Hi-Lo Records first ever non-Squire release was the Beat Direction - Long Distance Beat EP, the band lead by singer/songwriter Robert Andrew from Montreal.
We first met up with Bob in the Kings Road, Chelsea (where else!) and he played a demo recording of the opening track ‘Nina’. It was a knock out song which featured a Coral electric sitar and his distinctive voice, and the track had that hybrid mod pop/ska sound that also resonated with California bands. Bob was also a talented illustrator and designed the sleeve.
The record was finally mixed in London at The Point Studios, by Alan O'Duffy, who had worked on mid 1960s Kinks albums such as Kontroversy and Face To Face and with Traffic and Humble Pie amongst many others. To promote the record we pressed a special Flexi disc, featuring Squire - ‘Does Stephanie Know?’, and an unreleased Beat Direction track ‘Ska Au Go-Go’, to be given away with the UK 'In The Crowd' fanzine, and San Francisco's 'Wha-a-m!' fanzines (‘Ska Au Go-Go’ was later featured on the Cutting Edge compilation LP)
The Flexi disc was a one sided paper thin plastic 45 rpm 7 inch disc produced by Lyntone in Holloway, London, the sole supplier, and were sometimes seen on big magazines such as Smash Hits, but we were the first to try out the idea with mod fanzines! It introduced the sound of Squire and Beat Direction to new listeners in UK and North America.
Bob later honoured Squire with a track on the Anthony meynell & Squire tribute album, his excellent version of 'You Don’t See Me' (from the Get Smart LP), under the recording name of Trash.
By the mid 80s Squire had captured the imagination of overseas audiences and we were playing to excited crowds in cities as diverse as Belfast & Dublin, Los Angeles & Germany. As an independent label, and supported by an enthusiastic fan club, Squire had direct connections to fans in these overseas scenes, who were unaware that Mod was perhaps finding it difficult to remain relevant within its ‘home’ of London, faced with a dispassionate mainstream UK music business. Indeed, because of this Hi-Lo Records had already set up home in California, and Squire were soon invited to travel north to Canada, and play in Montreal and Toronto. So in May 1985, Anthony joined Bob and the Beat Direction for rehearsals in Montreal!
There was a new burgeoning mod scene in both Montreal and Toronto, and although The Jam and others had played in Canada as early as 1979, this was a new cohort of young mods that had never seen a UK mod band and so the anticipation and excitement surrounding the concerts was intense!
The atmosphere at both concerts was electric as it crystallised attention on the band and on their own music scenes, in a similar way to when Squire played in Belfast or Los Angeles in 1983, or Germany and Dublin in 1984. It was an event that celebrated the band and the audience.
You can see pictures of the crowd here, and more pictures are taken from a dedicated Facebook page to Canadian mods of that era.
The full set list reveals the band curated the songs for a North American audience, mixing the familiar mod/pop with power pop numbers such as ‘Take A Look’, and the rarely played ‘I Put My Arms Around Her’. Three songs are played from the recently released September Girls LP, including for the first ever time, ‘Tired Of Hiding’. The arrangements for two guitars bass & drums follows the line up debuted in Germany the year before, to add more power to the Squire sound and recreate the guitar interplay of the original records, such as in ‘I Don't Get Satisfaction’, and you can hear Bob’s distinctive voice on the harmonies!
What is particularly interesting are the subtle ska overtones to the backing of some of the songs. Whereas in UK Mod pop and Ska pop polarised into two distinct scenes following the music press categorisation, the two styles were recombined into an overall influence in other parts of the world, so from California to Canada and beyond, bands remixed an amalgam of rhythms and instruments to create infectious dance sounds which combined the urgency of bands like The Jam, with the freneticism of performances such as The Specials.
We have an exclusive, never heard before, recording of the Toronto Squire performance captured on a side of a C60 cassette, and have condensed a highlight of five songs for you to hear this very special gig! The concert is perhaps the most exciting we ever played and we were totally unprepared for the reception we were given!
The full set was as follows:
B-A-B-Y Baby Love
The Face Of Youth Today
Girl On A Train
Every Trick (In The Book Of Love)
I Know A Girl
Take A Look
My Mind Goes Round In Circles
Does Stephanie Know?
I Don't Get Satisfaction
I Put My Arms Around Her
Tired Of Hiding
Stop That Girl
Walking Down The Kings Road
The Young Idea
No Time Tomorrow
Its A Mod Mod World
The introduction and following numbers are typical of the electric atmosphere and audience mayhem that always accompanied the bands energised performance, but in this instance - even more so! This audience is perhaps the most ecstatic we ever encountered! The four piece band open with ‘The Face of You Today’, and then we jump mid set to a run of four songs, ‘I Don't Get Satisfaction’, the seldom played ‘I Put My Arms Around Her’ and ‘Tired Of Hiding’, and finally ‘Stop That Girl’. The audience anticipate every song and know all the words!
You can hear part of The Toronto concert here!
All the best from Squire!