MK I: Dave Hogg, Dave Tattum & Rob Downing / songs 1-4, 11-15
MK II: Dave Hogg, Dave Tattum, Ian Barbour, Andy King & Keith Page / songs 5-10
Rob Downing plays guitar on tracks 5 & 6
Songs 1-3, 11-15: Music by Rob Downing, Lyrics by Dave Tattum
Songs 5-10 written by Ian Barbour, Andy King and Keith Page
Song 4 by Holland / Dozier / Holland
Mastered and restored by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in September 2020.
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal aficionados will know Dave Tattum as the the vocalist on Angel Witch’s »Screamin’ ‘N’ Bleedin’« and »Frontal Assault« albums. However, his musical career started more than a decade earlier. He formed his first serious band by the name of Skin Deep around 1971/72. “Skin Deep was a covers band really, although we did write a few songs our own,” explains Dave Tattum today. “But the drummer we had at the time wasn’t up to it. We had plans to write more original stuff when Steve Williams joined, but he was only with us for a short time before joining Budgie.”
Skin Deep eventually morphed into Bill The Murderer around 1977. But naturally the entire story is a bit more complex: “After Steve left Skin Deep, we couldn’t find a drummer good enough to replace him, so we split up and I started auditioning for other bands and also auditioning for bands in London. Skin Deep had a few re-incarnations and I was involved in a couple but eventually I had enough and gave it up. Skin Deep then changed their name to Ted and went on the cabaret circuit, playing social clubs and the like. I went to watch them a few times and became very friendly with their new guitarist Steve Aldridge, who persuaded me to re-join them as they were having problems with their current singer. I reluctantly agreed but wanted to change them into something heavier and of course change the name. Around 1976/77 Steve and I began to plan changing the band and we started writing together. A couple of drummers and guitarists came and went and we changed the name of the band to Bill The Murderer after a local character of the same name. We eventually ended up with the line-up of Steve Aldridge (guitar), Pete Downes (guitar), Dave Tattum (vocals), Dave Pendrey (drums), Ian Cramer (bass) and Patrick Cramer (keyboards). We were now playing all our own material and gigging four to five nights a week as a very professional and focused outfit.”
In 1978, Bill The Murderer recorded a 7” single pairing the songs “I’d Find You” and “Spring Rain”. Dave Tattum explains: “The two songs that we recorded were written by Pete Downes, an excellent guitarist who is now one of the best jazz guitarists in the UK. They were picked because they were commercial and may appeal to a record label. Maybe that was a mistake as we didn’t receive any interest and the single wasn’t pushed by our management or other people in charge of us. We were performing our own songs which had more of a prog/rock feel to them and went down very well with audiences everywhere, but punk was coming in really hard and people wanted something new.
The recording was all done very quickly as I remember. We got there in the morning, recorded the two songs. Went back the next morning and it was mixed in a couple of hours and we were done! The single was self-financed by the band.
I didn’t really notice the NWOBHM at the time, it just sort of crept up on me. We were living in North Wales and didn’t realise what was going on in London, but I wanted a bit of it and wanted the band to relocate but not all of them were interested. I had such a passion to test myself and compete with other singers that I used to sneak away and audition for bands in London.”
“Bill The Murderer finally ended when Pete Downes decided he wanted to pursue his passion for jazz and move to London,” continues Dave Tattum. “I think we had become musical dinosaurs and needed to recharge our batteries. Also a couple of the guys had become passengers with no interest in contributing to the writing of new material. Some of them were happy to sit at home with their feet up instead of pursuing a career in music. There was no record company interest as we had no one to push us forward and we stagnated. I realise now as I am older the lack of respect as a singer I received from certain members of the band who themselves never contributed to any new material. In conversations I was always referred to as ‘he’s only the singer’. Even though I wrote all of the lyrics for the songs except for the single. It’s only when I moved to London, I seemed to have the respect of other musicians around me. It still hurts to this day how I was so disrespected.
I eventually got a job with a band in London and moved there.”
Next came Blaque Jaque Shallaque, the name stems from a cartoon character who was a French Canadian lumberjack. Formed around 1981/82, the band included Dave Hogg on drums plus Rob Downing on guitar (both were also affiliated with Angel Witch). “Blaque Jaque Shallaque recorded demos at Bronze Studios and also there was some live stuff and rehearsals recorded,” remembers Dave Tattum. “We used their studio to record stuff with engineer and producer Mark Dearnley, who was a friend of Dave Hogg’s from his involvement in the first Angel Witch album.”
According to the singer, there were some considerable differences between Skin Deep, Bill The Murderer and Blaque Jaque Shallaque: “Skin Deep were just a kids’ band really, until Steve Williams joined and gave us some direction and also taught us a lot of stage craft. He was always destined for greater things.
Bill The Murderer was an excellent band with some great and talented musicians but a couple were lazy and complacent, thinking we were the ‘dog’s bollox’ when really we were just another good band like many around at the time. There are people still living in that bubble, thinking because we recorded a single and filled a couple of theatres we were the best thing since sliced bread! When Bill The Murderer split, only two of us, Pete Downes and myself, continued to try and further our musical careers. A couple of the members just sat at home watching TV with their mum and dad.
Blaque Jaque Shallaque MK1 was a great band. With ex-Angel Witch members Dave Hogg and Rob Downing in the line-up we couldn’t go wrong. We didn’t ever play live though. We just rehearsed and recorded stuff. I think I got fed up with continuously rehearsing and left. I can’t quite remember the exact reason we split up.”
After Blaque Jaque Shallaque had finished, Dave Tattum joined Angel Witch as their new singer: “I was so pleased Kev Heybourne asked me to join Angel Witch. I loved my time in Angel Witch and I gave them everything I had, in fact I lived and breathed Angel Witch and only wanted to do my very best for them. Kevin and I became good friends during my time with the band and I used to go drinking with him and stay at his place on a regular basis. I was the one who saved his finger and therefore maybe saved his musical career, although that may sound a bit dramatic.
I think people should know the full story as Kevin refuses to talk about it.
Kevin and I were attacked one night outside his flat by about three or four guys. It was a revenge attack but I won’t go into detail. We managed to fight our way out and get into Kevin’s flat, when his wife started screaming as Kevin held his left hand up and the top of his index finger was missing. He went into shock as you can imagine, so I ran downstairs to the main doors and found the finger on the floor. Kevin had trapped it in the door as we ran through and it had been cut off. I ran back upstairs and put the stump in a freezer bag and then put the bag in another bag packed with ice. While I was doing this, Kev’s wife had phoned an ambulance. I informed the surgeon that Kevin was a professional guitarist and needed his fingers, so they managed to sew part of the tip back on and the rest is history, really. A couple of months later we were back in the studio recording »Frontal Assault’«.
‘Was Kevin a difficult person to work with?’ I didn’t think so at the time but you need to look at how many members of Angel Witch have been and gone and make up your own mind. I would never say anything bad about Kevin but I know he has been a bit derogatory about me. He phoned me up one day out of the blue and sacked me over the phone, no reason at all, he just said I didn’t fit the band. I have since been told it was outside influences that made that decision for him.
I met Kevin a couple of years later at Spencer Holman’s wedding and he apologised for sacking me, saying he had made a mistake. Keep your enemies close and your friends even closer!”