The Crucified Brains
Huge sound, mega drumming, heavy bass. Hugely experimental, no compromise, a bit confused by many line-up changes. The Crucified Brains entered around Mark Deas and Chez Holmes, and were a brief, but memorable experience.
(St Clair Halls Autumn 1984)
In the beginning there was The Crucified Brains, well not the beginning really, but the beginning as far as I can remember it. Viewforth High School pupils, Mark Deas (drums), Ian Cargill lead guitar) and Cameron Campbell (rhythm guitar, synth, vocals) had been playing in bedroom bands for a few years. They had all ended up at Kirkcaldy College of Technology in the Autumn of 1984, along with school friend from the year below, Stephen Simpson (synth and vocals). The line up of Mark, Ian and Cameron continued rehearsing and it's from these days that the tape of Mr's Smith's Front Garden is taken, recorded at a rehearsal in the St Clair Halls. I like to think that the early Barrett Pink Floyd's improvisations sometimes sounded like this. Mark's heavy drumming and Ian's meandering guitar solos sounded great, along with some electronic noise from Cameron's synthesiser.
The Crucified Brains only really took off when a classmate of Cameron's, Chez Holmes (bass), who had come down to Kirkcaldy from Crail to study, was brought into the band on bass. There then began serious rehearsing, talk of future gigs and endless discussions over what to call the band. From these endless debates, mostly held in the Ald Hoose pub, came "The Crucified Brains". Rehearsals continued at the St Clair Halls, with 30 min versions of the Velvet's "Sister Ray" being a particular fav.
The first of the Brains's many line up changes took their toll in late 1984, with Chez throwing Cameron out of the band and Ian going with him. Cameron and Ian then went on to Cassette Tape Trees (not the most successful of bands) and then went their separate ways, with Ian becoming the guitarist of The Surgical Wars, Who Cares, then The Schoolhouse and Cameron forming All Days fade, then the The Amused, then found brief fame with Darlingheart. It's a shame that line up changes happened so early as the Brains never really had a great coherence after that.
(The video above is not the Crucified Brains, but it contains half the original bands line up. I met Ian Cargill in the Autumn of 1984, when the original line up of the band was still together, and we have been making music together ever since. Cameron, Ian and I formed a band called the Cassette Tape Trees in early 1985. We were really terrible and I'm grateful we didn't even try to gig, I think we knew at the time we were very dodgy. What did strike me about this band though, was that Cameron and Ian were such a great complement to each other in a band. Cameron was the most solid rhythm guitarist I ever played with and, freed of any obligation to play rhythm guitar, Ian's lead guitar was often amazing. The songs below from the first incarnation of the band "Mrs Smith's Front Garden" and "Kaliadadream" are really good examples of what I mean. After the demise of the Cassette Tape Trees, Cameron and Ian never played in the same band again. Having known each other at school, they had been rehearsing, playing in a succession of "bedroom bands"in The St Clair Hall, Balwearie and various bedrooms for many years, so it always seemed a shame to me that they never played live together until........
Fast forward 14 years to 1999, and Ian was in a band called the Cylinders. Cameron had lived through the experience that was Darlingheart in the early '90's and hadn't played with any band since 1992. The Cylinders played the annual Dalmally music festival every year, Cameron came up that year to help out and played with the Cylinders at the end of their set.
So I think this clip is interesting for a number of reasons. Having rehearsed together and played in so many bedroom bands together, this is the only time that the original two guitarists of the Crucified Brains ever played live together. They are actually playing a song called "The Wharf" that was written for one of the bedroom bands they were in and this was the only time it was ever played live. After almost finding fame and fortune with Darlingheart, this was Cameron's last appearance on stage.
So maybe not the Crucified Brains, but interesting all the same. Now, if only we had video cameras back in the '80's......
Sorry for the very poor picture quality, this is not Youtube's fault, the original tape is very bad too.
For anyone interested, there is a link to the Cylinders My Space in the links section of this website).
Mark and Chez continued for a bit and did their first gig in about December 1984. It was really just a glorified rehearsal, but I turned up and some of the guys from the Tech did also. I worked the slide projector that night and had great fun with the slide that was a photo of Chez's stripy shirt, and the one of a light bulb that made it look like a spotlight. All I can remember of the music was a lot of feedback and Chez banging a car bumper. I'm not sure if a tape was made, but I don't have a copy anyway.
(Second Gig - St Andrews Church Hall July 1985)
In early 1985 Rob Jackson joined on guitar. Rob was on the same college course as me and he was a brilliant guitarist. If only he had a similar taste in music as Mark and Chez this would have been a great line up. sadly, it wasn't to be. I remember Chez complaining to me that Rob wanted to do a U2 cover. What a waste, great guitarist a different taste in music!
(Rob Jackson taken on a night out of our college course at the Clubhouse, March 1985)
However, this line up survived long enough for the legendary Bentley's gig in Feb. 1985. My memory of what this gig was all about are a bit fuzzy, but I think it was a Tech organised charity event, that a lot of local bands played (the Surgical Wars were to debut at next years event). Someone had got hold of a PA system that Simple Mind's had used and the sound on the night was phenomenal. Even better was the fact that we had loud alternative bands playing in Bentleys, the white stiletto brigade's home in Kirkcaldy. By this time the Brains had added Penny Porter, also from my class at college, on vocals. Robin Deas (Mark's brother) also joined on the night on drums.
The Brains were phenomenal that night. They began with what ended up as their signature tune, "Wipe Out". Rob's guitar playing was as good as we expected and I can still picture Penny reading off the lyrics from pieces of paper. As Chez was playing his old bass he decided to have a bit of fun with it and threw it around the stage at the end. This caused a bit of confusion amongst the Bentleys Bouncers (a notorious lot) as they were not sure if this posed some sort of threat or not.
The story of the tape of that night breaks my heart to this day. There was a tape deck running off the mixing desk and the quality of the recordings was excellent. However the guy on the mixing desk recorded the Brains, turned the tape over to record the next band, then turned it over again to record the next again band and wiped the Brains. In fact, the Gimix ended up over the Brains. I sat with Chez at the flat in Factory Road when we went home and put the tape in, only to find that the Brains had become the Gimix. I would be amazed if anyone else had a tape deck running that night, but it would be great to turn another recording up after all this time.
(Second Gig - St Andrews Church Hall July 1985)
The Brains then became a two piece again and struggled to find another guitarist. Rob went on to play in Blue Vega, which was only a little bit different from The Brains. They played as support to Andy Carr's band Sacristy in the summer of 1985 and came on at the end as a combined band with Sacristy and generally made a racket. I can't remember completely what the line up was.
Davie Brown, who was also a guitarist in the Ghost Train joined in Autumn 1985, and stayed with the band until the end. Mark Carr, brother of Andy Carr from Sacristy and school friend of mine (Mark in fact played in the very first live band I ever saw in December 1982, "Moonstone", wouldn't it be great to turn up a tape of them!) began playing drums in the band also.
It's this line up that played the Abbotshall gig supporting the Gimix in September 1985, that the four MP3's are taken from. I thought the Brains were utterly brilliant on that night, but I think their "no compromise" experimentation confused a few people. Anyway, the combination of the two Mark's on drums and Chez's pounding bass was truly memorable (even if Chez and Davie seem to be playing two slightly different songs on "No Flowers for Lucy" at one stage). The gig, like the Sacristy gig, done as instrumental only.
The MP3's from December 1985 were taken from a gig at the Dysart Miners Welfare. The Brains were first on the bill in a set that was headlined by the Gimix. By this time Mark Deas had left, as he was about to move to Edinburgh (a common phenomenon amongst Kirkcaldy bands) and Mark Carr was sole drummer. Penny had also re-joined the band as singer, I can't remember if she read her words from pieces of paper this time. This was the last Crucified Brains gig. But they lasted long enough to be legendary. Well, according to us anyway (see Surgical Wars Interview on page 1 of the Image Archive).
(Second Gig - St Andrews Church Hall July 1985)
Files you can download:
1. There are literally hours of tapes of the original line up practicing at the St. Clair Halls in the Autumn of 1984, all recorded at the time by Ian using his Dad's Printztronic (remember Printztrionic?) stereo radio recorder. St Clair Halls was very very echoy, due to all the hard surfaces, the tapes are pretty distorted - but I think it all adds to the general effect. The picture at the top of he page was taken at the St Clair Halls - it gives a good representation of the atmosphere there at these practices as I remember. Out of all the hours of tapes, this song was my favourite. I love Ian's crazy guitar soloing, you have to wait until mid way through for the drums, but it is worth it! I don't think Chez was at this practice, so what sounds like bass is actually bassy rhythm guitar by Cameron.
01 Mrs Smith's Front Garden
This is also from the pre-gigging line up of the Crucified Brains, recorded in the St Clair Halls in the Autumn of 1984. Ian's mad guitar soloing is great on this track. Such a shame that this line up never gigged, maybe the lack of a singer would have made the band an acquired taste in those days.
2. This MP3 is all that remains of the Sacristy and Crucified Brains show from July 1985. I taped the gig on my little Marantz, but Andy Carr borrowed the Sacristy tape and (I think) Chez must have borrowed the Crucified Brains tape - I never saw either again. This music is from the end of the show - both bands came together and made this huge noise! This only survived as it was on a different tape from the rest of the gig. The pic above was taken that day too, you can see Chez is standing in front of Sacristy's backdrop. It's basically a huge jam, both drummers sound great together, Chez begins to play Wipeout in the middle. I wonder what the rest of the gig sounded like, my memory is that this was in an afternoon in a Church hall, how did we get away with that?
01 Johnny Be Goode (with Sacristy)
(Abbotshall Hotel September 7th 1985)
3. These songs are taken from the September 1985 gig, the photo above is from the same gig. The was a headliner for the Gimix. The strange electronic noises at the beginning are Mark Deas and a drum synthesiser. This was recorded by me, sitting at the back of the dance floor, on my little mono Superscope by Marantz cassette recorder. Listening to this again 21 years on, this is still a great gig. I'm amazed the the lack of audience reaction - Gimix fans, eh?
01 The Hungry Wolf
02 Twisted Amenities
03 No Flowers for Lucy
04 This Burning Wound
05 Cowboy Song
3. These are from Bands last gig, Dysart Miners Welfare, December 21st 1985, recorded off the mixing desk, so a lot of the atmosphere is missing. Davie Brown's guitar, effects and amp were also missing for this gig, locked in Andy Sinclair's Car, so he had to use borrowed equipment here. Mark Deas was also missing, having moved to Edinburgh earlier in the year (although now I think about it I have a vague memory he was in the audience that night), Penny was back though. What is also back are these amazing pictures of the gig, uncovered after 23 years, thanks again to Hunter who took the photos and has contributed lot of interesting material to this website. So this is yet another Crucified Brains Line up, Mark Carr on drums, Davie Brown on guitar, Chez Holmes on bass and Penny Porter on vocals.
The Crucified Brains - Track 1 Wipeout
The Crucified Brains - Track 02
The Crucified Brains - Track 03
The Crucified Brains - Track 04
The Crucified Brains - Track 05
The Crucified Brains - Track 06
(This is Mark Deas and I around the Spring of 1985. At that time we were both students at Kirkcaldy College of Technology, doing HND Communication studies. This is Part 1 of a programme we had to make as part of our course. The rest of the programme and a number of other assorted videos can be found on my Youtube page.)