Monday, April 10, 2006
A recent post over at Silence Is A Rhythm Too mentioned the 'Rip It Up And Start Again' compilation which is scheduled for a 15 May release on V2, obviously the compilation has been inspired and endorsed by Simon Reynolds and his book of the same name. Running through the track listing there was one song that grabbed my attention and got the old memory working. It was 'Violence Grows' by the Fatal Microbes that was to be their unique single from 1979 on Small Wonder Records. Now the said label is one that is very close to my heart, it was founded by Pete Stennet in 1979 and taking its name from his Walthamstow record shop of the same name. Small Wonder were responsible for the first vinyl outings of amongst others the Cure (Killing an Arab 7"), Crass (The Feeding of the 5000 12") and the Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi's Dead 12"), they also gave a home to such noteworthy left of centre acts such as Patrik Fitzgerald and Fatal Microbes and of course had their fair share of the days punk bands; Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects and the more pop orientated Carpettes and Leyton Buzzards. As already mentioned Pete Stennet was the owner of what was Walthamstow's finest record shop and it was there that I often found myself on an afternoon passing many an hour in Pete's company chatting and listening to the latest releases before parting with my money in exchange for some new vinyl treasure, Believe me the late 70's was a very exiting period for music. Pete and his wife, Mari, would not have been out of place at a free festival and were all the proof that I need that not all hippies were a waste of space! To give you an idea of what he was like back then and if my memory serves me correctly, his oufits were always punctuated with a wooly hat be it summer or winter, a bit like Badly Drawn Boy.
And so back to the Fatal Microbes, and as was the case with the majority of the Small Wonder singles I owned my own copy, which passed more than its fair share of time on my turntable. They were formed by the then 14 year old singer Honey Bane in 1978. They rapidly recorded the three tracks that became their only single, released in 1979 and honored as single of the week in sounds. Echo laden guitar, a half-hearted reggae bass line helped to make this a lazy repetitive sinister song, not that far removed from early Fall recordings, with Bane's teasing innocent child like vocals. They were of course destined to be one miss wonders as their effort failed to chart and they went there own ways. Guitarist Pete Fender went on to form Rubella Ballet and Sid their second Drummer played with Flux Of Pink Indians. As for Miss Bane she recorded a single with Crass using the name Donna & the Kebabs whilst on the run from a childrens home. Jimmy Pursey, then acting as talent scout for the EMI owned punk orientated Zonophone signed her up for five years though stardom was not to be unless you consider her roles in soft porn films to count! She disappeared from the musical radar until resurfacing in the mid nineties as singer with a London based heavy metal band. Shame really, as 'Violence Grows' is one of many lost treasures to be found from this period, that she never did anything to live up to this early promise.
Anyone interested in looking further into the Small Wonder story can check out the two compilations of their single releases available on Cherry Red.