Big Flame (often rendered bIG fLAME) were a post punk/Indie rock three piece band, based in Manchester, England and active from 1983 to 1986. The members were Alan Brown (bass, vocals), Greg Keeffe (guitar) and Dil Green (drums). After a debut single (Sink) on their own Laughing Gun label, they joined the Ron Johnson roster for a series of mid-eighties singles as well as an appearance on the NME’s C86 compilation.
On the reverse of the “Two Kan Guru” compilation, it was jokingly stated that Green and Brown played in the original line up of Wham! with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley; incredibly, this was accepted as fact by many people.In addition to releasing 5 singles and a compilation EP, Big Flame also recorded four sessions for the John Peel Show.
Big Flame were a major influence on Manic Street Preachers. In a 1991 interview, Richie Edwards stated “The 80s, for us, was the biggest non-event ever, like C86. All we had was Big Flame. Big Flame was the most perfect band. But we couldn’t play their records ‘cos they were too avant garde”.
The group also operated beyond the confines of the band itself. Keeffe and Green hosted a night at Manchester’s Man Alive club which they christened “The Wilde Club” providing a useful venue for groups other than their own. This spirit was also reflected in Ugly Noise Undercurrents which was a band-swap concept conceived by Alan to provide emerging groups with a facility for securing gigs in towns and cities beyond their home base. The Allez Ugly newsletter was the primary driver for this.
After the band split in 1986, Brown joined Ron Johnson labelmates A Witness on drums, touring the UK and Europe and appearing on several records (the 12″ EP ‘One Foot in the Groove’ and Strange Fruit Double Peel Sessions) and three sessions for BBC Radio One DJ John Peel. He left A Witness in 1988 to form solo project Great Leap Forward, while Keeffe joined Meatmouth (with Mark Whittam and Nicholas Blincoe) who released “Meatmouth is murder” on Factory Records, Fac196.
After a break from music, Alan Brown teamed up with Daren Garratt (of Pram) and Vince Hunt (of A Witness) in the band Marshall Smith, releasing an album ‘Colours’ in 2006 on the Euphonium label.
In 2007 Alan Brown joined Sarandon as bass player.
Greg Keeffe is now Professor of sustainable architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds.
Dil Green is now an architect based in London.
The thing is, up until a few weeks ago I never owned any bIG fLAME music other than a couple of tracks on compilation LPs. I’d always wanted to include them on the old blog mainly as a thank you to my mate Jacques the Kipper who was and remains, even after all these years, a huge fan of the band. I can just picture him back in the days with his giant hair atop his head, held together by at least one full can of hairspray, bodyslamming his way through the mayhem of a live gig.
But then I picked up a second hand copy of the Rigour EP from 1985:-
mp3 : bIG fLAME – Man Of Few Syllables
mp3 : bIG fLAME – Debra
mp3 : bIG fLAME – Sargasso
It’s all very noisy and screechy. For those who won’t like it – and I reckon that could well be about 99% of you – each song is over and down with in no more than 2 minutes.
Go on. Give it a try…….