doctorsheader1Doctors Of Madness Richard Strange latest newsdoctors of madness band historydoctors of madness biographiesdoctors of madness picture gallerydoctors of madness press cuttings archiveAfterglow discussion boarddoctors of madness live footagedoctors related linkscontact administratordocsmenuspacerdoctorscinemabutton

A concise history of the doctors(2)

Yet some people out there were ready for the Doctors. An undercurrent of British music fans were ready for something to alleviate the stagnation, and the Doctors attracted a sizeable following. for those who had been 'waiting for punk to happen', the Docs were one of the bands to see; as Sounds scribe Jon Ingham would testify, 'The only new group that i liked was the Doctors of Madness. They had a guitarist (sic) called Urban Blitz, and Richard Strange had a good sense of what was going on'. Touring with the likes of Be Bop Deluxe and the Heavy Metal Kids, a growing number of fans would congregate. 'It didn't surprise me that people were absolutely fanatical about us' proclaimed Kid in 1976.

Although 'Late Night Movies' failed to shift huge volumes in the UK, it did well in Europe and import copies were snapped up stateside, particularly in California. Encouraged, the band began work on their second record, 'Figments of Emancipation', in Abbey Road Studios, with John Leckie at the controls. Preceded by their 'Midsummer Madness' UK tour, the record was released in early autumn 1976.

"As I went increasingly out of control onstage, the white-coated roadies would rush onstage and restrain me in a strait jacket. Amidst all the mayhem, a modified taylor's dummy vaguely resembling me, complete with strait-jacket and a blue wig, would be substituted and as a final coup de theatre it would be exploded onstage to close the show.

By this time Punk's storm clouds were gathering, catching the Doctors in a difficult position. Although many punk qualities could be identified in the Doctors, there was also much about the band that would be considered 'incorrect' by the new brigade. The level of 'hype' that accompanied their launch would count against them and caused the Doctors to be viewed with suspicion. 'We started to go and see Doctors of Madness' recounted penetration's Pauline Murray of those pre-77 days, 'who were a real record-company type band: then we saw the Sex Pistols in Northallerton in this tiny club. A short while later they played with the Doctors of Madness in Middlesborough, and they wiped them out. They wiped a lot of bands out. It sounds a cliche now, but i saw it happen. All those bands lost their confidence when the Sex Pistols came along.'

That and their wallets, it seems; while the doctors were on stage one night, support act the Sex Pistols' kleptomaniac guitarist Steve Jones went through the band's pockets, effectively counting Polydor out of any future McLaren negotiations. Doctors still retained some standing in Punk circles; friendships were struck up with figures as the Damned and the Adverts, Kid and Adverts mainman TV Smith working together on one song, 'Back from the Dead', which both bands recorded. It was one of a new set of songs the Docs worked on in preparation for their third and final album, 'Sons of Survival', released early 1978. Their 'post-punk' record would be their most concise and hardest-sounding release. In recording this album in late 1977, Blitz began to drift apart from the band and he quit directly after the recording. The Doctors promoted the record, released early 1978, as a three piece, utilising tapes and electronics to fill the gaps in the sound. Kid didn't at first seem unduly worried by Blitz's departure: 'I think it's perfect that the band changes after this album, because this album crystallises what we've been working towards for two and a half years anyway.' However, the single 'Bulletin' failed to register a hit and there seemed little hope of overcoming public and critical indifference enough to make the break out of the cult bracket. Disillusioned, Strange began to map out a solo career for himself, and after a brief spell with the Damned's Dave Vanian as co-vocalist, Doctors of Madness were no more.

While the Doctors catalogue has remained out of print between the 1981 retrospective 'Revisionism' collection and Ozit records programme of reissues which began in 1998, there are fans new and old worldwide; the band's influence has been trumpeted by some who encountered them at the time and were to progress into their own muscial careers, names as diverse as Cabaret Voltaire, Julian Cope and, perplexingly, Def Leppard! A listen to the Doctors of Madness' recorded works reveals not the bunch of 'also rans' of this period as they are often represented, but a paradoxical,highly individual outfit and very probably an important missing link between pre and post punk music. it's time, in other words, to give the Doctors of Madness some credit.