Tuesday, 3 May 2011

From the Top Drawer XIV - Ring Of Roses

This is one for those folks who used to go to Alice In Wonderland at Gossips in Dean Street, London and anybody who went on the Magical Mystery Trips that the club organised. Much has been written about the place, with it being the cocoon from which Doctor And The Medics emerged to have a number one hit with their cover of 'Spirit In The Sky' in 1986, although they had been around since 1981. A lot of talent passed through the club, but most individuals never enjoyed the publicity on the level that the good Doctor and his band received.

I'm not going to cover the club in detail (there's a good piece here), but I'll just say that wedged into the tiny corner of the basement in an area set aside for a stage (no raised platforms here) I witnessed quite a few acts, including the Medics, various Damned members, Inner City Unit (a lengthy set which took up most of the evening!), Webcore, and even The Cult just before they had their She Sells Sanctuary megahit. There was a band every week, some forgettable but most worth a look, if your eyes could see past the oilwheel lightshow that bounced off the strips of tissue paper that hung from the ceiling and served as decor. Many creative people passed through its doors during the few years the club was open, and punters could rub shoulders and have a chat with various movers 'n' groovers on the London scene at that time.

Ring Of Roses was another project that featured lead singer James Vane (see older post here) and one of the many bands featuring sax player Dan Carpenter. They pursued a different musical direction (more like the Psychedelic Furs at that time perhaps) with a cleaner, more commercial sound than before - less psychedelic and more straightforward than Vane the band. In fact legend has it that the band signed a lucrative six figure deal with RCA Records, yet never got round to releasing anything. I acquired a tape of their performance at the 6th July 1985 AIW Mystery Trip (at a former Butlins holiday camp in Clacton-On-Sea in Essex - more memories shared here) along with some demos and this is what you get here.

The package contains the live set (or as much as I have to share) which for some reason has a demo of 'Spiritual Sky' spliced into it - maybe the live version got minced? - and three demo songs including the studio 'No Soul Without Fire'. The live set starts off in a melodic structured style then gets looser and more trippy as it progresses to its close...a couple of the demos are in a more classic pop vein. The tape's a bit hissy but WTF, some good tunes here. Could have/should have been huge...

- Live at the Alice In Wonderland Mystery Trip, Clacton-On-Sea 6th July 1985 -
I Could Say / Flowers In The Morning / Simon And Cindy / Freaksong / Lorraine /
Dangerous Mission / Spiritual Sky (demo spliced into sequence) / No Soul Without Fire

and the demos
- According To The Weatherman
- No Soul Without Fire
- Silent Angel

Ripped @320kbps from an acquired tape. Get it HERE


  1. Excellent, thanks for posting, was at many of the events including the club. You've linked back to my site too, thanks for that as well :-)

  2. Cheers pOoter, thanks for dropping by.
    Really appreciate your site, lots of great info there.

  3. Cheers Gobbledygook, One day I will get the site updated :-/

    I don't suppose you know how to get hold of the guy that runs the Alice In Wonderland Facebook page do you?


    (I'm one of the few that isn't on FB!!)

  4. I've written you an email c/o your site, pOoter.

  5. I have many memories too and shall dig photos out to scan in. It was a great decade or two.. .