Famous Names | Fade 2 Grey

Famous Names

Famous Names, Venetian Blind, The Lost Album,1981


Side 1 Side 2
Muscle Culture II Change
Observation Venetian Blinds
Techno Refugee Dance On
Blind Girl Boy
Jack´s Party Pain




Steve Rowles – Vocals & Guitar
Steve Fairnie – Vocals
Bev Sage – Vocals
Jules Hardwick – Guitar & Guitar Synthesizer
Les Cargo – Bass Guitar
Arry Axell – Drums

I have saved this post as a special Xmas day present, hope all the fans of Steve Fairnie enjoy this rare album.

Well here it is at last the lost album by Famous Names  who in effect were Writz with just one change in their lineup with Les Cargo replacing Nick Battle on Bass.

Venetian Blind has some tracks which you will recognise, from other Steve Fairnie projects but as far as I know this was going to be the Famous Names album.

A big thank you to Tim for sending me this album, check out Tim´s excellent site fairnie.net for all things associated with the late great Steve Fairnie HERE and thank-you to Tim for keeping his music alive.

p.s. album sleeve by me, enjoy

29 Responses to “Famous Names”

  1. Matt says:

    Thank you so much for this! Christmas present indeed!

  2. Tim says:

    I am SOOOO confused right now. For one thing, the “Curious Collection” comp that was the 2nd most wanted record for me was posted here just a few days ago. On that post I mentioned that Venetian Blind was the most wanted record for my collection and how I had been in contact with Bev Sage and her son, trying to locate a copy but she said that it was never released and that there were only a few copies floating around. So I just don’t get how you even HAVE this here – but this is DEFINITELY a memorable Christmas now because of Matt Crosslin telling me about this post and fade2grey for SOMEHOW having this and posting it!

    THANK YOU, fade2grey!!!


  3. Tim says:

    BTW – what was the source of this rip? The vinyl that the pic shows above? It sounds like a cassette copy b/c of how there are many times frequency dropouts on old cassettes (like this would have been.) And please let us know HOW you got a copy of this?!!!


    • adminmike says:

      Hi Tim, sorry I can´t remember properly I´ve had this for a while now but I´m sure it was the guy who set up fairnienet who sent me the mp3´s of the album.It could well have been a cassette copy, I made up the album sleeves etc I hope this helps, sorry it was a long time ago now.All the best Mikey

      • Tim says:

        Wow, man – thanks! No matter whether there are frequency dropouts or not 🙂 I am just SO surprised to see this surface on the music blog scene b.c I thought it was never released.

        Any other rare Fairnie&co. stuff?

  4. Julian says:

    I too searched high and low for any existence of the Venetian Blind (no “s”?) album for many years. There is a great interview with the lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Steve Rowles on the Fairnie website, but he mentions the album was “never finished”. I was just about to give up when Tim Pyke who runs the Fairnie website, a few years back and completely “out of the blue”, kindly sent me a download link. I had previously provided him with “Curious collection” as an mp3. I bought this for 50p back in the day while quite by chance stumbled upon it while rummaging through old vinyl albums in a record shop, in Kingston upon Thames. Remember them?
    As you said several tracks from Venetain Blind turned up on the CC comp. and the Techno Orchestra album. Some exaclty the same and some remixed/re-recorded versions.

    • adminmike says:

      Hi Julian, yes thankyou for filling in some gaps for me I´m sure it was Tim who sent me the album.Yes I remember those old record shops, evertime I´m back in the UK I visit as many as I can lol. 50p fot the Curious collection (I wont tell how much it cost me but needless to say I´m missing an arm and a leg!) Thanks for your comments Mikey

  5. Martin says:

    I have a vinyl copy of the second ‘Writz’ album (essentially the band before they became ‘Famous Names’ and when I bought it, I was told it was an israeli pressing. The cover, however, is a photo of Bev and Steve Fairnie in front of some venetian blinds – I was told this was the proposed ‘Venetian Blind’ cover art (rather than your rather nice one above). Not sure how reliable this information is, but it’s a nice photo.
    Incidentally, the later Techno version of ‘Observation’ is much better than the ‘Venetian Blind’ cut in my opinion…

    • adminmike says:

      Hi Martin is it possible you can send me a scan of the album sleeve I´d love to see it, and out of curiosity did you have an inner sleeve too? I would be grateful if you could it for me, thanks Mikey

  6. Martin says:

    Hi Mike. Yes, will send you a scan as soon as I can dig out the record and get to a scanner (in the next few days). I don’t think there’s an inner sleeve or any other credits/interesting details, but will check. If so, will also scan these for you. My copy has been warped from the word ‘go’, but still plays OK!

    I saw Fairnie play in various line-ups over the years, including the early Fish Co acoustic duo and the memorable Greenbelt evening when over half the sudience walked out on an experimental Techno Orchestra performace. Those who left missed a fabulous encore of ‘Muscle Culture’ from the Writz album.

  7. Julian says:

    Hello Martin, Yes, please scan the cover when you have some time and hopefully Mike can post it. I remember seeing it on ebay a few years back and really should have bought it.
    My recall is that when Writz changed their name, the eponymous album was re-released in Israel as Famous Names – “The Writz Album”. And I think they did a final tour there as well before splitting up.
    As a side note, I also saw them quite a few times and always thought Jules Hardwick was a really great and creative guitarist.
    As far as I know he dissappeared from the radar after they split.

  8. Hi there, Tim from fairnie.net here – thanks for the kind comments relating to my website here and there in the thread. In response to the last comment, Jules Hardwick later moved into writing instrumental music for BBC wildlife documentaries and the like. I once interviewed him for the website but it was difficult to piece it together into something that would have made for interesting reading.

    There’ll be a new version of the fairnie.net website going live soon to tie in with the 20th anniversary of Fairnie’s passing. Look out for it!

    • adminmike says:

      Hi Tim good to hear from you, just about to post Writz singles with all the sleeves and the Night Nurse mask lol. and I´ve just reripped the album as I had to buy it again because I wanted to share the lyric sheet too.
      Looking forward the the new website all the best Mikey

  9. Martin says:

    Julian / Mike:

    I now have some photos of this album cover – please send me an email address and I will attach them for you. Apologies for the delay. I have photographed both front and back, but there’s nothing else on the inner sleeve. The back sleeve, however, confirms what I recalled from memory: it is on the ‘Arton’ label catalgue number BAN 16865 and was ‘Made in Israel’ in 1981, two years after the Writz album originally appeared. It bears the legend ‘Hed-Arzi Ltd, The Israel records Manufacturing Co, Ramat-Gan, Israel’.

    The front cover shows Steve and Bev in front of…some venetian blinds! Apart from this, the track listing and everything else is the same.

    All the best,

  10. Julian says:

    Hi Martin,
    I would love to see the sleeve as well….

    Many thanks,

  11. Jules says:

    Hi punters, Jules, here. Not wishing to be confusing, I’m neither the previous Julian, or Mr Hardwick.

    During my own explorations of the Techno Basement, I found a lot of proto material intended for the Venetian Blind album. (Note that it is Blind, not Blinds.)

    The running order of one tape stated the following:

    Side One
    1. Half A Story
    2. Military Business
    3. Blind Girl
    4. Jack’s Party
    5. Observation

    Side Two
    6. Boy
    7. Techno Refugee
    8. Button Up
    9. Changes (also called Rock til The Show Stops)
    10.Talk It Out
    11. TV Times
    12. Holiday Romance
    13. Veneitian Blind

    This seems quite incomplete to me, and is unlikely to have been the final order. It also didn’t include When is Pleasure Pain or, crucially, Venetian Blind itself, both of which I would expect to have appeared on the album.

    Personel would be: Fairnie/Sage/Rowles/Hardwick, with Arry Axell (drums), and new chap Les Cargo (bass).
    Production: Rowles.

    It is almost certainly this tape that was the basis of a ‘review’ of the album in Strait in August 1981. The reviewer notes Observation, Techno Refugee, and Military Business, Rock Til The Show Stops, J’s Party, Dance On, Blind Girl, Boy, Half A Story and Venitian Blind in that order during the rview, but he doesn’t suggest that is the running order.

    Another song that was probably a contender was When The lights Go Out, which had a clock chimes intro.

    Button Up was recorded during the CBS sessions for the soundtrack to the LWT Dennis Potter drama Creeam in my Coffee. Two versions of the title track were recorded, a short version, and a long version, both ending in deliberate chaos to fit the drama’s storyline. The short version collapses one verse in, the long two verses in. You can see this on technorefugee channel on You Tube.

    The inclusion of TV Times in the running order is curious, and may have indicated a possible re-make of the Writz track. It’s the Writz version still, on the tape. As we know, they were forever borrowing tracks from previous albums (there were, believe it or not, Fish Co versions of Night Nurse). A version of TV Times exists which is extraordinary. The intrumental has been entirely replaced by Hewson’s Berlin Ballerina music, with “Living in TV” used as a refrain, and the TV Times lyrics sort of re imagined beneath the electronics otherwise. Fabulous piece.

    Venetian Blind, Dance On, and Blind Girl appeared unaltered on Curious Collection.
    Muscle Culture, Observation, Techno Refugee, Boy, Pain, appeared, much altered on Techno Orchestra’s Casual Tease.
    Button Up was also on Casual Tease, unaltered.
    The Long version of Cream in my Coffee is on Curious Collection.

    A Famous Names version of Movies was recorded during the LWT/CBS session, but that whole session was in mono.
    The French single release of Movies, whilst still Writz has a unique intro with a bit of mystery piano, and is worth getting.

    Down Town exists in several radically different versions.

    There is SO MUCH unused material.

    The Isreali release of the Writz album mentioned earlier is just that. The Writz album, unaltered, but with Famous Names as the band name. Pressing quality is poor.

    I regard this album to be one of the greatest albums never to have been released.


    • adminmike says:

      Hi Jules,

      Wow thankyou for all the info, just when we thought we had everything by the band and you blow us out the water lol. I really enjoyed reading thei so much more out there, maybe one day we will get a release of the album as intended, thankyou again for taking the time to give us this insite, all the best Mikey

      • Jules says:

        You haven’t scratched the surface. There is a wealth of Writz (a great set of them from April 79) and FN demos, and this proliferation continues into Casual Tease, Techno Twins, and Technos. They were were very very creative. I think only myself and Tim have really had the opportunity to explore it.

        Night Nurse was attempted several timesis different ways, as was Down Town. The demo of Swinging with the Reptiles is perhaps better than that on the album.

        The Casual Tease material is astounding, and is largely the result of the electronic talent of Hewson.

        Here’s a few things in the basement [from memory]:

        Fish Co demos:
        – Share the same tomorrow
        – Beatiful Secret
        – Because he died
        – In all things acknowledge him
        – Precious Lord
        – Whosoever Cometh
        – Matthew
        – When the light Goes Out x2
        – Night Nurse x2
        – Natural Talent

        Writz demos
        – Swing with the Reptiles
        – Movies
        – Drive Away
        – Night Nurse x3
        – Robberoni
        – Giving It All Away
        – Down Town x3

        Famous Names demos:
        – album demos mentioned earlier

        Casual Tease demos
        – TV Times / Berlin Ballerina [as mentioned]
        – Sweet Georgia Brown
        – Let there be Neon
        – In His Head
        – Gone with the Wind
        – Lunatic Republic
        – Mechanical Ballet x2
        – To Borrow
        – TV Stars [acoustic demo]
        – + great many untitled intsrumental items

        Techno Twins demos:
        – Falling In Love Again x many
        – Kings and Queens of Pleasure
        – Swing Together
        – I Got You Babe x many
        – Lay Your Hands On Me [unreleased song]
        – Spend a night in Tokyo [ ditto ]
        – Stereo
        – Angels of Mercy
        – Voice Around the Bay

        Technos demos:
        – Chairman of the Board
        – Let There Be Games
        – Hype
        – I Will Follow (Maybe Tomorrow)
        – European Woman (became European Soldier)
        – Half a story
        – Pioneer’s Song
        – Dare To Dance
        – Hold On
        – Walk IN to the light
        – Living without you
        – Beat the Wings
        – For the World
        – Spirit of the Thing x many
        – Nighttime Heaven x many
        – Foreign Land x many
        – Prisoner of Love [shares music with Hype]

        • adminmike says:

          Hi Jules waht a list!
          Do you think that any of this material will ever see the light of day? A live album would be fnatastic as would an album of selected unreleased/demos and will all this new info be on the updated http://fairnie.free.fr/
          thankyou again for this wonderful instite into all things Fairnie, Mikey

  12. Jules says:

    This is the Cream in my Coffee footage, shown in the context of the Dennis Potter TV drama. You see therefore, why the title song was constructed to collapse in disarray. This scene was at the end of a 90min story.


  13. Julian says:

    Wow! Hi Jules.
    Another Fairnie fan on the planet, with very close connections obviously. I thought I was a completist pretty much afew years back when I got a copy of the “Venetian Blind” album (albeit in an uninished state to quote Steve Rowles). I bought everything along the way as it was released after booking Writz to play at my College circa 1980 and having the good fortune to spend some time with the band that day. I also continued to run into Steve and Bev around London as we attended the same gigs. The Tubes at Hammersmith Odeon is one that comes to mind. There are certain stage show similarities. They always stood out from the crowd on the street fashion wise.
    I would sell my wife’s dog for a copy of the live Writz concert and demos. Can we hook up and maybe trade something? I hope you can somehow make this avaialble for us fans. jrochester@nailor.com
    Cheers for all the info.

  14. “1-2-3-4-2-2-3-4″…Amazing to hear those demos, they’re incredible rarities and thanks Jules for sharing. Would love to hear the Fish Co take on Night Nurse, I wonder how different it was to the Writz version!

    The Fairnie clan is currently working on producing an official release of the Fairnie canon. The revamped website is also on its way although rollout has been delayed by a few real-world issues getting in the way!

    • adminmike says:

      Hi Tim,
      Great news about the official release, just let me know what and when and I´ll promote here for you, looking forward to the new website too, all the best Mikey

  15. Julian says:

    Wow, thanks for this Jules. Keep them coming please.
    The live Writz concert would just be the icing on the cake for us to hear.

  16. Hi there if anyone is still checking out this thread! The new version of http://www.fairnie.net is now up and running and ready for public consumption. Lots of bits, bobs, words, pics and videos to check out!

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