Thursday, 8 January 2015


Derwent, The Rage, 100 Club, 8 January 1985
Steve Moran, The Rage, 100 Club, 8 January 1985
As 1984 gave way to 1985 a "Mod supergroup" appeared on the scene and looked destined to lead the charge of the latest generation of Mod bands (or, to be more accurate, bands liked by Mods) springing up. The Rage featured Derwent Jaconelli (ex-Long Tall Shorty) who'd swapped his drumsticks for a microphone, Jeff Shadbolt (ex-Purple Hearts) on bass, Buddy Ascot (ex-The Chords) on drums and Steve Moran (ex-Long Tall Shorty) on guitar. On Friday 23rd January 2015 the band will celebrate with a 30th anniversary reunion gig - their first UK date in 25 years - at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.

Their first gig took place at the 100 Club on 18 December 1984 supporting a reformed Purple Hearts. Myself and school friends Clive and Jamie went along even though none of us were massive fans of the Purple Hearts (we had one of their records between us) but we'd recently started to go to gigs and this felt like a big deal in Mod circles so we were duty bound to go. Thank goodness we did. From the opening chords of The Rage's set the crowd went bananas. It's almost unbelievable now when I think of it. Here was a band nobody had heard before, playing songs nobody knew (apart from a few covers), and yet the atmosphere was akin to celebrating a last minute winner in a London derby. The energy from the band - and from Derwent in particular; like a bull in a china shop - translated to the crowd instantly and we leapt around and bundled into each other throughout every big ballsy song. It was love at first sight. So much so, one girl jumped on stage and whipped off her top and bra.

Us three kids sat crashed at the back of the club, on the floor, leaning against the wall; Cavern sta-press, Fred Perry jumpers, flight jackets drenched in sweat as we scrabbled together enough money for a drink to cool down. The Purple Hearts did their thing and we enjoyed them but they were from a different era and we felt a little separate from them. All we could talk about after was The Rage.

A few weeks later, 8 January 1985, The Rage were back at the 100 Club for a gig with Makin' Time. I didn't take my camera out very often as it was too bulky to fit in my pocket but made an exception occasionally and this was one of those times as you can see for the rubbishy photos above. Makin' Time, with their instantly snappy rhythm and soul, were good and throughout 1985 got better and better, culminating in their debut album and some incredible gigs during the summer. How "Here Is My Number" didn't make the charts to see them kicking balloons on Top Of The Pops is one of the great mysteries of the hit parade. Anyway, back to The Rage and they followed on where they left off in December, only this time TWO girls paraded their goods as the band knocked seven shades of shit out of "Shout". I was fifteen years old, in a famous rock and roll venue in the West End, watching a loud band nobody outside our little clique knew about, and stood open-mouthed as two half-naked girls shook their tuppennies in my direction. School was becoming less interesting by the day.

What made all this extra exciting was this was a brand new band and we were there from the beginning. Rather than being reliant on fans from their previous bands, The Rage supporters by and large were coming to them for who they were now rather than who'd they'd been. There was a keenness to follow them and see them play whenever possible, which was regularly. The 100 Club put them on almost monthly, including a support slot to Spencer Davis and Brian Auger which was an odd evening of generation clashes. The music press (especially Sounds which was supportive of the Mod scene at the time) were giving coverage and their own songs "Looking For You", "Temptation Into Temptation", "The Face", "Come On Now", "Our Soul" soon became familiar anthems. They hadn't released any records but it surely, we thought, wouldn't be long before we had something to play at home. We were half right.

One Saturday afternoon during a trip up to Carnaby Street I was in The Merc looking at the latest records and modzines. When I say "looking at", I mean this literally. Jimmy in The Merc had tantalising goods (The Action, Creation and Artwoods Edsel LPs for a start) on a display rack but erected a chrome crash barrier in front of them, leaving everything out of reach from prying hands. Young Mods would stand in front of the barrier and sheepishly ask this old geezer, "Please Jimmy, can I look at issue twelve of In The Crowd?" Jimmy didn't speak much English but understood money, would grin, nod, and gently pass it to you, under the tacit understanding that once touched, you were obliged to buy. I ended up with a stack of scruffily produced modzines as a result. On this particular day the music playing in the shop was a tape of the Rage at the 100 Club. I recognised it straight away. Jimmy said he'd be selling copies next week. Fantastic news. The following week they weren't ready. "Come back next week". I went back. Not ready. "Next week, sorry". Went back again. And again. After about six weeks Jimmy finally had the tapes. It was expensive and sounded like it was recorded from the back of the room inside a sports bag hidden under a pile of parkas then put onto the cheapest, poorest quality cassette money could buy. I doubt the band knew about it but it did the job for a while until the inevitable happened and the tape broke, all twisted and tangled inside the player, unable to be repaired. 

Despite our support, The Rage, wisely, were keen to avoid the "Mod supergroup" term, knowing the prejudices held against being associated with such an unlovable species. It was a balancing act for many that year: keeping the mod scene on side without alienating them or, probably more importantly, the rest of the world thus reducing the band's potential audience and income. As Jeff Shadbolt told Garry Bushell in Sounds: "We could say 'yeah, we're a Mod supergroup' and take the Mods' money. But that's not what we want - we want everyone's money!" Thirty years on I doubt they mind the tag.

For most of '85 everything looked rosy but they lost their impetuous with their failure to release any records. They were rightly ambitious and out for a suitable deal. Ascot and Shadbolt already knew some pitfalls of the music industry from their previous experiences and the band were taken under the wing of John Weller who wouldn't have held back with an opinion. The newly formed Countdown Records signed The Untouchables and Makin' Time, and to likes of me, ignorant to the Machiavellian workings of the music business, that would've made a suitable home for The Rage. It's interesting now to reflect on Derwent's words from July '85 when I wrote to him about the possibility: "The deal was shit, bad organisation of the whole label. We have no faith in the long term future of the label." In September it was revealed The Prisoners did sign to Countdown, and we all now know the ramifications of those inky signatures.

By November, weekly Mod newspaper The Phoenix List reported the latest Rage 100 Club gig attracted only 83 people, a far cry from the beginning of the year. I didn't go. Those later gigs weren't helped by no longer appeared with bands Mods wanted to see, so it became a less attractive proposal, especially for a band, as I've said, with no records to give them a boost. It's also worth adding The Rage weren't the only band experiencing a drop off in attendances at the 100 Club; the venue had milked the better bands dry, spread them too thin, and things were moving on fast anyway. 

That elusive record, a single, finally surfaced in well into 1986 on the tiny independent, Diamond, who'd hoovered up many Mod and 60s style bands during the past couple of years. As well as being too little, too late, and feeling after all that promise something of a defeat to sign to Diamond when they could've done that a year previously, it in no way represented the thump, the power, the rebel rousing stomp of The Rage as a live band. "Looking For You", their sole release, had a limp and weedy sound. Even now I can't understand why it sounds more like The Style Council rehearsing "Headstart For Happiness" than The Clash assaulting "Tommy Gun". It doesn't do them justice. But by then, even I wasn't listening. 

The last gig Rage gig I saw was on 9th August '86 at the Hammersmith Clarendon, again with Makin' Time. Clive and Jamie had long since bailed out of the Mod scene so I went with Sue, who was the only "Modette" (it was acceptable to use the term then) within miles of where I lived. I can't recall much other than wearing a red Harrington and red socks, and that I definitely didn't see any boobs that night. 

Things changed dramatically for the Mod scene throughout 1986. People dropped off the scene like flies and found new interests; all the best bands split and that chapter was over, but in 1985 - when we'd go out every week to see either Makin' Time, The Scene, The Prisoners, The Untouchables, The Moment, Direct Hits etc - for that glorious year, The Rage were indeed, for a while at least, all the rage.  

The Rage and The Scene appear at the 100 Club on Friday 23rd January 2015. Tickets available here. Both bands - and all the Mod bands mentioned in this article - also feature on the new 4-CD box set Millions Like Us - The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989, released by Cherry Red Records. 

Fay Hallam, Makin' Time, 100 Club, 8th January 1985


  1. Brilliant stuff. I felt like I was there after reading this and that pic of Fay Hallam seals the deal! Ah youth!

  2. Ta Bill. Thought folk might like the Fay picture...

  3. I was totally besotted with Fay. This article brings back many great memories. Chords, Purple Hearts, Makin Time and The Rage were my favourite bands of the 80's