Thanks to all of the musicians who agreed
to interviews. You can
find them all in the
magazine issues section.

Daniel Niles
Daniel Niles

Keith Mansfield and KPM inspired beats coming soon…


Welcome to the Beat Excavation – a project about Slough (UK) and its unique musical heritage…

Issue 3 - Open Sore and the Punk scene

Words: Mark Watts

In 1977 prog rock group Paradox entered a Melody Maker rock contest, and lost out to a raucous outfit who could hardly play their instruments.

“That,’ says former Paradox singer Bob Kyley, ‘was the first time I’d ever heard a punk band.”

This punk rock experience clearly made an impression, because not long afterwards Paradox’s singer showed up for rehearsals sporting spikey carrot coloured hair and a chain padlocked round his neck. When this happened it was clear that the days of the Genesis-like band were numbered.

“And’ recalls Sean Burke, Paradox’s young guitarist with punk leanings, ‘you didn’t see people walking around Slough like that. Never. There was no sign of punks at all. Kyley was the first punk in Slough in my view.”

Very shortly afterwards Paradox split up, and from that group’s embers a new punk group was born, with Bob Kyley on vocals, Sean Burke on guitar, and Bob’s girlfriend Holly on backing vocals.

The band’s next step to full punkdom was to visit the Roxy club in London which was at the heart of the punk scene. They introduced themselves to the man in charge, and said they wanted to play there. Having stressed how good they were, and announced that their band name was Open Sore, they persuaded the manager to book them for an audition night in six weeks time. So, says Sean

“We had our first gig. We had no drummer, we had no songs, we didn’t have a bass player, we hadn’t rehearsed, and we had six weeks to get it together! And we did!”

They approached Barry O’Connor, a bass-player friend of Sean’s from school, and asked him if he wanted to be in a punk band. He was enthusiastic, but there was one stipulation before he would be allowed to join. He had to cut off his waist-length long hair. ‘You can’t go down the Roxy looking like that!’ he was told. And so off came the hair.

There then followed a blaze of creativity as Bob and Sean set about providing Open Sore with a musical repertoire.

“I wrote some on my own,’ says Sean, ‘and some of them Bob and I wrote together.”

They got quite a reaction to being virtually the first punks in Slough. There was a big furore surrounding the movement after the Sex Pistols swore on live TV. Bob Kyley remembers,

“Oh we got loads of remarks on it. People used to see punks, and shy away from them. It was front page news in all the papers. Disgraceful and all this sort of thing, so there was a bit of a thing about it.”

As for the Roxy as a place to perform, Sean Burke describes it as

“very dark, very dingy. It was quite aggressive. Sort of dotty looking people down there… But there was something really magical about it, and of course you never knew who was gonna turn up and get up on stage and do a few songs. There was always somebody famous just hanging out there.”

In their short and explosive career Open Sore would prove to be one of the Roxy’s most popular bands, with Charlie Harper, singer with punk legends The UK Subs, citing them as his favourite Roxy band, but their only track left behind for vinyl posterity featured on the Farewell to the Roxy compilation LP.

As Sean Burke recalls,

“Open Sore had a very short life. We formed in about the September, and we split in the January. So what we did was very quick. The Roxy had an album beforehand which EMI put out, and it was basically the bands that played down there. I think the Buzzcocks were on it. X-Ray Spex, bands like that. So of course, when they knew the club was gonna close, they thought they’d bring out another album. So they called that Farewell to the Roxy. So what they
did was, they got the Rolling Stones mobile (studio PA), and they recorded all the bands over this long weekend. And of course, it was all the bands that were popular at the time. And they basically picked the best of the bunch.”

The Open Sore contribution ‘Vertigo’ got very positive reviews, with many reviewers saying that it was the best track on the album, but Open Sore were in no position to build on the positive publicity, having split up before the album was released, with guitarist Sean Burke going on to join Gary Numan’s band Tubeway Army.

Now, over 30 years after their original incarnation Open Sore have reformed to play their classic punk anthems once again, and have recently supported the UK Subs along with another ex-Roxy band, the Vibrators. But when Bob Kyley and Sean Burke first talked about reforming the band, there seemed to be a slight snag to the plan. According to Bob,

“I said, well I can’t remember any of the material. I mean it’s like thirty odd years ago. Apart from Vertigo which got released, I said I can’t remember one other song that we used to do!”

But then a week or so later, Bob got a call from Sean saying he had found two cassettes in an old shoebox at his mother’s house. One was Open Sore playing at Studio One, and one was a tape made during rehearsal at the Grapes. So now the band had the ‘revision notes’ they needed.

Asked if the Roxy was seen as the mecca for Punk, Bob Kyley has no doubts:

“Oh yeah. The real punks, the punk bands were the Roxy bands. And we were one of them.”

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