About The Rezillos
The Rezillos are a punk/new wave band formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1976. Although emerging at the same time as other bands in the punk rock movement, the Rezillos did not share the nihilism or social commentary of their contemporaries, but instead took a more light-hearted approach to their songs, preferring to describe themselves at the time as "a new wave beat group". Their songs are heavily influenced by 1950s rock and roll, 1960s English beat music and garage rock, early 1970s glam rock, and recurring lyrical themes of science fiction and B movies; their influences mirrored those of US bands the Cramps, the B-52s, and X, who were starting out at the same time. The Rezillos' biggest hit in their home country was the UK Top 20 single "Top of the Pops" in 1978, but they are best known outside the UK for their cover version of "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight", which was featured on the soundtrack to Jackass: The Movie in 2002. Since the Rezillos recorded it, the song has been covered by other punk bands, including Youth Brigade and Murphy's Law.
Released in July 1978, the Rezillos' first studio album Can't Stand the Rezillos is now considered a classic album of the first wave of British punk, but the group split up four months after its release, following internal arguments about their future direction. After the Rezillos split, the band's guitarist and principal songwriter, Jo Callis, briefly joined a couple of unsuccessful Edinburgh post-punk groups before being invited to join The Human League. He went on to co-write some of The Human League's best known songs during their most successful period, including their biggest worldwide hit, "Don't You Want Me". The Rezillos' vocalists, Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife, formed the Revillos, a group with an ever-changing line-up that continued where the Rezillos left off. The Revillos split up in 1985, briefly reforming in 1994 for a tour of Japan, and again in 1996 for a UK tour. In 2001 the Rezillos reformed after being invited to play at Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations, and have continued to play live ever since, as well as releasing new singles occasionally.
The band started life at Edinburgh College of Art, where most of the Rezillos' original line-up were studying. During 1975 art students Jo Callis and Alan Forbes had been in a college group named The Knutsford Dominators, a party band playing 1950s and 60s rock and roll cover versions: Forbes was originally one of the group's two drummers. The Knutsford Dominators were short-lived, but Callis and Forbes wanted to carry on making music in a similar vein. The pair recruited local bass player Dave Smythe and fellow student Mark Sinclair Harris, who was studying architecture at the college, on second guitar, and formed their new band the Rezillos in March 1976. The band name was adapted from the name of a club called "Revilos" that appeared in the first issue of the DC Comics publication The Shadow in November 1973. At the start, Callis, Forbes and Harris shared vocal duties, but as all of them found it difficult to play an instrument and sing at the same time, Forbes switched to vocals full-time and was replaced on drums by Alasdair Paterson, another Edinburgh College of Art architecture student. By August 1976 the band had recruited saxophonist Alastair Donaldson, a good friend of Paterson who was an architecture student from neighbouring Heriot-Watt University taking some of his classes at the college, and who had previously played with Edinburgh folk rock band Silly Wizard. Forbes had also introduced two fashion design students named Sheilagh Hynd and Gail Jamieson to the group as backing singers.
Each member took on stage names for the new band: Forbes had re-christened himself Eugene Reynolds after the name of somebody he met during his summer job, and the wraparound sunglasses that would become his trademark on stage were found on a beach. Harris became "Hi-Fi" Harris, Smythe became Dr D.K. Smythe, Donaldson called himself William Mysterious, and Paterson assumed the first name of Angel. After a short spell as "Candy Floss", Hynd changed her name to Fay Fife, a joke relating to her birthplace . Callis and Jamieson used the punning names of Luke Warm and Gail Warning.
Having spent several months practising, the group's debut live performance was at Teviot Row House, the students' union building of the University of Edinburgh, on 5 November 1976, playing a set composed entirely of cover versions of 1950s and '60s classics. The set included "I Like It" and "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite", which would both appear on the band's debut album, and concluded with "I Wanna Be Your Man", which later became the B-side of their debut single. The band were an instant hit and began to grow rapidly in popularity as they gigged constantly: Callis estimated that the Rezillos played around 200 gigs in 1977.Bootleg recordings exist of this stage of the band's history.
During the first half of 1977 Reynolds and Fife became romantically involved, and Fife moved to being the group's frontwoman alongside Reynolds. Gail Warning's contributions to the group were effectively made redundant, and she left the band. In June 1977 the band recorded their début single, "Can't Stand My Baby" , at Barclay Towers, the "studio" being little more than some recording equipment set up in producer Tony Pilley's top-floor tenement flat in Bruntsfield in south-west Edinburgh. The single was released in August on Sensible Records, an independent Edinburgh label run by Island Records local representative Lenny Love, and attracted radio airplay and attention from several major labels, including Sire Records who sent a telegram to Love three weeks after the release of "Can't Stand My Baby" asking for more information about the band.
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