Sunday, 28 December 2008

Terry & Gerry - Let's Get The Hell Back To Lubbock

Let's Get The Hell Back To Lubbock (Cherry Red Records CDMRED315)
Tracklisting: Hello / Butters On The Bread / TV Song / Dennis & Brian / Wait Until Your Older / Clothes Shop / Kennedy Says / Banking On Simon / Wolfman's Request / Hello (LP Version) / Joey / Ballad Of A Nasty Man / C.A.R.S. / A Thousand Towns / Percy Crusoe / The Good, The Bad, The Usherette / Fashion Rodeo / The Armchair Terrorists Song / How Long Johnny / Reservation / A Sea Shanty For The Gravy Boat / Hello (Slow Version) / Oscar's Theme / Reservation (Ira Hayes Mix) / Pizza Pie & Junk / The Last Bullet In The Gun / Victory Polka / Independents' Day / Joey (Piano Version) / Butters On The Bread (Live At The Powerhouse 1985) / Dennis & Brian (Live At The Powerhouse 1985) / Wait Until Your Older (Live At The Powerhouse 1985)

Two decades after the demise of the political skiffle duo Terry and Gerry, Cherry Red Records have collated all their singles, album tracks and a few live numbers on one superb CD. I loved their From Lubbock To Clintwood East album and played it to death in my Aberystwyth bed-sit. We had a local student band at the time, Railroad Bill and the Box Car Stompers who played traditional skiffle and I dreamed that Britain's own contribution to rock 'n' roll was on the verge of a comeback, thirty odd years after Lonnie Lonnegan and Nancy Whiskey.

Terry and Gerry seemed to have everything it took to make the big time, a good novelty sound and the type of socially aware lyrics that were so popular at the time. It was like John Cooper Clark or Billy Bragg with some decent melodies. Gerry Colvin had taken American Studies at university and worked for an American bank before turning to music. Terry Lilley had started his career in the punk bands Dennis & the Din Makers and Vision Collision. The line-up was completed with Doreen Deville on washboard and Andy Downer on second extra guitar, with Jeremy Paige and Mick Howson coming in off the subs bench. Their lilting vocals and driving acoustic sound was fresh and they made an immediate impact on the independent scene. They were more MNE than Smash Hits and more Janice Long than Dave Lee Travis. They seemed a bit too smart for an indie band in their black jackets and ribbon ties, but their tales of Thatcher's Britain hit the right cord for lefties everywhere. They came to the attention of the legendary BBC disc jockey and champion of the unknown bands John Peel after he picked out their demonstration tape because his wife's best friends were also known as Terry and Gerry. They ultimately recorded three sessions for the John Peel programme.

Their debut EP came out on Robert Lloyd's Vindaloo Records, with the top side featuring 3 songs that ran for a whopping total of five minutes. The highlight was Butter's On the Bread, a great song about the miners' strike of 1984 "the butter's on the bread of the rich man's life". From the very beginning, the wonderful thing about their songs was the perfect combination of fun music with a serious message. In early 1985 they moved to In Tape records where their first single was the energetic call-and-response romp, Clothes Shop. A cynical look at the fashion trend of the day, it got a favourable review from Morrisey on Radio 1 and reached number 5 in the UK Indie chart. Later in the year they released the follow-up, Banking on Simon which became the theme to regional children's television show Poparound. It was the flip-side Joey, which caught my ear though - a downbeat ballad about a young man addicted to drugs.

Their first and only album was the brilliant From Lubbock to Clintwood East, a fourteen song, dufferless masterpiece. The whole album is included on this new release and newcomers to the group will be able to wallow in such classics as Ballad of a Nasty Man, / The Good, the Bad and the Usherette, C.A.R.S, A Thousand Towns, The Armchair Terrorist's Song and Fashion Rodeo. The next single was surprisingly, Reservation, a good song but surely not as good as the half dozen just mentioned. The b-side was Pizza Pie and Junk, a story of the dream of going to America on either Freddie Laker's or Richard Branson's then revolutionary cheap airlines - "get my picture taken with little Mickey Mouse, truck on down to Washington and spit at the White House".

Their last single before calling it a day and going their separate ways was the suicide ballad, Last Bullet in the Gun which went all the way to #1 in the indie charts. A great finish for a great little duo, who came on the scene for a fleeting moment and vanished all too soon. Gerry Colvin has since worked with The Man Upstairs, Alison Moyet and now now performs and records with Nick Quarmby as ColvinQuarmby. Terry Lilley studied for and achieved a higher national diploma in jazz studies - aparently, the only double-bass player ever to do so. Jeremy Paige formed Rumblefish and Mick Howson joined the Destroyers, a 15 piece gypsy band.

It's a shame Terry and Gerry didn't stick around a while longer and that this Cherry Red release only had to be a single set. If only their complete works required a four CD box set to do it justice. A fabulous CD that is well worth checking out whether you've heard of them or not.


joe kelly said...

Yes all you said was me in the 80's, played their album to death, now have this Album and it is superb. I still have the Vinyl and wish it was playable. Wish they did have a 4 cd album too, pure excellence that takes me back to my hey day!

Joe Kelly

CHiP said...

I agree with everything said above, but I also wish they'd get back together.

Trick Cyclist said...

They are back together!!! As of October 2014. They have a gig at the Dublin Castle in Camden 31st October