Street

Street were a rock band from Larne formed by guitarist Terry Gordon in 1978 from the remnants of local bands Frisco and The Jay Arthur Band. The original line-up featured: Terry Gordon, Trevor 'Huck' Russell, Robert Agnew, Timmy Davis and Brian Strahan (see instruments below).

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The band were very successful playing the club and university circuit and started out playing mostly covers of rock songs, although their trademark was to choose songs that were less well known or technically difficult to play well. By the end of 1978 the band were playing mostly original material and had begun to tour extensively in both the North and South of Ireland, making a name for themselves in many of the more popular rock venues. Brian was forced to leave the band for personal reasons in October 1978 and was replaced by another former Jay Arthur Band bassist, Billy McNeill.

Ironically, Streetís biggest break came in November 1978 when they asked The Jay Arthur Bandís founder and guitarist, John Hilton, to manage them, despite having already poached three members of his band. Under Johnís management, the band began to play larger venues, touring regularly and growing in popularity, particularly in the South, where they achieved virtual Ďcultí status.

What made their music unique was the fact that all of the band members were multi instrumentalists and each was influenced by different genres encompassing blues, rock, folk and R & B. This mixture of influences was apparent in both their live performances and studio work. Their performances would move effortlessly from raunchy progressive rock into a solo instrumental acoustic set and on into blues and psychedelic rock. But, despite the range of styles, you were never in any doubt that you were listening to Street.

A trademark of the band was the five-part harmony vocals that featured in many of their songs. This even included a vocal only track in the middle of an R & B set.It was also not unusual to see the drummer playing blues harp while the lead singer played the drums, or the lead guitarist and bass player exchanging roles. Street were also very much about entertaining and involving the crowd and will be remembered, even in larger venues, for taking a fully miked floor tom-tom into the audience and allowing fans to play along to improvised riffs. The bandís versatility was further enhanced in April 1979 when rhythm guitarist Robert Agnew was replaced by Stevie Browne, formerly of Badger, who brought a country rock edge into the mix.

The final line-up of the band now consisted of: Terry Gordon, Trevor 'Huck' Russell, Stevie Browne, Timmy Davis and Billy McNeill.

As well as major venues like the Ulster Hall in Belfast, Leisureland in Galway, Downtown Campus, The Showboat in Waterford and the Universities, the band made regular appearances at the top rock venues of the time including The Pound, Kellyís, The Toll Bar, The Rocking Chair, etc.

They also had a bit of a reputation for upstaging some of the bigger bands they occasionally supported. At one memorable gig in Waterford, having finished their support slot for the reggae band Steel Pulse, Street were asked by Steel Pulse to return to the stage, when the crowd chanted for them. The night ended with both bands jamming together in the encore.

Street recorded their first single, Sweet Chelsay (commonly misspelt as Chelsea or Chelsae) at Wizard Recording Studios in Belfast. It was released under the Okey-Doke label in March 1979. The single was widely acclaimed, selling thousands of copies on the bandís subsequent tour. By May it was being played on Radio stations across Ireland and was record of the week on both the John Peel and Kid Jensen Shows in the same week.

The band had also started recording an album, due for release in December 1979 and had been lined up for an appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test to coincide with its release. Given the unique mix of musical preferences, it is hardly surprising that the album (Boulevard) featured everything from heavy metal, to blues, to folk. However, it was around this time that things began to go wrong for Street.

Due to issues with the record company (Okey-Doke), a second printing of the single was never issued and, despite a massive demand, there were simply not enough singles in the record shops and it never made the UK charts. These same issues stopped the album from being released and, without an album, the Whistle Test appearance had to be cancelled.

Despite these setbacks, the band continued to work, waiting for the record company to sort out the problems. They went on to support Motorhead in February 1980 at the Ulster Hall and turned down the opportunity to tour with them because they had already been tipped to support Thin Lizzy on their ten date Irish tour in April 1980.

As it happened this was not to be. A van carrying much of the bandís gear was involved in a serious accident in …ire that destroyed a lot of expensive equipment and left one man seriously injured. To add insult to injury, a clause in the insurance contract made it invalid outside the U.K. and, with no cash to replace the equipment, Street were forced to cancel their touring commitments for the foreseeable future. (The Thin Lizzy tour was later offered to The Tearjerkers).

You could be forgiven for thinking that Street were one of the unluckiest bands in the world. With cancelled tours and television appearances, an album that was recorded but never released, a dynamite single that never hit the record shops, no transport and no equipment, the band finally decided that fate was against them. In May 1980 the band mutually agreed that it was the end of the road or should we say - the end of the Street.

Many of the band members are still playing in local bands. Terry Gordon went on to front Midlands rock outfit Desperate Measures which featured James Morrisonís mum, Susie Gale on vocals.

Town/Village/County: Larne

Lead Vocals/Percussion/Pipes: Trevor 'Huck' Russell
Lead Guitar:
Terry Gordon
2nd Guitar:
Robert Agnew
/ Stevie Browne
Bass: Brian Strahan / Billy McNeill
Drums/Blues Harp:
Timmy Davis
Manager: John Hilton

Discography
March 1979: 7" Sweet Chelsay / Beautiful Day | Okey-Doke Records OD.2

further interest: http://peel.wikia.com/wiki/28_May_1979
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