Where was I again? That’s it – I was doing a series on lesser known punk bands from the early 80s. I’m now going to get the series up & running again (I hope). It’s been derailed by a variety of things, starting off with my trip to Blackpool, so it seems appropriate to start again with imho Blackpool’s best punk band. The Fits were formed in 1979, many years before Blackpool became the official holiday destination for the UK punk scene. They were influenced by the early punk version of Adam & The Ants, but didn’t have the ability. But this was punk after all, and limited ability didn’t stop them having a go. Despite some dodgy early recordings they persisted and went onto release a handful of classic records.
The Fits first release was an EP called “You Said We’d Never Make It” and maybe they shouldn’t have. Plodding, amateurish, clichéd, it reaches a nadir with the mod-bashing Odd Bod Mod , (“I still get people shouting “Odd bod mod” at me when I go back to Blackpool, and I still blush” – Mickey Crudge, interviewed in Ian Glasper’s book Burning Britain) The EP still has it’s fans, although apparently not the band themselves.
Next up was the Think For Yourself 7”, featuring the still rough but much more energetic Burial.
The band were now signed up to punk/metal label Rondolet and an album was required. The result was the “You’re Nothing, You’re Nowhere” LP – fine if you like amateurish, badly played punk and naive teenage snarling, although again the band were not entirely happy. I quite like it, as the review in Sounds stated its “convincingly hostile”, but its best in small doses.
Things soon improved quality wise. After some line-up changes the band released one more record for Rondelet, the defiant Last Laugh EP. It was produced by Knox of The Vibrators which no doubt helped give it a more powerful sound – and it’s better than any record The Vibrators released after the 1978.
The Fits were never especially pc – they once auditioned bassists by the novel method of seeing how long they could sit through a porn video. This makes it all the more surprising that they next hooked up with none other than the gurus of punk right-on-ness Crass to release the Tears Of A Nation 7”. A visit to Crass’s farmhouse commune (“they all went outside to watch a hedgehog pass by” – Micky Crudge – The Fits Punk Collection sleevenotes) resulted in an agreement to release the Fits’ next 7”. Tears Of A Nation came out in 1983 and is widely regarded as their classic. A slow but powerful track, that suggests they’d been listening to Killing Joke, with painfully honest lyrics about the problems of being a punk band in 1983. If I was to quibble about this record it would be that it’s not about the “tears of a nation” at all but “frustrations of a Blackpool punk band” doesn’t sound as dramatic so I’ll overlook that.
After their brief involvement with the earnest, commune-dwelling politicos what would be the next move in The Fits’ eccentric career? Becoming mates with a certain Peter & The Test Tube Babies of course. They were the only other band to sign to Test Tubes’ shortlived Trapper Records, and even occasionally borrowed each others’ band members for gigs. The Fits released a split 12” with Test Tubes and a couple of singles for Trapper. By this point they were moving in a poppier direction, listening to their stuff from this period you might apply labels such as new wave, indie, or alternative as easily as punk. There are still some fine tracks though, particularly Achilles Heel, which in a typical error of judgement was wasted on the the b-side of their Action single. Another good track that I recently discovered on youtube is Everything, which I presume is from the second album that they started recording but didn’t finish.
The Fits petered out in the mid-80s. Like many similar bands it seems that they no longer fitted in with an increasingly aggressive and thrash-obsessed punk scene, but there was no breakthrough to a wider audience either. Whatever the reason The Fits have only just reappeared with a fine performance at this year’s Rebellion, despite dropping some of their best known songs in favour of songs they hadn’t actually released the first time round! Still shooting themselves in the foot!