As with all groups that have lasted more than a few years, there is an evolution - with changes in personnel and direction. he following is an attempt to record the changes.
Forming the band 1977
The original line-up (left to right)
Geoff - Sax
Paul Mlynarz - Sax
Paul Elliot - Guitar/vocals
Terry Cutting - Drums
Reg Mercer - Bass/vocals
Perry White - Keyboard
Naming the band was something of an ordeal - six different people, six different sets of expectations and experiences and six different views on what constitutes a "good name". Lets face it - it must have been a strong character that got his way with "The Rolling Stones", "Night Riders of the Purple Sage" or "Led Zeppelin".
So, it was with little surprise that the conversation got a little heated. After drawing up a list of first choices, second choices and absolutely hates, the band went home called The Exits - a name Paul had remembered from his Manchester days. The decision had been democratically chosen, based on a points system.
As with many such democratic decisions, no one had actually chosen the name to win but had placed it fairly high up on second and third choices.
The next day everyone admitted they hated it and unanimously chose Life 'n' Soul - another ex-Mancunian band name.
I can remember Little Paul disliking Penthouse because of its "rude" connotations. Little did he know of what was ahead!
Starting to Gig
With the line-up finalised, the job was to get work.
It was initially hard, with the odd job thrown in each week or so. An early gig was at Kent Uni for foreign students, with the Golden Arrow (Folkestone) - a personal favourite. Gigs were often arranged by Paul Clugston at On Stage (Margate) or obtained by the band directly.
These two early pictures taken at a function near Ashford - a young farmers club, I think.
First publicity shot
This shot was chosen from the first photo shoot and was used as the main publicity photo. Geoff had now left the band and they were moving more into a cabaret style act.
(L-R) Little Paul, Reg (front), Perry, Terry and Paul
The photo's feature stage suits made by Little Paul. Well made, little sewn and mostly glued - but they looked great!
An interesting point is that the photos were taken by a Margate guy called Denis Taylor, whose nickname was Tea-Cup. It is fairly usual to hear "I used to be in a group, y'know" but it came as quite a surprise when Tea-Cup got out his photo album!
It contained shots of him in his old band, posters, single covers and an album cover. Interesting - but there's more! The band was Davie Jones and the Lower Third, which was just prior to David Bowie and the Buzz band.
There was our cameraman some years previous, playing lead guitar for Bowie. Tea-Cup hung around with usfor a time - always a nice guy and good fun. Great photos too.!
The last we heard of him was in the Daily Mirror! He had been part of a scam by Ramsgate Councillors to con a European shipping consortium into putting money into the Ramsgate ferry. "Better get in quick", was the idea, " the Arabs are interested in it".
No one was fooled by the phoney looking Arab - it was Tea-Cup.
When the band started playing there in its first few gigs, they pulled about 10 people. Herne Bay based QUINT were the big boys and everyone else was third/fourth fiddle. They got about 25 quid and every one else got between 10 and 15 - so they had to be good.
The band did a few gigs to a small but appreciative audience - playing a mixture of original compositions by Reg and soul, pop and rock and roll standards. To compensate for a lack of numbers, the band had joked around a little between the songs and Paul started to tell the odd joke - usually very odd.
After a gig or so like this, the audience began to improve and the "witty repartee" between Paul and the audience (plus Paddy, the barmaid) increased to such an extent that the band always had songs to spare.
At rehearsal one night (Hythe Scouts Hall), Paul suggested they did a medley of Gary Glitter songs. At the next rehearsal, Terry turned up with a silver suit and a pair of golden boots and basically told him to put his money where his mouth was. Paul (who had always wanted to sing but never had) took on the challenge!
The Golden Arrow was the place to try it out! The crowd had been building for some time - now the room was packed out every gig, to the extent of covering the pool table so it could be sat on. The audience expected the unusual - a raffle where the somewhat posh winner was shocked to receive a pair of Perry's socks (still warm) or the band opening up with Moon River or worse, opening up and trying to play someone else instrument!
The Gary Glitter act went down a storm, especially with a guy called Gordon - who used to do something "odd" every time the band played. Although he had turned up dressed in unusual things, the most memorable was him dressed in newspapers as a punk. A quick thinking Terry called him over to chat on stage, while Perry set him alight!
Eventually the band could no longer afford to play at the GA - although the fee increased to a massive 27 pound 50p plus the odd free drink. Not to mention the toasted sandwiches.
Live at the Golden Arrow - Love Machine featuring Perry White on backing vocals :-)
Life as a Comedy group
More stuff to carry around, more dosh and (sometimes) shorter playing hours but usually balanced out with more travel and 5am's back at home.
The Life 'n" Soul album
One week I noticed an ad in The Stage newspaper and gave them a ring. The response was very positive and in a matter of weeks we were recording.
The company SRT (Stereo Records and Tapes) reputably sold a huge amount of albums per week - but made up of albums from hundreds of artistes. They gave regular working acts the ability to produce albums mainly for retail at gigs.
This process, and the company, was not new to me - my friends in Sweet Chariot had produced a couple of albums for the company and found their sale quite advantageous.
So, within a matter of weeks we were in the studio - 19.20.21 November 1979.
The studio, Porcupine Studios in Eltham, Sth London, was attached to the house of owner/engineer Ted Taylor. Ted was a Musical Director at Thames Television and used the studio as something of a hobby. As he was quite active with his Big Band in the evenings, studio time was booked for 10 am - 5 pm - very unmusician times, we felt.
As we had only three days to record, additional time was booked on the Saturday to mix the album.
Recording was fairly smooth, as we had rehearsed all songs extensively before - many being part of the stage act.
One of Bob Coltart's songs off the album - Dark Nights Falling
and Let's Stay Together
The band crashed on the floor at Perry's parents each evening, much to the distress of an Australian visitor who was harassed by the band with "Tie me kangaroo down" type songs and jokes.
All in all quite good fun, of course. A video of the band in the studios is available on Youtube.
The Arthur years ....
Although a comedy band, Life 'n' Soul members were heavily involved with Herne Bay Ska superstar Arthur Kay.
His second single "Play My Record/Sootie is a Rudie" involved Paul Mlynarz on sax and Bob Colthart on guitar. Shortly after both Perry White (keyboard) and Terry Cutting (drums) joined the band for recording.
These recordings are featured on numerous CD's - both from Arthur and Ska compilations.
Bob's "Volecanoes" ("No One But You" single/EP) also featured the Life 'n' Soul band members.
(left to right) Eddie Maitland, Arthur Kay, Terry Cutting (Life 'n' Soul), Paul Mlynarz (Life 'n' Soul), Perry White (Life 'n' Soul) and Bob Colthart (Life 'n' Soul).
Members to 1983
These are not in any order of priority - just a rough chronological order
Bob was the ultimate entertainer - whether rock, pop, comedy or ska - great guitarist, impersonator, song-writer and mate. Sadly missed by so many.
Whilst the split heralded the move totally towards comedy and a four piece band, sadly there was no place for Larry.
Gary didn't stay long with band - the call of Folkestone was too strong. Did you ever get that FiatX19 Garry - they are cheap now!
Steve Smith (roadie)
I shall never, ever, forget his outburst one night when, after some sarcastic remark made to him from Paul onstage, he turned to the audience and vented his anger to them. It went on and on and, of course, everyone thought it was part of the act.
Funny now - sorry, Steve!
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