8 November 2015

Screamer - City or Bust/ I've Got Hairs

Label: Arista
Year of Release: 1975

Glam rock probably produced more one-single wonders than even psychedelia managed, leaving  behind a plethora of mysterious names performing a beery rock and roll racket. Many were studio based bands produced by wannabe Mickie Most and Mike Leander figures desperate for some teenage readies - some, on the other hand, were genuine releases by hopelessly obscure circuit bands.

And here's one. All I've managed to ascertain from Internet rumour is that the band were based in East London and throughout a large chunk of the seventies had a residency at the Three Rabbits pub in Manor Park (don't go looking for it, it closed over a decade ago and is now a Boots Pharmacy - though given that the pub was apparently haunted, it would be interesting to know if anything spectral had also made itself apparent amongst the stacks of Ibuprofen). 

Screamer were essentially a crowd-pleasing covers band who occasionally wrote material of their own on the side, and this was one such attempt. It managed to achieve some light daytime radio airplay before disappearing from view, perhaps indicative of changing commercial tastes at that time. It's a shame, because "City or Bust" is very sprightly and entertaining, filled with bar-room boogie piano, deep bass backing vocals, and a sense of ceaseless frivolity. It's tricksy and incredibly catchy, and gives a strong impression of how some of the dafter, quirkier elements of glam eventually got absorbed into New Wave. 

The peculiarly titled "I've Got Hairs" on the flip is rather more adult rock, and does indeed seem to focus on the rather Alan Partridge-esque topic of adult experience and wisdom being represented via the presence of pubic hairs. This insight is interspersed with jazzy and adventurous guitar work. The mid-seventies were an odd place sometimes. 

The only member of Screamer I've managed to identify is bass player Steve Stroud, who apparently eventually married Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz - but I wouldn't swear even to that. They are also apparently not the same band as the "Screemer" whose "Interplanetary Twist" single I posted on here some time ago (and the two bands certainly don't sound alike).  

As ever, if any of you can fill in the blanks, you'll have a friend in me. Sorry for the pops and clicks on the record.


Terry Williams said...

Screemer and your so called screamer were in fact the same band. There were a couple of member changes, but the name stayed the same and were called screemer before Zaine Griff joined them. Yes Steve Stroud did marry Cherlyl from Bucks Fizz.

Some of my best "young" days were spent at the 3 Rabbits

enfieldkj said...

Wow, I can remember clearly that Screemer played regularly at the Three Rabbits and they were fantastic. So exciting! You had to get there very early to make sure you got in as the pub was full every time they played and people were turned away.

I Can't remember the lead guitarists name but he was very talented. If my memory serves me right, Zaine Griff played Bass Guitar and his idol was David Bowie and he made himself a look a like!

There was a guest singer quite often called Gary. Anyone know his surname?

I know they entered a talent show (might have been New Faces) and I think they won the show and that's when Tony Blackburn started managing them and ruined them by changing their name to SPRINKLER and insisted they spoke the words to the songs clearly and properly almost posh like and that wasn't them!

They also toured the UK with Dennis Waterman and were the warm up band. I went to one show and they were so much better than Dennis Waterman!

Great memories!

Unknown said...

They were already Sprinkler when they were on New Faces as a result of backing DW. (Waterman.... Sprinkler geddit ? ) Blackburn never managed them but he did make Face to Face his record of the week. By then Zaine had left and the band was Gary Deans, Alan Coates, Steve Stroud, Rob Norman and Adrian Shepard