Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Jags - Dumb Blonde

A. Woman's World

B. Dumb Blonde

THE JAGS (Scarborough, England)
Woman's World b/w Dumb Blonde
Island (WIP-6531), 1980

The Jags released a 12" EP, two full length albums, and five singles in the few years they were a band. Pretty much everything they put out is worth owning, and being that they were on a major label, the vinyl is fairly easy to find and usually inexpensive. Of all the bands that adopted the quintessential early Elvis Costello vocal style, the Jags really perfected it, adding clever, witty lyrics, strong musicianship, and hooks galore.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Nick Watkinson and long time pal John Alder (lead guitar/vocals) started a songwriting partnership in early '77, which eventually evolved into forming a band in the summer of the following year. After a brief period of rehearsals in Wales, the group moved to London and secured a contract with Island Records after just three gigs! Shortly after that, with their second bassist Steve Prudence in tow, they went from playing lousy support gigs to hitting the road on their own headlining club tour. But difficulties finding the right drummer persisted, including fist-throwing altercations on stage, until they found Alex Baird (who played with Midge Ure in Stumble, and later in the Banned -> does anyone know if this is the same Banned that did the "Little Girl" and "Him Or Me" singles?).

The first Jags release was a four song 12" featuring "Back Of My Hand" and "Single Vision," which were later released as a single and re-recorded for their debut album "Evening Standard," but the 12" also had two tracks which never appeared elsewhere, "Double Vision" and "What Can I Do." The "Back Of My Hand" single had a 10 week chart life in the UK, peaking at number 17. At the time of its release, that is all they had recorded and it was some time before "Evening Standard" was put out.

"Woman's World" was their second single and it grazed the charts for one week before falling off. This is my favorite single because not only is the A-side excellent, but I think the B-Side is one of their best songs and it's only available on this record. The band later released one more single off their first album, "Party Games," but it never charted.

"No Tie Like A Present" was the bands second LP, and they produced two singles off that one, which both failed to chart as well: "I Never Was A Beach Boy" and “The Sound Of G-O-O-D-B-Y-E.” Island mis-credited the song "Here Comes My Baby" as the band's own, when it was originally penned/performed by Cat Stevens and later a hit by the Tremeloes. Their sophomore effort isn't as strong as their earlier work, as I believe the band was starting to crumble with personnel changes, the addition of keyboards, and a slight change in musical direction (admittedly trying NOT to sound like Costello), but it's still enjoyable.

"Dumb Blonde" was featured on Powerpearls Volume 2.


  1. Yes, Alex Baird replaced Paul Sordid as drummer in The Banned but both their singles had been recorded by that time. He also played with prog rock band Gryphon and Scottish folk-rock band Contraband.

  2. Just a couple of points- 1) Steve Prudence was the first bass player and a founder member of the band which rehearsed in a barn in south Wales in july 1978. 20 the Jags with Neil on drums played 41 gigs before signing to Island. 3) no punches were trown at Dingwalls on Feb 12th 1979. Neil pushed Nick off the stage after knocking over his drum kit. Regards steve

  3. The jags played 41 gigs before signing to Island.