It’s been too long since I have had either the cause or the opportunity to write about my old & good friends Bam Bam & the Calling. Someone has been getting busy tidying up their attic & has stumbled upon a dusty box labelled “BB&tC: Odds & Sods”. Back in the day this consanguine cassette collection would have entertained the finder & a small circle of friends. In our Age of E-Wonders, a whiff of techknowledge, a pinch of electrickery & these freshly relocated artefacts are available on the WWW as a free download in the form of one of those neat Soundcloud graph things. Here’s one now. Just click on the arrow because “Kitchen Dogs” really is a cracker & not to be missed.
Bam Bam & the Calling are part of a triumvirate of bands from Derry in Northern Ireland who not only shared personnel but also a belief that energy & loud guitars were requisites for good rock music. The Undertones made records that we all know (& hopefully love). If you do not know the work of That Petrol Emotion then do yourself a proper favour. You could start with an entertaining, honest interview ( music included) with Raymond Gorman, guitarist with The Everlasting Yeah & a former member of TPE. Raymond served his musical apprenticeship in Bam Bam & the Calling . He had this to say about those good times…”Bam Bam are still active, they play in Derry periodically and are still great too. I was in the second incarnation which was like Adam And The Ants meets The Clash/Bunnymen, I think we actually didn’t realise or weren’t fully aware of how great we were at the time. I felt more like a rock star playing in Bam Bam than I ever did in the Petrols. It’s a crying shame and the biggest regret of my life is that we never recorded with that line-up. We made it onto N.I. TV for 30 seconds once but no-one seems to have the video anymore. Great days. Very fond memories”.
Wow ! Adam & the Ants, the Clash & the Bunnymen all at the same time, that’s a busy & crowded stage. “Kitchen Dogs” is from 1986, just before the Bam Bams left Derry intending to show London what’s what. The band needed little encouragement to accelerate the song’s original tempo. Those teenage licks have got to make you catch your breath. Paul, Joe, John & Tom were still on the Bunnymen, still are, always will be. It’s too late to stop now.
Here’s another one from 1986. Dave Fanning is a stalwart of Irish music radio, enough respect to be compared with John Peel. For every young Irish band it was a big deal to record a session for Dave. The whole country listened, even I did for a while because British radio, apart from Peelie, was pretty hateful stuff. Apart from 24/7 exposure to Television’s “Marquee Moon”, there was a big appreciation of R.E.M’s “Chronic Town” & those first 2 LPs. “Only Sing” has a lovely Byrdsian clatter . There’s a unity & an enjoyment in the sound…another winner.
I met Bam Bam & the Calling at this time. The music was not making them enough money to cover an outrageous hair product habit. Gravity defying coiffures do not come cheap so a bit of hard construction collar was required. These 2 tracks rejuvenate very good memories of rock & roll adventures & of some great musical nights. It was always a genuine thrill to see my 4 individual friends get on a stage to do that thing they do together so well.
Bam Bam recorded just 2 excellent singles. By the time the “Absurd Song” demo was recorded in 1994 their London expedition was over & the band were back home. For songwriter Paul Pj McCartney there was time for musical experimentation but it’s still rock & roll to me, still a Bam Bam joint & that is a good thing.
A man in the know tells me that there are plenty of these tracks to come spanning the 30 year history of the group. I’m looking forward to hearing & collecting them. All I know is that the music will be the sort that we like…the stuff with a heart full of soul. These nuggets are available at that part of Soundcloud ruled by optimumhold or you can get over to the Facebook page, press “like” & your social media will be sounding better already. The price is right…these beauties are being given away…proper music by proper people…you know it makes sense…you’re welcome.