Towards the end of 1985 I’d managed to land a plum gig, DJing at Charivari with my mate, Gary. We’d been regular punters for many months and had got to know Pete and Toby well enough to ask for a slot. A two-week trial doing the first hour led to a permanent residency and we fucking loved it. We could pretty much play whatever we wanted, but they knew our tastes, so we just played what we loved. What an absolute joy, and looking back, the opportunity to DJ to 275 young, musically receptive kooks, freaks and hipsters who shared a distaste for the mainstream was a bit of a life changer.
In ‘85 the destruction of Bournemouth’s pub, club and live music culture was years away. Outside Charivari, The Third Side, Whiskeys, Bacchus and Micawber’s became our most frequented watering holes, but there was no shortage of choice for alternative tastes. We were befriending musos and mavericks with gusto and around that time, mejor amigo Simon, a young dude with prodigious confidence knew a character of much repute named Sandy, who was the singer in a band. A soul band. The Soul Band. The Agency.
From 2006 my business would be promoting local music, my passion for which started twenty years earlier with The Agency. Formed not many months before my first experience, these guys already seemed not just seamless, but masters of their art. Sandy was the front man; cool, pork-pied, sharp-suited, a mover and groover whose performance personified soul. Behind Sandy was Tim Holt aka Mr.Soul on rhythm guitar and a motley crew of absolute funksters who ripped it up every one of the dozens of times I saw them play.
After a deep trawl, I discovered this beauty on the band’s facebook page. One of The Agency’s first gigs in 1985…
The Agency had a tight as hell rhythm section with badass bass and toms & tablas as prominent as the full kit, and a lead guitarist who looked like a prog-rock god but like played like Ernie Isley. The icing on the mille-feuille was the band’s own version of The Memphis Horns, a three, four or do I remember five-piece horn section. The band’s line-up was as fluid as the music, and years down the line Sandy left and Andy hit the front adding guitar and no less groove.
Playing a few of their own but mostly covers of soul, funk, R&B and Stax, The Agency cemented and enhanced my love of the likes of Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett and fed my desire to learn more. I danced my fucking ass off to these guys for the next few years, venue Little Peters was sweaty basement heaven and I soul-shuffled with as much mastery as I could muster. The band continued in various guises over the next three decades and may have stopped playing now. A 30 year anniversary gig stormed the Tivoli Theatre in 2015 and beyond that I’m really not sure, but fellas… 35 years later, thank you for your soul and inspiration.