Formed: London, England, UK

The Best Of The Dark - UK CD 1995 (Captain Oi! - AHOY CD 40) Page 3

This quartet from Islington, London bridged the gap between the primeval 1977 sound and the nastier strains of hardcore. A group who never caught on, The Dark were similar to The Wall, another band with whom they shared a highly political outlook and a baffling unfashionableness. Although a bit po-faced, The Dark invested their songs with incipient melody and a few interesting guitar motifs, and thoughtfully avoided the mindless rage typical of the time, addressing typical concerns (machismo, war, boredom) with something approaching subtlety and intelligence.

Formed in late 1978, it took them a year or so to hit their stride. Their first two singles - both double 'A' Sides - are formative: My Friends / John Wayne offered two sides of basic and mundane catchy punk recorded with the band's first singer, John Flannagan. Hawaii Five-O / Don't Look Down paired a pointless and uninspired version of the TV show theme with an unmemorable ditty about something or other, sung by bassist Phil Langham, who had taken on vocal (as well as retaining bass) duties after the departure of Flannagan. The latter was produced by Matt Dangerfield of The Boys.

The anti-nuclear blast of Einstein's Brain (1981) and the blazing On The Wires (1981), were far superior, with more interesting lyrics and production. The former was powerfully produced by Sean Purcell and Tony Baggett, formerly of Raped and currently in labelmates Cuddly Toys. On The Wires was bolstered by atmospheric synths from the newly recruited Jim Bryson (ex-Demon Preacher). Singles 2-3 did just okay, scraping into the Indies.

Their sole LP, Chemical Warfare (1982) deserves a lot more credit than nearly all the hardcore albums it found itself lumped in with. The mostly mid-speed music invites comparisons to Chelsea and the UK Subs, although outside of Langham's expressive vocals it wasn't especially distinguished, it was well-produced and lively. Highlights included an improved version of the flipside to their first single (re-titled 'The Ballad Of John Wayne') and the excellent 'All This And More'.

The Best Of The Dark - UK CD 1995 (Captain Oi! - AHOY CD 40) Tray 2

A final single extracted from the LP, The Masque (1982) was a Gothier affair, and their weakest single to date because of it. Drummer Jim Kane then left to join The Satellites, and the band found a temporary replacement in Noel Martin (ex-Menace). Then Bryson and Martin left. Martin was replaced by Bryson's ex-Demon Preacher bandmate Razzle, and another former member of Menace, Charlie Casey, stepped in to play bass. The eight song The Living End captures the band playing their last ever gig (June 82), with this revised line-up. It is one of those rarities: a live album worth buying.

Langham subsequently set up Anagram, one of the country's most important indie labels, and played with !Action Pact! but sadly died in 1988. Razzle joined Hanoi Rocks, and he also failed to mark it to the 1990s: he died in 1984 when he accepted a lift from a drugged up and drunken Vince Neil of Motley Crue, and the car crashed. Bryson did a bit better: he died in 2002, after having played with UK Subs, the Pogues and Chelsea. Andy Riff formed the V2's.

Lineup 1:

John Flannagan - vocals
Billy O'Neil - guitar
Phil Langham - bass
Jim Kane - drums

This lineup lasted a shirt while only and recorded nothing.

Lineup 2:

The Dark - Lineup 2

John Flannagan - vocals
Andy Riff - rhythm guitar
Billy O'Neil - lead guitar
Phil Langham - bass
Jim Kane - drums

Recorded: My Friends / John Wayne (1979)

Lineup 3:

The Dark - Lineup 3

Phil Langham - vocals, bass
Den Peridcou - lead guitar
Andy Riff - rhythm guitar
Jim Kane - drums

Recorded: Hawaii Five-O / Don't Look Down (1980), Einstein's Brain (1981)

Lineup 4:

The Dark - Lineup 4

Phil Langham - vocals, bass
Andy Riff - rhythm guitar
Jim Bryson - guitar & synth
Jim Kane - drums

Recorded: On The Wires (1981), The Masque (1982) and Chemical Warfare (1982). Kane went on to join The Satellites.

Lineup 4:

Phil Langham - vocals
Andy Riff - rhythm guitar
Charley Casey - bass
Razzle - drums

Recorded:The Living End (1982)



Singles / Albums

The Dark - My Friends / John Wayne The Dark - Hawaii Five-O / Don't Look Down The Dark - Einsteins Brain The Dark - On The Wires The Dark - The Masque
My Friends / John Wayne (7", 1979)

Hawaii Five-O / Don't Look Down (7", 1980)

Einstein's Brain
(7", 1981)
On The Wires
(7", 1981)
The Masque
(7", 1982)
The Dark - Chemical Warfare The Dark - The Living End      
Chemical Warfare
(LP, 1982)
The Living End
(LP, 1982)

Extraneous Releases

The Best Of The Dark        
The Best Of The Dark (CD, 1995)        

Various Artists

A Fresh Selection UK LP 1981 (Fresh): Hawaii Five-O

Punk And Disorderly - Further Charges UK LP 1982 (Anagram): The Masque

Fresh Records - The Punk Singles Collection UK CD 1994 (Anagram): My Friends / John Wayne / Hawaii Five O / Einstein's Brain / On The Wires / The Masque



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