999 (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = 999


Img_capt = The picture cover of the 999 July 1977 single: "I'm Alive"
Img_size =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = England
Genre = Punk
Years_active = 1977 - 1982;
1983 - 1987;
1993 - present
Label = United Artists Records;
Radar Records;
Polydor Records;
Albion;
Associated_acts = Kilburn and the High-Roads,
The Lurkers
Also Known As =
URL = [http://www.nineninenine.cjb.net 999's official site]
Current_members = Nick Cash
Guy Days
Pablo LaBritain
Arturo Bassick
Past_members = Jon Watson
Danny Palmer
Ed Case
Notable_instruments =

999 are an English punk rock band who formed in London in 1977.

Between 1978 and 1981, they had five Top 75 singles in the UK Singles Chart but only one made it to the Top 40. Also, after extensive touring across the Atlantic, the band's third and fourth (proper) studio albums charted in the U.S. Despite breaking up a couple of times, they continue to record and play live to the present-day.

Career

Named after Britain’s emergency telephone number, 999 was founded in London by singer/guitarist Nick Cash and Guy Days. Cash and Days met each other when the former was a member of pub-rockers Kilburn and the High-Roads and the latter was a session guitarist who played on some of the band’s demo tapes. [ cite book |title= "Alternative Rock"|last= Thompson|first= Dave|year= 2000|publisher= Miller Freeman Books|location= San Francisco|pages= p.519; ] In late 1976, they placed an advertisement in the "Melody Maker" for band members and ended up turning down Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders fame, Jon Moss of Culture Club fame, and Tony James of Generation X fame. [ [http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/999-1.htm "999: A History (Part One)" on www.punk77.co.uk: A history of UK Punk Rock from 1976-79] ; ] Jon Watson (bass) and Pablo LaBritain (drums) were recruited and the band that eventually became known as 999 performed their first gig was at the Northampton Cricket Club in January 1977. [ [http://punkmodpop.free.fr/999_pic.htm 999 on Punkmodpop] ;] After experimenting with several different band names, 999 finally came into being in May 1977. [ cite book |title= "70s Music"|last= Larkin|first= Colin|year= 2002|publisher= Virgin Books|location= London|isbn= 1-85227-947-8|pages= p.307.; ]

The band promptly established themselves as a powerful live act on London's punk scene and became regulars at the Hope and Anchor, Islington. [ cite book |title= "Alternative Rock"|last= Thompson|first= Dave|year= 2000|publisher= Miller Freeman Books|location= San Francisco|pages= p.519; ] On the strength of their well received, self-financed debut single, 999 were signed to United Artists Records around the same time as the Buzzcocks. [ cite book |title= "Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk"|last= Joynson|first= Vernon|year= 2001|publisher= Borderline Publications|location= Wolverhampton|isbn= 1-899855-13-0|pages= p.246; ] "I'm Alive" became a firm favourite in the punk clubs. [ cite book |title= "Rock: The Rough Guide"|last= Buckley & Ellingham (eds)|year= 1996|publisher= Rough Guides|location= London|isbn= 1-85828-201-2|pages= p.609; ]

The band's second single, "Nasty Nasty", was cited nearly twenty years after its release as a seminal punk single. [ cite web |url= http://www.hiljaiset.sci.fi/punknet/top100si.htm |first=Steve |last=Gardner |year=1996 |title= Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk singles |quote= ripping guitar; ]

The self-titled debut album, produced by Andy Arthurs, was released in March 1978. One retrospective review claimed it “demonstrated their limitations as well as their strengths. The 45 cuts like "Me And My Desire" and "Emergency" demonstrated the latter, but the album lacked that special ingredient, uniqueness or originality to make it stand out from the crowd”. [ cite book |title= "Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk"|last= Joynson|first= Vernon|year= 2001|publisher= Borderline Publications|location= Wolverhampton|pages= p.246; ] Be that as it may, the album reached number 53 in the UK Albums Chart. Also, taken from the album, the single "Emergency" was included years later in "Mojo" magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time. [Mojo (October 2001) - "100 Punk Scorchers ", Issue 95, London;] The following year, the track appeared, alongside songs by more famous bands like The Jam and The Stranglers, on the punk compilation "20 of Another Kind". The album reached number 45 in the UK chart.

The band's second album, "Separates", produced by Martin Rushent is more critically lauded today. [ For example, Larkin (2002) described it as “stronger, with compelling numbers such as the single "Homicide" resorting to muscular choruses instead of simple speed”; Joynson (2001) called it a “progression on their debut” with a “tighter sound”; Stephen "SPAZ" Schnee of Allmusic tell us that it is “more polished”;] One reviewer lists it as one of the best punk albums of all-time. [ cite web |url=http://www.hiljaiset.sci.fi/punknet/top100lp.htm |first=Steve |last=Gardner |year=1996 |title=Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk LP's |quote=" ‘Homicide’ from this LP, which was about their most popular song, was pretty close to disco, but there's plenty of other catchy ones here, like ‘Tulse Hill Night’, ‘Out Of Reach’ or ‘Let's Face It’." ] In October 1978, a month after the album’s release, 999 recorded their only session for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/johnpeel/artists/a/999/ 999’s John Peel Session on BBC Radio 1] ;] 999 also played at ‘Front Row Festival’, a three-week event at the Hope and Anchor in late November and early December 1977. This resulted in the band’s inclusion, alongside the likes of Dr. Feelgood, The Only Ones, the Saints, The Stranglers, X-Ray Spex, and XTC, on a hit double-LP of recordings from the festival.

999 toured widely Stateside and the band was rewarded when their albums "The Biggest Prize In Sport" and "Concrete" charted on the Billboard 200. Despite a number of minor hit singles, the band's critical appeal in Britain had already began to wane. Their stock was lifted temporarily with the arrival of the self-released "Face To Face". [ For example, Strong (2003) believes that 999 “redeemed themselves” with this “more accomplished” effort; Larkin (2002) described it as “more convincing”; Joynson (2001) called it “quite engaging melodic rock”; Thompson (2000) hailed it as proof that “the group were still a power in the land”; Buckley & Ellingham (1996) describe it as “quirky, relaxed and tuneful”;]

Unfortunately, 999's popularity continued to steadily decline leading to the group disbanding twice in the 1980s, only to reform soon afterward. They have since released several albums and continue to tour. Bassick also plays for The Lurkers. [ [http://www.thelurkers.co.uk/history.htm The Lurkers' Band History on their official website] ]

A lack of further chart activity, and with only one UK Top 40 single to their credit, sees 999 join the list of one-hit wonders; a list that includes other UK punk or new wave acts such as The Banned, John Cooper Clarke, The Flying Lizards, Jilted John, the Radio Stars, the Rich Kids and The Vibrators.

Line up changes

* Original line-up: Nick Cash (b. Keith Lucas, 6 May 1950) – vocals and guitar; Guy Days – guitar and vocals; Jon Watson – bass; Pablo LaBritain – drums.
* End of 1979: Ed Case replaces LaBritain on drums.
* Spring 1980: LaBritain returned to replace Case.
* Split up in 1982 but reformed in 1983. [ Joynson, V. (2001) "Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk", Borderline Productions, Wolverhampton, p. 247; ]
* End of 1983: Danny Palmer replaced Watson on bass.
* Split up in 1987 but reformed in 1993. [ Strong, M.C. (2003) "The Great Indie Discography", Canongate, Edinburgh, p. 106; ]
* End of 1993: Arturo Bassick (of The Lurkers) replaced Palmer on bass.

Reviews

* 999's debut single, "I'm Alive", was ‘a headlong rush of anti 9 to 5 rebellion complete with a bruising power-pop punk guitar attack and rent-a-yob pitched-in vocals’. [ Strong, M.C. (2003) "The Great Indie Discography", Canongate, Edinburgh, p. 105; ]

* ‘It's a three-minute Charge of the Light Brigade with all the hallmarks of 1977: the vocals are histrionic, the music embarrassingly simple, the instruments turned up to full volume and the production almost absent’. [ Buckley, J. & Ellingham (ed.) (1996) "Rock: The Rough Guide", Rough Guides, London, p. 609; ]

* ‘They produced a series of snappy singles sung with urgency - "Nasty Nasty", "Me And My Desire" and "Emergency" - which received favourable reviews but didn't sell in sufficient quantities to make the charts’. [ Joynson, V. (2001) "Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk", Borderline Productions, Wolverhampton, p. 246; ]

* ‘A ferocious live band, the group harnessed every iota of their stage performance for the studio, turning in an album that zips past at the speed of light, in a blur of chant-worthy choruses and pogo-able riffs’. [ Dave Thompson’s review of 999's debut album, Allmusic; ]

* ‘Singer Nick Cash has a sort of affected, high pitched snarl when he wants to emphasize a point, but when the band sings straight verses or chorus parts with backing vocals they can have a nice punk pop sound that's a lot like the Boys’. [ [http://www.hiljaiset.sci.fi/punknet/top100lp.htm Steve Gardner (1996) “Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk LPs”] ; ]

* ‘They have also been the subject of a welter of compilations and live albums in the wake of renewed interest in punk nostalgia, but the better elements of their back catalogue argue strongly against the 'dregs of punk' tag that has hung around their necks in recent times’. [ Larkin, C. (2002) "70s Music", Virgin Books, London, p. 307; ]

* ‘Not until they’re all laid out in front of one, does it become apparent just how many great 45s this band had!’. [ Thompson, D. (2000) "Alternative Rock", Miller Freeman Books, San Francisco, p. 520; ]

* ‘While never gaining back their original popularity and record sales, they have for the past 30 years or so maintained a live and recording profile to become one of Britain's best loved punk acts and always a great live act'. [ [http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/999-2.htm '999: A History' from www.punk77.co.uk: A history of UK Punk Rock from 1976-79] ; ]

Discography

Albums

tudio albums

* "999" (March 1978, United Artists Records, UAG 30199) # 53 UK Albums Chartcite book
first= David
last= Roberts
year= 2006
title= British Hit Singles & Albums
edition= 19th
publisher= Guinness World Records Limited
location= London
pages=
id= ISBN 1-904994-10-5
]
* "Separates" (September 1978, United Artists, UAG 30209)
* "High Energy Plan" (U.S. Release only: 1979, PVC / Radar) Based upon "Separates", it replaced various album tracks with various singles
* "Biggest Prize in Sport" (January 1980, Polydor Records, POLS 1013) # 177 U.S. Billboard Album Chart
* "Concrete" (April 1981, Albion, ITS 999) # 192 U.S. Billboard
* "13th Floor Madness" (November 1983, Albion, AS 8502)
* "Face to Face" (March 1985, LaBritain, LABLP 1000)
* "You Us It!" (November 1993, Anagram)
* "Takeover" (March 1998, Get Back)
* "Outburst" (2003)
* "Death In Soho" (2007)

Appearances on various artist compilations (selective)

Listing of those various artists compilation albums mentioned in the text of the main article:
* "Quite Disappointing" and "Crazy" are featured on the "Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival" double compilation LP (March 1978: Warner Bros K66077) #28 UK Albums Chartcite book
first= David
last= Roberts
year= 2006
title= British Hit Singles & Albums
edition= 19th
publisher= Guinness World Records Limited
location= London
pages=
id= ISBN 1-904994-10-5
]
* "Emergency" and "Homocide" are featured on the "20 of Another Kind" (February 1979: Polydor, POLS 1006) UK #45

Live albums, compilations, etc.

* "Biggest Tour in Sport (live)" (1980, Polydor)
* "The Singles Album" (1981, SOS)
* "The Early Stuff" (1981, EMI)
* "In Case of Emergency" (1986, Dojo)
* "Lust Power and Money (Live)" (1987, A.B.C.)
* "Live and Loud" (1989, Link)
* "The Cellblock Tapes" (1990, Link)
* "Live in L.A.: 1991" (1994)
* "Scandal in the City" (1997)
* "Live at the Nashville 1979" (1997, Anagram)
* "Emergency" (1997, Receiver)
* "Slam" (1999, Overground)
* "The Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980" (2001, Captain Oi)
* "English Wipeout: Live" (2002, Overground)

ingles

* "I'm Alive" / "Quite Disappointing" (July 1977, LaBritain) Re-released on United Artists in 1979
* "Nasty Nasty" / "No Pity" (October 1977, United Artists) Also released as a 78 rpm promo disc
* "Me And My Desire" / "Crazy" (April 1978, United Artists)
* "Emergency" / "My Street Stinks" (June 1978, United Artists)
* "Feeling Alright With The Crew" / "Titantic (My Over) Reaction" (August 1978, United Artists)
* "Homocide" / "Soldier" (October 1978, United Artists) # 40 UK Singles Chartcite book
first= David
last= Roberts
year= 2006
title= British Hit Singles & Albums
edition= 19th
publisher= Guinness World Records Limited
location= London
pages=
id= ISBN 1-904994-10-5
]
* "Found Out Too Late" / "Lie Lie Lie" (September 1979, Radar Records) # 69
* "Trouble" / "Make A Fool Of You" (January 1980, Polydor)
* "Hollywood" / "Boiler" (April 1980, Polydor)
* "Obsessed" / "Change" / "Lie Lie Lie" (April 1981, Albion) # 71
* "Li'l Red Riding Hood" / "Waiting For Your Number To Be Called" / "I Ain't Gonna Tell Ya" (live) (June 1981, Albion) # 59
* "Indian Reservation" / "So Greedy" (remix) / "Taboo" (remix) (November 1981, Albion) # 51
* "Wild Sun" / "Scandal In The City" / "Bongos On The Nile" (June 1982, Albion) Also released as a 12" single with "Don't You Know I Need You"
* "13th Floor Madness" / "Nightshift" / "Arabesque" (October 1983, Albion) Also released as a 12" single

ee also

* List of British punk bands
* List of musicians in the first wave of punk music
* List of Peel sessions
* One-hit wonders in the UK

References

External links

* [http://www.nineninenine.cjb.net/ The Official 999 Web Site]
*
* [http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/999.htm 999] on www.punk77.co.uk
* [http://punkmodpop.free.fr/999_pic.htm 999] on Punkmodpop
* [http://www.scannerzine.com/999.htm Interview with Nick Cash on Scanner zine]


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