The decision by Cherry Red Records to compile and release C86, C87 and C88 triple-disc boxsets as 30th anniversary celebrations has brought much joy and happiness to Villain Towers. I’ve finally picked up on many bands that I vaguely recall reading about in one or other of the UK’s weekly music papers but in whom I didn’t invest any of my meagre earnings on their vinyl – but then again I didn’t actually buy much music in the final few years of that particular decade.

I’m sort of making up for things now and doing my best to pick up second-hand 45s and LPs but only if the price is right. Only a decade ago, I could make multiple purchases for not much more than the packaging and posting but many sellers are now taking advantage of the increased interest in vinyl and have inflated prices to the point where I refuse to bite. I did, however, go out of my way to get my hands on an EP from 1987 thanks to really enjoying this track on one of the afore-mentioned Cherry Red releases:-

mp3 : BOB – What A Performance

As with so many of the bands who gained a following back in those days, the London-based BOB owed much to the late John Peel. The three founding members – Richard Blackborow (vocals, keyboard and guitar), Simon Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Jem Morris (bass) had recorded and issued a three-track flexi disc in 1986 which they managed to get into the hands of the influential DJ. He played it a few times on his night-time show and in due course offered them a session. The band had now expanded, by 1987, into a four-piece with Gary Connors coming in to replace a previously utilised drum machine.

A five track EP on the newly formed Sombrero Records was the first release from this expanded line-up. It’s an exceptionally catchy number, certainly of its time and place, which remains more than capable of bringing a smile to the face of the most casual of listeners. The EP contained three other very enjoyable numbers as well as an extended and slightly over-ambitious mix of the lead track:-

mp3 : BOB – Deary Me
mp3 : BOB – Piggery
mp3 : BOB – Memory of A Free Lunch
mp3 : BOB – Worra Performance

This turned out to be the only contribution from the new drummer as he was replaced by Dean Legget who had been part of the newly disbanded Jamie Wednesday (whose other members would go on to become Carter USM). This line-up was together for a couple of years and while their subsequent releases continued to be championed by Peel, who also offered a further two sessions, they never became anything more than cult heroes. A new drummer, Stephen Hersom, replaced Legget in late 1990 and was involved in the LP Leave The Straight Life Behind, which was released on their own House of Teeth label. Sadly, the collapse of the Rough Trade distribution arm created huge problems for BOB who were particularly vulnerable given the smallness of their label and substantial losses were incurred. It was no real surprise that the band called it a day soon after.

As with so many from the era, there has been a 21st century comeback with the album being re-released in an expanded form in 2014 complete with the Peel Sessions and other tracks. The following year the band got back together again for some live shows, including an indie festival in Manchester.


7 thoughts on “BOB

  1. Love Bob , was planning an ICA as felt they had a lot more creativity and variety than most. Convenience is the hit that got away.
    Came across them supporting 1000 violins and it is the only time i have seen a support acts genuinely blow away a main band.

  2. ha… just realised I’m actually wearing a BOB t-shirt at the moment – the STP logo design 🙂

  3. Correction for JC – for ‘Leave The Straight Life Behind’ (and its preceding four track EP ‘Stride Up’ released in 1989), Stephen Hersom actually was the replacement BASS PLAYER for original member Jem Morris, and not drummer Dean Leggett – who remained with BOB until their dissolution in 1991/2 (and indeed was again part of their recent reformation and tour)

  4. Small quibble aside, what a great thing it is to see continued love for this most criminally under-rated of classic late 80s indie bands. I still play their 12″ EPs to this day (‘Banwell Blues No. 2’ from the ‘Kirsty’ EP) is probably my favourite BOB ballad of them all – so swoonful and evocative of lazy warm summer evenings. Sadly I never got to see their recent final last-ever live shows – on the back of a 7″ reissue of their classic ‘Convenience’ single – due to being a victim of geography (what else?)….

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