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.
Point of Interest: The first time I ever rode a bus northward from Seven Sisters tube in North London, seeking Rapiers HQ in Edmonton, my heart smiled as we passed through Tottenham, which, as every British Invasion student knows, birthed The Dave Clark Five—rivals to The Beatles, stars of Having a Wild Weekend/Catch Us If You Can, singers of vinyl sonic boom like Anyway You Want It, makers of the 1966 LP Try Too Hard, forever in my all-time Top 10.
Your guitar playing is so inspirational... totally love it.
Thee Knave of Hearts
Born during the Age of Aquarius, Mr. Thee Knave of Hearts manages a pub in Skipton near the Yorkshire Dales, plays guitar, loves cats and from his MySpace hangout sings the almighthy praises of Medway Delta Beat lords like Billy Childish and Billy Hampshire, the Milkshakes and Masonics—so this man's opinion counts.
The geniuses behind the Amersham Rock 'n' Roll Club have reminded me to remind you to order your tickets pronto for The Rapiers' Silver Anniversary Concert on 22 March 2008—Hey, why not a stocking stuffer?—because, well, the club's recent Fortunes and John Leyton show sold out ("terrific", "excellent", "great", agreed the punters) and no true blue Rapiers fan wants to be turned away at the door. Seems the ARNRC is earning a reputation as a Buckinghamshire hotspot.
Consider it done. To book, call 01494 72717 or The Record Shop Ltd. on 01494 433311.
Mike Berry. John Leyton. Screaming Lord Sutch. Heinz. Danny Rivers. The Rapiers' 24-year track record backing producer Joe Meek's '60s stable is well noted. Recently, researching a feature for The Beat, Ralph Gowling uncovered another chapter, featuring the voice (the late Dennis D'Ell) and beat (Anne "Honey" Lantree) of the original Honeycombs, Meek's last chart-topping combo, fabulously famous for the foot stomping US No. 1 Have I the Right. The following text was edited from the published piece.
Colin Pryce-Jones, leader of The Rapiers and a well-known perfectionist, has fond memories of once performing with Honey and Dennis.
"It was a lovely occasion at a Joe Meek yearly get-together and The Rapiers would always back lots of people at these events, but the most outstanding one we've ever had was when Dennis D'Ell and the fantastic Honey Lantree came up to perform 'Have I the Right' with us.
"Listening to Honey play drums in The Rapiers was like listening to the record. Her style was exactly the same and she also looked just like the last time you'd seen her on television. She looked very, very attractive and she played fantastically. It was a delight for all of us to play that big hit record with the original lead singer and the original drummer.
"I think Honey was a fine drummer. I only played with her on that one number, but she played just what was on the record—she kept time perfectly, she did exactly what was required and it just felt and sounded terrific."
Long ere I rode the London Tube, I knew the line spat by Phil "Jimmy" Daniels in director Franc Roddam's Quadrophenia to explain his tardiness to ma and pa:
"I fell asleep on the train, woke up in bloody Neasden."
Since, I've dreaded a similar or worse fate: marooned at midnight at Cockfosters, terminus of the Piccadilly Line, for example. What our pill-popping mod lad needed inside his parka was a Wake Me Up At kit, only £4 but worth every pence after a late night of merriment.
They've shared an Oslo stage with The Rapiers (credit Nathan J. Hulse for the action shot above), recorded at Toe Rag Studios London with guest Colin Pryce-Jones observing the sessions, and earned our lad's praise for that effort, For Goodness Shake! [2007, Spinout Records, SpinCD030].
It's good to be The Shake Set.
I plumped for their CD last month at London's compact but mighty Sounds That Swing music shoppe in Camden Town. First impression: Who knew Billy J. Kramer carried such an influence in 2007—group original In Lonelier Days calls out like a long-lost Kramer-Dakotas klassic, invoking a gray, Liverpudlian sunset circa 1963. Second impression: Great English diction for a Norwegian combo! Third impression: Three instrumentals, including the massively moody A Table for Two—like a deconstructed Besame Mucho—invoke pre-Mersey sounds of The Fentones, Outlaws, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan.
Now about that Colin endorsement, excerpted straight from the CD liner notes:
"Peter Berry and The Shake Set have delivered another outstanding beat LP... The Set have taken from the Liverpool sound, added to by their own unique style. Perry takes my Fender VI to play lead on A Table for Two, another great original number. A major strength of The Shake Set is their unerring ability to write exceptional material, and attaining that tight group sound previously demonstrated on their last LP... I was delighted to be invited to the studio during the making of this record, and I wish the guys every success, they certainly deserve it with For Goodness Shake!"