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 line up, which features Lloyd, Andreas Schmid from Faust on bass, ex Violet Violet 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 six 7″ vinyl singles, two 10″ EPs and eight studio albums, touring England, mainland Europe and 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 a 10” EP, followed in 2018 by a 45rpm collaboration with Vic Godard – “Commercial Suicide Man”- and another critically acclaimed ‘Gales album “Perish The Thought”.
To support “Perish The Thought” the group toured Europe extensively, from Scotland to Serbia.
2019 saw the filming of a feature length Nightingales documentary film, “King Rocker” -written by brilliant stand up comedian Stewart Lee, directed by Michael Cumming (‘Brass Eye’, ‘Toast Of London’, etc) – and the recording of a new album.
The album, “Four Against Fate”, was released in May 2020 but the accompanying UK and Euro tours had to be postponed until 2021.
Plans for “King Rocker” were also disrupted in 2020, but the film has a TV premiere on Sky Arts in February 2021, a World Theatrical Premiere at the prestigious Sheffield Doc Fest and cinema screenings will follow later in the year.
Before too long there will be assorted reissues and records of previously unreleased material. Plus a couple of 45s featuring previously unheard Nightingales’ material and, by hook or by crook, more adventures will follow.