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The A Band

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The A Band are a British musical collective formed in Nottingham in the late 1980s. In 2005, The Wire magazine stated that "the importance of The A-Band to the UK rock underground is commensurate with the explosive impact that groups like AMM, SME or The People Band had on the free jazz and Improv set. An ever-fluctuating group of artists, dole boys, punk conceptualists and record collectors, they were the first UK ensemble to anchor a free drone music in the muscle and scorch of the most high-energy rock, while keeping it as untutored as the most elemental folk."

The following people are credited on A Band releases as participants. Many are known only by single or nicknames:


The early A Band members had previously recorded material in the 1980s as Well Crucial, a group scattered across the UK and, in some cases, collaborating by post. A core of members was based in Kettering around Neil Campbell, Stewart Keith and Stream Angel. However, by 1990 these members had moved to Nottingham and the focus shifted there, with Well Crucial effectively ceasing to be.

The A band itself was founded at the behest of saxophonist Vince Earimal, who required a backing band, and the unit quickly became an ever-changing, freeform improvisation unit. Richard Youngs joined upon moving to Nottingham and he recalled in The Wire (also issue 259) that Jim Plaistow and Neil Campbell were the only constantly present members. They could number up to 18 on any given occasion and were thought to have ceased to exist around 1994 with a 7" single, one LP and a handful of cassettes issued.

The group never performed under the name A Band or any obvious permutation thereof (they are occasionally listed as The A-Band). Instead a series of different names, all of which began with the letter "a", were used, including Anusol, Arachnid, Arse-over-tit, Awkward, Anaglypta, Artex, AC/DC, Ack Ack, Anglegrinder and Advent, the latter in commemoration of the then-recently released Richard Youngs LP - in fact, it was at this show that Youngs' spoken word record 171 Used Train Tickets (released 2004) was recorded. A CD of recordings from 1991 was released in 1997 and live activity, also from 1991, was given a vinyl release in 2002, the material being edited by Youngs with artwork from Campbell and Plaistow.


In April 2007, the group were announced as performers at the 4th Festival Of Improvised Music at the Pyramid in Warrington, which took place on June 16th. [1]. Billed as "Afterclap", the line up included Walden (who has since changed his name to Stewart Keith), Campbell, Lent, Higginson, Foster, Woodward, Jon Lander, Fletcher, Fletcher Jr. (1st appearance - accordion), Dylan Bates, Pascal Nichols (1st appearance - percussion) and Joincey (1st appearance - mouth noise).

The next performance, as "American Evil" (an anagram of "Vince Earimal"), was on 19 August in Shoreditch. On this occasion Stewart Keith and Sharen Woodward were the only regulars of nine players to perform; the seven debutants were John Aziz, Martin Bizarro, Zoe Darling, Phil Julian (of Cheapmachines), Simon Murphy, Phil Todd (of Ashtray Navigations) and Karl Waugh.

Future performances are pencilled in for Manchester and Nottingham.

A film documenting the genesis and growth of the A Band is in development.


This listing may be incomplete - there are probably other cassette releases extant.

  • Anusol - cassette (self-released, a compilation of the earliest live recordings, given away at the Anusol performance, limited to 10 copies, 1990).
  • Untitled - 7" single (Any Old Records, recorded and released 1991)
  • Anusol - cassette (Chocolate Monk recorded 1990, released 1992 - this is a recording of the performance listed above rather than a reissue of the previous tape)
  • Artex / A Lot - LP (Siltbreeze, recorded 1990 and 1991, released 1993)
  • April Twelfth Nineteen-NinetyTwo cassette of studio recordings (self-released, recorded on the titular date)
  • Alarms - C46 cassette (self-released, 1993)
  • Live @ 7th Annual Neil Young Convention - cassette (Union Pole, c.1996, recorded July 1994)
  • A Band - CD (self-released, issued by Plaistow and Campbell, recorded 1991, released 1997)
  • Live In Greece 1992 - cassette (label unknown, recorded 1992, released c.1999/2000)
  • A Band - LP (Qbico, recorded 1991, issued 2003)
  • TV Set For Winter - CDR (Qbico, recorded 1991, issued 2003, only available with the first 26 copies of the above LP on the same label - disc reads TV Sets From Winter - this is an error)

Compilations, etc.:

  • Vince Taylor Is Dead - on compilation CD Church Of The Subgenius (recorded 1991, released 1992)

Simon Wickham-Smith / Richard Youngs track on other side (Baby Huey, 1992)

  • Martian Love Call - on compilation CD The Arbitrary Nature Of Meaning, credit reads Simon Wickham-Smith & A Band (Isomorphic, 1994)


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