THE DIRTY STRANGERS
Who was it that said, you are what you eat? Some tribe of cannibals, probably. But for the Dirty Strangers, you are where you live. They are Shepherds Bush – cosmopolitan, a bit rough around the edges and beating with a heart of gold.
The West London suburb, postcode West 12, begins where the M40 rises up off its haunches and flies into the capital on an elevated stretch called the Westway. From there Shepherds Bush spreads south and east to its posher neighbours in Chiswick and Notting Hill. The borough is home to the BBC, HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Queens Park Rangers FC… and the greatest little rock’n’roll band in the world.
The Dirty Strangers were born in the mid ’80s – led by singer, prime motivator and chief songwriter Alan Clayton. The band were on a mission: carrying a torch for rootsy rock’n’roll as invented by Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry but laced with a little bit of Otis Redding soul and a side order of punk attitude.
The original line-up included sometime Chuck Berry sideman ‘Scotty’ Mulvey on keyboards and former Ruts guitarist Paul Fox (who sadly passed away in 2007). Their self-titled debut album came out in 1987 (featuring guest appearances from Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood) and garnered rave reviews. In 1993 a fine second album ‘Burn The Bubble’ followed, before the band faded from view to those unlucky souls outside the W12 district. But now they’re back and better than ever…
Over the past three decades the excellence of their live shows never has never waned. Today Clayton – having taken on all the guitar duties – and Mulvey are still there, powerfully augmented by no-nonsense rhythm section of John Proctor (bass) and sometime Kilburn & The High Roads drummer George Butler.
That’s the line-up that made the critically acclaimed 2009 album ‘West 12 To Wittering (Another West Side Story)’ – featuring further guest appearances by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, the Damned’s guitarist Brian James and English rock’n’roll legend Joe Brown – and are currently hard at work on a follow-up.
The band continue to attract adoring crowds and high-profile admirers alike (a recent gig at London’s Borderline they were joined on stage by Stones sax legend Bobby Keys and Brian James) and deliver high-energy everyman rock’n’roll no audience ever fails to relate to. No wonder, as Clayton leads the band through high-energy slices of life about everything from hoodlums to Gold Cortinas and, yes, good old-fashioned love stories. It’s dirty rock’n’roll – and you’ll like it.
Words by Neil Jefferies