Episode 7 : Some Chicken: Jess Chicken hears a lost tape of Nottingham’s first punk group

It’s 1977 and punk is making its mark. The Sex Pistols were prominent, especially after their headline-grabbing f-word TV interview with Bill Grundy that previous December. It was a wonderful opportunity for groundswell music to re-emerge and Nottingham was quick to capitalise, especially with Some Chicken. Early in the year the group sent me a reel-to-reel tape, tentatively enquiring if they could debut on my Saturday morning rock show, Extravaganza. I was impressed by it and being keen to showcase this new genre of music I invited them in. This year, 2021, I discovered a tape box with Some Chicken scrawled on the lid. But was the tape inside that recording? Time to find out. Mark set about finding ex-members and found Jess Chicken aka JA Pollo. The chat begins with a nod towards Steve Lamacq‘s Show on BBC 6 Music featuring the Some Chicken single, that became one of John Peel’s favourites: ‘New Religion’. On being shown our reel-to-reel, Jess admits that not only did he not recognise the tape but also he didn’t recognise me. We then discussed the band’s early history. They came together in Nottingham In 1977 and became recognised as Nottingham’s first ever punk band. Bob, the drummer was working in London and regularly came back with news of what was happening there on the music scene. Jess describes the recording session he does remember, it was in a factory where Michael the bass player worked. I recall how I was sent a tape and invited them in on my show, Extravaganza. At this point we play Band 1. After listening for a while Jess announces that it is Some Chicken and recognises singer as Mark. But doesn’t ever remember recording the song, confessing “It sounds a lot better than I thought we were.” Also it was not the session recorded in the basement that went to Raw Records. That was sent as ‘live’ and not on reel-to-reel but on a cassette. Describes our recording as “buried treasure” Play Band 2 ‘Blood on the Wall’. It’s alludes to the cult of the Charles Manson family and in particular to the murder of Sharon Tate. It was released on the same single as the legendary ‘New Religion’ track. Tells us that Mark the singer died about 12 years ago. We discuss the importance of the emergence how punk at the time and how it was a ‘new beginning’, needed because prog rock rulled. Mark asks for name of engineering company where recording of cassette was made: Leen Gate. Next, John mentions gig at the Nottingham Boat Club on Friday 29th April under heading of ‘New Wave Special’ John brings up another punk band from Nottingham, The Drains. ‘Arabian Daze’ was follow up single but Jess does not like it Play Band 3 ‘Arabian Daze’ with Mark on vocals and sax, which Jess describes as “sounding like a sheep had got in there!” When they played it on stage it went down well. Again our tape recording is pre-Raw Records recording. Jess reckons it was recorded early in 1977 Jess mentions his book {Chicken Town} Play Band 4: ‘Stretch and Seal’ Jess describe it as sort of comedy song about a new kitchen accessory, Clingfilm Mark observes that the song has echoes of Jake Bugg. Jess says that if his book was made into a movie he’d like Jake Bugg to play him and Shane Meadows to direct it. Today the band is still around members had helped him e write his book. Interested in release of Punk EP and with two extra tracks that were never released by Raw Records and ours it could happen. He purchased the Raw Records tracks on e-bay. NEXT QUEST for Mark and me; find The Drains