Garage rock, Freakbeat, punk rock, rocknroll, psych rock. Some of the tags applied to the very wonderful Graham Day & The Forefathers who headline at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Saturday 5th March. A rare opportunity to see this much acclaimed band playing live outside the London/Southern regions.
The crucial ingredients of The Prisoners, Prime Movers, Solarflares and The Gaolers extracted and squeezed into one stripped down power trio.
Singer/guitarist Graham Day and bassist Allan Crockford were founding members of The Prisoners who were part of an extraordinary, tiny, but highly significant, explosion of energetic music coming out of the unfashionable Medway Towns in the early 80s.
Brought together by a love of punk rock and its 60s garage-rock antecedents, they quickly built a reputation as a ferocious live act. In 1982 they blasted out their own self-released album A Taste Of Pink, inspired by the DIY punk ethos locally personified by The Milkshakes.
With almost no direct peers, their early London gigs saw them awkwardly paired with garage and psychobilly bands, and lumped in with a more loosely defined neo-psychedelic movement. The Prisoners were actually keeping alive values that later became common currency. i.e. recording as a live band sounds pretty good; old guitars and valve amps sound better than modern ones. In the early days the paisley trappings were there of course, but The Prisoners were always about the substance way more than the style.
The band split in 1986 after four albums and the sadly inevitable music-industry-induced agony, but the Day/Crockford partnership didn’t stay dormant for long. After a stint as drummer for the Mighty Caesars with Chatham’s very own Renaissance man Billy Childish, Graham Day was re-joined by his old partner in 1989, along with ex-Daggerman Wolf Howard on drums, and formed the Prime Movers.
In the mid 90’s interest in The Prisoners legacy was growing and following the first CD re-releases of the band’s original albums, they were persuaded to reform for occasional gigs. A one-off single followed, but when an attempt to record more new Prisoners material foundered, Graham was left with a batch of unrecorded new songs and no band to play them. The Solarflares were the answer, re-uniting the trio of Graham, Allan and Wolf in 1999 to record ‘Psychedelic Tantrum’. The Solarflares output is regarded by many as amongst the best material released by any of their various incarnations. The trio/quartet toured extensively in Europe, but eventually called time in 2004. Graham and Wolf continued playing together in The Buff Medways with Billy Childish until 2006.
In more recent years the fans have been kept happy by Graham Day and his Gaolers, and Allan Crockford with The Galileo 7.
In 2013 saw the renewal of the Day/Crockford/Howard trio. After a handful of dates as the Prime Movers, then newly rechristened as Graham Day and the Forefathers they are unashamedly pumping out the best material from all the line-ups, including the Prisoners, with an uncompromising verve and energy, undiminished from their earliest days.
Late 2014 saw the release of the “Good Things”, a superb vinyl Mono reproduction as well as CD & download versions of classic tracks from the extensive back catalogue.
Renowned as a live act in all their incarnations, the Day/Crockford/Howard trio certainly cut the Mustard live and have played live several times with The Fallen Leaves who are like minded in that they have the same influences, as Day states:
“I’ve always liked the same old stuff; The Pretty Things, The Kinks, punk, Hendrix, some soul, ’60s garage, puppet show themes… I call them ‘tunes with attitude’.”
Support comes from kindred spirits King Mojo for what should be a fantastic evening.