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Part 7

There were a few last Brighton gigs for The Chefs, and then came the move. I continued as their manager for a few months, up until the end of the year. Every Sunday the band would get a train back to Brighton and reconvene for rehearsals at their regular practice home, their arch in the vault at The Resource Centre.

Fabulous new pop songs appeared: I'll Go Too, Northbound Train, Locked Out and a good few others. During this time, the selection for the tracks that would make up the final Vaultage album were being chosen. Four of the Attrix five all contributed, and our selections, I suppose, reflected each of our quite different musical tastes.

This resulted in the most eclectic mixture of local Brighton bands yet! Rick chose reggae (Idrenes) two-tone pop (The Ammonites) and industrial post-punk rock (The Objeks, The Reward System). Julie chose quality songs (The Hollow Men, April And The Fools, The Bright Girls). Shaun chose dramatic narrative (Life Size Models) futuristic Siouxsie-type delivery (Emma Sharpe) and outright comedy (Dick Damage And The Dilemma). I chose glorious, catchy pop songs (The Red Squares, The Mockingbirds, The Exclusives).

A group consisting of various art students had handed a demo tape to us around this time. They called themselves Birds With Ears, and we were collectively intrigued. Either they were insane and/or terrible, or they were quite amazing: the tape presented two bizarre songs with strong arrangements. Suitably puzzled, Rick and Julie went to see them live, and emerged as fans. Thus the inclusion of one of their odd, blackly-comic songs on the album: a live version of Head In My Bag.

There were two major departures for this final Vaultage album: the tracks were from tapes recorded by the bands at their own expense (we could no longer afford the studio time) and they were all published by the same company, Hook Line and Sinker, set up by Piranhas manager Tony Byford. Subsequently, the groups all trooped in, one at a time, up the stairs to Tony's flat above the Attrix shop to sign the contract. The wonderful community feeling of the previous two compilations had returned: the word went around town that another Attrix various artists LP was due to be issued.

By now, The Piranhas album, glossily re-recorded for their new major label, had been issued, and the follow-up to Tom Hark, an almost unrecognisably bland re-make of I Dont Want My Body, was also released. The album sold moderately well, but the single bombed out completely. To make matters worse, the group had re-written some lyrics in order not to disturb anxious parents and elderly ladiesÖswearing and brand-names were replaced with harmless substitutesÖthis didnt go down too well with their local following.

As September passed into October of 1980, the new Vaultage album was edited together by our technical genius, Terry Newbury. Preparations were made for the sleeve to be designed exactly like its two previous counterparts, when an appalling thing happened. Somebody, almost certainly a fascist, far-Right skinhead group, firebombed The Resource Centre, and suddenly, so much was lost.

It had been the subject of such attacks before, but had shrugged those off and survived. There would be no survival now: the place was gutted. Amongst many other minority groups that used The Resource Centre for so many things, all the Brighton punk bands had, literally overnight, lost their rehearsal-spaces in the fantastically atmospheric catacombs (the Vault) beneath the Centre.

This terrible incident, along with the eventual closure of the Attrix shop (still some way off yet) and the Alhambra shutting down, spelt the end of the thriving local music-scene in Brighton, at least at the intense level of 1977-1981. We were all shocked at the news. The Vaults were gone! It was horribly upsetting.

Meanwhile, life went on, of course. As preparations for Vaultage 80 got underway, the editing of the new Chefs maxi-single, 24 Hours, was finally completed and a release date was set for early 1981. The radio programmes on our local station, as previously mentioned, had been a huge success, and one day Vince Geddes, the man in charge, walked into our little scruffy punk shop and asked us if there was anyone there who could help him with a new series which was due to begin in the new year: a permanent weekly half-hour show featuring only Brighton bands.

He explained that he badly needed someone who was out there with the groups, who had been there from the start, and who was confident enough to speak into a microphone. Rick looked embarassed, Shaun coughed and looked away, Julie quickly nipped out to the loo. I couldn't understand their problem: I LOVED the idea of being on the radio! So I got the job. I was looking forward to it immensely.

December 1980: Vaultage 80 was released and received excellent reviews in the music press; it sold indecently well; and all the bands were very happy indeed with the end product, which was satisfying for us. John Peel played many of the tracks a number of times and it seemed like fate was blowing its nose loudly: the third and final album was surely meant to be a great success. The trilogy was complete.

A quick note for anyone who finds a copy of the album today: You Do (a wonderful pop-song featuring one of the great guitar solos) by April And The Fools (silly punk name!) was the only track ever actually recorded in the Vaults, so there's a piece of history.

Next time: into the new year!

Go to Part 8

What was left of the roof after the fire
Workers start to clear the damage
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