Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Box


Despite the critical success of ClockDVA's 1981 album, Thirst, bandleader Adi Newton (Gary Coates) sacked the rest of the band and assembled a new one with the intention of going in a funkier direction. As Mick Fish tells it in Industrial Evolution:
One of Newton's new lyrics was the appropriately titled song "Bone of Contention". That's exactly what the newly proposed direction became. "We're not fucking playing that sort of stuff," was the reaction from the rest of the band. Newton, being from the same Sheffield soul boy clique as Oakey, the Cabs et al, was still obsessed with white boy funk. It was obvious that there was no way Newton was going to drag Paul [Widger, guitar] or Charley [Collins, sax] away from Captain Beefheart and towards James Brown. The end, when it came, wasn't so much a firework display as the fizzling of a spent sparkler. "Oh look, we've got a gig in Brighton," Paul noted on browsing the music papers. What the singer had in fact failed to tell them was that Clock DVA did indeed have a gig, but that a whole new band of musicians were being invited along for the ride.
Widger, Collins, and drummer Roger Quail recruited bassist Terry Todd to form The Box. Fish again:
The Box tried a number of singers, one who sort of whooped like a Red Indian chief but couldn't sing in tune. They even played two gigs with Mal [Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire] on vocals -- a marriage of styles that was quite successful in its own way.... The Box eventually advertised for a singer. By far the best response came from Pete Hope from Hertford. Vocally somewhere between Tom Waits and Howlin' Wolf, he moved up to Sheffield with his young family.
(See Destroyed By Gods on Noise Heat Power for an amusing anecdote about Pete Hope in the notes to Track 14, and be sure to download the Sheffield mix from the same page.) Skronk may have originated in New York, but no one did it better than The Box. They became the first band signed to Andrew MacDonald's Go! Discs, which would later find great success with the Housemartins, Billy Bragg, and Portishead, among others. There is no Peter Hope or Box material available on the web other than a four-song live set on Pandora's Music Box, so I'll take it upon myself to remedy that by offering up the first release by The Box, a self-titled five-song EP from 1983 (Go! Discs VFM1). Also highly recommended to fans of The Pop Group. Get it here or here.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great! Have been looking for The Box for ages with no luck. Have most of their stuff on vinyl but no means to play it at present. I remember their records getting better as time went on. Cheers again!

mug said...

Hey! Thanks again. You got a great thing going on here. Much appreciated.

Fantod said...

You're welcome! It's always nice to hear from people who remember this stuff.

Fantod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Novemberer said...

Still got my copy of this 12" - SUCH a great record...