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Coil: Blood Money 35th Anniversary

Doncaster Brewery and Tap, Doncaster
Saturday 17 December 2016

It was back in 1981 when the local Doncaster band Coil released their debut LP BLOOD MONEY, in a year that saw the beginning of the new music channel MTV and the launch of the DeLorean DMC-12, which would later be seen spinning around the annals of time in the Back to the Future film series. It was also a year that saw the oddly mismatched liaison between Prince Charles and a permanently smiling Lady Diana Spencer, whilst Bucks Fizz saw victory at the Eurovision Song Contest with a terrible little ditty called Making Your Mind Up, whilst whipping off their skirts on the telly - well the women in the band did at any rate. Before we settle into looking back at these times through rose tinted glasses though, we might also reflect rather more grimly on the fact that 1981 was also the year that saw the end of a long reign of terror in Yorkshire, when Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was finally banged up and for a very long time.

Coil had already been together for around 18 months by the time they decided to enter Ric-Rac Studios in Leeds to put down tracks that would become the band's full-length debut LP. When I say LP, I refer to the 12inch black plastic disc with grooves that would be played at 33.1/3rpm, a couple of years before the dreaded compact disc was foisted upon us and many years before the return of the much missed artefact, renamed by some bright spark with the dull and utterly un-sexy 'Vinyl' moniker. 

Meeting at a party at the Rockingham Arms in Doncaster, Mick Jenkinson and Kev Fitzpatrick soon found they had much in common when it came to music and so commenced a long friendship and the plan of starting a singer-songwriter based Rock band. Shortly afterwards, the two musicians pooled their respective catalogues of self-penned songs and began writing more frequently, coming up with easily enough original material for an album. With a line-up completed by John Wilson on drums and Jim Clifford on bass, Jim replacing Paul McKniff (Nifter) the original bass player, who was apparently a bit of a handful according to the band's 'fifth member' sound tech John Curry, the band were poised and prepared for knuckling down to record a bunch of their best songs. By August 1981, BLOOD MONEY was ready to go, wrapped in a sleeve designed by local artist Graham Firth with an eye-catching logo created by Graham's wife Rose.

A couple of years or so after the release of the album, the band decided to call it a day with John leaving the band for personal reasons. The band returned with new drummer Nick Browning and Mick Phillipson on bass under the new guise of The Outsiders, who as support to the popular Seventies rock and roll outfit Showaddywaddy, found themselves touring 3000 seater venues up and down the country, but again this band folded in late 1984, after having further success playing the famous Marquee Club and having one of their records played on John Peel's prestigious radio show.

Cut to 2006 and The Outsiders returned as a band of mature musicians, playing a few local gigs and finding that they once again enjoyed playing music together. This time around, the band were joined by original Coil drummer John Wilson and decided to return to their original name in order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of BLOOD MONEY. A further five years down the road and it's to the band's home town for another celebratory concert, this time for the album's 35th anniversary. 

The show, which took place in the upstairs room of the Doncaster Brewery and Tap just before Christmas, saw the band play before a packed house, chiefly made up of family, friends and assorted well-wishers in the spirit of a celebration. The first set was a run through of Side One of BLOOD MONEY, with such songs as Radio Dial, Message On A School Wall and Pillar To Post amongst others, whilst the second set covered all of Side Two, with such songs as All Used Up, The Turning Point and the title cut Blood Money.

Throughout the two sets, the band clearly enjoyed themselves, basking in the nostalgia of the songs but also in the joy of performing as a bunch of mates, with the youthful notion of conquering the world very much behind them, despite plans to record a new album in 2017. Joking in between the songs, the two frontmen were all smiles, their mutual respect for one another very much apparent. 

The final set saw the musicians in a much more relaxed mode as the band delivered a selection of popular covers, including The Kinks' Waterloo Sunset, Manfred Mann's Pretty Flamingo, The Small Faces' All Or Nothing and Muddy Waters' Got My Mojo Working, all of which went towards creating something of a party atmosphere, taking them very much back to their respective formative years. Closing with the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction together with the one encore, Chuck Berry's Reelin' and a Rockin', the band known as Coil once again found the music of their youth to be just as entertaining today as it was thirty five (and a bit) years ago.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky