Just re-released on Captain Oi, 'At the Chelsea Nightclub' and '1980-The Choice is Yours', originally issued on Virgin in 1979 and 1980 respectively, offer an opportunity to reassess the output of the best known Nicky Tesco-fronted incarnation of the Members. The band recorded one more album 'Going West' in 1983 following Tesco's departure in 1980 before disbanding permanently soon afterwards.

Originally formed in Camberley, Surrey in the winter of 1976, the Members made their live debut during the headiest days of the punk era in the summer of 1977, finally having settled on a stable line-up after months of trying.

It was to be almost another two years before the band finally released their long-playing debut with ‘At The Chelsea Nightclub’ in April 1979. Lacking the edginess, originality or ability to generate the kind of controversy that many of their peers possessed, while having its occasional moments, most notably ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs', a version of which had been a Top 20 hit earlier that year that’s been a mainstay of many a punk compilation ever since, the album didn’t really set the world alight. It’s not a bad album by any means, but the band’s hybrid of mockney punk and reggae-lite, delivered with gusto admittedly, hasn’t really aged all that well. ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs’ though still delivers and remains one of the great punk-pop moments of the time. Fortunately this expanded reissue also includes the single version as well as a slew of other additional material. It’s this extra material that makes this reissue a much more interesting proposition than the original album itself was in 1979.

Adding no less than eight tracks to the album’s original eleven, the reissue offers a revealing insight, going right back to their first recording, ‘Fear On The Streets’, a genuinely blistering indictment of the inflammatory racist rhetoric espoused by Enoch Powell at the time, and originally a contribution to the 1977 released ‘Streets’ compilation which was also the first ever release on Beggars Banquet and also featured the likes of John Cooper Clarke, the Lurkers, Art Attacks and a short-lived band by the name of the Reaction who eventually became Talk Talk.

We also get both sides of the one-off single they recorded for Stiff in 1978, coupling the classic ‘Solitary Confinement’ with the lighter reggae-influenced ‘Rat Up A Drainpipe’, both tracks produced by former Pink Fairies and Motorhead guitarist Larry Wallis. A later re-recorded version of ‘Solitary Confinement’ also appears as does its corresponding A-side, the oddly appealing reggae-flavoured ‘Offshore Banking Business’, which though failing to trouble the charts as much as its immediate predecessor ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs’ had done, and was probably the beginning of the end for the band. Its actually quite political message got the record banned in Bahrain and the Bahamas.

‘At The Chelsea Nightclub’ remains a flawed album, but now augmented with much of the Members earlier and best work, this new well packaged reissue makes for a much more appealing prospect.

Despite failing to dent the charts following their last brief flirtation with the Top 40 with ‘Offshore Banking Business’ in April, 1979, the band limped on for another year, recording one more album for Virgin, the rather unimaginatively titled ‘1980 – The Choice Is Yours’. Most people didn’t take them up on their offer. In fairness, the album again has its moments, albeit fewer of them and bizarrely as on their debut they open the set with a rather lacklustre instrumental, this time the clumsily punned ‘The Ayatollah Harmony’, though even that is better than the tame and instantly forgettable ‘Electricity’ that opened their debut. Elsewhere though ‘Goodbye To The Job’ hinted at what the band were capable of when they put their minds to it. Overall though the set hints at desperate measures being adopted as they incorporate more ska-flavoured influences at a time when the Two Tone-led ska revival was really taking hold. Intended as a thank you to Larry Wallis, their version of his great ‘Police Car’ unfortunately falls desperately flat and on the whole the record sounds half-hearted and rushed.

Again as on the augmented debut some respite is offered by way of the bonus material – another six tracks – most notably the rousing sing-along putdown of the then Conservative-led ‘GLC’, the B-side of non-album single ‘Killing Time’ originally written back in 1977 and far and away one of the band’s best songs, so it’s rather a pity it has to languish in comparatively undistinguished company. ‘Killing Time’ itself is also included and is far better than anything that made the original album to which it’s now been attached.

So they paid their dues and for the likes of ‘Solitary Confinement’, ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs’, ‘Fear On The Streets’ and ‘GLC’ in particular The Members deserve to be fondly remembered. Not a great albums band by any means, nevertheless the newly augmented ‘At The Chelsea Nightclub’ gets a cautious thumbs up with its successor unfortunately failing to make the cut.











Related Links:



Commenting On: Profile - Members








ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment
 


First Previous Next Last