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Birds With Ears


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Formed in 1980 when the five members were all students at the Art College and Sussex Uni, they developed a post-punk funk sound around a tight rhythm section: Smith’s sneering, theatrical vocals and music teacher Billy Cowie’s imaginative keyboard arrangements.

With influences from afar as Viv Stanshall, 60’s west coast r & b and poltico-dance bands like The Gang Of Four and Pigbag, Birds With Ears originally had two vocalists, one of them a female. She was Laurie Morris, who left the band in late 1980.

Around the time their bizarre ‘Head In My Bag’ was included on the final Attrix compilation album Vaultage 80

When the Chefs hot-footed it up to the big smoke in the new year of 1981, Attrix Records saw Birds With Ears as their salvation and risked all by funding an entire album, which was full of songs about cannibalism, grave-robbing, decapitation and, er, Danny Kaye.

Popular live, the band played to packed houses in Brighton and London with an outrageous show featuring Ian Smith decked out in a bird-shit spattered tux, strobe lights and amazing sound effects.

But sadly John Peel didn’t dig the album, and although an unreleased single was recorded, Attrix couldn’t afford to issue it. The album, ‘Youthinasia’, didn’t sell – although it has now become a cult item.

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