Saddened by the reported news of the death of Simon Werner, guitarist of The Pack and The Straps earlier today. Uploaded tonight are the two records by Kirk Brandons pre Theatre Of Hate band; The Pack. Condolances to Simon’s family and friends.
Several other Pack records, demos and live tapes on this site if you care to search for them.
Kirk Brandon – Vocals/Guitar
Simon Werner – Guitar
Jon Werner – Bass
Rab Fae Beith (later, Jim Walker) – Drums
Formed in Clapham in 1978, The Pack emerged from the anarchist squat scene of South London – a seething mass of angst and rage. The group consisted of Kirk Brandon, ex- pat Canadians, the Werner brothers, & Scottish drummer, Rab Fae Beith.They made their live debut at a show for The Camden Film Co-Op and duly proceeded to scare the living shit out of their audience and themselves with their dark take on Punk Rock. Many of the group’s shows ended in mini riots – broken chairs & glass strewn across one trashed venue after another.
The Pack’s debut 45 on SS Records released in August 1979 was one of those visceral, abrasive cacophonies that gave the genre its name in the first place. ‘Heathen’ was simply one of the greatest sides ever produced by a Punk group. Menacing and dangerous – it was absolutely guaranteed to clear the room of anyone over thirty if dropped on the decks in public. The sheer power of Brandon’s seething vocal recalled the original sin of Johnny Rotten crossbred with something far more sinister.
The choice of SS Records as their record label only added to the implied furore (unfortunately, The Stooges and Patti Smith’s flirtations with Nazi chic were very influential amongst the impressionable young Punks of the UK and this sort of behaviour was de rigour for many hard line anarchists – more in an attempt to shock that any deep rooted racism, I might add). The 45’s other side, ‘Brave New Soldiers’, was far more indicative of the direction Brandon would later take with Theatre Of Hate: brooding, threatening and laced with iconography.
The actual reason for the record label name, SS records, is far more predestrian as written out on the KYPP site by Rab Fae Beith. He explains “well I can tell you about the SS thing as I was the Pack drummer. Terry Razor worked at Stiff and he stole or borrowed Stiffs mobile recording truck. He turned up at a rehearsal room in Market Street Islington. We recorded two tracks with Liam Steinberg, the then in house producer of Stiff for Rachel Sweet and Kirsty McColl, he also wrote ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ a few years later. Anyway after the recording Terry and Liam disappeared only to resurface a couple of weeks later with the finished product. The Pack had nothing to with the mixing or choosing the record label. It was all Terry. The first we knew was when we received a debut 45 rpm single. SS does stand for Secret Service, Terry’s office!”
The single became an instant classic on the (by then) Punk Rock underground – cherished by the Old School as a celebration of honest first wave intent and championed by the second wave as a gateway to the future – The Pack were soon a byword for authenticity and a no sell out mentality.
The Pack’s second 45, ‘King Of Kings’/’Number 12’ released also in 1979, saw the group move to the nascent Rough Trade Records – already the doyens of the rapidly expanding independent scene. By this stage Rab Fae Beith had been replaced at the drum stool by Jim Walker (PIL). ‘King Of Kings’ was every bit the equal of ‘Heathen’ – drenched in biblical imagery and featuring a red cross on the cover – this was a second slice of prime disgust – malevolent to the extreme and fucking brilliant with it. ‘No 12’ was another up-tempo assault with acrobatic vocals and in your face bass – groundbreaking.
The Pack were so incendiary they were never going to last long – and sure enough – in early 1980, almost as quick as it started, it was over. Brandon was soon working in a Booths’ Gin factory for his sins – carefully plotting his future. The group’s final gig took place at the 101 Club in Clapham. Ironically, the show was a total sell out by the time The Pack hit the stage – unfortunately, it was already way too late to turn back.