To Hell With The Boys...
The Boys, from England, were always one of my favorite '77 punk bands - catchy tunes, clever lyrics, big guitars, they wore nice jackets - basically all the ingredients that make for success. Yet they arent nearly as well known as some of their contemporaries, and i always wondered why. I suspected that maybe they weren't taken seriously, as their songs border on full-on pop sometimes, but that didnt quite make sense if you think of Buzzcocks songs, or even Gen X, who were seen as teen idol (no pun intended) pin-ups by some. Or maybe they were considered too old, since a few of their members had been around for a while in other bands like the Hollywood Brats. But a little light internet research produced some info, in the category of "classic record-label idiocy", the kind that makes me feel sorry for the bands, but that i love to read about in their biographies.
In January of 1977 they signed a deal with the NEMS label. Polydor, a much bigger label, offered to buy it out, but NEMS wouldnt allow it. Their first single was released on the 30th of July. "First Time" reached #77 and was climbing in the charts with considerable airplay from John Peel on the BBC, and was named "Single of the Week" in Sounds magazine. But two weeks later, Elvis Presley died, and RCA, who distributed for NEMS, switched all their efforts into keeping up with the now huge demand for Elvis records. As a result, the Boys new album fell from the charts simply because no one could buy the record, as it wasnt being supplied to the record stores! Their next record, "Alternative Chartbusters", containing their most widely known song, "Brickfield Nights", as well as several other great ones, was released in February of '78, and once again NEMS bungled it with distribution problems, and the record wasnt available during the tour designed to promote it.
In a return to the studio that summer the Boys recorded 15 new tracks, but for reasons unknown, NEMS refused to pay the studio tab, and Rockfield Studios refused to give up the master tapes. After this debacle, the band literally had to go on strike until they were released from their 5 year deal with NEMS.
They then signed with Safari Records and put out "To Hell With The Boys", my personal fave, and still got a warm reception, but it seems that by then the momentum (if you can call it that) had run out, and the subsequent singles/albums failed to make it into the charts.. WATCH THIS CLIP...
A bit sad for such a talented band, but not unheard of in the heyday of rock and roll. More stories along these lines include how Lee Childers, manager of the Heartbreakers, had to break into the defunct Track Records' offices in the middle of the night to get the L.A.M.F. master tapes, and the one about EMI record plant workers refusing to "handle" the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK", because they found it offensive... Classic stuff.
Labels: San Gennaro download it here