1979 saw the Dangerous Brothers all over the place. Some in Leeds and some in Bridgwater. Smedlo, like a yoyo, was hurtling backwards and forwards between both. Studying International History and politics in Leeds (where his songwriting buddy Dave Newton was now living) yet hitching weekly back down to Bridgwater to see his girlfriend Debbie Kane and bump into his old bandmates….was a reunion on the cards??
On January 5th 1979 with no DBs on the scene Smed, Rod, Kim and Eugene were busy being ‘Club Whoopee’, a sub vaudeville comedy act slightly in the mould of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and played the New Year in at the Art Centre with the usual hippy crowd in the guise of the ‘Jive Joint Wierdies’, Burnham singer Joy Mulholland and Pete Harding and Chris Tinsley, basically being Derek and Clive.
Smed remembers “Around about this time some of us were getting into University life and coming home for Christmas , Easter and Summers, when we’d usually do some project. I spent a lot of the time hitch-hiking up and back to Leeds and dropping in on Kim in Brighton, Eugene in Lancaster and Alex in Manchester . Definitely, and character shapingly, while hitching round Manchester I got a lift of a bloke who claimed to be Graham Gouldmans plumber.”
Eugene recalls “Brian would turn up unexpectedly, get shitfaced drunk in the Grizedale bar and would then just wander off and reappear. One time with a car exhaust”
On Friday 16 Feb Brian and Eugene hitched down to Brighton to perform as Club Whoopee at Kims all night horror movie festival which featured King of the Zombies, Return of the Apeman, and Teenage Zombies. Club Whoopee were billed as “live vaudeville to keep you awake” and the event “12 hours of total terror for 80p)
Revenge of the Dangerous Brothers
On 4th March, during one weekend trip back to Bridgwater, Smed and Rod had the idea for reforming the DBs. The idea would be to do a ‘Revenge of the Dangerous Brothers’ gig and pick up from where we left off but bring in Simon Gibbs on guitar and lose the backing vocalists.
This got Brian back into writing again, sometimes running stuff through Dave up in Leeds and coming up with new songs with a comedy political edge like “Ayatollah Wollah”, very topical at the time as you couldn’t enter the Leeds Union building without a bunch of Iranian students chanting something unpleasant about the Shah.
David stayed on in Leeds and got a job at the Complaints department of Wallace Arnold bus company while Pat got a job at the Library. On 8th March they moved into a new home in Leeds 9 Cliff Terrace.
Smeds creative surge returned and on 6 March wrote ‘Drugs’ which suited the now more prominent vocal harmony contributions of Kevin and Simon in the band.
By April the new DBs band was up and running and started rehearsing. The bands new roadie was Detha Saunders (who had a van)
Tues April 17 the band was back with it’s first gig “Revenge of the DBs” at the Art Centre also featuring Joy Mulholland and The Dim Sisters. The event marked the introduction of local character Dave ‘the maniac’ Hayward who pelted the stage with bottles and afterwards nicked a barrel of caustic soda thinking it was beer. And drank it. New Mercury reporter Robin Stacey turned up and raved about the band “The DBs are the sort of group you’d like even if you didn’t like the music” + “I felt as if I wanted you to come and hit me in the face
Also back was SW Issue 8 ‘Revenge of the Dangerous Brothers’ which also featured a review of the Manchester gig .
The Tory Empire Strikes Back
May 3 1979 was the General Election. We weren’t to know but it would shape the next decade and the direction Sheep Worrying was to take as a result. Smed says “I didn’t even vote Labour as they’d been so rubbish. I voted twice, once up in Leeds, where I voted Ecology Party and then Liberal down in Bridgwater. That was the last time I did that.”
Eugene remembers “I voted Labour. I knew Thatcher was going to be bad but she wasn’t bad really till after the Falklands war”
Kim and Alex took matters into their own hands and personally tried to derail local Tory Tom Kings campaign by spending one whole night removing every last poster board
Kim recalls “Alex was giving me a lift home after some event, we saw a lone Tom King poster and Alex had the idea to take it down. Then we decided to take more down. Then we had a car full of Tory posters so we had the idea to put them up on friends lawns. Brians,Eugenes,Tims,Rodneys. But then we got lost in Sutton Mallet. It seemed funny at the time.”
On Wed May 16– The CASUAL TEAS (featuring Brian and Dave) played a gig at Vivas in Leeds. Brian recalls “It was poor. Phil and Pete left the band. However, Leeds band the Alwoodley Jets offered us a support gig as a result. But we didn’t have a band. So we agreed to get the DBs up for it.”
Sat 2 June the DBs played at HADDON HALL in Leeds with the Alwoodley jets- The DBs drove up, did the gig and then had a party at American student Tim Hitchcocks flat Brian recalls “ I was waiting in my flat for 8 hours for the band and by the time they eventually arrived I was pacing the floor and throwing myself against the walls. So there was a lot of tension to get rid of. I think that finally happened when Neal, drunk or stoned, decided to roll with me down a massively high flight of stairs round Tim’s student house. That nearly killed both of us.”
Back in Bridgwater for the summer and a new crisis hit the music scene. The hippy squatters next door to the Art Centre had been evicted and lo and behold Tory Councillor, and Chair of the Magistrates bench, Margaret Rees had moved in to the house. Suddenly she was complaining about the noise. Smed recalls “She’d already complained about the Art Centre being a ‘jive joint for wierdies’ -hence the hippy Band name at the xmas gig, but now she was wielding a bit of Tory influence to control the place and what we did. “
On Tues 10 July the Art Centre board, terrified of getting on the wrong side of their Tory council backers, agreed to a ‘Disco ban at the Art Centre’ . Mrs Rees had mistaken live music for Disco and so the board was trying to appease her with a gesture. However, the DBs weren’t going to take this and Rod and Smed at once launched a petition to get discos back. Smed remembers “In fact, the real reason we needed discos was because we wanted them on with the live bands as people had got used to this.”
Tues 17 July all the local papers carried stories about the disco petititon. The DBs were back at the centre of the local music scene and now decided for the first time to go into a recording studio.
Sun 22 July, from their rehearsal room at the White Hart in Eastover, they recorded 12 songs for £50 with local sound engineer Brian Comer who had his own Triple M -mobile studio. The songs would be the first DBs album ‘Internal Organs’ and released on Cassette on the Sheep Worrying label.
On Sat 28 July the DBs held a Beach Party gig…at the Art Centre . Rods theatrical bent came to the front and the band introduced more comedy sketches and routines into the stage show, on this occasion writing a ‘teen beach movie’ type script. SW Issue 9 ‘special beach party edition’ came out with artwork by Debbie Kane taking over from David. By now Smed had also written his satirical anthem to Maggie Rees ‘I’m a County Councillor’ and issue 9 carried the lyrics. .
But the Art Centre management were now under a lot of pressure and the free and easy 1970’s regime of manager Bob Ormrod was about to come under sustained Tory attack. Bob remembers “Sedgemoor brought in this guy from the Parks department and suddenly I had a boss telling me what to do. I resisted and said he couldn’t tell me what to do. But policy was made by the ‘arts guild’ and this guy was feeble and constantly on my case. That meant that anything Maggie Rees said she’d be backed by the 2 SDC Tory councillors on the Board and he’d back them. This drove out my assistant Roger – He flipped and moved to Bristol, so I was on my own.”
Friday Aug 31st the DBs played at Weston Zoyland Community Centre . It was a party for DJ Splodge. Smed remembers “It wasn’t a good gig. But we decided to send up some of the new local punk bands coming out of the college and opened with a punk song written by Simon – but to emphasise the point we all swapped instruments to ones we couldn’t play .”
Meanwhile the band was falling out a bit over direction .On Sat 8 Sep a group meeting turned into a major argument. Smed recalls “Kevin wasn’t happy with the on stage antics of the band and Rod wanted more of it. The argument got so daft that at one point Rod argued that his prop Teddy Bear was more valuable to the band than Kevin and should get a vote if Kevin had one. I’m sure these things didn’t contribute to group unity. Meanwhile I was there one day and gone the next. Hitching off early mornings to Leeds then back a couple of days later. It was round about now that I got a lift off a bloke with the same accent as the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’, who was very much part of the Leeds scene at this time. We’d been force fed this Geordie tape recording of his voice…only..it wasn’t his voice, it was a hoax. Still, I managed to phone up the Police hotline and shop this innocent bloke all the same”
Sat 10 Nov the DBs played a SCAT college gig in Taunton
On 12 Nov Popular HTV West newsreader Michael st John sent a letter thanking the band for sending him a DBs badge.
Thurs 29 Nov the DBs play Crispin hall in Street and step up the number of on stage sketches. Smed recalls “Rod did some ‘oi wa’ the martial art of self destruction skit, we did a Who parody called Quadrophobia, a Terry Wogan style Blankety Blank game show and a tribute to recently deceased US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd – which involved just throwing a bag of meat onto the stage.Neal did something with a tea trolley, maybe put his synth on it..”
On Fri Nov 30 the band went up to Bristol for a TV audition with HTV West. Performing 3 songs “Cuban Holiday”, “Internal Organs” and “County Councillor” in front of producer Sidney Sager, they bombed. He didn’t get it.
Undeterred, the DBs ploughed on. Wed 19 Dec was Rag Day , which the DBs shared with new college bands Flicks and Metro plus the Splodge Disco Roadshow. The event was at the Town Hall and featured a guest appearance by Alan Brown on euphonium and some carol singers .
Sat 22 Dec the DBs played at the Princess Hall in Burnham.
Thur 27 Dec Maria Woods had a xmas party in Puriton and Club Whoopee played. The event was the last gig of the decade and Kim had written a special list of 1970’s memories which he delivered over a vaudeville skank.
1979 had seen the Dangerous Brothers return from the dead and determined to make a go of it. New songs were being written and now recorded and they were gigging far and wide. Now they were coming face to face with a tangible enemy…maybe a new strategy for the 1980’s was needed. And tomorrow it would be 1980.