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The Best Of The Bishops, CD (£11.50)
Continuing the celebratory series of reissues from the Chiswick label that mark Ace Records' 20th Anniversary. This 27 track compilation assembles the very best of The Bishops studio recordings and the complete "Live At The Roundhouse" LP from 1978. The CD plots the various line-up changes from their formation in 1975 to their demise after the death of guitarist Zenon de Fleur in 1978. Sleevenotes are by long-time fan Charles Shaar Murray and track-by-track commentary by band member Johnny Guitar. Look out soon for the Count Bishops "Speedball EP" with extra tracks.A rowdy, high-energy R&B outfit, The Count Bishops were magic on a good night. John Crosby remembers one such occasion:It was a balmy summer night in 1978. I had bought a ticket to The Mekons at Hull University Union hall and was not having fun. The local police (in the heavy-handed manner of the punk era) were trying to eject two under-eighteen year olds from the event and had repeatedly emptied the whole venue of everybody in order to achieve their goal (the targeted kids, of course, resourcefully climbed back in through an open toilet window after each expulsion). Somebody said The Bishops were playing the adjacent Higher Education College hall and half of the crowd decided to go check it out. Great band that The Mekons are, those who made the switch were not disappointed.The music The Bishops made just sucked you in and the couple of hours of blissful, hard-drivin' R&B and rock 'n' roll they created live was always among the finer rock experiences of those crazy late 1970s nights. The band had the slightly shambolic air of a new group playing their second high school gig, but the music - oh, the music was as tight and heady as it comes. Most of the material you will hear on this new Best Of was given an airing that night, including the singles Train, Train and I Want Candy plus most of what constituted their (then) recent "Live At The Roundhouse" set. We all left very late and very elated. By the end of the year, the band was sadly no more but the records they made bear testimony to a very special kind of fire and passion.