Years: 1977 - 1982
Styles: Alternative rock, Art Rock, Experimental Rock, New Wave, Progressive Rock
David Rhodes - Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1977 - 1980)
David Ferguson - Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals (in band: 1977 - 1982)
Simon Ainley - Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1977 - 1979)
Dave Leach - Drums (in band: 1978 - 1979)
Bill MacCormick - Bass Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1978 - 1980)
Pete Phipps - Drums, Percussion, Vocals (in band: 1979 - 1982)
Andy Prince - Bass Guitar (in band: 1981)
Nigel Hardy - Bass Guitar (in band: 1981)
Martyn Swain - Bass Guitar (in band: 1981 - 1982)
Steve Wilkin - Guitar (in band: 1981 - 1982)
Susan Raven - Vocals (in band: 1981 - 1982)
David Ferguson (keyboards) and David Rhodes (guitar) decided to form a musical unit together. This duet initially bore the name Manscheinen and experimental pop appeared to be a cautious description of the premature results also in terms of instrumental versatility ("One gig was so bad we took the audience down to the pub for a drink instead.", RHA). Although being intermittedly in idle mode, this cooperation led to the creation of Random Hold in 1977.
The first full line up of Random Hold featured David Ferguson (keyboards) and David Rhodes (guitar and vocals) plus Simon Ainley (guitars and vocals), Bill MacCormick (bass) of Quiet Sun, Matching Mole and 801, and David Leach (drums). After a handful of gigs and a lot of record company interest, the band signed to Polydor records.
After the struggle through post-natal complications and different views on musical compromises, followed the first major split, with Simon Ainley and David Leach leaving and the aforementioned Davids adding Pete Phipps of the The Glitter Band (drums).
The band was assigned Peter Hammill as producer (a songwriter and musician who is otherwise busy with his own stuff entirely) because Peter Gabriel (who had D. Rhodes on his payroll already) had to decline on schedule reasons. There have been ties to Peter Gabriel since the band was a support act on parts of his 1980 tour and he strongly promoted them as a very remarkable band. However, the amount of public response both in the record stores and on venues clearly justified the sarcasm establishing soon in the comments of the band on their quest for an audience. A British music magazine reflected this by the end of Random Hold:
"Melody Maker, 16th August 1980: In last weeks' issue, Random Hold were looking for a new bass player. This week, they're also looking for a new keyboardist, drummer and guitarist. In other words, Random Hold have split up."(RHA)
The particular reasons for the quarrel between MacCormick and the Davids leading to next major split of the band have never been unveiled to date of one of the musicians involved; while the missing success in the working phase, permantly threatened by bankruptcy was suffered with bitter humour, the split-up appeared to be no fun at all and in disillusion (member's sights vary however, see respective link references). A cooperation on a different project was nevertheless established only 5 weeks later between MacCormick and Ferguson. The last-mentioned tried to continue Random Hold with an all new personnel, a venture not of a lasting nature. Rhodes meanwhile found relief in studio and stage appearances, primarily as a member of the Peter Gabriel band.
One reason for the lack of resonance at the record companies could be seen in an attitude which should be a hallmark of musical quality really (and isn’t considered as such, not past nor present): the musical restrictions Random Hold seem to be submitted have been afew. The music have been characterized as proto-new wave, but it missed the mannerism and particular glamour of the genre, albeit not deliberate in every extent. Coherence was basically the result of the band's sound: bold and dry, without softening flavours of sound wizzdom, continuously distorted bass, venerable analogue synthesizers and “anybody, who had to sing” (who was D. Rhodes the most time). Unlike the guitar work of Rhodes the songs occasionally failed the state of sophistication in the same way the rude band sound did. This might at first be irritating for nowaday’s listeners (But: Once gotten rid of spoilt hearing habits of today, the aspects of rude in dynamics, brooding and subtle in the notes are inevitably coming to perception e.g. as a strong counterpart to the ubiquitous format radio).
Ferguson did revive the Random Hold name for a new band in 1981 - 1982, signed to RCA. That line-up included Pete Phipps (drums), Andy Prince replaced by Nigel Hardy and later Martyn Swain on bass, Steve Wilkin on guitar and Susan Raven on vocals. They released one album, Burn the Buildings.
David Rhodes is mentioned above as a member of the Peter Gabriel Band. He continues to be so, doing world-spanning project and studio work aside of this. David Ferguson worked as a composer for film and television scores and sadly died in July 2009 after a battle with cancer. Pete Phipps joined XTC later (his contributions were on “Mummer”, “Big Express” plus live appearances), he played also for Roger Chapman, Eurythmics, Mike Rutherford among others. Bill MacCormick was in business as a producer for a while, afterwards he withdrew from music activities later in favour of a political career with the Liberal Democrat party. Simon Ainley is now in business as a landscape architect. David Leach is a television executive.
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