Welcome to the latest Squire Fan Club Newsletter which is subtitled: Squire and the Southern California Experience!
This subheading borrows from Timothy White’s excellent book on The Beach Boys – The Nearest Faraway Place (brian wilson, the beach boys, and the southern california experience)
It was to the nearest faraway place, San Diego California, about as far west as you can go from London, that Squire had relocated to by 1985!
In this parallel universe to the London scene, San Diego hosted bands such as Manual Scan and Telltale Hearts, seen below.
Experiencing the energy of this music scene, and in particular seeing these bands live, especially The Morlocks and Gravedigger V etc. inspired the realization that there was more potential for guitar bands on the West Coast than in London- and that other bands needed to explore the opportunities!!
Anthony was already playing live, seen here sporting a Vox 12 string, backed by bands such as Manual Scan (above), and was guesting with other bands in the Los Angeles area such as The Question,
and Chardon Square.
It was into this universe that Paul, Ed and Simon came to see for themselves, and flew directly to San Diego where they assembled Boys About Town.
The debut live date was on 23rd November 1985 and the line up included the Telltale Hearts and Manual Scan.
Following the San Diego date, Boys About Town headed on the long drive north up the Interstate 5 to San Francisco for the KUSF radio show! The road trip, an eight hour 500 mile trip was an unforgettable cultural experience that the musicians absorbed as they planned their collective next move!
While Ed and Simon returned home, Anthony and Paul remained in San Diego and performed on some of the most interesting Squire dates!
Seen here flirting with Byrds style fringe jackets, alongside ‘Dennis The Menace’ DJ at the San Diego show, Anthony and Paul embraced the Southern California influence and enjoyed reappraising their music through the prism of this different cultural lifestyle!
The legacy of the American folk rock based sounds, sunshine pop and all that had emerged in the mid 1960s that had influenced them, took on a different meaning and inspired a new way of imagining songs, in the same way that post 1965 American tour, The Beatles having met and hung out with The Byrds, returned to London to record the folk rock based Rubber Soul.
This new Squire line up of Anthony on guitar, Paul on bass and Doni Costello (from Chardon Square) on drums. They played their debut performance at Timbers in Glendora, just outside Los Angeles, intended for a live recording.
The date was followed by another massive headline show at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach,
before they all traveled north again to San Francisco where Buddy Woodward joined the band for the California Squire finale at the Mabuhay Gardens.
The San Francisco show became the final Squire show of the era, inadvertently following in the footsteps of both The Beatles at Candlestick Park and The Sex Pistols at the Winterland Ballroom, who both retired from live performance after final shows in San Francisco!
Anthony and Paul returned to London, seen here at 100 Club for The Jetset show, assuming their original personas!
We had been warmly welcomed as a curious addition to the Southern California scene, and the favour was returned as Manual Scan, with a line up that included Ray Brandes of Telltale Hearts, flew to London and played at The 100 Club the following year in 1986, supporting The Jetset.
The Californian bands had also dreamt of taking their sound across the ocean, and experience London first hand, inspired by the musical history and wishing to soak up the atmosphere, and It was recognising this cultural mirror and mutual reaching out that inspired a continuing sense of opportunity and possibility elsewhere! The energy, immediacy and 60s garage influences exemplified in the San Diego scene, seemingly going unnoticed in similar existing London bands, created an interesting paradox. Bands from both continents have continued to stay in touch!
Indeed this London / San Diego parallel exists in other spheres. For example, Ugly Things magazine based in San Diego takes its title from London’s The Pretty Things, while Shindig based in London takes its name from the Californian mid 60s TV show. Both magazines describe themselves as:
Ugly Things magazine covers mainly 1960s Beat, garage rock, and psychedelic music (“Wild Sounds From Past Dimensions”). The name Ugly Things is a pun that refers to the band The Pretty Things.
Shindig! began in under the name Gravedigger to chronicle ’60s garage-punk and contemporary garage bands from the ’80s and early ’90s. The fanzine then embraced psychedelia, mod and associated sub-genres with a growing team of writers and a name change to Shindig!
As we return to consider the Boys About Town radio performance, this California connection and mix of British and American musicians working together is the catalyst that makes this period the most interesting.
Squire found adapting to a West Coast sound a natural fit which became the next step post power pop September Gurls era. This is evidenced on the second of the two tracks on this weeks Boys About Town radio show part 2 which features ‘Big Painting’ and ‘The Reasons Why’.
Already familiar with the demo, KUSF host Linda Ryan requests Boys About Town play the song. Buddy Woodward on 12-string recognizesl the title ‘The Reasons Why’ as the opening line from The Byrds ‘Feel A Whole Lot Better’ and mistakenly thinking that’s the song Linda is requesting and so launches straight into the riff! Ed, Paul and Simon dive in behind, and this new folk rock arrangement of ‘The Reasons Why’ is made up on the spot!
The song, that finally made its electric debut on September Gurls (Extended Edition), is a classic example of the cross cultural sharing of influences creating a hybrid arrangement.
This mix of Californian and London energy was repeated years later in the same way, as Squire’s version of ‘Rain’ on the B-side of the ‘Eight Miles High’ single, also featuring Buddy, interprets the Beatles song as if recorded in a 1960s studio in California with The Wrecking Crew performing the parts, so the seeds of this idea are already in place with this early ‘The Reasons Why’ example!
The radio session starts with an excellent version of Ed Ball singing ‘Big Painting’, from The Times ‘This Is London’ LP! (the lyrics also include the line – the reasons why!) This is followed by ‘The Reasons Why’. These performances did not appear on the Little Teddy EP, and are heard here for the very first time!
All the best from Squire!