• ACK ACK

    Ack Ack were a New Wave rock band based in West London c.1977-81

  • History of Ack Ack

    Ack Ack were originally formed as 'Dirty Mark and the Stains' in 1977 by Mark Williams (vocals), Mick Foley (guitar) and Lawrence "?" (bass) who were all school friends from the Twickenham/Isleworth area of W. London. They were joined by Alan Spencer on lead guitar and Stuart Russell on drums. Stuart was a work colleague of Marks older brother and was a few years older than the rest of the band himself, it was he that introduced the Northern Soul and Reggae aspect to the group. Soon the name 'Dirty Mark and the Stains' was dropped and Ack Ack was born. At this time they were simply a 'garage band' and had not performed any gigs.

    As the bands skills improved it became clear that Lawrence was falling behind the rest of the members so towards the end of 1977 I (Stevie J Wright) was drafted in on bass guitar after meeting the band members in The White Hart pub, Hampton Wick. A few weeks later the band played it's first gig at Chessington Rugby Club. Thanks to a quite aggressive poster campaign by the band (crammed into the back of a Transit van armed with several buckets of wallpaper paste) the gig was very well attended and this was the beginning of Ack Ack's strong local fan base.

    Alan Spencer left the band shortly after as he was more contemporary rock influenced and not comfortable with the punk scene. He was replaced by Johnny Fuller, formerly of 'Adrenaline' & 'The Cane'.

    The band continued to build up its local fan base by playing local venues such as The Grove in Kingston and The Winning Post in Twickenham plus many of the local colleges. At this time the band was being managed by Mark's older brother Tony.

    In early 1979 the band recorded a five track demo tape at Spaceward Studios in Cambridge. Copies of the demo were used to secure gigs at some of the more prestigious venues around London such as The Pegasus in Stoke Newington and The Starlight Club in Hampstead. It was also passed on to former Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera and Strawbs guitarist Paul Brett. Brett became the band's manager later that year. Many gigs, both local and in or around London, followed both as main act or support act to more established bands such as The Adverts & The Outsiders.

    In 1980 work was due to begin on recording the band's debut album 'Trouser Tricks' when Johnny Fuller made the shock decision to leave the band and travel to the U.S. Johnny's place was taken by Luke Combo and following a couple of weeks of rehearsals work was started on the album. It was recorded over a six day period at TW Music Studio, a small studio on the Fulham Palace Road near Hammersmith, W. London. Interest in the album was quite good at first with a few record companies, including a couple of the majors, showing interest. But as a recession had just kicked in, money was tight and it was felt that punk had run it's course by 1980 so unfortunately the album was never released. Stuart Russell was offered a chance of a good job in the advertising industry so he left the band to pursue his career there. As he was one of the bands major creative forces the damage done was irreparable. Ack Ack disbanded a few months later and the members went their separate ways, some never to play again.

    I went on to join a band named '13 Problems' (after the book by Agatha Christie) until illness forced me to quit playing. We played quite a few gigs around London including Ronnie Scott's, but it was never quite the same buzz as playing in Ack Ack. That was about it for 20 something years or so until the day I bumped into Ruth Bonnet. Ruth had been a vocalist in 'The Dunneau', a band that regularly supported Ack Ack. To my amazement she still had a cassette recording of the album. As you can imagine, the quality wasn't perfect by any means but I managed to clean the tracks up and convert them into a digital format and apart from one or two drop outs they don't sound too bad! Why not download the album and give them a listen."

    Stevie J Wright (bass player with Ack Ack) 2009

    Testimonial

    "To truly appreciate the greatness of Ack Ack, you have to understand the culture of the time. Pitch battles were fought between people depending on their choice of hairstyle or - for that matter - trouser style, so eloquently captured in the lyric of "Trouser Trick." Skinheads vs. punks vs. rockers vs. mods vs. hippy types...it was a gang nightmare. Looking back, the irony is that we were all united in the same hatred: that of the Thatcher regime. Instead of throwing our anger into a strong political movement, it was warfare on the streets outside every bar on any given night. I fell into no category. Neither did Ack Ack. The fact that a mixture of all sub-cultures and all ages gathered each Friday night on what then passed for the closest thing Surrey had to "A Really Dangerous Place" says a lot for the music. A mixture of punk, new wave, ska and who knows what else, with witty and wise lyrics and great melodic tunes, Ack Ack rocked that joint every Friday night.

    • Stuart Russell on drums: very cool and mature. All of 24, but wise beyond his years. He wrote most of the songs and was an phenomenally strong drummer.
    • Mark Williams on vocals: a hairdresser by trade, with the most piercing eyes. I recall being terrified of his territorial girlfriend (probably with good reason).
    • Mick Foley on rhythm guitar: my first semi-serious boyfriend, which led me down a long, winding, sad road of dating guitarists (see chapter of my yet-to-be-finished novel, available on request). Quite probably an alcoholic, Mick taught me what comprised a black and tan, how to play “Shaking All Over,” how to caress a buzz-cut head. All these years later, and I can’t recall what goes into a black and tan, but I can still play that song.
    • Johnny Fuller on lead guitar: Corinna ‘s first serious boyfriend! That man had a vintage Gibson Les Paul that sounded like a church organ. No one could make a sound like Fuller.
    • Stevie J. Wright on bass: by far the quietest and most stoic of the bunch, but a damn good steady bass player, Stevie was the yahoo who found me on the internet and was somewhat startled that I still had the Ack Ack album on cassette."

    Ruth Bonnet (The Dunneau) 2005
    "Ack Ack were in my opinion, one of the best bands around in the late 70's. We came so close to a deal with Steve Blacknell who was A&R manager with Orange Records at the time, but unfortunalely, Orange themselves went out of business. They were great live and a pleasure to work in the studio with. Even today, the collection of tracks we produced at the infamous TW Music Studio in Fulham, stand out strong and transcend the years. They come accross as vibrant as ever. The band had an original style of playing and writing and I still think that their frontman Mark Williams had the right image to project the band into a far higher status. Best unreleased UK band of their time. Tracks still shine in today's market. Always went down better than the main acts they supported! Still, I'm glad that Stevie J Wright has seen fit to feature the songs we set to history. Download them and judge for yourselves "

    Paul Brett (Manager - Producer) 2006

    Where Are They Now?

    Mark Williams lives in the Kingston area and is still crooning with a band called 'Groove Manoova'. He is still in contact with Mick Foley.
     
    Johnny Fuller now lives in his native Devon and plays the local pubs and private functions with 'The Johnny Fuller Band'.
     
    Stuart Russell lives on the south coast and occasionally works as a DJ.
     
    Stevie J Wright was forced to give up playing due to rheumatoid arthritis and has worked as a driving instructor and London Bus Driver. He is married with two young daughters and lives in Cheam, Surrey. Does a passable Tony Hadley at karaoke.
     
    Paul Brett now lives in North Wales and runs his own vintage guitar museum. He has recently released a new album with his band 'Paul Brett Sage', their first for 40 years.
  • Listen

    Listen to a few tracks here, courtesy of Soundcloud.com (781842). Download the full album which also includes the Spaceward demo tracks in the 'Trouser Tricks' section.

  • Trouser Tricks

    1. When Love Strikes Again

    2. Trouser Trick

    3. I Can't Accept It

    4. Wave The Flag

    5. I Fall In Love So Easily

    6. James Brown

    7. Television Screen

    8. Public Concern

    9. Saturday Night

    10. Winning Hearts

    11. (We Hate You) Neil Diamond

    12. When Love Strikes Again (Spaceward Demo)

    13. I Fall In Love So Easily (Spaceward Demo)

    14. 5 to 4 on (Spaceward Demo)

    15. Public Concern (Spaceward Demo)

    16. Shakin' All Over ** (Spaceward Demo)

    All songs written by Ack Ack **(except 'Shakin' All Over' written by Johnny Kidd)

    Produced & Bankrolled by Paul Brett (1-11)

    Produced by Ack Ack (12-16)

    Recorded at TW Music Studio, Fulham, London, Summer 1980 (1-11) & Spaceward Studios, Cambridge, Spring 1979 (12-16)

     

    Lead vocals - Mark Williams

    Rhythm guitar & BV's - Mick Foley

    Drums - Stuart Russell

    Bass & BV's - Stevie J Wright

    Lead guitar Luke Combo (1-11), Johnny Fuller (12-16)

     

    Digitally recovered and restored by Stevie J Wright & Ruth Bonnet

    Cover design knocked up by Stevie J Wright, based on an original band idea.

    Many thanks go out to Dizzy of Detour Records for tracking down a copy of the Spaceward demo tape and to Ruth Bonnet for hanging onto an old cassette for so many years.

     

    Yes, there is a skip in track 1 at 0.34. The acetate skipped while it was being recorded onto cassette tape on Ruth Bonnet’s home stereo and it wasn’t noticed.

     

     

     

    © 2015 SJ Wright@Ack Ack Music UK. The recordings within the downloaded file may be used/distributed free of charge. Selling without prior written consent prohibited. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. All rights of the original artists & composers reserved.

     

    Download hosted by Google Drive.

     

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