Haircut One Hundred
'why oh why, lemon fire brigade why?'
Haircut One Hundred are a pop band that was born around the late 70's. The originator and driving force behind the group was Nick Heyward, from Beckenham (Bowie country) on the outskirts of London. There were a few line up changes in the early years when the group was called Moving England. The band then was Nick, vocals and guitar, Les Nemes on the Bass, Tim Jenkins on guitar and Rob Stroud on the drums. The music was a kind of power pop and a bit like XTC. After Tim left the band and Rob went off to join the Sex Gang Children, guitarist Graham Jones from Camden Town based Low Numbers joined. This was to be the beginning of Haircut One Hundred.
Musically, Nick was inspired by the Beatles, Talking Heads, Echo and The Bunnymen, Jazz. Les was heavily influenced by Funk, The Faces, The Jam and Reggae. For Graham it was The Clash, Surf and Hot Rod music, Sex Pistols, Generation X and Dub. These styles moulded themselves into a strange mix of music which was tuneful, had a solid groove, was tight and had a great sense of humour. Nick's lyrics were a colourful pallette of images and catchphrases that would bring the imagination to life. The Haircut sound was developing.
With new drummer Pat Hunt and manager Karl Adams, new demos were made. One with Skids front man and Culture Show presenter Richard Jobson producing. These were good times and the interest in the band was starting to escalate rapidly. Phil Smith (Saxaphones) was recruited during demo sessions and asked to play live with the band at some of their exclusive 'Private Partys'. This again added a wider dimension and distinct flavour to the sound, even more so when Phils' University mate Marc Fox joined rehearsals to add Brazilian percussion to the whole affair. Some early shows at the Queen Elizabeth College in Kensington put on by social secretary Tim Burkinshaw gave the band a very early fan base and chances to practice their craft. Every bit of spare time was dedicated to the band in some way or another and then finally after some bidding between CBS and Arista and 'bangings on the tables' by manager Adams, the group was offered a recording contract with Arista. The boys finally gave up their 'day jobs'.
The first single Favourite Shirts(Boy Meets Girl) was recorded in the Roundhouse Studios with full brass section to bolster Phils sax tracks. This jazz funk track , with Talking Heads style guitars, Latin percussion solo and 'rap' section embodied the sound fusion of the times. A 'loud' cut, white label 12" record was then distributed to the clubs. This proved to get people onto the dancefloor with immediate effect. This showed it could be good for sales. It was and Top of the Pops and a number 4 hit was the result!
Though Patrick Hunt had played on the first and groundbreaking recordings, regrettably he was to be replaced by American soul drummer Blair Cunningham. The formidable outfit was now complete.
Three more top ten singles and a top 5 album Pelican West were to follow with UK, European and USA tours organised to promote them.
The Journey continues.....
'you're my little fab one, you're the only one that smiles'
Pelican West. One of the first digital recordings made in the UK at the Roundhouse Studios once situated in Chalk Farm, London. A forerunner in the recording world and opening the way for new technologies in later years like Pro Tools and home recording software like Logic and Cubase. All these technologies are now used by most professional and home studios alike.
Digital recording allowed for many musical instrument overdubs without the loss of signal and without the added hiss or background noise which could mask some of the subtleties added by musicians.
This was particularly useful when percussion and brass were being recorded. The band could layer tracks almost endlessly while still retaining the clarity. One careful listen to Pelican West and you will realise the the amount of tracks used but notice how clean and bright it is.
The engineer Mark Dearnley put up with the childish antics of the band and still managed to capture the performances of each character. Some of his previous work included AC/DC!!
Producer Bob Sargeant with his ear for tuning and arrangements added his parts to the picture. As well as supervising the backing tracks and overdubs, he contributed with vocal harmonies(with Barbara), played Fender Rhodes organ and Harpsichord.
The L.P sold copies around the world as this Japanese version shows.