Time at The Pits

Pits Studio 2015 View
Pits Studio 2015 View

The time at the Pits started with Jeff and me (Doomage & Strangely) living above it, accessed through the black door on the left in the picture which is number three.  (We were forced out of the top flat in Front Street just down the road by the landlord who wanted his property back in sensible hands…  <g> ).  The Pits is on the right.
The flat was freezing since we couldn’t afford to heat it. It had a combi-gas water heater thus I’d spend many an hour in the bath warming up.

The Towers, Killingworth
The Towers, Killingworth

The Pits was a serious pun, since it really was the pits… both up high and down below in Baldy’s flat.  True, it was a time of intense creativity, this creativity extending into the time when Jeff and me had to find another place – this was in the prison-like dwellings in Killingworth, Gazza (gary Clennel now adding to us making us a trio).  We were in C-wing…. Callaly Tower.  This had blown air heating with the front door up some stairs on another level which meant all the heat shot outside when the door was opened.  It was truly shite.

Killingworth Towers
This image from the website shows a view which is about what we’d see, day after day, coming home.

The kids used to climb up and down the pillars supporting the pathways such was the level of angst.  The pathways were extremely slippy in winter and rain.  More pictures of the shitehole can be found here.

 

Maxine and the Lurchers Baldy Fester Chester Bester Tester, Maxine, Doomage
Maxine and the Lurchers: Baldy Fester Bester Tester Chester, Maxine, Doomage

During this time Jeff, Gazza, Baldy, me and a young lady called Maxine formed a short-lived troupe playing covers stuff like Moonage Daydream, Heroes and Scary Monsters by Bowie (say) called Maxine & The Lurchers.  AFAIK, this is the only photie of it all.   German Filmstar comes to mind too…

Don’t it drone on…

For about a year or so, our lives were full of creativity, yet still, the pits.  Despite the creativity, there was always the brake, which naturally led to the break.

For a descriptive level of pits-ness, apart from the creativity, a highlight (for me) was one night when Gazza and myself were cycling back to C-Wing pissed up.  On passing the Earsdon roundabout I looked left and saw Gazza fall asleep and with the biggest grin on his face tip off left right across the path into the ditch/verge just past the roundabout. – (SP)

Now that was funny, oh how we larft, but it was still the pits.

See Gazza obituary.

Better Than Can

Johny Brown (a.k.a. Fusion) on the Invisible Jukebox
Wire Magazine – December 2008

I wonder if Jeff read this before he died.

Johny Brown (a.k.a. Fusion) on the Invisible Jukebox

Within Wire magazine, the Invisible Jukebox feature plays tracks to various musos/artists and gets them to guess the band and chat about them.  Here’s what Johny said about us (and Jeff in particular).  Jeff would’ve liked some of what was said.

Apparently, Fusion was played tracks by Bertolt Brecht, Test Department, Little Annie (Annie Anxiety), Crawling Chaos and others. Here’s what he said about “Berlin”, as transcribed to me by Martin Blank.

‘Cabaret Voltaire? Crawling Chaos? Thank God. I knew this but I hadn’t heard it for 25 years. Wow, can I just listen to it? Excellent. Very Can isn’t it? The vocals are very Cabaret Voltaire. A disembodied, Northern downer sort of voice. A lot of their gigs went on in various doss houses around Whitley Bay. They had this attic studio on Front Street in Tynemouth, which is a very quaint road by day and an absolutely violent strip by night. Very psychedelic, Crawling Chaos, in a driving, forceful Seeds – and Can – like manner. I knew Jeff (Crowe) the guitarist really well. Jeff was a real Canhead, and he loved his hallucinogenics.

I don’t know how they got a deal with Factory, but the minute they started getting any sort of success they destroyed it. They weren’t in it for fame or success or any of those reasons, they were in it to create some serious noise damage, some magic, and get out. They’d either do totally inspired gigs or they’d be completely, nauseatingly bad, and they’d do it on purpose sometimes, just to provoke a reaction. They could be quite stuck up and bratty, but when they got into a groove and got trancey, they could be the best band in the world, better than Can.’

A fine termination in my view.  Some comments would’ve annoyed Jeff for sure, but I’m not saying which.  They’d have annoyed me, once.  Those who actually knew us will know exactly which ones!  But “better than Can” – Jeff would’ve liked that.

      
  –  Berlin Playing

 

 

 

Punk Band Rap Free Concert Snub – a transcript

   Martin Blank from Gob on the Tyne has prompted me to transcribe an old cutting from Jeff about an earlier exploit of the band….  This is it!

Punk Band Rap Free Concert Snub

Punk rock band crawling chaos hit a wrong note when they made overtures to a Christian group.

For when the Tyneside-based musicians offered to play free in a church coffee bar they were turned down flat.

“We were amazed and shocked at being turned down” said band member Eddie Fenn last night.

“We thought we were doing them a good turn. We were surprised when they turned us down”.

“It is supposed to be a Christian organisation and they wouldn’t even let us play” said the 23 year old youth and community worker of Front Street, Tynemouth.

They were due to appear tonight at the Tynemouth Crossroads coffee bar in the centre of the town.

“They cancelled the show with no explanation other than ‘The coffee bar is run by a group of Christians to help young people in Tynemouth, and seeking to follow Christ’, and ‘only two people on the committee knew about it, and the rest of the committee are not happy’”, said Eddie.

Awaiting.

“One wonders at the reasoning behind such a bland statement when you consider the appalling lack of recreational facilities for teenagers, the fact the group were willing to play free of charge and that many youngsters were eagerly awaiting the performance. We have a medium sized following around here.”

The four man band, which has been formed for 11 months, is due to release a single next month called “Sex Machine”.

The line-up is Eddie on drums, taxi driver Martin Rees aged 24 of Front Street, Tynemouth on vocals and electric organ; guitarist Jeff Crowe, a 23 year old cataloguer of Tynemouth Road, Howden; and civil servant David Holland, aged 21 from Seaton Delaval, on bass.

One of the organisers of the coffee club said that they had apologised to the group for the mix-up.

David Armstrong, 32 year old painter and decorator from Tynemouth said; “More than a month ago the band came to me and asked if they could play at the Friday night coffee bar.

I told them I would ask the other members of the bar, but I forgot and when the group came back I said it would be alright.

When the other organisers found out they weren’t too happy. They said it hadn’t been discussed properly.

It was really an internal disagreement. I feel sorry for the group and I have apologised but I don’t want anyone blamed for it.!

Postscript

The band did eventually play the gig.  All went well and no-one was offended.  Pip pip!