The Count Bishops

 
The U.K. Press

Unknown Mags & Papers


Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
COUNT BISHOPS' DEBUT ALBUM

COUNT BISHOPS are to record their first album in the next few weeks for release by Chiswick Records in March.
Meanwhile their single "Train Train" is being re-released to tie in with their forthcoming tour.
Original stocks of this single sold very quickly and re-pressing was delayed over the Christmas period.
Tour dates are as follows: London Nashville Rooms January 27, Doncaster Outlook 31, Reading University February 2, North London Polytechnic 4, Liverpool University 5, Swindon Affair 9, Huddersfield Polytechnic 10, Dundee University 11, Middlesborough Rock Garden 12, Keele University 16, Liverpool Annabelle's 17, Bath University 18, Essex University 19, London Queen Mary College 24 and Chiswick Polytechnic 25.
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
THE COUNT BISHOPS  -  "The Count Bishops"  -  Chiswick

THE COUNT Bishops sound like a blueprint for the Ideal Bar Band.
Listen, they're into Chess blues, '50s rock and 1965 Beat Group music; they roar through every song they touch in 125mph overdrive and with a leering, lipsmacking enthusiasm, gravy on the chops, big smile. The rhythm section's turbine smooth, all power and propulsion, the guitars have a beautifully nasty rusty jagged edge to them and the vocals are in the best Ruff Tuff Creempuff tradition.
Plus they don't exactly put on the kind of act that you can't bear to look away from, so you can keep on drinking while they're on stage!
Their album, their first and Chiswick Records' first, balances off the Chicago blues/Beat Boom repertoire they started with against the band's own material: three in the Ruff Tuff Boogie vein by bassist Steve Lewins and two by rhythm/slide guitarist Zenon De Fleur (Gawd, all of a sudden everyone's got funny names).
Zen's two songs, "Baby You're Wrong" and "Stay Free", were the band's last single, and the former, with its almost but not quite incongruously West Coastish 12 string and harmonies veneered over The Bishop's Harley Davidson powerdrive, betrays a melodic pop sensibility that would do Nick Lowe himself honour.
The oldies are drawn from disparate but complementary sources: The Standells ("Good Guys Don't Wear White"), The Kinks ("I Need You"), Howlin' Wolf ("Meet Me In The Bottom"), Chuck Berry ("Down The Road Apiece"), Slim Harpo ("Don't Start Crying Now"), Elmore James ("Shake Your Money Maker") and Savoy Brown ("Taste And Try").
Savoy Brown???? Jesus, talk about eclecticism! The oldies mostly work just fine with the exception of "Shake Your Moneymaker", which sounds unenthusiastic and thin, as if they were bored with the song when they went in the studio, and "Down The Road Apiece", which is such a goddam cliche by now that it's a drag however well it's played (gold star in the margin, incidentally, for Jool Holland from Squeeze, who plays fine pumping roadhouse piano on the song).
Since these two tracks are back to back at the end of the first side, it results in a dead area midway through the album, which is a pity.
In general, "Count Bishops" is a meaty, satisfying album: a nice blend of traditional rock and blues basics presented with their individual flair which prevents The Bishops from merging into the wallpaper with all the here's another Chuck Berry number bands. Dave Tice sings tough and sardonic without any hint of posturing and Johnny Guitar, guess what instrument he plays, gang!, comes on like gangbusters with a snaky electric barbed wire attack that lashes out in all the right places.
If they looked as good as they sounded, they could be the most successful blues based British band since the Feelgoods. Still, that's the breaks ... 

Charles Shaar Murray
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
SINGLE CHOICE

The Count Bishops, who started life playing Chess R'n'B as fast as possible, have produced a remarkable single on Chiswick called "Train Train". So many of the present London bands have had trouble justifying the transfer from pub to record, the usual option being an attempt at a "live sound". But the great singles have always been more than the song, and more than the band. Studio chemistry is essential as well to pin down a unique three minute experience as an artifact in its own right. "Train Train" has an eerie, blues based atmosphere all of its own, which takes hold after one playing. It is perhaps the best record yet to come yet to come out of the pubs. However, the flip side, "Taking It Easy", sounds like every other youthful hard rocker. At least it has a little more musical sophistication than the first of the current "punk" records to make the charts, "Live At The Marquee" by Eddie And The Hot Rods, on Island.
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
LITTLE BOB STORY  /  COUNT BISHOPS  -  Marquee

In a moment, Little Bob Story, but first a paragraph (at least, we'll see how it goes) for the supporting Count Bishops.
Convention would have the support act receive half a line or so at the end, but to describe The Bishops' set along the lines, "good solid support of early punk and R&B" would be a gross injustice. In fact The Bishops have improved astonishingly since the last time I caught them a few months back. I'd go as far as to say that my reaction to the following act was somewhat blunted, The Bishops having been so damn good.
They did, as I've already said, play mainly vintage punk and R&B material, but with such brio, such polish, such goddam elegant energy that numbers like The Pretty Things' "Don't Bring Me Down", The Standells' "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White", and The Strangeloves' "I Want Candy" were given a lot more than even the customary new lease of life; they positively glowed like they'd been penned this afternoon.
Originals like "Don't Tell Me" and "What You Like" stood their ground alongside the more tried and true material in the set and it was a shame there weren't more of them. All the same, Johnny Guitar (vocals, guitar), Zen De Fleur (vocals, guitar), Steve Lewins (superb bass) and Paul Balbi (drums), I take off my hat to you for one of the best live set I've heard in weeks.
The Bishops are already light years beyond the standard set by their E.P. on Chiswick Records from last autumn; if they continue to improve at this rate they'll be one of the best bands in the country inside of 12 months. My fingers are crossed on their behalf already, and I can't wait to catch them again.
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
COUNT BISHOPS  -  Kensington Pub

Since the departure of their lead singer, well-thought-of r'n'b outfit The Count Bishops have steadily built up a London reputation for hard hitting, down to earth music that punches home every time.
They take their name from a famous New York street gang, but they are not in the "punk" high energy category, for their influences are Chicago type rhythm and blues of the most classy calibre.
When they do Howlin' Wolf's "Wang Dang Doodle", they sound as if they are enjoying themselves. On "Confessin' The Blues", they sound remarkably like The Stones. They get a real gutter feel to "Down In The Bottom" and on their original stuff they maintain a gritty groove which will please any student of '50's and early '60's Chicago blues.
Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, The Bishops know where they are coming from. One of their guitarists (Johnny Guitar) is from the U.S. of A. and is consequently able to deliver the rasping vocals with conviction and understanding. They are the sort of band you might expect to find playing a southside juke joint with a bunch of kids standing around the stage or dancing. Yeah, dancing to r'n'b. That's the way it's supposed to be played and that's the way The Bishops do it.
A word of congratulation to Zen for his sound system which was not only loud, but accurate too. It was aimed right at my left ear, and I couldn't hear for two days afterwards.
Ideally suited to sweaty clubs, The Bishops can handle large venues with ease, as they proved at The Roundhouse the other week, but if you are a college with a smallish hall and plenty of eager punters, The Bishops will send them away satisfied.
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
THE COUNT BISHOPS  -  FUGITIVES OF AMERICAN MUSIC

THE COUNT BISHOPS (in their press release) claim the first of the second generation EPs. Whether theirs was the very first in the 1970s revival of four tracks per single with a picture sleeve is debatable, although their manager Ted Carroll is in a position to know since he runs the culturally aware Rock On record shop in Camden Town which stocks just about everything in that line, a dazzling cornucopia of a shop front which recently served as a backdrop when punk band The Rings wanted a EP cover picture.
The Bishops have their following, not least in these quaters. Like a few other music writers, yours truly voted their "Train Train" a top single of 1976.
A typically sweaty night at Hammersmith's Red Cow pub will find a packed house willing on The Bishops as they thrash their way through a potent mix of hogfat R&B with a little rock 'n' roll on the side. When she reviewed them on a 100 Club bill with punk band Sham 69, NME's punk correspondent Julie Birchill was impressed enough to say that she might well have been a follower had they been in her age group.
Oddly, The Bishops (who take their name from a New York motorcycle gang) were once touted as new wave.
"The thing that's irritating" ruminates the American in the band, Johnny Guitar, "is to watch all the persons change. Trends form and things go zap! overnight. Normals sprouting safety pins and razor blades and all. It's cool, it's neat. The beginning of it was a bad time for us. We were the first ones to be called punk bands two summers ago, The Hot Rods, The 101ers and us. But then when The Pistols and all these others came out, all of a sudden because we weren't really like that, I mean because we'd just been doing what we'd been doing and the idea of what it all was changed, people were going 'aaaah, they're not a punk band, they can't be cool ... fucking play rhythm and blues; know how to play their guitars ...".
Because truly enough, The COUNT Bishops, although they are a potent and exciting club band, have too many roots in '50s and '60s music to belong to a movement which is generally disowning all that went before.
The Bishops feature three Englishmen, one Maltese born Australian, and an American.
Guitarist Zenon De Fleur, in the true manner of Bishops hybrid, boasts Shepherds Bush upbringing with Grammar School in Kensington and Imperial College, London.
Bass player, Steve Lewins, crossed the tracks from Hertfordshire to Lambeth and once worked in advertising.
Drummer Paul Balbi was raised in Sydney, Australia, where he played in a band called Buffalo, and also in Buffalo was lead singer Dave Tice whose pre-Antipodean days were spent in Lincolnshire and Lewisham.
Johnny Guitar comes from Maryland "The most Northern part of the South".
Between them, their musical tastes take in Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Beatles, Stones, Muddy Waters, avant garde jazz, Traffic and Frank Zappa.
But take what they actually play on stage and it comes down to that distinctive brand of speedy British R&B with, in their case, a touch of tense, hangling rockabilly guitar. This last is most interesting since it's unusual to find a band who venture so obviously between black and white music.
Johnny Guitar owns up to being the shitkicker. "I rip off Scotty Moore as well as Keith Richards. It depends on who you steal from. I'm basically from The South and I've always liked Hank Williams and George Jones, the old country stuff, not the slickly produced stuff. Like old Buck Owens I really love. I grew up in the most cosmopolitan country (it's the one where all the senators and shitlickers are) but you drive half an hour and all of a sudden it's "hey, yahoo! plunka plunka plunk"".
The COUNT Bishops were formed by Zenon and a New Yorker named Mike Spenser who has since left, out of the remnants of a Shepherds Bush band, Chrome.
Over from New York came Mike's mate Johnny Guitar, over from Australia came Paul while Steve Lewins made the shortest trip of all from Hatfield.
They played, according to the story, "rugged R&B". Ted Carroll and Roger Armstrong had already put in time watching Chrome and with the new, improved line-up and the new name, they decided that The COUNT Bishops were ready to record, signing them up on the small independent Chiswick label.
The "Speedball" EP resulted, four tracks of hard 'n' fast R&B standards. When Mike Spenser left soon afterwards, The Bishops were left with a real gap. "We made a big bloomer actually, not having a front man for about a year. We advertised and got every areschole under the sun. We auditioned over 100 singers".
Spenser was, in Ted Carroll's words: "difficult to work with. He had great energy but he was inconsistent. He gets drunk and sometimes he blows it; he goes over the top".
They were a four piece when they made the "Train Train" single with Zen doing vocals. It wasn't until last Christmas that they procured singer Dave Tice. Paul Balbi went home to Australia and found Tice working with his old band Buffalo. When he came back from his vacation he had persuaded Tice to come with him.
Then came another single "Baby You're Wrong" with Dave having his first recorded outing and now the album, "The Count Bishops".
At this moment, The Bishops have a strong club following but the word has not yet surfaced from the underground about their records. "Train Train" was at one time top of the Time Out alternative charts. For a band that in April 1976 played the European Punk Festival at Mont de Marsant in France alongside The Damned and Eddie And The Hot Rods, they must indeed be feeling miffed at the way things have turned out.
This month, however, they chance their arms on tour playing to the heathen hordes who will flock to see metal monsters Motorhead (also on Chiswick now). Are they worried?
Apparently not. The chance to tour on any show is a chance to make up for wasted time. Let's just politely say that the show will be an interesting package of contrasts. And take over.

David REDSHAW
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
RECORD ROUND UP  -  THE BISHOPS' "Cross Cuts"  -  Chiswick CWK 3009

Hard hitting rock band that will have you stomping throughout the 14 great tracks they've collected together to make this wild album. Titles include "I Take What I Want", "What's Your Number", "Mr. Jones" (latest single CHIS 111), "Good Times", "Rolling Man", "I Want Candy", "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight" and "No Lies". The Bishops have come a long way since 1975 when their "Speedball" EP hit the shops, now they're near the top where they should be. A rock album of the highest merit in my opinion.

Bob LUSTY
 

 

Mag / Paper unknown  -  Date Unknown
 
BISHOPS

The Bishops have almost completely changed their tour schedule for next month and it now reads as follows: Bishop Stortford Triad Centre April 30, Harlow Tiffany's May 1, Northampton Acme Club 2, Leeds Fan Club 3, Nottingham University 4, Southend Tech 5, Middlesbrough Rock Garden 6, Cleethorpes Winter Gardens 7, Sheffield Limits 8, Aberdeen University 10, Dundee College 11, Edinburgh Heriot Watt University 12, St Andrew's University 13, Chester Smartyz 14, Manchester Factory 15, Newport Stowaways 16, Portsmouth Polytechnic 17, North Staffs Polytechnic 18, Dudley JB's 19, Jacksdale Grey Topper 20, Worcester Hideaway 21, Birmingham Digbeth Hall 22, Blackpool Norbreck Hotel 24, Watford Breton Hall University 25, Retford Porterhouse 26.
 

 

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Herve Colombet, 2003 - 2005