Monday, 8 October 2012

Featured Artist: Nine Below Zero

Nine Below Zero started life in South London during 1977, in the midst of the punk rock boom in England -- but their sound and inspiration were so totally contradictory to what was going on in punk rock that they scarcely seemed to be part of that movement, apart from their extremely energetic attack on their instruments. Rather than noise for its own sake or auto-destruction, their inspiration lay in classic Chicago blues. Dennis Greaves (lead vocals, guitar), Peter Clark (bass), and Kenny Bradley (drums) -- soon joined by Mark Feltham on vocals and harmonica -- were schoolmates and friends who shared a love of blues.
Originally billed as Stan's Blues Band, they made a name for themselves locally in South London, sounding a lot like The Who from their "maximum R&B" days and The Kinks from their early days, and arrived as younger rivals to Dr. Feelgood. A couple of years later, they acquired a manager and a new name, taken from a song by Sonny Boy Williamson II, and cut a debut record on their own label.
By 1980, they'd been signed to A&M Records' British division and took the bold step of making their major-label debut a live album from the Marquee Club in London -- to judge from the results, one heartily wished that some of the earlier bands that inspired them had displayed similar daring. “Live At The Marquee”, recorded on June 16, 1980 -- by which time Stix Burkey had replaced Bradley on the drums -- was a success. By the end of that year they were one of the most popular club attractions in London, pulling in audiences from other genres, attracted by their high-energy fast tempo sound. They headlined at the Hammersmith Odeon and featured respected bluesman Alexis Korner, a long-time champion of new electric blues talent.
The band performed "11+11" on the first episode ("Demolition") of the BBC Television comedy series, The Young Ones.
Their second album,“Don't Point Your Finger” climbed to number 56 on the UK Album Chart.
Their third album, Third Degree, contained "11+11" written by Greaves and Modern, however the album was poorly received causing the band to argue, and they split soon after.
In 1990 Modern persuaded Feltham and Greaves to reunite for a tenth anniversary gig. Modern also persuaded Arnold who now worked at Harvey Goldsmith Ents to promote the band at the Town and Country Club, which they did to a sell-out success. Suitably encouraged, they decided to stay together, with Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O'Neill (ex-Rory Gallagher's band) added on bass and drums.
The band have continued to tour and record, still popular in part, due to having developed a cult following.
In 2007, Nine Below Zero performed two acoustic concerts, producing the DVD Bring It On Home, including a live CD. Legendary blues guitarist Gary Moore joined the band on stage to promote the DVD.
In 2009, the band started working towards a show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Live At the Marquee.
A chance meeting with Glen Tilbrook from Squeeze resulted in an offer to record a new album that Greaves and Feltham had been writing all year. The offer was gladly accepted and the band went into 45 RPM studios in London to record the highly acclaimed and self-penned “It's Never Too Late” - their first collection of new songs since Refrigerator.
The end of 2011 saw Gerry McAvoy play his last show for Nine Below Zero and pursue a new solo career.
2012 saw the return of Brian Bethell who played on Third Degree and who was a natural replacement. The new line up started performing in January with shows in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as the band entered their 35th year

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