The absolutely majestic 12″ by Blood And Roses, the only vinyl release from the classic line up, the band split up soon after the record was released, to resurface in 1985 with a slightly different line up, releasing a further 12″ and an LP.
Words can not express the excitement of first hearing this record on my battered mono record player in 1983. The record is still one of the few that I put on a dozen times a year, 25 years on (some other favorites are The Clash first and The Mob’s only LP).
Released on a record label, with artists like The Fall and The Au Pairs, being represented it was a surprise to everyone that the label went bust shortly after this Blood And Roses release (a curse perhaps!).
Blood And Roses originated from the same squats and squalor that the Kill Your Pet Puppy Collective were living in at the time. The band played all the KYPP regular venues, like Wapping Autonomy Centre, Centro Iberico and many others, played on the same bill as a lot of other KYPP favored bands. The fanzine championed Blood And Roses, but the band fell apart towards the end of 1983.
They left this sublime piece of music with us though, which unfortunately was not bettered by the 1985 line up.
Soooo (Sue) and Min (also of Zos Kia), two of the backing vocalists on this release.
Original artwork by Fod, who designed the Blood And Roses sleeve artwork. Thanks to Tony D.
Indebted to Andy Martin for suppling the essay below:
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?
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.
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
Please use the search function to get access to more Blood And Roses, Bob Short solo music (also in post 86 section), and also for the written word essays concerning Bob, Blood And Roses and the KYPP era.
BOB SHORT HAS A NEW BOOK PUBLISHED TOMORROW – This old post from January 2008 has been squeezed forward to this date in 2009 to add this news. Bob Short’s first book ‘Trash Can’ was a well written, riviting and very amusing read, although it was a very slim volume.
I remember wanting more of the same after reading the first book in a matter of five or six hours, and with this new ‘thicker’ publication, I am now at last getting what I desired!
Photos from Bobs, Mins and Stewarts collections.
APRIL 18th 2009
BOOK AND CD LAUNCH
3 pm MOJO MUSIC 32 YORK STREET SYDNEY
FILTH: The new book by Bob Short
FILTH: The debut CD by the Dead Rabids
ADDITIONAL EARLY EVENING SHOW: LANDSDOWNE HOTEL, CITY ROAD, BROADWAY.
When we heard that Bob Short was releasing his second book entitled ‘FILTH’ on April 18th 2009, we were interested. You see, way back in 1977, Bob used to play guitar in the notorious yet unrecorded Sydney punk band that was also called Filth. Filth took a fairly heavy toll on those unfortunate to have seen them. Like some vile personification of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, they spread plague, pestilence and death in their wake. Their personal habits left even more to be desired. I guess that’s why some people still feel obliged to talk about them even after all these years.
“It was better we didn’t record anything,” Bob Short was quoted as saying. “Nothing kills a legend quicker than proof.”
Whilst Bob’s first book ‘TRASH CAN’ failed to top the best sellers list anywhere, it sold well enough to justify another and I guess that’s the bottom line in these trying times.
“It’s a book about my love affair with Rock and Roll,” Bob said. “It’s been a relationship with more than its fair share of ups and downs but I think my heart has pretty much stayed true.”
“This is not just a book about way back when. It’s also about the now. A lot of people continue to be creative but find them selves in a world which isn’t that interested in the creative process. In 1976, the music business had sunk into a state of being totally about the mainstream. That’s what we bucked against. Now we’ve come around full circle and we’re hated now as we were then. These days, the quickest way to clear a room is to be half way decent.”
The book is available through Independence Jones.
We heard that Bob was launching the thing at Mojo Music. We heard his new band The Dead Rabids would also be playing a show in tribute of Bo Diddley. That’s where we folk at FULL ON NOISE came to the party. We said “Why don’t we release a Dead Rabids album?”
There was some disgruntled groans from the back room. The bean counters suggested we’d shift six units if we were lucky and the rest would go into land fill. We talked to Bob and the boys anyway because, whilst we may need Suits to do the accounts, we don’t have to like them. Besides, we know Bob from way back. Dude could do with a little charity and we could do with a tax dodge to hide our millions. The perfect match.
The Dead Rabids gave us two albums worth of material to go crazy with and we know crazy from crazy. We decided to call their new CD ‘Filth’ because there’s an utter frenzy of cross marketing going on here. It will also be released on April 18th and it is good. No, we’re being honest. It surprised us more than anyone. Hell, I put the thing on my MP3 player.
‘Filth’ CD by the Dead Rabids will be available from April 18th.
‘Trash Can’ can be purchased HERE