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Wednesday 11 February 2009

The Weeds

So, for a long time I had a note in my little indie notebook that said "The Weeds - 1986, one single, too early?"; which to be honest, when I was reading through in November to check I'd not missed anything important, I was still thinking it was. Granted pretty much everything on here is a direct descendent of the NME's C86 tape - and some bands were even featured on it - but I wasn't sure whether to plumb the depths of the early 80s, after all, I'd started doing this page to feature early 90s stuff.

I was still umming and ahhing as the only thing a quick google found was pretty much taken direct from Barry Lazell's "Indie Hits: The Complete UK Singles and Album Independent Charts, 1980-89" book (which I've used every now and again for background) and tells us that the band were a "Manchester trio fronted by Andrew Berry, whose career was notably short - 'China Doll' was their debut single and they had split up before it had even been released". So I'd shelved the idea.

Then a few weeks back I was flicking through Dave Simpson's book "The Fallen" - which is a great read - and there, in black and white on page 218 was the line "Simon Wolstencroft was playing in a band called The Weeds and they'd supported The Fall...Smith recruited him [after checking out the opening act]".

Wait, hang on, Simon Wolstencroft, one of The Fall's longest serving drummers, was in The Weeds? The same The Weeds? Surely not..?

Well, a quick bit of investigative journalism later there it was; on the genuine "official" Fall website: "Simon Wolstencroft: Jun 1986-Aug 1997 drums: Member of The Patrol which became The Stone Roses. Also in The Colourfield for a short while and was the drummer in a band called The Weeds (which included Andrew Berry on vocals). Considered joining an early version of The Smiths but wasn't impressed by Morrissey. After leaving The Fall, played with Ian Brown on the Golden Greats album". Fuck me.

So what of Andrew Berry then? The 'Indie Hits' book seems to think he's the only band member who warrants a mention and he gets a name check on The Fall site. Now I had a couple of names and a bit more guff to look for, it only bloody turns out that Berry is Manchester royalty. He was only Johnny Marr's "best mate" and shared a flat with with the soon-to-be Smiths guitar botherer. That link is from an Uncut magazine article and is well worth a read if you can get past the lack of formatting. Oh, and even better, the Cerysmatic Factory site - home to everything you'll ever want to know about Factory Records, tells us that Berry was "a resident DJ at the pre-house Haçienda [and] set up a Factory Records hairdressing salon - Swing (FAC 98) - in the Haçienda's dressing room". That's right, one of the most influential record labels ever had a hairdresser. Oh, and the band supported the Happy Mondays.

So, finally, apart from the obvious fourth lady member you'll see on the cover above and hear doing backing vocals and "woohoo"s on the link below - goodness knows who she is, (anyone?), the writing credit on the 7" is Berry/Arrojo. Who is Arrojo?

Cerysmatic Factory provides another hint: "Vidal hairdressers were no strangers to certain nights at The Hacienda, but regulars may recall one in particular: Nick Arrojo was a popular attendee and would occasionally turn DJ alongside Pickering and Sasha". Wait, what the fuck?

Now, I've no idea whether that's the same "Arrojo", but he's a Haçienda regular and knows a bit about a short back and sides, it's got to be him surely?

So enough of investigative journalism (although if I ever write a book about this place, then this stuff is going in Chapter 1), this is The Weeds - China Doll, what a bit of history! Oh, and just to complete the Manchester-royalty of it all, the 7" was released on Marc Riley's In Tape label. Also latterly home to Frank Sidebottom. You know it is, it really is...

Oh and if you'd like me to go back in time, let me know.


  1. The girl in the Weeds is Carrie Lawson, one time partner of Fall drummer Karl Burns.I know this because I interviewed her once.

  2. Leilabobbins!24 June, 2009

    You want to track down the Andrew Berry solo single, 'Kiss Me I'm Cold', it's a corker.

  3. I chanced upon this article and I thought to myself, I'm sure I have a couple of Andrew Berry 12"s and sure enough there they are (points to 12"s!). One is "Kiss Me I'm Cold" 12" features three mixes, entitled Save the Whale mix, Dub the Whale mix and Pearly King dub. It came out on Fontana in 1990.

    The other 12" is "Unsatisifed", backed by "Never Happens" and "Sly Jelly Jim". It was produced by Grant Showbiz and released on Cog Sinister Records. This one dates from 1988.

  4. It was Mike Arrojo (pronounced Rocco) who was in the weeds also a hairdresser. Nick is his brother, also a hairdresser, now doing very well in USA

  5. MIke Arrojo(pronounced Rocco) was in the weeds, he was also a hairdresser, Nick is his brother also a hairdresser now doing very well in USA.