THE CELLAR OF Islington’s Hope and Anchor is hardly the place to keep cool, calm and collected on one of the hottest nights of the year, and the 101’ers certainly strike no bargains with the climate. Joe Strummer’s left leg starts pumping with ‘Bonie Maronie’, and it doesn’t relax until long after closing time.
The audience gets little chance to relax either, especially as it takes no time at all to realise that the 101’ers are a god-awful band.
Only Clive Timperlee on lead guitar boasts any kind of real musical ability and, as for the others, what little competence they show is stretched almost to breaking point. They start out of time, finish out of time and play out of tune. They also churn out some very fine rock ‘n’ roll with no pretence at all towards music, let alone art.
Rock has always thrived on enthusiasm and, bare-faced cheek, and any band who can dismember favourites like ‘Daytripper’ and ‘Summertime Blues’ so that the beat alone is the only recognisable feature, must have more than their fair share of such vital commodities.
‘Gloria’ and almost everything that Chuck Berry ever wrote get the same rough and ready treatment. Timperlee has taught Strummer and bass-player the Mole where to put their fingers to get the right noise, Snakehips Dudanski hits the tubs and another rock band treads the boards.
What separates them from some of the truly bad bands currently working in London is their honesty, and an intelligence which ensures that they attempt nothing they cannot handle. It certainly pays dividends.
When they’re good they’re very very good, as in Roy C’s ‘Shotgun Wedding’ and Slim Harpo’s ‘Hip Shake’, and their own compositions ‘Steam-gauge 99’ and ‘Motor, Boys, Motor’ can stand unashamedly beside some of the rock ‘n’ roll standards that make up the rest of their set.
Now that the Ducks have passed away, and Dr. Feelgood have left the pubs, the 101’ers are definite contenders for London’s rock ‘n’ roll crown. They can’t get any worse and if they get better I hope the British Isles experiences a cold spell moving down through Scotland reaching the Home Counties some time over the weekend. Straight-ahead rock and hot weather don’t mix.
© Chas de Whalley, New Musical Express, 16 August 1975