THE UNGRATEFUL DEAD
MARDENBEAT SUMMER FUN 'LIVE AID' PARTY, COMPTON BASSETT 27th July 1985.
Next up was Vance "Rambo" Provins, Mike Humphreys and The Ungrateful Dead - originally The Dead Mountbattens apparently - what a beastly way to ridicule one of Britain's greatest homosexual Soviet spies, sadly missed since being blown up by the I. R. A. halfway through the 78 - 79 football season, or was it the 79 - 80?
Vance's one song set was highly promising, full of violence, way, way over the top, and I felt a definite pogo coming on - but then suddenly it was all over, Van the Man gone in a blast of sheet lightning and a fistful of thunderbolts. A flash, a band and a wallop. One should not overlook the contribution of Vance's partner-in-noise, Mike Humphreys either. A memorable vocal performance of favourite Ramones numbers "Rockaway Beach" and a magnificent "Surfin' Bird" in which he nearly ate the microphone, rose above the persistent sound problems and went down a storm. Steve Lines' buzz-saw rhythm guitar, which at first I admiringly thought was buzz-saw bass, was very badly let down by a mix which sounded as though it was being amped through a refrigerator, more suited to The Jesus & Mary Chain than the immortal Pinheads. All in all it was Gabba Gabba Good Stuff
Stuart Saw - Mardenbeat #4, August 1985
It seemed to take ages for The Ungrateful Dead to come on. When they did eventually, it occurred to me thatageing hipster Steve Lines is quite a decent rhythm guitarist - he also won the award for best trousers of the evening in a spontaneous poll taken in the gents toilets afterwards. The singer in the band gave such an authorative rendition of "Surfin' Bird" that I was almost taken in by his claim that he had actually written it. After such a ferocious and heartfelt version of "Holidays In Cambodia" from Vance Provins anything else had to be an anti-climax
Henry Race - Mardenbeat #4, August 1985
THE WHITE HART, CALNE. August 3rd 1985
I reckon this will be the last time we hear about how hard it is to get gigs when Calne's self-confessed worst group can get to play at will. A live group gatecrashing a party to play support beats a disco anyday. Bastard Squad are all about speed, about how Mike Humphreys takes his shirt off faster every time he sings, the songs finish quicker because they say they stopped every one before the end. They play by follow the leader plan. Steve Lines' guitar follows Mike's vocals. Bod on stand in bass and Tim on surprise drums follow the guitar - sort of delayed action. Apparently Mike forgot the words and Steve forgot the chords, but the advantage of playing so fast is that no-one has time to notice before they're forgetting something else. To anyone he is tired of music that's' too well rehearsed, Bastard Squad are a godsend - as wild and crazed as Calne has seen in years though their tour de force version of "Surfin Bird" is still their mainstay, where Mike's voice really WORKS. All I want to know is, is the microphone he brought up the same one he swallowed?
Paul Ricketts - Mardenbeat #4, August 1985
WHO ARE THE MYSTERY GIRLS?
THE JOLLY MILLER, CALNE 17th August 1985
Ad hoc Calne trash combo The Mystery Girls strained a few ear drums and twanged the three immortal chords into the capitalist void for a good half-hour at The Jolly Miller on Saturday night as support to The Fax. On the night the group comprised Steve Lines on Rickenbacker lead, Mike Humphreys on lead vocals and Tim Goodwin on drums - who stepped in at an hour's notice to provide restraining thrashing for the Girls.
Earlier in the day a paisley beclad Mr Lines had threatened to blow up the bar with a massive feedback barrage half-way through the set with his impressive, on-loan Rickenbacker six-string - a threat, which as it turned out, would have transpired but for the shock waves being soaked up by the audience before reaching said bar. Anyhow, riff flew aplenty as the Girls crashed their way through versions of Garageland classics like No Fun" and "Surfin' Bird". They also added their considerable weight to the Byrds revival with a gruesome version of "So You Wanna Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star?" although there was a marked absence of dark shades here. One of the highlights of a crispy set was a suitable inebriated version of "The Wild Rover", verging on the incoherent. The band we joined onstage by Rod Goodway for a final "Waiting For The Man"
Stuart Saw - Mardenbeat #4, August 1985
Surely everyone was too sober for The Mystery Girls? The disappointment at finding Bastard Squad under another name instead of a quartet of nubile and wanton young girls was too much for half the sex-crazed audience who retired in a huff to the back of the bar.
It was a pity Mike kept his shirt on, but fine to see him get in the "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" line and even more of a surprise that they played almost every song through to the finish. It was a laugh a minute; the lamest guitar intro every, painstakingly eked out of "Rock 'n' Roll Star" then Steve taking the song too fast for Mike to get all the words in. But I guess they'll have to go further from home to find an audience that really hates them.
Paul Ricketts - Mardenbeat #4, August 1985
PART TIME PUNKS
THE JOLLY MILLER, CALNE, September 1985
9 PM. Pre-performance whoops and screams of "Chaos!". Nobody knows what to expect and the tension is building. Apparently some people are coming to see the two fat guys on the poster (in the flesh) at this little jaunt.
And they're on. . . Tim Chaos on drums wearing wrap-around red shades and a headband, Dave Chaos on bass in assorted beads and scarves and 'Dave Chaos' T-Shirt, and Steve Lines himself, playing disgusting, dirty fuzz guitar (I couldn't begin to list what he was wearing!)
As a trio they play a remarkable version of "Pipeline" - good stuff! Oh for more instrumental numbers - they cut right through. No lyrics - no point, so you just listen and imagine. Then Mike Chaos climbs aboard and it's "12XU" - wallop! A splendid gutsy chunk of rock 'n' roll with added gristle. "First Time", the third toon, gleaned applause from the crowd who seemed to recognise this as a Chaos standard. Then "Garageland" - very appropriate and chaotically good. This is by far the best thing musically that Mike Chaos has had any dealings with - it's organised chaos. Next up came "Commando" and the others could do with a microphone to push it along a bit, although Darren Morgan is running about in a murderous frenzy, smashing a tea tray over his head (and anyone else who cares to participate) which does add a certain counterpoint to the beat.
Then Mike makes an announcement: "This next song was written by The Stooges, immortalised by The Sex Pistols and is about to be destroyed by The Chaos Brothers!" and it's a wicked translation of "No Fun" with a guitar solo that is the closest I've ever heard to the one on "I Heard Her Call My Name" by The Velvet Underground. Brilliant hybrid stuff! To follow that it has to be the Mike Chaos 'sound effects' tour-de-force. "Surfin Bird" and this time it really is better than the Ungrateful Dead version.
Special guest star Mr. Darren Morgan is introduced to sing along in the chorus of the next song, a version of The Pogues "The Boys From The County Hell", clutching the same battered tea tray when he accidentally trod on the fuzz pedal and for a wondrous moment I thought we might get an impromptu return to the "No Fun" solo but it was not to be. "The Wild Rover" followed and by now the tea tray is beyond repair, and judging by the way Morgan's looking, so's his brain as he shouts "I Am A Star!!"
And then it was over.
'Rustic' Rod Goodway - Mardenbeat #6, October 1985
COMPTON BASSETT 2nd November 1985
What can you say about The Chaos Brothers? The proved without a doubt that they need to go on when everybody is well bevied, not stone cold first on a bill. This is more demystifying of all the musician speak. Anyone can get up and be good! Obviously there's a lot of people agree with me that there's no end to the pleasure you can get from watching favourite songs being steamrollered. Personally I'm not prepared to slander any group who can play Stooges songs and "Garageland" and "12XU" with such a "Let's go wild!" attitude. And then bring on compere Darren Morgan for an orgy of "Wild Rover" tray bashing. If anyone told me six months ago that a group could get a whole audience of the usual undemonstrative Calne types to yell along with a song I wouldn't have believed them
And obviously they're not the wimps wimps we imagined as when Vance Provins and Rob Lynch started spitting at Steve and Mike, Steve dived into the audience and smashed his guitar into them. Dave Chaos on bass and Tim Chaos as the mystery Arab drummer are becoming a reasonable rhythm section. But in the end this is Mike Chaos' show and I can't wait to see the mayhem he'll cause when they get to play on a stage with room to move.
Paul Ricketts - Mardenbeat #7, November 1985
WHERE WERE YOU?
THE JOLLY MILLER, CALNE, 14th July 1985
As the anarchistic bunch up front sing "We are The Chaos Brothers" I imagine the new Calne anthem of "Waiting for The Chaos Brothers" being sung back at them by the audience.
The last time they played at The Miller the long wait was visually rewarded by strange psychedelic garb and funny hats. This time we got ill-fitting business suits and funny hats. Soon there will be contracts to go with them if they're not careful. They are getting that good.
Chaos abounds amid the white Styrofoam that blankets ceiling, floor and all points inbetween. And the Miller becomes Garageland, strangeness and charm. 90% of the crowd are whooping down the front, the rest look a bit bemused.
Well you can’t blame the folks who’ve come to see the heavy rock band that try to play all the right notes in the right (conventional) places. To them it must look like some kind of conspiracy . . . especially when they’re asked to sing along to “The Wild Rover” and the 90% do!
After “The 12 Days Of Christmas” has been thrashed out as the last number and the floor is left vacant and bereft, like only the aftermath of a bomb explosion or a ballroom blitz can, one is left to contemplate the meaning of it all. What is it? God knows but I love it!
Rod Goodway – Mardenbeat #8, December 1985
Just How chaotic are The Chaos Brothers? Even though they de-tuned their guitars and couldn’t hear each other, they played the same song at the same time, every song of their set. Even more out of character, only two of them stayed on until the end of the evening.
Back to the beginning. This was Simon Chaos’ first gig as a Chaos Brother and he is obviously much more at home with fast rhythms than Tim Chaos was/is. You could tell who hadn’t come to see The Chaos Brothers because they started leaving after about ten minutes chaos, obviously Knightshade fans, strangely they paid their quid entry fee, but never came back.
There was a really cool ultra violet light at the front of the stage which made the white Chaos badges gleam and they claimed they were all wearing white shirts purely by accident. The chaos started with the surfin’ instrumental “Pipeline”, really motivating, but once again too early in the evening for people to go wild, not counting the disturbing folk who managed to stay sat down, disinterested at the front
The great thing about a Chaos Brothers gig is that there is just as much chaos in the crowd as there is on the stage. Egged on by Cousin Chaos, Darren Morgan spraying white thread all over the crowds, writing CHAOS in large letters with it on the floor and having beer spitting contests with half the people there. All the time the group is churning out a set that would do anyone proud as a greatest hits with Steve wandering around like he’s not really sure why he’s there and so ends up in the crows when he can. Dave Chaos bopping up and down with his “I don’t know what song I’m playing but it’s fun” grin on bass. Mike Chaos reading the words as he sings, taking off a layer of clothing for the first three songs but not going all the way this time.
All through the set they were getting more and more pissed, swigging from their Chaos Brothers bottle of wine. The set has its ups and downs but as usual the best numbers remain the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird”, The Cramps “Goo Goo Muck” and “Garageland”.
They end with the totally over the top singalong of “The Wild Rover”, wit Morgan turning a beer tray into a salad bowl, with the help of Jumbo’s head. Jumbo collapsed semi-conscious and tried to get up for the last chorus but Morgan laid him out again with the tray.
Paul Ricketts – Mardenbeat #8, December 1985
WE'RE A GARAGEBAND
THE CROWN, TROWBRIDGE, 15th August 1986
The Chaos party arrived at about eight, after having a bit of trouble finding The crown. Apart from the band there were only about ten who'd bothered to get out of Calne and support them on their first gig away from home turf.
After setting up they worked out the set list (Steve and Dave wrote down all the songs they could remember and they decided to choose what to play when they were on).
They started with "Pipeline" and followed it with a wall of chaos.. Next came "12XU". This song seems to get faster everytime I hear it. The speed it was played at tonight was probably appreciated by the Trowbridge hard core punk audience - it inspired several of them to get up and throw each other about the floor, with the ferocity of 'angry young men' who've just seen the Pistols on TV.
I can't remember the order the songs came in, but I think I can remember most of what was played. If I've mentioned songs they didn't play or not mentioned songs they did, then it's just tough, you should have been there. They definitely did "Part Time Punks" and I'm fairly sure they also thrashed out "Get Offa My Cloud", "Bad Moon Rising", "20th Century Boy", "Limo Life", "The Boys From County Hell", "Garageland" and "We Are The Chaos Brothers", which Mike didn't seem to want to do. They finished with "Surfin' Bird" which a few of the Trowbridge punks had heard before and been shouting for for most of the set
Anthony Brown - Mardenbeat #17 1986
WE COME FROM GARAGELAND
THE CROWN, TROWBRIDGE, 15th August 1986
Big if - If Trowbridge wasn't full of CHAOS before it's on the CHAOS line now. All the other bands/organisers at The Crown here were relying on The Chaos Brothers!!! A band legendary, if only for the total unarranged way things get arranged - the band who assumed they'd get to Trowbridge without transport. But then the other two bands couldn't muster drums or a bass stack and with the Chaos Crew running late (driving round and round Trowbridge's world famous "where the hell are we?! one way traffic system), they were pulling their hair out.
There's not much of a stage, just a few pallets rocking over a hole in the floor. The people are mostly punks, or art punks, plus a few casuals from Calne, and ready to accept anything as long as its punk - even if its out of tune it doesn't matter.
This was like a throwback to The Chaos Brothers when they were Bastard Squad, going on first and slightly subdued. Maybe Mike needs a rabid crowd to get him going, to bounce excitement off, 'cos this time he was just coasting, hardly moving at all, just standing by the mike and singing. Or maybe alcohol is THE secret ingredient in the Chaos formula, and at this time only Dave Chaos had got pissed enough, looking like a shaved ZZ Top in his Dan Stuart cowboy hat. He was really trying hard, drinking enough for all the band, but being the only one that far gone he was less Dave Chaos than Dave Haphazard - always slightly behind what the others were doing, though he claimed that they, to the contrary, were playing too fast.
The audience couldn't make them out at first - setting off with "Pipeline" they looked at Dave's hat and thought "Oh no! We've got to listen to a Texas boogie band. Then on the instrumental 'chaos' number - the looks said "Hellfire! - we've got an avant garde jazz combo then!" Then they went punk - fast and furious and four people started dancing out of sheer relief. Dave tried to strange the neck of his bass but it got away from him. Simon drums like machine drums, the smoke clears and most people are too apathetic - too early in the evening for them too. Highlight was "Part Time Punks" with Mike singing the words especially for the people there. I guess it was a fun Chaos set, but not truly crazy. And as soon as it was over Mike and most of the Calne crowd went home.
Paul Ricketts - Mardenbeat #17 1986
WE ARE THE CHAOS BROTHERS!
THE CROWN, TROWBRIDGE, 24th October 1986
It started like a typical Chaos Brothers out of town gig: 6.45 in the King George, Calne and three members of the band are sitting nursing their pints wondering how the hell they're going to get over to The Crown, Trowbridge by 6.30 without transport. Equipment has been cut down to a minimum: three guitars and an amp and the future looks bleak. Mike Chaos already has a lift, chaufer driven as befits a star. Eventually a friend of the band, Don, offers his services as Chaos Mobile driver and the show hits the road, leaving the george just in time to be too late to recieve the phone call from Trowbridge asking where the hell they are.
Arrival at Trowbridge at 7.15 approx - the band Conflict haven't turned up due to a riot at their last gig in Leeds and The Chaos Brothers are the main act for the evening. Steve and Simon show concern that there is a marked lack of anything approaching a PA system, while Dave just sinks pints faster than Tony Jacklin sinks balls. Clad is his Dan Stuart hat he hangs out at the bar oblivious to all but the next pint.
While Steve chaos trades tapes, 'zines and insults with Something Simple, the Calne Chaos Crew arrive and after watching a bunch of seemingly lobotomised folk trying to play hawkwind's "Master of the Universe" they retreat to the relative safety of the bar.
When The Chaos Brothers hit the stage, Chaos hits the floor. Despite the fact that the vocals are inaudible and Dave is so pissed he doesn't know which amp he's plugged in to the crowd erupt in frenzied dancing. The Calne crowd have ventured in and are stood well back looking bemused. They can hardly belive its all happening. A brace of numbers open the set and the crowd start throwing themselves at the crowd like lemmings. Mike Chaos is dragged into the crowd more than once and handles the chaos around him with true style. Steve Chaos has people slamming into him and plays much of the set with a girl unconscious at his eet. Dave Chaos, in a bid to make some room, stands on an amp until he falls off.
The acoustic set is a vain attempt to try and slow things down but "Part Time Punks" has them going again and they're even breaching the last line of defence and slamming into the drum kit.
The second half of the set sees Mike Chaos in his element as the star of the show and he knows it. Steve Chaos leans on the door at the back of the stage and falls out into the night, still playing.
Everyone except the Calne crowd seemed to be enjoying it. God knows how anyone can like it - it IS Chaos! The sound is terrible, no vocals, Steve and dave are so pissed they can hardly play, out of tune. out of time and out of their minds! The trowbridge crowd don't seem to mind however and shouts of "More!" "Chaos!" and "Fuck Off!" greet the band as they wind up their set.
The "Wild Rover" is played with Cousin Chaos once again taking the vocals and somebody brings out a tray so Mike can beat the shit out of the heads of the rest of the band. Easily the most chaotic gig the band have done and the most responsive crowd they've played to
Kelvin Kellerman - Mardenbeat #18, 1986.
CHAOS! CHAOS! CHAOS!
THE CROWN, TROWBRIDGE, 12th December 1986
The only amazing thing about these gigs at The Crown in Trowbridge is that they actually ever happen at all. The Chaos Brothers are still relying on hanging around the bar of The George in Calne hoping that someone who can drive will turn up and be persuaded to drive them to the gig. This time that was the most interesting part of the night.
At The Crown the PA was just a joke. It just about worked for The Resurrected. By the time Something Simple started the singing couldn't be heard at all.
The audience was pitiffully small, probably because there was another punk gig on in bath the same night. The Chaos Brothers were the best of the night, getting people dancing with "Part Time Punks". A couple of blokes who carried an aroma of solvent about with them jigged about by the stage on shaky legs. If you wanted Chaos this wasn't the place or the time as they were far better a week later. At Trowbridge it was a night that nearly didn't happen and didn't happen even when it did and mostly a case of 20 miles too far.
Paul Ricketts - Mardenbeat #19 1987
THE CROWN, BISHOP'S CANNINGS, 19th December 1986
Although I've yet to meet anyone who thought that 1986 was a good year, it finally went out in style with The Chaos Brothets Xmas Party at The Crown, Bishop's Cannings. Rumoured by some to be the Chaosists last gig, due to the imminent departure of drummer Simon; everyone I spoke to thought it was their best gig ever. The quality of their playing weas certainly much improved - Dave's bass came across well - in the right key and everything! Seriously I do believe he was fairly sober and actually trying to hold a crisp, professional sound - which he suceeded in doing. In face the entire group came across as being very pro' which made me wonder if some of the slopier, drunken joke gigs I'd witnessed in the past by them had been at all necessary. I mean have The Chaos Brothers been capable of playing this well all along? Or have they really improved that much since, say the Psychedelic Party last summer?, simply by doing more gigs, including playing out of town a few times?
Well, practise makes perfect they say, but the Cannings gig combined all the usual crazy fun and fuzz and ya-hoo that we've come to expect from these boys on their 'looser' night with a no-holds-barred, teeth-clenched, hands-down serious music machine. Even in the quiter acoustic set they excelled, doing my favourite song of the night "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory". If this was an example of what The Chaos Brothers are capable of when their confidence is running high and their dedication to the end product, the music, is strong enough to prevent them getting totally wasted, strong enough to play this in time, this in tune - then I feel curiously cheated. But maybe this ain't their last gig, let's hope not, unless of course you want that ceiling at The Crown to stay up forever!!
'Rustic' Rod Goodway - Mardenbeat #19 1987
THE VICTORIA, SWINDON, 27th October 2005
Just when you thought it was safe to go a CHAOS BROTHERS gig . . it isn't. This was a relapse, taking us back to the "good ol' days" when gigs by THE CHAOS BROTHERS were chaotic.The set started off well with 1977 and The First Time but it wasn't long before Dave was having problems with his guitar and the whole band was having probems with feedback from the monitors. Still, they soldiered on and belted through I Need A Slave, New Rose and 20th Century Boy. Mike Chaos endulged in his usual antics of insulting the audience, climbing the PA, falling over, and, on occasion, even singing.
Being the main band of the night meant that alcohol took its toll on some band members and Dave had tuning problems throughout and even resorted to that old CHAOS BROTHERS trick of playing I Wanna Be Your Dog in the wrong key, which totally confused Steve, who did his best Walter Lure "I'm pissed off and leaning on the PA" stance. However despite all the problems the boys turned in a pretty impressive and entertaining set which was only marred by the pathetic fight at the end of the night which stopped the boys playing Part Time Punks and put the kibosh on the ensemble encore of Teenage Kicks. However I'm looking forward to seeing them again at this venue in December when they support fellow aging punksters 999 and let's not forget Mike's other band NOBODY'S HEROES who are supporting the Vibrators here next Friday.
Rick Martin - 28th October 2005
GOD SAVE THE CHAOS BROTHERS
THE VICTORIA, SWINDON, 27th October 2005
After a solid set by TWO SICK MONKEYS, THE CHAOS BROTHERS return to the Vic as support to fellow aging punksters 999. There's no time for the boys to get too drunk and they put in a fast, tight set. They even find time to chuck in a few old favourites such as Janie Jones and She's Bringing You Down. They play a rousing version of The Biggest Blow which gets the packed house singing along. Also notable were Bolan's 20th Century Boy and the finale of I Wanna Be Your Dog/Pink Flag. Dave Young redeemed himself in style with some sterling lead guitar work on this (and Limo Life). Now, if only they'd decided to play 999's Homicide . . . Can't wait to see the boys back here soon - God save THE CHAOS BROTHERS!!
Jim Xavier - 10th December 2005