Blood And Roses – 96 Tapes – 1983

Side One (Tracklisting on sheet above)

Side Two (Tracklisting on sheet above)

This cassette only release from 96 Tapes, based at 96 Brougham Road in Hackney was amongst my favorite cassettes of the time. I played this cassette over and over and over on a cheap hand held mono tape player, carried it around with me everywhere. It has survived quite well considering….

There are a fair few technical low points on either side, recording levels all different and some tracks dubbed to the master tape in mono. Some of the tracks are live recordings, some tracks are studio demo recordings, but overall the tracks on this cassette, for all the faults in the sound quality (to the ears of technophile) are absolutely and brilliantly glorious, capturing a moment in time when Blood And Roses were one of the most important bands around to a fair few people including, of course, yours truly…

All photographs of Blood and Roses performing at the Sir George Robey and other assembled folk photographed on that night in 1982, courtesy of Fod.

Bob Short relaxing at Bayston Road also courtesy of Fod.

Phil Ritchie photograph from Min’s collection.


Blood And Roses on stage at the Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park 1982.

KYPP Al shirtless down the front of that pokey George Robey stage.

KYPP Brett and Min (a year or so later recorded for Zos Kia).

Scarecrow, Greenhair (with the non greenhair) and KYPP Tony D. 

Blood And Roses Jez and KYPP Al.

This post is dedicated to both Phil Richie whose birthday it is today. Happy birthday to him, and to Bob Short from Blood And Roses who got married a few days ago on the first of May. Hoping the future of married life is successful to both bride and groom.

Indebted to Andy Martin for supplying the following essay on Blood And Roses:

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

  1. luggy
    May 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Congrats Bob & hope you have a great day, Phil.

  2. ozone
    May 6, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Thank you so much. Your blog is amazing.

  3. fod
    May 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hey Bob and beloved, I trust a wonderful beltane wedding celebration was had and all the best to you both in the future. Belated birthday wishes Mr Quick Phil!

  4. Phil R
    Phil R
    May 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Hey Fod really great to hear from you! It was great seeing some of the old skool at the KYPP picnic and your name cropped at a few times. I think the last time i saw you was at that Solar Eclipse festy in Cornwall.
    Are you living down west nowadays?

  5. Stewart
    May 6, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    It’s the wallpaper that does it for me every time… 🙂

  6. fod
    May 8, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Phil, yep i’m down Somerzet wurzel country. are you still in London? Yes, I remember getting very messy at that festival! I bumped into Rob from Portugal and he was gonna give me his address but we lunched out on that one. Any news of Brenna?

    And Penguin, nice photos above listed, though one of them is not me! note lack of earrings on the dude laying back on the grass, can anyone name the mystery man?

  7. Phil R
    Phil R
    May 10, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hi Fod, i’m back in London living in Kings Cross and loving it! Rob is living not far outside Totnes in south Devon. I stay in contact with him via his partner Nancy on Facebook.
    Sorry to say that Brenna passed away due to a brain tumor last summer.
    She was living back in L.A at the time.
    It was great seeing old mates at the KYPP picnic last week. I’ve started to see Min again which is fab and would love to find Lisa & (two tone) Steve.
    BIG Love

  8. fod
    May 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Phil, thats sad to hear about Brenna, I’ve been imagining her being famous out in L.A singing in a band, you know how talented she was. Gutted, I was always hoping one day i’d get out there catch up with her.

    Well say Hi to Min from me, it’s been a millenium! I’m here but dont know how to make this into a link thingy!!! X

  9. min
    May 19, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Hi FOD, Min here, lovely to hear from you again…what you up to?

  10. fod
    May 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Wow! Hi! Er, skiving at work on the computer I guess!! Still ambling through life hoping to create something deep and meaningful but getting sidetracked by everything else that comes along and having to work. I’m happy not to be in London anymore. I like real ale and accoustic music and i have amused myself of late by growing a moustache like a mexican porn star.

    Hope you’re well. can you do myspacing? Cos there’s a link up there. You can tell me what you been doing but I guess like me it’s been so long I dunno where to start. Are you in London or the country? Kids? I got a 8 year old boy called Lorcan. Bye for now Fod xxx

  11. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    May 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Fod, send your contact details to the Mob myspace page. Phone / email etc. I will pass those details on to Min for you.

  12. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    December 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    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”.

  13. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    December 22, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    Sadly Lisa did not recover from the trauma. A sad day indeed. Condolences to Lisa’s family and friends from all at Kill Your Pet Puppy.

  14. Rob
    January 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Very sorry to hear this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *