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Deaf School at The Garage, London : 28 January 2011
|Origin||Liverpool Art College, England|
|Genres||Art rock, new wave, proto-punk|
|Associated acts||Bette Bright and the Illuminations|
Deaf School are an English art rock/new wave band, formed in Liverpool in 1973. Between 1976 and 1978 they recorded three albums for the Warner Brothers label, in an art rock style that had its roots in cabaret, moving towards a harder punk rock sound. The band split in 1978 but have since been recognized as an important influence on many British musicians. According to Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson: "They revived Liverpool music for a generation." The journalist, author and founder of Mojo, Paul Du Noyer, went further: "In the whole history of Liverpool music two bands matter most, one is The Beatles and the other is Deaf School."
Nearly all its members went on to enjoy successful careers afterwards, notably guitarist Clive Langer, who would produce Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners (two non-Liverpool acts who cite Deaf School as an influence). He would also co-write (with Elvis Costello) the song "Shipbuilding". Langer and Costello discuss the writing of "Shipbuilding" in a BBC Radio 4 programme, Soul Music, first broadcast March 2013.
Formed of students and staff at Liverpool Art College, Deaf School were named after their rehearsal venue, a former school for the deaf that became a college annexe. Their initial aim was to play the college’s 1973 Christmas dance. Their lead male vocalist, Enrico Cadillac Jnr recalls that "Anyone who wanted to be in it could be. There were about 13 on stage at that time. No one could play – it was based on people we thought were interesting . . we entered (and) . . won the Melody Maker rock and folk contest and were suddenly a big deal. We signed to Warners because their A&R guy, Derek Taylor, had been The Beatles publicist and when he saw us rehearsing in Mathew Street, he cried his eyes out".
The informal early line-up was gradually whittled down, though live shows were still chaotic and colourful, marked by their diversity of costumes and instrumentation, with strong elements of performance art. Deaf School’s debut album, 2nd Honeymoon, was released in the UK in the summer of 1976. But its reception at the time was muted by the sudden popularity of punk rock, a style whose anger and urgency seemed at odds with Deaf School’s more whimsical and eclectic approach. The band itself appeared to address this problem on subsequent albums Don’t Stop The World (1977) and English Boys/Working Girls (1978), which were more aggressive and focused. Despite some lavish promotion by Warner Brothers and their continued popularity as a live act, however, Deaf School did not achieve significant chart success. In 1977 their first two albums were re-packaged together for the US market and several American dates were played in support, but no commercial breakthrough was made. By mutual consent the band left Warner Brothers in 1978 and pursued separate careers.
On disbanding, several members continued working in the music industry. Female singer Bette Bright led her own band The Illuminations (and married the lead singer of Madness, Suggs). Clive Langer became one of the foremost record producers of the 1980s and 1990s, working with Madness, Morrissey, David Bowie, Dexys Midnight Runners and Bush amongst others. Bassist Steve Lindsey formed The Planets, scoring a Top of the Pops appearance with his song 'Lines'. Enrico Cadillac Jnr (real name Steve Allen) joined Ian Broudie (former member of Big in Japan) to form the Original Mirrors who released two albums. Allen later formed The Perils of Plastic with former Attractions keyboard player Steve Nieve before going onto a successful pan-European solo career, later taking on the management of Espiritu as well as an A&R post with Warner Bros. Records from 1993 to 2004. Ian Ritchie became a prolific composer, producer and session player. Eric Shark went on to work with Geoff Davies and set up Probe Plus, responsible for Half Man Half Biscuit amongst others.
In 1988 almost all former Deaf School members reunited for live dates, with one of their Liverpool performances released as a live album, 2nd Coming, produced by Langer and Julian Wheatley. Guests included Tin Machine's Reeves Gabrels, Nick Lowe and Lee Thompson from Madness.
In May 2006 Deaf School re-formed for more concerts, culminating in an oversubscribed show in Liverpool for the reopening of the New Picket in the newly formed Independent District on 27 May. In September 2007 Deaf School reunited again and played several live shows including a warm up at The Dublin Castle pub in Camden Town followed by the Manchester Academy and the Carling Academy Liverpool. In December 2007 they played again at the Indigo2 venue at The O2 in London for Madness's aftershow party. In September 2009 the band did shows at The Dublin Castle and The Garage in London before returning to Liverpool for four sell-out concerts at The Everyman Theatre, and an appearance at The Hope Street Festival. The three Deaf School studio albums were re-mastered and released in September 2009 on Cherry Red's Lemon label.
The full band augmented by ex-Crackout drummer Nicholas Millard, played 'The Deaf School Xmas Bash' shows in December 2009 at the 100 Club in London, and the Liverpool O2 Academy, making it ten live appearances in 2009, a first since the 1970s.
Band member Thomas Sam Davis (aka Eric Shark) died, aged 59, on 7 January 2010, from lung disease. The band played two concerts in Liverpool in April in tribute, featuring guests such as Suggs, Ian Broudie and Kevin Rowland.
Deaf School announced nine live dates aka 'The Listen & Learn Tour' in early 2011 including The Garage London and dates in Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool culminating in two shows in Tokyo. A mini album, entitled Enrico & Bette xx was released in 2011 containing five new songs, "You Turn Away", "I Know I Know", "The Enrico Song", "Goodbye To All That" and "Scary Girlfriend".
Deaf School again appeared at The Everyman Theatre Liverpool for two emotionally charged 'Goodbye To The Everyman' shows as part of the refurbishment closure events, and played the Port Eliot festival July 2011.
A biography by Paul Du Noyer, Deaf School: the Non-Stop Pop Art Punk Rock Party, was published in the UK by the Liverpool University Press in October 2013, to mark the 40th anniversary of the band's formation.
Deaf School's latest album, L A U N D E R E T T E, was released in Japan on 27 May 2015 by Hyabusa Landings. The album features new tracks "Broken Down Aristocrats", "Launderette", "Geraldine", "Don't Open the Door Bette", "Liverpool 8", "Places & Things" and "Falkner & Hope"; live tracks "Last Night", "Get Set Ready Go", "Where's the Weekend", "Darling" and "All Queued Up" recorded at the Floral Pavilion New Brighton in November 2014; and a bonus track "It Should've Been Me" recorded at Hardman House in June 1988 and featuring Eric Shark on lead vocals, Reeves Gabrels on guitar and Martin Hughes on drums.
- Bette Bright (real name Anne Martin): vocals
- Enrico Cadillac Jnr (real name Steve Allen): vocals
- Eric Shark (real name Thomas John Davis): vocals (b.1950 – d.2010)
- Ian Ritchie: woodwind instruments
- Max Ripple (real name John Wood) keyboards
- Cliff Hanger (real name Clive Langer): guitar
- Steve "Average" Lindsey: bass guitar
- Tim Whittaker: drums (b. Timothy John Whittaker, 8 October 1952, Clitheroe, Lancashire – d. 20 July 1996, Liverpool)
- Gregg Braden: drums 2013 – present
- 1976: 2nd Honeymoon
- 1977: Don't Stop the World
- 1978: English Boys/Working Girls
- 1988: 2nd Coming: Liverpool '88
- 2003: What a Way to End It All: The Anthology
- 2009: 2nd Honeymoon + bonus tracks
- 2009: Don't Stop The World + bonus tracks
- 2009: English Boys/Working Girls + bonus tracks
- 2011: Enrico & Bette xx
- 2015: Launderette
- 1976: "What a Way to End It All" / "Nearly Moonlit Night Motel"
- 1977: "Taxi" / "Last Night"
- 1978: "All Queued Up" / "Golden Showers"
- 1978: "Thunder & Lightning" / "Working Girls'"
- Dave Simpson (21 July 2011). "'Catalyst bands': What do you mean, you've never heard of them?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- Paul du Noyer (2007) "Liverpool – Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture", Virgin Books, ISBN 9780753512692
- "Soul Music : Series 15 - 5. Shipbuilding". BBC. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Steve Lindsay sings 'Lines' with Planets on Top of the Pops, 1979". BBC. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Official website for Cherry Red Records". Cherryred.co.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Paddy Shennan (9 January 2010). "obituary for Thomas Sam Davis". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- "Displaying results : The Beat Goes On, Cover versions, Deaf School". Liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-11.