14 September 2009

Doctor's Children - Rose Cottage (EP)

Doctor's Children - Rose Cottage EP

Label: Upright
Year of Release: 1986

It's a well-known fact to any indie aficionado that 1986 was a year where endless singles in childishly designed sleeves suddenly fell into branches of small independent record stores.  The accepted wisdom was that the contents of each would be either be naive approximations of The Smiths performed on Argos guitars, or deeply fragmented, barking mad experimental discs.

The truth in fact frequently differs, and whilst The Smiths had gained affections amongst a certain kind of British musician, and there were also a few eccentrics out there who suddenly had the means to distribute their wares, there were also plenty of bands heavily tuned in to the alternative rock being dispensed by the Bunnymen, Julian Cope, REM, The Cure et al.  Plenty of them also had bugger all money, so chose to stick their recordings out in decidedly handmade sleeves.  That all of them seem to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to blogs and websites examining this sort of thing has more to do with the fickle finger of fashion than much else (unless their records came out on Creation, in which case all seems to be forgiven).

So then - The Doctor's Children seemingly hailed from South London, and appeared to be taking a strident, melodic Bunny kind of path as opposed to the Smithsian one which supposedly dominated at the time.  This record is filled with punchy guitar noises and droning organs which recall the more melancholic end of sixties pop.  Whilst there's nothing truly outstanding going on across the four tracks here, fans of independent music from that era might do well to lend their ears to this - not only was it produced by John Leckie, three years shy of discovering the Stone Roses, it also has a certain clean, carefree drive that has all but disappeared from alternative rock in the decades since.  Almost all the tracks contain clear, ringing chords and hollered vocals - the high point for me is the chiming Autumnal moodiness of "Blessed is the Man".

The Internet is rather shy about providing much more information about the band, and all I can really glean from the limited scraps available is that Sounds magazine rated them highly and predicted they would conquer all before them (which obviously never happened), that somebody financed an American tour for them (so they did better than a lot of other UK indie acts of the same period who were not granted permits), and that they released an album called "Dream Buffalo".  That's it.  If anybody has anything more, they know what to do.

According to the sleeve, the band's line up consisted of:

Paul Smith - Guitar, vocals
Matthew Woodman - Organ, Piano
Dave Ramsey - Bass
Rowland Howarth - Drums

1. Rose Cottage
2. Me, September 24th 1983
3. Blessed is the Man
4. When I Was Young


matt_woodman said...

the album was called "king buffalo" there was also a single "the girl with green eyes" and the first single by the band was "tommorrow i die".Paul smith went on to front King Buffalo and Helter skelter ,matt woodman sang on the mother earth album "the further adventures of mother earth" also writing for the album, i have no idea what happend to dave or roland and have not been in touch with any of the mebers for almost 20 years

23 Daves said...

Thanks for dropping by and adding clarification and the additional information, Matt.

If anyone else can add to the above, please do let me know.

bunkell said...

King Buffalo had 6 tracks. Baby teardrop; Cold Climate; Rock and Roll Jesus; Girl With Green Eyes; Born to wander; Baby Buddha. All produced by John Leckie except the last, produced by Swami Anand Nagara. The band was Dave Damsay (bass) Matthew Woodman (keyboards) Paul Smith (guitar and vocals) and Fabian Jolivet (drums). It was on Upright Records, who had an address in Collier Street, N1.

keith moon said...

Info by Mr. Bunkell was right... except the production credit bit. NOTE: John Leckie had recently spent time with a spiritual bunch in a remote USA farm, he still dressed in orange socks during some of the sessions. Street smart trapsmith Fabian Jolivet (who at the time kept a knife in his back pocket) couldn't stop taking the piss out of him with 'hippie' references. Thus, the band chose to use his Swami name for the last track "Baby Buddah" > ALL TRACKS RECORDED LIVE & PRODUCED BY JOHN LECKIE at The Greenhouse Studios. Regards, Fabian Jolivet

keith moon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rowland Howarth said...

My bit of the story-I drew the pictures and played the drums right from the start but then left because of 'religious and football differences'. What I remember is Godiscs having to choose between us and the h**semartins and choosing the hou***artins and then them ripping off my van picture from our Tomorrow I'll die single. We supported Misty in Roots, Green on Red, James at Glastonbury, Jonathan Richman, The Room, the Blow Monkeys and Microdisney and of course Zerra One. Andy Kershaw liked us and we did 2 sessions for him. The nearest I got to the States was an american groupie who came over looking for me. I gave her a tour of the south east. Now I play folk clubs by myself, am a worship leader and manage a band of special needs kids called Meteor Hitting Earth. The last time I saw Matt he gave me a thing for bleeding radiators.

delete this said...

Thank you for this music and info. It's precisely the sort of stuff that I liked but could rarely find here in Southern California in 1986. Vocals remind me a bit of A House, which is interesting as Doctor's Children seem to predate them a bit. Glad some of the bandmembers shed some light--thanks!

Anonymous said...

I believe Paul Smith is now a barrister in Manchester.

Anonymous said...


David Ramsay said...

It's good to see Matthew and Rowland are still in the land of the living. Rowland your community work is most commendable. It was a shame Smithy and Martin Elbourne kicked you out in favour of that pig faced back beat excuse for a drummer whos name escapes me at the momment, but I will always remmember his playing had a certain shed building quality all of its own. Then to be replaced by that Fabian Dago chap, mind you he had a brilliant pico snare drum. I've plenty of memories of life on the road then, if anyone is interested.

matt woodman said...

My god dave(fretless) ramsey thought you was still at glastonbury that was the last time i saw you throwing a pint over the drummer (chris by the way)and asking the question "why be in a band then" which freaked us out as we where all on mushrooms apart from the drummer who was a miserable get!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt
You can get me on ramsaydc@hotmail.com if you fancy a chat sometime.

Song of Songs said...

Not sure he will see this message. Could someone tell Matt Woodman that there is a post about his brief stint with Essex band 'The Auctioneers' at
my blog Song of Songs.



Anonymous said...

Hi - I`ve been trying to track down a copy of "Sugar Joe" (which I think is from an Andy Kershaw session the Doctors Children did) forever - anyone know if it exists???

Anonymous said...

Re note above, please email me on pete.murray97@sky.com if you know where I can find it ! thanks

Anonymous said...

There were a couple of sessions for the BBC, ie Andy K, and John P. We produced, most of the tracks never went on to disc. Some great tracks too. Several songs were created moments before going to the BBC studios, and in my mind probably the best we created. If anyone can bring to the surface these sessions, I would be greatly interested. David R.