ilegality

@ilegal blogs

The Height of Goth

It was 1984 and I was 18 years old. I was in a band

We were a bit Bauhaus, a bit Killing Joke, a bit crazy. I couldn’t afford an instrument so I was the singer. I wasn’t a very good singer, but we were a band

We used to go to the Xclusiv nightclub at the weekend. It was down by the railway station in Batley, the town where we lived in West Yorkshire

For sentimental reasons the couple who ran the nightclub, Ann and Pete Swallow, got someone to make a video to capture a typical night at the club. VHS cassettes of the final film were sold for £2 each to regulars. I think there were 50 copies in total, but can’t be sure. I never bought one, £2 was a stretch, there were bigger priorities

I’m in the film dancing away along along with the rest of the band, my sister Nancy and even a couple of my teenage flames, Karen and Michelle. If I remember it right it was actually filmed on a Sunday night (with ridiculously bright lights!) so as not to disturb the usual Fridays and Saturdays. It was a ticket only affair for the regulars, although some interlopers did make it in too

Over the years those cassettes eventually got recorded over, broken, lost or thrown away. Everyone forgot

Some 30 years later I’m living in London and by sheer fluke we came across one of the cassettes (this is a bizarre story in itself, but for another time). It was trashed. Mildewed. Beyond junk. My brother worked his magic, rescued it to digital and gave it to me as a gift (thanks Ed!)

I put it on YouTube

Since then it’s been viewed over a quarter of a million times. It was the subject of a Guardian Culture article (Alex Petridis on The Height of Goth), in which the writer described it as “At turns unwittingly hilarious, fascinating and incredibly boring, this 1984 nightclub documentary is a great British pop culture document

It has been watched (and screened, especially for film clubs) all over the world. I’ve had emails from countless people who were affected or touched by it – they wanted to know the names of the songs and the artists that were played that night, they argued about the correct terminology when referring to the musical genres or ‘scenes’, they yawned, they choked, they laughed, they loved it

In the last few years film critics and film lovers from as far afield as Rio de Janeiro and New York have been watching a film of one night in one nightclub in Batley, West Yorkshire, in 1984. They took the time to contact me and tell me. How crazy is that

The film currently has 6 music copyright claims against it. Those claims were from WMG, SME (x2), [Merlin] Beggars, INgrooves and Pirames International Srl. This resulted in YouTube taking the film offline. I recently appealed and have been doing what I can through the annoyingly one-sided YouTube appeals process

So far I’ve lost 5 out of 6 of the (automated, it seems) ‘appeals’. Only Pirames International Srl has released its claim. Where does this leave the film? I don’t know. For now at least it seems the one released claim (thank you, Pirames) is keeping it online. If you do try watching it the first couple of minutes are a bit shaky and all over the place but the picture quality and sound settles down in time for the scenes in the club itself

I don’t know how long it has left, I guess nobody does. This is the film. It is 1984 and it is The Height of Goth

Full track list in the comments below

If the embedded video above doesn’t work (because of the copyright strikes/country restrictions), web search it or try it from one of the embedded players on the sites below that have written about it previously:

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33 comments on “The Height of Goth

  1. Mimsy Momerath
    January 4, 2015

    Wow. That is really a great story.

    Like

  2. Adrian Burnham
    March 23, 2015

    Well Pat from this blog some of us will now know who originally posted the video. It’s been the subject of much discussion among your old friends as to where it came from, because we all knew it was such a rare item, and none of us ever had any copies. The responses the video has generated have been fascinating. I think we’d all be intrigued to hear the back story regarding how you came across the tape. The issues over copyright are also interesting – how can these people lay claim to ownership? Surely the copyright belongs to those that commissioned and produced the video all those years ago. Perhaps that’s a reflection on these times when everything is seen in terms of monetary value.
    You’ve done good and I hope the copyright situation doesn’t grind you down.
    The blog is written really well – a vast improvement on the quality of the lyric writing displayed when I was bassist in the band;)
    A big hello and all the best,
    Adrian

    Like

  3. ilegal
    March 26, 2015

    Hahaha Adrian! Really good to hear from you bud 🙂

    The copyright issue – basically, the songs being played by the DJ – I guess that Ann and Pete might have even been breaching copyright at the time by selling a video with loads of tunes in it! Anyway, it’s not the end of the world, just annoying that the music industry jumps on anything and doesn’t tend to listen to sense. A couple of the companies have since given up their claim though and I think that’s what’s allowing it to hang on on YouTube

    You’re right about none of us having copies. The only person I think who bought one I know was my old school-mate Paul Collett (another MV bassist!), he had a job so was a bit more flush

    Anyway, the best thing is that it’s proof of what we were all up to then – history! I was killing myself laughing when I first put it on YouTube thinking what you’d all think when you came across it. I never even knew it had got in the Guardian – it was Roge a year or so later who mentioned it to me. By the way, have you found his YouTube channel – he’s got some of our old tunes on there along with the more recent stuff he’s doing (with better lyrics lol):

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ3HxkAwFhu7eyTvnG2iu_w

    Take it easy bud, it’s really nice to hear from you – say hello to anyone who remembers me 🙂

    Patrick

    Like

    • Hev
      December 23, 2015

      So glad you did manage to put it on Youtube, I was at Batley Art College and used to go there, The Poacher, JFK etc. Makes me feel right nostalgic it does 🙂 Possibly knew you at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. salexanderreed
    April 28, 2015

    Thanks so much for the video! It’s a real timepiece. Question—do you know anything about the song “Dry Spell” by Freedom Suite, which is played in it? I’m trying to find it (or the band members) and information has been very scarce.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Anonymous
      April 12, 2016

      you can find the whole track here

      Like

  5. ilegal
    April 28, 2015

    Afraid not bud, sorry 😦 I recall the track but can’t say I know anything about the band

    Others might have an idea though – anyone reading this, you can hear it at 1.39.15 in the video (direct link below) and if you’ve any info leave a comment:

    Like

    • salexanderreed
      April 30, 2015

      Thanks! Hopefully someone will know. I’m guessing they’re from around Leeds because people seem to be singing along to “Dry Spell,” and yet there’s scarcely any online record of this single or band having existed—hence my suspicion that they were local. Cheers.

      Like

  6. Abe
    July 18, 2015

    What is the song after Echo & The Bunnymen? The song is like The Smiths, I really want to know that.

    Like

  7. Septic Skeptic
    September 14, 2015

    This is the best I can find. It names the writers. One of the producers is Neil Ferguson who produced Chumbawumba. Recorded in Normanton. http://www.45cat.com/record/nain22

    Like

  8. Septic Skeptic
    September 14, 2015

    This link should help a bit. Neil Ferguson was a producer for Chumbawumba. http://www.45cat.com/record/nain22

    Like

  9. John kinton
    October 16, 2015

    I was directed to your vid via a twitter link.words fail me for how good this is.just my era.at the time I was going to clubs in leicester and Nottingham that were full of the same people dancing to the same tunes.to see a couple of hours from an amazing time of my life is an absolute treat. I have SO many great stories from those days that this film is helping me recollect. Well done to you and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ilegal
      December 24, 2015

      Thanks very much, John. Glad you liked it bud 🙂

      Like

  10. ian
    January 13, 2016

    Thanks for your great efforts in all of this. I’m currently writing a book chapter around music and the North and my interest is Futurama and Leeds and how (I think) those festivals (anti-festivals?) forged an identity that became goth. Batcave or Batley – I know which one had the enduring affect. I attended a few of the Futurama events (Queens Hall was an experience in itself) and also a few nights at hellfire in Wakefield. Frantic years then around 83-84 following these bands night after night, hitching all day and sleeping in NCP car parks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pedro
    February 3, 2016

    Any chance of anyone posting a tracklist?
    Would be fantastic!

    Thanks for the upload, genius!

    Like

    • ilegal
      February 3, 2016

      I remember a couple of people made some decent stabs in the early YouTube comments if you want to scrawl back through them. I’ve always meant to pull them together and fill in the blanks… Thanks for the prod, I’ll make the effort and stick them up here in the next couple of days

      Like

    • Mark
      February 10, 2016

      I think I’ve got the complete tracklist now, except one. I can’t identify the track at 1:37:10, between the March Violets and Hanoi Rocks. Can anybody help? Then I’ll be able to put up the full list.

      Like

    • ilegal
      February 10, 2016

      Here’s a list compiled from commenters on YouTube – with some missing – if it helps. Big thanks to Mark in the comments for sorting out the hard ones! 🙂 I can’t vouch for all this being 100% – timings might be off for some etc – haven’t had chance to check them all. Anyone spots any that need changing by all means chip in

      08.56 New Order – Blue Monday
      10.45 The Smiths – What Difference Does It Make?
      12.23 Echo and the Bunnymen – The Back of Love
      14.00 The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink
      17.40 The Cramps – You got good taste
      20.02 Spear of Destiny – Liberator
      22.40 Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hong Kong Garden
      23.21 Sisters of Mercy – Temple Of Love
      24.35 David Bowie – The Jean Genie
      27.18 Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardast
      29.40 The Stranglers – No More Heroes
      32.29 Glenn Miller – In The Mood
      34.35 The Monkees – I’m a Believer
      37.05 Bobby “Boris” Picket – Monster Mash
      40.03 T. Rex – I Love to Boogie
      43.38 The Cult – Spiritwalker
      46.24 The Cramps – Human Fly
      47.09 The Cramps – Save It
      49.26 Killing Joke – Eighties
      53.04 Spear Of Destiny – Prisoner of Love
      55.07 The The – This is The Day
      58.24 The Associates – Club Country
      1.02.29 Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling
      1.05.38 The Birthday Party – Release The Bats
      1.08.00 Patti Smith Group – Because The Night
      1.21.00 Sex Gang Children – Sebastian
      1.24.00 Stranglers – Skin Deep
      1.28.33 The Stranglers – Waltzinblack
      1.30.15 The The – Uncertain Smile
      1.32.30 The Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
      1.34.01 March Violets – Walk into the sun
      1.37.10 Leitmotiv – Living In A Tin
      1:38:56 Hanoi Rocks – Up Around The Bend
      1:39:15 Freedom Suite – Dry Spell
      1:41:10 REM – Don’t Go Back To Rockville
      1.43.14 Echo and the Bunnymen – Cutter
      1.45.27 The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
      1.46.05 Buzzcocks – Ever fallen in love
      1.46.46 The Doors – Touch Me
      1.47.46 The Swinging Blue Jeans – Hippy Hippy Shake
      1.48.30 Ozzy Osbourne – Paranoid
      1.49.18 Sex Gang Children – Mauritia Mayer
      1.51.30 Soft Cell – Torch
      1.54.35 Spear Of Destiny – The Wheel
      1.56.57 David Bowie – Life on Mars

      Like

      • Mark
        February 10, 2016

        Forgot to mention, The Doors track is “Touch Me”. Don’t think it’s a medley though it does jump around a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Mark
    February 10, 2016

    A million thanks for this. Hugely grateful. My own list is practically identical, but with one discrepancy and a couple of additions. The Bunnymen track at 12:23 is, of course, “The Back Of Love”, but you knew that anyway. I’ve identified three tracks between The The’s “This Is The Day” and The Bunnymen’s “The Cutter” – at 1:38:56 we get a brief snatch of “Up Around The Bend” by Hanoi Rocks, at 1:39:15 is The Freedom Suite’s “Dry Spell” and then that merges into REM’s Don’t Go Back To Rockville at 1:41:10. Finally, this version of “Hippy Hippy Shake” is by The Swinging Blue Jeans, recorded in 1963 at about the same time as The Beatles did it. Curiously, neither of them is the original version as it was written in 1959 by Robert Lee “Chan” Romero, a rock’n’roller of Spanish/Mexican/Apache/Cherokee/Irish origin…. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ilegal
      February 11, 2016

      You’re a hero Mark, cheers 🙂 I’ve added all those in. I still can’t vouch for all the timings, especially later on – I’ll try check properly at some point when I get time

      Like

      • Mark
        February 11, 2016

        Glad to have been of help.
        You’ve brought back some great memories.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Bev
    March 3, 2016

    Wow! Thank you so very much for uploading this video to YouTube.What a fabulous story about the tape! Strange thing is, I only stumbled upon it because I typed (Danse Society) into the search engine. Believe it or not, I was also a regular at the Xclusiv back then and wasn’t even aware that this film existed! So it was such a treat to watch it and brought back so many happy memories! Also used to frequent The F Club in Leeds and Le Phonographique under the Merrion centre.

    Be well and thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ilegal
      March 4, 2016

      That’s great Bev, glad you liked it 🙂

      Like

  14. Rosana Monteiro
    June 13, 2016

    It is wonderful that these memories have since been registered so young as I can see how it was incredible aesthetics and the songs of that decade as productive!
    I am Brazilian and here also we had a Gothic era but were what we could capture in Europe. Everything was always late.
    I always see videos about nightclubs with post punk theme and I am extremely passionate, thank you for sharing this gem!

    Prosperity and luck!

    Like

  15. Pingback: Witch house is the new coldwave: totally not goth video links. – Rocknerd

  16. Anonymous
    October 30, 2016

    Hello. I am Paul the DJ in the film and I still have a VHS copy of this downstairs somewhere. I can’t believe this has been taken down from you tube, it’s all a bit sad really the copyright thing . Looking back the idea of this promotional video was a bit strange even at the time and it is hilarious in lots of ways ….but I am so glad that they made it. It brings all the memories flooding back .

    Liked by 1 person

    • ilegal
      October 31, 2016

      Wow, Paul! I used to ask you to play records in there and you were always a good bloke and would try to stick them on – even the odd dodgy one like Duran Duran’s Wild Boys HAHAHA 🙂

      Glad you liked it. Keep hold of your VHS copy, it’s gold dust 🙂

      Like

  17. Paul
    January 29, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing this treasure, brings back so many great memories.
    Shared on my site http://www.forgotten-glory.com a site dedicated to the 80’s New Wave and Punks that shaped Breda and Heerlen in The Netherlands.

    Thanks Again.. big time..

    Liked by 1 person

  18. laurenstdavid
    April 12, 2017

    Can I just say that this made my day? I grew up in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, but where I really grew up was in small clubs like this is my town, and in San Antonio, and Austin. I can’t believe how recognizable the scene and the music are. Thank you very much for posting this! And I have shared the snot out of it.

    Like

    • ilegal
      April 15, 2017

      You’re very welcome and glad you liked it 🙂

      Like

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