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 THE PURPLE HEARTS"In 1979, a Mod revival (or "renewal" as Gary Bushell called it in Sounds) swept Great Britain. Along with The Chords and Secret Affair, The Purple Hearts were in the vanguard of the movement."
by James Cooper


Jimmy Eat World The Purple Hearts began life as an Essex Punk band called The Sockets, changing their name and fortunes in 1978 in perfect anticipation of the Mod explosion that was about to blast the nation. This bright new young combo revealed themselves to be: Jeff Shadbolt (Bass), Simon Stebbing (Guitar), Bob Manton (Vocals) and Gary Sparks (Drums).

All under 18 years of age and definitely one of the first bands to associate themselves with Mod. By 1979 the Mod Revival was in full swing, mainly due The Who's film of their rock opera Quadrophenia. Their debut 45 "Millions Like Us" achieved their highest UK chart placing, peaking at number 57 in August 1979. They followed this up with "Frustration" and the B side ("Extraordinary Sensations") which gave inspiration to the young Mod mover and shaker Eddie Piller, who started a fanzine of the same name. Piller later became a founder of the Acid Jazz label.

The third Fiction 45 was "Jimmy", which also charted, reaching its peak at number 60 in February 1980 (the first five Purple Hearts singles all made the UK charts). They nearly got to play this song on Top Of The Pops but owing to BBC strikes and power failures it was not to be.

The Purple Hearts' debut album, Beat That!, was released by Fiction in May 1980. The LP was a mixture of 60s cover versions and original band compositions. The Mod scene was still relatively healthy at this time and the album was well received. But by the summer of 1980, the Mod Revival was in need of CPR and Fiction Records dropped the Purple Hearts.

The band was quickly picked up by Safari Records who released the fourth Purple Hearts single "My Life's a Jigsaw". In 1981, details were announced of a forthcoming single on Demon Records. Some time passed and the single "Plane Crash" eventually surfaced on the Road Runner label, run by fanzine editor Steve Whiffin.

After a brief split, during which bassist Jeff Shadbolt joined The Rage (whose line up also included former Chords drummer Buddy Ascot) the Hearts were soon back together for a live album Head On Collision Time (recorded at London's famous 100 Club in Oxford Street, 1985) and a new studio album Pop-ish Frenzy (1986) both of which were released by Razor Records. They also recorded one last 45 on Mark Johnson's Unicorn Label, "Friends Again" (1986).

In May 1999, two promoters got together to put on a special "Mods Mayday 99" night 20 years after the original "Mods Mayday 79" event. This event brought back a lot of interest in these bands, and The Purple Hearts were tempted out of retirement for one last gig. 20 years had improved their musical skills and The Hearts played one of their strongest and tightest sets ever. "Mods Mayday 99" was a huge success for all those involved. This has led to new interest and Detour Records putting out a rarities compilation of recordings and demos from that great 79 to 82 period. The album Beat That! should soon be re-released on CD for the first time. Such is the interest at the moment that The Purple Hearts will be doing at least one more gig next year.

Jimmy's Purple Hearts website is at:


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