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2023 Albums Thing 093 - Deaf School “English Boys/Working Girls”

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This is another one I owe to my ex-girlfriend’s older brother, Doris. A record I would hear him playing while I was hanging out with his sister and eventually had to hear in full for myself.

Deaf School were formed in Liverpool in 1974 and their 3 albums recorded between 1976 and 1978 were a bulwark against the prevailing blues rock and prog of the times. They had a style influenced by Roxy, Bowie, cabaret and theatre as you might expect from students from Liverpool Art College. They were a lasting influence on many Liverpool musicians that followed them. Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson has said “They revived Liverpool music for a generation” and journalist Paul Du Noyer wrote "In the whole history of Liverpool music two bands matter most, one is The Beatles and the other is Deaf School."

“English Boys/Working Girls” is their 3rd album and musically is in a more aggressive style than the previous records, possibly as a reaction to Punk which rose just as they released their debut. It’s one of those records that I heard back then and it fitted perfectly into the New Wave of the time without ever being a part of it. I had no knowledge of their history before this album, it just had the sound (see also Bill Nelson’s Red Noise “Sound On Sound” later on), so I had no preformed idea of what or who they were.

The members of Deaf School went on to other things after the band ended. Guitarist Clive Langer became one of the most prolific producers of the 80’s and 90’ working with Madness, David Bowie, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners among many others, and co-wrote “Shipbuilding” with Elvis Costello; singer Bette Bright formed The Illuminations and later married Suggs from Madness; singer Enrico Cadillac Jr formed bands with Ian Broudie and Steve Nieve; vocalist Eric Shark helped set up the Probe Plus indie distribution network.

This is music that sits comfortably in the Bowie and Roxy art-rock scene but had something about it that made it work for the New Wave fans. It’s a superb album and I’d recommend anyone to check it out. Deaf School are one of the UK’s great ignored bands.

English Boys (With Guns) - https://youtu.be/wBHwlUJBnug


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