Long time mystery solved as to the whereabouts of an obscure group
Namechecked on this blog and the creator’s other social networking accounts more often than is necessarily healthy is a certain new wave band from Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Another pet subject of his involves the whereabouts of an obscure band which featured on his cherished copy of Chart Hits ’81. A fellow commuting friend introduced him to the band by means of a lovingly constructed mixtape, handed over to him one morning at Stalybridge railway station.
This is the story of two bands whom I think deserved greater success.
The Scoop (1979 – 81):
- Bass Guitar: James Morris;
- Drums/Vocals: John Turner;
- Lead Guitar/Vocals: Martyn Clapson;
- Vocals: Sam Hodgkin.
The obscure band introduced to him that morning was The Scoop. It turns out that The Scoop were formed in 1979 or thereabouts with an eponymous EP. Released in December 1979, it was released on the Sharp label and had a hand drawn cover featuring two nude women on the front. Whether it boosted sales outside of Chippenham one never knows. Whereas the first and last tracks [You Can Do It] and [Anonymity] have song writing credits given to the group, ‘Disco’ and ‘My Friend Tony’ were written by Martyn Clapson. He and Sam Hodgkin would later form another band two years on.
The Scoop were dubbed in a February 1982 Melody Maker article as a ‘punk rock version of The Beatles’. Their second release fared better appearing on a chart topping compilation K-Tel album, ‘Chart Hits ’81’. Promoted by Peter Powell between children’s television programmes, the 2 LP compilation got to Number One of the album chart weeks before Christmas of 1981.
Tucked away on the second disc was ‘Panic’. This time, it attracted the attention of Towerbell Records, whose roster included Chas ‘n’ Dave, Natasha England (also the co-owner of the label, who later had a hit with ‘Iko Iko’ in spring 1982) and a few television tie-in artistes. Unfortunately, like its debut EP, that too didn’t make the singles chart. This of course meant a change of direction for Sam and Martyn.
* * *
King Trigger (1982 -85):
- Vocals/Guitar: Martyn Clapson;
- Piano/Vocals: Trudi Baptiste;
- Vocals: Sam Hodgkin;
- Percussion: Ian Cleverly;
- Bass/Vocals: Stuart Kennedy.
The punk/new wave sound was being eschewed in favour of the new romantic scene or Adam Ant by some commentators. Also on the ascendency was world music, a genre which punk/new wave co-conspirator Malcolm McLaren seized upon with Bow Wow Wow. Naturally, the next step would be a band which combined the dulcet tones of Annabelle Lwin and Stuart Goddard.
Enter Screaming King Trigger.
Following a meeting with Martyn and Sam at one of The Scoop’s gigs, Stuart Kennedy would make up the future third member of Screaming King Trigger. Kennedy would hackle The Scoop on numerous occasions, but Martyn and Sam saw potential in him. By chance, it was through Stuart that the nascent band would get their drummer. Enter stage left Trudi Baptiste, who would form the base of the band’s heavy drum based sound. A fifth member, Ian Cleverly would take on the role of percussionist after being in the punk band Commercial Viability.
Numerous jams and a gig in West London later, another band took pity and gave them occasional support slots. They would gain success with ‘We Are Detective’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘You Take Me Up’ [The Thompson Twins]. After musing over their sound, they insisted on Screaming King Trigger, before dropping ‘Screaming’ in favour of King Trigger.
Both Melody Maker and the New Musical Express expected great things from the quintet, with the former journal placing Trudi Baptiste on their front cover one week. The band were signed to Chrysalis Records.
* * *
The summer of 1982 would see King Trigger release a single and an album. Their first album was entitled ‘Screaming’. Musically, the album has a sound which fuses Adam and the Ants with Bow Wow Wow and Teardrop Explodes. Highlights of the album includes the bombastic ‘Vodka’, the sultry ‘Temptation’ and ‘The River’. The latter track would be King Trigger’s only dent in the UK Singles Chart reaching 57, spending 4 weeks throughout August. It fared better in Australia where it got to number 32 and saw further releases in New Zealand and West Germany. In the UK, a picture disc was released.
‘The River’ spawned a 12″ version and a radio edited version some 1.5 minutes shorter than the album version. Their debut album and chart debut single were produced by Steve Lillywhite. His earlier work included another much lauded yet success starved band, The Chameleons and Kirsty MacColl.
Their spectacular debut single would appear on Ronco’s ‘Breakout’ compilation album, released in September of 1982. K-Tel’s ‘Chart Heat/Chart Beat’ album would also include ‘The River’ around the same month. This would be followed by ‘Temptation’, another track from their debut album. Unlike ‘The River’, this track was overlooked by the great British record buying public.
In a bid to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ‘Screaming King Trigger’s’ release in 2007, the whole album was digitally rereleased on iTunes, Amazon, Napster and 7Digital. Today future generations will be able to download and discover this hidden gem.
* * *
So, there we have it, I shall now sleep better for knowing that 40% of King Trigger formed 50% of The Scoop. Yours a truly happier bunny.
Before I close, it is worth noting that this year sees the 30th anniversary of King Trigger’s debut album. My advice, for lovers of great music is, get it downloaded as soon as possible! Petition for a CD release too!
In the meantime, I shall leave you with this clip of ‘The River’, seen at the top of this article. Altogether now: “Riiiiiiver, river in the jungle, river in the jungle in my dugout canoe…”
S.V., 29 January 2012.