The Closest Thing To Heaven :
The Newcastle Music Scene In The 70s And 80s.
Tyne Bridge Publishing

 Young musicians need all the support that they can get and so its great to see a book that is fascinating in itself and which also supports aspiring kids by ensuring  that all the writers profits  goes to the Young Musicians Fund, which for something under a tenner is money  well spent. B G

Localised music scenes are variously well or only vaguely documented. It takes an element of consistency and determination to capture the numerous collectives and individuals that make up a geographically specific moment, and while it may be true that cameras never lie, they can only ever capture a fleeting glimpse of what their lenses are pointing at. The compilers of ‘The Closest Thing To Heaven’ are perfectly aware of this : an actual snapshot of the late 70s and early 80s live music scene in and around Newcastle, entirely in black and white, and with varying levels of clarity. If you aren’t from Newcastle and are mostly unaware of what and who are the subjects of these visuals, what’s to see here?

Dust:  Courtesy of David M James 

Of course you will have heard of at least some of the bands and musicians appearing in these pages. Prefab Sprout are documented from their earliest lounge bar appearances up to headlining city centre venues, including a mid 80s press shot. Some of you will recall other
bands such as The Daintees and The Kane Gang, the latter shown onstage alongside Paul Weller and Mick Talbot of The Style Council. 77 punks Penetration are featured, including an NME cover, while Arthur 2 Stroke and the Angelic Upstarts also make appearances and hard rock fans will recognise Venom and Tygers Of Pan Tang.

 It is however inescapable that the majority of bands and musicians within these pages are of the deeply obscure type, bands that played a half dozen gigs, or that never reached wider audiences away from Tyneside, that released vinyl on their own self financed labels, bands that are forgotten now except by their actual members, and the list of these is a lengthy one.

The books compilers, MiE Fielding and Simon McKay, have ensured that bands from as many genres as possible are represented here.

Images courtesy of Simon McKay

There are folk musicians, RnB showbands, hard rock and heavy metal outfits, punk bands, new wave bands, and some that are actually unclassifiable. The Said Liquidator, Willnus Bnad, The Ground, Ju Ju Pell Mell, Fanheater, Darkness And Jive, Shed … these are just a few of the  obscurities featured within the 96 pages of ‘The Closest Thing To Heaven’, their only unifying attribute being that they’re from Newcastle. Or thereabouts. 

A sprightly Prefab Sprout  courtesy of David Brewis

The book also features photos of pub venues, record shops, assorted crowds of music fans, Jools Holland introducing the first edition of The Tube in November 1982, and there’s also a list of bands remembered today by name only. As well as all this, Deviation Street’s founder Brian Gibson contributed several of the photos on display here, from his own considerable photographic archives.

Penetration photograph  Brian Gibson

The book opens with a photo that includes Sting, not as a member of The Police but of Jazz outfit Last Exit, and ends with a picture from a triumphal looking Lindisfarne concert from 1978 or thereabouts.

Record shopping with Adam Ant ( courtesey of Richard Hegarty) and Paul Weller .  /  Looking for a band name ? try … Gods Gift To Women …. Zap  images courtesy of Simon McKay

The pre ViZ world of Anti-Pop.

 Between these images are 94 pages of unvarnished rock and roll history that captures the late 70s and early 80s with accuracy, and at £7.99 it’s difficult not to
recommend ‘The Closest Thing To Heaven’ to anyone with an interest in music, photography,
history or indeed all three of those subjects. The link below has more information about the book and its compilers.

Available via Amazon & Waterstones                                             
Home | Eccentric Sleeve Notes | Post-Punk Interviews, Photos & Music All Rights Reserved