The History of Bad Manners
Gosh It's - Autumn 1981 / Back of Beyond 1982
Summer 1981 was an immense time for the band. Can Can went to the top 3 and would have reached number One but for the riots that affected the cities of Britain. Against this backdrop, Ghost Town by the Specials dominated the charts and kept Buster's brigade from the number 1 slot. Within a few weeks/months, Walking in the Sunshine had reached the top 10 as well and Buster was on Tiswas assuring the great British public that the guys did not need to rely on 'covers' (Can Can by Offenbach) to reach the dizzy heights. He was right of course but Can Can was a killer hit, as was Walking in the Sunshine.
Splitting their time between Southend and Weston-Super-Mare, the boys produced an amazing and strange seaside video for Walking in the Sunshine. It featured them as a bunch of likely city lads who were trying their luck in the arcades of a classic seaside resort. They were chased out of the arcade for rocking the money waterfall games, then they all took their places on a huge raft from which they performed the song. The raft broke up and they all fell in the sea. After this episode, they were chased through a park by Roy their roadie who was dressed as a policeman. Finally, they ended the vid by arriving at a concert stage in a park in order to perform for old age pensioners. It was very surreal and again showed the wonky slant that Manners were capable of, as well as some finely-invested hours listening to the Bonzo Dog Band when they were younger.
Walking in the Sunshine was a key feature on the latest Bad Manners offering in terms of their album output. Gosh It's was launched in Autumn 1981 and as their third outing into the recording studio, things were very strange indeed. Recorded partly at Horizon Studios in Coventry and Rockfield Studios (somewhere else), Gosh It's featured some very new sounds and arrangements. Mixed and produced by Roger Lomas who had engineered all the hits since the band's debut single in 1980, Gosh It's was recorded using all sorts of new innovations. As was the Manners habit by now, the final track was surreal, off the wall and downright weird. Gherkin told the tale of how Buster had failed to satiate the pickling lusts of a woman who therefore left him… What also marked out Gherkin was Doug's interest in Hot Pot takeaways. He ate them while singing and he sang through a huge plastic drainpipe into the mikes, while wearing the obligatory cans on his head to do each take. He also did it all in the open air, which Lomas found challenging.
Gosh It's was also important for seeing the future musical trends for Bad Manners. Accomplished SKA maestro's they may have been, but Gosh It's also featured Latino and Jazz/Soul style influences and fusions. Buster ain't superstitious but he was told in Italy that the musician who is number one the day you are born is a sort of guardian angel or key influence on you as you grow up. Strangely enough, PEREZ PRADO was top of the charts when Buster was born . Dansetta and Weeping and Wailing certainly brought out the Latino in the band while Casablanca and Only Funkin' showed their Jazz/Soul talents. In a world of their own sat Never Will Change and Runaway, both of which were surreal vehicles from which the band could view their world. A further inclusion on this excellent album was Nappy Brown's Don't be Angry which modern Manners fans recognise when Buster breaks into his 'LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLAAAAAAAAA!' routine, inviting audience participation. The song was recorded live in the courtyard of Rockfield studios and a large crowd of drunkards were assembled from the local public houses to play the role of audience. The effects were startling and thoroughly authentic. Don't be Angry led to the band's next single outing in the charts - the R'n'B Party Four which featured the aforementioned Nappy Brown number, Buena Sera, No Respect & The New One. Each song was solid, exciting and grabbed you by the choppers. The TOTP appearances featured Buster carrying Chris Kane around on his shoulders and Sayagg pushing a doll's pram with a pet Panda doll inside it…
Autumn 1981 saw Bad Manners stocked up for their first fully-independent tour in terms of finance. They had secured a band bus of their own for the first time and they also had a disco in the back of the bus. The band were keen to entertain and so the Gosh It's tour featured routine and effective water attacks on the fans for the first time, as well as a huge, inflated ball and gifts such as Christmas decorations, tossed in by Buster as he walked onstage. Prior to each gig, the boys would often take a hike around the town they were performing in that very day and here they would buy cheap goods from second-hand shops to use as stage props or clothes. In Liverpool, 30th October 1981, this writer notes that the band walked through Scouseland pushing prams with dolls riding in them.
Another welcome aspect to the Gosh It's tour was the addition of a dedicated support act called the Dolly Mixture - a modette'ish/thrash fusion trio of girls who were very nice and played interesting, danceable songs. Anoraks may be interested to know that the Dolly Mixture took on a new role as Captain Sensible's vocal support during his solo career on songs such as Happy Talk and that one of them even married him. Last seen by this writer when Captain Sensible was playing in his Brighton-based project called Space Toad Experience in the early 1990's.
The Gosh It's tour was a very good one and the band produced an excellent programme for the tour called An evening with Bad Manners. Each member wrote his own biog for the programme and each programme was fronted by the oil portrait of the band, completed by David Farren whose art abilities stood out by a mile. Farren had devised the Fatty Man symbol for Bad Manners in 1978/79 but try as they might the boys could not get permission to mascot for Michelin Products and earn valued sponsor money!
Spring 1982 saw the band undertake an outback tour to the back of beyond. The boys played obscure and small provincial venues. The fans turned out but the venues sometimes seemed too big. This writer saw them in Southport Floral Hall in March 1982 with a respectable 500 or more other people. The problem was that the venue could take 3000.
In 1982, Bad Manners went through a number of 'phases' and changes. First of all, every record charted but the higher positions of the charts seemed more difficult to scale. Got No Brains & Samson and Delilah were both impressively mixed, produced and very imaginative. Buster appeared as the Eagle Comic's arch-villain The Mekon when the band performed Got No Brains on Chegger's Plays Pop. Samson and Delilah saw the most expensive video the band had ever made and featured them as a 1930's Orchestra playing the song to a variety of backdrops from Hollywood. Buster is immortalised as King Kong scaling the empire state building in one scene only to become Bogey in Casablanca in another. Martin Stewart's keyboard solo saw him take the guise of Logosi's Draclua astride a rising cinema organ! Despite these fantastic and genius - inspired ideas, SKA was apparently on the wane in some respects as the New Romantics took control of the scene, although Bad Manners managed to make the top 10 once more in the Summer of 1982 with My Girl Lollipop, a re-working of the famous Millie hit from the 1960's. Those bands which had heralded 2-Tone were fading. The legendary Specials had folded and despite their great successes, the Selecter were going through personnel changes and looking at a shorter shelf life. Only Bad Manners and Madness were left by the end of 1982.