Monday, June 2, 2008

The Montellas Offer Up Some 'Protection'

This was one of those posts where it was near impossible to uncover enough information on the artist themselves to make it worthwhile. But since the song was so good I had to make an exception.

The artist was a band called The Montellas; the song simply called ‘Protection’. I recall seeing the promo clip back in early 1988 and within a week I’d tracked down a vinyl copy of the song available on the Arista Records label. At that time CD-singles were still fairly rare on the Australian market, though I noticed when trawling through second hand CD sites that the song was made available on CD single in Canada and Germany. Anyway the song must have appealed to at least a few other Australians as it did chart albeit briefly for three weeks, peaking at #89 in April ‘88. It was released in 7”, 12” and also the short lived format of 10” on vinyl. (does it seem like I'm trying to stretch this post?)

So here’s what I’ve managed to track down regards the band The Montellas. Hailing from Britain their lineup comprised Willy Williams (drums), Peter Whitaker (bass), the curious moniker of Professor Badd (guitar) - he of the fiendishly moustachioed image in the clip, and vocalist Norman Graveney who kind of reminds me of a caricature of comedienne/actor Rik Mayall. Overall their sound wasn’t too distant from the likes of World Party or someone like Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - solid acoustic rock with a bluesy edge - just maybe a bit quirkier on the image side of things.

‘Protection’ was lifted from The Montellas debut album ‘Conscience’ which also yielded the singles ‘New Rules For Lovers and ‘Stop Talking’.

If anyone can offer up any more information on the origins of The Montellas or what happened to them post 1988 I’d be most interested and grateful.

The YouTube clip below is one of two promo clips made for 'Protection' and is the version of the clip I recall seeing that prompted me to buy the single - it's such a cool clip I wonder how it didn't break the band in a really big way. The other YouTube clip is a short 'behind the scenes' clip on the band itself circa 1987, highlighting that they were kind of 'out there' in a fun way. SEE COMMENTS FOR EXCITING NEWS ABOUT THE MONTELLAS IN 2010


Kerstin said...

My name is Kerstin and I am from Germany. While surfing the net to find info about the Montellas, I came to this blog.

I have their album on LP and CD. I´ve seen them on MTV Europe years ago and bought their record. Brilliant pop stuff!

Now I am 39 years old and I sometimes put the "old" records out and find the Montellas album.

Still great songs! Thank you for remembering them!


A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Hi Kerstin,
Nice that someone also remembers the Montellas. It's a pity they didn't record more music together. Thanks very much for your comment :)

LordTakyon said...

I kind of knew Willy Williams when I was a child. Early in the bands career he also did some delivery driving for my Mothers business.

He was a really nice bloke, and I mean that. My parents stayed in touch for a while but there has been no contact for many years now.

They used to have almost all of their material, but it was lost in a house move.

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Thanks for the comment Lord Takyon. Nice to get a personal insight into one of the members of Montellas.

gordrix said...

am playing 'Conscience' now on a CD that cost me 40 quid from Amazon - I am not usually willing to pay that sort of money for a second-hand CD, but this album is total class. I agree with Kerstin that there are great songs on the album with 'What You Gonna Take', 'How Does Your Garden Grow', 'Mornings Like Midnight' and 'New Rules For Lovers' being particularly excellent. Of course, they should be massive, but, since most people aren't actually into mucis, most people haven't a clue who they are. They are obviously good players and have a polished sound and a class vocalist, but one of the most interesting things about them is the aching sadness of many of their intense, dark lyrics. This is showcased especially on 'Oblivion' and 'What You Gonna Take'. I think that Norman very much sings about the tedious struggles of life for the 'ordinary' working person. God bless Norm!!

He captures the pain of all who must work in jobs they hate and those whose lives have not worked out and who are heartbroken. So I'd say he speaks for many, many people.

Brilliant highly intelligent and dignified band.

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Thanks for your comment Gordrix. I find it a hard thing to reconcile these days when I wander through a record store and see the amount of rubbish filling up the aisles - yet, an album of such obvious quality as you described, remains an obscurity. Likewise several other artists that I've written about on this blog have suffered a similar fate in having their work consigned to the status of rarity.

Anyway, thanks again for your insight and appraisal of one such rare gem.

A.FlockOfSeagulls :)

ruby shaw said...

THE MONTELLAS are very excited to announce that UNIVERSAL RECORDS HAVE FINALLY AGREED TO RETURN THE RIGHTS OF ALL THE MONTELLAS UNRELEASED SONGS BACK INTO THE CONTROL OF THE MONTELLAS THEMSELVES. The Montellas would like to say a huge thank you for the overwelming support and wonderful letters and comments over the years that we still continue to receive since we were cut adrift for not playing the corporate game. The Montellas never sold out, and never will, so hopefully in the coming months we will be looking to release these songs. Anyone interested please get in touch, love from THE MONTELLAS. Keep the faith - we did!

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Thanks so much for the update Ruby. That is excellent news :)