Released at the end of May 1976 on Mountain Records, Boston Tea Party gave The Sensational Alex Harvey Band their first outright hit since their rambunctious cover of Delilah the previous summer. The single didn’t quite match Delilah’s top ten chart position – It peaked at #13 – but it did hang around longer in the singles charts and gave Harvey the chance to appear a couple of times on Top of the Pops. This being the first of those two appearances.
Harvey was, by this point, attracting fans across Britain, North America, Europe and Australia. Even Iggy Pop, a bravura live performer himself of course, was taken aback by Harvey’s often outlandish onstage antics as was the young Nick Cave who still customarily namechecks Harvey whenever he plays Glasgow, going as far I’m told, as to dedicate the entire Grinderman Barrowlands set in 2010 to the memory of Alex.
Maybe more surprisingly, the teenage Robert Smith was a fanatical follower of SAHB, and saw them on numerous occasions during the 1970s. In a feature in Rolling Stone (Australia) just over twenty years ago, he explained: ‘People talk about Iggy Pop as the original punk, but certainly in Britain the forerunner of the punk movement was Alex Harvey. His whole stage show with the graffiti-covered brick walls – it was like very aggressive Glaswegian street theatre.’
Whether any of the members of Wire were SAHB fans I have no idea. Colin Newman apparently wrote the original lyrics of the following track about a lion tamer – a profession Harvey famously liked to claim he’d once been himself – but Graham Lewis judged the lyrics to be substandard and replaced most of Newman’s words with his own. All references to any lion tamer were excised, hence the song’s new title, Ex-Lion Tamer.
And finally, a quick mention may as well be made here of the band The Ex- Lion Tamers, formed by rock critic Jim DeRogatis specifically to cover Pink Flag in its entirety and in the exact order of the Wire LP.
Wire would later hire the band to act as their support on an American tour.
Again very Wire.