Toward the end of 1980 the split in original Dexys Midnight Runners
led to the formation of The Bureau. For a short while Dexys fans had two bands to follow and 1981 was an exciting year. Astonishingly
this fantastic band never made it. The reasons for this are many and varied but can be summed up in two words - bad luck.
The Bureau's early press jokes that manager, Dave Corke is a 'second hand car salesman, sometime manager and small-time
crook'. Corke had been an early Dexys manager but had been sacked in favour of Bernie Rhodes. Finding themselves bankrupt
in America while on tour supporting the Pretenders, the Bureau may have cursed choosing 'better the devil you know'.
Geoff Blythe - tenor sax, Pete Williams - bass,
Stoker - drums, Steve Spooner - alto sax and Mick Talbot - keyboards (who had only been in the band since August 1980) left
Dexys and formed the Bureau. Originally, for the first month, Big Jimmy Patterson had been with them but decided to return
to the Dexys fold. The classic Bureau line-up was almost complete with the recruitment of Archie Brown - vocals and Rob Jones
- guitar, from the band The Upset. Archie remembers, 'It wasn't so much an invite into the band as severe pressure to join.' The Upset had toured
with Dexys through much of 1980 and the band knew what they were getting. A highly original vocalist and songwriter in Archie
and a talented guitarist in Rob. This band of 7 rehearsed hard and demoed songs which were circulated. At the end of January
1981 The Bureau began to attract media and record company interest. Shortly afterwards a deal was signed with WEA.
In a mirror of Dexys beginnings The Bureau found
it hard to recruit a good trombone player. They recruited Jake, trombone player in the band Gonzalez (who had hit the charts
in 1979 with Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet). Jake only lasted a short while, maybe only a few weeks, but long enough to
do the Bureau's first press interviews (see the Melody Maker cover in The Bureau Scrap-Book). He was eventually replaced with ace trombone player Paul Taylor and the classic Bureau line-up was finalised.
The beginnings of the Bureau are a complex and difficult tale to
research. One of the most curious questions of all is who played trombone on their debut single Only For Sheep? Only For Sheep
and its b-side, The First One were recorded with Pete Wingfield as producer at London's Vineyard Studios in February 1981.
The single was released in the middle of March 1981. Jake had left and Paul Taylor was yet to appear in any press interviews
with the band. The Bureau are pictured with only 7 members present on the sleeve of the single. An article in The Face magazine
says an 8th member is to be recruited soon. Some Dexys fans suggest that Big Jimmy could have played the session but he had
been back in the Dexys fold at the end of November 1980. Even the Bureau's first tour programme lists Paul Taylor as joining
after Only For Sheep is released. This website was contacted in June 2004 by session trombone player, Ian Holden, who says
it was he that played on Only For Sheep and The First One. Amusingly, he was asked if he was good looking before he got the
gig.February 1981 saw The Bureau's debut gig in Appledorn Holland, it
snowed. The gig is reviewed in NME. The Bureau's second gig was at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam and was recorded for
Dutch radio. The Bureau played more European dates including some in Belgium.
To launch Only For Sheep, The Bureau played their live UK debut
to an invited audience at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London. 'It's not jazz,' Archie Brown said from the
stage, 'But it's good.' Press reviews of the single and gig were favourable but the single stalled just outside
the charts and wasn't a hit. Curiously, Dexys suddenly released Plan B at the same time and the press was full of Bureau
versus Dexys stories. Smash Hits reviewed the 2 singles side by side. Even though Only For Sheep failed to ignite the UK charts
The Bureau scored a hit in Canada, Australia and Eire. The single went top 10 in each of these countries. Ali Campbell of
UB40 later told Archie Brown that when UB40 toured Australia they couldn't avoid Only For Sheep. It was a massive hit
and seemingly always on the radio and TV. 'Everytime we finished a gig and got back to the digs, I'd put on the TV
and there are the fucking Bureau!' Crucially the Bureau never actually toured Oz and missed the chance to build on the
frenzy created there. To this day Only For Sheep is remembered fondly in Oz but The Bureau are remembered as one-hit wonders.
With Paul Taylor now firmly established
in the fold, April 1980 saw The Bureau embark on their first national tour. They played a selection of British and Irish gigs
at small venues and colleges. There was a tour programme, t-shirts, badges and stickers. The gigs were electric and packed
out. Particularly in Ireland, where Only For Sheep went top ten, The Bureau went down a storm. Later, even when all was virtually
lost, the Bureau could rely on Irish gigs to sell out and earn them a crust.
In March and April The Bureau wrote, rehearsed and recorded new
tracks inbetween tour dates. At the end of March they began sessions for the album. Press announcements mentioned the recording of the new album. They also made their live TV debut on the BBC Midlands TV programme Look Here.
Despite the failure of Only For Sheep everything appeared to be going well in The Bureau camp.
In May the Bureau's second single was released. Let Him Have It/The Noose was thought to be a
taster for the album. Press reaction was very favourable incuding a Single Of The Week in Record Mirror. Personally, I love
this song. To this day it is an all-time favourite but inexplicably it again failed to chart. Again, it went top ten in Eire.
Eire became like an alternative dimension for Bureau fans as we all tuned into the Irish charts to see how the single was
doing. In the UK the single was listed as 'bubbling under' the top 75 but it never actually broke into the chart.
Then all went quiet. The album was released in Canada and Australia but the UK and Eire missed out.
The Bureau toured America with the Pretenders.
Part way through this tour they discovered that the money had run out and they were virtually bankrupt. They had no money
for food and were reduced to scavenging from the Pretenders. The tour also included the Stray Cats. The Bureau opened the
show and waited for the Pretenders to take the stage then each night they raided the Pretenders dressing room in search of
food and booze. One night they were caught by the Stray Cats leaving the Pretenders dressing room with their swag bags. The
Strays were leaning against the wall of the corridor outside the dressing room, very probably preening their outstanding quiffs.
'Hey man,' said Brian Sezter, 'That's not cool,' and Archie snaps, 'Right, that's fucking it!'
he dropped his bags of swag, 'All of you, outside now! I'll fucking have the lot of you out now!!' The Stray Cats
declined the offer of a fight, seemingly Runaway Boys is more than just a song. The Bureau managed to make it home and survived
by wheeling and dealing their way across America. Archie sold tour passes to get Mick Talbot a bottle of whiskey for his birthday.
Mick was actually assaulted outside one gig and required stitches to his face. The sight of Talbot's face was enough to
scare away any more trouble and a certain Bureau member took Talbot on a shopping trip to Harlem, a no-go area for whites,
as an insurance policy. Nobody went near them. The Bureau versus The Pretenders Campaign of 1981 passed into rock legend.
Autumn 1981 saw a 2nd national tour, again of small clubs and colleges.
This time the tour was shared with Mo-Dettes and Roddy Radiation (ex-Specials) And The Tearjerkers. Each night the bands took
turns at playing either first, second or third. The tour was poorly attended but again the Bureau were brilliant although
some of them clearly recall this tour being their worst. They introduced a new song, 'The Hitman' as the 'new
single' but the song never appeared on vinyl. At the Liverpool gig, The Bureau started the show with The Horse. This track
was so tight and powerful that I was actually shaken to the core. Then came The Hitman, 'I am the Hitman come to stake
my claim........' it was irony, the Bureau, fucking brilliant and yet virtually nobody got it. They played fast and hard.
It was just as good as the early Dexys show I saw. But after 30 minutes of fury they were gone. There were only maybe 50 in
the audience but everyone was there to see the Bureau. Earlier in the show there had been some shouting for Geno but Merton
Mick had put a stop to that. He leant over his keys and pointed into the face of one of the shouters, his finger nearly touching
the nose of the audience member. I couldn't hear what was said but there were no more shouts for Geno. It couldn't
be all over, only 30 minutes. The previous night at Manchester University there had been no encores but I was left with this
strange feeling that I may never see them again so I climbed up on to the stage barriers and started shouting for more. 'Come
on you bastards! Shout for more!' It's amazing how much noise 50 people can make but it took quite a few minutes for
the Bureau to reappear. They took to the stage, said nothing, played a reprise of The Horse and were gone again. After the
show all the bands appeared and chatted to the audience. I got to have a few words with Archie and Pete Williams. They both
mentioned the album and expressed regrets that it didn't get a release in Britain. Pete told me 'the next Bureau album
will be fantastic'. 'Just wait and see,' he said. If only... Like The Hitman, the 2nd album never appeared. At
some point around the time of this tour The Bureau parted company with guitarist Rob Jones due to the usual musical differences.
Rob was replaced by Pat Cunningham. In 2003 Mick Talbot recalled, 'Ah yes, I remember there was a bit of a fracas'
and Steve Spooner added, 'It should never have happened, Rob was a really important part of The Bureau sound.' The
Bureau ended up signing on the dole to support the band but they found it too hard to get the money together to even meet
to rehearse and eventually dissolved rather than split.
The genuine feelings of mutual respect and affection eventually led to a reunion of five of the band
in 2003. The reunion of Archie Brown and Bureau
members Mick Talbot, Pete Williams, Paul Taylor and Steve Spooner took place at The Magnesia Bank, North Shields on 7th March
2003. Talbot, Williams and Taylor all took
to the stage at various times of the night, including to play The Bureau classic Let Him Have It, while Spooner who hadn't
played sax since 1982 watched from the audience. Geoff
Blythe and Stoker were aware of the event but unable to make it all the way from America where they both now live. Rob Jones
was unable to attend due to work commitments with the British Film Council. As a result of the meeting plans were made for
a full blown reunion and for WEA to give the Bureau's album a UK release. Consistently, like most stories of new product
from the Dexys Family Tree, the original planned release date of April 2004 came and went without any hint of further activity
but finally in 2005 the album appeared as an extended double CD package with two live gigs to promote the release. Drummer,
Stoker, was unable to make the gigs and his place was taken by Crispin Taylor who played drums on Dexys 2003 tour. However,
seven of the original eight Bureau members appeared on stage. Only time will tell if we see more Bureau product and gigs but
the 2005 actvity put a few wrongs right. The sight of Steve Spooner in his cool leather cap with a big smile on his face will
live long in the memory of all who were at the gigs.
PS - A few months after seeing The Bureau in Liverpool I went into
a Chinese takeaway in my hometown of Prescot. 'I know you,' a voice called'You were the nutter who got us shouting
for an encore at The Bureau gig.' We talked about the gig while waiting for our food. We also mentioned how crap Roddy
Radiation was. He played a song called Tonight which was a chord for chord copy of The Police's So Lonely. I was so pissed
off with the Bureau only playing for 30 minutes that I'd got the audience to sing So Lonely to the Roddy Radiation track
(I was on a roll that night) and was fondly remembered for that. We also talked about our favourite Mo-Dette. Mine had been
the guitarist Kate, I had picked up her plectrum as a souvenir at the Manchester gig. I produced the plectrum from my pocket
but they didn't believe me. Happy days eh?
Only For Sheep/The First One
Label - WEA Catalogue
no. - K18478
Released - March 1981
a. Only For Sheep had a 12" release. Anyone got the
b. An american promo, Atlantic 3861, features Only For Sheep on
both sides, one version is stereo and the other mono. The mono side has a red label.
Let Him Have It/The Noose
Label - WEA Catalogue
no. - K18753 Released - May 1981
a. In Australia Let Him Have It, WEA 100181, was retitled Let Him
Have It (Sweet Revenge) and had The Carpetbaggers on the b-side.
1. The Bureau
Tracks - 1. Only
For Sheep 2. The First One 3. Sentimental Attachment 4. Got To Be Now 5. Looking For Excitement 6. Let Him Have
It 7. Find A Way 8. Bigger Prize 9. The Carpetbaggers 10. Helpless
released in the UK. The above picture is of the Canadian release, WEA 58357. In Australia the album was titled Only For
Sheep (Catalogue No. 600104). The front cover is the same other than the title in red on the bottom and some minor differences
in the record company information. The track listing is the same other than Let Him Have It being re-titled Let Him Have
It (Sweet Revenge).
2. The Bureau
Label - WEA Records Catalogue No. - LC2828
Released - 28th February 2005
CD1 - 1. Only For Sheep 2. The First One 3. Sentimental
Attachment 4. Got To Be Now 5. Looking For Excitement 6. Let Him Have It 7. Find A Way 8. The Bigger Prize 9.
Carpet Baggers 10. Helpless 11. The Noose 12. Hitman 13. Sorry I Spoke 14. The Horse 15. Only For Sheep (CDROM
CD2 - (Live) 1. The Horse 2. The First One 3.
The Noose 4. Got To Be Now 5. The Bigger Prize 6. Only For Sheep 7. Find A Way 8. Helpless 9. Sentimental Attachment
10. Looking for Excitement 11. Let Him Have It
1. A two-disc promo comes in a plain wrap around
sleeve, featuring the same front cover and a track listing on the back page. The discs are plain with just the WEA logo and
the words The Bureau with CD1 or CD2. There is no catalogue No.
3. ...And Another Thing
Label - Bureau Productions
- 6th October 2008
Tracks - 1. Run Rabbit Run
2. Save Me 3. Chance In A Million 4. A Fine Mess Rag 5. Freedom March 6. Just A Word 7. Falling 8. Mad 9. Divided In Two 10. Flying Lessons 11. Nothing's Going To Stand In Our Way
12. Keaton's Walk