#MIXTAPEMONDAY – a history of Barnsley punk, then and now…

Total Confusion at The Civic, Barnsley, 1983

Total Confusion at The Civic, Barnsley, 1983

This week’s mixtape explores the musical history of Barnsley’s punk scene. Much of what is here I have sourced from the people in the bands. It’s not a definitive history by any means, but it is a start and I’d love to expand on it, so feel free to email me stories, music and photos to altbarnsley@yahoo.co.uk Many band’s didn’t record, their recordings are lost or have not been digitised, so many bands you may remember, aren’t always easy to come across online. So, to hear more stories, would be awesome. Barnsley Punk history starts in around 1977, with the formation of the town’s first ever punk band, The Restricted. They have been described a cross between the Sex Pistols and The Ramones, and featured the then future Danse Society drummer, Paul Gilmartin amongst its ranks, as well as Gaz Bower played bass and Gary Reece on vocals. Unfortunately, I don’t think any recordings of the band exists, so we start off the playlist with a band who followed soon after, and who still play today, The Legendary X-Rippers.

THE LEGENDARY X-RIPPERS formed in 1978 and were formerly known as The Maingate Rippers. The band supported The Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects and The Drones in the 70’s, played loads of brilliant gigs but never recorded anything they were happy with quality wise. The Rippers called it a day in 1981 when the New Romatics were taking over the World. Over 20 years later with the Silver Anniversary of Punk dawning, the X Rippers were re-kindled and decided to play together again, for a one off gig. That first gig attrached over 300 punks, young and old and the band were up and running again. Sadly, lead guitarist Munk passed away in 2005, and the band have organised a memorial concert every year since. Today the band consists of Feddie Red, Brainy, Carrots and Mal Spunkster, and former members include Munk, Big Al, La Andy and Pat Crawford.

Pat Crawford features in our next band, but not until they reformed in 2009. All Brother’s in arms from rough council estates in Barnsley. TOTAL CONFUSION were a solid Punk band with focus, belief, drink & attitude. The first line-up consisted of Suty on vocals, Gaz Beverly on bass, Shaun Mills on guitar and an ever changing line-up of drummers, but most prominently Woody. The band later featured Paul Casper on guitar, a musician who has featured in a great number of both Punk, and Post Punk Barnsley bands. The band played countless local gigs, including infamous Barnsley Squat gigs, The Wellington, The Acorn, Athersley Youth Club, The Manx Arms and Barnsley Civic. During this time, the band recorded a ‘demo’ at Street Life Studios, with its damp cold rooms and egg box sound proofing. 1984 saw the Winter of Discontent and the band’s very last performance at a communal miner’s strike welfare concert. Shortly afterward the group disbanded.
2009 saw a one off reunion which lead to a full reformation, give or take a few line-up changes. The band now featured Suti, Casper, Blower on drums, Paddy on bass and former King Palooka guitarist, Pat Crawford. Since then they have recorded a full length album, Politics Murdered Christ, and have gone on to play with some of the most famous punk legends, including U.K. Subs, The Anti-Nowhere League, Goldblade, The Vibrators and Splodgenessabounds. Due to varying commitments, they disbanded in late 2011, with some member forming the dark-wave punk band, System of Hate soon after.

Passion Killers live!

Passion Killers live!

A band synonymous with the South Yorkshire squat scene were PASSION KILLERS. They formed in 1978 in Shafton and Grimethorpe, with a revolving line-up of bassists and guitarists, Mave Mills and Daz ‘Harry’ White recorded a series on demos before being selected by the band Crass to appear on their ‘Bullshit Detector Volume II’ compilation. Breaking through on the underground Anarcho-Punk ‘zine-scene’, the band gained a considerable following after befriending the Leeds band Chumbawumba and becoming their regular support. They played gigs with Chumbawumba all around the UK and even put out a record together, Boff Whalley from Chumbawumba became a regular bass player for the band. Passion Killers were an integral part of Barnsley Anarchist Group, frequently playing benefit gigs in squats and small halls for causes such as animal rights, the anti-war movement, and community groups and those families affects by the 1984 Miner’s Strikes. While they remain inactive, the band never officially split up. However, in 2010, Sean Forbes of Rough Trade Records rereleased the Passion Killers demos on vinyl though his Demo Tapes label. Among its ranks, Passion Killers featured as regular members, Mave Dillion on vocals and guitars, Daz aka Harry on drums, Boff Whalley on bass, Porl Casper on guitar, Al Ellison and Steve Ellison on bass and guitar respectively and Danny Kent on bass.

Kulturkampf live!

Kulturkampf live!

KULTURKAMPF formed in around 1982 by friends from Shafton and Grimethorpe and became part of the same political, anarcho-punk which also included featured Chumbawumba and Passion Killers. The band produced two demos, The Struggle and The Corpse of Bureaucracy, both in 1983. The band’s name, meaning The Struggle for Civilization, was pretty apt for a time which had record unemployment and industrial strikes. Tracks from the band’s two demos were later released by Looney Tunes Records on a vinyl LP entitled Caught in an Evil Web of Violence in 2006. The band featured Mark Wroe on guitar and vocals, Paul Kirkwood on bass and backing vocals, Carl Wroe on drums, Andy Clough on guitar amd Karl Gallear on lead vocals.

MARK JACKSON has always been a big music fan and got his first guitar for his 16th birthday. The first gig he ever did was in 1977 when a he and friend just mucked about at the Strafford Arms in Hoyland. He’s been mucking about ever since. He did a lot of gigs at the back end of the punk scene as a solo artist in the ‘John Cooper Clarke’ mode playing regularly at gigs in South Yorkshire such as the Limit and pubs up West Street, Shefield. In the mid eighties he formed Mark Jackson and the Swinging Lovers with various members of Party Day and Silent Scream and in the late eighties formed Mark Jackson’s Exceedingly Good Cakes. A couple of his songs appeared on compilation albums of Barnsley bands called Torn in Two and Bites and Stabs. He also had a few years on the comedy stand up circuit appearing in ‘That Peter Kay Thing’. After lying dormant for a few years, in May 2011 he stuck an advert in Jack’s Records in Barnsley looking for a guitarist and hooked up with Steve ‘Dollar” Dalton to form Mark Jackson’s Criminal Waste of Talent. They recorded their debut EP What’s the Situation towards the end of 2012 to rave reviews. The duo became a four-piece soon after, with the addition of bothers Andy Hoggard (bass) and Graham Hoggard (drums), the band are now recording their debut album.

Mark Jackson and his Exceedingly Good Cakes

Mark Jackson and his Exceedingly Good Cakes

These days, when you think of Barnsley rockabilly punk, you think of the fantastic Craig Vegas and his band Straight Razor Angels, but in the mid 1980’s it started with a gent called Darren Juvie. THE JUVIES were one of only a couple of Rockabilly/Psychobilly bands in Barnsley. Originally formed in the mid-1980s and named after a book by Harlan Ellison (who also wrote the book Rockabilly). The Juvies became well established on the psychobilly scene after being signed to London’s Rage Records. They play famous venues such as the Marquee Club and also shared the bill with luminaries such as Restless, The Meteors and Frantic Flintstones. As well as appearing on a number of compilations with also released their one and only album to critical acclaim in 1990. Playin’ Hookie, mostly written by Darren Juvie, was described as “the new hope on the rockin’ scene” by Crazy News (France).

The Juvies, live 1988.

The Juvies, live 1988.

The band split in 1992 due to personal and musical differences. Darren later resurfaced as the vocalist and bassist in The Cat Pack, a 20-piece big band in the style of The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Mitch and Gary later resurfaced in the Yorkshire based rock n’ roll band Littletown Bigshots. Gary and Darren also teamed up again with various drummers under the name Revrods. Gary is now playing with The King Neptunes, a four piece straight rock n roll band, and Darren is currently a session musician as well as songwriter, solo artist and collaborator. Darren is currently working on two new albums. Stronger

Another highly politicised band were STRONGER THAN DIRT. Maybe not strictly considered a punk band, but notable for laying the foundations for Barnsley current Socialist Punk Band, The Hurriers and for featuring it’s frontman, Tony Wright. Stronger Than Dirt formed in 1986 and practised upstairs at The Old Pavilion (where now stands Wilkinson’s in the Alhambra Centre). The four-piece consisted of members of The Barn, The Last and The Maclaines and even included a Hull lad. They performed a few gigs around Yorkshire and Manchester. They recorded two tracks, Seems to Me and The Bringer, of which Tony Wright says were ‘both recorded if I remember rightly on a special Sunday afternoon discount rate at Sheffield’s Red Tape Studios. The Bringer was a particular favourite with Barnsley crowds as they always thought I was singing about people from that famous Worsborough suburb of the Brig – Worsborough Bridge!’ Members included, Tony Wright on vocals, Andy Ganley on guitar, Tony Barlow on bass and Leigh Hardman on drums.

Dove @7 live!

Dove @7 live!

Every once in a while, I guarantee I’ll hear someone talk about DOVE AT 7. They’ll quote lyrics and express their wish for them to reform. Folk loved them. Folk hated them. Dove at 7 were a “fundamentally stupid bunch of talentless pseudo musicians, determined to spread their culture of drinking, shouting and swearing to a Yorkshire, if not global audience.” They originally formed in 1991 ‘during an explosion of shitty blues bands who seemed determined to forsake the need to write original material for the desire to emulate the banal repetoires of vernacular rock/blues bands.’ Their first gigs were at Brampton Bowl (their mate Freddie’s house) and The Manx. Their PA was a rigged karaoke machine and they were accompanied on bongos by a well-known local drinking man. They soon moved on from drum machine to drummer, and recorded their first tracks over a weekend. They recorded two albums in total, Just Got Up, Cock? and Fuck It! Always obscene and always out to offend anybody and everybody, their songs had titled such as Who Cut Your Fucking Hair, Ballax, All Coppers Are Bastards and Big Fat Fucking Twat, but their most popular song was the local antham B B B B Barnsley! Sing with me… “B B B Back in Barnsley, In B B B B Barnsley, It’s where I was born And it’s where a go drinking. It’s where I go drinking, On a Saturday Night, And it is shite, And it is shite… Or Is It.” Dove at 7 were Harry (shouting, swearing and bullshit), Howard “Whingeing Bastard” (guitar you can actually hear – often too loudly), Stuart “Where the fuck is he?” (bass guitar and TV repairs), Tony “The Mighty Thor” (barking guitar and reprographics), Simon “Mr Cardiovascular Disorder” (keyboard from Argos £8.99 and folk singing) and “Bonking” Bob (drums, painting and decorating). If you’re depraved enough, you can download the entire Dove At 7 catalogue, read the full biography and look at their ugly mugs over at www.doveatseven.co.uk.

Strawberry Jack, including Richard Kitson (far left)

Strawberry Jack, including Richard Kitson (far left)

Notable for featuring one of Barnsley’s favourite folk and blues musicians, Richard Kitson, in its line-up, punk band STRAWBERRY JACK‘s chaotic live sets earned them a reputation a firm favourite of the late 90s college rock scene. Their sets featured favourites Man, Limousine, Planet of the Apes and the angry Edwards, and they notoriously got them bared from Isaacs. They were well know for totally wrecking their equipment (and pubs) at the end of their sets. The line-up included Andy (vocals), Richard ‘Sponge’ Kitson (guitars/harmonica), Russ (bass) and Nick (drums).

Catch-It Kebabs

Catch-It Kebabs

Once Barnsley’s festival scene got itself firmly established following the first ‘Chunky’ festivals and the then BOMfests, you can guarantee that this band would a regular highlight of the scene. Formed in 2003, CATCH-IT KEBABS are an East meets West tale of fortune and famine spanning across the Pennines. The Kebabs consisted of seven musicians with a love for pretty much every genre of music and it shows! Swerving from off-beat guitar rhythms to a soundscape of breaks, beats and riddims; all enriched with the sunshine Isle feeling, guaranteed. Since their inception back in 2003 the band toured two albums across the UK and into Europe, gaining much praise from journalists for their seamless blending of styles and their ever growing fan base. “Appealing to jazz fans, punk rockers, indie kids, ska purists, dance fans and many more is what made the Kebabs unique” states Jimmy K, “and we continued to push the boundaries of our abilities to create innovative music that our fans can party to, so that fans enjoy the gig just as much off stage as we are having onstage”.
Sadly the Kebabs called it a day in 2012 due to many members having to join the dreaded “real world” of jobs, wives and children etc. But many of the original members started a new project, “The Mighty Vipers” which picks up where the Kebabs left off. It seems that there is life in an old band yet! Catch-it Kebabs were Dave Moulin – Vocals, Jamie ‘Jimmy’ Smith – Vocals and Bass, Tim Rivers – Keyboards/Tenor Sax, Alex Smith – Drums, Shaun Williams – Guitar, Graeme Kershaw – Guitar, Sam Oakley – Trumpet and Dr. Charles Fox – Trombone.

The final line-up of Straight Razor Angels

The final line-up of Straight Razor Angels

Another firm festival favourite was STRAIGHT RAZOR ANGELS, one of a number of rockabilly inspired projects by vocalist and guitarist Craig Vegas. The band also featured various bassists and drums including, Gareth Nutbeen, Pete Rigby and Eddy Cleaver (all bass) and Mark Mills and Ross Keeble (both drums). The Angels’ message was simple and their music pure. Straight Razor Angels were “here to preach the gospel according to rock ’n’ roll. Old fashioned road house music in a 21st century setting.” Straight Razor Angels hail from the glorious landscape and industrial epicentre that is Yorkshire. Drawing inspiration from classic American rock ‘n’ roll, country, blues and rockabilly and fusing it with the influence of gritty and socially aware British punk, the band have produced music that is both musically hypnotic and lyrically raw. Just think what would happen if Johnny Cash and Elmore James jammed with the Clash.

Barmy Surplus at their last gig.

Barmy Surplus at their last gig.

BARMY SURPLUS take us right up to the current Barnsley Punk scene. The Barnsley/Hemsworth based Ska/Punk covers band (with a few originals thrown in too), supported The Beat and The Specials’ Toaster, Neville Staples in their hometown. Fronted by poet, caller and musician Jethro Platts and featuring Al ‘Billy One Shot’ Ellison on guitar. Jethro and Al, went on to form current Cambodia along with Fletch on bass and Ems ‘Dicky Turetz’ on drums.

There have been of course many other Barnsley punk bands over the years, but to my ignorant mind, these are just some of the most prominent and you can hear them all on the first side of our mix tape. The second side features all bands that are currently active. Many of them are ‘punk’ bands, many of them you might say are not, but in my (yes, ignorant) mind, they embody the true spirit of Punk! So expect, traditional punk, ska, hardcore, thrash, alt-rock and indie. Enjoy, and I hope you have discovered some new favourites.

BARNSLEY PUNK: THEN & NOW SIDE A – THEN
1. LEGENDARY X-RIPPERS – TROGLODITE (CLIP)
2. TOTAL CONFUSION – RACE TO WAR
3. KULTURKAMPF – THE DEAD AWAKE
4. PASSION KILLERS – START AGAIN
5. MARK JACKSON’S EXCEDINGLY GOOD CAKES – POCKETFUL OF CHANGE
6. THE JUVIES – ALLIGATOR SHOES
7. STRONGER THAN DIRT – SEEMS TO ME (DEMO)
8. DOVE AT 7 – WHO CUT YOUR FUCKING HAIR
9. STRAWBERRY JACK – MAN
10. CATCH-IT KEBABS – DAMNATION
11. BARMY SURPLUS – BARMY ARMY (LIVE)
12. STRAIGHT RAZOR ANGELS – DEFINITELY HATE ME (LIVE)
13. TOTAL CONFUSION – FOR WHAT?

BARNSLEY PUNK: THEN & NOW SIDE B – NOW
1. THE LEGENDARY X-RIPPERS – DEMIS ROUSSOS LIVES ON OUR STREET (LIVE)
2. MARK JACKSON’S CRIMINAL WASTE OF TALENT – REAL MEN HAVE A SHED
3. MIGHTY VIPERS – CITIES ON FIRE
4. REDMIST DESTRUCTION – FUCKING DESTROY
5. SYSTEM OF HATE – ASHES OF DIVINITY
6. THE HURRIERS – BEAT AND THEN SOME
7. CAMBODIA – BANG TO RIGHTS
8. CAVORTS – SAVE SOME THINGS
9. TAXI FOR BOB – ALL THE TIME
10. OUTSIDER – BROTHER
11. STRAY TARGETS – TIME
12. DANCING CAKE – PET NAMES
13. PAVILION – COTER’S FINEST

Much of the text and information here comes from first hand sources. If it is incorrect, or can be added to, please free free to drop me a message by email altbarnsley@yahoo.co.uk and I’ll be happy to edit/add. If I have got anything wrong here, my apologies. In the meantime, listen to side a and b on the widget before, or by visiting this link > https://www.mixcloud.com/altbarnsley/mixtapemonday-a-barnsley-punk-history-then-and-now/

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2 thoughts on “#MIXTAPEMONDAY – a history of Barnsley punk, then and now…

  1. There’s no mention of the Young Criminals ? , formed from the remains of the X-Rippers around 1981 .
    Members included Munky on lead, Carrots on guitar , Kev Newsome on bass plus others with a couple of vocalists , Spike being the only one I can recall , they played for a few years and lived up to their name by getting caught by the police for siphoning petrol to get back to Barnsley after running out of juice returning from a gig in Sheffield {read that in the Chronicle}.

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