THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF ZIP (Part One)

A GUEST POSTING by KHAYEM

Yes, it’s a tongue-in-cheek title: Zip only released one record. It also turned out to be the only time I got to see Pete Shelley live in concert and by accident, at that.

It’s May 1988, I’ve recently dropped out of college and got a full-time job and suddenly I have money for drinking and gigs. Unfortunately, whilst my friends have a passion for the former (especially if their newly minted mate is buying the rounds), few share my taste (or financial means) for the latter. So, I frequently found myself in a trade off, going to see bands that I had little or no interest in, in order to see a band I really wanted to see. This particular gig swap in 1988 was Siouxsie & The Banshees (me) and Erasure (my mate Paul).

Paul was a college friend and his enthusiasm for hip hop and rap (and James Brown) was infectious. It’s fair to say that Erasure was a bit of an unexpected suggestion from him, but I went along with it. I’d enjoyed Vince Clarke’s musical excursions with Depeche Mode and Yazoo and bought his one-off collaborations with Paul Quinn and Feargal Sharkey, as well as some of the early Erasure singles. By the time of The Innocents tour in 1988, I wasn’t a fan but I really wanted to see Siouxsie & The Banshees so needs must…

The gig was at the Colston Hall in Bristol and we had seats in row V, the ‘rear stalls’ about 17 back from the stage, far from an up front and personal experience.

There was no information on the support act, but the merchandise tables proclaimed ‘Zip’, whoever they might be. From our distant seats, even the sight of the three men in black taking to the stage didn’t elicit any recognition. However, the moment the voice started, a “What the…?!” moment triggered. My brother had Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady and it was a regular Friday/Saturday getting-ready-for-going-out soundtrack, so I could hear it was Pete Shelley, even if I couldn’t see him clearly. But… what was this?

I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember all that much about the gig (and browsing the internet, I don’t seem to be alone). Apart from the single A & B sides, I’ve no idea what other songs were on the setlist. I’ve got a vague recollection that they may have played Ever Fallen In Love… (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?) but that may just be a retrospective false memory. What I do recall was that Zip’s music was frenetic if a bit tinny, Shelley’s vocals sounded higher pitched than expected and it was all a bit…well, disappointing, really.

I didn’t see Zip’s debut single Your Love/Give It To Me around at the time and I wouldn’t have been moved to buy it following the Bristol gig. Thanks to the internet, I managed to hear the songs many years later and they’re actually not all that bad. Give It To Me actually first appeared as a B-side to Pete Shelley’s 1984 single Never Again and the better of the two Zip versions is the extended mix on the 12” single. Likewise, in my opinion, the remixed version of Your Love is superior. I don’t recall either getting airplay on Radio 1 though I do remember the following year hearing the similarly sounding remix of Homosapien II on the Annie Nightingale show. I’m guessing this too was short-lived as it was also in 1989 that Buzzcocks reformed. Never one to let a good song go to waste, in 1996 both songs were re-recorded for Buzzcocks’ All Set album, sounding as if they were always meant to sound that way.

There’s very little information about Zip available on the internet, but there’s an interesting article from The List magazine, promoting Zip’s support slot on Erasure’s The Innocents tour

https://archive.list.co.uk/the-list/1988-04-15/34/

Here is Zip’s sole 12” single from 1988:

Zip – Your Love (Single Version)
Zip – Your Love (Ext)
Zip – Give It To Me (Ext)

plus the various other versions of the A & B sides:

Pete Shelley – Give It To Me (Single Version) (1984)
Zip – Give It To Me (Single Version) (1987)
Buzzcocks – Your Love (1996)
Buzzcocks – Give It To Me (1996)

And the Erasure gig? It was okay, but it was the early 1990s before I really started enjoying their singles again. The Siouxsie & The Banshees gig followed in September 1988 and I thought it was great, Paul less so.

But this is where it gets weird for me. I remember that Siouxsie spent the whole concert sitting on a stool because she had injured her leg. However, all of the online info I can find mentions a broken leg during the 1985 tour, which I couldn’t possibly have been to. If anyone else attended the Peep Show tour in 1988 and can ease my addled mind, please let me know!

KHAYEM

 

7 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF ZIP (Part One)

  1. A fascinating side note to a wonderful catalogue.
    I was at both the Bristol Banshees gigs – 1985 at the Hippodrome and 1988 at the Colston Hall – but my (now) wife was only at the Hippodrome where Siouxsie was helped to her stool by a skeleton ( or two?).

  2. Maybe Sioux played every subsequent Bristol gig from a chair as a homage to the ’85 tour? Or it’s False Memory Syndrome (which sounds like the title of a Fall compilation).
    Nice to see the List piece by Mab, 80s and 90s Scottish music scene legend.

  3. Brilliant! Never even heard of Zip, so a super bonus delight to hear the dear departed voice of Pete Shelley on a whole set of tunes! Great post, Khayem, made my day!

  4. Excellent post – I remember my mates going to that gig and said she was sat down throughout. Must share more about west country gigs. I live in Old Sodbury (niche south Glos info needed to know where that is) and must have attended many gigs that you have…Sadly i keep a gigs excel spreadsheet so will know (such a sad losery thing to do..) 🙂

  5. Thanks for the comments and finally putting my mind at rest, DAM and Mike, although I’m kind of hoping Chaval’s suggestion is a little bit true. And I’d buy that Fall compilation…! Thanks also Strangeways & JTFL, I’ve also been listening to Buzzcocks & Pete Shelley solo all week, non-stop brilliance.

    And Mike, I think you’re right about the gig crossovers, although I’m now wishing that I had maybe kept a spreadsheet as I seem to have lost most of my ticket stubs over the years. Clearly, my memory has been affected by too many pre- & post-gig refreshments at the Bunch of Goths in Denmark Street, Bierkeller, et al! It’s also a very small world, I live about 5 miles from you…

  6. I was 28 in 1988 and had been a fan of Buzzcocks since the start. By that time I’d also been working in record shops for about 8 years and had sold plenty of their records, as well as Pete’s solo stuff of the early 80s and would continue to enjoy and sell their releases when the band reunited at the end of the decade. For the life of me though, I can’t recall ever having heard of Zip before today, but I must’ve done, surely? I blame it on my extreme age and failing faculties!

    Thanks for plugging the gap with this excellent post Khayem!

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