Delta 5- a post punk diary- adventures of influential band – Louder Than War

Delta 5 were, perhaps, the epitome of post punk.

They were a two bass guitar driven, 3 girl/2 boy outfit from Leeds who managed to break all the Trad Rock rules and create a brave new pop that was beloved of the John Peel listeners of the time but strangely sounds like an almost mainstream pop these days as the rest of the world finally catches up.

Their dislocated dance was fantastic.

I saw them support fellow Leeds band Gang Of Four on tour in 1980 and they were great live. Their words had meaning and their songs were intelligent but still had a spiky, punk energy and a taut British funkiness. They also made the two bass thing work, with those two basses covering top and bottom creating a really supple, elastic modern sound. On top of this, of course, that slashing guitat thing that was so key at the time dropping in and out and leaving space for those great defiant girl vocals that were so perfect.

So many modern bands either sound like them or should check them out for further inspiration- they were decades ahead of their time. Their former drummer Kelvin Knight has written these bits and pieces that give an interesting insight to another era and form part of the sleeve notes/potential backbone of an upcoming book on the band that will form part of yet to be finished book, WARD7BED6 PUNK AND BEYOND.

Delta 5 myspace.

 

There are some Delta 5 limited edition t shirts are  available at the BARGAIN price of £7 inc P and P from here.

All proceeds will go to the Border Collie Safety Net run by Bridget Hamlett-Orme and Clare Neal who brought Pippa into my life. They take in and foster/rehome needy Border Collies…It’s a worthy cause. They are available in black and white sizes are limited so please be quick…

The Delta 5  Singles and sessions compilation CD with Kelvin’s sleeve notes is available here:-

DELTA 5 – THE USUAL SUSPECTS…..

 

Who were / are Delta 5???

BETHAN PETERS – BASS/VOCALS…

The rock on which D5 was built on Bethan was at various times our manager,driver and sober organiser always thinking about what came next while we got on with what was happening now.

The “toppy” bass player and lead vocalist Bethan went on to play with Funboy 3.

 

JULZ SALE – VOCALS/GUITAR

Imagine the devils hi-di-hi yellow coat crossed with Siousxie sue on crystal meth and you’re pretty close – if we played to an audience of 103 102 of them would be fixated on Julz the other one would be in the toilet. If you never saw D5 live check out the BBC footage of “something else 1981”

The only Delta 5 video clip on youtube, from Something Else ( not Top of the Pops!)

 

AL RIGGS – GUITAR/VOCALS/MARIMBA

A sound engineers nightmare, his amp had to be on 11 to get the feedback he needed. He was always on the edge – Wilko Johnson meets James Brown, Al’s riffs could stun a rhino at 50 yards on a fogbound motorway. Check out “Journey” for his power and “You” for his restraint- ‘now then, now then’ doing Jimmy Savile impressions and collecting guitars..*

*Reference made when he was a regular TV presentator – before all the recent kerfuffle!

 

ROS ALLEN – BASS/VOCALS

Cherry red fretless bass, playing the low bass parts- Ros would hover around my drum kit looking so cool. Hopelessly romantic Ros fell in love about twice a month (usually with a Belgian) and never stopped smiling had a cat called Ganga (think about it !).

 

KELVIN KNIGHT – DRUMS/MARIMBA

Who me ? I hit things – sometimes in time

 

CO STARRING..

 

JON LANGFORD – GUITAR

The original D5 heavy metal guitarist (and drummer with The Mekons) also designed our first two single sleeves. God bless him.

 

SIMON BEST – DRUMS

From Fast records and D5s first drummer.

 

GRAHAM HIGH – GUITAR

Ex Boots for dancing recruited after Al left

 

JACQUIE CALLIS – VOCALS/BASS/GUITAR

Sister to Jo in the Human league replaced Julz – fantastic voice and gave us a 3rd bass player !!

 

 

 

SIMON FISH – DRUMS

Came in after I left- I went to see them hoping he would be rubbish – he wasn’t…

 

PALO ALTO CALIFORNIA- THE FALL OF 1980

To cut a long story short the promoter had not promoted the gig at all. He’d had a nervous breakdown but bless him he paid us in full the moment we drove up and he  had provided the rider as per contract in the dressing room.

So we played to an audience of 22 (12 walk ups, 4 on the guest list, our crew and management and a dog at the back) in a venue that held about 1200.

Just before the big finale of Mind Your Own Business someone shouted to us “why are there 5 of you?” to which Bethan replied (fixing the room with her coldest hardest look)…

“More to the point…why are there 5 of you?”

 

Kinda Random…

One of the things that really, really wound us up was the left wing feminist politics tag; sure we did rock against sexism gigs – what right-minded person wouldn’t? Just as we did rock against racism gigs and if there had been rock against cruelty to small animals benefits we would have done them as well.

Our statement on feminism didn’t need saying it was blindingly obvious and it wasn’t what our songs were about -we wrote about personal politics and relationships and besides there were bands around who did it far better than we ever could such as The Au Pairs.

For me it was lazy journalism and a millstone around our necks. We were once asked to do a ‘women only’ benefit in Leeds, which really was a step to far – what were Al, and me supposed to do play behind a curtain?

It was an age when sexism came to the fore and woman in bands became the norm not a gimmick and quite rightly we were proud to stand alongside The Au Pairs, The Slits, The Bush Tetras, The Raincoats and so many others who changed things forever but it wasn’t our reason for being – we just wanted to make people dance. End of….

 

And any band worth their salt at some point find themselves playing on the back of a flat bed lorry as did we as part of the protest march against a bill being introduced in Parliament on abortion law (it never got anywhere near the statute book thankfully).

The march set off from Hyde Park corner and would pass the Houses of Parliament but a mixture of traffic lights and strange policing left us cut off from the march and going round Piccadilly Circus still playing much to the amazement of pedestrians, car drivers and people on buses!

 

I swear blind I found Al almost in tears in our hotel room in Vancouver cause there was an episode of All Creatures Great & Small on the cable TV and he was missing Yorkshire.

 

Pop stars?

We were booked to play LSE in London with support from a band called The Passions and a student band called the Jive (Jim the guitarist ended up as our chief roadie) in-between the booking and the gig The Passions had had a minor hit single.

So come the day The Passions declared that even though we were advertised as the main band and we were being paid more than them they should go on last and headline the gig because they had a top 30 record. A heated discussion took place and in the end we backed down and let the pop stars go on last. We had to back down because Julz was going to rip the singers throat out!! So we went on second and everyone was there to see us and we played a cracking set, 2 encores and the crowd went mad. By the time The Passions went on half the audience had left and others drifted away so by the time they did their chart grazer (I’m in love with a German film star) there was virtually no-one left!

As for D5 we had a good laugh from the side of the stage waving at them when they dared to look our way.

 

Do You Wanna Buy a Bass?

Our first big American gig was in New York at a trendy nightspot called HURRAH, it was also Ros’s birthday and she was as drunk as a skunk when we went on-stage and spent most of the time negotiating the sale of her cherry red bass – we didn’t know this till we watched the video the next day.

 

Going to see Bowie- the very same Ros, along with Julz, completely drunk in San Francisco announced one night they were going to see David Bowie in the play of The Elephant Man and insisted we call them a cab. What they didn’t know was it was on in NY Broadway and wasn’t due on in SF for another month. Julz crashed out and Ros tried to smoke a thermometer – of course, the next day they denied the whole thing.

 

Television…. We were interviewed by LWT (London Weekend Television – long gone) it was in the dressing room at the Rock Garden which was no bigger than a wardrobe and was on-screen for about 3 mins, but we did two songs for “Something Else”- a kind of television fanzine on BBC2.  We did “Anticipation” and “Make up”. Quite recently BBC 4 showed us doing “Anticipation” as part of their Rough Trade night.

Also recording Shepherds Bush BBC that day were U2 doing TOTP- we passed on the stairs and they nodded (old mates – see name dropping).

 

NAME DROPPING

THE CLASH..July 81- we’d barely checked into the Cockroach Motel on Times Square in NYC when Sue called a band meeting. We’d had a call from Bernie Rhodes The Clash who were playing a 7 night stint at Bonds Warehouse just up the road and did we want to support them on a couple of nights?

And at that moment all my dreams came true… until it went to a vote and it was a 3-2 no….

 

U2..We’d done a couple of supports at The Lyceum ballroom and by the beginning of 81 and were pushing the promoters for a headline spot. The 3 Rough Trade singles had done really well and we’d built up a solid following. They came back to us with the offer of a co-headline with U2 who had just released their 1st album and were standing on the edge (ho ho). So Feb the 1st it was – equal billing (I have the poster to prove it to my grand-children) it was a toss of a coin as to who went on last- we lost..

 

ANDY WARHOL..came back-stage after a New York show – I thought he was John Denver’s dad.

 

THE POLICE..We were stopped for speeding in New Jersey, upon learning we were English it turned out the traffic cop had heard of us and a place on the guest list for the Tier 3 gig the following week saw us escape a ticket – and he turned up..

 

IRON MAIDEN…We found ourselves on a small Finnair jet to Helsinki (as you do). We were doing 2 nights at a club and a festival in a park on the edge of town. On the plane were the Slits who we were playing with and – on their way to another festival in Finland- Bad Manners and the metal kings themselves, Iron Maiden. Bad Manners were great value, bless ’em, and they kept everyone amused but the Maiden sat aloof signing photos and checking their hair – something Buster didn’t have to worry about.

We got on great with Bad Manners they even turned up at our festival and hurled abuse at us and their two horn players later played on the single “Colour”.

 

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN….We were playing at the infamous ERICS in Liverpool and got into conversation with Will who told me he was in a band called Echo and the Bunnymen. Coincidentally they played in York my home town a few weeks later.

 

JAMES BLOOD ULMER….A legend – Geoff Travis at Rough Trade introduced him to me and Al in the Rough Trade warehouse.

 

THE SUPREMES….A bit convoluted this one ! The first time we flew to New York (BA economy) unbeknown to us Diana Ross was in 1st class. When we got to checkout we were waved straight through- much to our amazement. It turned out that as we were carrying guitars they thought we must of been Diana Ross’s backing band.

 

IGGY POP….Shared a lift with him at the Iraqoiuse hotel NY (cockroach motel). I smiled but couldn’t think of a word to say to the king of punk!!!

 

NEW ORDER… We met in difficult times not long after the loss of Ian Curtis at our shared US agent, the lateRuth Polskey’s apartment – they were really good lads and Hooky has done a brilliant job with the Mind Your Own Business remix 30 years later.

 

DON LETTS..the 5th member of the Clash at times, Don was larger than life  and great to be with. We flew into Heathrow with him one time from New York and it was a good job we were there ! Don loved hats and had a load of them in his hand luggage but at the checkout they told him he couldn’t take them all on as hand luggage was just one bag.

So when we boarded the flight everyone of Delta 5 plus manager and Jim our roadie was wearing a hat !!! I think mine was a cowboy hat ! As we approached customs Don took off his rasta headwear, shook his deadlocks half way down his back and asked the customs officers “Which room do you want me in this time guys ?!! We waited about an hour for him (full strip search) as he walked over to us beaming, I said it was ridiculous

“it ‘appen all of the time Kelvin, it’s part of life” he replied lifting my hat off !

 

 

 

And any band worth their salt at some point find themselves playing on the back of a flat pad lorry as did we as part of the protest march against a bill being introduced in Parliament on abortion law (it never got anywhere near the statute book thankfully).The march set off from Hyde Park corner and would pass the houses of Parliament but a mixture of traffic lights and strange policing left us cut off from the march and going round Piccadilly Circus still playing much to the amazement of pedestrians, car drivers and people on buses !

 

 

MARIMBA ? ah yes, well we were in a studio in LA (rock and roll huh ?) called Different Fur remixing Colour / Try and me and Al found a marimba (a kinda giant xylophone !) and started pissing about with it and came up with a tune which somehow found its way onto the album called “See The Whirl” and re-recorded at RAK called “Different Fur”.

 

Pre Delta 5 recordings ?- well Ros played bass on the 1st Mekons single “Never Been In A Riot” “Heart And Soul” and “32 Weeks” on Fast Records and a bloody good record it was. I had been involved in The Jermz single “Power Cut” and Al and myself played on a single released on Red Rhino.

 

Worst joke of the Delta 5 story – we were on tour in Holland and some dear soul brought us flowers to the sound check. Bethan accepted them and looked round for something to put them so I offered my half finished glass of lager “ah” said Bethan “it’s a good beer for the roses” (sorry Elvis).

 

 

As with all the tales I tell about those days I’m sure I’ve missed out a load of other names and it’s all pretty hazy BUT I do know Bill Drummond (Teardrops manager/KLF) still owes me $10 and Al did fall over a sheep.

 

 

Delta 5 – The Recordings…

The first time we found ourselves in a recording studio was a demo for FICTION records the label Chris Parry started when Polydor passed on The Cure we recorded YOU and MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS but Chris passed on us…

 

The MYOB/NOW THAT YOU’VE GONE single was recorded at The Workhouse on Old Kent road (the brown one in monopoly)..the Gang Of Four were recording their album “Entertainment” and Rob Warr, the GO4 manager, arranged for us to go in overnight while the GO4 were at a Specials gig. The original plan was to record MYOB and YOU but YOU wasn’t happening so we recorded NOW THAT YOU’VE GONE in one take. Bob knew EMI would turn us down but ROUTH TRADE didn’t.

Kelvin’s favourite Delta 5 track…

 

ANTICIPATION/YOU recorded in deepest coldest Wales! In a place called Foel studios near Llanfair Caerinion. The studio was in a working farm with goats, sheep and chickens and we were booked in for a couple of days, sleeping in a cottage 50 yards from the studio. It was cold. It was damp and at the time pretty horrendous. The owner/engineer, Dave Anderson, was great though and looking back it was really funny.  Al left the studio late on after a few too many beers got lost and fell  over a sheep but he denies it to this day !

 

COLOUR/TRY recorded at The Point- a new studio near Victoria Station. Dave from Foel came through to engineer and advise. We also had a couple of guys from Bad Manners playing horns on Colour.

 

 

 

THE BBC RECORDINGS

JOHN PEEL (BROADCAST 4/2/80)

DELTA 5

COLOUR

MAKE UP

ANTICIPATION

YOU

 

JOHN PEEL (BROADCAST 2/9/80)

TRIANGLE

JOURNEY

TRY

LEAVING

 

RICHARD SKINNER (BROADCAST 16/7/81)

INNOCENTI

TRAIN SONG

FINAL SCENE

SINGING THE PRAISES

 

Looking back I reckon this is where we were at our best – recording sessions we basically had about 9 hours to record and mix so what you got was as near as dammit live recordings mixed by BBC engineers and producers who knew their stuff. The recordings were done at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios and it was a case of sound checking the drums, basses and guitars and laying down the backing tracks recording the vocals and doing any overdubs leaving time to mix the tracks.

There are a couple of really funny bits – on YOU on the 1st Peel sessions you can hear Al discussing what he had for tea (steak pie and chips and gravy) at the beginning of YOU.

And on TRIANGLE on Peel session 2 there must have been some suggestion from the producer we change something cos at the end of the track you can hear Bethan saying “and that’s how we always do it, so tough”!!

 

SEE THE WHIRL LP / SHADOW/LEAVING 7″

Recorded at RAK studios St Johns Wood we had signed to PRE (Charisma) which gave us a decent budget to record the album. The producer was Adam Kidron who would later go on to produce  Scritti Politti . All I can say is the music press (except the NME who held their release back to see what the others said) slagged it.

I think the band will hold with me when I say it was totally overproduced (pianos, pedal steel guitars, horn section, cowboys and Indians) the artwork and the title were naff…..buff said (you did get a free postcard mind !).

 

And so we are so happy that our best days are captured on this compilation (no postcard sorry !!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delta 5 Discography

 

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS/NOW THAT YOU’VE GONE    ROUGH TRADE 7″

 

YOU/ANTICIPATION  ROUGH TRADE 7″

 

COLOUR/TRY  ROUGH TRADE 7″

 

SHADOW/LEAVING  PRE 7″

 

 

POWERLINES/THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER  PRE 7″

 

SEE THE WHIRL  PRE ALBUM  LP/CASSETTE

 

SESSIONS AND SINGLES 79-81  KRS ALBUM CD

 

TRACKS ON COMILATIONS…….

 

DO YOU WANNA BUY A BRIDGE ? MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – ROUGH TRADE LP

 

ROUGH TRADE SHOPS. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – MUTE CD

 

DEATH DISCO.(SONGS FROM UNDER THE DANCE FLOOR)    JOURNEY* -EMI CD

 

NAG NAG NAG.  MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – REACT CD

 

TOTALLY WIRED. YOU – RAZOR AND TIE CD

 

GRLZ – WOMAN AHEAD OF THERE TIME ! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – CRIPPLED DICK CD

 

GIRL MONSTER.MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – CHICKS ON SPEED CD

 

DISCO NOT DISCO POST PUNK. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – STRUT CD

 

NEW WAVE CLUB CLASX. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – ANTLER/SUBWAY CD

 

THE RE-RELEASES OF THE UNRELEASES. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS – K RECORDS CD

 

RARE TRAX 42. OPEN LIFE* – ROLLING STONE CD

 

CLEAR CUT. YOU – ROUGH TRADE LP

 

*THE MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS RE MIXES…

 

 

So when we had the idea to re-release MYOB recently with re-mixes by the great and the good we obviously needed to find the original multi-track tapes which on the face of it would simply be a matter of contacting Rough Trade and collecting them.

WRONG! Thus began a journey of frustration and complication involving wizards,dwarfs and the dark side we shall call the fellowship of the masters….G !!

I emailed Geoff at Rough Trade who, bless him, had no idea where they where but told me when Rough Trade went tits up a lot of the masters went to ONE LITTLE INDIAN so that was my next port of call but no no no…!

So then onwards to Sue our mentor and manager but she could throw little light on the whereabouts so  Rob Warr producer and father of the original project was next but again a blank was drawn…

A month on it was not looking good and talks turned to how much we could do without the multi tracks and not a lot seemed to be the answer and it was then my thoughts turned to the studio where it was recorded The Workhouse on the Old Kent Road (the brown one in monopoly) but again nothing…

So – what physically happened to the tapes ? Well the studio was booked by EMI for the Gang of Four to record their 1st album and it dawned on me late one night that at the end of the sessions  the tapes would have been gathered up and taken away by ….EMI..and so it was an e mail to Chris Briggs at EMI brought about an e mail to Ian Pickavance at the Abbey Road warehouse and at 2.15 on a Tuesday afternoon I received an e mail saying ‘we have got the multi-track tapes for MYOB contact us to arrange collection’….

If at first you don’t succeed…..

……and our thanks go to Chris Briggs and Ian Pickavance at EMI, Rob Warr , Geoff Travis and everyone I annoyed trying to find the bloody things !!

 

So once we had located and transferred the multi tracks to digital (bake them ???are they mad !!!) we needed people to do the re mixes and my first idea was….

 

PETER HOOK

Legend ! nothing less.  We had met New Order in NY in 80 so I emailed him and to my total amazement he said “send the WAVS I will have a look” and we now have the MAN RAY mixes. Respect to Phil, Hooky’s engineer. there are two mixes- the radio edit and the full version.

 

ECHOBOY

The first one to come in and I finally realised this was happening !!Thank you Rich.

 

 

CARLEONE

The garage mix it gets better and better the more you listen to it…

 

MANNIE LAMMAR

I have never laughed so much in my life the first time I heard this ! Sheer lunacy and sheer genius

 

DEERHOOF…arranged through KRS and a well weird mix !! It so amazing that young bands have respect for a track recorded 30 years ago it really is…

 

WRANGLER

aka Tunng who said it would be an honour to remix MYOB – respect !!

ALBUM VERSION.

 

 

The final word…

 

when I floated the possibility of Delta 5 reforming for a few gigs to promote the album and remixes Ros replied

“nicht in eine million yahre”…..I think that says it all…

 

And so our thanks to

SIMON LAWLOR

KRS RECORDS

HOOKY and everyone who did a mix of MYOB

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5 comments on “Delta 5- a post punk diary- adventures of influential band – Louder Than War”

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  1. Excellent read that – great stuff

  2. Audrey He'rtburn

    RIP Kel…..always star x

  3. RIP Kelvin :(

  4. Fascinating reading… a great life
    Keep on partying Kelvin, see ya later…

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