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In the beginning there was the Prisoners! Now I don't know what you know about this Medway foursome but they came out of the same post-punk scene that gave us Billy Childish. Alongside Childish's band the Milkshakes they represented a no-nonsense garage band oasis amongst the overblown (and barren) desert of 80s rock.
"There were only two bands I listened to in the 80s - the Prisoners and New Order" Tim Burgess - The Charlatans
The Prisoners released four albums of 60s-influenced garage punk that built on their Who and Small Faces influences to create a unique sound. Live they were one of the best bands ever and in Graham Day they had a songwriter who could write as well as any of his heroes. It's not just Tim Burgess who was there but the whole so-called Madchester scene was in some ways built on the Prisoners blueprint, whilst Steve Lamacq spent a whole chapter on them in his biography "Going Deaf For A Living", whilst they were lauded in the NME as one of rock music's great "should have beens". In an era of fewer media outlets the Prisoners could have a large number of fans without ever breaking on through to mainstream.
But that was then! Although organ player James Taylor (or Jamie as he once was) has gone on to success and the Gabby Roslin show with his quartet, Allan Crockford and Graham Day have not stood still. Both have been in bands with the ubiquitous Mr Childish, Allan was a founder member of the JTQ and Graham's band Planet could rip it up live! For the last couple of years they have been back together alongside drummer Wolf (who they share with the Bluff Medways) and organist Parsley as the Solarflares. And after two albums for the Twist label they've signed to the Big Beat label for a touch of maximum rock'n'roll.
The Solarflares clearly draw upon Allan and Graham's heritage. The Solarflares are a continuation and realisation of what the Prisoners were about. Graham's songwriting is still the key. It gives them them a depth and subtlety to ally with the undoubted energy of both their new record and their live performances. In the current musical climate of 3 chord bursts of pure adrenalin-filled rock'n'roll from the likes of the Hives, the von Bondies, the White Stripes and their ilk, the Solarflares demand to be heard.
The new album Look What I Made Out Of My Head features the scorching single If You Want Blood and 11 other slices of fantastic garage rock.
By Dean Rudland