Fun 4 are an important and yet insignificant footnote in the development of indie-pop round these parts. The importance comes via who was involved in the band, the insignificance comes from the fact that their sole release wasn’t very good.
Rev Thomas was the vocalist, James King played guitar, Colin McNeill was on bass and Steven Daly was the drummer. Their sole single was released on NMC Records in 1980:-
I’ve only recently picked up a copy of the track, courtesy of its inclusion in the Big Gold Dreams boxset, with the accompanying booklet offering up some priceless info:-
Originally known as Rev Volting and the Backstabbers, The Fun 4’s only gift to the world featured James King and Steven Daly, plus Colin McNeill and vocalist Rev Thomas. While King and McNeill went on to form James King and The Lone Wolves, Daly joined The Machetes. Along with that band’s guitarist James Kirk, he wound up drumming in The Nu-Sonics, who eventually morphed into Orange Juice, who subsequently invented indie-pop as we know it. Daly and Kirk went on to form Memphis, before a move into journalism saw Daly write for Rolling Stone and becoming music editor of Spin magazine. Daly became a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and has also written two books, Alt.Culture and The Rock Snob’s Dictionary.
Simon Goddard’s book on the birth and development of Postcard Records makes passing reference to the single, observing that Steven Daly had gone down with Alan Horne to London to catch Subway Sect play live after which the plan had been to take Grant McLennan and Robert Foster of The Go-Betweens back to Glasgow to get them involved with the label. In doing so, Steven also took down some boxes of the Fun 4 single in the hope that the Rough Trade record shop would agree to stock and sell it. The shop did take a small number of copies but the record was doomed after very lukewarm reviews in the music press in which the band were written off as very poor Ramones imitators, which is fair enough; it was probably also tedious to listen to such an obvious effort to offer up a shock factor that these weren’t the type of showers in which people would want to sing.
Like many other bands of the era, there’s a lot more myth than truth surrounding them, albeit the story provided in the press release that accompanied the single makes for entertaining reading:-
The original Fun 4 were formed two years ago. The history of the band reads like a trash short story. On their debut, supporting the Rezillos, Bob Last was so moved he tried to strangle the drummer and Faye Fife thought it was the most unpleasant night she’d experienced.
Then Sham 69 had the misfortune to play top over the Fun 4 on Jimmy Pursey’s birthday. The Fun 4 must be one of the few bands to terrorise a Sham audience. Reacting to a stage invasion with cans and guitars reducing poor little Jimmy’s celebration to chaos with the bizarre twist of audience as the victim.
Inevitably John Cale was drawn to these scenes of weirdness and demo tapes were submitted. However, since these tapes were bedroom cassette studio quality, it was just a little too off the wall for Mr. Cale.
In the best trash tradition, the Fun 4 burnt themselves out. After an April Fool’s gig in 1978 in Edinburgh, certain members were ejected from the van and the band at 3am, 50 miles from Glasgow.
And so to 1979.
The Fun 4 reunited and determined to wipe out the 70’s ties, locked themselves in the cheapest studio available and emerged with three trash classics. The recording quality might leave little to be desired but the band commandeered the mix and accept the blame. The results are available on their own label NMC Records, named after a famous book about Glasgow (No Mean City).
To sum up The Fun 4 sound, it is straight from the streets of Glasgow with all that entails.
I’ve dug very deep to find copies of the two tracks that made up the b-side, but alas, could only come up with one of them:-
mp3 : Fun 4 – Elevator Crash
At the risk of boring you with repeated sayings, important yet insignificant.