The Higsons – Romans In Britain + Waap Records – 1981

I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys

Insect Love

The Lost And The Lonely

It Goes Waap

On a day of great sadness for the site (T.H.F.C. lost at White Hart Lane,  and all the rest of the rubbish going on) I have gathered my two Higsons 7″ singles to prove that there can still be fun in music whatever the genre. The genre here: Norwich punk funk at it’s best…Absolute class stuff by an underated band. I bought the ‘Lost And Lonely’ single at the old Virgin record store halfway along and underneath Oxford Street when it had loads of punk and alternative singles in the window. Clint Ruin (Feotus Under Glass etc) served me that day as he worked there on a Saturday.

Terry Edwards all round decent egg, has also worked with Nice Cave, Tom Waits, Madness, Tindersticks, Gallon Drunk and a host of others. He does a nice line of jazz tinged material under his own name if you care to search the web. Well worth supporting his work, as he was the guy to help Penguin get loads of folk in cheap / free at the Subway Sect gig the night of John’s homecoming sometime ago.

Formed in 1980 at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Norfolk, England, by Charlie “Switch” Higson (vocals), Terry Edwards (guitar/saxophone/trumpet), Stuart McGeachin (guitar), Simon Charterton (drums), Colin Williams (bass) and David Cummings (guitar), who left the line-up early on, the band originally appeared under a plethora of guises such as the Higson 5, the Higson Brothers and the Higson Experience. They had settled for the Higsons by the time their first single, “I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys’ (1981), on the independent label Romans In Britain, was released. The song typified the Higsons” brand of quirky, tongue-in-cheek funk/pop and was treated to extensive airplay by the influential BBC radio disc jockey John Peel, achieving a number 2 position in the UK independent chart. A new label, Waap, brought with it a second single, “The Lost And The Lonely” (1981), followed by “Conspiracy” (1982). A contract with Chrysalis Records ensued for two singles, “Tear The Whole Thing Down” (1982) and “Run Me Down” (1983). They returned to Waap for “Push Out The Boat” in 1983 and yet another change of label (Uptight) for a cover version of Andy Williams’ “Music To Watch Girls By”. The single failed to provide that elusive hit and was followed by the album The Curse Of The Higsons, combining several single sides with new material. Another move, to EMI Records’ R4 label, yielded “Take It” in 1985, but although Cummings had rejoined for the single, the Higsons played their final gig in March 1986.

A posthumous release by Waap, Attack Of The Cannibal Zombie Businessmen, married both sides of the first three 45s with six unreleased cuts, including a cover version of the Buddy Miles track “Them Changes”. By that time, Charlie Higson had turned his hand to writing comedy, notably with comedians Harry Enfield and Vic Reeves; he later became the co-writer and star of BBC Television’s The Fast Show, and published a number of serious novels. Charterton formed the short-lived Eat My Bed, and then Brazilian Nightmare with ex-Serious Drinking pair Pete Saunders (ex-Dexys Midnight Runners) and Jem Moore. Terry Edwards later performed with, and produced, Yeah Jazz, released a single as New York, New York (“Roger Wilson Said”), teamed up with Madness’ Mark “Bedders” Bedford as the Butterfield 8, and established a career as one of the UK’s leading session players, in addition to recording with his own band, the Scapegoats. David Cummings, meanwhile, joined Lloyd Cole’s Commotions in 1986 and later joined Del Amitri.

  1. betab
    September 16, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Good Higsons collection of peel stuff and others on Hux records. Odd co-incidence that as this was put up I was happily listening to Robyn Hitchcock’s ‘Listening to the Higsons’… (Gotta let this hen out – re-release on Yep Roc)

  2. Bloater999
    September 16, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Used to love the Higsons – never met the band but my one (pathetic) claim for fame was that they were due to sleep at my house when they played Huddersfield – sadly they obviously found somewhere better…

  3. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    September 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    That’s a pretty cool story Bloater, cherish those memories 😉 …enjoy the 7″s!

  4. StuartB
    September 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Was up in London (from Plymouth) to see Wah! Heat back in December 1980 at the 100 Club. I remember the Frantic Elevators supported, but the first band on weren’t listed on the night and they were really good. Years later I was told that it might have been the Higsons, but can anyone confirm this please?
    After 28 years I can’t remember the tunes they played on the night!!
    Superb night, though probably remembered by some purely for Pete Wylie having to break up a fight, which if I remember rightly was started by a punk with the Theatre of Hate masks on his jacket. Funny how theses things stick in your mind!

  5. EdA
    August 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Great stuff. I also have the 7″ singles and a bunch of 12″ singles. Which was made harder by the fact that I live in the USofA. Saw the Higsons at Danceteria in ’83.


  6. Mr Terry Edwards
    Mr Terry Edwards
    July 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Yes, The Higsons first London show was at the 100 Club, opening for Wah Heat & The Frantic Elevators. Wylie’s seasonal parting shot was “Happy Christmas – Wah is over!!”.

    And EdA – was that the Danceteria show in June when the air-con had failed?! Jeez it was hot…

  7. Chr15w4san0n
    January 26, 2011 at 4:55 am

    They came to our little squat in Norwich to score, not @rglyle street. Or one of them did. I mean they were Norwich locals to us anyway and would gig prolifically around the city. They were going to be the Great Hope that would break the Norwich scene Nationwide, but that didn’t seem to happen, we also had The Farmers Boys and Serious Drinking too. The Norwich scene never broke, never will now.

    Nice post though, thank you. xxx

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