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Monday 4 February 2008

Blessed Ethel

Right then, let's get February underway with Blessed Ethel. Now, I've a nasty feeling that this lot were American; they're certainly likened to the Pixies and Debbie Harry and people like that, but that seems to be a lazy comparison. There's definitely some good old fashioned grindy-twanging going on and the track featured below seems to be agenuinely good bit of indie pop; but once more dear friends I'm at a loss as to who the band actually were. In my rather limited opinion there's certainly a thread from the shoegazers of the (then) previous few years and more than a nod to the Sleepers of the time and you might spot a mention in the comments to the S*M*A*S*H entry in this here blog thing. Oh, and they also appear to have supported Lush at the Leadmill in Sheffield in 1994 at some point and S*M*A*S*H at "Fibbers" in the same year. And the drummer may have been called Tim James, or possibly Rick...

Actually, strike Tim James (whoever he may be), the official "off of the album" band list is:
· Sara Doran (Vocals)
· Dan Barnes (Guitar)
· Mike Harris (Bass)
· Rick Hunaban (Drums)

And apparently they also won the Best New Band award in 1993 at Manchester's In The City ahead of some no-hopers called Oasis...

The All Music Guide (which is a pretty good place to start and in this case all I can really find out about the band) says:

You may be happy to know that the spirit (and sound) of early Blondie has not been lost to the world -- it's alive and well and powerpopping along in the form of Blessed Ethel, a Britpop bunch who can probably lay claim to the Rezillos as another spiritual ancestor (though there's a lot less shrieking going on here.) What we have are buzzsaw guitars, snapping drums, sprightly rhythms, and Sara Doran's voice cutting through the mix like a searchlight -- no claim to range, but she uses what she has in the best way possible.
Which seems a bit rude about Sara Doran whose singing is far from bad and certainly no worse than any of the cobblers you hear on the radio these days.

There's an album and few singles in the 1993/4/5 era from the band before they seem to disappear from history with only the occasional nod from anyone in the next 10 or so years.

Whatever and whoever the band were, you'll like this: Blessed Ethel - Fat Star, this is off a white label promo as you'll see in the picture. That's a fiver on the open market to you sir.

And once more there's a Wikipedia page to add to (or there would be if the cocking editors stopped just fucking unilaterally deleting everything. Wankers).


  1. Blessed Ethel were actually from deepest Worcestershire - well Malvern at any rate!!
    Their first two singles were the succinctly named 'Dog' (produced by John Robb) and 'Rat' respectively. I still have the third single on 12" - 2 Minute Mind.

  2. I saw Blessed Ethel supporting SMASH at the Old Trout in Windsor c. 1994 - darned good they were too!


  3. I saw Blessed Ethel in late 1995, supported by the magnificent Disco, who I don't expect you to do a post about any time soon.

    Both bands were great that night, and I've just dug out the turquoisey green 7" to remind myself that it was the more consistently up tempo other side, Veronica, that I preferred. Nice.

  4. Mr/Mrs Uber, I don't know 'Disco' but I can have a look into them. Do you know anything else about them, googling "Disco Band" might not help!


  5. You probably had to be in the right place at the right time to catch Disco - I saw them twice but I don't think they got out of the area much, apart from In The City in Manchester, which led to a less than glowing NME single review.

    Check loadofnumbers @ gmail for more info at some point in the next 24 hours, but the single you really want is Stop Me And Buy One/So What - cross your fingers that my turntable behaves, and you just might!

  6. Didn't they cancel a lot of tours due to unlucky incidents, thus providing Thrills in the NME with a recurring joke?

  7. I can't believe that my mum let me go and see them supporting Lush at Manchester Uni the night before one of my chemistry A-level papers, nor that they opened one of the Sunday tent stages at the Phoenix festival later that summer...the past truly is another country

  8. Blessed Ethel were great. And as a matter of fact their first single was called Blue Plastic and was released in December '93 as part of the Rough Trade Singles Club. Dog and Rat came in '94. The Album was called Welcome To The Rodeo.

    I saw them at Edward's in Birmingham supporting SMASH back in the day.

    Andy (Silver Rocket)

  9. I am Tim James(whoever he is?!)I played drums with Blessed Ethel for two years,after Rick left.We started recording an album with producer Andy Gill-Gang of Four- but then Sara and Dan decided to quit.A real shame as it was a fantastic band.

  10. I remember seeing them play upstairs in The Westport Bar in Dundee in 1994.
    Mansun, who were supporting on that tour, had been poached to play at Livingstone with The Charlatans that evening.

    Who stepped into the breach? A local band playing one of their early gigs....called Shrug. Who after a couple more name changes are now Snow Patrol.

    Good times.

  11. Poor management at the the helm, they were doomed from the start.



  12. I worked for the U.S. Label that licensed Welcome to The Rodeo. I really thought these guys had something, and everyone who heard the record liked it. The problem was the U.S. recording came out long after the original UK release (and without the band being here in person to promote it)it sorta fell on deaf ears at press. I also thought they had a quirky sense of humor that I found very funny. If aforementioned Andy Gill album had ever been made, I think it would have made more of a dent in the U.S.

  13. Blessed Ethel (well there session for the Evening Session recorded in 1993) will be on 6 Music on Thursday the 2nd of September between 3 and 4 am. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tlgxk

  14. Edinburgh 94, fantastic band, brilliant show. What a waste?

  15. The blower worcester good times cracking blessed sets,best band of fruit never to ripen.

  16. i was lucky enought to see them in worcester, at the brewary tap, many many years ago...brilliant band...

  17. the first 3 Blessed Ethel singles were great. John Robb's production on them was spot on. After that they never sounded so good.

  18. My name is jess Hunaban.. Im the reason my dad (Rick the Drummer) had to leave blessed ethel :/ nice to see so many comments tho :) If you don't mind id like to know who made this blog.. just out of interest :)

    1. Hi, I did all this in the dim and distant past, it seems like a lifetime ago! The whole thing was supposed to be a way of remembering the great lost bands, eventually it ran out of steam, life changed and I gave up posting (although I've still got a book full of notes somewhere!). I haven't checked the email that's set up for the site in a year at least, so it's a miracle I saw your post in less than a month!