Aylesbury Roxette November 2009
Friars, October 2009
Legendary locals The Disco Students were the opening act. Full of swirling Magazine keyboards and a strongly melodic post punk vibe they managed to be very much of that time but still strongly relevant. Fronted by their one constant factor Simon Cheetham, (vocals and excellent shirt) they were no easy act to follow. They played a quirky intelligent set.
A new review from Nude Magazine.
Disco Students: I Beg to Differ (Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Records)
The Disco students were formed in Aylesbury in 1978, and despite gaining airplay on the John Peel show, their single releases were sadly neglected and the band finally split up 1982.
Now recently reformed, I Beg to Differ serves as an overview of the bands career both past and present, over the course of two discs. And it’s a gem, which ranges in scope from scratchy, edgy arty, lo-fi punk/ new wave, vaguely in the style of The Cure or Wire through to fragile early-Eighties pop stylings and experimental later recordings such as “Mark What’s the Score” which samples Mark E Smith reading the football results against a squelchy synth background.
And with songs such as “Tina Weymouth’s Smile” and “King of the Manchester Baggy Scene” these pop outsiders also provide a witty and wry commentary on recent pop history.
The Disco Students – I Beg to Differ
[Double CD Retrospective: 1978-2006]
(Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!) – UK release date: 1 August 2006
by Evan Sawdey – 13.12.06
When’s the last time you picked up a double-disc CD retrospective of a band that’s been around for a quarter of a century and you haven’t heard a single song from? Well, this is gonna be your first.
The Disco Students is a band that, in many ways, is an awesome Joy Division knockoff with absolutely none of the budget. The band has long since been plagued with problems that would make VH1’s Behind the Music shame itself, but long-suffering leader Simon Cheetham has prevailed for 28 years, making songs with great titles and a sense of danceable fun despite budget limitations.
The Disc 2 electro experiments wear thin after a while, but the gems all lie in Disc 1- prime-era Students where the Joy Division influence was so great they named one song “Love Will Blow Up in Your Face”. Sure, you can argue that some songs, like “A Boy with a Perchant for Open Neck Shirts”, wear thin (and it does, especially with Cheetham’s never-there voice), but the gems are just as numerous, like tuning into some great lost radio station run by Ariel Pink.
It’s not perfect, it’s sloppy and sometimes a strain, but never before has a double-disc retrospective release been so warranted. Ladies and gentlemen: the best band you’ve never heard.
The Disco Students: I Beg to Differ double CD
Review by Chris Marling 29.9.06
Seems I get a release from this lot every other week, but they’re fun so hey ho. This time out it’s a collection of old and new, rare and not so rare releases from their somewhat low key career.
Apparently inspired by the Clash and the Pistols back in 1976, they somehow managed to become a largely twee indie band with more nods to Morrissey and The Television Personalities than Sid and Strummer. But don’t let that put you off – if you have a love for the Sarah Records end of the market, these guys are top notch. For the collector, you get all the early 70s vinyl releases, ten unreleased tracks and some more recent stuff, including three new songs, as well as a song by their former band, The Haircuts.
For the novice, you get introduced to a band who made the late 80s indie sound their own.
Review from Play Louder.
The Disco Students – ‘I Beg To Differ’ yeah!yeah!yeah! Records
The Disco Students come from that era when you could get away with calling your band something like The Disco Students without the pseudo proletarian hordes of the music press getting sniffy. Yet the Aylesbury chaps were a band aptly named, combining arch, fizzing guitars with pummelling, anxious post-punk straitjacket-soul beats, elegant, intelligent lyricism and song titles like ‘Kafkaesque’ and ‘A Boy With A Penchant For Open Neck Shirts’. That’s me, that is!
This retrospective of the band’s twenty-eight year career sees the tense ‘Pink Triangles’, the light pop of ‘Sugarside’, the subtle synths of ‘But’ that give it a slightly goth edge and the dark romance of ‘Red Flowers’ that make up Disco Students early – and best -material. For anyone who’s never got down for a book and a boogie with these chaps, this compilation comes highly recommended.
Review by Luke Turner. 26.8.06.
What Rough Trade say:
I Beg To Differ. a double cd retrospective from the aylesbury based art rockers – featuring all the material from the singles since they reformed and also the tracks from the late 70’s and early 80’s – also features the classic “do you remember longwick'” by the haircuts – simon cheetham’s first band – a standout track from the legendary “aylesbury goes flaccid” compilation album from 1978.
Review from REPEAT.
The Disco Students : I Beg to Differ (www.myspace.com/2006discostudents)
Here’s some more nostalgia, but this time with a happy and still partly unwritten ending. The Disco Students were formed in 1978, and gloried in being freed from the shackles of prog rock and all that appalling nonsense. They traveled the country to plug into the national grid to rattle out short, sharp sets of angular, riffy, liberated punky stuff which this retrospectve shows to be still exciting and uplifting today.
No wonder then that the band have reformed and have added some new tracks onto this 2 CD set which looks both forwards and backwards.
A review from “Cool Noise”. Saturday, June 03, 2006 My Black Girlfriend by The Disco Students Firmly from the DIY/John Peel style of music making we have The Disco Students. Their Mark E Smith’s Dead may be factually inaccurate but it is a good song with a snarl to enjoy. Lo-Fi fun for the discerning in the family.
Review just in from Belgian music ezine Dogmatik. January 2006. http://www.dogmatik.be/
Upon receipt of this CD I definitely expected some typical kitschy disco-like beat project that at best might have tried to give 70’s extravaganza an additional touch of modernity and contemporary originality to actualize it once more. I was immediately awaken after listening to the first notes of the opening track. Maybe these guys at one point did study disco, but they definitely were raised on another sound! What I heard reminded me of bands like “Pink Turns Blue”, “The Beloved” and “The Shamen”. These guys have listened to alternative music from the early 90’s. A good opening track “My Black Girlfriend” and I am on the tip of my chair. On to “Mark e. Smith’s Dead (version)”. A different story as I get a load of guitars this time riffing and howling their guts out in lo-fi. For this track I found myself back in the tradition of “The Wire”, “The Buzzcocks”, a raw version of “The Cure” or “The Slits”. Great traditional raw powerful punk-inspired rock without complexities and or trickery. The third track “My Secretary” takes us back to “Pink Turns Blue”, “Plan B”, “The Romeos” (remixed by Coldcut) and is a fat, raw, electronic piece of Indie-extravaganza. Next up is “The Most Handsome Man on T.V. (version)” which is simply a return to track 2 in style. More guitar powered punk-rock with a clear reference to “Joy Division”. It could have passed for a early demo of “The Smiths” just before they smoothened out their sound, or as it was captured on the Peel Session’s version of “What Difference Does it Make?”. The following is a modern electro tune with a rave melody and singing in the tradition of Manchester. Electro-wave in a modern jacket with a brit-pop flavour. “Nice Little Bust” is a piece of weird alternative “Flying Pickets” close harmony singing… To top off this EP there is “My Lesbian Sister” which is inspired again by “Pink Turns Blue” or “The Beloved”. This one gets closer to EBM than the previous tracks.
Overall I would definitely go and check out these guys live if I had an opportunity. They are fantastic. They bring back some old traditions and sounds but they have managed to mix it all into a distinct sound which is their own. An achievement and the ingredients which made bands such as “Franz Ferdinand” or “The Kaiser Chiefs” stand out from the pack. Their tracks still need some work, their production is not entirely fine-tuned (but then again I think that the raw, sometimes distorted sound is a surplus to their sound). I will keep following this band and I strongly recommend lovers of all bands name in the review to do the same. It is not everyday punk, nor is it plain rock… It is all about a band doing their distinct own thing, with a specific individual sound full of references however to the alternative scenes of the past 20 years.
Reviewed by The Avenger
From US Punk site – Punk Information Directory
“My Black Girlfriend” CD EP (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
The U.K.’s Disco Students have released a mixed bag of seven songs ranging from straight ahead rockers to 80’s style new wave to disco rhythms to some experimental tunes. It probably won’t come as any surprise that I really enjoyed the two rockers and didn’t particularly find the other 5 tunes much to my liking. They do have a good sense of humor as you can probably figure out from the disc title. They sing songs about “nice little busts” and “my secretary” as well as “my lesbian sister”. If you’re looking for punk, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a bit edgier, this may be a good find for you.
THE DISCO STUDENTS – MY BLACK GIRLFRIEND
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
”They’re making a documentary, about what she sees in me.” A filleted sound with a scratchy energy stuffed into the languid pace of the opening title track almost makes me think of Terry Hall making a good record (I never understood why reviewers praised his turgid Post-Funboy 3 dross) so that’s an irritatingly good start. Their obvious lyrical strength being matched by the music is a step on from the previous records they’d sent me, where the music struggled to play catch up with obvious humour, or was a decorative accessory, but now they have an edge. Twice they include a ‘version’: the punctilious, slippery ‘Mark E. Smith’s Dead’ attacking with a gloriously scabby guitar sound, then a suitably gormless ‘The Most Handsome Man On TV’ wobbling along.
‘Kitchen Sink Disco’ is an engagingly shite piece, smearing memories over a psychotic mixture of rhythmical notions, where the bland feeling slowly envelops you, unpleasantly, which is a clever move. ‘My Secretary’ has one glorious line, ”she makes my appointments, she covers me in ointment” but I don’t think we need go there. A simple plinking tune which clomps along with occasionally fading samples of Peel talking about them on his show and using the word terrific, this is another oddly affecting piece, where ‘Nice Little Bust’ is just a chirpy bit of bluster, with lustre. (“I’ve seen your nice little bust, caress it I must.”)
Along with the perverse observations the music also manages to clamp down hard on the imagination, and when ‘My Lesbian Sister’ finishes with a dark, throbbing beat and scary keyboards wings, seriously moody, full of sound despite its naff end, it has to be said that whenever the album appears it now threatens to be rather special.
From www.rhythmonline.co.uk July 2005.
The Disco Students: Gay Lorry Drivers EP and Live in New York (Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Review by Chris Marling
The Disco Students arrive on my doormat like a breath of fresh air. While I’ve had some thoroughly accomplished things passed my way recently, it takes a good dose of jangly pop nonsense to make me see what my CD player has been missing recently – fun.
Formed back in ‘78, they reformed in 2003 seemingly have a moan about what has passed for pop in the interim. While they claim to make a bloody racket, they, well, don’t really. They are far more post than punk, and if they sounded like this back in the heady days of the Pistols and the Ramones you can see where a lot of C86 bands stole a few influences.
Tracks about Mark E Smith and Morrissey put their lyrics in the same era as their sound but they are witty and erudite, with lines like “look at him the little shit, with his receding quiff” raising plenty of smiles in “Morrissey Stole All My Ideas” (probably their best track, and fittingly the only one repeated on both the album and single).
If you liked the new age indie pop that followed punk the Disco Students are definitely worth checking out. I also hear a bit of Half Man Half Biscuit, Mega City 4 and The Only Ones when I put them on, and as they’re all bands with a special place in my heart that can only be a good thing.
Review of the Gay Lorry Drivers EP from the US based Punk Information Directory
Willy Aadnoy (1/23/05)
“Gay Lorry Drivers” CD EP (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
I was a little worried when I saw 4 songs clocking in at 18:00 minutes flat. The Disco Students managed to pull it off pretty good though. This is another band that have released recent material after being featured for their early works on the Bloodstains and Teenage Treats compilation series. This has a mid-80’s new wave feel to it. The songs are catchy and pop inspired. If you appreciate a nice mid-tempo pop song with a catchy melody then you’ll enjoy these songs. The singer reminded me of the lead singer for Mega City Four.
Review from Repeat Magazine: 21st January 2005
I’m not going to embark on an essay tracing the influence of this band on late 20th century culture (thank God), but while the claim in the song title “Morissey Stole All My Ideas” (with its opening opening line : “Look at him the little shit / With his receding quiff”) maybe a bit wide of the mark, it is clear that The Disco Students have been an inspiration. There is something in the choppy guitar playing and indie vocals that Franz Ferdinand probably half inched from the likes of The Gang Of Four and The Chesterfields, who had no doubt listened to The Disco Students. And with song titles like “Mark E Smith is Dead”, “The Most Handsome Man on TV” and “The Last Disco in North Korea” (based on a true story, apparently!) you can perhaps see where Half Man Half Biscuit got some of their lyrical obsessions. And with Radio Five Live’s travel reporter Jo-Anne Sale, The Disco Students are well worth tracking down.
Full review etc at www.repeatfanzine.co.uk. Click on REVIEWS and then Disco Students can be found part way down the page.
Beginning this mini-album, recorded live in New York at CBGB’s, is a strange ‘Little Britain’ style vocal sketch delivered by the lead singer. In various different comedy voices he sets up the premise that The Disco Students make a racket and rock out … and then they start to play to NYC. They’ve been around since 1978, which puts them at one year later than the release of Television’s seminal ‘Marquee Moon’ and also the Sex Pistols’s brand of UK punk. This all becomes important once we’ve listened to all the tracks.
The first track is entitled ‘Morrissey Stole All My Ideas’. When I read about when they formed, I guessed they’d go one of two ways, and the NYC art rock guitars with pop-style riffs made the decision they took plain to see. Some of their peers might have wanted to strip it all down like the Sex Pistols, but not this lot. They lay off the distortion pedal and the overdrive button, meaning with their leanings to pleasant, tuneful riffs, they sound like The Cure at points. The vocalist sounds like a clipped version of the bloke from The Beautiful South, which is excellent for the type of music they’re going for.
It goes on – ‘Lake Superior’ is very early Eighties post-punk art rock, almost like some of U2’s earlier output before they met Eno, and before they got over the influences of Tom Verlaine and Joy Division. ‘Chrysler Building (1976)’, ‘South Africa House’, ‘The Most Handsome Man on TV’ and the remaining three tracks all tread a (now) very well worn path. What saves this band is that they formed way back, and now reformed, having found that the sound that they were exponents of in the early Eighties is now almost de rigeur in some circles.
The highlights of the collection are ‘The Most Handsome Man on TV’, dedicated in a comedy voice to Vernon Kaye, and ‘Morrissey Stole All My Ideas’. The best compliment I can pay them are that they sound like Television and at worst can only be accused of appropriate their peers. I suppose that’s better than just a wholesale ripping off of a past band. I’m sure we can all think of a few examples – put them into the comments box below if you’ve got any.
There is perhaps a lack of bite in their output, too, which won’t go down well when they get matched up to the crazed, turbocharged The Rapture or the coolly controlled power of Interpol. However, for a band that in 2004 released an EP called ‘The Gay Lorry Drivers’ EP, any praise is good praise. This is pleasant stuff.
The Disco Students
“Live in New York” CD-EP (Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!)
As the title would imply, this is a live show recorded at Pianos in New York in September ’04. There’s not much more to say than I did last week when reviewing their 4 song CD EP. It’s poppy mid-80’s style alternative rock. The songs are catchy and if you grew up on MTV in the 80’s and that’s your thing, you will enjoy the Disco Students. As a side note, Simon Cheetham of the band played in a band called the Haircuts prior to the Disco Students and are represented by one song on the “Aylesbury Goes Flaccid” Compilation LP released in ’78, a comp well worth seeking out.
Willy Aadnoy (1/30/05)
From Mick Mercer – rock journos site: www.mickmercer.com
GAY LORRY DRIVERS EP
All songs are based on true events, they’ll have you know, and this pristine, watertight songwriting comes from having first formed in 1978, only reforming after two decades recently to pulverise astute and suspicious audiences alike into submission. This is a good thing, although the title track’s gently cooling indiepop is a bit Fant-tast-ic Day, with a soupcon of energy to fling behind the fruity lyrics. `Last Disco In Korea’ is looser. Knowing guitar winks as they create a semi-maudlin feel, with a sweet upturn between choruses, and the feeling you need to dig deeper than thinking it sounds like Tom Robinson receiving a humour transplant.
There is no time however, because they hit you with a song you can’t do anything other than adore, entitled, “Morrissey Stole All My Ideas”:
`Look at him, the little shit,
with his receding quiff,
hit him, put him in a sack,
throw him, over a cliff.’
It seems a break-in occurred around 78/79 where the lanky one relieved them of their ideas and legged it, and it these galling details they reveal to some simple blunt punk-pop riffing.
`He escaped in a stolen car,
driven by, Johnny Marr
Built his whole career
on all of my ideas
Cut his throat with garden shears
impale him on a thousand spears.
I’d run him over and grind the gears.’
They’re not happy, and the very cool `Bad Orgy’ doesn’t cheer them any, despite being like a well-mannered, modernised Senseless Things, with seriously gruesome lyrics!!!!
How they’ll fare with today’s slumbering indiekids who regard Franz Turdinhand and Athlete as exciting will be interesting, and we’ll have more from these lunatics later in the week.
From Splendid Magazine. www.splendidmagazine.com
Disco Students, Gay Lorry Drivers EP/ Live In New York (Yeah!Yeah! Yeah!) CDS/CD The Disco Students didn’t make a record between 1981 and 2004. As the arse end of the 70s turned into the 80s, they were apparently played by Peel and in the NME indie charts. I missed it. If anything they released then was half as good as Morrisey Stole All My Ideas (“Look at him the little shit/ with his receding quiff/ Hit him, put him in
a sack/ Throw him over a cliff”) set to a cardigan-swooshing jangle then I missed out. Make sure you don’t. It’s nothing new. In fact it’s something old. But it’s made with wit by people who’re doing it because they want to. You can’t get better than that.