shadow Records’ for the US market in 1998. In total, there were 6000 sales worldwide. It didn’t make the top ten, but it sold steadily over a period of time and some of the feedback from reviews and emails have been fantastically encouraging. A review a couple of years back summed it up quite nicely “Probably the best Drum and Bass album you have never heard!”

D.S.# What led you to re-mastering Earthlights?

The new Earthlights 2010 re-mastered

Earthlights 2010 re-mastered CD front

“Although I was reasonably happy with the original mastering of Earthlights, I’ve since become more fluent with audio mastering techniques. In the new edition of Earthlights, I reworked the source master tapes, taking care with every step of the process in order to retain the original concept and flow. I feel I’ve now created a much more considered dynamic to the sound-scape, hopefully bringing the whole thing up to today’s audio standards and listen ability.”

D.S.# Did you just re-master or is there anything else added or taken away?

“Aside from the re-mastering, I have re-edited and re-mixed ‘Babel’ the opening track to the album, mixing in some new warped-up a-men from the un-released Jungle version of Babel. There are also one or two other new samples, subtly crafted into some of the other pieces to spice up the mix. Overall, I am much happier now with the sound and flow of the re-mastered album and I hope the listener will enjoy it even more”

D.S.# What about the rumours of Earthlights II any chance soon?

“I have had most of the material for this sitting on my shelves now for a good few years. Now with the help of Diamond Seeds work is in progress to see this project through. I shall be editing and remixing some of the material and with the addition some new performances and samples, I will collate into the final cut. I am hoping for around March April 2010.

D.S.# UK Decay are famous for being one of the first eighties post-punk bands, to make the crossover from ‘punk’ to ‘goth’

What are your future plans with UK Decay, are you enjoying their revival?

UK Decay on their Italian Tour spring 2009, Spon on the left

Spon back with UK Decay in Milan, May 2009

“I am really enjoying playing live with Decay again. It’s a real buzz playing guitar in a live situation, I had forgotten about that.

Because of commitments however, Decay can only play a few times a year, which is fine by me. UK Decay are currently working on a new album, which is an exciting challenge. Getting wild sounds out of my guitar is refreshing to me after so many years of programming songs together. The guys in UK Decay between them have a wealth of new ideas and experience to draw upon. At the end of the day UK Decay were adventuress in seeking out new sounds, we were ‘dark’ back in the day and that’s partly my fault, so they tell me! I look forward to mashing it up with them.”

D.S.# Any future Nostramus beyond Earthlights II?

“We shall have to wait and see!”

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping

Click here for Earthlights Re-mastered 2010 £10.00 inc. shipping. thru Paypal

Nostramus is now signed to Diamond Seeds Productions.

Seeded from the Diamond Seeds Blog