King of the Slums

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King of the Slums
Also known asSlum Cathedral User
OriginSalford and Hulme, England
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1986 – 1991, 2009 - present.
LabelsSLR Records, Play Hard, Midnight Music, Cherry Red
MembersCharley Keigher
Stuart Owen
Nic Bate
Clarissa Trees
Past membersSarah Curtis
Jon Chandler
John Eccles

King of the Slums are a British alternative rock band. Formed in Greater Manchester in the mid-1980s, the band specialised in a kind of electric violin and guitar-driven rock music, and released their debut single in 1986. Whilst the band earned some critical acclaim from the UK music press, commercial success eluded them and the group disbanded in the early 1990s following the release of their second studio album, Blowzy Weirdos (1991). An album of new material plus some older songs appeared in 2009 credited to both King of the Slums and Slum Cathedral User, which was the original name of the group. Two more albums followed, Manco Diablo (2017) and Artgod Dogs (2018).


King of the Slums formed in Manchester, England, by writer Charley Keigher aka Charlie Keighera (vocals, guitar) and Sarah Curtis (electric violin), initially as Slum Cathedral User.[1] Joined by bassist John Eccles in early 1985, they recorded a demo tape at Crimson Studios in Urmston, Manchester with the help of a drummer who left the band soon after. The band took up its image of Kings of the slums incorporating a plastic dustbin and a tambourine replacing the drums which added to their 'Slums' authenticity when playing live. They won Muze magazine's Band of the Year competition winning a recording session at a studio in Gorton Manchester producing a second demo tape. Their third demo tape came soon after at a recording studio in Upper Mill high up in the Saddleworth moors.

During the second and third demo tape recordings the group made its vinyl recording debut with the "Spider Psychiatry" single in 1986 on a small independent label SLR Records.[2] During this time they gigged at various Manchester venues as a three piece with their now trade mark dustbin drum and homemade stage. The single, reviewed by Melody Maker, never made any significant sales. In mid 1987 Eccles left the band. Sarah Curtis had studied violin at the Royal Northern College of Music, but dropped out before finishing her studies.

Further releases followed in 1988 and 1989 on the Play Hard label, now with bassist Jon Chandler and drummer Ged O'Brien (who replaced a succession of drummers), most of which were collected on the album Barbarous English Fayre (1989).[2] The band also recorded a session for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show in 1988.[3] An incendiary live performance of "Fanciable Headcase", shown on the influential Snub TV television programme, earned the band national exposure, and helped to push their EPs up the independent chart, "Bombs Away on Harpurhey" reaching No. 8.[4][5]

After switching to Midnight Music, the band issued its debut album proper, Dandelions (1989), to favourable reviews in the British music press. Keigher and Curtis were now joined by a new rhythm section.[2] The following year, King of the Slums signed to Cherry Red Records and issued the Blowzy Weirdos album in 1991, with Keigher's gritty take on British life again finding favour amongst the critics. Later in the year, however, the band broke up without ever achieving a commercial breakthrough to match their critical acclaim. They performed nearly 200 concerts during their career resulting in numerous bootlegs being circulated, all of which the band disowned. A cult following has remained and grown over the years since the band broke up.

In 2009 the reformed King of the Slums released their fourth album called The Orphaned Files, a collection of predominately brand new songs together with some rare and remixed older songs, through their own label, SLR Records. It was followed by Manco Diablo on 8 June 2017, also on SLR. Three months after the release, the band decided to record Artgod Dogs. The album, featuring a new member, Clarissa Trees on violin & viola, came out on May 19th 2018. They performed a one off live event at Manchester's Night and Day café on 23rd June 2018.



Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Spider Psychiatry" (SLR, 1986)
  • "Haemophiliacs on Tacks" (Debris, 1987) – split flexi-disc with Moist
  • England's Finest Hopes EP (Play Hard, 1988)
  • "Bombs Away on Harpurhey" (Play Hard, 1989) (UK Indie #8)
  • Vicious British Boyfriend EP (Play Hard, 1989)
  • "Trouble at Mill" (Getout Fanzine Flexi Disc, 1989)
  • "Once A Prefect" (Midnight Music, 1989)
  • "It's Dead Smart" (Midnight Music, 1990)
  • "Bear Wiv Me" (Fluorescent Mix) (Midnight Music, 1990)
  • "Joy" (Cherry Red, 1991)


  1. ^ Middles, Mick (1988) "Slum Chums! King of the Slums on the Fiddle", Underground, April 1988 – Issue 13, p. 11
  2. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0
  3. ^ King of the Slums Peel session, at the BBC's Keeping it Peel site
  4. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (1992) The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness Publishing, ISBN 0-85112-939-0

External links[edit]