Friday, October 8, 2010

March Violets – Religious as Hell 7” (Merciful Release, 1982)

Along with The Sisters of Mercy and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The March Violets were yet another outfit from the hub of the Gothic universe that was Leeds in the early 80s.

Shamelessly nicked from

Religious as Hell was their first single, issued through The Sisters’ own label Merciful Release with the two bands often sharing gigs before The March Violets would join the line (and it’s a very long line) of people in the UK Goth scene to have a falling out with Mr Andrew Eldritch esq. Whatever the source of the dispute, it can’t have been comfortable with March Violets’ front man Simon Detroit sharing digs with The Sisters’ bass player Craig Adams at the time.

Religious as Hell” is a very catchy number in itself, although the band would go on to record far stronger songs on their own label. Most notable of these were Walk Into The Sun (Rebirth Records, 1984) and their signature song Snake Dance (Rebirth Records, 1983).

The remainder of the 7” is also remarkable in its own way. B-side “Children on Stun”  being sufficiently iconic as to lend it’s name to a 2nd wave Goth band many years later, and “Fodder” grooving along with a compelling bass line not that far removed from The Cure numbers like “Primary”.

The final track “Bon Bon Babies” is a little mystifying. Depending on the listeners’ perspective, this is either hilarious or one of the most irritating songs in the entire Gothic cannon. I note that one commentator has rather unkindly compared it to “the Chipmunks on amphetamines”. The lyric sheet accompanying the Botanic Verses compilation (Jungle Records, 1993) is no help either, simply advising the listener to figure it out for themselves. Either way, the song serves as a welcome pointer that unlike many of their contemporaries with more pretentious aspirations to art-rock  that The March Violets possessed a strong sense of humour about themselves that always made listening to them a real breath of fresh air in an often uptight and self-conscious scene.

After the high points of “Snakedance”  and "Walk into the Sun", they went into something of a decline, first with Rosie leaving, apparently disturbed about the band’s increasingly commercial direction. Then Simon Detroit was forced out to make way for new vocalist Cleo. Simon ran off to Grebo unit Batfish Boys and the band managed to get themselves onto the soundtrack of 80’s teen-flick “Some Kind of Wonderful” before completely disintergrating.

All their early singles were initially compiled on Natural History (Vinyl Rebirth Records, 1984) and most of their entire back catalogue would eventually emerge on CD in the form of the excellent The Botanic Verses (Jungle Records, 1993).

The good news is that they’re back, releasing an EP of new material (Trinity, self released, 2007). An excellent recent interview in two parts can be found here:

Their fan club The Radiant Lodge has recently been showering me with messages to the effect that they are having their first gig in London in 20 years this November. I’m on the wrong side of the planet Goddamnit – you people are cruel, cruel. I hate you.

Track Listing:
1. Religious as Hell
2. Fodder
3. Children on Stun
4. Bon Bon Babies

The Botanic Verses compilation also includes Snake Dance (Extended), Walk Into the Sun, Slow Drip Lizard, Lights Go Out, Essence, Crow Baby, 1 2 I Love You, Grooving in Green, It's Hot, Long Pig, Steam, Radiant Boys, Crow Bait and Snake Dance.

Line Up: Simon “Detroit” Denbigh (vocals), Rosie Garland (vocals), Tom Ashton (guitar), Lawrence Elliot (bass), Dr Rhythem (drums).


  1. I always love a good pie chart! This looks great!

  2. Throughout the next three months or so, The March Violets are collecting pledges to help fund the creation of a brand spanking new album. Go here and donate - you know you want to.

  3. That damn "Bon Bon Babies" track.