All The MadMen Records
HISTORY OF ALL THE MADMEN RECORDS - 1978 - 1986
All The Madmen started off as a fanzine from Yeovil in Somerset, England, in early 1978. The name 'All The Madmen' was taken from one of the tracks off David Bowie's album from 1972, 'The Man Who Sold The World'. The fanzine was run initially by Geoff in collaboration with Mark, from one of the local bands at the time called The Mob. The fanzine also involved various local friends including Max, Wilf, Christine and Debs.
Towards the end of 1979 after returning from a tour of the UK and Holland supporting Here And Now, The Mob recorded their first studio tracks. Geoff decided to start up the label for the release of 'Crying Again' and 'Youth'. Grant Showbiz, who had been behind the mixing desk during the tour, handled the production on these recordings at the Crypt in Stevenage. This would be the start of a relationship between Grant Showbiz and the various bands on the All The Madmen label which would continue for many years.
MOB01 - The 'Crying Again / Youth' 7" was released in 1980 with the financial help of Max, and was the first record on the All The Madmen label. The local record shop in Yeovil called Acorn agreed to distribute it locally. Other sales went through mail order via the fanzine and at local gigs performed by the band. The address for all correspondence for the fanzine and the new label was Larkhill Road, Yeovil, which was where Geoff was living at the time. The sleeve was done by Wilf, a friend of Marks and Geoff, who would work quite closely with the label from then on. All The Mob's releases on the label featured Wilf's artwork. He also worked on product for other record labels including the artwork for The Mob's 'No Doves Fly Here' 7" released on Crass Records in 1981.
REV01 - 1980 continued with another release on the label by a Clevedon mod band, The Review - 'England's Glory / Greatest Show' 7". The Review was a band that was like the other mod revival bands of the day, but a cheaply recorded one, although the band were still very punchy. This record actually has ALL THE MADMEN printed labels on the disc, as opposed to the plain white labels of the previous All The Madmen release. On the sleeve it name checks The Mob, Wilf, Christine and Debs (Goodge) from Bikini Mutants (Debs was to become a founding member of My Bloody Valentine in the mid 1980's). If anyone gets to hear this record, listen carefully to the intro of ..Greatest Show.. on the B-side, sounds very much like the first few bars of ..Londons Calling.. by The Clash! Bear in mind that there is NO MAD01 catalogue numbers...MOB01 for The Mob and REV01 for The Review.
MAD02 - Later in 1980 the label released the explosive 'Witchhunt / Shuffling Souls' 7" which really got The Mob's name pushed out from their local tight knit community, and into the wider circle of punk bands and fanzine writers in the south of England. On the first pressing, the sleeve has the Larkhill Road, Yeovil address on. On the second pressing, the sleeve has the Seend, Wiltshire address...which takes us nicely to Andy Stratton (later of Null And Void) who shared this address in Seend with The Mob, at the time.
MAD03 - The single by Andy Stratton 'I Don't Know / Evil Minds' 7" came out in 1980. The drummer on this single was Graham, who was still a member of The Mob at the time. The single is an excellent punk pop affair, with the sound and feel of the Pete Fender and The Four Formulas 7" called 'Promises' which was released on Poison Girl's label Xntrix around the same time. Very Buzzcocks influenced. Pete Fender went on to record Andy Stratton's band Null And Void later on in 1982. Mark and Curtis of The Mob decided to move to London late on in 1980, Graham opting to stay in Yeovil, the band tried out various drummers to work with them including Adie from Null And Void. Max and Geoff had also decided to stay West Country bound, so Mark was looking after the record label, loosely, at this time. All went a little quiet for the All The Madmen label for a short while, but the Mob released, in cassette form only, a recording done on a tape recorder in Brougham Road, Hackney with the new drummer Josef Porter from The Entire Cosmos and Zounds, entitled 'Ching' which was basic, but good enough to sell at gigs and through mailorder. Then 'No Doves Fly Here' 7" was released on the Crass label in 1981, to huge acclaim.
MAD04 - This was the most adventurous project to date and was released in 1983. The album 'Let The Tribe Increase' by The Mob which originally came out in an reddish orange cover, with a poster, and displayed 'borrowed' artwork from Alternative TV's second album on the front cover! The Mob had been based in London for a couple of years by now, so the address they were using was c/o Freedom Press bookshop in east London. All the members were living in squats and co-op housing in west and north London, so needed an address they could rely on, in case they were evicted from their homes. The album is absolutely essential listening, and had wonderful reviews from the music biz hacks, and more importantly from the followers and fanzine writers of the day. This album got to number 3 in the indie charts and was featured in all the weekly music papers. Josef played drums on this album, which was recorded at Spaceward studios in Cambridge.
MAD05 - The Astronauts second album (first for All The Madmen) was released in 1983. Their first album on Jon Barnett's Bugle label was already an important product at the time. Jon Barnett was a free spirit who was hanging around with the band Here And Now, and squatting in west London. The Astronauts had played on the 'Weird Tales' tours in 1980, which also had bands like Zounds / The Mob / 012 / Androids Of Mu etc performing. The first Astronauts album 'Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs' was very good with astonishing artwork, but when All The Madmen released 'All Done By Mirrors', the resulting album was much tighter musically and is still probably the pinnacle of their long and varied experiences in the studios.
MAD06 - The Mob 'The Mirror Breaks / Stay' 7" was released mid 1983, and is one of the prettier songs, musically, released by the band. After a European tour in late 1983, The Mob split up and Curtis and Josef immediately carried on playing with their new band Blyth Power, which included Neil from Faction on guitar. Josef had already been playing (a soon to be Blyth Power song) 'Hurling Time' live with The Mob towards the last few shows. Mark was disillusioned with London, and felt no need to continue writing and recording songs for The Mob. He went quietly into the countryside with the peace convoy and in the process started to raise a family.
MAD07 - This was the 12" by Flowers In The Dustbin, which was released in 1984 by Alistair, a contributing writer for 'Kill Your Pet Puppy' fanzine, who was now in charge of the label after Mark had left London. FITD were a very colourful band that shared some similarities with The Mob. The structure of some of the songs, well written personal and conscientious lyrics, and some of the time, a complete shambles live, but in a very colourful and positive way. This five track 12" was a good debut for the band.
MAD08 - Later on in 1984 Alistair was involved in releasing the 'Rape / Thank You' 7" by Zos Kia, a band run by John Gosling who was also with Psychic TV at the time. He had first recorded with Psychic TV on the single 'Roman P' earlier in 1984 which was released on the French Sordide Sentimental label. John stayed with Psychic TV for a couple more years, recording and playing on the sporadic live performances. John was living in the same street as Genesis P-Orridge in Beck Road, Hackney at the time. The All The Madmen label was now based in Brougham Road, Hackney, which was just around the corner to Beck Road. Brougham Road was a street with one side colourful co-op housing, colourful trucks and coaches. The other side of the road was a large housing estate. The tenants on the 'colourful' side had agreed with Hackney Council to live in these broken up houses while paying very little rent. Short term housing that was looked after and improved in time by the tenants, but for a better description just a row of 'legal' squats. Min who voices the Genesis P-Orridge / Alex Ferguson produced track 'Rape' was also involved in the 'Kill Your Pet Puppy' collective at this time. The words for 'Rape' half whispered, half screamed and very stark, was a chilling account of what she experienced being abused in Australia, when she was younger. Min went off to join the peace convoy and was not involved in any further recordings with the band. John Gosling continued with Psychic TV and Zos Kia for a while longer, and Zos Kia had some releases on Psychic TV's own label Temple Records. The single for All The Madmen got decent reviews, and remains to this day, a very emotional track to listen to. It has a completely different sound and feel to the rest of the label's output. Alistair at this point turned over the general running of the company to Rob Challice, a Brougham Road tenant, who used to play bass in the band Faction, and who also contributed to the 'Enigma' fanzine. Rob was generously assisted by Sean 'Gummidge' Forbes, and a little later on, Mickey 'Penguin' who was upgraded to the official All The Madmen Records slave, which was previously Sean's postion!
MAD09 - Rob's first release came out in 1985, the 12" by Blyth Power entitled 'Chevy Chase', which was a success for the band and the label. As a three piece outfit the band had previously released 'A Little Touch Of Harry In The Night' a cassette on Rob's own 96 Tapes label. The tracks on this cassette were recorded in the basement of 96 Brougham Road where All The Madmen had their small office. The 12" though was recorded at Street Level studios with Grant Showbiz engineering. The band had expanded to a five piece a few months before the time of this recording; both new members were backing singers, Andy and Sarah. These singers improved the band's sound immensely, Blyth Power would continue in this line up until the end of 1986. The three piece version of the band was decent enough, but the five piece line up really were very popular at the time, and did very well. The band even got onto Radio One's afternoon drive time show with the single 'Ixion', with an interview on the show with Josef (although by the time the interview was aired and the single released in 1987 the band that actually recorded the track did not exist). Blyth Power gigs at this time were always enthusiastic and sweaty. It seemed that the band was always performing somewhere live every night.
MAD10 - This product released in 1985 by the label, was Clair Obscure's album 'Pilgrims Progress'. The band was a French gothic experimental / performance art band. If you could imagine Chrome partying with The Virgin Prunes while UK Decay mixed the drinks, then that would be a fair description! Not a bad live recording and quite different to the other albums on the label, but sold slowly in the UK, quite a lot of copies went out on export though, mainly to the U.S.A!
MAD11 - This was the third Astronauts album (second for All The Madmen) entitled 'Soon' which came out in 1986. This album was popular. One side there were new tracks (not quite as strong as the previous album's, but still reasonable) and the second side were tracks taken from the early 7" single's previously released on Jon Barnett's Bugle label (The 'Astronauts' and 'Pranksters In Revolt') - These tracks were well out of print by 1986 so there was a fair amount of interest generated on this release, just on the reputation of these tracks on the B-side.
MAD12 - 1986 continued and All The Madmen were back on track with Blyth Power's 'Junction Signal / Bind Their Kings' 7" & 12", another Grant Showbiz production. Both formats sold very well and the band continued to tour all over the place in the UK and Europe. A thousand numbered limited edition 7" were produced along with the four track 12".
MAD13 - Later on in 1986 the 12" reissue of The Mob's first single 'Crying Again' was released. The original and long deleted 7" was still being requested in a lot of the letters being sent to the All The Madmen office, and also by interested gig goers at Blyth Power performances around the country. Because of the success of Blyth Power, and the fact that the Mob's available back catalogue, 'Witchhunt' 7" (in a non foldout cardboard sleeve on these later repress copies), 'Let The Tribe Increase' album (in a blue cover now) and 'Mirror Breaks' 7" were all still shifting units even up to 1986, it was suggested by Rob that this was the right time to re-release these old track's and add some decent live recordings for good measure. The plan was discussed, master tapes found, and Wilf contacted. Wilf completed his last piece of artwork for a Mob release. This release sold out quickly as expected.
MAD14 - The last release of 1986 was a band with the strange name of Thatcher On Acid and the product was the 'Moondance' 12". A decent band hailing from Somerset who were squatting in South London, had a three piece line up, the guitarist with dreadlocks was the singer, more than a couple of Mob comparisons. The band stood up to the Mob 'rip off' tag, and became a very good outfit, which continued until the early 1990's. The 12" that was released was considered a bit flat and dated by the band at the time, but that is probably because the recordings were already about two years old by the time of the released 12". Most of the public thought it was a good release at the time and it sold well. The release also had some great artwork by Wilf and Graeme Coles. The band played all over the place, a lot of shared gigs with Blyth Power and The Astronauts. In April 1987 the band even supported Conflict at Brixton Academy in front of 5000 screaming punkers who went on the rampage in the streets after the main performance by Conflict had finished. All The Madmen had a stall in the venue on that night, got to sell quite a lot of records and shirts. Thatcher On Acid went back to playing to 200 people in pubs and squatted venues after this gig!
The label left Brougham Road late on in 1986 and went to 97 Caledonian Road in Kings Cross, N1. Known as crucial corner, it was graffitied as such; All The Madmen's office was above Better Badges and below Fuck Off records. Over the road was Rough Trade Distribution, which was quite handy, as their distribution network had been carrying and distributing All The Madmen stock since The Mob's 'Let The Tribe Increase' album. Around the same time as the label moved to a new area, Josef from Blyth Power had told Neil and Curtis that their services would not be needed, come the New Year. Andy one of the vocalist's was also leaving on his own accord. Therefore a new line up was found to tread the boards night after night from 1987 onwards. The new line up had Protag from The Instant Automations, and one of the organisers (with Grant Showbiz) of the bi-annual Meanwhile Gardens gigs in Westbourne Park, on bass (and more importantly, van!), old Mob and All The Madmen ally, Steve Corr from Yeovil on guitar, and Sian from The Lost Cherees as duel vocalist with Sarah, who remained from the original five piece line up. An album recorded with the original five piece line up was released after the split, got good reviews and sold well. The final original five piece Blyth Power gig was held at the Sir George Robey in Finsbury Park, London in December 1986 to a very large and emotionally friendly audience.
Brougham Road was eventually evicted from 1987 onwards to make way for 'decent' families as part of Hackney Council's regeneration program. Some tenants just got in their trucks and moved away with the peace convoy, or ended up in Spain. Some others continued squatting in other areas, or found new co-op housing schemes to add there names to.
All The Madmen went on for about a year and a half until the spring of 1988, releasing the following titles: Blyth Power 'Wicked Keepers' album and 'Ixion' 7" and 12" / We are Going To Eat You 'I Wish I Knew' 12" / The Astronauts 'Seedy Side Of' album / Dan 'An Attitude Hits' album / Thatcher On Acid 'Curdled' album / Hysteria Ward 'From Breakfast To Madness' cassette. Also released were a Mob and a Blyth Power pack with printed record envelopes, which held within; one 12" record and two 7" records for the Mob package. Then one 12" record, one 7" record, a t-shirt and badge in the Blyth Power package. These packages were mainly sold to customers abroad, who did not already have the available Mob and Blyth Power catalogue. Blyth Power with the new line up had several albums and 12" records released on the Midnight Music label from late 1987 to 1991. I have only put in information from 1980 until the end of the Brougham Road stay in late 1986...All The Madmen at Caledonian Road would take a lot more time, and I have run out of space on the pics section just going up to the last release on All The Madmen at the Brougham Road address.
If anyone out there wants to cover the latter stages of the All The Madmen label, then get in touch, I will scan a load of stuff and forward it to you. Thanks for reading
Mickey 'Penguin' x
INTERVIEW WITH ALISTAIR LIVINGSTON REGARDING HIS DAYS WITH ALL THE MADMEN RECORDS CONDUCTED BY THE SADLY MISSED LANCE FROM CRINGER
What do you think was so important about The Mob?
The Mob were important for us because they were like a musical version of KYPP. In terms of wider importance it is difficult to say. The Mob were part of the scene and offered a creative alternative to the restrictions imposed by the identification of Crass with 'anarcho-punk'.
Were there other bands as close to the collective as The Mob?
Probably not, but variously Blood And Roses, Hagar The Womb, Brigandage, The Turdburglars, The Barracudas, Zos Kia, Flowers In The Dustbin, Charge, The Associates, Rubella Ballet... it was a shifting mix of relationships between members of the collective and individual members of bands rather than between 'the collective' and 'the groups'.
At the time, did you relate to much of the other anarcho bands?
Thinking about it, and with reference to 10. above, the question misunderstands the situation at the time (1979/ 85). What there was a punk version of the UK/ London late sixties / early seventies counterculture where there were several thousand self-confessed punks, with a concentration in London. Within the counterculture there was no clear boundary between 'audience' and 'performers', between fanzine writers and fanzine readers. I remember this most clearly from gigs when one group stopped playing they would get off the stage and return to the audience whilst the next group to play would step out of the audience and onto the stage (sometimes there wasn't even a stage). The Kill Your Pet Puppy 'collective' were indistinguishable from the 'punk collective'.
How would you describe the Centro Iberico to someone today?
The Centro Iberico was a place where the Do It Yourself ethic of punk prevailed, where anarchist theory was everyday practice. Where there was no boundary between audience and performers. This was challenging - there was no-one in charge so for something to happen (e.g. to build a stage and wire it up) those with enthusiasm to make it happen, had to enthuse enough others to get the job done. There was no 'product of alienated labour', no 'spectacle' to be 'passively consumed'. The biggest challenge was how change attitudes - how to persuade alienated youth not to trash place and get them to realise they 'owned' it. It was a problem punks with a squatting background had faced many times before... The Centro Iberico was about what happens after the revolution. How do we find ways to move from destruction of the old world to the creation of a new one? I remember the experience as exhilarating and liberating - the closest equivalent being the atmosphere on Claremont Road in 1993/4 during the M11 Road Protest Campaign. See http://www.geocities.com/londondestruction/claremont.html for a bit of historic background
How did you get involved with All The Madmen?
My involvement began in the kitchen of Puppy Mansions, Westbere Road, West Hampstead, London in early 1983. Mark Wilson of the Mob was there and he mentioned the idea of the Mob making an album. At the time I was being trained as a 'Project Engineer' by the London Rubber Company (makers of Durex condoms) so I applied a bit of the theory I was learning to the problem - break down a project into small do-able units and cost/ time them. So Mark began scribbling down the costs etc. of making an album on a scrap of paper - cost of studio time, cost of mastering disc, cost of art work, printing costs, pressing costs - which he knew from The Mob producing their own records like Witch Hunt.
Mark then managed to get Rough Trade (who distributed The Mob's singles and knew that their 'No Doves Fly Here' single on Crass' label had been a best seller) interested. Rough Trade told Mark that if he could finance the recording costs, they would cover the other costs in return for a distribution deal.
Mark then got myself and others (Mick Lugworm for example) to contribute to the recording costs and The Mob went into the studio and made the record - Let the Tribe Increase. With the help of Tony D, Mick Mercer and other fanzine writers who were now writing for music papers (NME, Sounds, Melody Maker) and magazines like Zig Zag and Punk Lives, the album got rave reviews and sold well beyond expectations. This meant that by the end of 1983, The Mob had several thousands pounds held in credit by Rough Trade. Mark had the idea of using this money to put out records by other groups on their All The Madmen label and asked me to help manage the project. This I did, though it meant going from being paid ��90 a week at London rubber to getting ��15 a week �Ķ
Unfortunately, after releasing The Mirror Breaks as a single, The Mob then split up. None of the other groups (The Astronauts, Flowers In The Dustbin and Zos Kia) on the label were able to sell more than the 1000 copies of their records to break even�Ķ so the money slowly began to run out. See following questions for next part of this story.
Who were Clair Obscur and how did they wind up on the label?
What was the story with their live LP?
I can't answer these questions, I had parted company with All The Madmen by the time they were on the label.
Who were Zos Kia and how did you know them?
Zos Kia were a Psychic TV spin off group and in their early days crossed over with Coil. Psychic TV (1981) in turn came out of Throbbing Gristle who were contemporary (1976) with punk. Genesis P Orridge of TG / PTV lived in Beck Road in Hackney and there was a strange cross-over between Brougham Road (a squatted street where Mark of the Mob and many others including briefly former Bader-Meinhof gang member Astrid Proll lived and with a link to the original hippy-traveller Ukrainian Mountain Troupe group) and TG / PTV�Ķ
Min was the direct link, she was 'sort of' a KYPP collective member, I first met her at a Mob gig at Parliament Hill Fields / Hampstead Heath in summer 1981- which was also our first encounter with The Mob themselves. Another link was through Mouse, who was briefly a member of PTV and a friend of Coil.
Anyhow, through the various overlaps and connections, Zos Kia put out their single Rape on All The Madmen.
What was the Rape 7" about? I remember it being extremely shocking at the time.
The words of Rape were a graphic description by Min of when she was raped in the Australian outback whilst on a family holiday there. I am not sure how old she was at the time, about 14 I think. It was a traumatic experience. I cannot forget her describing it to me a couple of years before the record came out. She later told me she only listened to the record once. It was a personal exorcism. It is still intense and powerful, far more so than the 'distanced' explorations of extreme realities of other PTV or TG songs. After touring with Zos Kia, Min became a traveller and was at the Beanfield (Stonehenge Peace Convoy) police riot in 1985.
What were your main duties running the label?
I was the only employee / manager so had to do everything.. I did the marketing and promotion, kept the accounts and paid VAT, hung out at recording sessions, replied to fan letters, organised printing and pressing, liaised with Rough Trade / the Cartel ( co-operative distribution network). Boring stuff.
Did you enjoy running the label?
Yes I did. Way back in 1972, long before punk, I became a fan of Hawkwind (after hearing their single Silver Machine and In Search Of Space album). Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies were part of the late sixties/ early seventies UK counterculture and I wanted to be part of that�Ķ but by 76/7 punk was the scene and I wanted to be part of that as well. Running All The Madmen in 1984 and being part of the Puppy Collective seemed to me to be the fulfilment of my teenage dreams�Ķ The Mob were like Hawkwind / Pink Fairies (or the Sex Pistols and Clash) and KYPP was like International Times and OZ or Sniffing Glue.
But then the reality was also a necessary disenchantment / disillusionment. Like the Gertrude Stein said about Los Angeles - 'when you get there, there is no there there'. In theory I was 'there' at the heart of anarcho-punk, of the early eighties 'post' punk counterculture �Ķ but it seemed strangely empty .
How did Rob Challice wind up running ATM? Why did you quit?
I did not quit, I was asked to leave by Joseph (with the support of Curtis) of The Mob who got annoyed when he asked Rough Trade for some Mob money and was told that I was the only person who had access to the funds. Which is fair enough, since no formal agreement about how money earned by The Mob via the deal with Rough Trade should be paid out had been worked out. They left a letter on my desk saying Rob Challice was now in charge of ATM. I took this as a dismissal / redundancy letter. The only thing which annoyed me about this was that it meant that the Anarcha And Poppy record never got released. I thought this was a brilliant piece of music which should have been released�Ķ which it now has been.
Between the KYPP, ATM, Centro Iberico, etc. what do you think was your main interest and your best memories of the times?
My main interest was Kill Your Pet Puppy. I thought it was brilliant then and I still do. I put it up there with sixties counterculture magazines like International Times and OZ. Sod Crass and their idiot ilk, KYPP was the real thing, they were just background noise. KYPP was PUNK. ATM and the Centro Iberico were interesting asides to KYPP and to the evolution of punk and I am proud that I was part of them. But when it comes to punk as revolutionary, as visionary, as creativity, as 'be realistic: demand the impossible' - it was KYPP which demanded the impossible and delivered it as reality.
How do you reflect back on those days?
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
As Wordsworth described the French Revolution. Our Revolution was inspired by the French revolution of May 1968, by the Situationists, by the Surrealists, by the Doors, by the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, by Patti Smith, by David Bowie and Marc Bolan, by the Pink Fairies, by the Sex Pistols, by�Ķ The Mob, Blood And Roses, Charge, by Adam And The Ants, by punk�Ķ but not Crass�Ķ
How do you reflect back on that music scene?
Ooops, think I have answered this above. Zounds, Rubella Ballet, �Ķ Hagar The Womb, Look Mummy Clowns. But we also listened to the Human League and Soft Cell (well I did!) to Killing Joke and the Pop Group, to Siouxsie And The Banshees and the Psychedelic Furs, to Syd Barrett and the Misunderstood, Bow Wow Wow and the Slits, to Joy Division and New Order �Ķ. We were not bound to the constraints of 'anarcho-punk'. We were anarchists, we were punks but the very act of such self-description destroyed the narrow boundaries of 'anarcho-punk' and librated us to create a 'music scene' beyond the puritanical constraints of 'anarcho-punk' as defined by Crass and their clones.