11 Songs, 30 Minutes


About London

One of the great could-have-beens of the early British punk scene, London released three singles and an album in their brief two-year lifespan. With a little more time, they might have made a real mark on the scene, instead they just gave the world future Culture Club drummer Jon Moss. Singer Miles Tredinnick had previously worked for maverick movie producer Robert Stigwood and he brought that sense of showmanship to his band. An ad in the music papers in late 1976 brought him requisite musicians in drummer Moss, guitarist Colin Wight, and bassist Steve Voice. Both Tredinnick and Wight promptly changed their names, the latter dropping Colin in favor of Dave, the former opting for the more punk-flavored Riff Regan (a tribute to the lead characters in the popular British crime drama The Sweeny). London, not surprisingly, was the quartet's hometown.

In attendance at their debut gig in North London just happened to be the assistant to Simon Napier Bell, the legendary manager who would later go on to handle Wham. On the enthused word of his assistant, Napier Bell grabbed up the group and quickly went to work on their behalf. Within weeks, the quartet swiftly moved to headlining clubs and then on to the opening slot of the Stranglers' early 1977 national tour. Even with a slew of show cancellations, due to fear of punk bands in the provinces, London made enough of a splash to be snatched up by MCA Records in March 1977.

Their debut single, "Everyone's a Winner"/"Handcuffed" hit the shops that May. More headlining gigs followed, with the flamboyant director Mike Mansfield brought in to shoot their video. Everyone was convinced that "Winner" really was one, and while the single sold well, it didn't chart.

Regardless, hopes were high for the follow-up, "Summer of Love," which was released in August. The single sported three B-sides, the frenetic "No Time," the band's tribute to Banshees chanteuse "Siouxsie Sue," and a rousing cover of the Easybeat's "Friday on My Mind." This time, London did breach the charts, and band, label, and manager were all sure that they had a hit on their hands. They were wrong as the single stalled at number 52.

November's "Animal Games"/"Us Kids Cold" couldn't better that, although it did win them an appearance on the televised music show So It Goes. Attention now moved to the recording of London's debut album. Napier Bell, who was equally adept as a producer, took his place behind the control board and coaxed a blistering album out of the band. Unfortunately, London was already gone before Animal Games arrived early in 1978.

Rat Scabies had departed the Damned the previous October and Moss was approached to replace him. The drummer played his final show with London in December 1977 at the London Marquee. The remaining trio then began auditioning new stickmen to no avail. They gave up for good early in the new year. Ironically enough, the Damned called it quits soon after and Moss wandered off in search of greener pastures. He found them with a flamboyant singer/scenester named Boy George. The rest is history. ~ Jo-Ann Greene