February 1979, Oxford Polytechnic, I spotted a poster advertising a new band called Random Hold, it was a low key gig in the college common room, I'd never heard of the band but Bill MacCormick's name drew me in. I was aware of him through his Robert Wyatt associations and an appearance with Phil Manzanera's 801 about 15 months earlier. The venue was sparse, no stage or bar, the audience was small, about 30 at the most, probably less at the start. Despite this the band gave a high calibre committed performance which as far as I was concerned really hit the spot.
|The sound was dark and occasionally austere, I know
this all sounds a bit pretentious, but I was hearing
elements of Joy Division's bleakness mixed in with the
slash and burn guitar attack of early Can and mid period
King Crimson (gulp!). All this was anchored by a rock
solid rhythm section, Bill MacCormick, despite looking
nervous and edgy, and Dave Leach were a great team. The
songs were dramatic and exciting fronted by the
contrasting guitars and voices of Simon Ainley and David
Rhodes, the former, more blues / pop, the latter, more
dissonant and angst ridden. David Ferguson's synth layers
were simple yet effective, creating an uneasy menacing
atmosphere that suited the songs. In the overall scheme
of things Random Hold deserved some recognition,
unfortunately personality clashes and record company
indifference ensured they never fulfilled their undoubted
|Needless to say I bought all the records, although
sadly not many others did. The essential items released
in the UK were the eponymous debut 12 EP and the
album The View from Here. For completists a rerecorded or
remixed version of Etceteraville from the album was
released as a single, with the previously unavailable
Precarious Timbers on the flip side.
has compiled a double and a single CD set covering the
Peter Hammil produced sessions, selections from a variety
of excellent quality demos, plus live recordings from the
US tour supporting Peter Gabriel. Released towards the
end of 2001, perhaps this will convince a few more people
that Random Hold were more than just a footnote in the
history of rock n roll. They blew me away, more than 20
years on I reckon I'm still the world's biggest Random
|Photo courtesy of Tony Levin, bass player for Peter Gabriel on the 1980 US tour.||The final Random Hold line up onstage during the US
tour supporting Peter Gabriel.
L to R: Bill MacCormick, Peter Phipps, David Rhodes and David Ferguson.
Check out Bill MacCormick's fabulous Random Hold Archive, every detail you could ever want to know is here.
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