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Lovely Ugly: R*E*P*E*A*T Records: Crawling Sprawlings from a Seesaw Sea-Side Town

R*E*P*E*A*T records have released Lovely Ugly an awesome fifteen track splatter vinyl compilation of current underground Swansea guitar bands Trampolene, Monet, Swansea Sound, Rainyday Rainbow, Grey-FLX and Kikker, along with a couple of local legends Swansea legends Helen Love, The Pooh Sticks and The DC10s. It’s available to pre-order now from repeatfanzine.bandcamp.com and in shops via Shellshock distribution

The album is out now on Swansea City coloured white and black splatter vinyl with a gatefold sleeve featuring an original painting of the City by local artist Fred Fitton.

Richard Rose founder of R*E*P*E*A*T records and fanzine that celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, sent us a piece entitled ‘Crawling Sprawlings from a Seesaw Sea-Side Town’ about his inspiration behind the album:

“I’ve always counted Swansea as my home. 

This despite having only lived here for six years, between the ages of 12 and 18. But these were the years that mattered. 

Not that I fitted in right away. Straight outta Leeds, I had the wrong accent, the wrong interests and a tartan duffle bag (Scotland cheated Wales in 1978, remember?). Just a typical awkward teen misfit in mind-forg’d manacles. 

Until I used the guitar to break free. 

Not my acoustic classical guitar, which I had tried unsuccessfully, and at times disastrously, to electrify, but a proper electric guitar, a Westbury Standard bought at ‘Picton Music’ under the watchful eyes of my guitar teacher in around 1980. This instrument, which I recently tracked down and bought back from smugglers in Slovenia, kicked open so many doors for me. No longer a geeky swot, but suddenly sort of interesting, maybe worth talking to, and almost cool. Almost. 

And there I was, in a brave new world of DIY gigs, punk rock rebel music and creativity. We put on our own gigs in school halls, church halls, village halls, any old hall where we could find the electricity and the keys.

Somehow, we did this in almost blissful ignorance of both the underground and of the mainstream, (which was itself becoming increasingly punkified). Parochial villagers that we were, we ventured only rarely into town on the number 14 for the bright lights of Dirty Dora’s or the Top Rank Club. Not even when The Cure (supported and perhaps upstaged by their own film Carnage Visors) played the overly grandiose Brangwyn Hall to around 100 people did I dare attend. 

In fact, I can only remember going to one Swansea gig that I’d recognize as similar to one of my own. This was at the Coach House, where my band were supporting a local outfit we’ll rename The Spurts. The Spurts were competent, loud and quite fun; I loved the vibe of a messy, loud, sticky small town gig in a  messy, loud, sticky small town pub, but to be honest the music didn’t fire my imagination – New Wave faves successfully but unimaginatively covered. 

I found just the one dazzling exception to all this. The DC10s. They were from our village, just a couple of years above me in school, and recorded and self-released a single, had it played by John Peel and reviewed in NME, gigged around South Wales and then split up. Which tale of DIY genius has inspired me ever since, and is just as perfect as their bittersweet 90 second punk-pop song, appearing on proper vinyl here for the first time in 44 years. 

But mostly we stuck to the gigs in village halls. 

In 1983 I moved reluctantly to York. In 1989, even more reluctantly, I got a job in Cambridge. In both places I was subsumed by the music scene, helping set up the important sounding York University Alternative Music Society and then of course, in Cambridge, came R*E*P*E*A*T.

I will be forever grateful for the welcome, love, enthusiasm and support that bands, writers, promoters, venues, artists, writers and fans showed me in Cambridge; without them R*E*P*E*A*T would never have existed. We ran (and continue to run) some incredible gigs there with some of the most exciting bands of my world.

However, all the time, I still counted Swansea as my home. 

And of course, I came back to see gigs. Standout memories : The Pogues at the Mayfair with the mightily missed Kirsty McColl and Shane McGowan dancing teeteringly under fake snow, the 60 Foot Dolls ripping up Pontardawe Arts Centre, and of course the Manics at the Heineken festival in ’93, where their heady mix of aggression, beauty, politics, football rivalries and adrenaline led to them being successfully bottled off, and which inspired me to start writing the fanzine. 

But the local scene? 

Sure, there were stories filtered through the music press of Swansea bands such as The Pooh Sticks and Helen Love making waves in London, New York, Tokyo and beyond, but actually in Swansea? Despite scouring the Evening Post each time I visited, and diligently trawling the internet when it became a thing, I could never spot anything original and creative happening. It must have been out there (and it certainly was) but where?  Dim problem, I could see that at the Coach House, guess what, The Spurts and friends were still churning out their competently cosy covers.

Then in 2018, after the death of my father and the relegation of The Swans, I knew it was time to come home.

That first summer back, without proper work or income apart from that gained by selling Manics badges, I had time to enjoy re-exploring my old home on my own Return Journey. And I liked what I found. To me, the city was suddenly far more diverse, more vibrant, more exciting, more culturally exuberant than the place I’d left behind.

And surprisingly, instead of them looking askance at a 50-something man who turned up at their gigs, I was welcomed by bands, venues, promoters, writers, artists and gig goers. In fact, I was totally overwhelmed by the joy I encountered. People wanted to record with me, release music with me, gig with me and even make music with me. I’d arrived, it seemed, at just the right time, when Swansea’s cultural heart was being reborn and redrawn. I could get out my pencil and make my own marks.

There were still a few fading embers of identikit Oasis wannabe bands – nice white boys strumming nice guitars to nice songs – but these were being challenged by bands that that were far more exciting. More mixed, more imaginative, more creative, more galvanizing, more confrontational. And many of them became instant allies. 

And many appear on this album. Which isn’t meant to be representative, definitive, comprehensive or anything so worthy. These are just the bands that I’ve loved working with, loved listening to, loved seeing live, that just happened to have a spare track to donate. No slight intended to bands who aren’t included, it’s just I’ve not bumped into you at the right time, or maybe you slipped from my ageing memory. 

Big thanks, then, to all the bands, the venues, the promoters, the artists, the writers, the gig goers and everybody else who’s made me feel so welcome in our lovely ugly town; this compilation would not exist with out you. 

And I hope it shows off some of the creativity and craft at work in this pretty shitty city. Even without a contribution from The Spurts.

But if they want to play a future R*E*P*E*A*T gig, then they can always get in touch. As can you, dear reader, in this ever-evolving, slightly weird, wetly wonderful Welsh world of rain, riot and rock and roll, which I’m very pleased to call my home.”

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T 2024

Available from repeatfanzine.bandcamp.com,in shops via Shellshock distribution and digitally. Catalogue number MBRR166.

Launch gig
June 22nd at Elysium with Kikker, Rainyday Rainbow, Grey-FLX, Soundwire, Tom Emlyn and Dead Noize plus DJs Hue (Swansea Sound / The Pooh Sticks), Catrin (The Loves) & Peter Stone (The Sweetest Ache)

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.