Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The Chords story starts with cousins Billy Hassett and Martin Mason rehearsing Beatles and Who songs, etc, together at school. Via a New Musical Express advert Chris Pope joins in January 1978. They spend the year writing, rehearsing and playing a couple of gigs. They also fail to become the band in Quadrophenia - too loud apparently!.
With the dawn of 1979 Paul Halpin (the original drummer and eventual road manager) is replaced with Brett (Buddy) Ascott. Buddy adds the final element the band is looking for. A powerhouse drummer with far too much energy and a desire to be Keith Moon, Buddy is the final link in the chain.
By the end of March the band are playing the Wellington in Waterloo to packed crowds. In the audience are Paul Weller, NME and Polydor. This helps the band secure more gigs and an important support slot to The Jam. The band play with many bands including, The Purple Hearts, Secret Affair, The Scooters and Back to Zero.
From then it goes very quickly: Jimmy Pursey, he of Sham 69, signs the band for his new label - this end in tears with Pursey disrupting an Undertones gig (The Chords are the support band on the tour). Luckily or (unluckily?) Polydor take The Chords on. From here, as the band see it, it all starts to go wrong.
The first single 'Now it's Gone' is the second version the band has had to record. It's released in September and gets to 63 in the charts. The band is disappointed it doesn't get further, but for a debut it sells well. In the U.K. at the time the Mod Revival is in full swing with the release of the movie Quadrophenia and The Jam are making their mark on the charts. The band receives press and airplay by association with the Mod scene. It can be said that they were part of the revival, but sensing this is a bad move the band try to distance themselves from the scene. This would have been a wise move but the press weren't going to let them get away with it. Anyway, enough bad vibes - what about the tunes?
'Maybe Tomorrow' is recorded in December and released in the New Year. A brilliant 45, a pure blast from start to end. This song alone has more balls than any tune at the time and by the end you are knackered just listening to it. It gets them an appearance on 'Top of the Pops'. It is followed by 'Something's Missing' - another slap of energy. If these songs had been the sole output of the band it would have been great.
April see the release of 'So Far Away'. Highlights of the LP are 'Breaks My Heart', 'It's No Use' and the mighty title track 'So Far Away'. If this LP were released now the Stereophonics would pack and go home. The LP charts at number 30. The past year has gone well for The Chords and for rest of the year they seem to be making headway. Two more singles are released, 'British Way of Life' and 'In My Street'. Several radio sessions are recorded and transmitted. The band seem to be on tour continually - highlights include Loch Lomond Festival, Scotland, with Bad Manners, Stiff Little Fingers, The Tourists and The Jam; and their first gigs abroad.
But by November Billy Hassett is no longer a Chord, ousted for reasons known only to the group. The band are looking for a new singer and a replacement is found in Kip - ex-Vibrators. New songs are recorded and it's make or break time for the band. The single 'One More Minute' is brilliant - imagine 'It's Gonna Happen' by the Undertones, but better. When it fails to achieve the success the band hope for, they are only one more single from the end. 'Turn Away Again' is released and nothing happens. So it's time to call it a day as they say.
Usual excuses are given for the band breaking up i.e. 'not flavour of the month anymore', 'they're just a bunch of Mods aren't they?', and 'no manager to help keep them together'. Buddy and Chris start 'Agent Orange', Martin stops playing and goes back to normality. Billy is in the world somewhere (Ireland I think) and Kip, well I don't know what happened to Kip.


Anonymous said...

yeah!! this is my fave Chords song, bought it when it came out at the long defunct Third Street Jazz store in Philadelphia...the dynamics and guitar sound are at their best on this one...definitely not one to be missed! thanks!!!! jim

Frank Miller said...

Thanks for the comment Jim,I,m a sucker for the The ring of a RICKENBACKER guitar,I guess because i've played and loved mine for many years. Then accopany that with the amazing drum work, man, their stuff always blew me away.

Anonymous said...

Hey, nice jog of the memory Frank - I was at the Loch Lomond gig! Haven't thought about it for years. The Chords were great, but having to rival the Jam and SLF, well ... cheers, Dave Sez.

Dougie W. said...

The Chords were a fantastic band. Their album 'So Far Away' is an absolute classic. The b-side of their debut single 'Now It's Gone' is probably one of the best b-sides I've ever heard in all my years of listening to music.

These days Chris Pope has a band called Pope who are pretty good.

I've really enjoyed your blog by the way. You have some great music on here and a lot of great information about the artists.

Keep up the good work.


I cant even tell you how many times that I've listened to so far away.It's one of my all time favorites for sure.I'll have to check out Pope, Thanks for the info, and I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.