Running With The Boss Sound – Today is January 26th and for me, one of my favourite and most cherished albums was released into the world way back in 1979. I still play it regularly as it had a big influence on an impressionable young lad. From the attractive lady on the cover to the pills never mind four gangly lads with leather trousers and scruffy died hair. It was everything I wanted it to be and I can still remember twisting my mothers arm to let me go home from Woolworths with my very own copy tucked under my arm and when I got home it might as well have been welded to the house stereo because it only left the turntable to get turned over for what must have been weeks or months even.
‘Valley Of The Dolls by Generation X might not be as revered as ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ or ‘The Clash’ it doesn’t get talked about as much as The first Joy Division album or the first few classic Buzzcocks records but to me it might only be outclassed from the 70’s releases by ‘Damned Damned Damned’, ‘LAMF’ and ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’. It was the Dogs danglies as far as I’m concerned and still is and much like the previously mentioned favourites it still gets played quite frequently by myself.
‘January that year was the first glimpse of these four pirates as ‘King Rocker’ is released as a single and one of those seminal moments in time as Idol sneered his way through their performance on TOTP. Reaching a very respectable number 11 in the UK charts at the time was quite an achievement although their label wasn’t so happy. It came out with a picture of each band member on specific colour pressings something that bands have copied since to increase sales – me I only ever got the tony James cover but it was on red vinyl (still got it)
The album came out on this very day forty years ago and took a right panning in the written press , with reviewers slateing it as “overblown and artistically hollow” and only managing to reach number 51 in the UK album charts the next single being the albums title track only managing number 23 in the singles charts things weren’t looking good for the band amidst trouble at their live shows the summer saw the third and final single being released off the record and ‘Fridays Angels only managing number 62 which must have been a killer for the band and their management not even hitting the top 40. the band began to fragment with Andrews leaving before the year was out and Laff following suit soon after via a harsh sacking from James and Idol due to the classic musical differences.
I was also gutted to find out many years later about the internal squabbling involved in the making of this album and when the band got Ian Hunter in to produce he wasn’t impressed with LAff and his drumming and got Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull in to play the drums as hunter didn’t feel Laff was up to the job in the studio. Now had I been in the band and as much as I love Ian Hunter I think I’d have told him to fark off over there and then fark off a little bit further as being in a band was all about a gang you know four lads who shook the world riding in to the valley of the dolls and all that comrade but it seems not every band is like that and Bunker was indeed drafted in.
There was an interview with Andrews in 2013 where he stated “The style changed in as much as we had a famous ‘rock-star’ producer in Ian Hunter, a bigger budget, more time and a wider gap between the two older guys and me and Laff. It was actually heartbreaking for Mark Laff to be told by Ian, Billy and Tony that he was not going to play on this album and for him to choose a replacement drummer. He chose Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull and whilst teaching him the parts with two kits set up it was decided it sounded great with two drummers. If I took too long tuning up for an overdub I could see Tony James through the studio glass calling Chris Spedding! It wasn’t the same camaraderie as the first album”
that’s a real shame because in my eyes VOTD has stood the test of time and in 2019 it deserves to be championed as a bit of a classic and for all the rock star buzzkill that was happening at the time they did manage to write and record some fantastic songs. I think its more in line with the style and sound of Hanoi Rocks than they get credit for and maybe this record was a little bit ahead of the game and would have gone down much better had it been released maybe five years later who knows?
Buy Valley Of The Dolls Here