Conventional biographers might suggest the Anal Surgeons formed in
September 1977, in Hemel Hempstead, England, but ‘formed’ is too grand
a term for what was an attempt to fill a vacant spot at the weekly live
music night at a local pub, the Great Harry. |
The vacant spot was duly filled, and vacant
ashtrays were duly thrown largely because the audience, which numbered
several, had paid 30p a head to see a band that provided an inaudible
15-minute set much of consisted of the two singers making costume
The Great Harry live music nights were among those
promoted throughout the area by one Chris France and he was he who
encouraged the Anal Surgeons, known briefly at this time as Will B and
the Has Beens, to play.
Early appreciation of the Anal Surgeons in Great Harry newsletters:
Taking their enduring name from a short story by
Lorenzo de Graul, the Anal Surgeons withstood the abuse and quickly,
with the benefit of rehearsing, evolved into something sufficiently
well-organised to perform something recognisable as music in front of
the public on a regular basis. Very soon they also appeared on the 1978
compilation album, Aylesbury Goes Flaccid, with the song 'Wide Boy'.
Anal Surgeons rehearse: left to right: Mick Sinclair, Phil Seaton, John Cook, Paul Ingram, John Goddard, Tony Ingram.
Among the people that witnessed some of the
band’s chaotic but visually rich live performances was John Otway, who
had been advised by his accountant to spend some of the money from his
recent chart hit, ‘Really Free’, on music-related projects or else pay
it in tax. Consequently, Otway produced and paid for what would have
been an Anal Surgeons single, 'Wide Boy'/'Where’s That Fag?', had any
record label seen fit to release it.
A local newspaper reported:
At London’s Chalk Farm Studios, the recording
sessions were notable for several things: the sax player’s broken reed
which Otway reckoned made the sax sound better; singer John Cook’s
growing addiction to the kebabs peddled by a local dealer, and the
realisation that the intended b-side, 'Where’s That Fag?', actually
sounded better than the a-side, 'Wide Boy'.
Failing to secure the release of either song,
Otway moved to other things and the whereabouts of the master tape
became a mystery that endures to this day. However, 'Where’s That Fag?'
gained an initially obscure if latterly surprisingly popular release on
a 1979 cassette compilation, Back to Sing For Free Again Soon, on Fuck Off Records (Fuck Off 1).
The Anal Surgeons meanwhile took themselves on a
tour of big stages, playing at Friars Aylesbury with Otway and Wild
Willy Barrett (see below, bottom three pics by Mark Jordan, also viewable here) and several universities as guests of Daevid Allen and Gong and also of Here & Now.
One such date was Dacorum College in Hemel Hempstead which was recorded
and a cassette circulated which provided the best, in the sense of
authentically capturing the live experience, documentation of the
Micky Dolenz was probably the most famous person,
and certainly the only ex-Monkee, to have seen the Anal Surgeons play,
which he did at the Bossard Hall, Leighton Buzzard. We remember him
though we suspect he’s forgotten us.
Surgeons' singer adopts casual stage pose:
Having achieved much more than they ever intended
and more than their friends and known associates ever thought possible,
the Anal Surgeons split towards to the end of 1978 with several members
forming the core of Vince Pie and the Crumbs, best remembered globally for their contribution, 'Pontin’ Stomp’, to 1981's second Street Level ep (FEP 002), and locally for their hyperactive stage shows. Mick Sinclair, meanwhile, formed the Funboy Five.
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