Crispy Ambulance

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Crispy Ambulance
Also known asRam Ram Kino
OriginManchester, England
GenresPost-punk, indie rock
Years active1977–1982, 1999–2008, 2014–present
LabelsFactory, LTM / Darla, C.A. Tapes, Aural Assault
MembersKeith Darbyshire
Robert Davenport
Alan Hempsall
Gary Madeley

Crispy Ambulance are an English post-punk band, formed in Manchester in late 1977 by Keith Darbyshire (bass), Robert Davenport (guitar), Alan Hempsall (vocals), and Gary Madeley (drums).[1] They had been inspired by the Sex Pistols' second gig in the Lesser Free Trade Hall and the bands Magazine and Hawkwind.[2]


The band played their first gig on 1 January 1978 at the Spurley Hey Youth Centre.[1] Following a self-released debut single, "From the Cradle to the Grave" (1980), the band joined Factory Records. Singles "Unsightly and Serene" and "Live on a Hot August Night" (produced by Martin Hannett) preceded their album The Plateau Phase and final single "Sexus". The Plateau Phase was given a five star review by Sounds.[3]

In April 1980 singer Alan Hempsall also appeared on stage with Joy Division at Derby Hall, standing in for Ian Curtis who had suffered an epileptic fit,[1] a performance which ultimately descended into a riot. This scene is depicted in the Joy Division biopic Control. During 1981–1982 Crispy Ambulance played several dozen live dates in the UK, as well as a short European tour with Section 25. They also recorded a session for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show in January 1981.[3]

Crispy Ambulance disbanded in late 1982, leaving behind Fin, a live album of late period songs. A further posthumous album, Frozen Blood, included their 1981 BBC radio session for the John Peel programme. The four members carried on for a short time as Ram Ram Kino, releasing one single "Advantage" on Temple Records.[1]

The original line-up of Crispy Ambulance reformed in 1999, and went on to release two studio albums – Scissorgun in 2002 and The Powder Blind Dream in 2004 – as well as a live album, Accessory After the Fact.[1] All these later recordings were produced by Graham Massey of 808 State. The group also undertook a short tour of North America in November 2002. They reformed again in 2014 and are back touring.[4]

In the commentary for the 2002 film, 24 Hour Party People, Tony Wilson of Factory Records stated that while he liked Crispy Ambulance, he felt that their name was the worst band name of all time.

Crispy Ambulance released an almost entirely instrumental album in 2016, entitled Random Textures. The double CD edition, released by Factory Benelux, came with an expanded version of the Record Store Day album Compulsion.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]


  • The Blue & Yellow (of the Yacht Club) (1983), C.A. Tapes
  • Frozen Blood (2000), LTM

Live albums[edit]

  • Open, Gates of Fire (1983), C.A. Tapes
  • Fin (1985), LTM
  • Accessory After the Fact (1999), LTM


  • "From the Cradle to the Grave" (1980), Aural Assault
  • "Unsightly and Serene" (1981), Factory, FAC.32 – UK Indie No. 27[5]
  • "Live on a Hot August Night" (1981), Factory Benelux, FACBN 4
  • "Sexus" (1984), Factory Benelux

Ram Ram Kino[edit]

  • Advantage – Tantric Routines EP (1985), Temple


  1. ^ a b c d e Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 284-5
  2. ^ [1] Archived 22 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Gimarc, George (2005) Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock 1970–1982, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-848-6, p. 424, 580
  4. ^ "News". Crispy Ambulance. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1998) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 54

External links[edit]