The Locomotives were formed at Warwick University in 1984 by English student Joe Cushley (vocals/harmonica), Drama student Chris Ingham (vocals/guitar), English student Simon Stokes (bass) and Theatre Studies student Simon Kunz (drums). With their sound emerging from somewhere around where Dr Feelgood, Link Wray and the Rezillos intersect, their repertoire consisted of reckless covers of 'Wipe Out' (Surfaris), 'Lonesome Train' (Pirates), 'Bullfrog Blues' (Rory Gallagher), 'Bad Boy' (Larry Williams via Beatles), 'The Hippy Hippy Shake' (grunge version, stolen from Midlands R&B heroes the Mosquitoes), 'You've Got My Number' (Undertones), 'La Grange' (ZZ Top) and the theme from the cartoon series Spider Man.
The group were received embarassingly well by student audiences and delivered many memorable gigs, though the provocative agit-prop/children's entertainer style of front-man Cushley would sometimes cause some disquiet. At the band's second appearance in Ele's Nest, the venue on the top floor of the student union, an edgy Cushley comment in the wake of the October 1984 Brighton bombing inspired raised fists and bad press in the student rag, The Warwick Boar.
The band's appeal spread off campus to non-student venues (Kelly's in Leamington Spa, Coventry Comedy Club, Rugby Town Hall) which led the band to move to London upon graduation in 1985. Kunz, already unimpressed with the band's shift to original material, left the group to pursue acting. Lawyer-in-training Marcus Barclay was recruited on drums and the Locomotives hit the London clubs, including the Bull And Gate in Kentish Town, Merlin's Cave in Kings Cross, the Clarendon in Hammersmith, the George Robey in Finsbury Park and other sticky-floor pub-rock venues. In December 1985, they won a Battle of the Bands competition at the Scientology headquarters in East Grinstead (adjudicated by Spider From Mars Woody Woodmansey) and escaped with their prize of a day in the recording studio and their souls more-or-less intact.
Encouraged by Stan Brennan of Media Burn Records (who advised Ingham to ease up on the limb-flailing Townshend 'bullshit'), the group recorded a six-track album From The Finest Rolling Stock in 1986, produced by Mark Hosking of the Stingrays. The opening track, an outraged reaction to some Tory scandal or other called 'High Fliars' was played by John Peel who remarked that it reminded him of something (he probably meant The Beatles' 'Hey Bulldog').
(to be continued, when I can remember any more)
The Locomotives, backstage 1984 (CLICK PIC for YOUTUBE clip)
L-R: Simon Kunz, Chris Ingham, Joe Cushley, Simon Stokes
From The Finest Rolling Stock (Media Burn 1986)
Bourgeois Voodoo (Big Beat 1987)