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  • Writer's pictureTony Harris

THE #1 BAND IN HULL



Famously, the Housemartins referred to themselves as the fourth best band in Hull and referenced this on their 1986 album "London 0 Hull 4". But who were the other three?


Clearly, Everything But The Girl were going to make the list, having been formed by two existing Cherry Red artists, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn when they met at the university there. They were joined by the Gargoyles - perhaps in reference to the fact that they had stolen their original bassist and then drummer Hugh Whittaker from them.


The scene was so vibrant in Hull that The Tube even produced a special about the scene in the city and prominent within this was the video they filmed for the number one band in Hull -The Red Guitars. The single was, of course, the epic "Good Technology", an epic anti-corporate rant complete with scissoring guitar fretwork and crashing, bashing drum rhythms.


You cannot help but think that this was played more than once in the Reid brothers bedroom while they were working on the later genius that was the Jesus And Mary Chain's "Psychocandy".


"Good Technology" actually sold over 60,000 copies, having been issued in 1983 and again in 1984 on the band's Slow Dive Records but never broke into the mainstream chart. John Peel played it to death, The Tube championed it and Johnny Marr invited the band to support The Smiths when they went out to tour their first album.


Perhaps it was the fact that their credentials were so impeccable that leaves this single preserved and unsullied by any "Now '84" compilation. They may take aim at everything from instant coffee to inter-continental ballistic missiles via factory farming and environmental destruction but it has an anger that seems still relevant.


When the lyric spits out "this MTV show, I just have to see", you know very well that, when that moment actually occurs (MTV had not as yet launched in Europe), there would be a steel toe capped DM kicked straight through the screen. The Red Guitars did most certainly NOT want their MTV.


The band released an album "Slow to Fade" which was also really powerful with another couple of great singles "Steeltown" and "Marimba Jive" - straight from the mid-80s political playbook but equally not diminished by time. After that, vocalist, Jerry Kidd left , Virgin signed them (to no greater success) and the magic had gone but a classic "Should've Been".


In 1984, "Good Technology" sounded like a darker future than the rest of the decade was trying to paint and seems no less important now.




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jonathanmorley
jonathanmorley
Oct 09, 2022

The Tube’s Hull Bands Special was originally broadcast on the 2nd of December 1983:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4u5kmIUqMc&t=32s


The author is correct to highlight The Red Guitars’ Good Technology as an outstanding anthem foreshadowing a world of post-apocalyptic consumerist doom. Yet he neglects to remind us of the follow-up, the equally powerful F.A.C.T.:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOyLoxstbCo Harris’ most glaring omission however is an absence of recognition of the solo careers of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, collectively Everything But The Girl, but accomplished solo artists in their own right. Thorn’s Plain Sailing is acknowledged as a classic of its genre, but is eclipsed by Watt’s North Marine Drive, without doubt the most accomplished recording in world phonographic history.


Released in February 1983, the 20-year-old Watt’s magnum…


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jonathanmorley
jonathanmorley
Oct 09, 2022


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jonathanmorley
jonathanmorley
Oct 09, 2022

I am so incensed by this article that I have had to rearrange my whole Sunday to calm down and formulate a response. Watch this space o Bard of Byker.

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mike.wade1
mike.wade1
Oct 09, 2022

Brilliant - new to me. Going on the show (with a credit for you, obvs)

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