"Now I'll be journalese and tell you about the story of The
Blue Ox Babes..."
The Blue Ox Babes were formed in 1981 by ex-Dexys guitarist, Kevin Archer and girlfriend, Yasmin Saleh. Archer's
appreciation of artists such as Al Green and James Brown had been very important to the original Dexys sound but
now he was keen to focus on folkier styles of music including traditional Celtic, American, Russian and Arabic sounds.
Underlining their folk roots, the group's choice of name (inspired by the traditional American tales
of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox) was the result of an afternoon spent browsing the books in Birmingham library in
search of a combination of words with the desired feel. Other options considered at the time included the French King Singers
and the Prole Art Singers, before, finally, they settled on the name: "The Blue Ox Babe Singers".
Original guitarist Nick Bache revealed to me in 2017: "The
original name was 'The Blue Ox Babe Singers'. Kev wanted the word 'singers' in the name, mainly to reflect
the position of Yasmin and himself at the front doing main vocals and yes, also as a counter point to 'Runners'."
Nick also recalled in an exclusive interview how he came to join the band following his visit
to a very early rehearsal session at the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham: "I met Everton Dyer on bass and John [Jay] (who had been a drummer in a very early
Dexys previously). With Kev on guitar, they played their only song, still unfinished, entitled 'We Are But Together'.
asked if I would like to play guitar instead of him, of course I did! After one false start we played it through and I was
in the group."
Adding to the already
eclectic mix of styles, further inspiration came from the less obvious source of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. "I wanted to form a group
with a vocal style" Kevin Archer explained to me in 2006
"When I formed the Blue Ox I thought Marc Bolan was a really
good singer. I listened to a lot of T. Rex: "Hot Love", "Electric Warrior". The way he sang was really
pure. I liked the vocal style, the way he vibrated his voice." This
proved to be a key influence on Archer's own singing as he adopted a similar vibrato style for his vocals with
"the Blue Ox".
Following the decision of Dyer and Jay
to seek success on their own, Archer and Bache set about finding their replacements. During the long time taken to recruit
and rehearse new members, the fledgling group listened to a lot of Irish artists like The Chieftains and Van Morrison
as well as Western Swing and Cajun music. "We
had been searching for new music, collecting Romany gypsy records and other unusual types of music." Yasmin revealed "We had Nick Bache
who was already a friend of Archer's, he was such a beautiful person, and he worked on tracks with Archer initially. We
rehearsed together. Initially we only had a few tracks." While Archer continued working
on his new direction with guitarist Bache it became obvious that
a pianist was required to help create the desired sound and so Archer enlisted the services of former Dexys keyboard player
Andy Leek. Gradually the group began to take shape as Bache and
Leek were joined by local lads, Ian Pettitt (a drummer whose enthusiastic style has been likened to Animal from The Muppets!)
and a young bass player called Corin Winfield. "I
wanted to use people with no experience" commented Archer who was intent
on moulding his raw recruits into a group that would be unlike any other around. One of the key aspects that would set The
Blue Ox Babe Singers apart from the synth-drenched pop scene of 1981 was to be the group's instrumentation
as Archer developed what he described as "a light sound". Yasmin
used instruments such as the jews harp, melodica, mouth organs and of course the fiddle and
one particular instrument that I can't even remember the name of".
wanted to form a group that wasn't electric at all, by getting instruments such as violin and acoustic guitar,"
Archer told the BBC's "Young Guns" documentary
in 2000 "We were looking for a violin player and we went to the school of music in Birmingham
and I met Helen Bevington. Helen is a really good player and I spoke to her and I said do you want to play on a demo?"
The original plan had been to use two fiddles together
on the demos but the other musician (who had initially put the group in touch with Helen) failed to show up for
the first session in the late summer of '81 so Helen had to provide the string parts on her own (occasionally accompanied
by Yasmin playing a melodica into the same microphone.) "We
got Helen into the studio and gave her what to play, based on a Russian sound" Archer commented in 2006.
"Archer explained to Helen how
he wanted the fiddle to sound, he'd already played her the songs and guided her through to the sound that he wanted."
confirmed Yasmin "Helen
was such a brilliant musican, she produced exactly the sound that Archer was looking for."
was knocked out with his band, they were terrific." Helen told the BBC in
2000 "I mean, he was such a good singer and it was very relaxed and it was just great to play the fiddle with such
great music." These first demo sessions combining Helen's
free-flowing fiddle with Andy Leek's powerful piano-playing and Archer's distinctive melodies proved very productive,
resulting in the bawdy barrel-house bash "What Does Anybody Ever Think About?", the Dylan-esque "Thought
As Much" and the sublime "Something's Wrong" - a short extract of which accompanies the
arrival of vistors to this page (refresh the page to listen again). Kevin Archer was understandably proud of his
new recordings as was Yasmin: "We had the basis of something good and original."
Nick Bache added: "I have read that this demo session became legendary and it certainly was an unforgettable
three days. For me, the highlight was the violin solo that plays out at the end of ‘What Does Anybody Ever Think About’
- I still get goose bumps when I listen to it. Helen was alone in the studio while we were all in the control room. Kev just
told her to play whatever she felt, she did it in one take!"
folk-sound of the music was reflected in the group's visual image created by Yasmin Saleh, whose
interest in musical theatre and film provided the inspiration as she told me in 2005: "I wanted to do mini musicals for videos as I loved musicals
and wanted to act in them anyway. I loved "Westside Story", "The Wizard of Oz", "Singing in the Rain".
I loved all that and wanted to incorporate that into the Babes videos if we ever got the chance. IF we
ever got the chance."
"I'd always been into
my fashion. I had collected fashion magazines from around and without thinking about an image I just took from what I
was already wearing." Curiously, the person later credited with
suggesting Dexys' own "gypsy-style" image - Pauline O'Brien - was working alongside
Yasmin at the time in "Browns" hairdressing salon which was owned by none other than Dexys manager, Paul Burton!
"Dressing like we did at the
time was natural for me, I'd cut Archer's hair and we'd go buy his clothes together." Yasmin
remembers "We loved clothes and I remember when we went to Greece and found the fisherman's hat, which
in actual fact is the one I am wearing in the photo [above]." As Archer recalls:
"We actually slept in those clothes to get the authenticity". "We would talk all night about
ideas," Yasmin continues "one being
the dress down rustic image that was part of our initial concept, we had photos taken in the old brown colour shades in the
woods to portray a sort of wild gypsy feeling, it wasn't dungarees but the emphasis was on dressing down in a gypsy type
of fashion. That was at about the same time that Archer played the first tapes to Rowland."
As Yasmin recalls:
"Archer meets up with Rowland, plays him the tracks, as he only
lives up the road from us on Hagley Road. Archer said Rowland thought the tracks were very good, which I thought was
very promising and respected his opinion greatly." Archer recounted this meeting
with Rowland to Swedish film-maker Tommy Bergman in 2003: "The demo I'd done I was very
proud of and I played it to him. I'd got a cassette and went round his flat but I played it to him on a Walkman. There was
just one speaker on it and he couldn't hear properly and he said, Can I keep the tape? And I said, Yeah, keep the tape."
The Blue Ox Babes went back into Outlaw studios to record a second set of demos a few months later. again featuring the sound
of Helen's fiddle. The session produced another three excellent numbers: the up-tempo and up-lifting "Apples
And Oranges", a wistful waltz entitled "Four Golden Tongues Talk" (featuring Andy Leek playing the
harmonium) and an early version of the instrumental later known as "The Last Detail". Archer
was particularly pleased with the potential of "Apples And Oranges" as he explained in 2006: "When we did 'Apples And Oranges' we were trying to make it sound poppier. I wanted to do something
that was really up-beat, driving music." The future for The
Blue Ox Babes at this time seemed as bright and colourful as the apples and oranges they had sung about in their
latest song and the group looked forward to enjoying the fruits of their labours. As Yasmin observed: "The end results were good. Now all we had to do was go out there and get a record deal."
Kevin Archer tells the story of what happened next: "I
switched the radio on. I was with the group. We were having a meeting round my flat in Old Hill ...and I heard "Come
On Eileen" and I said that's 'my song', you know, that's my 'sound' or whatever." Andy Leek viewed the incident in very stark terms as he recalled to me in 2006:
"It was a crucial turning point for me when it became clear what had happened. I remember the day well and the effect
on the group when we realised our whole sound and idea of a folk sound had been poached." It
soon emerged that Kevin Rowland had also acquired the services of Helen Bevington for his group (renaming her Helen O'Hara) as he adopted a similarly folk-influenced sound on the new Dexys album "Too-Rye-Ay" - and donned denim dungarees
to implement his own "Gypsy-chic" image. Ironically, the staggering success of Rowland's 'Celtic Soul' made
it even more difficult for Kevin Archer to secure a recording contract, with his band being dismissed by many as
Dexys sound-alikes (and EMI rejecting them as being "English Folk"). With "Come On Eileen" riding
high in the charts during the summer of '82, The Blue Ox Babe Singers (who by this point featured ex-Dexys
bass-player, Pete Williams amongst their ranks) had one last bash at the big-time, performing a showcase at Birmingham's
On the back of this
performance, Dave Robinson at Stiff Records offered to sign the group up for a single deal: "I did a showcase for Stiff... They came up, and basically liked the fact we had Andy - he
must have heard them, and he left. I said we could still make a record, but the problem was that I didn't want to deal with
all the music and all the image as well, the look…
I wanted Andy in it to look after the rest of the group." Andy
Leek has rather different recollections of how he came to leave the group: "We were
very 'up' during the second demos and optimistic and, as soon as the depression over the Dexys song happened, I left
to live in Glasgow very disillusioned." Following Andy Leek's departure from The Blue Ox Babes, and sensing that
(with Dexys' Celtic Soul sound in full swing) he had already missed his oportunity Archer turned down the
Stiff Records deal. "We didn't have enough experience as a band." he concluded. "If we had brought a record out then we'd have had to take on Dexys as well as everything else."
And so the first incarnation of
The Blue Ox Babes came to a sad end as Yasmin remembers: "The Blue Ox Babes fizzled out not long after we turned down the Stiff record contract.We all went our separate ways.
Archer continued to write music, Pete had his little recording studio and others played for other bands. I was performing musical theatre and joined a band with Steve Shaw which I think used
to be called The Letters. We recorded a number of tunes and played one showcase." In
the summer of 1983 Archer met up with Kevin Rowland at the legendary Little
Nibble caff in Smethwick but Archer declined an invitation to
rejoin Dexys as a joint front-man. "I came back and said 'No'. Dexys was too strong by then. If we'd have come out, they would have
gone, it's Kevin Rowland and who's THAT? I felt unknown."
In the two years which followed, things went from bad to worse for Kevin Archer. The break-up of his band
was followed by the break-up of his relationship with Yasmin, lengthy periods of depression and worsening health. This culminated
in him being diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia in 1985 and prescribed medication. While he recuperated in
his new flat (which had previously belonged to Dexys sax-man, Geoff Blythe) his regular visitors included Kevin Rowland and
former Dexys violinist, Steve Shaw who recalls: “I kept in touch with Kevin Rowland as I was keen to be
part of the Don’t Stand Me Down live stuff - and was really into the Brooks Brothers look. Rowland used to take me round
to Archer’s flat and give him lots of clothes and shoes he'd bought for him in New York. We'd
drink a lot of tea and I enjoyed Archer’s vision. I quite fancied working with him, but he was losing some momentum
at that time - understandably disheartened.” Soon Archer and Shaw were hanging out regularly
with another ex-Midnight Runner, bass player Steve Wynne and, although the three had belonged to different Dexys line-ups,
naturally they began discussing the idea of working together. Around this time Steve Shaw came up with the basic idea
for a new song called "There's No Deceiving You" and, after a few more meetings in caffs, the team
of Archer, Shaw and Wynne had become the back-bone of the newly-reformed - and renamed - Blue Ox Babes.
Encouraged by Kevin Rowland to "get back into
the studio and do some more recording" (and with Geoff Blythe generously offering to pay for studio time) Archer headed
back to Outlaw studios in 1985 with a new line-up of musicians who all had something in common: they had all previously
performed with Dexys Midnight Runners! Along side the new nucleus of Archer, Shaw and Wynne, Archer's fellow "Young Soul Rebels",
Geoff Blythe and Big Jimmy Paterson supplied the brass. Finding himself short of pianist and drummer, Archer chose a
simple solution: “Rowland had just finished Don’t
Stand Me Down which featured the late Vince Crane and Woody Woodmansey – so they became our session players!" The
first sessions of 1985 yielded two classic Archer instrumentals: the thematic "Last Detail" and the rustic "Russia In
Winter" as well as an early attempt at new song "Gregory Right." Perhaps unsurprisingly given the personnel involved,
the recordings from this period had an unmistakable 'Dexys feel' to the playing. Steve Shaw remembers this highly creative
period fondly: "We would often refer to having an idea or two on the anvil, work in progress. It’s
not often an instrumentalist gets the chance to develop - particularly with someone so accomplished. Regarding the fiddle
parts, Kevin would give me carte blanche unless he had a particular line, which was always fabulous to play. There was such
a youthful, energised flair around Kevin, too: stylish, thoughtful and a brilliant talent.” One
of the earliest products of this creative process, "There's No Deceiving You" was also demoed at this time as well as
the soulful "Where Do We Go From Here?" and a reworking of the early Blue Ox Babes song "Something's Wrong", now
retitled "Walking On The Line".
Darren "Tommy" Langford (who had hung
around with Dexys in their early days) started to manage the group as they began rehearsing in practice rooms at
Rich Bitch in Birmingham. Keyboard player Micky Billingham joined briefly and, after a long search for a permanent drummer
(during which Paul Comaskey from The Nervous Kind joined temporarily), Ian Pettitt - who had been performing with Pete Williams'
band These Tender Virtues - was re-enlisted. "Archer asked me if I would defer from going
to Drama school and rejoin, which I did." Yasmin explains " Thats when we started to
play live gigs, work on some new material. Kevin Rowland's brother Pete, along with Ruby Turner's manager Geoff [Pearce],
offered us a manager’s contract, at which point we started doing a lot of live work.” The new Blue Ox Babes line-up was completed with the addition of young pianist Pete Wain and sax-player Nick
Smith. Go! Discs' Andy MacDonald and Jona Cox came up to Birmingham to see them rehearse and encouraged another demo session
at Outlaw which resulted in the unheard song ‘We Are But Together’.
Eventually, during a high-profile show
in late '87 at London's "Town & Country Club", with Kevin Rowland and Helen O'Hara amongst the audience, it was announced
onstage that the group had signed to Go! Discs (home of hot properties, The Las and The Housemartins). With the backing of
a record company at long last, and amidst a hectic touring schedule, in January 1988 the Blue Ox Babes went to Chipping Norton
studios (in Oxon!) to record their much delayed debut single, "There's No Deceiving You". With Paterson and Blythe augmenting
the now-settled line-up of Archer, Shaw, Wynne, Saleh, Pettitt, Wain and Smith, Pete Wingfield took on the role of producer just
he had done eight years earlier (in the very same studio) on Dexys' debut album "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels". The
resulting recording sounded like a sure-fire hit and to promote the promising new single a promo video was produced, filmed by Jeff Baines who had worked on the Madness' videos. As Archer remembers:
"We got a call out of the blue and were taken to
a warehouse that the record company had hired and did the video in one day.” Yasmin Saleh continues: "We had a lot of fun making
that video and I don't think I'd seen Kevin laugh that much for a while.” In spite of its obvious hit-potential and the promotional activities backing it, "There's No Deceiving
You", released on 7th March 1988, barely dented the top 100 of the single charts. This inexplicable failure of a song which
still crops up regularly in lists of 'singles that should have been hits' was the first warning of what fate had in store
for The Blue Ox Babes.
Over the next few months the group continued to record the rest of the tracks destined
for their debut album, provisionally entitled "The Desire For Verification
Is Understandable But Cannot Always Be Satisfied” (named after a Harold Pinter quote). One of these songs
was a rerecording of old demo "Apples And Oranges" which Archer had envisaged as a potential single back in the group's early
days and it was subsequently chosen as the follow-up to "There's No Deceiving You". A jaunty Western Swing style
number released on 20th June 1988 at the height of the 'Acid House' craze, the song which was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser
at the group's live shows again failed to set the charts alight. Undeterred, the Blue Ox Babes continued to tour relentlessly,
clocking up over one hundred gigs in the space of a year, accompanied on the road by the familiar face of Outlaw
studio owner Phil Savage acting as the group's sound engineer. “We only had a seven-piece
on stage with one sax but in the studio we had a three-piece brass section for the tracks which were to feature on the album,”
Yet more live shows followed as the Blue Ox Babes landed a support slot on The Proclaimers'
national tour in October 1988 which also led to Steve Shaw performing on the duo's "Sunshine On Leith" album. Another single
was released on the 31st of that month, the classic Archer composition, "Walking On The Line" which sounded as fresh as it
had seven years earlier when it had featured (under the title "Something's Wrong) on the group's now-legendary early demo
tapes. However publicity surrounding the release was virtually non-existent and, as with the previous singles, it failed
to sell. Coupled to its lack of commercial success the group was also suffering from internal tensions, with Kevin and
Yasmin's working relationship particularly strained, as Yasmin explained: "We had a bit of a run in and I ended up going home early which I truly regretted afterwards as
I missed the final mixing of the tracks. I sort of bit my nose off to spite my own face really. I knew then that it couldn't
last the way it was." With Steve Shaw also tempted away from the group by the lure of additional
touring and recording with the hugely successful Proclaimers, the group had begun to disintegrate before their album had even
been released and consequently the release was shelved at the last minute. Kevin Archer summed it up: "We were summoned to a meeting by Andy MacDonald. He just said there was no group and stopped
the pressing of the album. I felt terrible. I couldn’t stop playing the album and was tired from touring. That was the
story of The Blue Ox Babes would have ended at that point but for an unexpected post-script added in 1993 when Kevin Rowland
stated publicly that the credit for Dexys' "Too-Rye-Ay sound" belonged to Kevin Archer: "After Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, when he left we were both experimenting with strings.
I wasn't getting what I wanted; he found it and I stole it... As a result he disbanded his group. Dexys had taken his
sound and succeeded with it."
Rowland repeated these revelations upon signing to Creation in 1997, his words were misrepresented by the British
press who tried to infer that "Come On Eileen" had been plagiarised, forcing him to issue a second statement: "I stole the STYLE of music (the blend of folk and soul, the
combination of instruments) that was Kevin Archer's, for which I am deeply sorry and regretful. I did not steal the song." Unfortunately for the Blue Ox Babes, the belated
publicity and notoriety this brought them seemed for many years only to have overshadowed their true legacy - the brilliance
of the songs they left behind.
But that's where this story takes one final twist - and for once, a positive
one! Finally, after two decades of false dawns and dashed hopes the Blue Ox Babes' brilliant 'lost album', "Apples
And Oranges" saw the light of day on the 18th of May 2009, when it was given the release it so richly deserved
by Cherry Red Records. Accompanied by nine additional tracks spanning the various periods of the group's existence and
a sumptuous sixteen-page booklet full of images and information, this release ensures that, at long last, there will
be a fitting testament to the brilliance of the Blue Ox Babes' and the genius of Kevin Archer.
It seems that
this Ox-tale has finally found a happy ending.
Blue Ox Babes Discography
There's No Deceiving You / The
Last Detail (GOBOB1) 7"
Theres' No Deceiving You / The Last
Detail / Take Me To The River (GOBOB112) 12" (Released 7th March 1988)
Apples And Oranges (The International Hope
Campaign) / Pray Lucky (GOBOB2) 7"
Apples And Oranges (The International
Hope Campaign) / Pray Lucky / Yes Let's / Russia In Winter (GOBOB212) 12" (Released 20th June 1988)
Walking On The Line / Four
Golden Tongues Talk (GOBOB3) 7"
Walking On The Line / Four Golden Tongues Talk / What Does Anybody Ever Think About / Thought As Much
(GOBOB312) 12" (Released 31st October 1988)
AND ORANGES [ZGOLP14]
1. It Could Have
2. Walking On The Line
3. Apples And Oranges
5. East To West
She's So Strong
7. Gregory Right
There's No Deceiving You
10. Ballad Of The Blue Ox Babes
Whilst this album never gained an
official release, some copies are known to exist on tape (as well as some extremely rare vinyl test-pressings).
The album featured additional playing from Big Jimmy Paterson [trombone], Geoff Blythe [sax],
Dave Bishop [sax], Vince Sullivan [trombone], Mark Feltham [harmonica]
and Pete Wingfield [keyboards] who also produced it. 'Thought As Much' is a different version from that featured
APPLES AND ORANGES [CDMRED401]
(Retrospective CD - release date: 18th May 2009)
1. It Could Have Been Love
2. Walking On The Line
3. Apples And Oranges
East To West
6. She's So Strong
7. Gregory Right
No Deceiving You
10. The Ballad Of The Blue Ox Babes
The Last Detail
12. Take Me To The River
13. Pray Lucky
14. Yes Let's
Four Golden Tongues Talk
16. What Does Anybody Ever
17. Where Do We Go From Here
18. Thought As Much (Demo)
Russia In Winter
(Tracks 11-19 were previously released
as B-sides (see singles) except for "Where Do We Go From Here" which is a previously unheard demo
dating back to 1985)
Released on CHERRY RED RECORDS
APPLES & ORANGES - Digital E.P.
Gregory Right (1985 Demo)
2. There's No Deceiving
You (1985 Demo)
On The Line (1981 Demo)*
4. Walking On The Line (1985 Demo)
* This is actually the unreleased song originally entitled "Something's Wrong"
Previously available to download from
Cherry Red Records.
Still available to buy HERE!
Kevin Archer: (AKA: "Al Archer") Co-founder
and original guitarist of Dexys Midnight Runners (1978-81), writing the music for the singles "Geno", "There
There My Dear" and "Keep It - Part Two" as well as the classic album track "The Teams That Meet In
Caffs". Previously in a band called The Negatives with Pete Williams before a brief stint with Kevin Rowland in The Killjoys
(1978). Left Dexys in Jaunuary 1981 to form The Blue Ox Babes (1981-88), taking on lead-singing duties and writing (or co-writing)
all of the group's original material. Retrospectively credited by Rowland with having inspired the folk-influenced sound Dexys
adopted on their "Too-Rye-Ay" album and the hit single "Come On Eileen".
Nick Bache Guitarist and founding member of The Blue Ox Babes, like most of those recruited by Kevin
Archer for his new project in 1981, Bache had no previous experience of the music industry. He co-wrote "Apples
And Oranges" and came up with the basic idea for "Four Golden Tongues Talk" while round
at Archer's flat having been given strict instructions to write a song by the time Kevin returned from
an outing. A school mate of Kevin Archer's brother Jason, he had previously played in local punk band The Negatives
with Archer and Pete Williams. Another old friend of Nick's from his primary school days, bass player Corin
Winfield [see below], also became part of the early Blue Ox Babes line-up. Read Nick's exclusive account of the trials and tribulations of being a Blue Ox Babe.
Helen Bevington Violin
player recruited from Birmingham school of music to play on the Blue Ox Babes' first demos. Recommended
by Archer to Kevin Rowland (who renamed her Helen O'Hara) and subsequently played with Dexys Midnight Runners (initially as
part of "The Emerald Express") from the "Too-Rye-Ay" album sessions (1982) through to the release of the single
"Because Of You" (1986). During this time she co-wrote several key songs including "This Is What She's Like"
and "Knowledge Of Beauty" and was also involved in a relationship with Rowland. After leaving Dexys, performed with
Tanita Tikaram and released two solo albums of instrumental music, "Southern Hearts" (1990) and "A Night
In Ireland" (1998).
Micky Billingham Ex-Dexys
keyboard player who performed with The Blue Ox Babes for a brief period around 1987 (playing organ on an unreleased
version of "Take Me To The River") but was unable to commit to the group long-term. Previously
enjoyed a two-year tenure as a Midnight Runner (from December
1980 through to December 1982) co-writing hit-single "The Celtic Soul Brothers" and the B-side "Love
Part Two". Joined up with Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger in General Public after leaving Dexys
and more recently performied with The Beat on their 30th anniversary tour.
Bishop, Dave Saxophonist on the final sessions for The Blue Ox Babes' "Apples And Oranges"
album in 1988, playing on "She's So Strong" and "It Could Have Been Love". Has subsequently carved out a
hugely successful career as a session player, featuring on albums by such big names as Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Robbie
Williams and Amy Winehouse.
Geoff Blythe Saxophonist on The Blue Ox Babes 1985 demos as well as on most of their album sessions.
Nick-named "J.B.", he was the tenor sax-man in the original
line-up of Dexys Midnight Runners (1978-80), co-writing the songs "I'm Just Looking" and "Keep
It". Part of the three-man 'nucleus' (along with Rowland and Archer) signed to EMI, he had
previously performed with Geno Washington's Ram Jam Band. After leaving Dexys he became a founder member of The Bureau
(1981) and also performed with The TKO Horns, These Tender Virtues and The Neighbourhood. A member of Irish-American
band Black 47 for the last twenty years.
Bass player on The Blue Ox Babes' second demo session in late
'81/early '82 which yielded "Four Golden Tongues Talk" and the original version of "Apples
And Oranges". Further details (including his surname) remain a mystery.
Paul Comaskey Drummer with The Blue Ox Babes circa
1986/87 before Ian Pettitt rejoined the group. Long-time member of Birmingham-based band, The Nervous Kind who supported
Dexys on their Intense Emotions Tour in 1980. Also performed with Sommerville, The Sunshine Club and Richard Buckner.
Now living in the United States of America, writing, performing and producing his own songs. Visit: http://www.reverbnation.com/perrycommon for further information, images and recordings of Paul Comaskey's excellent compositions.
Crane Piano player on The Blue Ox Babes' 1985-era
demos, including the released versions of "The Last Detail" and "Russia In Winter" and the previously
unreleased "Where Do We Go From Here" (as well as additional recordings available to download from Cherry Red
records). Performed with Dexys on their "Don't Stand Me Down" sessions
(1984-85) and the subsequent "Coming To Town" tour. Previously with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (playing the
famous organ parts on the classic, "Fire") before founding his own band, Atomic Rooster. Commited
suicide in 1989 following depression.
Feltham Harmonica player on the 1988 album version of the Blue Ox Babes song "Thought
As Much". A founding member of Nine Below Zero in 1977, he later performed with many other artists including Oasis,
Tom Jones and Rory Gallagher and also played on Kevin Rowland's 1999 album
"My Beauty". Hugely successful session career has also seen him perform on numerous film soundtracks including
"Tootsie", "Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels" and "Notting Hill".
Janet Harris Backing singer who performed with The
Blue Ox Babes for a while in the mid-80s before Yasmin Saleh rejoined the group.
Langford (Real name: Darren) Manager of The Blue Ox Babes for a brief period circa 1987 before
Pete Rowland took over the group's affairs. As a young Dexys Midnight Runners fan, Langford (who was christened
"Tommy" by Kevin Rowland) had ended up hanging around with the group in its early days, posing as a band member
in several of their publicity shots and as a trumpeter in the video for "Geno" in 1980. After his stint managing
The Blue Ox Babes he went on to form the group Babylon Zoo with singer Jas Mann in 1992.
Leek Piano player and occasional mouth-organ maestro who was a founding member of The
Blue Ox Babes, performing on early demos such as "What Does Anybody Ever Think About" and "Four Golden Tongues
Talk" (on which he played the harmonium.) Previously played hammond organ with Dexys Midnight Runners (1979-80)
on recordings including the number-one hit, "Geno". After the break-up of the first Blue Ox Babes incarnation in
mid-82 he moved to Scotland before enjoying a successful solo career as a singer, including the George Martin-produced
album "Say Something" (1989). Still very active in the music business: www.andyleek.com
Paterson (AKA: Big Jimmy Paterson) Trombone player on The Blue Ox Babes' mid-80s demos (providing
a particularly powerful solo on instrumental track "The Last Detail") and also on the sessions for the
"Apples And Oranges" album in 1988. Original trombonist with Dexys who stayed following
the split-up of the first band to become Kevin Rowland's right-hand man and songwriting partner during 1981, subsequently
co-writing "Come On Eileen". Formed The T.K.O. Horns after leaving Dexys in '82 but returned to perform on their
"Don't Stand Me Down" album. Also played on recordings by Elvis Costello, Paul Young and The Neighbourhood before
working with Rowland again in the late 80s and 90s.
Pettitt Drummer and early member of The Blue Ox Babes, performing on their original
demos including "What Does Anybody Ever Think About" and "Four Golden Tongues Talk".
After the break-up of the group's first incarnation he joined These Tender Virtues (formed by fellow-Blue Ox Babe,
Pete Williams) who he played with for a number of years. Eventually re-recruited by The Blue Ox Babes in 1987 (ending
the group's lengthy search for a permanent drummer), he performed on all of the singles and album
sessions as well as touring extensively with the group.
Rowland Manager of The Blue Ox Babes in the late-80s, helping to secure them a recording
deal with Go! Discs in 1988. Brother of Dexys Midnight Runners' front-man, Kevin Rowland and a major influence on his life and career. Performed in 1970s
social club bands White Satin and New Blood which featured Kevin Rowland on guitar and was responsible for introducing
him to Kevin Archer after briefly managing Archer's pre-Killjoys band The Negatives. Mentioned in the Dexys song "My Life In England - Part One"
("My brother Pete he was the leader..."). Sadly died of cancer in 2005.
Saleh Co-founder and backing vocalist/percussionist of The Blue Ox Babes, also playing melodica
on several of the group's early demos including "Thought As Much" and "What Does Anybody Ever Think About". She was also
Kevin Archer's girlfriend in the early 80s having been introduced by Pete Williams. Responsible for creating the band's
'gypsy' style image in 1981, her interest in musical theatre and films such as "Paint Your Wagon" was a key
influence. Worked in hair-dressing salon, 'Browns' owned by Dexys manager Paul Burton and performed briefly
in a band with Steve Shaw during the mid-80s before rejoining the Blue Ox Babes. Now living in New Zealand.
Owner of Outlaw Studios in Birmingham where The Blue Ox Babes and Dexys Midnight Runners recorded all
of their demos. Also worked as sound engineer on The Blue Ox Babes' tour in 1988. Started musical career with groups Frosty
Moses and Sundance before setting-up Outlaw studios in 1976, working with Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest amongst others.
Steve Shaw (AKA:
Steve Brennan) Violin player who reformed The Blue Ox Babes with Kevin Archer and Steve Wynne in 1985 and played on their
subsequent singles and album sessions as well as co-writing the songs "There's No Deceiving You", "Gregory
Right" and "Russia In Winter". Began performing with The Proclaimers when The Blue Ox Babes supported them
on tour and featured on their 1988 album "Sunshine On Leith", eventually hooking-up with the Scottish duo
on a more permanent basis. Previously with Dexys Midnight
Runners as part of "The Emerald Express", performing on the hit-single
"Come On Eileen" in 1982 and remaining with the group until the end of "The Bridge"
tour in '83.
Nick Smith Saxophonist
with The Blue Ox Babes from 1987-88 and featuring on all of their singles and "Apples And Oranges"
album sessions. Unlike the other horn-players who recorded with the group on a session basis (including Big Jimmy
Paterson, Geoff Blythe and Dave Bishop), Nick Smith was a permanent member of the group, performing with them on their
lengthy tours and forming a one-man brass section for the live shows. After The Blue Ox Babes disbanded in 1988
he has enjoyed a very successful career performing with many major artists including The Temptations, Shirley Bassey and The
Proclaimers. For more comprehensive details of Nick's post-Blue Ox Babes work, and much more, visit http://nortonsmith.co.uk.
Trombone player on the final album sessions for "Apples And Oranges" in 1988, playing
on "It Could Have Been Love" and "She's So Strong". Later performed on The Proclaimers'
1994 album "Hit The Highway" which was also produced by Blue Ox Babes producer Pete Wingfield. Has also recorded
with The Beat, The Pasadenas and Swing Out Sister.
Brian Taylor Manager of the Blue Ox Babes
in their early days, he was responsible for organising their showcase with Stiff Records in the summer of 1982. Also
managed Alternative Rock band, Killing Joke.
Wain Keyboard player with The Blue Ox Babes from 1987-88, joining
the group after the departure of Micky Billingham. Performed on the three singles and all of the "Apples
And Oranges" album sessions as well as clocking up over a hundred live appearances with The Blue Ox Babes. When
the group disbanded in 1988 he continued to work with Kevin Archer, helping to record an album's worth of demos in an
unsuccessful attempt at securing a new deal with Go! Discs. Has also performed with Birmingham-based Rock group, Cryer. Still
recording and releasing music through his own company "Headline Music", he released the digital album "Circles"
in April 2016. See Pete's web-site for further info.
Williams Bass player with The Blue Ox Babes for a
short period in mid-1982, appearing with the group at their show-case for Stiff records that summer. Previously in punk
band The Negatives with Kevin Archer before becoming a founder member of Dexys Midnight Runners in 1978. After leaving Dexys
he went on to perform with The Bureau in 1981 and eventually formed his own band, These Tender Virtues in the
mid-80s, show-casing his own talents as a singer and song-writer. Continued to record and perform throughout the 90s
with new band, Basehart. Returned to Dexys as a joint lead singer on their "To Stop The Burning" tour
in 2003. For more info see: www.myspace.com/peterenwilliams.
Winfield Bass player on The Blue Ox Babes' first
demo session in mid-81, playing on "Something's Wrong"
and "What Does Anybody Ever Think About" before leaving the band to go to university . Despite the
best efforts of everyone involved with the release of the "Apples & Oranges" CD, Corin's surname had
been "lost in the mists of time" by 2009 so he was listed in the credits simply as "Corrin". Another
local musician, he was also responsible for alerting the band to the talents of former band-mate, Ian Pettitt. We
are indebted to Nick Bache for being able to fill in the missing biographical details.
Pete Wingfield Producer of The Blue Ox Babes album "Apples And Oranges" in 1988, also providing
additional keyboard playing on the track "She's So Strong". Previously produced the album
"Searching For The Young Soul Rebels" for Dexys Midnight Runners as well as albums by The Bureau
and The Proclaimers. Worked with Kevin Rowland again in 1999 playing piano on his solo album "My Beauty".
Started musical career as a recording artist, enjoying success in the 70s with solo single "Eighteen With A
Bullet" as well as performing with The Olympic Runners and Van Morrison.
Woodmansey (AKA: Woody Woodmansey) Drummer on The Blue Ox
Babes' 1985 demos including "The Last Detail" and "Where Do We Go From Here".
Previously with Dexys Midnight Runners during the "Don't Stand Me Down" sessions, playing on the released
versions of "The Waltz", "Kevin Rowland's 13th Crime" and "The Way You Look
Tonight" (1984). Made his name performing as one of the legendary Spiders From Mars with David Bowie in
the early-70s and later appeared on Helen O'Hara's "Southern Hearts" album (1990).
Still active in the music business, Mick published his autobiography in 2016, focussing mainly on his role in the "Ziggy
Stardust" story - but also featuring some fascinating insights into his brief dealings with Dexys.
Steve Wynne Bass
player with The Blue Ox Babes after helping to reform the group with fellow ex-Midnight Runners Kevin Archer and Steve
Shaw in 1985. Played on The Blue Ox Babes singles and album sessions in 1988, co-writing the song "Gregory Right". With
Dexys from December 1980 through most of the "Projected Passion Revue" era to
October 1981 when he was replaced by Giorgio Kilkenny. Previously a member of Ska band The Swinging Cats. Was given
a belated co-writing credit for the Dexys song "My National Pride" (AKA: "Knowledge Of Beauty").