Dexys bass-man, Pete Williams had already been a part of two Dexys offshoot bands (The Bureau and The Blue Ox Babes) by the time he decided to form his own band, These Tender Virtues in around 1983.
Pete Williams' musical career is perhaps more intertwined with the 'Dexys Family Tree' than that
of any other former Midnight Runner. As a member of The Negatives, alongside future-Killjoy and Dexys co-founder, Kevin Archer,
he went on to play a key role in both Dexys and The Bureau before joining up with Kevin Archer's post-Dexys project The Blue Ox Babes just
in time to take part in a show-case
at Birmingham's Art Lab in 1982. Following this, he decided that the time was right to have a stab at starting his own
band which would allow him to show-case his considerable talents as a singer and song-writer. Among his first recruits were Ian Pettitt who had played with him in The Blue Ox Babes and keyboard man,
Fred Skidmore. They were soon joined by "Mac" (AKA Brian McDermott) on bass guitar and "Brad" on
guitar who were, in time, replaced by Anthony Jeffs and Mark Dunn on bass and guitar, respectively. Former band-mate, trombone
player, Paul Taylor also performed with These Tender Virtues, lending his distinctive sound to the track "Keaton's
Walk" which he and Williams would record again over two decades later with The Bureau.
Back row: Ian Pettitt (drums), left; Pete
Williams (vocals), centre; Mac (bass guitar), right. Front row: Brad (guitar), left; Fred Skidmore (hammond organ), right.
says that he was very influenced by Charles Dickens when he formed These Tender Virtues, which perhaps explains the 'Dickensian'
look to the clothing worn by the band. Apparently many songs were recorded by 'The Virtues' which never saw
the light of day and, according to Pete Williams, the unreleased tracks were even better than the few that were issued by
their record company without consultation with the band. Amongst the tracks which remain unreleased there are recordings featuring
the brass of fellow ex-Dexys members, Geoff Blythe and Jim Paterson. (Listen
to short extract):
The songs that did emerge from These Tender Virtues demonstrated both Pete Williams' talents as a song-writer
and his abilities as a lead singer. The lyrics, like the clothing, drew images of byegone eras, none more-so than those to
one of Pete Williams' earliest compositions, 'Cruel Estella': "On first meeting Moira, I felt like Tom Sawyer,
she whispered in glances, smiled like Saint Francis, she touched me, she moved me, never thought I could be loved by a girl
like her". (Refresh page to hear a short clip.) The music too harked back to previous traditions with acoustic guitar
and banjos evoking echoes of American folk songs alongside an organ sound reminiscent of The Doors. While the band's Vaudevillian
style and 'Art-rock' sounds never saw them hit "the big time" in an era dominated by synthesisers and
drum machines, they continued to record and perform for around ten years, touring with such diverse acts
as The Pogues and The Jesus And Mary Chain during that time. A page featuring Pete Williams' subsequent band Basehart
(which also featured Fred Skidmore) and his solo career can be found here. ___________________________________________________________
These Tender Virtues Discography
2. Til We Empty Off This Bottle
(Note: "Keaton's Walk" was also recorded by The Bureau in 2008)
"The Continuing Saga" E.P. [TTV2] (1985)
1. This Way Up
2. Me & Ms Givings
3. Big Old Lusty Earth
4. Cruel Estella
Waltz No 1
6. Lancaster Houses
7. Stars On Sunday
"Memories Have To Be Written"
(An 'inside view' of These Tender
by: Dave Howard]
The whole of my secondary
school eduction was spent at Tividale comprehensive school in Dudley, West Midlands. Like most youngens at that time we were
quite heavily into scooters, Mods, Ska and the like which had evolved from Quadraphenia and the 2 Tone period only a year
or so before.
The year now was 1980.
I was a 15 year old in the first year of the eighties and
we were all into wearing trousers that had fallen out with your shoes so that you could show off your pure white socks and
wearing crombies, Parkas, DM`S, Harrington Jackets and pork pie hats on our grade one or two shaven heads.
there was this one young boy who was a year older than me who was supposed to be at school but he never really was, he was
always bunking off. I remember it well, this was the boy who used to bring in free gifts in the form of badges and all kinds
of stuff which was music related. We never knew where he used to get it all from. But soon we found out everything, we found
out who he was promoting for and everything was above board.
This guy's name was Darren Langford but everyone
at school called him Powder (something to do with Daz which was quite a big washing product at the time). If you look at
the photograph [below], he is the young man on the very right hand side of
the photograph with the black woolly hat on. He is about 16 years old in the photograph.
Like a lot of people my
age my mind has taken a lot of battering since those early days and I can`t always remember
reasons and the correct order of events for everything. (You don`t really realise until
you try to think back how your mind finds it hard to put things into any kind of real perspective. Things seem
to get a little jumbled up).
some strange reason Darren Langford had got mixed up
with the Dexys lads. Been on tour with them all over the place selling
t-shirts for them on the stall at gigs or something like that and Kevin had taken him under his
wing and renamed him Tommy. So from that time
Darren had become Tommy. The only reason I can remember for this name change (but I
can`t remember who told me) was the fact that
Kevin said that he looked like a right Tommy. Tommy even went on Top of the Pops and several other
music programmes, he couldn`t play an instrument of any description
but spent his time miming playing the organ and the trumpet
and travelling with them all over the place (I even have some of these
early programmes on video. Programmes such as Magpie and others I can`t remember
the names of)....... I don`t know why all this happened to him, but it did. No wonder
Tommy was never at school. What would you rather
do..... maths or tour with Dexys.
So everyone at that time walked around school wearing Dexys badges and the best
thing was that they cost us nowt, but free publicity for them. Quite strange being at school with a boy only one year above
you at school and he was off doing all this great stuff with the top band of that moment.
I left school in June 1981 and did what a great deal of other young folks did and went on a YTS training
course. About 1982 or 1983 after my first year on this YTS course I was visited by a school friend of mine, Mark
Dunn, and he came along with Tommy Langford. They just turned up out of the blue. They asked me if I still
played piano. I said that I did play piano but not very well (in fact I was bloody shit). They asked me if
I wanted to go for an audition. I asked them who they wanted me to audition for. "Pete Williams", came
Tommys reply. The Bureau have just broken up and he is looking for a keyboard player to form a new band (I wasn`t
really that bothered cos I knew how bad I was) Anyway they persuaded me to go along (even though I knew I was shit, but
also I was quite intrigued) I went anyway. We met that night and it was pissing it down and we drove down to Cradley Heath
which is quite close to Dudley. We ended up at this dark Victorian type building which was at the back of Cradley railway
station. As we neared the door to the place where we were going I could hear sound of drums, bass guitar and keyboard pushing
out through the gaps around the door and in the walls. I`d never been to a studio before, so this was quite exciting.
We walked into a little rehearsal room come studio and the music stopped. I don`t know if it stopped because
we had gone in or because they had finished. But it was very strange to say the least. (I always remember the music stopping,
it's a bit like the pub in the movie American Werewolf in London when everyone just sits there looking at them).
Then they started playing again, it sounded quite good to me.
Pete came over and shook my hand and introduced
me to the drummer, Ian Pettitt and Fred Skidmore, the other keyboard player (Who I was supposed to be in competition
with. But there was no competition really, Fred was in the premiership and I was in the Sunday league). Anyway
a strange bit of music erupted with me, Pete and Ian, but I don`t think that I was really what Pete was looking
for (because I was shit) and Fred got the job. But Fred is a fantastic keyboard player, one of the best.
So Pete, Ian and Fred became These Tender Virtues
and then Brad and Mac joined a little later on.
So time went on and I played my Sunday League keyboard for
a new band called `For Francis and the Blade`along with Mark Dunn, Anthony Jeffs, Spencer Waldron and Chris Greenfield.
About that time we used to rehearse in a recording studio at the back of Bobby's music shop in Blackheath which is also
quite close to Dudley. We also spent some time rehearsing in a little room at the back of Bingley Hall in Birmingham which
was a few rooms away from where These Tender Virtues rehearsed. The rooms were that shit that whenever you went outside to
blow your nose it was as though you had been working down the pit all day. A bloody awful place to play. So we
used to bump into the Virtues quite often around Brum and different places and we used to go and see them play quite
often in Birmingham. Some of the gigs even involved listening to both the Virtues and General Public at the same venue which
was most entertaining.
A little bit later on after many band member changes, both Mark Dunn and Anthony Jeffs went and joined the Virutes on
guitar and bass in about 1988. So even more of me and my other mates used to go to more gigs offering our loyal support.
But sometimes it got to the point where I would find myself carrying their gear from venue to van. It was Fred's
bloody Hammond Organ that was the worst thing to move (bloody heavy I can tell ya). Even worse if you`d had a few pints,
but at least it deadened the pain in the back.
The Virtues then changed their rehearsal room to Granville
Street which was just off Broad Street in Brum. A brilliant large room for rehearsing. The Virtues were a
brilliant exciting band and I used to love watching them perform. They always put on a brilliant vaudeville type
show. I`ve even still got some rough rehearsal and demo tapes somewhere in my collection which is nice to listen
to occasionally. If you can get your hands on a copy of their album, then give it a listen. Even though
musically they were excellent, visually they were a band not to be missed.
But even after the Virtues split, good friendships
had been made from the two sets of friends that grouped together over the years. The strange thing was that I had been
living with a friend of mine in a flat in Dudley where most of us used to congregate most evenings doing the normal
things people do. I decided to move out in early 1989 and then Micky Billingham moved in. The last time
I had seen Mick was when he was playing with General Public. Its a bit mad how things happen, aint it.
after 22 years we may not all see each other regularly because we have all moved to different parts of the country. But
the friendship is still there. We all went on playing music in different guises, some great, some not so great. But
it was all great fun, the memories I will treasure forever.
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is one of
the best albums you will ever own in your music collection. If you aint got it, go out and get it and tell everyone else to
own a copy. It will never die away.
I didn`t really have to write these memories down, but I just felt
like I ought to. Having recently by accident found this Dexys website and reading through. It's nice to hear people's opinions,
not just about Dexys, but about all the other musicians and bands which have derived from this band. There is obviously a
great deal of talent in abundance. This talent I can honestly say is vast and once you come into contact with it,
it stays with you for the rest of your life. Pure showmanship. It's truely rubbed off on me.
There are many more memories of people, places and other happenings that I could divulge. But sometimes I think
that its good just to write things down as and when you feel its apt. Maybe I`ll come back and write some
more at a later date.
I just wish that I had hung on to the plastic bag of Bureau badges, t-shirts
and stickers that Tommy had given me back in the early 80`s.