Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A.I.T.A. Hall Of Fame: The Prisoners

The Prisoners: Kings Of The Medway Delta

The Prisoners were formed in 1980 in Chatham, Kent, England. Their 1960s influenced garage sound made them a regular live fixture in London's "psychedelic revival" mini-scene of the early 1980s, and they often toured with sparring partners Thee Milkshakes, who included Billy Childish on guitar. The Prisoners' sound combined catchy, retro-flavoured melodies, punky guitar riffs, a Steve Marriott-esque vocal style and a lead instrument of the then-unfashionable Hammond organ.

After releasing several self-financed records and spending a year with Big Beat Records, in 1985 the Prisoners signed a new management deal with Acid Jazz that saw them move away from the London garage band tag and instead directly into the mod revival mainstream. The deal was unsuccessful and the band split up acrimoniously in 1986. They have however reformed for live shows several times since then, and managed to release a final one-off single in 1997.

Since splitting up the members of The Prisoners have featured in a wide range of bands. James Taylor and Allan Crockford formed acid-jazz act the James Taylor Quartet in 1986, although Allan Crockford is no longer part of their line-up. The Solarflares, who released four albums before splitting up in 2004, were Graham Day and Allan Crockford basically reprising The Prisoners sound along with drummer Simon "Wolf" Howard and Mr Parsley on organ. Other bands who have featured former members of The Prisoners are Planet, The Buff Medways, The Prime Movers, Thee Mighty Caesars, and The Stabilisers. Presently, Day fronts Graham Day & The Gaolers.

A Taste Of Pink! (Own-Up, 1982)
TheWiserMiserDemelza (Big Beat, 1983)
Revenge Of The Prisoners (Pink Dust, 1984)
The Last Fourfathers (Own-Up, 1985)
In From The Cold (54321 Countdown, 1986)
Rare & Unissued (Hangman, 1988)

Singles / EPs
There's A Time 45 (Skydog, 1983)
Hurricane 45 (Big Beat, 1983)
Electric Fit EP (Big Beat, 1984)
Whenever I'm Gone EP (54321 Countdown, 1986)
Shine On Me 45 (Deceptive, 1997)

Notable compilations / splits
Don't Let The Hope Close Down LP (Hope Springs, 1984)
The Last Night At The M.I.C. LP (Empire, 1985)
Thee Milkshakes vs The Prisoners LP (Media Burn, 1985)
Medway Vol.1 Powerhouse LP (Hangman Records, 1987)

Dig: Interview with Graham Day
Download: "Melanie" (live version)
Download: "A Taste Of Pink" (live version)
Buy: The Prisoners' CD reissues

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