The recent(ish) postings about The Specials and the recollections of helping out at youth nights held at my school in 1980/81 got me thinking about some of the other music that was played and went down well with the 12-14 year olds. One such band, who I can honestly say I haven’t given any thought to in almost 40 years until pulling this piece together, is The Lambrettas.
I remember them having couple of hit singles, and I’ll come to them in due course. The thing I hadn’t quite remembered was that the singles were big hits and led to the band being regulars for a while on Top of the Pops.
Wiki has had to be my friend today, and what follows is derived from the page on the band.
The Lambrettas were a mod revival band, first active in the late 1970s and early 1980s and named after the iconic Italian scooter brand. The original line-up consisted of Jez Bird (singer/guitarist), Doug Sanders (guitarist/vocalist), Mark Ellis (bassist) and Paul Wincer (drummer).
Their biggest hit was a cover version of the 1950s Leiber and Stoller song, Poison Ivy, which reached #7 in the UK Singles Chart and they scored a #12 hit with the follow-up, Da-a-a-nce. In the same year, they released the album Beat Boys in the Jet Age, which reached #28 on the UK Albums Chart, and scored another minor hit single, Another Day (Another Girl) (hastily renamed from “Page 3” after complaints from The Sun newspaper). After the Mod revival faded, subsequent singles, which included a cover of Somebody to Love (the Jefferson Airplane song and NOT the one by Queen!!), and a second album, 1981’s Ambience, were commercial failures. The band played their final concert in their original incarnation in London on 14 April 1982.
Jez Bird re-formed the band for a time in the 1990s but without much success. In August 2008, he died, of cancer, at the ridiculously young age of 50.
Doug Sanders and Paul Wincer reunited to play a one-off gig as The Lambrettas at the “Modrophenia ’79” event in Brighton in August 2009, with them being joined by two new members on guitar and bass. The response to the show was such that they ended up playing a series of gigs and tour over the ensuing years, adding a three-piece brass section along the way. In February 2017, The Lambrettas released an EP, their first new music in 35 years.
Here’s the two hit singles from 1980. They remain listenable and enjoyable. They certainly took me back in time and brought back some happy memories of a very innocent time when life was completely carefree.
No real surprise I liked these, particularly the latter, given that at that time, I thought The Jam were, and would always be, the most important act in musical history.