THE DIARY: They did it thissens
MUSICALLY speaking, it was perhaps Sheffield’s finest era - a time of do-it-yourself record labels, snotty home-made fanzines and bands who would go on to become international stars.
“The city was at the cutting edge,” says Dr Matt Cheeseman. “There was so much good stuff being made you even had Wimpy putting on gigs. A portion of fries and some post-punk please.”
Now, the Steel City’s late-seventies-early-eighties music scene - which spawned the likes of Human League, ABC and a nightclub called The Leadmill - is being made the subject of a new exhibition.
Almost every single record released by a South Yorkshire band between 1978 and 1982 will go on display. Live photographs, fanzines, posters, merchandise and even the original sign from the iconic Crazy Daizy nightclub will also be on show.
“How exciting is that?” enthuses Matt, the Sheffield University English research fellow behind the exhibition. “This legendary nightclub - and the sign has just been sat in someone’s house for years.”
Fittingly, in keeping with the period’s creative ethos, the exhibition is being called Do It Thissen.
Among the acts featured will be everyone from the globally renowned like Cabaret Voltaire to bands whose own mams probably struggled to remember - The Deaf Aids, anyone? Other names which one may - or may not - recall include Artery, Bikini Atol, The Prams and They Must Be Russians (from Nether Edge).
All 25 issues of the city’s much-celebrated NMX fanzine, meanwhile, will also be on show.
“But this exhibition is definitely not just for people who were there,” says Matt, who, at 35-years-old, was still a tot himself back then.
“This is for everyone.
“It’s about that Sheffield spirit - which still exists today - of saying I’m going to create and I don’t care if I only have a couple of friends and a drum machine to do it. It’s a celebration of that ethos which says you don’t need to go out and ram alcohol down your neck to have a good time.”
The show is part of the Festival Of The Mind taking place in the city between September 20 - 30. The 11-day extravaganza will see academics engage with the city through gigs, performances and shows at several venues.
“I’m a huge record collector,” says Matt, who has some 2,000 vinyls at his home in Endcliffe Vale Road, Endcliffe. “So when I heard about the festival this idea jumped out at me.”
He got in touch with friend Jon Downing and asked him to help. And Jon, 55, of Ringinglow, was only too happy to get involved.
“He has a floor of his house dedicated to vinyl and that includes owning every Sheffield record released through this period - except one by Def Leppard,” explains Matt. “There’s 102 in all.
“We thought by building the exhibition round those we could show how great music in the city was. It’s a historic exhibition but if we could inspire a couple of people to pick up guitars in 2012 that would be amazing.”
Do It Thissen runs September 20 - 30 at Montgomery Hall, in Surrey Street, city centre. A special evening on September 22 will feature a DJ set featuring the music of the period.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A DEFINING ERA
Some Throbbing Gristle
Sheffield University’s Now Society was renowned for persuading the best alternative bands to play the shabby Bar 2. Throbbing Gristle and ABC both became global names after appearing there. Artery didn’t.
Post-punk In A Burger Bar
THE music being created in Sheffield was so good that, by 1981, burger chain Wimpy wanted in on the action.
The Sheffield branch, in Fargate, started putting on gigs. The only problem?
Bands played in front of the counter - meaning customers had to climb past musicians and over amps to make their order.
The Hospital Porter And The Schoolgirls
Phil Oakey was working as a porter in the Hallamshire Hospital when he met Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley.
He spied the two schoolgirls in High Street’s Crazy Daizy nightclub and asked them to be in his band. They said yes.
Four days later, in October 1980, The Human League went on their first world tour.
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