The Tansads

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The Tansads
The Tansads on stage at one of their 2010 reunion gigs. Visible from left to right: John Kettle, Andrew Kettle, Dominic Lowe, Janet Anderton, Phill Knight, Ed Jones, Bob Kettle, Lee Goulding
Background information
OriginWigan, Greater Manchester, England
Years activec.1990 – c.2001
Transatlantic Records
Associated actsThe Railway Children, Merry Hell
Past membersSee Band personnel section

The Tansads were an English band from Wigan, Greater Manchester, who were active during the 1990s. Playing a mix of folk, punk and indie music they developed a strong following on the festival circuit and on the crusty/traveller scene, but never managed to achieve a commercial breakthrough. Their ultimately unsuccessful career later became the subject of a book by former member Ed Jones.


The core members of the group throughout their career were vocalist Janet Anderton and the three Kettle brothers: John (guitarist and principal songwriter), Bob (mandolin, guitar and harmonica) and Andrew, sometimes credited simply as "Kek" (vocalist). Anderton had previously been in a band called The Bonny Saloons with John and Bob. The name "Tansad" came from a brand of child's pushchair.[1] The band's style blended elements of folk, punk and indie with lyrics generally focusing on the vagaries of Northern working-class life. Anderton and Andrew Kettle shared lead vocals, with some tracks featuring one or other alone and others featuring the interplay of Anderton's clear voice with Kettle's raspy delivery.

The band achieved significant local success in their home town of Wigan, and in the early 1990s were supported by another local band, The Verve (then simply Verve). At the time the two acts were seen as the two big names on the local Wigan scene.[2] Other bands who supported the Tansads included Pulp, Cast and Kula Shaker. In 1991 they released their debut album Shandyland on an independent label, its title track featuring a lyric (reproduced on the album's front cover) which summed up their vision of Northern life and people: "Chips and egg would make them high/But God has poked them in the eye".

Two years later they released Up the Shirkers on the more established MusiDisc label, which had previously released the debut album by The Levellers, a band to whom the Tansads were often compared. Their chaotic, frenetic live shows were generating much interest, but they also began a series of regular line-up changes, with only Anderton and the three Kettle brothers remaining constant members. Guy Keegan, formerly of The Railway Children, was a member for one album.

In 1994 they moved to Transatlantic Records for the album Flock.

Change of direction[edit]

After 1995's live album Drag Down the Moon, the band went on hiatus. Three years later they returned with a stripped-down line-up featuring only Anderton and John Kettle from their heyday and a new sound which dispensed with the folk elements in favour of a more conventional indie rock sound. In March 1998, this line-up released the album Reason to Be on an independent label before disbanding. In 2001 there were reports that the band had reformed once again, with Anderton now replaced by a teenaged vocalist named Laura Follin, but no new recordings surfaced.


Former bass player Ed Jones, who returned to journalism after leaving the band, wrote a book, This is Pop: The Life and Times of a Failed Rock Star, detailing his time in the band and the personality clashes which he felt caused their career to fail.[3]

John Kettle works as a producer in his own studio called Jaraf House Studios and, along with producing songs for notable local talent ranging from Witness to Moco, he has been working on new recordings with his brothers and former band members under the name Merry Hell.[4] Merry Hell have released four albums.

Reunion gigs[edit]

Following months of speculation on their Facebook page,[5] the band announced on their official website[6] that they would be playing two reunion gigs in July 2010 at The Citadel in St Helens, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first ever gigs. Shortly afterwards, a third date was added. Ten past members of the band appeared at the gigs.

Band personnel[edit]

Album Line-up
Shandyland (1991)
Andrew Kettle – vocals
Bob Kettle – harmonica, mandolin, guitar
John Kettle – guitar
Janet Anderton – vocals
Ed Jones – bass
"Cudo" (Paul McKeown) – percussion, vocals
"Shrub" (David Atherton) – keyboards
Dominic Lowe – accordion, trumpet
"Bug" (Chris Atherton) – drums
Up the Shirkers (1993)
Andrew Kettle – vocals
Bob Kettle – harmonica, mandolin, guitar
John Kettle – guitar
Janet Anderton – vocals
Ed Jones – bass
"Cudo" – percussion, keyboards, vocals
Dominic Lowe – accordion, trumpet
Chris Atherton – drums, programming,vocals
Flock (1994)
Andrew Kettle – vocals
Bob Kettle – harmonica, mandolin, guitar
John Kettle – guitar
Janet Anderton – vocals
Ed Jones – bass, vocals
Lee Goulding – keyboards
Guy Keegan – drums, percussion
Drag Down the Moon (1995)
Andrew Kettle – vocals
Bob Kettle – harmonica, mandolin, guitar
John Kettle – guitar
Janet Anderton – vocals
Robbie Ryan – bass, vocals
Lee Goulding – keyboards
Phillip Knight – drums
Reason to Be (1998)
John Kettle – guitar
Janet Anderton – vocals
Robbie Ryan – bass
Tim Howard – guitar
Andy Jones – drums



Shandyland (1991)

  1. "Cobbly Back Yard"
  2. "Wood in th' Hole"
  3. "Right On"
  4. "Big Wednesday"
  5. "Feed Me"
  6. "Horses"
  7. "Shandylands"
  8. "Juvenile"
  9. "No More"
  10. "London's Burning"
  11. "Spirit Move"
  12. "Big Bad Devil"

Up the Shirkers (1993)

  1. "Eye of the Average"
  2. "Camelot"
  3. "Brian Kant (yeah-yeah-yo)"
  4. "Zig Zag"
  5. "Music Down"
  6. "Waste of Space"
  7. "Chip-Pan Ocean"
  8. "The English Rover"
  9. "John John"
  10. "Reasons to Be"
  11. "Turn On, Tune Up, Drop Out, Be Late"
  12. "Up the Revolution"

Flock (1994)

  1. "A Band on the Rainbow"
  2. "Fear of Falling"
  3. "She's Not Gone"
  4. "God on a String"
  5. "Iron Man"
  6. "Waiting for the Big One"
  7. "Dance"
  8. "Sunlight in the Morning"
  9. "G Man"
  10. "Ship of Fools"
  11. "I Know I Can (But I Won't)"
  12. "Heading for the Heart"
  13. "Separate Souls"

Drag Down the Moon (1995)

  1. "Iron Man"
  2. "Where Have All the Flowers Gone"
  3. "Up the Revolution"
  4. "She's Not Gone"
  5. "A Band on the Rainbow"
  6. "John John"
  7. "Turn On, Tune Up, Drop Out, Be Late"
  8. "Spirit Move"
  9. "Sunlight in the Morning"
  10. "Reasons to Be"
  11. "The English Rover"
  12. "Waiting for the Big One"
  13. "G Man"
  14. "Fear of Falling"
  15. "Eye of the Average"
  16. "I Know I Can (But I Won't)"
  17. "Drag Down the Moon"

Reason to Be (1998)

  1. "Roll Away Your Stone"
  2. "Higher Ground"
  3. "All the Mad Men"
  4. "Hello"
  5. "Reason to Be"
  6. "Sad Song"
  7. "Jealousy"
  8. "Middle of the Night"
  9. "Julian"
  10. "Miss the Bus"
  11. "Burning Bridge"
  12. "Drunken Serenade"


Brian Kant (yeah-yeah-yooh) (1992)

  1. "Brian Kant (yeah-yeah-yooh)"
  2. "Zig Zag"
  3. "Fear of Falling"
  4. "Set You Free"

Up the Revolution (1993)

  1. "Up the Revolution" (radio edit)
  2. "Up the Revolution" (album version)
  3. "John John"
  4. "Sun Golden Sun"

The English Rover (1993)

  1. "The English Rover"
  2. "Feed Me" (skiffle version)
  3. "Four Leaf Clover"
  4. "Girlfriend of the Free" (early demo)

Camelot (1993)

  1. "Camelot"
  2. "Gelignite"
  3. "Satisfied"

Iron Man/A Band on the Rainbow (1994)

  1. "Iron Man"
  2. "A Band on the Rainbow"
  3. "I Don't Know"

A Band on the Rainbow (1994)

  1. "A Band on the Rainbow"
  2. "The English Rover" (live)
  3. "Cobbly Back Yard" (live)
  4. "Thursday's Child"

I Know I Can (But I Won't) (1995)

  1. "I Know I Can (But I Won't)"
  2. "Drag Down the Moon"
  3. "And Oh..."

Promo releases[edit]

Transatlantic Records sampler (1994)

  1. "She's the One I Adore" – Energy Orchard
  2. "Coming Through" – Energy Orchard
  3. "Dear Jane" – The Dear Janes
  4. "My Guilty Hand" – The Dear Janes
  5. "Another Irish Rover" – Four Men and a Dog
  6. "McFadden's Reels" – Four Men and a Dog
  7. "Iron Man" – The Tansads
  8. "Zig Zag" – The Tansads

(Released in the UK as a limited edition of 5000)[7]

G-Man (1995)

  1. "G-Man"
  2. "I Know I Can"
  3. "A Band on the Rainbow"

(Only released in France)

Where Have All the Flowers Gone (1995)
(Only ever released as a one-track demo CD)

Self-published tapes[edit]

Before the band recorded Shandyland, they recorded four cassette tapes which were sold at gigs. They include early workings of songs which would later be re-recorded for the albums and B-sides, some of which vary quite markedly from the final versions. Most of the songs were released on a new album, Rough and Ready (The Early Tapes) to coincide with the reunion concerts in 2010.

The Den

  1. "Fear of Falling"
  2. "Father's Day"
  3. "Say it with Flowers"
  4. "Big Wednesday"
  5. "25 Years"
  6. "Sun Golden Sun"

Wayward & Wonderful

  1. "Nursery Rhyme for 89"
  2. "Set You Free"
  3. "Big Bad Devil"
  4. "Too Many Spots"
  5. "I Can See You All"
  6. "Diamonds in the Rain"

Big Wednesday

  1. "Big Wednesday"
  2. "England is My Girlfriend" (early version of "Girlfriend of the Free")
  3. "Fit to Drop"
  4. "I Close My Eyes"
  5. "Fear of Falling"
  6. "Pendle Hill"
  7. "Parachute Song" (aka "Shine a Light")
  8. "Watchful Stars"


  1. "Shandyland"
  2. "Big Sunrise"
  3. "Jealousy"
  4. "Fit to Drop"
  5. "I Know I Can"
  6. "Juvenile"


  1. ^ Interview with the band in Folk Roots issue 120, June 1993
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Jones, Ed (1999). This is Pop: The Life and Times of a Failed Rock Star. Canongate Books. ISBN 0-86241-880-1.
  4. ^ "Setting the record straight". Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ "The Tansads". Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  7. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]