As part of our range of historical punk and post punk recordings we are pleased to make available the recordings of Southend band Stripey Zebras.

Stripey Zebras were much more influenced by the Punk ‘get up on stage and just do it’ ethos rather than any actual affiliation to the Southend Punk Scene. However, as they played at the same venues as their punk contemporaries they were considered to be part of the Southend Music Scene of the early ’80’s.

Stripey Zebras were originally formed around March/April of 1980. The nascent  line up consisted of Martin Fulton (aka Sam) on Vocals, Paul Brown on Guitar and Steve Dobson who had just purchased a bass guitar. The trio was to have been augmented on drums by ‘Trog’

The debut concert was booked for July 1980 and Graham Burnett, who had never sat at a drum kit, was hastily bought into service after the disappearance of “Trog”, as was Martin Hardy,  who was drafted in owing to Paul Brown nearly cancelling at the last moment. As it happens Paul did play so the band was a five piece for the first gig.

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Their début performance at “Zero Six” in Southend was truly memorable and they played many of their songs twice, as encore followed encore. Audience members described them as ‘the weirdest band ever seen or heard.’ Encouraged by this positive comment the “Stripey’s” decided to continue.

The songs played at that time were ‘Monsters on TV’ (Godzilla). ‘Donny and Marie’ (Osmond’s), ‘Wild Thing’ (Troggs), ‘Disco, disco’ (They loved it). As the song titles may convey, they did not cover serious subject matter but were more humorous,  a counter point to the political songs played by many of their punk contemporaries

Further, stronger songs were developed as the band became more musically proficient, ironically this was to be their downfall. ‘Skellington Flat’ (where most of the band lived at some time or other), ‘Sore eyes party’ (one of the true songs about a real party),and ‘Greta Garbo goes shopping ‘(Totally untrue and Steve sang this one live).

The band was augmented at various stages by Wayne Kermode (Guitar and backing vocals), Colin Dobson (Steve’s brother on guitar who was chucked out for being too good looking), Sheena Fulton (occasional vocals), and Julian Ware-Lane (played guitar at one gig).

Musically the band members were collectively influenced by ‘The Fall’ and this sound would be the closest form of reference as Martins lyrics denoted a development away from the earlier, ‘wackier’ aspects. Other influences were ‘The Residents’,’ The Prats’, ‘The Slits’, and ‘Sparks’.

Most of the above song titles are featured on ‘Live in Burnett’s Bedroom’ which was a tape cassette, recorded later on that year.

Stripey Zebras were name checked in Smash Hits (Top Ten Bands named after animals, beating ‘Adam and the Ants’) and in NME (Garage Band Section). Some of their song titles made it into the Obscurist Charts in ‘Sounds Magazine’.

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Stripey Zebra’s musical ability increased and some strong songs such as ‘Why are Piano’s rude?’ (because they go plink plonk), ‘Sergeant Bilko Plays Pop’ (Iwojima) illustrated the growing development. However this lead to musical differences in the band as Martin wanted the band to move away from the wacky lyrics of old and become more of a true band. However, it was generally felt that the group had developed musically as far as they could go and it was decided to call it a day.

 

Stripey Zebras reformed for a gig in late 1981 and then after a 32 year gap played a reunion gig at the 12 Bar Club in London, the line-up was Steve Dobson on Vocals and occasional bass, Wayne Kermode on Bass and vocals, Martin Hardy on Guitar and Graham Burnett on Drums

Graham Burnett formed Autumn Poison (with many members of the Stripey Zebras helping out at rehearsal stages). Steve Dobson joined another Southend group – The Get, another band this label has released.

Further musical collaborations by group members include ‘Dr Pretorious and the Lazy Sluts’ (Steve, Graham and Julian Ware-Lane of 86 Mix) and ‘The Beer Poofs’ (Steve and Graham) which were cassette based only.

Occasionally, cassettes have come up for sale over the internet and Graham still hears that Stripey Zebras generate interest. A very limited edition CD collecting all of the material from ‘Live in Burnett’s Bedroom’ plus a selection of other live tracks was compiled a few years ago by Graham and Paul Brown, It is the bulk of that CD which forms part of our release. This release to the best of our knowledge includes all of the available recordings by the band that suitable for release. We released the album on 15th January 2015.

 

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