The Monochrome Set
The Monochrome Set Origin Hornsey, London, England Genres Post-punk Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards Years active 1978–1985
Labels Rough Trade
Blanco y Negro Records
Associated acts Adam and the Ants
Past members J.D. Haney
James 'Foz' Foster
The Monochrome Set are an English post-punk band originally formed in 1978 from the remnants of a college group called The B-Sides (whose members had included Stuart Goddard, later known as Adam Ant). The band is notable for its witty lyrics, the laconic delivery of lead singer Bid, and the idiosyncratically retrogressive playing style of original lead guitarist Lester Square.
Original band: 1978-1985
The original line-up consisted of Indian-born lead singer and principal songwriter Bid (real name Ganesh Seshadri), Canadian guitarist Lester Square (real name Thomas W.B. Hardy), drummer John D. Haney, and bassist Charlie Harper. The band went through several bassists in the next few years, including Jeremy Harrington, and Andy Warren of the Ants, a childhood friend of Bid.
Experimental filmmaker Tony Potts began collaborating with the band in 1979, designing lighting and stage sets with film projections for their live appearances. The band's early persona was defined by the shadowy, uncertain stage images created by the films to such an extent he is often described as being the band's "fifth member".
They released several singles for the Rough Trade label before recording their debut album, Strange Boutique, produced by Bob Sargeant, for Virgin Records' imprint DinDisc in 1980. It peaked at #62 in the UK Albums Chart in 1980. Their follow-up effort, Love Zombies, was produced by Alvin Clark and the band later that same year. Haney left the band in 1981, and was replaced by Lexington Crane.
In 1982, the band switched labels to Cherry Red to release their third album, Eligible Bachelors, produced by Tim Hart. Square and Crane left soon afterwards, and were replaced by keyboardist Carrie Booth and drummer Nicholas Weslowski. This line-up recorded 1982 single, "Cast a Long Shadow", for Cherry Red before Booth was in turn replaced by new lead guitarist James 'Foz' Foster (later of David Devant & His Spirit Wife).
In 1983, Cherry Red released Volume, Contrast, Brilliance..., a retrospective of the band's early Rough Trade singles, BBC and Capital Radio sessions, and other unreleased early sessions.
In 1985, with the same line-up as on Cast a Long Shadow, The Monochrome Set recorded The Lost Weekend for Warner Bros. Records. The Lost Weekend failed commercially, and after a few singles, the band officially broke up, though they served as Jessica Griffin's backing band on the first album by the Would-Be-Goods, The Camera Loves Me.
In early 1990, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of keyboardist Orson Presence and drummer Mike Slocombe (who was quickly replaced by Trevor Ready). The new band toured extensively, especially in Japan, where Bid had become a star. The band released several low-key albums for Cherry Red during the 1990s, before going on hiatus in 1998.
Bid has since recorded a number of albums with his new band, Scarlet's Well. The song, "He's Frank", appeared on the TV series Heroes. The recording used was a cover version of the original recorded by the Brighton Port Authority (aka. Fatboy Slim) featuring Iggy Pop.
The band reunited on 8 October 2008 for a one-off performance at Cherry Red's 30th anniversary party at Dingwalls, London. It also marked the 30th year of The Monochrome Set. Bid, Warren and Square were joined by Jennifer Denitto (drums) and Sian Dada (keyboards) of Scarlet's Well, and performed thirteen songs.
In 2011, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of drummer Jennifer Denitto from Scarlet's Well and keyboard player John Paul Moran. The band played dates in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Japan and The Netherlands.
- Strange Boutique (DinDisc, 1980)
- Love Zombies (DinDisc, 1980)
- Eligible Bachelors (Cherry Red, 1982)
- The Lost Weekend (WB, 1985)
- Fin (El Records/Cherry Red, 1986, a compilation of live songs from 1979 to 1985)
- Dante's Casino (Vinyl Japan, 1990, later re-released on Cherry Red, 2001)
- Jack (Honeymoon, 1991)
- What a Whopper! (Cherry Red, 1992)
- Charade (Cherry Red, 1993)
- Misère (Cherry Red, 1994)
- Trinity Road (Cherry Red, 1995)
- "He's Frank (Slight Return)" / "Silicon Carne" / "Fallout" (Disquo Bleu/Rough Trade, 1979)
- "He's Frank" / "Alphaville" (Rough Trade, 1979)
- "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" / "Lester Leaps In" (Rough Trade, 1979)
- "The Monochrome Set" / "Mr.Bizarro" (Rough Trade, 1979)
- "The Strange Boutique" / "Surfin SW12" (DinDisc, 1980)
- "405 Lines" / "Goodbye Joe" (DinDisc, 1980)
- "Apocalypso" / "Fiasco Bongo" (DinDisc, 1980)
- "Ten Don'ts for Honeymooners" / "Straits of Malacca" (Pre, 1981)
- "The Mating Game" / "J.D.H.A.N.E.Y." (Cherry Red, 1982)
- "Cast a Long Shadow" / "The Bridge" (Cherry Red, 1982)
- "The Jet Set Junta" / "Love Goes Down the Drain" / "Noise" (Cherry Red, 1982)
- "Jacob's Ladder" / "Andiamo" (Blanco Y Negro, 1985, UK #81)
- "Wallflower" / "Big Ben Bongo" (Blanco Y Negro, 1985, UK #97)
- "Killing Dave" / "House of God" (Live) / "Sweet Death" (Honeymoon, 1991)
- "I Love Lambeth" / "Kissy Kissy" / "All Over" / "Closing Time" (Cherry Red, 1995)
- "405 Lines" and "Apocalypso" appeared on the LP Dindisc 1980 (Dindisc 1980)
- "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" appeared on the LP and CD editions of Pillows & Prayers (Cherry Red 1982-1983) (Cherry Red 1982)
- Volume, Contrast, Brilliance... (Cherry Red, 1983)
- "Starry Nowhere" appeared on the LP Debut LP Magazine Issue 11 (CBS, 1985)
- "Jet Set Junta" appeared on the CD Diving For Pearls Volume 1 (Dino Entertainment, circa 1986)
- "Cast a Long Shadow" appeared on 12" EP Eyes of Barbara Steele (Cherry Red 1986)
- "The Mating Game" appeared on the LP and CD editions of And Suddenly It's Evening (Vap Inc. 1986)
- "Alphaville" appeared on the LP and CD editions of Clear Cut Final (Japan Record 1986)
- "Jet Set Junta" and "The Mating Game" appeared on the CD Ambition - The Cherry Red Story Volume 2 (Cherry Red 1991) and the edited "omnibus" edition, entitled Ambition - Volumes 1 & 2 - The History of Cherry Red Records 1978-1988.
- "He's Frank" appeared on the CD The Indie Scene 79 (Connoisseur Collection 1991) A cover version appears on Season 2 of TV Series "Heroes"
- "Jet Set Junta" appeared on the CD The Indie Scene 83 (Connoisseur Collection 1992)
- Westminster Affair (Cherry Red, 1988)
- Colour Transmission (Cherry Red, 1993, a compilation comprising the whole of the first two albums)
- Tomorrow Will Be Too Long: The Best of the Monochrome Set (Virgin/Caroline, 1995 - a repackaging/retitling of Colour Transmission)
- Compendium (Cherry Red, 1996, compilation)
- Chaps (Recall, 1997)
- Volume, Contrast, Brilliance (reissue with 25 songs) (2004)
- The Independent Singles Collection (Cherry Red, 2008)
- ^ Robb, John (2009-01-09). "Blog: The Monochrome Set - Remembering the band that history forgot | Music | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2009/jan/09/the-monochrome-set-remembered. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- ^ "The Monochrome Set op MySpace Music – Gratis gestreamde MP3’s, foto’s en Videoclips". Myspace.com. http://www.myspace.com/themonochromeset. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- ^ "Hiljaiset Levyt: PUNKNET 77 - Adam and the Ants". Hiljaiset.sci.fi. http://www.hiljaiset.sci.fi/punknet/ants_e.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 375. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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