Monthly Archives: November 2015
I recently went along to a brilliant event at Harvey's Cellars in Bristol to celebrate the release of Fresh 4's 'lost' album. It was recorded, but never released and now Bristol Archive Records has put out some of the original demo tapes on limited-edition vinyl. The date also marked the 26th anniversary of Wishing On A Star by Fresh 4 and Lizz E (produced by Smith & Mighty) claiming the highest chart position by a Bristol act in modern times when it peaked at Number 10 on October 15, 1989.
So, there is a case for claiming that October 15, 1989 was the Year Zero for everything of cultural significance that has come out of Bristol since – Massive Attack, Banksy, Portishead, Reprazent, Tricky, Nick Walker, Arcadia and many more.
Much of the background to the Bristol scene of the 80s is recorded in Art and Sound of the Bristol Underground by Chris Burton and Gary Thompson. It's a wonderful slice of social history that uses the flyers created to promote the illegal hip-hop parties as a visual narrative to the text that explores the beginnings of the 'Bristol Sound' or 'Trip Hop' or whatever else you want to call it.
The two people on the cover of the book are Krissy Kriss and Nick Walker, who are pictured in Special K's cafe at the bottom on St Michael's Hill. The K in Special K's is Kosta Fiakkis and it was great to see Kosta, Nick Walker and Krissy Kriss all at Harvey's for the Fresh 4 party.
DJs on the night included Alice Perera (who sang with Smith & Mighty for many years), Ray Mighty, Flynn and Krust from Fresh 4 and Rob Smith from Smith & Mighty. Apparently Gary Clail and Andy Scholes (Henry and Louis) played an impromptu dub reggae set in the very small hours. Guests included DJ Die, Tony Wrafter, Peter D Rose, the Freshblood Crew, Queen B, Gill Loats (first woman DJ at the Dug Out), Mike Darby from Bristol Archive Records, MC Kelz, Lizz E and many more from the Bristol scene.
Seeing all of those people in the same place and listening to the DJ sets made me realise just how influential that Bristol underground scene was and continues to be. Art & Sound of the Bristol Underground does a fantastic job of capturing the roots of that scene and exploring how the early graffiti artists (FLX, Jinx, Inkie, Chaos, Nick Walker, 3D, Inkie) were so important in its development. It's a theme that continues in Beezer's seminal photographic study of the Bristol music and fashion scene of the 80s in Wild Dayz while in The Naked Guide to Bristol, Gil Gillespie has written the definitive analysis of that scene in which he traces its roots back to Mark Stewart and The Pop Group.
But so far there isn't a single book that pulls together all those alternative contemporary cultural strands and tries to explain what happened in the 1980s to begin the process that has culminated in Bristol being regarded as one of the great capitals of counter-culture. Never forget that Bristol's only significant contributions to popular music before Fresh 4 were Fred Wedlock, Adge Cutler, Acker Bilk and Russ Conway. All fine performers in their own right but most definitely part of 'Old Bristol'.
If the new Bristol began on October 15, 1989, what were the political, economic, social and cultural forces that helped shape the future? It's a fascinating question. I must get round to writing a book about it. In the meantime check out Art & Sound of the Bristol Underground, Wild Dayz and The Naked Guide to Bristol.
Richard Jones, Publisher, Tangent Books
Here at Tangent Books we are incredibly thankful to our loyal customers (near and far) who choose to support a local, independent publisher like us by buying directly. It means the world to us that you are willing to spend your hard earned pennies on the books that we publish.
Deliberately and resolutely independent, Tangent Books maintains close relationships with the authors, designers and printers we work with to ensure that everyone involved in the production of one of our volumes gets a fair deal, as well as supporting local, independent business. By buying directly you form an integral part of this community we call publishing!
As a thank you, we'd love to give you 25% off your orders over the next few days. Use TEAMTANGENT at checkout until midnight on Saturday (14th) and enjoy 25% off your whole order!
I enjoy selling books at local markets, but I haven't done so much of it this year. Since the demise of the monthly Bristol Book Market a couple of years ago, I decided to concentrate on the two most successful events – the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair in April/May and the Broadmead Christmas Market for 20 days in December.
But then some local traders started a Sunday market on the Wells Road just round the corner from my house. I didn't have any great expectations for it, but it's an easy one to do and I wanted to support a community event. To my astonishment, the Wells Road Market has been one of the most successful markets I've attended.
It also reminded me that setting up a market stall isn't just about selling books. It's about meeting people and talking to them about books and writing. For example, at the last Wells Road market a woman was showing particular interest in the Recollections Of Jazz In Bristol book I sell on behalf of Roy Gallop at Fiducia Press. I was giving her the usual spiel about what a great book it is and how it had been written by Bristol jazz drummer Dave Hibberd and published in 2000, then re-published in 2009 with a tribute to Dave who was in ill health and passed away in 2010.
But it wasn't so much the content that my potential customer was interested in, but the cover. It features a Beryl Cook painting of the Dave Collett Trio at the White Horse pub in Bedminster with Dave Hibberd on drums. Turns out that my customer is Beryl Cook's grand daughter and although she had seen the painting before, she'd not seen the book and was really pleased that her grandmother's work was still being appreciated by her many friends in the Bristol jazz community.
Next a couple of elderly women came along for a chat. One of them had bought the Bedminster Tobacco Women book at the previous market, but this month she and her companion were interested in Glastonbury Festival Myths & Legends.
'Have you ever been,' I asked.
'Oh, yes we went to the first one,' they replied. 'When we were girls we lived in Whitchurch and saw all these people walking down the Wells Road. They were going to the Festival, so we went with them.'
'You walked from Bristol to the first Glastonbury Festival?' I ask, amazed.
'Oh no, we caught the bus.'
For the record, 1500 people attended the first festival in 1970, admission was £1 (including free milk) and Marc Bolan headlined.
I'm really hoping the ladies come back in December. I'll let you know if they do.
Anyway, there's a serious point here. The way in which people buy books is changing and the speed of change is getting ever greater, but it's not as simple as everything moving to Amazon.
I did a major sales breakdown recently and I was surprised at the results.
High Street (Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwell) 26%
Online (Amazon, Tangent website) 27%
Independent Shops 47%
Admittedly, the figures are exaggerated by the huge success of North Street Shops, Shopping and Shoppers which sells very few copies online and on the High Street but sells in large numbers through independent shops. But should I be surprised at the figures? Tangent prides itself on being an independent publisher and is being well supported by independent retailers and shoppers.
The challenge is to increase the sales via the website and to reach those people outside Bristol who have an interest in Bristol books and to persuade them to buy from www.tangentbook.co.uk
We've got a new website which should make it easier to market the books, but our main advocates are you – the existing customers. That's why we offer you a 20 per cent discount when you use the code supporter on the website. Share it, tell your friends about the discount.
And don't worry, my new friends at the Wells Road market get a discount too.
Richard Jones, Publisher, Tangent Books
I can honestly say that I have never seen so much book launch booze consumed as at the Catacombs of Terror! shindig at Jacknife Studios in Bristol. It was a great party and got the book off to a flying start.
Ambrose Blimfield, the original publisher of Catacombs, travelled down from the north of England to be there and was joined by publishing powerhouses Sterling Bland, Richard Scratter and the esteemed author Mr Stanley Donwood. Cases of fine wines and a barrel of cider were guzzled by a select group of guests who included literary agents, artists, and leading literary figures from Bristol and beyond including a passing wordsmith who ventured in and demanded that Tangent Books publish his work but refused to say what it was about.
Well-known thespian Ric Jerrom delivered a spine-tingling reading from Catacombs of Terror! and DJ Spinner spun a delightful collection of mellow jazz and rare grooves.
Mr Donwood's book was extremely well received both for its literary excellence and its beautiful production featuring stunning cover artwork by Chris Hopewell of Jacknife and distinctive red edge colouring.
Richard Jones, Publisher, Tangent Books