Memories of Hastings Bands in the 80’s by Tony May

I bet a lot of you remember ‘The Telham Tinkers’, The Architects’, ‘The Disc Jockey’ and ‘Stylus’.  In fact, just thinking about the 80’s band scene in Hastings brings back to mind so many ‘local heroes’– after all who could ever forget…

Die Laughing  Hastings very own hard rock band reached the later stages of the national Melody Maker (remember that music rag?) Rock Contest in 1978 but somehow never quite made it in the record business. Stalwarts to the town, Tel, Lol and Mick continued to keep Hastings rocking for many years however and were regular performers at ‘The Carslile’ on the seafront. One self-financed single was released but as far as I know the band were never fortunate enough to release an album.

 Cracked Mirror I don’t know a lot about this rock band but I do recall having a good few copies of their only album in stock at Stylus Records. I wish I’d bought a copy (or three) now too as original copies of the album change hands for anything up to £500 these days! Only 200 copies of the album were pressed you see and the group are now regarded as one of the most original of the ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ bands of the early 80’s.

 Turn Blue/ Face To Face (plus various other names) Ah yes, the loveable and always original Dave Arnold! Dave was (and probably still is knowing him) always one of the first to push the boundaries of music and art. In the early 80’s he was the front man and think tank behind a plethora of very unusual bands. ‘Turn Blue’ may not have been everyone’s scene but they were prolific and Dave built up a steady fan base for his music by releasing regular albums on cassette that he then sold through local record shops. My personal fav of Dave’s though was one of his more commercial tracks, ‘Body Heat’.  Recorded when Dave was part of the duo, ‘Face To Face’, the song had a killer guitar riff and some sexually explicit female groaning on it but best of all was the fact that the lyrics of the song included the classic line ‘suckin’ on an ice cube tryin’ to keep cool’ – Immortal!

The Teenbeats Well, what more can anyone say about this lot? Hastings favourite Mods may have recorded only two singles (one of which the front cover pic was taken underneath Hastings Pier!) but they will long live on in the hearts and minds of music lovers in the town. Tragically, in June 2009, just before a scheduled reunion gig was planned, we lost Dave Blackman – the bands drummer. Lead singer, Huggy Leaver, went on to be a well-known actor of course and the band will always be remembered nationally because they were one of the first groups to be managed by, the now legendary, Simon Fuller.

Expandis Expandis was another band to build a good reputation upon innovation, live performance and self-produced cassette only albums for sale at gigs and in local record shops. For a while they looked booked for big things, Elton John’s label, Rocket Records, signed the band and in August 1983 released a single on 7 and 12” called ‘Mystic Man’. As is all too frequent a story in the music business however, the single failed to chart.  Interestingly, a second single ‘My Love’ is rumoured to exist but I have never seen a copy (whereas ‘Mystic Man’ was everywhere at the time) and such a single is not listed in any of the Music Master (the music business bible) catalogues from the period? I think it very likely that the single only got as far as the promo stage.

I don’t know an awful lot about what happened to the band after this but I do know John Wilde went to America and worked for a time as an interior designer and that Phil Thornton is still an active recording artist to this day.  Excitingly for fans, two Expandis albums, ‘I’m Not Waving I’m Drowning’ and ‘Living Like This’ (featuring ‘Mystic Man’) are now available to download from itunes. Both are priced at £7.99 if you’re interested.

Such good times and such good memories, eh?

Dave Arnold…. Cheers for the mention Tony, above’s a link to the track Body Heat & the label website

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