Welcome to my on-line tribute to the London based Chiswick label. Started in 1975 and, under various guises, still going strong to this day, Chiswick put out some of my favorite records ever. Here you'll find an ever growing collection of info, record sleeves, old advertisements and whatever comes to mind. So dig in and enjoy!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Count Bishops - Train, Train

Count Bishops - Train, Train/Taking It Easy
Catalogue number: Chiswick S 5
Release date: 27 Aug 1976
Personnel: Zenon De Fleur: vocals, guitar
Johnn Guitar: guitar, vocals
Steve Lewins: bass
Paul Balbi: drums
Produced by The Count Bishops
First issued on Dynamo DYR 45001 (Netherlands)


(From the liner notes on The Chiswick Story (Chiswick CDWIK2 100-1))

By this time the American 'punk' bands were touring regularly in the UK with shows featuring the Flamin' Groovies, the Ramones and Blondie appearing at venues like the Roundhouse and Dingwalls. Also by this time Dave Robinson, ex-manager and studio owner had teamed up with one-time Dr Feelgood roadie and future Elvis Costello manager, Jake Riviera, and formed Stiff Records with a borrowed fiver and a lot of nerve. 'Heart Of The City' by ex-Brinsley Schwartz bassist Nick Lowe came out in August of '76, The Sex Pistols were creating nervous breakdowns among the staff of Melody Maker and The Clash made their debut. Punk was in the process of arriving and was generally very chic. In the middle of this Chiswick released their second 45 by The Bishops, now devoid of the 'Count' and lead vocalist Mike Spencer, whose propensity for throwing dustbins through windows had become too much for the rest of the band.
[Mike Spencer was once considered by Malcom McLaren for the role later occupied in The Sex Pistols by Johnny Rotten. Fortunately for Malcom he got the quieter of the two.]
'Train, Train'(S 5) was originally recorded for the Dutch-based Dynamo Records, for whom the band also recorded an extremely rare album. If ever a record should be accorded the much over-used (and especially in this history) epithet 'classic' then 'Train, Train' certainly deserves it. Rhythm guitarist Zenon De Fleur took over vocal chores and delivered in a moody Elvis, early 60s style over a shimmering guitar backing.

(From Sniffin' Glue issue #3, Sept 1976)

A double A-side from the four piece Bishops.Best side for me is'Taking It Easy',written by bassist Steve Lewins,it's a powerful rocker with some really neat guitar work.'Train,Train'is more laid-back but it''s got some great powerful drumming and more good guitar work.Altough they play well on both cuts,I reckon the materials letting 'em down.The songs are OK but they're not memorable...they ought to really think about their next release otherwise they're gonna put out another single that's onl'good'and not great.Check out their first release Chiswick-'Speedball(EP SW1)',on which they do some oldies.

NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS - September 1976

TEN O'CLOCK and the Speak's nearly empty - bliss for me, doubtless the pits for the band, although they may look forward to the probable 12.30 log jam of foreign bodies.
"Welcome to our rehearsal" Johnny Guitar cracked to the minitude. A bit weird, this. After all, The Count Bishops are certified punks and that's all le rage, innit? They even played the recent frog punk fest, but they didn't get much publicity 'cause they ain't ugly enough.
Killingly loud, their repertoire of R&B classics is a treat, delivered with galvanic spunk and a satisfying element of fanaticism. From Slim Harpo's "Don't Start Crying Now", Johnny's tortuous vocals and Zen's slapping rhythm guitar over the hammer headed boogie base of drummer Paul Balbi and bassist Steve Lewins were like a ritual invocation of the spirits of Sun and Chess Records.
The guitar work, however, Johnny racy on lead and Zen very fluent on rhythm and slide, is really nice. At times, particularly in "Wang Dang Doodle", they sounded a helluva lot like the Yardbirds, which is as terrific as anybody needs to be if they want to please me.
Elmore James's "Shake Your Money Maker" and Mose Allison's "I'm Not Talking" were the other real goodies, but the whole set was cocky, energetic and fun. If you have a hankering for hot R&B they're well worth seeing for a good old shake. Angie ERRIGO


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