Birmingham’s original punk group The Prefects had been part of The Clash’s ‘White Riot Tour’, recorded a couple of Peel sessions, released a 45 on Rough Trade and, years after splitting up, had a retrospective CD released by NY label Acute Records to all round glowing reviews – from Rolling Stone to webzines.
The Nightingales was formed by a few members of The Prefects following that band’s demise in 1979.
Described in John Robb’s definitive book on post punk (“Death To Trad Rock”) as “The misfits’ misfits” and comprising an ever fluctuating line up, based around lyricist/singer Robert Lloyd, the Nightingales enjoyed cult status in the early ’80’s as darlings of the credible music scene and were championed by John Peel, who said of them – “Their performances will serve to confirm their excellence when we are far enough distanced from the 1980’s to look at the period rationally and other, infinitely better known, bands stand revealed as charlatans”.
The group recorded a bunch of critically acclaimed singles – pretty much always ‘Single Of The Week’ in the music press – and three albums, plus many radio sessions for their great supporter Peel. They also regularly toured the UK and Northern Europe, as headliners and supporting acts as diverse as Bo Diddley and Nico.
In the late Eighties the Nightingales stopped working but, following the occasional gig between times, they re-grouped in 2004.
After fucking about with various part timers, starry eyed wastrels, precious sorts and mercenaries the group arrived at it’s current (and now longest standing) line up, which features Lloyd, Andreas Schmid from Faust on bass, ex Violet Violet wonder drummer Fliss Kitson and on guitar James Smith, who Lloyd had spotted playing with Damo Suzuki.
Since restarting the group have been more productive than ever – releasing eight 7″ vinyl singles, a 10” EP, two 6 song mini albums and eight full length studio albums. They have regularly toured the UK and mainland Europe and also USA numerous times, playing various festivals and recording many radio sessions along the way.
The band continued and continue to operate with no manager, booking agent, publisher, et al, but they get by. And they work equally well with pop musicians, rock n rollers and the avant garde. The group is independent, maverick, diligent, daft, blah blah.
Until recent times the Nightingales made one record for a label and then, by choice or otherwise, moved on. But since 2017 they have been going steady with Tiny Global Productions.
The first TGP release was the sold out “Become Not Becoming” 10” EP, followed in 2018 by a 45rpm collaboration with Vic Godard – “Commercial Suicide Man”- and another critically acclaimed ‘Gales album “Perish The Thought” and to support this album the group toured Europe extensively, from Scotland to Serbia.
2019 saw the recording of a new album plus filming of a feature length Nightingales documentary film, “King Rocker” – written and presented by brilliant stand up comedian Stewart Lee, directed by Michael Cumming (‘Brass Eye’, ‘Toast Of London’, etc).
The album, “Four Against Fate”, was released in May 2020 and was highly praised, largely being acknowledged as the Gales best record to date.
Unfortunately the accompanying “Four Against Fate” UK tour had to be postponed, several times, until late 2021 and pencilled European and U.S shows were cancelled until 2022.
Plans for “King Rocker” were also disrupted in 2020, but the film had it’s TV premiere on Sky Arts in February 2021, and was reviewed and received with great gusto and stunning comments (‘Best rockumentary ever’, etc) by the public and respected film critics alike.
Seemingly loved by all who have seen it – with the exception of professional psychotherapist Philippa Perry who said, “This is shit” – the movie was an Official Selection at the prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest and received it’s World Theatrical Premiere in June 2021, with more TV and cinema screenings around the globe booked for later in the year and beyond.
A new split single with Stewart Lee was released in April, alongside a ‘deluxe’ double LP reissue of the band’s first album, “Pigs On Purpose” – the first of an upcoming series of expanded, remastered reissues of the group’s earlier catalogue.
The Nightingales recorded a new album in September 2021 and finally fulfilled their, four times rearranged and largely sold out, “Four Against Fate” UK tour in October.
In early 2022 the band’s original soundtrack album to the film “King Rocker” was released alongside a bookback DVD of KR featuring assorted extras.
There was also an odd but exciting FAF remix 12” ‘Disco 45’ titled “The New Nonsense” and these discs were followed by another ‘deluxe’ double album reissue, this time of “Hysterics”. In July the reissue of “In The Good Old Country Way” completes the tarted up series of the band’s early albums.
A new album is due for release later in 2022 and the group will be supporting it once again with a few UK gigs, plus at some point the rescheduled shows in Europe and America.
Before too long, alongside the new album, assorted reissues and records of previously unreleased material, there are a few other surprises planned. Plus “King Rocker” will be continuing it’s Worldwide crusade and… by hook or by crook, more adventures will follow.