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Rhythm! The Complete Countdown Recordings, CD (£11.50)
So I'm at my first ever gig. It's 14 April 1985 and I'm at the old Marquee on Wardour Street, and a large mod, who shall only be known as Bob lands on my toe. I'm far too young to complain, but I can understand his enthusiasm. We've come to see the US band the Untouchables who've landed in the UK charts with the hit Free Yourself, but first we get to see a young mod band from the West Midlands, who we've been told are really really something.
Some 16 years later I'm in a studio in the North West of England, and I'm talking to the bass player of that band, Makin' Time. I've just been interviewing the lead singer of the band he has been in since the late 80s.They are finishing the recording of their seventh album, which would become the fantastic Wonderland. Yet obviously I just had to share with him my experiences of seeing his first group all those years ago.
Right so for many that may be the hook for this album. The original outfit of the Charlatans' bass player. But it would be the wrong way of looking at it, because Makin' Time were unique in their own right. In the mid-80s the mod revival scene had left a distinct trail behind it. On the one hand some pined for the power pop guitar chords of the Jam, the Purple Hearts and Secret Affair, but others had followed the more soulful line typified by the Style Council. Some felt that this lead to over smooth anodyne music (not me!) but Makin' Time took a classic rock band format - Martin Blunt on bass, Fay Hallam on organ, Mark McGounden on guitar and Neil Clitheroe on drums - and added to it soulful influences.
Ours is the first reissue of this material, culled from the band's three singles and album for the Countdown label. The songs stand up for themselves, whilst the booklet has the group's story told by Chris Hunt, now an experienced journalist who regularly works for both Mojo and Q, but at the time an early champion and friend of Makin' Time who published his own fanzine 'Shadows and Reflections'. Chris talked to all four members of the band for their reminicenses on those times (it is, we believe, the first time that Martin Blunt has agreed to this in years), and provided us with access to the photographs that 'Shadows and Reflections' had had taken at the time by their photographer Caron Malcolm. It is a fitting tribute to one of the best bands I've ever seen live.
Of course I only remember the date of that Marquee gig because Chris Hunt's sleeve notes told me them. But in a strange coincidence, at the time of writing the last gig I went to was on the 12 February 2003 at the Metro Club on London's Oxford Street, just around the corner from the old Marquee. After a set by the latest American hopefuls the Kings Of Leon, Fay Hallam's new group Phase take the stage to a packed club. As they say... what comes around goes around.
By Dean Rudland