It was a sad month for fans of legendary 1976 punks the Vibrators.
The Vibrators were founded by Ian ‘Knox’ Carnochan, bassist Pat Collier, guitarist John Ellis, and drummer John ‘Eddie’ Edwards. They first came to public notice at the 100 Club when they backed Chris Spedding in 1976. On Spedding’s recommendation, Mickie Most signed them to his label RAK Records. Most produced their first single, “We Vibrate”. The band also backed Spedding on his single, “Pogo Dancing”.
The Vibrators recorded sessions for John Peel at BBC Radio 1 in October 1976, June 1977, and February 1978. They were one of the pioneering punk bands that played at London’s Roxy Club. They headlined in January 1977, supported by The Drones, and in February they played twice at the venue. In March 1977 the band supported Iggy Pop on his British tour. Later that year they backed ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter.
The band signed to Epic Records in early 1977. Their debut album, Pure Mania was co-produced with Robin Mayhew, the sound engineer for David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust live shows, and reached the Top 50 of the UK Albums Chart. The album is well regarded by some music critics and years after its release The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music named Pure Mania one of the 50 best punk albums of all time.
Their follow-up album, V2, narrowly missed the UK Top 30. The only single to be taken from that album, “Automatic Lover”, was the only Vibrators’ single to reach the UK Top 40 where it reached number 35. It earned the band a TV appearance on the prime-time TV show Top of the Pops. The Vibrators’ final single on Epic, “Judy Says (Knock You In The Head)”, was released in June 1978. It reached number 70 in the UK singles chart. Years later it was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
The Damned pretty much recorded the first punk album, but the Vibrators released the first ever punk single. Forget the Ramones and all of that American shit. They never knew what punk was…not really. They called themselves punk because they wore leather jackets, well, punk isn’t about being a conformed person who wears leather jackets like everyone else. Punk was about being an individual that wore what he or she could afford.
Your average punk was pissed off at the establishment because there was no fucking future. Maybe that’s why there was no real punk movement over here because…hey…let’s have a surf, watch the footy and drink some piss.
But it was very different in the Motherland.
Everyone was on strike, riots were going on everywhere…not much changes it seems…just the music.
Anyway, back to the Vibrators.
Singer/guitarist Knox or ‘Knoxy’ played his last ever show with the band at London’s Dome. Knox is currently recording a solo album with various famous faces of the UK music scene and will also be stepping out with his country outfit, Knox and the Trailer Trash Orchestra.
A major documentary on Knox and the UK Subs frontman Charlie Harper also in production.
The last time I saw them together was when the Vibrators played at The Castle in Tooting about five or six years ago (Pat Collier has a recording studio in Tooting and some mates of mine have recorded with him…and he’s a pretty good producer by all accounts). But this night in Tooting, they were fucking great. Because in recent gigs they hadn’t been at their best, but this was really, really up there as far as classic punk gigs go.
At the end, there was Knoxy, Charlie…and even Keith White from The Transistors…another great punk band that all fans of that era would love to have seen again. Who can forget that punk anthem Riot Squad…AND the follow up single Mothers Pride…absolute classics. That’s without mentioning all of the unreleased material, which I’m sure would be as relevant today.
As I sat there listening to the old punks chatting away, I did hear Keith ‘The Bastard’ White and Charlie talk of a possible South American tour together…but it never happened.
When I last spoke with ‘The Bastard’, he did mention that he’s just finished recording some tracks with a band called Shambler…so we shall see if any of that sees the light of day…it would be nice to hear…for all punk fans.
Anyway, good luck to ya Knoxy…we’ve loved every minute of it…what am I talking about…I bet he does a comeback gig with the Vibrators next year…why?
Because that’s what punk bands do !
by Wallace McTavish