Just A Number / Caviare
Catalogue Number - SJP 825
Label - Silly Symbol Records
Year Of Release - 1981
Quantity Pressed - 500
Last Stand Story told by ex Manager Terry O' Brien .
I was lying in bed no.1 in the men’s surgical ward of Bromsgrove General Hospital feeling very sorry for myself and waiting for a trip up the corridor to have my insides rearranged by the surgeons. As I surreptitiously drank the mouthwash into my narrow field of view bobbed Jon Nash. That’s nice I thought, nice of him to come all the way up here to see how I was. It was nice but I more than half believe that the main reason he had showed up was to confirm that I wouldn’t be using the tickets I had to the Last Stand gig that night.
I didn’t and he resold them naturally.
Jon the guitarist, Maff the drummer, Paul Hutchings, the bass player, Tim and the other lads who looked after the sound and gear always worked hard at selling and pushing Last Stand.
I missed that gig and a few others through my convalescence and my hatred of hot noisy crowded rooms such as pubs or clubs. That discomfort in the environment that the band would have to function in disqualified me from being their ‘Manager’ but I tried to help by organising the production of a single that they hoped would catapult them to fame and fortune It didn’t but we had a bit of fun and learnt a lot in the trying.
We sussed out a studio that would do the package of recording and manufacturing the discs, selected the songs and set of down to Fair Deal Studios in Hayes.
It took all day to record and mix the two tracks and I subjected the lads to the full horrors of my selection of Steeleye Span and Martin Carthy cassettes on the way back up the M40, I was driving, so I selected what went on the car stereo this was a bit of a shock to their pure punk tastes.
The record was just a whim really never intended realistically to make money. We should have priced it to generate the funds for the follow up but that was almost impossible with the quantity we distributed for publicity and promotion. I wasn’t surprised that we sold 90% of the discs locally as the band, their friends and others worked hard on ensuring that anyone who showed the slightest interest ended up with a copy and their free badge that went out with all the local sales.
Jon and I arranged return to collect the discs from Fair Deal and we turned the trip into an opportunity to hit a lot of record companies in London and stock up a few distributors while we were in the area. Rough Trade were very supportive and took 50 copies. Cherry Red had 6(six) copies I’ve confirmed that by looking in the Silly Symbol office, which was and still is an A4 brown envelope.
We tried to get around the music papers and magazine and talk up a review we did get a short paragraph in the NME but it failed to be positive.
We got past the receptionist at a couple of the record companies we called on and in the office are a collection of reject letters from almost all of them they didn’t know what they were missing.
The high point of our tightly co-ordinated sales and publicity campaign was obviously when John Peel opened Top Gear with ‘ Just a Number.’ on the Thursday of the week of release. This elevated Last Stand to local heroes instantly.
Many years later Paul (Hutch) now working as a cameraman for television was at Peel Acres to film an interview when the conversation turned to the fact that Hutch was known to boast that Peel had played his band back in 1981, the crew challenged Peel to confirm that he had actually played the single. So Peel disappeared for 10 minutes and then returned with his copy of ’Just a Number’ the letter I had sent him and information on the broadcast, I don’t think he could remember citing the track as ‘an example of that trend setting Bromsgrove beat’ but he did and we have the evidence.
Thanks John from all of us for all you did for all those hopeful Bands and wherever you are I hope they have decks that still play vinyl.
The band put a lot of work into pushing the single at the time but after hitting the road for a massive tour of three gigs in three days it was back to rehearsing in the upstairs room at the back of the pub.
They were still organising their own gigs and gained a new member, Phil Davis on keyboards and this line up was even stronger on stage than the threesome.
If we had been able to find regular opportunities to play in reasonable halls we might have been able to build on the high local profile the single had created but I have to apologise for not being able to be very keen about playing pub back rooms packed with people and alcohol. Its possible that that’s exactly what we would had had to do to keep the momentum going but we slowed down and although ‘Just a Number’ was a success in that it is a good high energy song and an excellent first effort in the studio. It was great that we sold a high percentage of singles within a month of the release and stirred up interest and enthusiasm as we went. If we had had the funds to produce an immediate follow up or the determination to do the crappy venues we might have conquered the world, might have, but as it was the band soon fractured over ‘Musical Differences’.
The lads had played together for years but probably only played a dozen or so gigs, we did get a few national radio plays, no response from local radio. The record companies we approached were mostly civil and the music press silent or unkind, but I imagine that that is a similar experience to all the millions of hopeful musicians over the years and will be familiar to any band that tries to make it ‘Big’ in the future.
‘Big’ in the future may be something different to what it meant even just twenty years ago, the Internet, computers, CD writers, desktop publishing and the opportunities to distribute widely, artists own material might mean different ways of musicians making a living. I’d like to see people playing live in places other than alcohol market places.
The lads in Last Stand should be quietly proud of what they did back in 1981 they got their act together, were well organised on stage, and made a good record which a surprising amount of people would still like to possess.
It was fun trying to be famous and I bet they wouldn’t have missed it.
|Jon Nash - Guitar and Vocals||Paul Hutchings - Bass and Vocals|
|Mark Matthews- Drums|
Help and assistance from Tim Auger, Bush, Narna, Kay, and many others.
Above is an original unused gig poster for 'The Last Stand'
Above is an original "Silly Symbol" song book from 1984 that features some unreleased lyrics / songs by 'Jon Nash", the lead singer of 'The Last Stand" and other artists from this label.
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