Blood And Roses – Audiodrome Records – 1985

Enough Is Never Enough / Some Like It Hot / Your Sin Is Your Salvaton / Whirr / Roles / Breakdown

Assault On Precinct 13 / The Tower Falls / Possession / Living For Tomorrow / Spit Upon Your Grave

The one and only album by Kill Your Pet Puppy favorites and ex Campbell Buildings, Old Street Fire station, St Monicas Hospital, Bayston Road squatters Blood And Roses.

This release was recorded well after Kill Your Pet Puppy had ceased to exist in fanzine form as the band had originally faded away with the departure of Richard Morgan the drummer of the band towards the end of  1983, sadly Jez the bassist got run over and died in a traffic accident involving a bus in Islington shortly after.

The studio engineer (for the debut Blood And Roses 12″) Ralph Jezzard stepped in on bass, a guy named Parrot joined the band on drumming duties sometime in 1984 and the band begun performing live again in 1985 with the new members. The first gig with this line up was a decent performance down the Ambulance Station down the Old Kent Road, a gig which Blyth Power also performed. This concert as well as various other Blood And Roses material (including the debut 12″ record) is available on this site if you care to use the search function and enter Blood And Roses.

Although in my opinion, the material on this LP is not quite as vital as a live performance by the band (or indeed the debut 12″) when first listening to it, the tracks do sound better after repeated plays. I thought the LP on first listening was slightly overproduced and with the addition of synth drums on some tracks it was less like the garage band riffs we were used to and it seemed to edge towards a more pop oriented 1980’s product. There are many moments of greatness on this LP though. ‘Some Like It Hot’, ‘Your Sin Is Your Salvation’, ‘Roles’, ‘Possession’, ‘Tomorrow’ and of course ‘Spit Upon Your Grave’ are all decent fare.

Blood And Roses worked on sessions for a never released second LP but alas I do not have those  tracks on tape. The band finally gave way around the time of these sessions when Lisa became pregnant and (I assume) she decided to take a break from all the recording and touring with the band, and of course take a break from all the baggage that came with the bands day to day existence (baggage which is well known to fans and friends of the band).

Many Happy Returns to Lisa, the singer and record sleeve artist for Blood And Roses (left in picture with Cory) whose birthday it is today. Hope you have a nice relaxing day. Thanks to Phil Ritchie for the photo.

After purchasing this LP from Ugly Child Records in Walthamstow (in the same building of the much loved and much missed Small Wonder Records) I bumped into Kirk Brandon who I promptly got to sign the inner sleeve of  my copy of this Blood And Roses LP. I can not recall why he was in that area of London now as my memory has slightly faded somewhat. It certainly would not have been for a Spear Of Destiny concert as I am sure I would have attended one in that area if indeed they were performing.

Text below courtesy of Andy Martin, thanks to him as usual for all the effort:

That it has taken me 27 years to have in my collection any music by Blood & Roses is surely perverse. I knew both Bob Short and Lisa Kirby from my days as an unlikely secretary of April Housing Co-op and I met Richard Morgan, the first drummer (who tried – without success – to convince me that Magazine really were a group worthy of my attention). I think I met Jez James, too, but it was also so dark in that terraced house in Yoakley Road, Stoke Newington, that I could never tell who I was talking to. (“Do any of you have any rent for us? You do know you’re 2 months in arrears.” Brief shuffling of feet from Bob accompanied by slightly guilty grin. “Oh, er, sorry Andy, not this week.”) So why has it taken all this time for me to appreciate what they contributed to pop music, especially in a decade as starved of anything decent, interesting or relevant as the 1980s?

First: in the 1980s I was so completely submerged within my own private hell (still not recovered from nearly 2 years in a psychiatric hospital, realising I was queer and loathing it) that only truly psychotic music could break through the mental turmoil in which I suffered – i.e. The Pop Group, Throbbing Gristle, The Lemon Kittens and Five Or Six (to give 4 examples). Punk rock was always utterly irrelevant to me (middle class spoiled brats playing at being rebels only appeal to the homicidal side of my nature) and the few genuinely working class people involved in the scene never seemed to bother being in bands.

Second: the group appeared to be adopted by the Kill Your Pet Puppy collective (as I perceived it – probably erroneously) and at the time I had an extremely turbulent relationship with that crowd – you see, I possessed the social skills of a rhinoceros (and probably still do – that I have hardly any friends will attest to that) yet these colourful characters actually dared to have parties and enjoy themselves in spite of – or perhaps to spite – Britain under Thatcher. I was unable to forgive such blatant decadence! After all, it was our duty to fight the good fight, to engage in the struggle and be forever frothing at the mouth with much wailing and gnashing of teeth while we locked ourselves in darkened rooms to plot the revolution. What an utterly boring bastard I must have been back then, unlike the supremely cool, windswept and interesting chap I am now.

Third: I was in a two-bit little pop group that I think I suspected was always destined to go nowhere very fast indeed and when Blood & Roses came along and showed us how it should be done, well, maybe I was just a little bit jealous.

Fourth: through no fault of the group, the music press (very briefly) developed a fascination with the group and decided to market them as New Goth Thing (oh Jesus, give us a break) and exaggerate the Crowley Connection. In fact Bob Short did possess books by the miserable magi but, unlike so many other people during the previous 2 decades, he actually read and understood them (in so far as anyone can genuinely comprehend a book by Crowley). My heroes were people like Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Fred Hoyle, Carl Sagan and Patrick Moore so anything even remotely associated with magick, UFOs or the supernatural (I naively made no distinction) I simply dismissed as irrelevant to me.

I heard one cassette of five or six songs, recorded at Starforce Studio (where Twelve Cubic Feet also recorded their one album and where The Apostles recorded their 1st single) most of which I did enjoy – especially Tomorrow – but that was it. Important note for anyone new to this group: you will occasionally see their name linked with outfits such as Southern Death Cult, Sex Gang Children and Brigandage – ignore such associations immediately. There is absolutely no connection between Blood & Roses and all those other wallies. Also, there is nothing ‘Goth’ about Blood & Roses. How could anyone familiar with the group ever have concocted such an absurd relation?

Enough Is Never Enough

The Banshees, Tubeway Army and UK Decay all pretended to enter this territory but ultimately they failed because they were all too consumed with their own image and they cared too much about what the managers and suits actually thought about them. Blood & Roses prove what is possibly if you Do What Thou Wilt in spite of (i.e. with complete indifference to) such irrelevant arse-holes.

Some Like It Hot

Wasn’t this the title of some ancient Yankee film? I’m allergic to Hollywooden garbage so I can’t comment. Take a 1960s pop piece by, I don’t know, Petula Clark – douse it in LSD and hurl it into a dungeon. Now it’ll sound like this and you can enjoy the experience properly.

Your Sin Is Your Salvation

Unlike 90% of bands at this time Blood & Roses often gave the bass guitarist something interesting and inventive to play and this is a fine example. Add to that the tendency of the drummer to avoid the standard backbeat and top it off with occasionally odd harmonic twists and you end up with a gloriously strange anthem like this. Of course at the time I failed to appreciate stuff like this because I was too busy listening to Ornette Coleman, desperate (with complete justification) to avoid anything even remotely associated with punk rock.

Whirr

One of the most inventive and unusual pieces the group ever recorded – virtually avant garde in fact. Complaint: it’s far too brief and merits a further 2 or 3 minutes at least.

Roles

This enters the arena bristling with New York Dolls but (thank Pan) soon becomes far more interesting and vibrant than that motley crew. Turn those vocals up, for crying out loud! Not one of my favourites, perhaps because musically it’s too conservative for my tastes.

Breakdown

So what are all those odd voices in the background then? Probably something notoriously iconic that I ought to recognise but only when the vocals enter is my interest aroused. There’s a curiously rhythm and blues element to this but transplanted into the 21st century. It’s as if a group of aliens tried to play a cover of a B B King piece on instruments designed for an utterly different purpose entirely. The bass guitar is somewhat lost in the murk but the bludgeoning drums compensate.

Assault On Precinct 13

Question: why cover tedious old crap like this when you can write much more intriguing and inventive stuff yourselves? That said, they breathe new life into this music and, to be fair, there can’t be many groups who have recorded covers of not 1 but 2 John Carpenter film themes…and done it well, too. It does lend variety to the proceedings since this is an instrumental in all but name – a heavily disguised wordless vocalise drifts over the top of the churning chaos but this piece still needs an extra something to lift it out of the limitations of the chord progression that must have been old fashioned even when it was first written.

The Tower Falls

One of the more interesting lyrics (but then I’ve not encountered any Blood & Roses lyric that I’d call boring or derivative), this is another contender my usual complaint so here it is: TURN THE BLOODY VOCAL UP! Not one of the more musically inspired pieces, this is still a chugging, grumbling juggernaut of a piece that merits another fag and another tequila.

Possession

More thundering, tom-heavy drums (that’s what we want) with twisted, spiteful vocals drifting gently over the top (carry on, chaps, you’re doing well) and that trademark odd harmonic change – so what’s the problem? Like many of these pieces, it struggles against the wall of reverb that threatens to drown it in chaos.

Living For Today

Musically similar to Possession, this takes over from it and pushes the envelope into pure pop (and there’s no criticism intended there – quite the reverse). This is actually immensely powerful but the sweetness of the tune skillfully disguises the fact. Complaint: it fades out – I detest fade-outs! That caveat aside, this remains one of the stronger cuts on an album that still doesn’t actually contain any track you could call weak.

Tomorrow

I first heard this on a cassette in a dramatically different arrangement and I have to admit I still prefer that earlier version. Even so, this is still (possibly) the best pop song the group ever wrote. With considerably less reverb (except on the vocals), this would be a contender for the ‘a’ side of a single. UNIT may well record a cover of this piece (based on the first account of it) because I’d forgotten to what extent this song is a brilliant slice of triumphal, in-your-face, devil-may-care ebullient joy.

I Spit Upon Your Grave

In 3/4 time complete with piano, this is not an ideal piece with which to complete an album. However, for once, the vocals are loud enough to do justice to the singing. Note: most bands have 1 or sometimes 2 prominent players in the ensemble who are obliged to carry the limitations of the others; with Blood & Roses, there are no passengers – everyone is willing and able to contribute a performance that merits attention and this piece provides an excellent example of this fact.

The trouble is, whenever a pop group (or a writer, artist or film maker for that matter) cannot be easily labeled and categorised by those feeble minded miscreants who are employed to write about such people, the public have shoved in their faces so much ineffable twaddle that everyone (even the group) becomes perplexed and confused. I do remember the day Blood & Roses appeared on the front cover of the NME (and, I think, 1 or 2 other glossy magazines). In retrospect it was an excessively damaging development – the group was given an identity totally inappropriate to what it was actually about and the audience was thus completely misled. Had they been allowed to evolve at a more gradual pace, perhaps their ascent to the glory they deserved would have finally happened. That they were only able to release 2 singles and 1 album (whereas all that dismal and utterly irrelevant punk rubbish from Crass to The Exploited unleashed a torrent of vinyl, most of which was dire) is a damned shame, frankly – a case of quality rather than quantity.

Early incarnations of the group included No Allegiance (a good name for a group – one I nearly adopted except it sounded a little too close to punk) which changed into a symbol, a splendid hybrid of a swastika with a hammer and sickle. That was followed by “       “ which is my own favourite – that would have caused much consternation among music journalists and punters. Their next name was ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. After that rich heritage I found their ultimately adopted name Blood & Roses a complete disappointment. It refers to an old lesbian vampire film (I think). If there is any justice in the artistic world, the tracks from that Starforce Studio demo along with pieces from the cassette Life After Death (especially Scenario, Mummy, Product Of Love, Paradise and Curse On You) will also be remastered and issued on CD.

If there is one major complaint I have to make about nearly all these recordings it is that the production is peppered with extraneous effects and reverb most of which are quite unnecessary. It is as if the 4 musicians struggle desperately to be heard through all this noise which clutters up so many supremely memorable pop songs. I once saw the group play live (I am unable to remember where) and their work was far more exciting and vibrant than any of it sounds on record. Of course, anyone unlucky enough to have heard any recordings by The Apostles will realise that for me to criticise another group for their production is akin to Pol Pot complaining to the Hong Kong police about their occasionally excessive use of force.

Dear Richard Morgan: it is time for me to repay a debt. On our own tracks Asian Invasion, Thalidomide and The Phoenix recorded by UNIT you will hear the drum pattern you used on Tomorrow recycled, revamped and reconstituted but always recognisable. Imitation is indeed a sincere form of flattery (but I still think Magazine are crap).

There is good news – Bob Short at least is still creatively active, in film as well as in music. A couple of years ago he sent me (as electronic files) some tracks his new group had recorded – unfortunately our computer refused to play them so his new music still remains a mysterious entity at present. What happened to Lisa then? A singer of her ability and calibre ought not to languish in the relative obscurity of a 1980s pop group, however fondly remembered. Anyway, along with Five Or Six, 23 Skidoo, Twelve Cubic Feet, Cold War and Part 1, we can add Blood & Roses to that hallowed elite company of groups who were simply too unusual or too inventive to be appreciated properly at the time they were active.

Andy Martin 2010 

Published by

Penguin

1985 - 1988 All The Madmen Records and Distribution 1988 - 1991 King Penguin Distribution 1989 - ???? Southern Studios / Southern Record Distribution

36 thoughts on “Blood And Roses – Audiodrome Records – 1985”

  1. I have to say, I was very dissapointed with the LP when I got it, and (like Theatre of Hate’s Westworld) it pretty much put me off them for a few years, really because is could have been SO much better.

    I always preferred the “Life after Death” tape, which although it wasn’t technically great, had energy and passion, something sorely lacking on the LP.

    I hadn’t played the LP in years, but when the CD re-issue came out (Same As It Never Was), I bought it mainly for the tracks off the 12″, but whoever mastered the CD release did a really good job, and the tracks from the LP all sound much better than they do on vinyl (which is a turn up for the books!). It also has ShM YHShVH from some dodgy compilation, and some tracks from the ‘lost’ LP which are pretty good.

    I would seriously recommend that anyone who’s interested in Blood and Roses track it down as it’s superior to the LP in terms of sound, and lets be frank, the cover art is a damn site better than the truly awful LP art.

    It has it’s problems – no long version of ‘Necromantra’ or the original 12″ version of ‘Spit upon your grave’ – but you can get those elsewhere on this site (Cheers for that, by the way).

  2. Said dodgy compilation was The Whip released through Kamera Recs and which included a fine selection of tracks from the then great and the good – Sex Gang, Brigandage, Play Dead etc.
    Whilst I did purchase Love Under Will back in the day, most of their output unfortunately slipped by me, so was overjoyed on hearing of the release of discog. Same As It Never Was couple years back with Enough Is Never Enough providing several outstanding moments. Hell, doesn’t get better than Your Sin Is Your Salvation.

  3. The 12inch was always better than the album but for me it was the peel session that really got my attention. In particular the version of Assualt on Precinct 13. I have been trying to locate a decent copy of this session along with that of Brigandage alas to no avail.

  4. The Whip is a fine release and one of my favourites of the period, though recent reissues have seen the addition of tracks by Christian Death, Shadow Project et al.

  5. Hide & Seek was a wicked track and makes it worthwhile alone IMHO. Wasn’t there a Play Dead track too?

  6. There was indeed. Bloodstains, Pleasure… and who can forget Andi Sex Gang’s duet with Marc Almond plus the quite wonderful Tenderhooks by Dave Vanian. Compiled by Dave Roberts too if my memory serves me correctly.

  7. Yes it was compiled by Dave Roberts I still have the album, must get me a turntable so I can rip it. On the subject of the Brigandage & Blood & Roses peel sessions they must be in the BBC archives somewhere right? Can’t Michelle or Bob/Lisa request copies as it is their intelectual property. Then they could share the undiluted studio quality copies with the rest of us. I would happily pay a tenner a copy of each session.

  8. Put those sessions back to back on one 33rpm vinyl would be a nice idea. The beeb may be enticed to release the tapes I am sure. Think the original masters will probably need to be baked though after all these years. The beeb own all the copyright for beeb recorded material, but I feel sure that I have seen recently released records with ‘Peel Sessions’ on (apart from the series of Peel session 12″s that were released on Strange Fruit records in the 1980’s that is).

  9. Aye, I was listening to Life After Death last night and Brigandage FYM and thinking just how good it would be to hear some of the tunes in glorious studio quality

  10. Definitely. Regarding recent Peel sessions? Captain Oi rushed out sessions from The Lurkers, Chelsea, and Vibrators not so long ago. Am sure if approached the BBC wouldn’t be averse to releasing the material.

  11. Still fond of The Whip album. The Sex Gang Children track was my favpurite track of theirs. Loved the Slave Drive (Abbo, UKDK) track too. ‘The musical soundtrack from “the whip”‘ printed on the back of the sleeve had me pondering whether a film existed too but I never heard mention of it elsewhere.

  12. Here’s the US release of ‘The Whip’ to add to the archive.
    I’ve added ShM YhShVh’ and Hide & Seek’ from the UK version as bonus tracks (they weren’t included on the US release).

    http://zombiemetgirl.com/odds/mar10/The_Whip.rar (about 70 MB)

    01 Dave Vanian – Tenterhooks
    02 Car Crash International – The Whip
    03 Andi Sex Gang – The Hungry Years
    04 Rosetta Stone – An Eye For The Main Chance
    05 Christian Death – Still Born/Still Life
    06 Spahn Ranch – Machine Politics
    07 Play Dead – Bloodstains, Pleasure
    08 Brilliant – Scream Like An Angel
    09 Kommunity FK – Junkies
    10 Usherhouse – Permanent Red
    11 Super heroines – Chasing Bars
    12 Screams For Tina – 11:11
    13 UK Decay – Slavedrive
    14 Nosferatu- Pictures Of Betrayal
    15 NazNomad – Just Call Me Sky
    16 MephistoWalz – In The Room That Love Exists
    17 Sex Gang Children – Oh Funny Man
    18 Car Crash International – The Whip II

    Added tracks (from UK release):

    19 Brigandage – Hide and Seek
    20 Blood and Roses – ShM YhShVh

  13. Cheers Mark, a few more memory jogs for me here. Rosetta Stone were from Wirral? The Brilliant track Scream Like an Angel has a bit of a groove goin on.

  14. While said track is credited to UK Decay, it was in fact penned by post UK Decay outfit Furyo.

  15. I contacted Bob through facebook to check if it was ok to have a link to a demo of Assault On Precinct 13 on my blog. It seems the band wanted to include the peel session on the “Same As It Never Was” compilation but the good old beeb wanted a bucket load of cash to allow this to happen and Cherry Red wouldn’t front the cash……bastards.

  16. I heard, at the time, that Blood And Roses only reformed to record this album because they were offered a bag of money… not sure if there’s anything to that story. But I agree with everyone here… I was disappointed with the over-produced sound of the album too. The gig at the Ambulance Station was a bit of an event for me – courtesy of an LSD trip.

  17. Bob’s latest recording – Enjoy! 🙂

    The Dead Rabids – Night of the Living Dead Rabids

    320 kbps Mp3 (around 92 MB RAR file)

    http://zombiemetgirl.com/odds/albums/The_Dead_Rabids_-_Night_of_the_Living_Dead_Rabids.rar

    01 – I’m Waiting For My Man (Reed)
    02 – Smash Your TV (Short)
    03 – London Calling (Strummer/Jones)
    04 – Redemption (Short)
    05 – Blitzkrieg Bop (Hyman/Cummings/Colvin/Erdelyi)
    06 – Thalidomide Child (Short)
    07 – I Wanna Be Your Dog (osterburg/Alexander/Ashton/Ashton)
    08 – Breakdown (Short)
    09 – Who Do You Love (McDaniel)
    10 – The Devil Made me Do It (Short)
    11 – The Sound Of My Broken Heart (Short)
    12 – Tumbledown (Short)
    13 – Louie Louie (Berry)
    14 – I Spit Upon Your Grave (Kirby/James/Morgan/Short)

    Dead Rabids are Phil Beckett, Wade McPherson and Bob Short

    Another Full On Noise Recording
    (but this time done in less than ten hours!)

  18. It’s posted with permission btw.

    If anyone wants to add it to a more appropriate place on the site, feel free.

    Just had this thread bookmarked and thought the y’all might appreciate it!

  19. This is just to confirm that I am very happy for people to download this album free and gratis. Hadn’t been on this particular strand before and can confirm a few things. We couldn’t afford the money the BBC was asking for the sessions. The songs from the first ep are “copyright owned” by someone who charged a fortune for them too. The legality of that escapes me as does the fact that the fellow claims he owns the songwriting too (even though I never signed them to anyone). It is no surprise we would choose the non EP version of spit. The rumour that we reformed to do the album for bags of money is untrue. We were given two and a half thousand pounds but anyone who ever spent two weeks in a recording studio would tell you how far that went. For my part, I really like both the EP and the LP. The EP is a punk record. The LP reflects a time after punk and I think it stands up well. In fact it probably sounds better now. Ralph did the remastering for the CD but I think it is expectations that dissapointed many upon its initial release. The thing is, Blood and Roses always tried to do what we wanted to and not what was expected of us.

  20. Hello Bob, cheers for clearing up that rumour about the money… In any case, I guess that it wouldn’t have happened without it. As far as expectations go I make you right; I think that by the time the album came out a lot of peoples musical tastes had moved on and the fact that you chose ‘Some Like it Hot’ as the single indicates yours had too. The point is the songs were good… I just prefered the rawness and simple production of the EP and tape. All the best with your current stuff.

  21. I first saw Blood and Roses play at the Wapping Autonomy Centre in early 1982 and from what I remember they were watched by about 30 people. Their performance made a profound impression on me. The energy of punk but with something else hard to define. It might be laughable to the band and those who knew them but the offbeat riffs, great tunes and uniqueness of the music was almost other worldly. A mind blowing experience.
    Sitting near a couple of Blood and Roses on the tube home I wanted but did not tell them how much I enjoyed their set.
    Living in quiet Welwyn where at the time gigs happened once every few months I had a craving for the excitement of live punk music. Blood and Roses provided this but with more feeling and emotion than any other band (except the Astronauts) . Several more times I experienced this early vibrant incarnation of Blood and Roses and the music was always both rudimentary and sophisticated – as were the colourful punks who comprised the audience.
    The later 96 Tapes release was ok but like many recordings from that period failed to match the power of the live sound.
    I never saw them play after 1982 but from the experience of those few gigs Blood and Roses are among my top five live bands of all time.

  22. A message from Bob Short formally of Blood And Roses: “I have just heard some terrible news. Ralph has just sent a message to tell me that Lisa of Blood and Roses has had a brain haemorrhage and it looks very bad. Very bad. What I hear, I’ll pass along but obviously I am on the other side of the world and, this is all I can tell you at the moment. Sorry to be the bearer of such sad news”.

  23. “UK Decay… [were]… too consumed with their own image and they cared too much about what the managers and suits actually thought about them.”
    Yes. Known for the several thousand managers and suits they had following around every second of the day. Notorious for it. Ab-so-lutely no-tor-ious.

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