Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Throbbing Gristle - Live At Oundle School 1980

Recorded live at Oundle School in Peterborough, England 16th March, 1980. Aside from two school staff, the audience consisted of school boys between the ages of 8 and 16."

[via Timhtube]

Always wanted to see this.... i seem to recall reading about in the news pages of a music paper at the time, maybe Sounds... or perhaps it was a few years laters when doing research for a Monitor piece in the Bodleian Library circa 1985 that was about postpunk/new pop and that entailed me getting them to pull up great clumps of old inkies from the stacks...  at any rate i'm sure i read about it long before  embarking on the research for Rip It Up... it really stuck in my memory as "what the fuck, how on earth did that ever happen?"... Oundle being a public school, i.e. a private school, with boarders and "day boys" and quite probably all the same stuff as at my school (tuck shops, 'fagging', corporal punishment, ink wells in your desk, the cadet corps, rugger, swimming baths with 'no trunks', horrible food....  the whole Molesworth/If...  drill, basically ... and in 1980 I would still have been at it


  1. Hmmm. I'd long since left by the time this happened, but ~10 years earlier I saw the following in Oundle Great Hall:-
    - Magma
    - Arthur Brown
    - Trespass-era Genesis complete with Gabriel dressed as a flower.
    - Wild Turkey
    - Steamhammer
    ISTR we missed Thin Lizzy as Whisky in the Jar was charting with a bullet and they cancelled. RocSoc were pretty good at blagging in those days.

    Presumably you know Van De Graff Generator was started while the guys were still in the 6th form?

    Of course the rest of the experience was just as shit as you describe it.

    ps. That'll be 12-19 years old, not 8-16.

    1. 10 years old Julian - The Berrystead ;-)
      Perhaps after your time, we also had Greenslade, Camel, Esperanto, Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, Hammill solo and many others. No fagging or corporal punishment by the early '70's but concur with the rest of the list!

  2. no way!

    magma and arthur brown at your public school....

    there would have never happened at Berko School for Boys

    they did once have a very crap (but very loud) rock band formed schoolboys perform at my house (ie. my house at school, not my house where i lived)

    did not know that about Van Der Graaf

    TG being old hippie proggers at heart it sort of makes sense there'd be this freak-rock continuity

  3. Simon your link is dead try this:

    I was googling for any internet reference to confirm that Peter Gabriel’s Genesis played at Oundle School circa 1970/1. I recall being told they did but so far I haven’t turned up anything, even in the most comprehensive online Genesis gig listings. Then I came across this post here.

    Suddenly I remembered who had told me that I missed Genesis in The Great Hall by a couple of years. Julian Bond. Julian – if you read this – you were a big ELP fan as I recall and your dad was something important in vinegar. You were also house prefect in “Old Dryden” during my first term at Oundle in the autumn of 1973. To me, a still spotless pubescent thirteen year old, I just thought it was dead cool having a prefect who was “J. Bond” – licensed to administer punishment cold baths.

    I had left Oundle two years earlier by the time Throbbing Gristle were booked – although I heard about the bewildering chaos from younger friends who were, by then, running RocSoc.

    I arrived at Oundle just in time for Peter Hammill (solo) and later there saw Magma (very weird), Greenslade (from Watford, my old stomping ground), Camel, Esperato and Ducks Deluxe (with OO Nick Garvey, later of The Motors and “Airport” fame).

    In the late 70s, once I was involved with RocSoc, we booked Richard Strange’s The Doctors of Madness, The New Hearts and in 1978 Billy Bragg (in his pre-solo, punk band, Riff Raff). I notice that Billy doesn’t now much talk about his time spent taking the public school dollar. I also take credit for being the adolescent genius who said “no” to Dire Straits. Look, they only had one demo at the time and really, Sultans of Swing? Clearly that was going nowhere. Instead I made the sound decision of booking Ricky and the Last Days of Earth. It may well have been theirs.

    Other Oundle Rock fame is of course embodied in our contemporary, Bruce Dickinson, pilot, fencer and frontman of Iron Maiden. Famously expelled from Oundle for serving the headmaster peas he had cooked in his own urine. And who then, the day after expulsion, even more famously ordered a ton of horse manure to be delivered to the driveway of Cobthorne, the headmaster’s house.

    I note the school no longer hosts such avant-garde bands favouring a “man playing records”. I blame the introduction of girls – clearly the lads can’t take the competition of a testosterone charged rock band.

    I’m rambling now, I’ll get my coat.

  4. great stories! me and my brothers had the record sleeve of the ricky and the last days of earth album - they were about fifty lying in Oxford Street when we went up to London for the day - but never heard the record as it was an empty sleeve. Doctors of Madness as a booking is pretty darn cool

    1. The Doctors of Madness were indeed a blinder … and blinding. We booked them based on their promo boast of the Kw output of their light and sound rigs.

      November 1976 was still pre-punk – at least so far as public school Northamptonshire was concerned. We had no idea what was coming and the bleak nihilism and energy the Docs brought to the show blew me away and perfectly set the scene for the coming youth explosion that was punk. Which I imagine is where they fit in your “Shock and Awe” book, as an under appreciated missing link between glam and punk.

      When they performed at Oundle, with Richard “Kid” Strange’s approval, we siphoned a feed off the mixing deck into the school Revox 4 track. I’ve had a cassette bootleg ever since and somehow the recording eventually made it to Richard who now offers CDs of the show from his website. If you search Spotify for “Oundle” at least one of the live tracks has even made it into the 21st century. “Here we are the 50s kids on collision course with … 70”

      I followed Richard afterwards as The Doctors (with and without Dave Vanian) through The Phenomenal Rise solo album and tour and his original Caberet Futura club nights in Rupert Street. Finally caught up with him at a festival recently and was able to send him some of my photos.

      I was also involved with Oundle releasing Rikki and the Last Days of Earth’s first single sided promo EP – which appears to have become something of a collector’s item:

      Any chance your books will make it to audio format one day? That’s how I do most of my “book” reading these day.

    2. Wow, sounds amazing. wish i could have witnessed

      there is actually an audio book of Shock and Awe, Stephen. It was done by the US publisher - with an English actor, Nick Camm, reading it. They gave me a choice of three thesps and I liked his voice best!

      Apparently it took him 23 hours to record - possibly even longer actually, i think when he referenced 23 hours (on twitter) that's the actual length of the audio book. he must have had to do retakes and breaks to rest his voice. But going by his tweet, apparently he enjoyed it even though it was a long haul.

      I was surprised how much they retail for, audio books.

      Never got into them, myself, but they have a bunch at the local library here so maybe I'll give 'em a try.

      Have yet to hear the Camm rendition. I was wondering whether he would do different voices for the different historical individuals, like Sir Jim Dale does with the Harry Potter books. Would you do Alice Cooper, or make a guess what Tony Defries sounds like, or Gary Glitter's creamy showbiz tones?

      But yes that is the only one of me books that's been audio-d. i would like the others to get that treatment. i gather that some people love that format and, as with you, it's the main way they ingest books.

  5. Simon, I caught somebody explaining their musical life in 5 year increments. Basically, pick one tune that represents where you were when you were 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. And then put it into a YT playlist with one sentence/para explanation. It was a fun game to play and should be spread more widely.

    Here's mine.

    1. yeah i've seen people do that i think, on Facebook, or elsewhere. all these nostalgia-excuse formats are fun / revealing - so long as you practice rigorous honesty.

  6. An amazing list of bands for Oundle Roc Soc. I was there from the mid 80s, those stories of Bruce Dickinson were still doing the rounds and the TG gig but I heard nothing about Magma, Arthur Brown, Steamhammer having played there.

    I'm sure I attended Roc Soc gigs between 85-90 but I can't remember any band names, so i figure they weren't in the same league as the abovementioned classics.

    Rupert P.

  7. I saw the Throbbing Gristle gig. Another regular performer was Billy Bragg. He was in a band called Riff Raff. He was often to be seen around the Market place