Son of Stiff

Twenty six years ago, Joe "King" Carrasco & The Crowns, the band I abandoned writing to manage for five years, embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, signing with Stiff Records, the cheeky British label that was the first indie of the modern era, launching the careers of Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello and stirring pruient interests with the the motto, "If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck." If nothing else, the promise of a package tour through England and Europe made all the difference between signing with Stiff or signing with Seymour Stein's Sire Records, which had just signed another up and comer out of New York named Madonna.


For three months, five bands -- Joe "King", the Equators, a ska band from Birmingham, England, Any Trouble, a Manchester folk rock group not unlike Elvis Costello and the Attractions, a three piece power trio from Staten Island called Dirty Looks, and a London punk band in black leather named Tenpole Tudor -- were filmed as they lived and toured together, all trying to break through and make a name for themselves. For the record, Tenpole Tudor subsequently had a Top Ten single in the UK "Swords of 1,000 Men" and that was about it, save for Joe "King" charting briefly in England and France and having a cover version of "Buena" by a cute Parisien gal reach number two in France.

We didn't have much to show for it but wild memories and Joe "King"'s organ player and I eloping from the tour in Berlin to get married in Paris.

The whole tour was filmed (there's nothing like waking up in your bus seat drunk and stoned with a camera whirring away two feet from your face) and I always wondered what happened to the footage.

Now I know. BBC4 in England broadcast an edited version of the film on September 14. One viewer was so engaged, he Googled Joe "King" and sent him this e mail:

> Hi Joe
>
> I'm just sat watching you on the "Son of Stiff" tour on BBC4 over here
> in the UK and was impressed enough by your music to look you up on
> Google. I'm glad to see that you're still gigging.
>
> So far I've only seen the one track of yours but I was pretty impressed.
> Being only 8 years old at the time of that tour I must admit that I
> was never familiar with many of the other bands on Stiff Records,
> despite being a big Madness fan at the time (still am in fact). Truth
> be told, of the bands on this tour, Tenpole Tudor is the only one that I'm familiar with.
>
> Your music did remind me a bit of The B52's, maybe because of it's
> retro sound. If I was to describe it in my English way I might call it
> a 50's surfing b-movie sound (I hope that doesn't sound disrespectful).
> Are there any similarities in your influences and theirs as far as you know?
>
> Anyway, enough of my rambling (it is 1am here after all). I'm going to
> get back to the rest of the movie anyway.
>
> Best Regards
>
> Jason Webb
> jasonwebb@dsl.pipex.com
>
> http://www.jason-webb.com

But the exchange didn't stop there.

From JKC to Jason:

> > Jason--I would love to get a copy of the stiff stuff-- I have never
> > seen it before-- Could you get more info on it for me-- on how to
> > get a dvd-- The Farfissa organ is a similarity that we had with
> > the 52,s and we both liked the 60,s groove--adios joe king

To which Jason said,

> Hi Joe
>
> Thanks for the reply.
>
> Yeah, it was the organ sound that caught my ear. The song I saw had a
> similar keyboard sound to Rock Lobster.
>
> I'll see what I can find out about getting the show on DVD. It was
> shown tonight on the BBC as part of a whole night of programmes to
> celebrate 30 years since the birth of Stiff.
>
> I'll let you know what I find out.
>
> Best Regards
>
> Jason Webb
> jasonwebb@dsl.pipex.com
>
> http://www.jason-webb.com

I'm trying to track down a copy too for a view to see if I should be proud or embarrassed. After all, that was a million light beers ago.

Any help or leads is appreciated.

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