Alyson’s Archive #1 – Eddie and the Hot Rods, Radio Stars and Squeeze

Welcome to this occasional series where I will very embarrassingly, share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think back in the 1970s that they would find their way onto such a thing as a “blog” thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his little invention, the world wide web! 

Back in 1978 I used to keep a journal. Here is the extract from Friday, March the 3rd, the day I’d gone in to Aberdeen with the school boyfriend (s bf) to watch Eddie and the Hot Rods at the Capitol Theatre. The Capitol was used as a cinema most of the time but between the mid ’70s and mid ’80s I went to see an awful lot of bands and artists perform there. Eddie and the Hot Rods were the only band on the bill that night who’d had much chart success to date, having got to No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart with Do Anything You Wanna Do in August, 1977. The two support acts were Radio Stars and an unheard of, fledgling band called Squeeze.

If you can read the extract below you will see that I was a very “proper” and not very “cool” teenager (who also didn’t have brilliant writing skills it seems) but hey, I was wearing my new-fangled straight-legged trousers and was still flushed with the success of having won the prize for “Best Pogoing” at our local Community Centre (documented here) so despite my misgivings about punk concerts, it turned out to be a good night. Interesting also to note that the ticket cost only £2.50 but looking back that was what I earned from my Saturday job, working a whole day in a shop – It’s all relative.

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The strange thing is that in later life we seem to develop a selective memory based on subsequent events and I had always thought that the standout act that night was Squeeze – Looking back at my journal entry, the verdict was that “they weren’t bad”. How bizarre as down the line they became one of my favourite bands and Up The Junction is still one of my all-time favourite songs.

Eddie and the Hot Rods were apparently “very good” and we had “no qualms about jumping up and down pogoing”, although it was “an exhausting occupation” (it’s all just so embarrassing). I don’t really think that in the annals of punk, Eddie and the Hot Rods will be remembered as one of that movement’s biggest movers and shakers – They were more of a pub rock band from Canvey Island but I suppose back in 1977, they did fit that whole “new wavey” mould quite well.

It seems that the band I most enjoyed that night were the Radio Stars and looking at the picture of them now, I still remember the showmanship of their lead singer, Andy Ellison. He had bleached blond hair and certainly knew how to work the crowd – I remember how he effortlessly meandered through the audience, niftily navigating his way across the back of the seats in the stalls. Their minor hit record Nervous Wreck also went down well that night and funny how my memories of that night are so at odds with how the respective careers of each of these bands evolved. I don’t know if it’s just me but looking at him now, does he have a hint of the Joe Brown about him?

But I can’t leave it there, for although it seems I didn’t think that much of Squeeze that particular night, they went on to become one of the UK’s best-loved bands. The vast majority of their songs were written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, but of course the band Squeeze also spawned one Jools Holland, who seems to have become a bit of a National Treasure and whose annual New Year’s Eve Hootenanny is watched by millions. During the height of their popularity in the late ’70s/early ’80s they had hits with such classics as Cool for Cats, Slap and Tickle, Another Nail in My Heart, Pulling Mussels (from the Shell), Tempted, Labelled with Love, Black Coffee in Bed and Hourglass, as well as the aforementioned Up The Junction.

It was with great joy therefore, whilst watching live footage from Glastonbury this year, that I managed to catch Chris and Glenn pop up as guests in the outdoorsy green room area where Mark Radcliffe and (my other girl crush) Jo Whiley usually reside. They performed a very alternative version of Up The Junction complete with a band of kazoo players – This clip has appeared in my little corner of the blogosphere before but well worth another outing I feel.

Up The Junction (original version) by Squeeze:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how we have a selective memory when it comes to reminiscing about the music of our youth. Just as Fred Astaire’s first audition went badly and notes were made to the effect, “Can’t act, can’t sing, slightly bald, can dance a little”, my diary entry from March ’78 was less than complimentary about Squeeze. Fortunately I soon saw the light and became a big fan down the line – I must have just been far too dazzled on the night by the energetic antics of Joe Brown lookalike Andy Ellison, to really concentrate on the talents of Messrs Difford and Tilbrook. That of course and all the pogoing – “An exhausting occupation”!

Up The Junction Lyrics
(Song by Chris Difford/Glenn Tilbrook)

I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on the windy common
That night I ain’t forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said “you are a lady”
“Perhaps” she said. “I may be”

We moved in to a basement
With thoughts of our engagement
We stayed in by the telly
Although the room was smelly
We spent our time just kissing
The Railway Arms we’re missing
But love had got us hooked up
And all our time it took up

I got a job with Stanley
He said I’d come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday
I worked eleven hours
And bought the girl some flowers
She said she’d seen a doctor
And nothing now could stop her

I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her

This morning at four fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another

And now she’s two years older
Her mother’s with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there’s something missing
I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business
And she won’t write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it’s my assumption
I’m really up the junction

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

25 thoughts on “Alyson’s Archive #1 – Eddie and the Hot Rods, Radio Stars and Squeeze”

  1. Hi Alyson,

    I so enjoyed reading this diary entry – thanks for sharing it with us. How wonderful that you’ve kept it safe for all of these years. I kept one myself for a short time only (my mother was always snooping in my drawers.) Your post has tempted me to write about my best friend and I lining up for Who tickets when they were the supporting act for Herman’s Hermits. (They weren’t yet the superstars they would become in North America.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wasn’t sure how well this would go down as although I always thought I was quite a cool teenager, these diary entries don’t really bear that out! Anyway, the cat’s out of the bag now, so to speak, and plenty more where this came from as I am such a hoarder.

      That’s a great story, how the Who were the support act (just like Squeeze) – I would love to hear more about that sometime. You have such great memories Marie and although I know you’re not 100% comfortable about sharing them, they would make for riveting reading.

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  2. Fabulous post Alyson. I was at the Ipswich stop on this very tour, being a fan of all three bands. I was particularly pleased to see Radio Stars, as in the 1960’s Andy Ellison was the singer with John’s Children, Marc Bolan’s pre-fame band. Like you, I used to write reviews of many of the gigs I attended, but thankfully mine have long since disappeared. They were certainly nowhere near as eloquently written as yours, judging by this one. I look forward to reading more of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did suspect, being just the same age, you might have also witnessed this tour. Didn’t find out about the John’s Children link until I wrote this post though! Info was hard to come by back in the day.

      As for the journals, still got ’em all but as for the “eloquently written” – No, no, no. Just downright embarrassing but I was quite young to be fair and didn’t think they would ever be seen by anyone other than myself. Bit of cultural history however and if I don’t do this now they will end up in the recycling bin come my demise!

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  3. Wonderful post, Alyson – right up my alley!
    Love the diary entry – it’s so honest and fresh. We have to remember that all this was so new, and so exciting – it’s easy to look back on things with all the experiences we’ve had since and all the things we now know and forget just how it really felt at the time. I like spooling back to it and reminding myself not just of the facts but of the *feelings*….of how new it all was.
    I absolutely loved Do Anything You Wanna Do – it felt like they were speaking to me! I also saw Eddie & the Hot Rods at a free (!) open air gig that used to be held every Summer in a nearby town’s park, the year I turned 15. They seemed punky to me then, as did Radio Stars, and I think it was just that anyone that was a bit noisy or different, especially if they had short hair and wore straight trousers – was still quite a phenomenon at that moment. Even people we saw in town who wore straight trousers (which were quite hard to find in the shops!) and maybe cap-sleeved T shirts, had an edge about them, because it seemed that everyone else was either a residual hippie, a disco kid, or even a Ted (remember them!) So, again, it was all about context… it didn’t have to be extreme to stand out, it was just that certain something against the backdrop of the late ’70s mainstream. We just knew.
    Anyway, I’ve waffled on… (could talk about this stuff for hours…) but so love this post, thanks! More, please!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought you would like this one but again you must see that my punk credentials are tenuous at best. I think you voiced the same kind of thoughts over on the other post about the Pogoing Competition (!) but yes, just wearing a pair of straight-legged trousers and having the long feather cut hair cut short was quite revolutionary back then.

      As for the journal entries, plenty more where they came from but not many more punk concerts I’m afraid – It was 1978 and the other phenomenon that year of course was disco, and I ended up being drawn in to that as well. Strange times!

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    1. Just hopped over to YouTube to watch that video – You are right, not a great song, but to be in a pop video aged 16 should have been really exciting! Not an Oscar winner for sure and I couldn’t work out which conga person you were but again, a bit of cultural history. Thanks for sharing your post!

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    1. Thanks Neil. I’m guessing the Radio Stars (or any of these bands) never made it big in the US then – Although maybe Squeeze have been heard of. Yes they are still doing their thing although a shock to the system as they are very much my peer group and are now very much middle-aged men. How did that happen!?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post, Alyson…and the concept of opening up a bit of your younger self to your readers. It’s fun to look back & see how our opinions have changed, and it’s great that you have written documentation of those opinions. Well done. Also, bonus points for multiple references to pogoing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks John – Seems a few of us (of a certain age) took in that concert in 1978. Unlike you I don’t think I ever had a programme but I do have a few others I might share. Not so subtle hint about one of them, “We ran with the gang, with our blue suede shoes, rocking every night and day”!

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    1. Didn’t realise I’d mentioned the pogoing quite so often – My current work colleagues don’t know about this place but I can guarantee they would never suspect I had a former life as a pogo-er!

      As for the journals, it is fun to look back at the words and opinions of our younger selves although quite sad in a way too. Nostalgia has a distinct sadness to it for so many reasons.

      Will visit FYF later on but I have already seen who it is this week – Needless to say I have an anecdote!

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        1. Yes my writing was neat but just not very good – Hopefully I’ve improved a little over the years.

          Thought you were bound to have heard of Radio Stars but then again there were loads of bands back then that had a very short shelf-life. Squeeze were third on the bill but this was “just before they got famous” so understandable.

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  5. Sorry to be so late to this: not sure how I missed it earlier. What a fantastic idea for a series: I wish I had such well-written and neatly written diary entries from my own youth. You’re being a bit harsh on your younger self’s writing ability: believe me, as someone who spends a lot of time reading the illiterate scrawls of teenage college students these days… compared to them, you were a Poet Laureate.

    Never seen Squeeze live unfortunately, but I did see Glenn Tilbrook once. Great concert until he decided to take us all out of the venue itself and perform a few songs in the bar, which we couldn’t fit in, so we ended up listening to him from way down the corridor. Apparently he does such things quite frequently… to prove his everyman credentials?… but actually, Glenn, if I pay to see a show, I’d rather see the whole thing. Whinge over.

    More, please, Alyson!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are being very kind as the writing is a bit embarrassing considering the age I was at the time BUT a bit of cultural history from a primary source. Lots more where this came from but not quite as cutting age I’m afraid – Like yourself I had no qualms as a teenager about admitting to liking a very broad range of music. As I keep saying however, it’s all about the “quality”, whatever the style or genre.

      Never apologise for not having dropped by a post – Don’t know how you manage to get round all the blogs as it is. Wherever I visit, you seem to have been there first! I have a core of about 10 I visit regularly but hopefully, like not feeling under pressure to publish to a schedule, if we don’t drop by a blog for a few days or weeks it is just put down to being busy with other things. (I wish I hear you say, as I do tend to drop by your blog quite often and leave very wordy comments – working on it, honest!)

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    1. Ha ha – It seems that many of us of a certain vintage caught them on this tour. Just doesn’t feel like nearly 40 years ago though which is scary.

      Thanks for dropping by – Nice to have a new visitor.

      Like

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