(SOUNDS - November 15th 1980)
VALAC VAN DER VEENE
casts a line in the direction
of a fast-rising independent
A QUICK GLANCE at Sounds venerated AIternative, Oi Oi and Futurist charts discloses a healthy
cluster of waxings from Fresh Records bedding down with releases from other independents. UK
Decay, Family Fodder, Discharge, Cuddly Toys, Manufactured Romance, Dumb Blondes and
The Dark ... a large number of brain screwing, provocative, enjoyable or excruciatingly painful
offerings arrive at our (now even more luxurious} offices from Fresh each week. Fresh are typical
of an 'Indie' going places, fast. But will the smel! of success turn into another corporate stink?
Time for a Insight-style probe.
ALEX - 'DON'T quote me on
that'” Howe is label boss,
catalyst and hustler. His
deceptive 'need a drink or
some sleep' image hides a
very sharp mind, and an
obscene amount of physical
energy. He'll have a chat
while dealing with a
publishing agreement, and
hold three phone calls
simultaneously. Then go
and bop to a fave band till
four in the morning.
His running partner's Alan
” you've caught us at a
busy time' ” Hauser. Alan's
the label manager, a
diplomat who'd turn 'no shit,
meathead' into 'we wouldn't
look too favourably on that'.
He can put on that pained
expression, like he's got the
whole weight of the record business on his shoulders, and have a grin over a
pint seconds later. That comes from risking life, limb and overdraft on a band
called Raped and a record company ” Parole.
In the office, where you couldn't swing a gerbil" let alone a proverbial cat, it
was hard to tell who were 'staff' and who were band members. Who did what?
"Charlie Casey's ex Menace and now our distribution manager and organises
gigs. Phil, from The Dark, is on telephone sales, Graham Combi's a nutter and
supplies the shops and John's my trouble shooter ” well, the person who glues
the phone back together when I get annoyed."
Other group members could be seen generally helping out and getting artwork
for labels and sleeves together. "Every outfit does their own artwork ” we try
and make the organisation mutually self reliant". So far, small seemed OK if not
"The advantage of having musicians around is extra ears! They're in contact
with the gig scene, can get opinions from other bands, and give us a much more
objective view than if we just had one A&R who had to be
levered out of his office". Alan signifies agreement.
So how did these widely differing personalities team up?
Alan formed Parole Records to release material by Raped.
"Things started to get serious in late '78. Other companies
refused to touch the band ” shocked puritanism could
describe their reaction!"
My eyes misted over at the memory of that first pair of
bondage pants down the Roxy.
"There were other bands like The Disturbed and 4 Kings
that I wanted to put out, and before I knew it I was doing 20
different jobs and trying to look confident when I went to my bank."
Meanwhile, Alex was starting a record shop, working in close association with
"It was little more than a pre-fab garage, really wretched, hence the name
Wretched Records. I knew a few street market sellers, had met Alan some
years before, and I was able to get some of his records on the street".
Pause for a quick argument over who did what.
THE CONVERSATION drifted round to various 'Indies' -
Small Wonder, Rough Trade” and it seemed as if there
was a bit of an old boys network going on, eh Alex?
"Err, yep” but it's a positive thing, things evolved around
that time” a lot of like minded people suddenly decided to
do it, and help each other out. We were able to form a
network, outside the majors, without the hassles of rivalry
which plague the large companies.
"I don't want to sound all clinical about this, but combining
a retail shop, mail order, your own distribution and finally a
label is a perfect, self supporting format. Point is, we're
young, enthusiastic and are totally behind the music. Being
a businessman isn't a consideration. We're not."
Would Fresh sell out to a major, or do a licensing deal?
"We're both agreed” never. Because there're all these
'Indies' working together now, we'll be in a very strong
position within six months. We keep in contact with Rough,
Red Rhino, Revolver, Discount and Inferno, and we can
cover the whole country and keep costs down. EMI were
amazed when I told them we broke even on under 2000
Rough Trade have a reputation of 'letting the music sell
itself and not following through with their acts. What's the
"RT've got this policy I respect and they're genuine in what
they do. Afraid I'm more aggressive. Just look at the stunts
the majors pull to break' acts, cut-throat tactics, and if we're
too passive, people won't get a chance of alternative
(First Published in SOUNDS November 15th 1980)
DISCOGRAPHY (1979 -1982)
The seeds of Fresh Records were sown in Alex Howe's
Wretched Records stall in London's Soho Market in 1978.
Alex also ran a mail-order service, and demand from other
shops for the Buzzcock's 'Spiral Scratch' EP led him to
start Fresh Distribution.
Bands such as the Art Attacks, Second Layer, UK Decay
and Manufactured Romance came to the stall looking for
an outlet for their records.
Alan Hauser joined Alex in 1979 bringing his Parole
Records label with Family Fodder, Cuddly Toys, The Wall and Bernie
Torme to set up the Fresh Records label, and the roster quickly took shape.
(from Anagram's Fresh Records Punk Singles Collection sleeve-notes)
Cat. No. Artist Title Format
FRESH 001 FAMILY FODDER PLAYING GOLF 7"
FRESH 002 THE DARK JOHN WAYNE 7"
FRESH 003 THE ART ATTACKS PUNK ROCK STARS 7"
FRESH 004 TERRI HOOLEY LAUGH AT ME 7"
FRESH 005 SECOND LAYER COURTS OR WAR 7"
FRESH 006 METROPHASE IN BLACK 7"
FRESH 007 BERNIE TORME ALL DAY & ALL OF THE NIGHT 7"
FRESH 008 FAMILY FODDER WARM 7"
FRESH 009/12 FAMILY FODDER SUNDAY GIRLS 12"
FRESH 010 CUDDLY TOYS MADMAN (Bowie/Bolan) 7"
FRESH 011 FOUR KINGS LOVING YOU IS NO DISGRACE 7"
FRESH 012 UK DECAY FOR MY COUNTRY 7"
FRESH 013 THE DARK HAWAII FIVE-O 7"
FRESH 014 MENACE THE YOUNG ONES 7"
FRESH 015 FAMILY FODDER DEBBBIE HARRY 7"
FRESH 016 MANUFACTURED ROMANCE THE TIME OF MY LIFE 7"
FRESH 017 THE WALL GHETTO 7"
FRESH 018 THERE MUST BE RUSSIANS DON'T TRY TO CURE YOURSELF 7"
FRESH 019 BIG HAIR PUPPET ON A STRING 7"
FRESH 020 CUDDLY TOYS ASTRAL JOE 7"
FRESH 021 DUMB BLONDES STRANGE LOVE / SORROW 7"
FRESH 022 FAMILY FODDER SAVOIR FAIRE 7"
FRESH 023 THE IGLOOS OCTOPUS 7"
FRESH 024 THE DARK EINSTEIN'S BRAIN 7"
FRESH 025/012 CUDDLY TOYS SOMEONE'S CRYING 7"
FRESH 025/012 CUDDLY TOYS SOMEONE'S CRYING 12"
FRESH 026 U.K. DECAY UNEXPECTED GUEST 7"
FRESH 027 THE WALL HOBBY FOR A DAY 7"
FRESH 028 J.C.'s MAINMEN CASUAL TROUSERS 7"
FRESH 029 PLAY DEAD POISON TAKES A HOLD 7"
FRESH 030 WASTED YOUTH REBECCA'S ROOM 7"
FRESH 031 WILKO JOHNSON CASTING A SPELL 7"
FRESH 032 FAMILY FODDER FILM MUSIC 7"
FRESH 033 U.K. DECAY SEXUAL 7"
FRESH 034 BEASTS IN CAGES M+D64Y CHOO CA CHOO 7"
FRESH 035 THE DARK ON THE WIRES 7"
FRESH 036 CHRON GEN PUPPETS OF WAR EP 7"
FRESH 37/12 FAMILY FODDER SCHIZOPHRENIA PARTY mini-LP
FRESH 038 PLAY DEAD T.V. EYE 7"
FRESH 039 CUDDLY TOYS IT'S A SHAME 7"
FRESH 040 LEVI DEXTER I GET SO EXCITED 7"
FRESH 041 THE YOBS (THE BOYS) YOBS ON 45 (Xmas single) 7"
FRESH 042 FAMILY FODDER THE BIG DIG 7"
FRESH 046 THE DARK THE MASQUE 7"
Cat. No. Artist Title
FRESH LP001 CUDDLY TOYS GUILLOTINE THEATRE
FRESH LP002 THE WALL PERSONAL TROUBLES & PUBLIC ISSUES
FRESH LP003 FAMILY FODDER MONKEY, BANANA, KITCHEN
FRESH LP004 WILKO JOHNSON ICE ON THE MOTORWAY
FRESH LP005 UK DECAY FOR MADMEN ONLY
FRESH LP006 CUDDLY TOYS TRIALS & CROSSES
FRESH LP007 THE LINES THERAPY
FRESH LP008 VARIOUS FRESH SELECTION
FRESH LP009 THE DARK CHEMICAL WARFARE
FRESH LP013 BRYGADA KRYZYZ BRYGADA KRYZYZ
Cat. No. Artist Title
CD PUNK 32 VARIOUS FRESH RECORDS - The Punk Singles Collection
Some of these titles can be obtained at the links below or try E-bay as some are collectors items...