PINK KROSS – NOISE UP : AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM
Not since The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang had a band made such an immediate and full-throated impression. I take that back, Glen or Glenda really knew how to grab me by the throat and did so, often. As mighty as they were their majesty paled somewhat in the shade of my new best friends, Pink Kross.
My first dalliance with The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang was via a tv programme called FSD (Full Scale Deflection, BBC Scotland). As The Hook ‘n’ Pull Gang began I recall thinking “this is special” – it was like a jolt of primal happiness. Thankfully, I recorded the tv show and still had the VHS, which was fortunate, as it endured repeat plays as I searched without success for the single, eventually buying it 10, probably more, years later when that internet thing allowed such treasures to be unearthed.
I’m certain I’ve bored you all before about my marathon visits to The 13th Note in the early to late-90s. For anyone uncertain please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve attempted to write my reminiscences from memory, rather than check dates religiously – although I have asked for ‘hawners’ (broad, Glaswegian slang for help), on occasion. I apologise in advance if some dates, especially the important ones, are incorrect.
I first saw Glen or Glenda at the 13th Note and within a few minutes of them playing I was lost in their world – a psychedelic world in which Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company held court in a realm that gave birth to one Marc Bolan (not the first time I’ve made that comparison). Musically, what a fantastic trip. Much as with Mr. Bolan himself, the preening wannabe-Marc hammed it up to perfection. What a gorgeous racket.
And then into this story strides the colossus, Pink Kross.
Imagine, if you will, me sitting in an angular armchair, in a beer-soaked dive, enveloped in the all-encompassing onslaught of Pink Kross – kind of like Peter Murphy in that Maxell advert, sans his cheek bones, musical ability or general good looks. I think the best description I can give of how I felt is … bliss. Why had nobody warned me? How had I not guessed that when the trio, based on their dress sense, took to the beer-soaked carpet-stage, they meant business – garage-punk, filthy-glamour business.
Jude, Vic and Geraldine
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about groups that only have women in them, I’m trying not to use the reductive ‘Girl Groups’ to describe female bands. I appreciate it can prove to be good short-hand but, for me, I think it time to consign the descriptor to history. When Pink Kross finished their all-too-brief set my friend just looked at me and smiled. He knew. He knew! I’m guessing I became a wee bit incandescent with delight and began to babble about what I had just witnessed. Many others were also babbling. The venue was small and many attendees knew each other and it didn’t take long for me to be introduced to Geraldine and Vic. Jude was otherwise engaged. I have a painful memory of gushing at them before they escaped to ready-poured drinks. That was me hooked, not by a Pull Gang but by Pink Kross.
I’m all but sure I attended every Glasgow gig bar one, loving the songs I had come to know and feeling privileged to be in attendance as they unveiled new material. It was about this time that John Peel could be spotted irregularly in local Glasgow haunts. Subsequently, several bands were asked to ‘do’ sessions. In 1995 Pink Kross recorded 5 songs for a Peel Session.
Hidden Track – Abomination (Peel Session)
For personal reasons the wonderful Geraldine reluctantly decided that she would leave the band (1995, I think?). I was gutted. Selfishly, I thought this might mean the break-up of the band but I also knew that she’d be less likely to be on the ‘scene’. We were never friends, just friendly. I hold her in high regard.
5. A-Bomb Prom
Later that year Jane joined Pink Kross. This was a double-thrill for me as 1. Pink Kross would continue, and 2. Jane was someone I had know for a long time. Yippee! The band began to play live and record (with Rick Flick and one RM Hubbert at the production desk).
Vic, Jude and Jane
And this is where is gets a little silly … the band decided to film a video for A-Bomb Prom, (The Active Dalmation e.p., 1996). The venue for filming was Nice N Sleazy – (the venue area). I don’t recall receiving an invite but there I was “ready for my close-up”. Not quite. A murmur went around the venue that we could be in the video if we wanted. I chose not to and stood at the bar – my eyes affixed to something, something not quite ‘right’. Just in front of the stage sat – I’m sorry to say this – a rather ugly woman, in a garish pink, silk-ish dress and wearing an ill-fitting blonde wig. The back of the dress was low-cut allowing her to show off her back and shoulder hair to full, mesmerising effect. She turned. I could now see her in profile. That’s when it all made sense. The ugly woman in the pink dress was a he, a he who would soon become one of my closest friends. He didn’t make a convincing woman but … I suppose that was the point. It must have been the point, surely? I’ve never asked my friend if he still has the dress or wig. Somethings are better left unasked. I’ve made irregular enquiries over the years to ascertain what happened to the video. Was it ever completed? No-one I’ve spoken to has a definitive answer.
7. Do It Joseph
From the initial release on their own Bouvier Records the band continued to release new, superb singles with Glasgow labels, Teen-C Recordings (run by members of bis), Modern Independent (run by members of Urusei Yatsura) and Flotsam and Jetsam (run by members of The Amphetameanies / The Poison Sisters). They also released with non-Glasgow labels on several split 7” and numerous compilation albums. These releases included the Hacksaw e.p. (Teen-C Recordings 1997), Tension Toy (Sweet Pea Records, 1997) and Tension Toy, again (Flotsam and Jetsam.1997), as part of the Club Beatroot series (this was No. 5) and was split with The Radio Sweethearts. Club Beatroot included contributions from many of Glasgow’s music-scene luminaries of that time.
As a live band Pink Kross really knew how to present themselves. Serious about their music they were also relaxed enough to have some fun too – something some of their contemporaries could have learned from. Often as not costumes would be worn that would raise smiles, even in ‘normal’ stage clothes the band exuded an edgy garage-punk-chic that reminded me of the playful Space Kittens and the more menacing, The Social Lepers. I’ll move on quickly before I get all gooey-eyed about The Space Kittens. Occasionally, at later gigs, Fraser (P.H. Family) would join the band for a thoroughly riotous version of Smug and I’d be in the audience, looking on, feeling lucky, elated and just a tad smug, just because I was there. In that room, at that moment. Ahhh … Pink Kross.
In 1998 the band released the phenomenal album Chopper Chix from V.P. Hell! (Teen-C Recordings). Oh. My. Good. Goddess. 19 sublime tracks over an almost break-neck thirty-seven and a half minutes. New. Pants. Pleeeez! This was followed in 1999 by the e.p. Wanted for Dogz Dinner (Bouvier Records) which saw the band return to their familiar ‘stage’ names: Janie -C-, Vice Blue and Jude Fuzz. It seems a tragedy that this was to be the final release but a larger tragedy befell the band.
Like the sound of her very own bass reverberating news of Geraldine’s death began to echo through the ‘scene’. Most people were shocked, some upset. I was both.
I’m ashamed to say I can’t recall the year – I think it late 2000s, maybe 2008? Geraldine wasn’t someone I knew particularly well but as far as I’m concerned, she was a lovely woman and a great musician who was always very kind to me. Her son has a lot to be proud of.
In 2009 Vic, Jude and Jane played their last Pink Kross gig (as far as I’m aware) at Glasgow’s Stereo. It was a triumph. A glamorous, garage-punk, fuck you triumph.
11. Tension Toy
From time to time The Kross could be found enjoying other pursuits. I’ve added my dollops of interest, and possible distraction, below. Your views may differ?
V.P. refers to visible pantyline – or so I was told. I’m laughing as I write this as I’ve always thought that’s what V.P. stood for. Vic told me. Now I’m wondering if my leg was being pulled?
Vic was also a member of one of my all-time favourite bands D.P. Lé Odd who released one of my all-time favourite singles – the 7” split single with Glue: Prehumous / Posthumous. D.P. Lé Odd featured on the Prehumous side (Flotsam and Jetsam, 1995). D.P. Lé Odd was, what I referred to jokingly as, the ‘scenes’ super-group. I use this term not because they all featured in other bands but because they were most definitely super and for a very short time, a group that, despite an almost mayfly existence, appeared on a Peel playlist (Deeply Ode To Politeness, 7th July, 1996). For those with the keenest of ears, yes, that is Hubby (RM Hubbert) providing the vocal. He also provided the cough etc. on My Fist, Your Face and was (as far as I’m aware) the only band member to appear on both the a and b side of the split single – and unusually playing drums, with D. P. Lé Odd.
Many moons ago I cajoled D.P. Lé Odd to play live. After much deliberation it remains unclear if it was for an anti-Clause 28 gig or The Big Bang (a World AIDS Day fundraiser which spanned a few days). The year eludes me. Either way it was their only live appearance. What joy!
In 1996 Pink Kross refereed the split Lugworm versus bis single (Guided Missile Recordings). They featured on Pop Song by bis.
Jane was also known as Jane Strain while in Pink Kross. She was a busy bee and has been in a number of bands most notably, The Amphetameanies.
15. Dogz Dinner
16. Noise Up
My love of Pink Kross remains undiminished. I hope some of you will take time to have a wee listen and more importantly, enjoy.
To Jude, Vic, Geraldine and Jane … thank you!