The Shapes return for 39th anniversary
It has been quite a few weeks for legendary Leamington band The Shapes. With customary disdain for convention, they have been celebrating their 39th anniversary rather than the round number usually chosen. First port of call for the band whose members are now scattered across Britain & the US was to the town's famous Woodbine Studios where they first recorded with John Rivers in 1979 for their celebrated "Part of the Furniture" EP which came out on their own Sofa Records (you may remember such tracks as "Wot's For Lunch Mum? (Not Beans Again!)" and "(I Saw) Batman (In The Launderette)"). This time, 37 years later, they cut two songs, both live favourites, "We're Not Very Famous" and "Don't Play Tennis" with John for a forthcoming single: the first Sofa Records release for 36 years.
This kicked off a mini tour : the "We're Not Very Famous Tour" with the strapline "39 Years of Anarchy & Baked Beans", culminating in a packed & high energy gig at the Zephyr Lounge with The Bonnevilles, many of whose followers became instant fans of the band.
On the afternoon before the Leamington gig, four of the five members: Ben Browton (aka "Seymour Bybuss") their lyricist & vocalist, bassplayer Gareth Holder (aka "Brian Helicopter"), guitarist Tim Jee and drummer Dave Gee visited Coventry Music Museum for a Heritage Lottery funded "Sounding Off" question and answer session about their career with Coventry and Warwickshire's number one music historian and Museum founder, Pete Chambers. Sadly guitarist Steve Richards missed the session as his amp required fixing for the evening's performance: however he managed to visit the Museum a couple of week's later with his daughter and added his name to the rest of the band's on the Door of Fame for Coventry & Warwickshire music as well as donating some rare & unique Shapes memorabilia to the Museum.
The band talked with customary candour & humour about their career, the support John Peel gave them, being one of the very few non-Irish bands signed to Terri Hooley's legendary Good Vibrations label and how they launched the career of The Specials, whose first gig was supporting The Shapes back in October 1977. Footage of the talk (in several parts) can be found on this YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp3p63r5mq-RhKCDIlxwdZg
and includes acoustic renditions of the songs "Business Calls" and the classic "(I Saw) Batman (In The Launderette)"
The photographs of The Shapes are (on the left) the famous 1979 shot taken in the alleyway through the Jephson Gardens by the late Eric Labarthe which appeared in the "New Musical Express" of March 1979 and on the cover of the band's "Songs For Sensible People" album and on the right a more recent recreation, taken by the band's Tour Manager, Julie Fenton.