UXB were a fine band and came to define the soul and spirit of the Star in Shifnal during the early eighties – playing there five times between 1980 and 1981. Brimming with energy, UXB always delivered a great set and developed a healthy Shropshire following with their great attitude and friendly disposition. Col Bennett from the band recently got in touch with the Ark and tells us the story of the Black Country band.
UXB formed in 1978, and used to meet up at Furzebank Community School in Willenhall every week for a jam. Our first gig was in February ’79 as a trio comprising of Mick Tuner (drums and lead vocals), Mark Read (guitar) and Col Bennett (guitar and lead vocals). Later in 1979 Tony Clamp arrived on bass, but left in early 1980 to join Bescot Sidings. The following week Dom Roche arrived on vocals, and Col Bennett switched to bass. By now we were rehearsing in a room at The Tiger pub in Willenhall. A few local punks and skins used to come and hang out. They would all turn up at our local gigs and support us. One lad Colin Squire was quite a character and his nickname was ‘Squirrel’ hence the dedication to him on the front of our single ‘Crazy Today’ I wonder where he is now?
Influenced by such bands as The Clash, The Jam and ska/dub reggae, the band’s sound was perhaps most similar to The Ruts, our live set was a juxtaposition of punk-inspired rockers some with a reggae groove. Little Winston – local DJ and record label owner – came to see us in rehearsal just as Dom had settled into our line up, we had also written some original songs.
Our first single Crazy Today/Mr. Fixit (Crazy Plane Records SP002) was produced by Little Winston/UXB, engineered by Phil Dawson and 1000 copies were released on 20th June 1980. It was played by BBC Radio 1 DJs John Peel, Mike Read, Peter Powell and also by the local radio stations. The single was invaluable in enabling the band to play better local gigs, such as Club Laffayette, JB’s and Colleges around the West Midlands.
Due to the band leaving Crazy Plane records, the follow-up single ‘2 Steps/In The Q/48 Hours’ was never released commercially, the only copies pressed were some white label acetates which were distributed to the usual DJs and radio stations. 2 Steps was aired by John Peel on BBC Radio 1. UXB then signed to Knott Management of Birmingham who got the band recording time with Dennis Bovell from the reggae band Matumbi. Dennis is highly respected songwriter/musician/producer and three tracks were recorded at his studio in South London.
Dom Roche left the band in mid-1981 and Pete Higton came in on vocals. We carried on gigging and recording with Pete for rest of the year. The final UXB gig was planned to be a farewell show at JB’s Dudley the following February, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to a heavy snowfall. So we played our final gig in December 1981 at our favourite venue- the Star Hotel in Shifnal.
The band then split up. Dom Roche founded Balaam And The Angel, whilst Col Bennett and Mick Turner formed Fire In Cairo with guitarist/vocalist Paul Brindley. In September 1999 UXB were featured on a compilation of obscure bands from 1977-82 entitled Bored Teenagers Volume 2. My self and Dom are pictured on the album cover! We then discovered that copies of the Crazy Today single were fetching £150 on auction sites, and was especially in demand in Japan.
In October 2001, two 7” vinyl singles were released in Japan on 1977 Records – Crazy Today/Mr Fixit and 2 Steps/In The Q/48 Hours. So finally, 20 years later our second single got pressed and released.
Due to this interest we discussed reforming. And in May 2001 the four original members rehearsed together and in March 2002 UXB played their first gig in over 20 years at The Garage in London. We followed this with appearances at the Rebellion Punk Festivals at Wolverhampton (2005), Blackpool and Morecambe (2006). It was great to be back and we’ve just heard that Detour Records have decided to release an album of UXB original songs later this year.
UXB website here