WESTERN PROMISE 1983-85

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Western Promise were formed in June 1983, with the following line up:

John McGlone (24) had previously been frontman of Tears of Joy, and had been a member of the local Liverpool scene, playing at Erics with Fingerprint File.

Phil Fowler (22) had been writing songs, previous bands including Willow.

Dave King (22) formerly a member of Five Play Dutch had also been a member of several local bands, including the Choirboys and Ulterior Motive.

Mick Clarke (18) had been drummer in Second to None, and several other bands based in the Maghull area.

An early rehearsal in Rock Ferry – July 83

With local bands such as The Icicle Works, Wah!, Teardrop Explodes, Echo & the Bunnymen starting to make their presence felt in the national charts, the early 80s was a good time to be a musician in Liverpool.

Local band rivalry often meant that there was a little negativity on the scene, but this also meant that bands were striving hard to outdo each other, setting up gigs, events, and trying to get record deals.

Answering adverts in Hessy’s & Curly’s brought about some rehearsals in Rock Ferry for the 4 members, and it was soon apparent that there was a good mix of various tastes in music, that complemented each other.

The punk & rock backgrounds of Dave & John, suited Phil’s heavier guitar style, and Mick’s rock n roll musical past worked well with the jams that formed the first set.

As John already had a catalogue of songs available, and Phil had a few ideas for songs and riffs in his head, a set of approx 10 songs were quickly put together between June & August. Although scrappy at times, with some songs quickly falling by the wayside, gigs were arranged for August, and a studio demo date set for September.

With local fanzines looking for local bands to interview, photo sessions took place in early September, and interviews given to magazines such as Breakout and The Garden Party.

John, Mick & Dave – Phil didn’t make the session

The first live performance was on 1st August at the Mayflower, in Fazakerley St., Liverpool. This was a fairly low key affair, playing 10 songs with a crowd of approx 25 in attendance. For this the band were paid £20.

Soon after, the Eleanor Rigby statue in Stanley St was spray painted by a ‘fan’, which attracted some negative publicity amongst the local press. The band used this as an opportunity for a backdrop for some additional photographs.

Soon after the Mayflower gig, there followed more shows at the Venue, the New Court, the Letters, plus more at the Mayflower. During this time, word started to spread about the exciting live performance, plus the boisterous behaviour of the audience.

Sunday 11th September saw the band in SOS Studios in Liverpool, the studios owned by well known local musician Alan Peters. The songs were produced & mixed by Noddy Knowler.

Phil, Dave & John Phil, Dave, John & Mick Noddy, John, Phil Horton & Dave
Star of Bethlehem Running Out of Time Kingdom Come Beat of the Drum

Star of Bethlehem, Running out of Time, Beat of the Drum & Kingdom Come (Live) were all put down in a day. These were put onto tape, and approx 200 were sold over the next few months.

The demo tape was passed onto Con McConville, who had a local music radio show on Radio Merseyside called Streetlife. Local artists had very few outlets for the broadcast of their songs, but Radio Merseyside did everybody proud, not only playing demos, but also some live performances, and interviews with local musicians.

More gigs at The Ellesmere Arms, The Venue & The Great Eastern followed, with the Ellesmere Arms show being a particular success. A crowd of local lads started dancing & joining in, making the evening special. These lads became part of the Wesy P team, helping swell the numbers of fans, and helping lug equipment to and from gigs in Macker’s ambulance.

During November Phil Horton became the band manager, despite having no experience of this, Phil was alleged to have had contacts in the music business, and could get the band gigs, interviews & subsequently a record contract.

Further gigs at The System (supporting the Chameleons), The Venue, & The Great Eastern led to further afield, playing Angels in Chester and Vogue in Wrexham.

Another gig at the System was followed by a support at Liverpool University on 2nd December. This was supporting Gary Glitter on his Christmas Tour, which was attended by probably 2000 people. The band decided to record 3 of the newer songs to release as a 3 track single, with money to pay for it being raised by Phil Horton. The artwork was done by Jay Caldwell (one of Phil Fowler’s mates), and the 3 songs were Letters from Abroad, Heaven & The Burning.

Draft artwork for the proposed single Lack of funds meant that as well as the single never going into production, the basic mixes of the songs remain the only versions of the studio recordings, which aren’t as good as they should have been. Once again, the songs were recorded at SOS with Noddy Knowler on 10th December.

The year finished on a high and a low with a support slot with the Damned at the Royal Court in Liverpool, followed by a Coronation St watching crowd at the Shepherds Rest in Seacombe.

Letters from Abroad Heaven The Burning

Early in 1984 saw the band take their first trip to London, to seek out a record contract. The usual larger record companies had no interest, but they were promised a deal by IDS, which was later to fall through.

The main reason for the steady increase in interest and following of the band was due to the live performances. Far from being content with playing 3 or 4 times a year, Western Promise worked hard to arrange gigs at new venues, as well as revisiting existing ones.

The Ellesmere Arms was played again early in 1984, as well as Liverpool Polytechnic, & the Labour Club Widnes. A support with Spear of Destiny didn’t work out too well on 24th February, as the band were made to go on at 8:15, just 15 minutes after the doors had opened.

This was put right a week later when they supported the Clash at the Royal Court, in front of approx 2000 people.

Widnes Labour Club, 21-2-84

Supporting the Clash at the Royal Court, 5-3-84

Another demo was planned for early April, so with this in mind, more gigs were booked to fine tune the new songs. The Ellesmere Arms, The Venue, and rehearsals in the Ministry in front of producer Henry Priestman allowed the band to choose which songs were to be put down.

John & Henry Priestman during recording at the Ark

The following songs were recorded at the Ark in Liverpool, on 6th April:

Uncle Joe The Hot Rain Katynwood Steelyard I’ve been waitin’…

These were acknowledged as probably the best demos yet, and were to lead to more interest from the London based record scene, and more requests to play locally, and to offer support to miner’s benefit concerts.

It was early in April when the band was offered a record contract by Nick Relph of Midnight Music. This was initially knocked back by the band, as it didn’t suit their needs, but the actual details were never made clear to anyone other than John, Phil & Bert Fegg who was assisting with managing the group.

Dave C and Simon Geddes who ran the Royal Court had been showing an interest in managing the band, and had a lot of contacts. With the new demo receiving more airplay on Streetlife, and gigs at Widnes.

Miner’s benefit gig at Walton Hall Park, Liverpool, 10-6-84

Labour Club and a miner’s benefit at Walton Park, things were looking promising for the Promise.

Another spot at the Venue with Grown up Strange was followed on 1st July by an afternoon performance at Liverpool’s International Garden Festival. Other bands to perform were Black and Personal Column. This was arranged by Radio Merseyside, who recorded all 3 sets, to be broadcast in their entirety later on in the month.

In the end, only Wesy P’s was broadcast, as the other acts deemed their performances to be substandard. A week later, with Phil on holiday, John and Mick were at Liverpool University, with the High 5 manager John Beddows. The main bands on were Bronski Beat and the Style Council.

John & Mick were asked to get up and play a few songs, so they did so, and played Steelyard and a couple of others to a good and appreciative crowd.

Nelson Mandela Live at Garden Festival 1-7-84 We can take you higher Live at Garden Festival 1-7-84 Promised Land Live at Liverpool Uni 30-11-84 Stars fall down Live at Liverpool Uni 30-11-84

Live at International Garden Festival, Liverpool 1-7-84

Another miner’s benefit came along on 15th July in Kirkby, with approx 10 bands playing. Paul Stackpool filled in on bass as Dave was on holiday.

A charity concert at the Cavern arranged by Claire was attended by a couple of hundred people. John & Mick were asked to play ad-hoc again, and got up with Joey Musker and Simon Geddes playing percussion.

Dave C & Simon had arranged a studio session at Abbottsound near Chester, to record Steelyard & We can take you higher for a locally produced single. These were to be produced by Mick Davenport & Gordon Rowley. Three days were set aside for the session.

Problems ensued during the recording, due to Mick not having received his newly ordered drumkit, so a borrowed set led to problems due to poor quality of the drums, and undue pressure mounted on some of the band members by the producers. Allowing Simon to play keyboards on Steelyard added to the tension.

We can take you higher was replaced with Katynwood, and although the final product wasn’t perfect, it showed the potential the band had, had they been managed and advised more professionally. The session was swiftly followed by the ‘Trash the Bistro’ gig at the Everyman Bistro in Liverpool, which resulted in some trouble, and the band being barred from that venue.

Steelyard Katynwood

Another decent support with the Armoury Show at Clouds in Preston, then Larks in the Park at Sefton Park the next day, continued the busy gigging schedule of the band.

Photo session 25-2-84 minus Dave Photo session 25-2-84 minus Dave

Throughout September, new songs such as My War, Running with the Saints, Promised Land, Justice & Whats Happening Here were being penned, which were hoped to provide the core of the first, or even second album, should they ever come to fruition.

It was during this period that Radio Merseyside somehow planned exchange concerts with another station in Switzerland. The plan was for Swiss bands to come over to Liverpool and play a night at the Royal Court, being preceded by a similar concert in Zurich.

Con McConville was responsible for choosing the bands to go, and for some reason decided to offer a spot for John alone, but not the rest of the band. John decided to go, but this decision resulted in Dave and Mick leaving the band. The Royal Court lads persuaded them to stay, but it was generally accepted that Con blocked the whole band going, because he was always preferred John as a solo artist rather than as a band member.

A video recorded in and around Liverpool in October for Switzerland mysteriously developed a fault, and never saw the light of day. The Golden Lion in Wrexham was the first performance since John got back, and was followed by Radio City’s 10th anniversary concert at the Royal Court – 10 bands for 10 quid.

Western Promise were near the top of the bill, behind the Pale Fountains and a Box of Toys. This was probably one of the finest early performances, but unfortunately the liver recording wasn’t retained by Radio City.

A strange gig occurred early in November at the Ellesmere Arms – strange because Phil didn’t turn up. The band played anyway, and probably only got away with it because of the venue and crowd.

Another support at Liverpool University with Yeh Yeh No and Test Department was rewarded with news that they finally had a record deal, although nothing had been signed yet. This was the beginning of the end of the original line up, as the record company, the management team, and John were very secretive with information, keeping details close to their chests.

December was a strange month, with Dave Herd having a couple of rehearsals with the band, in line to replace Phil. Phil’s behaviour and reliability had become a cause for concern, so it was decided to replace him. With Dave Herd turning down the opportunity, and the record deal imminent, it was decided to stick with Phil.

New songs All Souls Day, Whatever Happens Now & Sound of the Guns were potentially to be part of the album.

Things were amiss in January 1985, when Dave C and Simon attended two rehearsals to record the drums, and the bass & drums for upcoming recordings. With hindsight, this was obviously to analyse the rhythm section, with a view to replacing Mick & Dave.

Despite numerous questions about when the band were to travel to London to put pen to paper, the issue was dodged, even when pressed prior to an interview on Roger Hill’s radio show.

On 3rd February, Dave met up with Mick to tell him that they were being sacked. No real reasons were ever given, but Mick was replaced by Sean Butler, and Dave said that his days were numbered.

The single ‘Justice’ was recorded in March 85 and was released in April 85.

link to official Western Promise site

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