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The Decorators

A Retrospective View

West London. The reference books generally talk of The Who, usually The Clash and often Sex Pistols. And sometimes Deep Purple. The late 70s, like so many other parts of London - in the aftermath of punk - started to crawl with bands. The part of Ealing that spawned The Who would some dozen years later bring forward a fresh crop of talent in the shape of The Transmitters, The Decorators, The Lurkers, Tubeway Army, The Satellites and later Furniture and the Orson Family. Like any local scene there were also-rans in the shape of The Milk, London Pride and The Prisoners.


In their songs The Decorators referenced the reasonably local Wembley (Red Skies Over Wembley) and the very local Uxbridge Road (We Know It Part Two), that west London route from Shepherds Bush through to Uxbridge. Through Rock Against Racism the Decorators were loosely aligned with fellow west Londoners The Ruts and Misty In Roots, and 999 allegedly came from Southall, too. So, although I'm sure The Decorators were inspired by the climate of punk, to my knowledge they never played it.


Looking at this website, they obviously touched a fair few with their songwriting skill and their Lou Reed cool and it’s obvious that I’m not the only one with fond memories of the band and their music. They were batted around by different small labels, even getting involved with Island at one stage, but ultimately they were in the right place at the wrong time. Looking back at their vinyl legacy the chief impression now is that they were keen to record quality rather pad out their records with fillers. A recorded legacy of less than 25 self-written, first class tracks is more than any band can wish to leave behind; there’s no need for numerous tedious albums with no more than two out of twelve tracks worth listening to.


If we need the minutiae (and I’m not sure we do, really) here goes:

one of their finest recordings - Strange One- appeared in raw form originally as the 2nd B-side on their 2nd 45;

the French 12” was a cover of a Flamin’ Groovies track;

the Rebel Song writing credit always confused me: I imagine that ‘The Cat People’ was a Decorators pseudonym. There’s a reference to “cat people” in the track Half World;

the track Tablets does not appear on the album of the same name;

the Tablets album includes a cover of Curious, from The Transmitters 1979 EP on Step Forward records called Ugly Man;

Hidden Hands was co-credited to Dexter O’Brien, who provided lyrics for The Transmitters’ early tracks.


I don’t know why the band fell apart and I don’t remember the french connection but I do remember that the last I saw of them was a late 80s Transmitters gig where the support was none other than a new Decorators in the shape of (Mick Bevan’s) Watchman ensemble.


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