Exclusive: Pete Burns, Nightmares In Wax And Another Unheard Demo – Black Leather.
Above Photo: Pete Burns at a Nightmares in Wax gig at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, February 1980. (© Mick Reid)
There have been lots of nice things said about Pete Burns since his shock death last week. As is often the way in death, the more-hidden, humane and decent characteristics of a person are emphasized and highlighted by a broad spectrum of writers, and happily that has been the case with Pete.
My favourite obituary article was produced by Alex Petridis in the Guardian (see link at the end of this article), and I’ve been genuinely surprised to see how much press attention Nightmares in Wax has received in the welter of Dead or Alive media references. Nightmares in Wax was Dead or Alive’s previous name, before Pete changed it shortly after I’d left the band in 1980.
As chronicled in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out!, I’m still enormously proud of the time I spent playing bass in Nightmares In Wax. And Pete Burns unwittingly provided a dramatically explosive catalyst for my unusual life course after I left the band, bizarrely after the best gig I’d ever played, one rainy night all those years ago. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
As a result of writing the book, I’m also pleased to be back in regular contact with Mick Reid, the guitarist from Nightmares in Wax, who was with me onstage that night, and who was able to fill in some of mental blanks surrounding that apocalyptic episode, which will be the subject of an article in due course, as it’s classic 1980s Liverpool Band fodder.
If the Liverpool music scene ever needed an official chronicler, Mick would get my vote, as he has a laser-like memory, cuts through all the (usually fictional) bollocks surrounding the Liverpool music scene back then, and was in many of Liverpool’s influence-forming early bands: Crash Course, Glass Torpedoes, and he was also a founder member of the originally-named ‘Rainbows Over Nagasaki’, which changed its name to Nightmares in Wax, which then became Dead or Alive – so nothing much escaped him.
I was amused to see a Nightmares in Wax track, Black Leather, which was on the Birth of a Nation EP, and also part of our set, make tenth place on a critical list of Pete Burns’ best records in the Guardian (You Spin Me Round only came in at 5th).
As a tribute to Pete and the band, Mick Reid has posted an exclusive and unheard demo version of the song Black Leather on You Tube (see link below).
Commenting on the recording, which he also played guitar on, Mick said: “It certainly is a ragged affair, but there’s charm in its barely restrained chaos which, for me, is more representative of how we sounded on stage than are the other studio recordings. There’s also a lot of humour in the performance which was somewhat lost in the subsequent recording of Black Leather used for the EP.”
“It was this element of humour which led me to select a previously unseen ‘smiling’ photograph of Pete to use at the end of the slideshow. There are very few photos I’ve seen of him in which he isn’t looking very serious, yet this new one is far more representative of the Pete Burns I remember from when he, Marty Healy, and I spent our days wandering around Liverpool city centre, laughing, joking, and formulating plans for the band.”
This is the You Tube link to the demo track:
Alex Petridis’ excellent Guardian article is here: https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/oct/24/pete-burns-provocateur-with-a-pop-brain-and-a-sensitive-side?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=196325&subid=13113535&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2