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 potential.
 
  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.

Bill MacCormick 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 Hold fan.

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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