Blood Spattered with Guitars – 2019

Forty years ago, on the 9th of October 1979, I recorded my first single with my band, the Accidents.
It’s difficult to explain how excited we were, and how important it was that we were releasing our own record.

The world was a very different place 40 years ago. No internet and no fake bullshit cult of celebrity. Talent still ran through the veins of British Rock’n’Roll. The cultural storm clouds of Punk rock had yet to pass in 1979, and it’s DIY ethos and creative inspiration hung like a Rock and Roll fug. The Accidents were inspired, by Punk rock, 60s Beat music, Psychedelia, the Beatles, and most importantly Big Star. As Paul Sullivan once said about the Ramones, the Accidents were a musical smoothie of all our influences, and Big Star were our God head.

We were serious young men, who were driven to become just like our favourite pop stars, and we had a lot to say, and fuck you if you didn’t like it because we were the next big thing.
I was going to be a cover star for the popular teen mag Jackie, hell maybe even Photolove! Put simply, I was destined to become a Rock and Roll star.
At the time, I was, it has to be said, the cock of the walk. The Accidents were over 2 years old when we made the single. My vision of Rock and Roll stardom had motivated me this far, and whilst my musical voice had to be influenced by Paul, making the single convinced me we were heading for the “toppermost of the poppermost”.

Odd then, that around this anniversary I received an email from Micheal Douglas, asking for a copy of the lyrics. I’m assuming he must have been something of a mega fan back in ’79, as he describes buying the single and listening to us play it live. Blood Spattered was an odd piece, and I’ve had numerous emails in the past ten years, asking for a transcript of the lyrics.

We’d demo’d the track back in February ’79, at John Loder’s South studios in Barnet. But John’s overbearing school teacher – like approach had turned the demo sterile and sluggish. I felt the weight of John’s authoritarian attitude bearing down on my creative shoulders, and his insistence that the amps be kept low and mistakes meticulously corrected, stifled whatever creative spark we might have had.
But for the single with Gary Lucas at Spaceward, his recording techniques and equipment were top notch, and his attitude was much freer, and this allowed us to creatively stretch out.

And what of the lyrics? Paul wrote the first verse, then gave it to me to finish.

“Went out west in search of heavenly release”

– the west being the “Way out west” of the Radio City track, and indeed Mark’s jangle guitar is Paul re writing Chilton

“They just won’t give you no peace, it’s hard enough just to please, they’ll have you down on your knees”

– whilst some of our following were slavish, a few of our “pub friends” didn’t like the idea of us being successful and the centre of attention, and we had to work hard at gigs to get a response from them

“Don’t worry kids just be a person and relax”

– I’m not sure but I think Paul copped this from mine and Jane Macintyre’s mishearing Syd Barrett’s “Wouldn’t you miss me”, in which we heard him sing “I’m only a Persian” instead of person

We’ll get these dags off our back”

– Henry, our manager at the time, had an Australian girlfriend. When someone mentioned using the word “cunt” might inhibit our airplay somewhat, she suggested dags ( the shit that clings to sheep’s arses, an Australian word ) as an alternative, which I certainly liked as it was an odd word I’d never heard before. John Peel obviously agreed……

“Don’t feel you’re under attack, they’re not aware of the facts”

– another reference to the plebs in the audience

“Looking down upon my blood pitted white guitar”

– was a reference to the gig at the Duke of Lancaster in Barnet, which I believe we played in the summer of 1978. It was sparsely attended but the few Punks throwing themselves around at the front were really enjoying the gig. I did an almighty Townsend style thrash on my guitar, not realising I’d cut my hand pretty badly, until the gig was over and I looked down at my Zenta. It was as if Jackson Pollock had given it a paint job with my blood. I’m fairly certain I turned round to Paul and said “look, blood spattered with guitar!” which obviously gave him the inspiration for the song. We did that some times. I’d come out with a couplet like “Rifle Worship” and Paul would be inspired to write a song around it.
When I got the Rickenbacker copy I used ( from late 1978 I guess ) I gave the bloody Zenta Telecaster to Jed, who kept in it’s original condition for many years, until the blood turned brown and it looked so ghastly my sister Helen gave it a thorough clean

“Maybe I’ve taken it too far, obsessed like living hot cars, and smoking in kool aid bars”

– I’ve always loved word salads and nonsensical couplets. And there was nothing like a McCartney Woodbine to fire up my imagination. I’ve no idea what living hot cars are, or what kool aid is, but as the ingredients of a word salad they sounded cool. When the phrase was used the second time, we pulled out the guitars and whilst the bass and drums were to the fore, we added echo to my vocal. This was my little homage to Dub Reggae, which was a major influence on me at the time and a genre I still adore. Colin Murray had turned Will and I onto the “King Tubby meets the Rockers uptown” single in 1975.

“If I live to see your smiling face again, I hope that we can still be friends, for ours is a love that never ends, I know that we can still be friends”

– the smiling face I was referring to was an ex. We’d had an on/off relationship for years, but it was over and I really wanted to move on. Unfortunately, the girl simply wouldn’t let go, so I guess the lyric was me trying to draw a line under our relationship, in a kind and loving way. And when I abbreviate the line to “if I live to see” I’m looking to the future, beyond what we had. Perhaps that should have said “when I’m free ( from you )”!

I have little recollection of the studio or the recording, tho’ I can just about see the interior of the room in my mind. Mark says there was beer and curry, no change there then! Gary had an assistant, an engineer/gopher, and he was a lovely fellow too. But beyond that, 40 years of the Rock’n’Roll lifestyle have obliterated any other memories. Over to you, Mark and Paul……

Sadly, a little over a year later, this incarnation of the band imploded. But it would seem, an incredible 40 years later, that the single refuses to go away. And whilst I’m at loathe to feel pride, I am proud of our single and I’m very happy people still love it, and are still discovering it. It’s a kind of immortality……


3 Responses to “Blood Spattered with Guitars – 2019”

  1. I remember the pub across the road which had a book bands signed who were recording at Spaceward. Gary Newmans Tubeway army was one, can’t remember who else

  2. Thanks for that mate.

    I don’t think we knew at the time, but of course Syd Barrett was rumoured to have played or recorded there.

    The reality was, Gary re mastered a live tape of Syd Barrett’s Stars at the studio, sometime in the early 80’s……

  3. I received this from Michael Douglas recently. I have to give him credit for inspiring me to write the piece, thank you Michael –

    Thanks for the callout in your piece; although I wouldn’t describe me as a megafan. I’ve just always felt it was a top tier song and never aged. I do have the album as well and the tracks play occassionally on my music while driving.
    I always felt that “Blood Spattered…” would make a cracking opening track to a movie. I used to think it would suit a typical Richard Curtis RomCom – yes, I can hear you groan !
    But having read your explanation of it, I now think it would be suited to a story of a budding Rock musician who looks for fame but finds real life instead. He awakes in the evening to a text message asking where he is as the gig starts in 15 minutes, and so the opening sequence starts. Getting dressed, slinging his guitar over his shoulders and scrambling through the streets and tube stations of London, with the track at full volume (it has to be full volume), he arrives at the venue, bursting through the door as the outro of “Blood Spattered…” plays, he finds his bandmates on a small pub stage, looking at 3 eldery men, a young woman and a bored barman.
    Yep, very cliched, but I can see it in my mind in great detail. in fact it is so cliched I’m sure the scene probably already exists in a famous movie that I’ve conveniently forgotten.

    As a movie I guess it would be a Rock & Roll version of “Inside Llewyn Davies”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a Coen Bros film set in 1961 USA: it follows a week in the life of a struggling Folk Singer trying to achieve musical success. The closing sequence is a true bittersweet moment that either makes you laugh or cry.

    And so to the lyrics. It seems that “Looking down upon my front pillow like a toy” turns out to be “Looking down upon my blood pitted white guitar”.
    Hopefully you are not spitting your tea out now Terence? I always knew my words were completely wrong, so I don’t feel robbed.
    As for the opening words; “Went out west in search of heavenly release” is marginally better than my version: “When I’m dressed in such who heavenly breeze” 🙂 You might be deaf but I clearly am an idiot !!

    Your memories of the song and that period made me smile – the certainty of your path to fame, your absolute lack of bitterness, your joy at still having a musical life, and your acceptance that even important memories can fade. Your words glow with honesty; a joy to read.
    You reluctantly said you are proud of the single. Don’t drift into denial on this one. Denial is never good – so I’ll say it for you: It’s a great song. Immortality indeed.

    Take Care

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