Trentbeat: The Nottingham Sound! Part One: 1974 to 1993.

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.

tb03fatalFatal 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).

tb04supollSu Pollard. No, it’s not Kathy Burke in Gimme Gimme Gimme – it’s Su “can I do yer chalet?” Pollard, the reigning “First Lady of Trentbeat”.

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).

tb05tulipsFat 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.

tb06stereoStereo MC’s. Splitters! Although two-thirds of the band originally hailed from Ruddington, Trentbeat traitors the Stereo MCs cleared off to London before enjoying any commercial success.

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?)

tb07pinkperkPinky & 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.

“Oh, how vile!”


Margarita Pracatan – Hello (wand’s mini-drama mix)
(right-click to download)

Spring/Summer 1996. About once a month, we would pile out of Trade on a Sunday lunchtime, then head down to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to catch Adrella’s weekly drag show. Well before the Dame Edna Experience made the RVT what it is today, Adrella was packing the place out with her own loyal troupe, complete with their own set call-and-response phrases. (“Good afternoon Adrella, and how are you today?” “Oh, how vile!”)

Adrella’s top turns at the time included a coke-addled Liza, stumbling her way through Losing My Mind, a bouncy Gina G, flicking her tresses to Ooh Aah…Just A Little Bit, and best of all, her take on the emergent starlet of the moment, the one and only Margarita Pracatan. Replacing Margarita’s keyboard with an ironing board, if you please, you had to peel the queens from the ceiling by the time Adrella had worked her way through There’s-a Nooo! Business Like-a Shooow! Business.

Imagine our delight, therefore, when this extraordinary handbag house cover version of Lionel Richie’s Hello appeared on promo. And imagine our disappointment when at the last moment, with a tiny handful of copies of the CD single already pressed, Margarita’s record company pulled the single from the release schedules, never to see the light of day. Tipped off by my DJ mate from Central Station in King’s Cross, I quickly grabbed a copy from probably the only shop in the UK which had copies for sale (Trax Records on Greek Street).

Rare as rocking-horse poop, this is. You lucky, lucky people. Prepare to be amazed and astounded by the genius that is… Margarita “Hello! I Love You!” Pracatan.

Hey – after making you suffer through Lionel Richie’s original version (see below), it was the least I could do.

Basement Jaxx, Nottingham Rock City, Monday March 15th. An index of enjoyment levels.


A. Woo! My old pal Richard is coming over from Louth and we’re going to see Basement Jaxx tonight.

B. Boo! Richard thought the gig was next week, his car is being mended, and he’s stuck in Louth.

C. Boo! Rock City is packed and I’m all on my own.

D. Someone is squeezing my shoulder. I look round. Woo! It’s my dear friends Heather, Colin and Nina, standing just a few feet away. But I thought that they didn’t go to gigs any more, now that they’re all parents? Apologies all round for not getting in touch beforehand.

E. Nina tells me that the support act are none other than the Audio Bullys. Woo! I like the Audio Bullys. Aren’t they a bit too successful to be a support act, though?

F. About two minutes later, an announcement is made. “Owing to unforseen circumstances, the Audio Bullys will not be performing tonight.” Boo! Roadies come on and start removing record decks from the middle of the stage. Oh well – I only spent two minutes thinking I was going to see them, after all. I can re-adjust.

G. About five minutes later, another announcment. “The Audio Bullys will now be performing, ten minutes after Basement Jaxx finish their set, downstairs in the basement bar.” Woo!

H. Woo! Basement Jaxx are on stage, with two funky & fabulous soul divas belting out the formidable “Good Luck” (one of their absolute best tracks). Behind the band are some of the most impressive back projections I have ever seen: a dazzling quick-fire succession of razor-sharp DVD images, spread over three screens, all perfectly synched to the music. This is going to be great!

I. Boo! The joint is heaving, and there’s no room to dance. Wedged next to Colin on the bottom step to the right of the mixing desk, at least I have a perfect view. Can’t expect everything, I guess.

J. Red alert! Red alert! It’s a catastrophe… Woo! My favourite! And so soon in the set! I jiggle up and down as best I can, as the seething crowd below me goes apeshit. There’s more unrestrained energy & enthusiasm here than at a regular rock gig. Sometimes it gets overwhelming; for now, it’s exhilarating. And the music keeps on playin’ on and on…

K. The Jaxx are pumping out hit after hit – who knew they had so many? – with a constantly shifting crew of five singers (four female, one male) who keep disappearing and re-appearing in new costumes. While the singers all leave, the remaining band deliver a brilliant new track which mashes up the bassline from Seven Nation Army with the acapella from 50 Cent’s In Da Club, to a backdrop of split-second collages of 12-inch record labels from the late 80s/early 90s. Even though they’re split-second, the trainspotter/ex-DJ in me recognises nearly half of them. Could this be more exciting? Woo! “This is the best one yet!”, Colin and I agree.

L. OK, this is getting ridiculous now. People are constantly squeezing past us on the steps, and I’m jammed against the crash barrier, unable to stand up straight. Two burly lumps are standing directly below and in front of me, their backs wedged against my mid-torso and crotch. If I move at all, my crotch grinds into them. It’s not even mildly erotic. Also, I haven’t got anywhere to put my hands. I ask the lumps to step forward an inch. They burble something incomprehensible back and refuse to move. Boo!

M. Unfortunately, Basement Jaxx have now used up nearly all their hits, and are playing a succession of lesser known and frankly inferior numbers. Boo! I’ve had enough of this – time to get some beer.

N. Woo! Beer! It has been remarkably easy to get served with alcohol this evening, and yet the crowd really are extraordinarily, um, motivated. I wonder why.

O. Back from the bar, I take up a new position on the raised platform behind the steps. Ah, this is better. I can actually twitch a limb without crashing into people here. Woo!

P. “Can you keep moving forward please; we can’t see.” “You’re standing in someone’s space; they’ll be back in a minute.” I’m pissing everyone off around me with my mere presence. I’ve become the tall person that everyone hates at concerts. Boo!

Q. And the set is just as boring as it was before. Boo!

R. The polite looking girlie in front of me has suddenly sprung to life, for no apparent reason, and is now bouncing up and down with great gusto. Which would be fine, except that her pony tail keeps flicking in my face, and there’s nowhere else for me to move. Ugh! Poo! Boo! A few minutes later, Heather nudges me. “Has that girl just come up on her pill, or what?” I explain that her pony tail must have beaten the rest of her to it. Maybe it all spreads from the follicles?

S. WHEEEERES-YOOOOUR-HEEEEEAD-AT? WHEZYOHEDAT! Woo! The venue absolutely erupts – hands in the air, whoops and whistles and hollers and general mentalism. I love the raw, almost punky energy of this one. This is more like it! Pony tails be damned!

T. Encore time, and the energy cranks up another notch with the ragga-tastic “Jump ‘N Shout”.Woo! And woo again!

U. Okay, let’s try squeezing in downstairs for the Audio Bullys. Our only concern: the basement area is about a quarter of the size of the upstairs hall, and the gig played to a sold-out capacity crowd. How are we all going to fit? This could be Hell. Oh, no it isn’t. Vast numbers of people are filing out onto the street, and we find a comfortable spot in the basement area. Woo! After Party!

V. Bloody Hell – the Audio Bullys are great! Woo! With just an MC and a DJ on stage, the set is stripped right down to its clubby essentials. Performing nothing from last year’s album, what we get instead is freestyle toasting over a non-stop mix of raw, minimal, bass-heavy ragga/garage ruffness. It’s dead simple, but it works superbly well in the enclosed basement space, basslines bouncing off the walls and bashing us in the solar plexus. Upstairs as a warm-up set, this would never have worked. Downstairs as an after-show treat, it turns the venue into a sweaty club environment, the whole room jiggling and wriggling and beaming with glee. Nina says it reminds her of when she used to go clubbing regularly, before she became a mum. Puts her back in touch with what she’s been missing, and of how good it used to feel. I’m getting the same feeling, flashing back to mad nights at the Marcus Garvey Centre in 95/96…Carl Cox, the DiY sound system…good times. And I’ve only had two lagers!

W. The Audio Bullys aren’t just great – they’re chuffing fantastic! We’ve caught a wave, locked onto it, and have been riding it for nearly an hour, as the vibe in the room continues to build and solidify. Nina and I keep grinning at each other in amazed delight – this is way, way more enjoyable than Basement Jaxx. Woo! Woo! Woo! All the way home!