Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sent From Coventry: The album that charted city's hidden music scene

Pete Clemons with another Coventry Telegraph article -
Sent From Coventry: The album that charted city's hidden music scene.
The front cover of the Sent From Coventry LP. It featured the likes of The Wild Boys, The End, Machine, Urge, Squad, The Mix, V Babies and Riot Act

Coventry’s music scene will forever be associated with 2-Tone, thanks to the success of the genre during the 1970s and early 80s.

And rightly so – the movement dominated the charts back then and had a huge influence both in the UK and around the world. It continues to do so today.

But there was so much more going on at that time. Coventry played host to an incredibly vibrant independent music scene that, given a fair wind, could quite easily have been as successful.

This explosion in music during that period seemed to have been ignited when both The Sex Pistols and The Clash played a gig together in Coventry toward the end of 1976.

Coventry already had its fair share of talent and top class musicians. However, though the gig that November had been far from a sell-out, it still managed to attract a good few of the luminaires from the local music scene.

Perhaps these people had a some insight as to the importance of what they were about to witness? Even so, I don’t think even they would realise just how far their heads were to be turned.

By the end of the 1970s there were at least a dozen or more top class bands plying their talents around the city and beyond.

Martin Bowes, editor, writer and producer of the Alternative Sounds fanzine.

Coventry had its own independent music shops and fanzines – one of them being Alternative Sounds, the lifeblood for the discerning music fan back then. It ran for 18 issues from 1979 through to 1981 and Martin Bowes was its editor, writer and producer.

Early in 1980, Martin attempted to galvanise the whole Coventry scene outside of 2-Tone, with a compilation album of tracks created by those local bands.

He approached Cherry Red Records and suggested that an album of local bands would be well received. They agreed. He then asked local bands who were interested to submit tapes of their music. Then, along with Richard Jones of Cherry Red Records, they made their final selection.

The bands were then sent to Woodbine Studios in Leamington where they recorded the final versions of the songs for use on the album. The master tapes of those songs, produced by John Rivers, then went off to London where the album was cut.

It took a lot of hard work and effort to create the album, not only because of the large number of people involved – 11 bands in all – but because most had no previous recording experience.

Sent From Coventry was released May 1980 on the Kathedral Records label. Locally it flew off the shelves, apparently selling 8,000 in its first week of release. It also hit the top ten of several alternative music charts.

Sent From Coventry provided a good cross section of the kind of music being produced in the city at that time. It takes in many styles prevalent back then from the raw new wave of punk to the more conventional rock 'n' roll. It also included music that defied any category.

Groups featured on the album included The Wild Boys, The End, Machine, Urge, Squad, The Mix, V Babies and Riot Act.

A 22-track selection of some of the music Martin Bowes has produced, remixed or mastered at The Cage is being released to mark the studio's 22 years.

Martin also produced a special edition of his magazine, Alternative Sounds, included in the first 2,000 copies of the album. This was where you could find comments on each track.

Sent From Coventry did appear once again at the turn of the millennium. A limited amount of LPs were repressed by Data Records. But I am fairly certain that an official CD has never been released.

Apart from the Sent From Coventry project, 1980 also saw Martin begin to create his own music under the guise of a group called Attrition, which still continues to function and perform today.

Martin also founded The Cage studios in Coventry, which was primarily for his own Attrition-related projects.

The Cage studios were founded in 1993 as a vehicle for me to produce my own music,” Martin said.

“Originally used primarily for Attrition works and a few select remix, production and mastering projects, I opened The Cage doors to the world in 2011 and since then have been working with so many inspiring bands and labels, in genres as diverse as dark ambient, post punk, minimal wave, noise, folk, industrial, Goth, drum 'n' bass, neo-classical, punk and doom metal.”

To mark 22 years of  The Cage, a 22-track selection of just some of the music from all over the world that Martin Bowes has produced, remixed or mastered at the studios is being released.

The future of  The Cage looks very bright indeed.

Original article here

For an in depth interview with Martin Bowes, interviewed by Trev Teasdel. Here

Roddy Radiation's original band The Wild Boys from Sent from Coventry.

Terry Hall's original band - Squad from Sent from Coventry - written by Andy Dix.

Riot Act - Sirens from Sent From Coventry - Stu Knapper vocals.

Machine (later Hot Snacks) with Character Change from Sent from Coventry. Original drummer was Silverton Hutchinson - originally with The Specials (replaced later by Jim Pryal). Bass Doc Mustard.

Homicide - Armageddon from Sent from Coventry.

V Babies - Donna Blitzen from Sent from Coventry.

Urge - Nuclear Terrorist from Sent from Coventry. Kevin Harrison.

The Mix - With You - Sent from Coventry.

Just some of the many tracks.

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