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My Exciting Life In ROCK (part 3): The Masters Of Nothing, The Studio Years

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My first band The Masters Of Nothing formed in the white hot crucible of agit-pop, coming together overnight to perform a SEARING satire of the educational mores of the time. You may remember from last time our song "A Minus Work", which went like this:

A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)

RADICAL STUFF, I'm sure you'll agree. Some bands might have taken this further and LEAPT onto the road, hastily putting together a ramshackle set of covers and half-arsed new material to parade around a desperate nation, but we took things a little more slowly. After all, we were only 13 at the time, we had to go to school.

Thus began The Studio Years, when we immersed ourselves in songwriting and only got together in studios or, more precisely, each other's living rooms. Our first session took place in 1983 when, very much like The Beatles, we recorded our first album in a single afternoon. "Please Please Me" has fourteen songs and was recorded at Abbey Road while ours had five songs and was recorded in Robin's front room, but apart from that it was almost exactly the same. We recorded "A Minus Work", of course, and then one song from each of us, including the CLASSIC "Little Reggae Song", by Mr P Myland, the chorus of which went:

This song is a little reggae song
This song is a little reggae song
This song is a little reggae song
Reggae!

And the immortal "Robin Hare Yeah" by Mr R Hare, so catchy that i can give you a few lines NOW, 25 years later, off the top of my head:

He can sit on a chair. Yeah Robin, Hare.
Cool shades are what he does wear. Yeah, Robin Hare.
He likes a nice pair. Yeah, Robin Hare.

GENIUS. We'd also got Robin's friend Paul Davison to come round, as he had a song called "It's A Rap" which we liked. The chorus went:

It's a Rap!
It's a Rap!
It's A Rap!
It's A Rap!

It was a rap. My song, "The Ballad Of The Faithful Dog" was left until the end, and this led to my first GRATE LESSON OF THE STUDIO: NEVER leave your song until last. In a marked departure my song not only had verses and choruses, it had DIFFERENT WORDS in each - quite a lot of them, in fact, so that it went on (and ON) for about FIVE MINUTES. Or, at least, it would have done if we'd ever got to the end of it. Unfortunately for ROCK HISTORY every attempt (both of them) to record it ended early with everybody else getting fed up and singing a new chorus, as follows:

So he shot the faithful Dog
He shot the faithful dog
He shot, he shot the dog, the faithful do-o-o-og.

Naturally, we split up. Happily for ROCK we got back together, but almost instantly split up again - this was all before we'd left Robin's house, and it set a pattern which would be repeated on a weekly basis for the next couple of years.

In 1985 we stayed together long enough (a whole afternoon) to try again. This time we decided to try a different recording venue, partly to change the vibe but mostly because Mileage's dad had just bought a DOUBLE cassette deck. This fantastic new technology allowed us to record what I consider to be our finest track, Mr Myland's "We're All Signing On", a DAMNING ENDITEMENT of the economic crisis facing school leavers, expressed mostly through discussion of rubbish daytime television programmes - Half Man Half Biscuit had hit our school in a BIG way. The best thing about it was that the two tape decks allowed us to MULTI-TRACK ourselves, singing along with each recording until we sounded like a HUGE CROWD. All right, it sounded like a huge crowded buried under several layers of cotton wool, but still: STUDIO WIZARDRY.

Also significant on this "album", apart from the re-recording of most of our debut, was a number called "Free Nelson Mandela (while stocks last)" (it was funny at the time), which was mostly an instrumental of the free-est, most OUT THERE JAZZ you could possibly imagine. It sounded like nothing on Earth, even, to the un-tutored ear, like a bunch of idiots who had never bothered to even learn to play ANY KIND of musical instrument, preferring to hit things and shout.

Once again it was all finished in an afternoon and, once again, it lead to the break-up of the band. It would be another two years before The Masters Of Nothing rose for a third and, so far, final time, but it would be worth the wait. For LO! when The Masters Of Nothing rose again it would be in the LIVE ARENA at LAST!
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