11 June 2012

Passion Blades - Living In A Lighthouse/ Dub Version

Label: Caprice
Year of Release: 1983

When you encounter records which are clearly DIY or vanity pressings of some kind, it doesn't tend to make your heart soar high with expectations.  If they're any good, there's a very strong chance they've been unearthed already by other keen collectors on the block (the soaring prices on ebay for "I Am... I Think" by Grobbert and Duff are a strong example of this phenomenon).  No, what you're most likely to get is a cabaret singer warbling away, or a trite pub band who couldn't even get their little local label interested in their work. Most of the DIY pressings I've bought have ended up straight back where they came from - the charity shop.

"Living in a Lighthouse", then, is a rare and pleasant surprise.  A piece of slick, considerately arranged, reggae-tinged eighties pop, it's very much "of its time" but no less atmospheric for that.  Synthesiser washes lap up against pounding rhythms and fretless bass noises, and its one of those records which trusts the listener to relax into its environment rather than hammering him or her across the head with a powerful chorus.  A brave choice for a band clearly trying to create a first impression with the public and the music press, then, but not at all bad. Comparisons with Level 42 and The Police and even (vocally) XTC are likely to be made, and this does seem to be the work of an act who perhaps hadn't quite forged a strong enough identity for themselves yet, but I've enjoyed this a lot more than most of the scratchy old sixties and seventies obscurities I've picked up in the last month.

Tracing the history of this act is obviously not going to be particularly straightforward, but at least one of their members is still active.  John Cavanagh has a CD out at the moment entitled "Branch Road", the proceeds for which will go to the Make A Wish Foundation and Teach First.  From the very brief description offered on his website, we can see that both he and Terry Munday (credited on the above label) were also involved with The Mugshots, a band who had one single out on United Artists entitled "Shy".  I've never heard it, but it seems to regularly go for large sums on ebay as a "punk/ powerpop" single, and I'll certainly keep my eyes peeled for a copy.

Anyone who has anything to add to this particular story should definitely step forward to fill in the blanks.


Anonymous said...

I remember this lot from the London clubs in the 1980's. They changed their name from Mugshots. They had a single out called 'Shy' in 1981 that did quite well. They had a massive following in London but their records never sold despite being on United Artists.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for this for years on the net. I heard the song once in texas during the 80s and managed to record it on tape from George Gimarcs Rock and roll alternative. Was searching for an original 7' or at least decent mp3 since the cassette I recorded was a bit wobbly.

23 Daves said...

That's the amazing thing about doing this blog - I would probably have placed money on the fact that this song failed to pick up airplay anywhere, never mind in the USA (where I doubt it ever received a full release)!

I'm glad you finally managed to track a sound file of it down, anyway.

Remus23 said...

The lead singer Russell joined the Bay City Rollers. Bit of a come down.

Anonymous said...

I worked for the same firm as Terry Munday back in the early 80s and consequently saw his band play a few times, once at The Rock Garden iirc.
I have this single somewhere in a box.... forgot all about it until I stumbled across this blog.
Terry was a decent geezer and I must admit i'm surprised he never really made it.

Russell Keefe said...

My name is Russell Keefe and I was the singer in Passion Blades.
We were originally called Mugshots and had a single release on UA records "Shy"
A single on Lancaster Records "To Old For Fairy Tales”. was also released.

After Passion Blades split up Terry Munday and I went on to form various bands but with little success. One of the bands had the the Chimes brothers Terry and Bryn. Terry of course of played with The Clash, Johnny Thunders, Generation x and many more.
Whilst still playing with Terry Munday he got a gig with Les Mckeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers.
Terry did a few gigs with Les and then they asked me to join on Keyboards.

We toured the world for several years. Terry Chimes also joined the band for a about 3 years. Terry Munday then left the band but I carried having a mainly fantastic time going all over the world playing music. With the Rollers I also recorded 3 albums. The best being "Ultimate Live" recorded live in Japan. Terry and I also wrote new songs for the Rollers which appeared on various albums. The song "Say" which Leslie and I wrote became a big hit with fans.

I left the rollers in 2010 after 18 years. I now have my own award winning blues band TBelly www.tbellyband.co.uk. www.facebook.com/tbellyblues

We had an EP out in 2013 which got a lot of critical acclaim from all round the world and we will be recording our first album in August 2014.

I hope that helps update the info. If anyone wants some anymore info you can contact me through the TBelly web site. Also if anyone knows how I can contact John Cavanagh I would really appreciate it. Cheers, Russell.