Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Fat is where it's at with Bad Manners
My Saturday night stroll down memory lane that began with seeing The Lowest of the Low and Weddings Parties Anything's Mick Thomas and Mark "Squeezebox Wally" Wallace at Toronto's Massey Hall continued a little later on to the northwest at Lee's Palace with Bad Manners (photo by Jeff Ross).
The band was part of the British ska revival and the group's Gosh It's… Bad Manners, Forging Ahead and Klass albums got plenty of play on my turntable when I was a teenager in the early '80s. The group was (and still is) fronted by Douglas Trendle, who all but his closest relatives know as Buster Bloodvessel. If you can imagine '80s wrestler King Kong Bundy energetically singing and dancing with a big grin on his face, that was Bloodvessel back then.
My first opportunity to see Bad Manners was the summer of 1987 when I was living in London, England and I caught a show at Dingwalls in Camden. I skanked with the skinheads up front throughout the set and talked to Bloodvessel afterward. He gave me his address and told me to come around for a visit so he could give me some records and then we could go out for drinks and an interview. This was the pre-cellphone and Internet era (yes, kids, such a time actually existed) and Bloodvessel said he didn't have a home phone, so I wrote him a letter and then just dropped by his house one day, but we didn't connect.
I didn't see the man again for more than 20 years, when Bad Manners came to Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern. Bloodvessel underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and he was barely half the man he was back in the band's prime commercial period, when he tipped the scale at well over 400 pounds. It was another sweat-fest of a show, and I caught up with Bloodvessel afterwards. I chastised him for letting me down a couple of decades earlier, but of course he didn't remember.
We arrived at Lee's just in time for the beginning of Bad Manners' 12:15 a.m. set this past weekend, and it was jam-packed with singles and other favourites from the catalogue. I'd taken enough notes earlier in the night reviewing the previous show and just focused on having fun, which wasn't difficult, so I'm relying on memory when I say that the set included "My Girl Lollipop," "Walking In The Sunshine," "Only Funkin'," "Gherkin," "Samson and Delilah," "Fattie Fattie," "Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu," "Just A Feeling" "Special Brew," "Wooly Bully," "Lorraine" and, down the home stretch, "Can Can" and "Lip Up Fatty."
It wasn't quite in the same league as last summer's Specials show, but I'd definitely put it up there with the last few shows I've seen by Dave Wakeling's English Beat. I'm well past that snub of almost a quarter-century ago, and Bad Manners is firmly back in my good books.