Time for another look back to those far off days of 7 and 12 inchers (oo-er missus etc) with a chance for your humble narrator to rant and rave about one of his favourite bands of all time - ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Gas.
If ever there was a band that should have been massive - and I mean MASSIVE - it was The Gas. I'm fairly sure that I first saw them supporting Ruts D.C. at The Lyceum although I'd already got their first single 'It Shows In Your Face' by then, not least because it had been produced by Paul Fox which was more enough to recommend it to me. It was and indeed is a fabulous piece of power pop, and their second single 'Ignore Me' was even better; add to this the fact that they were signed to a major record label (Polydor) and World domination seemed to be almost a foregone conclusion. So - what went wrong? To be honest, I don't really know. They seemed perfect - a trio of fine musicians (singer / guitarist Donnie Burke and bassist Dell Vickers had previously been together in Sneeky Feelin's while drummer Les Sampson worked with Noel Redding) who when equipped with Burke's brilliantly catchy songs combined to create an absolutely dynamite live act also capable of subtlety in the studio. Their first album 'Emotional Warfare' received good revues (rightly so as it's a total classic from start to finish) and their radical-for-the-time move of making a video version with a hired camcorder got them an amount of positive press attention (and therefore publicity) that most acts would have killed for - but the album was all but ignored by the record buying public. Listening too it now (and I mean now as it's playing as I type this) it sounds superb - producer Nigel Gray got both a great sound and some fabulous performances out of the band, and it's certainly stood the test of time. Maybe Donnie's lyrics were a bit too embittered, a bit too personal - the opening lines of 'Wasted Passion' are 'if our two heads collided, you would not bat an eyelid', which more-or-less sums up the tone of things - either way it got nowhere near the sales that it deserved and after a single 'Breathless' they left Polydor. Their second album 'From The Cradle To The Grave was recorded in Canada and emerged on Good Vibrations Records in 1983, although by then good reviews had turned to bad (I remember a particularly nasty one in, I think, Melody Maker) and the album remains something of an obscurity. It's not as good as the first one, but it's not a disaster either, although by now the band were falling apart. Burke and Vickers re-emerged in Boy Cry Wolf (I saw them at The Fulham Greyhound and they were really good) although I don't think that lasted very long - these days Donnie can be found in The Roadhouse Dogs and Doc Bowling and his Blues Professors (great names!) both of whom who I must get around to checking out one day.
When I played 'Emotional Warfare' through for probably the first time this century (shame on me!) I realised just how much of an influence The Gas were on The Price - and yet I'm fairly sure that no member of our band apart from me has ever heard them, or indeed heard of them. Being great doesn't guarantee success, but The Gas were definitely great - it's such a shame that they didn't get the recognition that they so richly deserved. Still I don't think they've been totally forgotten - certainly not by me anyway.