Friday, January 25, 2008

The Desert Wolves - Part I

In the random style this blog has chosen to emulate, we are about to move into the world of International fame and fortune. The Desert Wolves may not be one of those bands that you have personally heard of. However I can guarantee that their story will demonstrate much of what makes the music industry such a compulsive and fascinating landscape to view and in which to live.

The Desert Wolves where one of the many guitar bands circulating around Manchester in 1987. They were very well connected, having friends like Dave Halsam and being managed by Tony Mikaledis a prominent local DJ whose music business career read like a bible of cool. They played a mellow guitar pop that was styled by their Lead Singer and driving force Martin King. He was somebody who unashamedly loved 60's pop music and wasn't afraid to wear his pop heart on his sleeve. Coming together with two sibling guitarists David and Nick Platten they formed tight and classically named songwriting team Platten King Platten.

They never entered the outsider angst of The Smiths, the political chicanery of Easterhouse or the arty insanity of James. they wrote songs about love that would have had even Burt Bacarach drooling, Certainly they were not the typical Mancunian fayre of the time. The band was completed by Richard Jones on Bass, a student friend of the Platten's and Craig Winterburn on the Drums the only indigenous Mancunian in this group of educated scholars. As with most Ugly Man relationships the catalyst to them releasing material on the label was not the iconic live performance "toilet" venue of your choice - Epstain/Beatles/Cavern nor King Tuts/McGee/Oasis.

We were all playing for the same Sunday league football team at the time. The truth of the matter, was that we played together in a couple of matches before I seriously damaged my knee ligaments in an ill judged tackle ten minutes before the end of a friendly. The team was based at The Salutation a student drinking den in the Hulme district of Manchester. I knew Nick (a goalie) was in a revered band and he knew I was running a record label. We talked loosely about what they fancied doing and at that time I only had The Man from Delmonte on the label and was keen develop the label more.

As a direct result of the footballing injury I was in need of some repairs to my knee and duly went to hospital to have my cartilage removed. Whilst coming out of the anaesthetic I agreed with Nick that Ugly 7 would be Love Scattered Loves by the Desert Wolves. He had come to visit with a bunch of grapes and a get well soon card with Madonna on it. Not very Alan McGee and Oasis but this is Ugly Man.

At this point we were still in the land of the 80's indie 12" so the plan was to manufacture 1,000 12" singles and do a promotional 7" for our friends at radio stations. After The initial successes of Black and now with The Man from Delmonte making it on TV and some radio and ample support from Mick Middles at the Manchester Evening News, the Desert Wolves felt like just the kind of band to build on our pop sensibility whilst offering a slightly more mainstream tilt at jangling C86 fever.

The Delmontes where on the edge of mass acceptance with there thrashing style and openly ambiguous lyrics, The Desert Wolves were certainly more classical boys guitar band fitted nicely into the general pre baggy jangle of 1987. The band organised the recording at Out of the Blue studios in the centre of Manchester. Out of the Blue was situated on the top floor of one of the mills that proliferated in Manchester at the time. It is probably now a studio apartment for an architect or similar hip city dweller but twenty years ago it was a dank and dark enviroment. Owned by a couple of guys Nick Gartside and his partner Adam, the studio had played host to previous Ugly Man acts The Danny Boys and The Man from Delmonte as well the likes of James. For the Desert Wolves -Love Scattered Lives session, we managed to obtain the services of Mark Radcliffe at the controls as a producer. Not since the first Black recordings had we gone beyond using the "Bloke who owned the studio" to "produce" the tracks.

Mark Added an extra layer of showbusiness glamour to the session as well as some keyboards. The artwork was styled by Martin with the look and feel of a 60's e.p picture cover. Beautiful. Classic a suitable match for the music.

These were free flowing times and having produced videos for The Man from Delmonte and The Waltones. I decided we would extend the opportunity for Martin the superstylist to broaden his vision of the band. An away day to Scarborough was covened and on a glorous Summer Sunday in August 1987 Martin's concept and Lian Kan's genius created a peachy delight of a super 8 video which definitely positioned The Wolves as teen pop idols rather than earnest indie wannabees.

In them olden dayes the practice was to release a record then hope that everything would happen after it came out. Today a record is played on the radio, written about all over the place and then eventually, it is released to the general public. When this delayed tactic started in the 90's I wonder if that was the catalyst to people stopping buying as many records as they had in the 60's 70's and 80's. Any way, whatver.

With this release we did all the usual stuff sent it to the radio chums we had , the local newspapers, the national music papers. It was out there and we were waiting to see if any body was going to give us another hit. Whatever that means.