Now in their 29th year as rock 'n' roll crusaders for all that's way, way cool about early '60s Britannia pop, Merseybeat and Shadows-styled instrumentals, The Rapiers—"the best '60s band since the '60s"—are truly worth flying 5,000 miles to see, hear and dig.
EXTRAS CASTING FOR ASPIRATION FILMS We are looking for people of all ages to take part in an exciting new feature film: a '60s biopic chronicling the life of legendary music producer Joe Meek, adapted from Nick Moran's award-winning theatre production. Filming around London July and August. Please send or email a photograph of yourself with your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org, 61 Charlotte St., London, W1T 4PF.
NB: Photo of theatre sign taken outside London's New Ambassadors Theatre, July 2005
If the sound of chiming Gretsch and Rickenbacker guitars, A Hard Day's Night- and Help!-style harmonies plus 1962 Hamburg spunk ignites your DNA, check out the Kent-based Fore. Definite pick to click: their luverly Love for Sale, illustrated in video form no less for Merseybeat dreamers.
Quality is only "6 out of 10", I've no idea the source and I haven't seen it with my own eyes, but The Rapiers Black & White Days, a 21-song live set from Skegness circa 1991, just went on sale at Bim-Bam Records, the rock 'n' roll retail specialist based in Eastleigh, Hampshire.
Performances include classic instrumentals (Saturday Night at the Duckpond, The Savage, Green Jeans), two from The Pirates' book (Please Don't Touch, Growl), plus Baby Sittin' from The Rapiers' debut LP Straight to the Point. Line-up would be Colin Pryce-Jones, John Tuck, Dave Lawes and Brad Dallaston.
Only £10.00 plus postage. Order here. Hint: Scroll to bottom of page, plug in Rapiers in search field.
I know whence this uncredited image comes, reproduced in the March-April 2007 Joe Meek Society newsletter. I snapped it on my meek-ish 2.1 megapixel Canon digital camera after a Rapiers-John Leyton shindig on the England South Coast last fall.
For the record, here's my recollection of said evening:
Americans in Bognor Regis. Ha, ha!
Sounds incongruous, near twaddle to native Brits, but I stalk The Rapiers where I must, enduring yobs drinking, smoking and yammering in our train compartment down from London Victoria, near freezing, wind- and rain-swept pavement outside the Butlins gates, 90-minute taxi rides back to Notting Hill, London round midnight.
Mere trifles when I can savour two minutes of Buckleshoe Stomp firepower from Colin, Neil, Nathan and John during their precious two-song solo set before they welcome John Leyton to Butlins' downstairs stage during the camp's Festival of the '60s weekender.
Eight days removed and the jet lag hangover fading, I still have Neil's chopping, Mick Green-like chording attack and Colin's stinging, metallic soloing teasing my head. Plus those near maniacal, massed group vocals on the chorus.
It's not always cracking tea and toast in Rapiersville.
"I think it is high time The Rapiers were recognised in their own right at theatre shows and should treat audiences to their own marvellous numbers," wails long-time Rapiers observer Ralph Gowling.
"I know from manning their merchandise table that fans often ask why The Rapiers don't do more material, especially original instrumentals, from their own CDs, either because they've heard the numbers and love them or because the track listings are a mystery and they want to hear them before making a purchase.
"My top choice would be Breakfast at the Ace—what a rollicking number to get the audience going. I'm hoping for an 'Oi!' or two of support. I declare this debate open."
Hear, hear, Ralphie boy! I'll pile on then...
Personally, I'd dispense with a predictable Wipe Out in favour of Neil Ainsby's smooth-as-silk Robbesque, shelve a Shads chestnut or two in favour of the rollicking Return of the Rapiers or—yes!—Colin's roaring Breakfast at... Imagine Col setting the pace by challenging the punters like so: "Anyone a fan of classic British motorbikes and classic British caffs? Hold on then, this one's for you. Wind it up, boys!"
The tragic passing of Rapier Wayne Nicholls and his wife Jackie, in a North London traffic accident two years ago this week, elicited a poignant stream of consciousness memory on my Rapiers MSN site from one Babygal1990021:
this week has not only been hard for me but also the nicholls family, i actually remember the call i got the day these lovely people died. i did indeed pass out, they were such loving people aand only the good die young. it's been 2 years and has gone so fast, and up above i hope wayne likes the fathers day card i put upon his grave, it has on the front "your like a daddy to me". which he was. he is the father of my close friend wayne jr nicholls. and he looks so much like his dad. the truth is im still not over their death, i think about them everyday without fail and i fight back the tears, my goal in life is to help my friend and his grandad brian nicholls. this is actually the most iv ever told anyone how i feel, i havent told no1 how i feel. wayne was like a dad to me and jackie was like a mother. she used to give me cuddly toys and i still have a pair of boots she gave me :) and as for jet harris, he is a really good mate , and a really close friend of the nicholls, and JET my mums a bit young for you :), mum and jet r close friends. its surprising wat ur parents chldhood friends can do for you:) i love talkin bout rock n roll because i feel like its a big part of my life. anybody who wants to talk please add me on email@example.com :)
Eight years ago, The Rapiers toured another Me and My Shadows show 'round UK theatres with singer Ricky Aron helping audiences "re-live the wonder years when the quiff was king".
Shadsfax Magazine, reviewing a March 1999 stop at Ashton-under-Lyne, reported: "... if you closed your eyes it could have been the original early Shadows on stage... Make no mistake, Ricky Aron and The Rapiers are more than just mere imitators. On stage, they are the sound of Cliff and The Shadows."
Why the memory? Rummaging on eBay this afternoon, I spotted this handsome, autographed tour flyer for sale, only £0.99.
A Market Fair in the Square, Skittles Competition, Free Family Fun Day, jazz, rock, pop, organ recitals, walking and rail tours, comedy...
The annual Somerton Summer Arts Festival, 13-21 July, boasts the proverbial "something for everyone" hook, including punters partial to Jet Harris and The Rapiers, who toast opening night with their Me and My Shadows show.
Somerton, proudly known as the Ancient Royal Town of Wessex, lies in the heart of Somerset. Here's a town map. For more information on the fest, ring 01458 274148.
He might as well say he's the very model of a modern major luddite.
MEMBERS PLEASE NOTE—I HAVE NO COMPUTER, SO YOU CANNOT E-MAIL ME, I HAVE NO FAX MACHINE, SO YOU CANNOT FAX ME, I HAVE NO MOBILE PHONE, SO YOU CANNOT TEXT ME, I HAVE NO ANSWERING MACHINE, SO YOU CANNOT LEAVE ME A MESSAGE. PLEASE SEND ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO ME THE WAY THINGS WERE SENT IN THE 1960S—BY POST.
That's the way Rapiers fan supreme Mark Newson, newly installed editor of the Joe Meek Society Newsletter, welcomes his flock to Issue No. 143. Romney Marsh, Kent-based Mark inherits the post from Rob Bradford, another long-time Rapiers supporter.
No argument here! I've raved for aeons that John McNally and Frank Allen's Searchers bring The Rapiers on tour for a one-two dose of '60s beat magic. Bet RC, a keen follower of the first-generation Liverpudlian rockers, would agree. Says his MySpace profile: "Been mad about The Searchers since I first heard Sweets for My Sweet..." At right: RC in step with 1964 cool.
Never a flamingo pink lightsaber when you need one...
Besides Dr. Who nemeses at Saturday's City of London Police annual awards dinner, benefiting a local children's charity, The Rapiers encountered the man in black from a galaxy far, far away, none other than Lord Vader.
"The bash had a futuristic theme based in the year 3007," explains Dave Lawes, "hence Daleks and Stars Wars stormtroopers all over the place. It was a little tricky introducing The Rapiers into the mix (yes, we played). But cleverly we travelled back in time with the countback of years from 3007 to 1961 shown on a big screen behind the band, to music from an Austin Powers film."
Was the force with our retro Jedi lads?
"The feedback from everyone was tremendous," Dave says. "Apparently we stole the show, which is a bit strange considering the theme! Although I don't have the figures, I understand we helped raised a lot of money."
Terrestial images smuggled by Nathan J. Hulse, member, Rebel Alliance, Enfield Division.