Sunday, May 11, 2008

The English Beat & Madness Bring 2-Tone To The Fountain Casino, Aberdeen, NJ circa 1983

Once again I've hit pay dirt in searching for more music and photos from shows I went to see as a very young man. Shows that have defined my musical taste and much of my musical life. Shows that were evocative, powerful and transcendent.

Does anyone remember the Fountain Casino in Aberdeen, NJ? I have vague memories of where it was exactly and what it looked liked. From what I can tell it had its heyday from 1981-1984 when the cream of the crop of popular bands played there as it was an easy stop between New York and Philadelphia. Nevertheless it has served as a touch point for two of the best shows I have ever seen. Strangely they bookended the spring and end of summer of 1983 which was my senior year in high school. In the last 2 days I found pictures from the English Beat show I saw on April 24, 1983 and the live set performed by Madness on August 23, 1983. In between those two shows I spent the entire summer with 3 of my best friends hanging out, working summer jobs and going to concerts. If memory serves we also saw UB40, David Bowie, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Police and many others.

However it was the Fountain Casino shows that stand out the most. We even took the necessary precaution of visiting Playland in the heart of Times Square that spring to procure the fakest looking fake IDs ever. They came in handy as the four of us got them from the same fake college (Whitman College I believe). They got us in to the club both times as the drinking age in New Jersey was 19 and we were all 18 or younger.

What stands out about the English Beat show was the pure energy of the band and the almost out of body experience I had watching them. Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger in particular were just amazing as you can see from these pictures and more that are posted by Joe Streno at his website. He was also at the same show. Here are his recollections of the show and these are his photos from the show posted here:

"I almost forgot about this show. Shows what a little digging in my slide archives and a little Internet searching will do. The show was REM opening for The English Beat at Fountain Casino, Aberdeen, NJ in 1983. I saw the slides before me and I knew I was there, I also had some vague recollection that REM ‘might’ have played but all these years later it was a bit foggy.

As I was scanning the first batch of 12 slides, images of Dave Wakeling, check. Images of Ranking Roger, check. Even one of the keyboard player. All well and good. So while these are scanning I’m racking my brain to figure out where this show was at.
I Googled “English Beat shows 1983″ got hits but no real detail. Then I figured I’d try “REM English Beat 1983 NJ.” Bingo! Sometimes you just have to admire how some people out there record every detail of bands they love. The hit came from an REM fan page listing show dates for REM in 1983. REM opening for The English Beat at Fountain Casino, Aberdeen, NJ, April 24, 1983. Amazing!

As far as my memories of the show … I can’t say I have any at his point in time. I know the show was good. I knew of REM at the time I had their first album and liked it. It was cool to see them. But I was there for the English Beat … I must say.
What’s odd to me is after scannig the first 12 slides I put the remaining 8 slides in the holder. And wouldn’t you know it, the last two sldes were of a very young Michael Stipe, singing his heart out.

What I clearly remember is feeling like an adult, as my friends and I were able to get served beer and alcohol and the crowd was much older than the rest of us. It felt like my life was really finally starting. It didn't hurt that I knew every English Beat song by heart and sang and danced my ass off. I also paid very close attention to the band and it has stayed with me. Oh and REM opened the show. I remember they were loud and that Peter Buck leaped around the stage and that Michael Stipe stayed rooted to his mic stand as he flailed around singing and moaning. It was only later when I heard Radio Free Europe on the radio that I put 2 and 2 together and figured out who they were.

Pictures from The English Beat live at the Fountain Casino on April 24, 1983
The other show that really made a lasting impression on me was Madness at the Fountain Casino, NJ on August 23, 1983. Apparently the show was recorded for posterity for the King Biscuit Flower Hour Show and was aired on September 18, 1983. I was lucky enough to find the show posted by jp on his blog what i like (The House of Fun.

The King Biscuit Flower Hour was a syndicated radio show presented by the D.I.R. Radio Network that featured concert performances by various rock ‘n’ roll artists.

The program was broadcast weekly on Sunday nights from 1973 until 2007, although new programming ceased in 1993 and previous shows were repeated from that point. During its prime, the program was carried by more than 300 radio stations throughout the United States. The show’s name was derived from the influential blues radio show “King Biscuit Time”, which was sponsored by the King Biscuit Flour Co., and the hippie phrase “flower power”. The first show was broadcast on February 18, 1973 and featured Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Bruce Springsteen. The long-time host of the show until the mid ‘90s was Bill Minkin, whose velvet-smooth voice was the perfect blend of hipster enthusiasm and stoner casualness.

Some of the biggest names in rock music were featured over the years—Aerosmith, Boston, Chicago, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Genesis, Elton John, Journey, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, U2 and the Who all appeared on the show. The concerts were usually recorded with a mobile recording truck, then mixed and edited for broadcast on the show within a few weeks. In the 1970s, the show was sent to participating radio stations on reel-to-reel tape. In 1980 D.I.R. began using the LP format, producing the show on a three-sided, two record set. The first show on compact disc was a live retrospective of the Rolling Stones broadcast on September 27, 1987. By the year 2000, King Biscuit was using CD-R media to distribute the show. These tapes, records or compact discs were accompanied by a cue sheet which gave the disc jockey a written guideline of the content and length of each segment of the program.

In 1982, a three-alarm fire damaged the Manhattan office tower that housed D.I.R. Broadcasting. Supposedly, many of the King Biscuit Flower Hour recordings were lost in the fire. Although closely associated with classic rock in its recent incarnation, the King Biscuit Flower Hour dedicated much air time to new and emerging artists, including a healthy dose of new wave and modern rock artists in the late ’70s and early ‘80s. Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Devo, U2, Men At Work, Psychedelic Furs and the Stray Cats were all featured on the program early in their careers.

This show was the funnest show I've ever seen. It had a little bit of everything including a stage invasion at the end that my friends and I participated in. The other memory is that a rock DJ named Pat St. John introduced the band and he was greeted with jeers and boos as he looked like a hippie to the crowd which was predominantly new wave and ska. A chant of "Get A Haircut" chased him off the stage as Madness finally came on. I also had a serious girlfriend at the time and I remember making out with her during My Girl which was our song.

Looking at the set list now its shocking how many songs Madness played (23!) and the length of the set (almost and hour and a half). If you were there let me know. Otherwise please enjoy the set. Its a great recording. Much better than most live shows.

House Of Fun
Close Escape
Bed And Breakfast Man
My Girl
The Sun And The Rain
Blue Skin Beast
Mrs. Hutchinson
Take It Or Leave It
Night Boat To Cairo
Tomorrow's Dream
Razor Blade Alley
Tomorrow's (Just Another Day)
Grey Day
Shut Up
Baggy Trousers
Our House
Madness Is All In The Mind
It Must Be Love
Primrose Hill
One Step Beyond

Madness Live At Fountain Casino, Aberdeen, NJ 8/23/83 Part 1
Madness Live At Fountain Casino, Aberdeen, NJ 8/23/83 Part 2

Password: PVAcblog


Joe Streno said...

Marco ...

I've always been a huge fan of the English Beat. Seeing them at the Fountain was cool. I think it's wild that you were there too. I had always loved reggae and ska, and along with Madness, The Specials, Selector, and all the other 2 Tone bands ... they were just loads of fun!

I saw and photographed a LOT of shows back then. The Police, Elvis Costello, Grahm Parker, The Clash, etc etc. I'm in the process of scanning and posting those to my site.

Somewhere around 1986 I had put together my own band called "The Human Element. Maybe you saw us too. Wouldn't that be funny! I wrote all the material, played rhythm guitar, and fronted the band. We played all reggae, ska, power pop originals. We also use to do a ska version of the Grass Roots' "Midnight Confessions." We played the "Jersey Shore Circuit." Hey .. our first gig was at the Stone Pony in Asbury. Lot's of memories. Lots of fun!
It's great to see someone else dredging the depths of their musical history via their blog.

Thanks! :)

mpkn said...

Great sound, great show. This can also be streamed on WolfgangsVault but much nicer to have it on my iPod. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

R.E.M. open for the English Beat in 1983.

Shows that I've seen at Fountain Casino:

Squeeze / The Motels / The Waitresses / Stray Cats...

Anyone remember?

Anonymous said...

It is now called Addison Park and is a Wedding Banquet Hall..very elegent I might add.

John from NJ