Tag Archives: The Kravin’ “A”s

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: The Full Story

A-Z

You can blame a chap called Philip Kane for this. Back on 1 December, he posted on Facebook the social media version of the old chain letter thing that went as follows:

“So the idea is to fill facebook with music, breaking the monotony of nasty, divisive headlines and images on our news feeds.

If you ‘like’ this post, you will be assigned a letter for a musician, band, artist, song, track or dj to post to your time line with this text”.

I liked it. He came back to me with the letter R. I came up with Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.’s ‘Santa Domingo’ – as you do – and before you know it I’d committed myself to the idea of stealing the whole concept and coming up with some music of Medway origin (or, if you will, MOMO) for each letter of the alphabet.

26 blogs later and I can finally move on with my life.

It has actually been fun – not least because there’s been the opportunity to focus on individual songs in a way you might not otherwise. Being an alphabetical list, there’s been less need to focus on continuity and history.

One day we’ve had a song by Balance Lost (a current band), the next we’ve had a song that’s had two outings: once in the early 1990s and then just a couple of years ago. Then, the day after that, we’ve had a song from 2010 which expresses its boredom with Medway bands from the 1980s.

It’s meant there’s been a wide variety of styles and sounds which all goes to show what an amazing melting pot of ideas this small collection of towns in the north of Kent is.

If you missed any of the blogs, not to worry: here they all are listed for your convenience – in alphabetical order, obviously.

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and the Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

N – Hand of Stabs – ‘The Night Had No Terror For Us’

O – The Daggermen – ‘One More Letter’

P – The Prisoners – ‘Pop Star Party’

Q – Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire – ‘A Quick One – Pete Townsend’s Christmas’

R – The Ambience – ‘Rome’

S – Balance Lost – ‘Shield Against the World’

T – The Kravin’ “A”s/Suzi Chunk – ‘Tripwire’

U – The Love Family – ‘Up in the Air’

V – The Flowing – ‘The Voyage’

W – Lupen Crook – ‘World’s End’

X – CTMF – ‘X-Craft on Tirpitz’

Y – Bear vs. Manero – ‘YRANYRBYM’

Z – KILL RPNZL – ‘Zombie Midwife Afterbirth Squad’

Find out more about many of these bands and artists – and many, many more, in my book: Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: T is for ‘Tripwire’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

And it’s two songs for the price of one today. Or, rather, one song sung two ways – in two decades.

Tripwire

The Kravin’ “A”s was the brainchild of Glenn Prangnell. His old band, The Offbeats, had reached a natural end, so Prangnell teamed up with Johnny Barker (bass), Bruce Brand (guitar) and John Gawen (later replaced by Wolf Howard) on drums.

Bruce Brand remembers that ‘The Kravin’ “A”s were trying to be a proper beat group. To make it proper-ish.’ They were much rougher around the edges than Prangnell’s earlier group – no doubt in part thanks to the company he was now keeping with former Milkshakes, Mighty Caesars and Daggermen.

But it wasn’t just the sound of the songs that were edgier now; the lyrics became more grizzled too.

And so ‘Tripwire’, from the band’s only album, Krave On (1991), is a searingly angry tirade against a girl whose done our hero wrong. Against a wonderfully detuned piano and a tight early Beatles/Kinks sound from guitars, bass, drums and backing vocals, the lyrics blast out with a furious Lennon-ish intensity: ‘I know you’re just the kind of girl who thinks it doesn’t matter/but my heart’s so angry like I’m on fire’.

The song was given a second lease of life when Prangnell, labouring under the moniker of Groovy Uncle started to work with Suzi Chunk. ‘Tripwire’ formed the B-side to the single ‘Look Back and Laugh’, also an old Kravin’ “A”s song from 2012.

With Suzi Chunk at the song’s helm, the song recalls something of the sound of Dusty Springfield classic. The music is red raw – possibly more intense in sound than the original – and Suzi Chunk belts the song out with all that she’s worth. If you didn’t already know when the song was recorded, you could quite easily be fooled into thinking it was some fifty years older than it was.

Glenn Prangnell’s aim, as Groovy Uncle, has always been to ‘play something we know’ – that was the name of his first album under the name. That doesn’t mean covering existing songs, but creating new, original songs that sound reassuringly familiar.

And in ‘Tripwire’ he’s definitely achieved it. Twice.

You can buy ‘Tripwire from iTunes.

Find out more about The Kravin’ “A”s, Groovy Uncle, Suzi Chunk and many other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do It Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.