Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Life In A Dugout Canoe

The early 80s charts were inundated with novelty songs, many of excellent quality, a few not so. King Trigger's 'The River' is probably not a novelty song in the strictest interpretation but it certainly was a catchy tune that asked the listener to delve no further than the surface content. The song was swept along to #32 on the Australian charts in late '82, following on a brief sojourn on the British charts a few months earlier (#57).

King Trigger were in fact a British act, their lineup comprising vocalist Sam Hodgkin, bassist Stuart Kennedy, guitarist Martin Clapson, percussionist Ian Cleverly and the heart of the group drummer Trudi Baptiste.

From an article published in a February '82 edition of Britain's Melody Maker magazine, I gleaned a few tidbits of information regards King Trigger. Drummer Trudi grew up on the West Indian island nation of Grenada, where she was inspired as a child to take up percussion. Guitarist Martin was a university dropout who decided he wanted to play rock star. When bassist Stuart met Martin and Sam they were in a punk rock Beatles covers band. This mish-mash of backgrounds and music experience originally called themselves Screaming King Trigger but shortened the name to put a bit of space between themselves and the dubious reputation of Screaming Lord Sutch. With some early support from mates Thompson Twins, King Trigger started to hone their sound at live venues around the London, and also supported the Twins. The group themselves confessed to being hard to categorise, but seemed to like it that way. The article mentions a comparison to contemporaries Bow Wow Wow - and I can definitely hear that, and I can hear a bit of Australia's own Big Pig ('Hungry Town') in there as well with percussion being well to the forefront of the group's sound.

The song 'The River' itself was pure pop, but with reggae undertones and a relentless percussion driven rhythm - not un-Adam & The Ants-like in nature. It was produced by the renowned Steve Lillywhite (producer for Ultravox, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds among others).

Following on from 'The River' another single 'Temptation' was released but didn't sell well. King Trigger's career then hit a prolonged period of drought and the rains of chart success were never to fall again.
According to a website in the band's honour there is (or was in 2007) a push to have the single 'The River' officially reissued on CD by EMI to mark the 25th anniversary, but a scan of the major online retailers (particularly in the U.K.) didn't come up with anything current. So in lieu of this have a listen to a vinyl rip of the 45 at this link:

To read the Melody Maker article and more about King Trigger follow the river here:

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