Inner City Unit – Riddle Records – 1980

Space Invaders / Watching The Grass Grow / Polly Ethylene / Solitary Ashtray / O.B.City Muse / Brainstorm 

Cybernetic Love / Cars Eat With Autoface / Fallout / Nuclear Waste / Master Of The Universe / Amyl Nitrate

In April 1979 the first I.C.U. converged at Turners Caddilac Ranch; the guilty parties were:

Nik Turner – Vox & Sax,
Dead Fred – Vox & Keys,
Trev Thoms – Vox & Guitar,
Mo Vicarage – Synth
Dino Ferrrari – Drums

After 4 days Rehearsal the band went to Foel Studios in Wales and recorded 4 Tracks: Watching The Grass Grow, Cars Eat With Auto Face, Alright On The Flight + Solitary Astrid. This line up played 1 gig in Liverpool and also at the 1979 Glastonbury Festival as SPHINX this show was filmed by the BBC and an edited version was shown in 1980.

Mo Vicarage retired from live playing and Nik, Fred, Trev + Dino were joined by Baz Magneto on Bass. After playing Stonehenge and various other festivals Dino returned to Rome and was replaced by Dave Dog. In September the band released its 1st single Solitary Ashtray on its own label and begins to rise on the club-dump circuit. (The first ICU single, was written about German Terrorist Astrid Proll, one time resident of Brougham Road in Hackney. To avoid controvosy this track was later re-named “Solitary Ashtray”, the dub on the “b” side was the favorite dub of renouned Reggae producer Dennis Bovell).

Dave Dog leaves + Fred takes a bad trip, (The first of many… ..he’s cured now though) meanwhile Mick Stupp takes the Drum Chair. Fred returns and the band records demos of Space Invaders and Polyethylene for a Major Label. (Polydor) December 1980 see’s our heros turning down the major label + staying with their own label (Riddle records) to record their 1st Album – PASSOUT at low cost in 3 days. The 3rd and final release on Riddle was the single PARADISE BEACH in March 1980. It was during this time that the “Insolence accross the Nation” half of “Ersatz” was recorded..

After the release of Passout Baz leaves the band & is replaced by Man of Mystery ‘Little Bit’ for a tour supporting Sham 69 – Skinhead violence becomes a part of the bands persona. Little bit leaves and is replaced by Speed Machine who destroys any credibility he may have had by falling on his head off of the Music Machines 9 ft Stage during his first live apperance… NEXT!

May-June 1980 Dead Fred is now on Bass + as a last resort Pstupid Steve (Pond) joins as miming Keyboard player and synthi anarchist. Blithering Idiots tour starts 1 week late in Leeds. (Does anyone know where we can stay tonight?)

In the summer the band plays the Stonehenge festival and supports Horsewind at 2 Lyceum gigs in London. Mick Stupp slips away + Dave Dog returns to support Psychadelic Furs at the Lyceum. Pstupid leaves to join the magnificent Three Laws, the rest of the band reconverge at the Caddilac Ranch.

Dino Ferrari returns to drum stool and band now a four piece Nik, Trev, Fred + Dino start to rehearse and write material for THE MAXIMUM EFFECT. Following the release of the album in the summer of 1981 the band begins a 6 week residency at the Marquee. After various gigs through the summer (including 2 with Hugh Lloyd Langton as Guitarist) ICU played its last gig at Sizewell.

Inner City Unit playing at Meanwhile Gardens, London August 1980

Some stuff on I.C.U. on Alistairs site

  1. Nic
    December 19, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Ahm, classic! I love I.C.U.: saw them many times, and always enjoyed it…
    A reggaefied version of ‘Brainstorm’ 🙂

    I used to have their lyric books but lost them somewhere…

    Have you got the ‘Maximum Effect’ demos tape, penguin? Some great songs that didn’t make it onto the albums…

  2. Nic
    December 19, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Some I.C.U. ‘Pass Out’ facts…
    ‘Nuclear Waste’ was originally written by Nick Turner for Sting of the Police…Sting made a single in 1977 of the track (for Virgin, then Charly, then DB Records) under the name The Radioactors…The band featured Steve Broughton, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage and Turner amongst others…

    ‘Solitary Ashtray’ was a song about Astrid Proll, the german freedom fighter, and became the first single…

    I.C.U. website (run by Dead Fred, I believe)…

  3. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy
    December 19, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Astrid Proll lived for a while at Brougham Road where she worked as a car mechanic -under an assumed name/ whilst on the run from German law. She was caught in 1978. There is a bit more about her here

    I have the single Solitary Ashtray somewhere.

  4. Chris
    December 29, 2007 at 4:31 am

    Love the guy in the bottom left of the photo in what looks like a spaceman outfit!!

    Had no idea Astrid Proll had stayed on Brougham Rd – quite a ‘colourful’ street!! A guy i know was involved with the campaign to stop Proll being extradited back to W. Germany, also apparently involved with the campaign – it may surprise some to know – was Mo Mowlam.

  5. yet another dave
    yet another dave
    December 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Judge Trev sadly passed away on 8/12/10. Nik Turner, Mick Farren, Captain Sensible and many others played at the wake after the funeral on 21/12/10 in Brighton, a date that would have amused him. He was a lovely guy, even during the height of his chemical madness in the mid eighties, and will be greatly missed.

  6. pinkie
    January 6, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Went to Trev’s last gig at The Hydrant..the Captain was there too,and played on “Master of the Universe”.It was a really good night 🙁

    I’d have liked to have seen those three and the others play at the wake but didn’t make it. R.I.P. Trev .

  7. dan i
    dan i
    January 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Very sorry to hear about Trev, an unsung hero of his times from a band that should have been massive.

  8. Brixx
    July 24, 2012 at 4:34 am

    I remember watching The Three Laws at the Holy City Zoo, Birmingham. When Jo Campbell was the singer.
    Also when they supported Depeche Mode at the Cedar club!!

  9. Mark Kennedy
    Mark Kennedy
    September 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks for ripping off my photo of ICU at Meanwhile Gardens. I posted this on the ICU page on FB. Got several others. Dave Brock was watching, looking bemused about the whole thing….

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