Sunday, January 20, 2013

Darts: The Boy from New York City

In June of last year I wrote about the odd experience of hearing a record on a rerun of Top of the Pops from 1977 when I had no memory of it from the time - step forward Contempt.

But those reruns have also led me to reappraise a band I do remember from the time: Darts.

I have taken to describing them as "Showaddywaddy with irony", but they had a more interesting history than that.

The Independent obituary of the band's pianist Hammy Howell describes its genesis:
Darts had evolved from the break-up of Rocky Sharpe and the Razors, a rock 'n' roll revue-style act who had caused a sensation on London's pub-rock scene.
That obituary also says that Stiff Records, the great punk and new wave label of the day, wanted to sign them.

The Darts Story vouches for their credentials in that direction:
By way of a testament to their musical prowess, here's what Cliff White of the NME wrote in August 1977. "Halfway through the (Darts) set, it was pointed out to me that a well-known gent about town who rejoices in the pseudonym of Johnny Rotten was standing within spitting distance of the back of my head and seemed to be enjoying the show. Good for him and good for Darts."
Vintagerock's Weblog describes them in their prime:
This band were a whole lot of fun with great harmonies, and a very intricate and well choreographed stage show. Records such as Daddy Cool were OK as were their TV appearances, but they just didn’t come close to how good this band was live. Put Darts in front of a packed crowd of students late on a Friday night, with beer flowing, and a good time was definitely had by all.
There do seem to be an awful lot of people on stage here, but if you look at some more Youtube clips you will find that all four singers could sing lead and all were good.

The lead singer here, Rita Ray, is now an influential DJ with a deep interest in African music. The bass Dan Hegarty, by contrast, went on to present Tiswas.

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