The Troubled Diva Can’t Be Arsed To Do Any Proper Research And Anyway It’s Just A Blog So Why Bother? Unauthorised, Unreliable, Slapped-Together-In-Five-Minutes Guide To The Fabulous Sound Of Trentbeat, In Which We Salute Nottingham’s Major Contribution To The International Music Scene Through The Years.
Paper Lace. Godfathers of the Nottingham Sound. With Billy Don’t Be A Hero, the raging anti-war polemic which took the whole country by storm in March 1974, The Lace placed the city of Nottingham firmly on the musical map, whilst simultaneously kick-starting the musical revolution that came to be known (admittedly not until thirty years on, but hey, who’s counting?) as Trentbeat.
Alvin Stardust. From Mansfield. Which, admittedly, isn’t Nottingham. But it’s almost Nottingham, right?
Besides which, Trentbeat is a little short on founding fathers – so Alvin will have to do.
I bought his album, you know.
Medium Medium. Early 80s indie/funk crossover act, who recorded for the Cherry Red label. Their best known track, Hungry, So Angry, made Billboard magazine’s Alternative Top 50. Eventually morphed into…
C Cat Trance. …who took things in a funkier direction, with “Islamic” influences.
Fatal Charm. “Futurist” synth-pop act who got on Channel 4’s The Tube a couple of times. Midge Ure produced their debut single.
Split up in 1989 and re-formed as State Of Grace (see below).
Sense. Another synth-pop act, whose first three UK singles were produced by Dave Ball from Soft Cell. Supported Depeche Mode and Kim Wilde on tours of Europe, and had a Top 40 hit in France with Jamie. An ill-fated excursion into Hi-NRG (the Ian Levine produced You Cry) spelt curtains for the band.
See also: Pinky & Perky (below); Bob The Builder (Part 2).
The saucy siren from Stapleford reached Number Two in 1986 with Starting Together, which was taken from some naff TV documentary about a pair of young marrieds. This was particularly memorable for its video, in which Our Su, looking fetching in a furry white winter cap with matching pom-poms, indulged in a playful snowball fight in the woods with said young marrieds.
Su’s entire debut album has since been “deconstructed” by a bunch of “radical sonic terrorists”, whose alarming re-workings of her oeuvre can be found here. (Click on Deconstructions.) I particularly recommend the V/Vm remix of the aforementioned Starting Together, which treats the song with the respect it deserves.
Clint Bestwood & the Mescal Marauders. Popular local live act from the late 1980s, who released at least one single (Sourmash).
People in the know called them “The Bestwoods”. Not being in the know, I didn’t quite like to; it smacked of a certain over-familiarity. The one time I did catch them live – at a warehouse party near the railway station – I was too busy necking Pils and posing in my ripped 501s to pay much attention. However, Demian describes them as a “boozy bounce along band”, which sounds about right.
Asphalt Ribbons. Late-80s-early 90s indie band of some reknown. Split up and re-formed as Tindersticks (see Part 2).
Fat Tulips. Part of the so-called “twee” indie movement, the Fat Tulips have been described as “making Talulah Gosh look like an Oi band.”
Recorded a single called Where’s Clare Grogan Now?, which probably tells you all you need to know.
State Of Grace. Formed from the ashes of Fatal Charm (see above), State Of Grace swiftly became Trentbeat’s premier shoegazing act, with singles such as Camden and Hello (not the Lionel Richie song). Actually – and I speak as someone who was never that big on the whole shoegazing thing – they were bloody great, with plenty of droney, trippy “freakout” sections, and pleasingly copious usage of effects pedals.
Unfortunately, having been knocking around for a fair old while by then, the band weren’t judged sufficiently hip to be ranked alongside the Slowdives and Chapterhouses of this world, the NME once sneeringly referring to them as “looking like a bunch of supply teachers”. A freak US dance hit, with a wildly unrepresentative remix, proved to be the final nail in their coffin.
However, this act of monumental civic betrayal came with a hefty price tag: after four hit singles in just six months, the band had to wait a full eight years for a fifth.
Let the fate of the Stereo MCs serve as an Awful Warning. You desert this city at your peril.
KWS. Recorded in a bid to persuade star footballer Des Walker to stay with Nottingham Forest, the KWS cover of KC & The Sunshine Band’s Please Don’t Go became the second Trentbeat Number One in April 1992. This earnt the band an entirely justifiable nomination as Best New Act at the 1993 Brit Awards, alongside such musical heavweights as Undercover (Never Let Her Slip Away; Baker Street) and eventual winner Tasmin “voice of an era” Archer.
KWS made regular appearances at Nottingham’s top nitespot The Black Orchid, if memory serves. As The Cavern was to Merseybeat, so The Black Orchid was to Trentbeat: crucible of a revolution. (I could turn this into a book, you know. Any offers?)
Pinky & Perky. The lovable singing piglets enjoyed something of a comeback in 1993: regular guest slots on a kids’ TV show called The Pig Attraction, a by-the-skin-of-its-teeth Top 50 single, (Reet Petite / It Only Takes A Minute Girl) and a whole album (yes, they really did cover Technotronic’s Pump Up The Jam).
What you might not have known is that the piglets “laid down” their “vocal tracks” at my mate’s home recording studio in Sherwood. Indeed, if you slow down their voices… no, perhaps I’ve said enough. He doesn’t talk about it much.