30 Silver Street, Reading, RG1 2ST

This Weekend's Events (18th to 20th August)

Lawrence's picture

Hi Everyone

Once again, we have to say a massive, humungous, outsized THANK YOU to all our volunteers for all their work not just on the day of Here Comes The Sun, but in the weeks and months leading up to it.  Also a long-running cascade of thanks to all the bands & performers who made such a fantastic line-up, and also to everyone who came through our gates last weekend.  It was a fantastic day all round, even the weather held out for us (despite the dire predictions of one or two individuals).  We’re still counting the assorted pounds, pennies and groats which came into our coffers on the day, but we’ll try and give you a total soon.  (Honest!)

A slightly less frantic weekend this time around, starting with Saturday lunchtime, when we bring you CLASSICAL FOR CHARITY

Classical For Charity is a series of classical and jazz concerts at The Rising Sun Arts Centre, performed by local musicians and hosted by local pianist and piano teacher Maija Varvatsis. 

Come and support us by enjoying top-quality, rarely heard music in a great, relaxed atmosphere without having to pay enormous ticket prices! 

It will be another concert of piano music exclusively, performed by Maija and her student Toby who will be taking his Grade 3 piano exam this coming December. The list of composers includes some very famous names such as Claude Debussy and Leevi Madetoja, and also a piece or two from the Finnish contemporary composer Esa Ylivaara, and a lovely piece by a composer from Reading, Mr Vernon Speed. There might even be a sprinkling of jazz hidden somewhere in the programme...

All proceeds will be split between the Rising Sun and Cranstoun UK (http://www.cranstoun.org)

Tickets are £3 at the door. Doors open at 12:30. The bar will be open for drinks and coffee etc., but please be considerate of the performers and do not bring any noisy foods such as crisps into the performance room.

On Saturday evening, it’s time for BANDORAMA

The third Saturday of the month?  The third Saturday of the month at a certain venue in Reading? Surely that means another helping of one of the best band nights in town. 


In the beginning there was .... Bracknell - an idyllic, sun-kissed paradise of golden sand dunes and rolling surf. And home to Britain's foremost surf music legends - The Surfin' Lungs.

Even legends have a beginning somewhere and the Lungs' lies in the heady days of 1981. 

The concept was inspired. The band took their influences from the golden age of surf music - Dick Dale, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean - but gave this a fuel-injected thrust by combining it with the power-pop energy of the likes of The Monkees and the Ramones. This, then, was no lame retrospective. The Lungs had their foot firmly on the accelerator and rammed surf music into top-gear as they took up where the original hot-doggers of the early sixties had left off (much as The Specials had done with ska and The Stray Cats with rockabilly at about the same time).

It was in September 1982 that the band started gigging on a regular basis - mostly at wild Frat House bashes and crazy High School Hops around the Thames Valley area. But times were not easy for our intrepid, young surf heroes. In the post-punk fall-out of the early eighties the charts were dominated by the pantomime-dame chic of the New Romantics and hair-spray, ruffles and preening were the order of the day. It was a grim time for woodies, baggies and bikinis and, despairing of getting noticed by record labels, the Lungs struck out by themselves - the band releasing their first single, 'Mickey's Car', on their own Lover's Leap label in November '83. The record was a little stunner and instantly scored a hit on local Radio 210, where it became 'record of the week' - though bemusement ensued as, interviewed on the local station, a valiant Chris struggled vainly to explain what a 'Farfisa' was to an uncomprehending DJ.

The Lungs now had a record out - but although the wave was picking up momentum, it was still only crashing towards local shores. With bigger horizons in mind, the band set to work, taking out copies of the single to record shops and mailing them to DJs and magazines. Their efforts did not go unrewarded, with national rock magazine ZigZag giving the boys a rave review. And so, with their currency established among the rock literati, the Lungs managed to secure a national distribution deal for the single through Backs / The Cartel - and the remaining stock was snapped up by eager fans.

By the following April the Surfin' Lungs were catching a wave to the London club-scene and were picking up some glowing reviews from the likes of Sounds and NME along the way. 

The second single - 'Pray for Sun' - was to become a standard in the Lungs set. Produced by none other than Robin Wills of fellow surf-funsters The Barracudas, the single was released on Lovers Leap the following Spring. At the same time the Lungs also contributed 'Who Stole the Summer' to Hang 11, the legendary surf-punk compilation on Anagram records. Thus began their long association with their publishing arm, Complete Music Ltd., who were to publish all the Lungs' future songs.

The next step was an album. An initial attempt at securing a deal with an interested French label, Surfin' Bird, proved a false start - but not for long. Soon signed up to Big Beat Records, the Surfin' Lungs completed their first epic album - Cowabunga! - released to glowing reviews in September 1985, Sounds journalist Andy Hurt proving himself to be a man of discerning taste and perception when he declared the album to be one the few worthwhile releases he had heard all year!

It would be difficult to match the brilliance of Cowabunga! - but the Surfin' Lungs were equal to the task. The following year saw the band's first E.P. - 'Surf-Jet Girl', produced by The Damned's Roman Jugg, who had been impressed by the band's sterling performances at The Alice. The Lungs had been similarly taken with Jugg, who had done a slick job producing mutual friends The Volcanoes. Nevertheless, The 'Surf-Jet Girl' sessions were not all plain sailing. The Damned were then riding high in the charts with 'Eloise' and this meant that recording sessions had to be scheduled around his commitments. But the finished product was a pearl. Big Beat knew a gem when they saw one and had big plans for the single. Contacting the manufacturers of the Surf-Jets, they arranged to buy one at discounted cost and planned to offer it as a prize in a national competition in a daily newspaper as a way of promoting the record. It seemed like a brilliant strategy and it looked like with as though the Surfin' Lungs' ship was about to come in.

1986 looked like being good year - which seemed appropriate on surf music's 25th anniversary. Switzerland is, perhaps, one of the most unlikely settings as a hub of the surf-festivities - even so, the Swiss national radio station DRS-3 was going to throw a party in style with a gala radio show. Premier surf artists past and present were recruited for contributions, including Britain's finest. The Surfin' Lungs were already busy recording 'New Girl in School' for a Jan and Dean tribute E.P. on the Swiss label Surfin' Again Records and they agreed to customise some of their songs into nifty DRS-3 jingles. Regularly played on the station over the next three years, they were to come in handy a little way down the line. 'Surf-Jet Girl' was also a big smash in the Alps, the record getting plenty of air-play on DRS-3. Back home, however, things took a temporary spill.

Casting around for backing for the next release the Surfin' Lungs couldn't believe their luck when legendary surf and hot-rod guru, Gary Usher, mentioned to Swedish surf-fanzine Surfers' Rule, that he would be interested in producing the Lungs. This honour was obviously a thrilling opportunity - but it was not to be. Without label backing there simply was not enough cash in the kitty to get Bracknell's Beach Boys out to the West Coast. Gary's offer was held open - though it was one wave the Lungs were never to ride.

But all was not lost. More limited financial backing was forthcoming from Satellite records, the company fronting the remaining recording costs of the new album. For a moment it also looked like the band were set to become doyens of the cat-walk. 'Life's a Beach' surf-wear were interested in supplying the foursome with their natty surf threads in a kind of sponsorship deal. It was, however, The Guana Batz who ultimately scooped-up the sartorial goodies.

Musically, The Biggest Wave scaled new heights of surfdom - and was rightly included in the Top Five albums of the year by a reviewer for Underground magazine. Being on Satellite, however, offered little chance of soaring into orbit. The label had no media contacts and without the oxygen of promotion the album faced an up-hill fight in making an impact on the press and the public.

Nevertheless, next May saw the band on another high. Again, the Surfin' Lungs were off to Alpine shores, this time headlining the Saturday night of a week-long festival in Bern. But the stresses and strains of life on the road took their toll on drummer Al and he was replaced by Graeme Block for an eighteen month stint. This time also saw the building of the Lungs H.Q. - a sound-proofed rehearsal studio in the shell of an old garage.

By the end of the eighties things were peaking again over in Switzerland. Surfin' Again Records came up trumps by licensing all the existing Surfin'' Lungs recordings for a stellar anthology CD entitled Let 'Em Eat Surf in 1989 - the same year seeing the band complete two Swiss tours as well as featuring in their own radio show on DRS-3. This was certainly an exciting moment - not only did the band broadcast a concert live to a national audience, but they also had the enjoyment of choosing all the support records to be played on the show. Radio success was followed by TV stardom - well, almost - as the band also got to appear on the TV show Barock, lip-synching to their mighty surf anthem 'Let 'Em Eat Surf'.

It was then that another epochal change took place in the Surfin' Lungs roster. Graeme's relocation to Los Angeles saw the drum-stool empty once again - but not for long. This time it was the immortal Ray Webb who took control of the skins and - renamed Ray Banz - he completed the line-up that continues to this day. A further Swiss tour followed later in the year and a deal was struck with Swiss label, Lux Noise-Records to release the band's third album - The Beach Will Never Die. Accompanied by the release of a single - 'Spirit of Australia' - in 1991, the third album was a finely-crafted masterpiece and the Surfin' Lungs took to the road for a 14-date tour of Germany and Austria to promote it.

The summer of 1994 saw the band hitting the Iberian peninsula, with the release of the single 'Beachbound' by Spanish label, No Tomorrow, press attention once again focusing on the band as they attracted a steadily growing following in Spain. The next summer saw another of the band's finest hours as they supported Dick 'King of the Surf Guitar' Dale at his sea-side date in Brighton. The year's end, meanwhile, saw the Surfin'' Lungs back in the studio, this time recording their fourth original album - Hang Loose With the Surfin' Lungs, released in Spain in 1996 and taken up the following year in Britain by Acorn records.

To follow on the success of Hang Loose, the Lungs headed for Spain for a few concerts and radio specials in July 97, and followed up in November with a nationwide tour there to promote their "Best of…" package released the same month by No Tomorrow, "Splashback".

During a break in this tour, a spontaneous recording session was put together featuring The Surfin’ Lungs, and Ramonic labelmates, Shock Treatment, featuring 4 covers agreed on the day before! With the Shock’s on instruments, and the Lungs on vocals, this finally saw the light of day in Feb 99 as the "Tell ‘Em I’m Surfin’" EP.

One of the finest Billy Punk Bands in all the land.
"With their Cramps-esque attitude and evident musical talent these guys are sure to go far," Vive Le Rock

One of the best live bands around.  One of the best surf bands around.  Do.  Not.  Miss

We'll be open at 8pm.  And it'll cost you £8 on the door to get in (£7 in advance from www.wegottickets.com)

That’s everything for another week, just to remind you that we are, as always, at 30 Silver Street, Reading, RG1 2ST (If you pop it into your satnav or Google, we shall magically appear!)
Have a nice weekend!

Latest news

Damien's picture

Class breaks for Christmas

Time to put your feet up as our various classes and workshops will be taking a well-deserved break over the festive period.