Chris Sievey and The Freshies

Not many people had heard of The Freshies back in the 70s and early 80s.

I suspect a lot more people have heard of them now because Chris Sievey, the lead singer, went on to become Frank Sidebottom, a strange sort of comedy character with a false head who was seen on UK TV from time-to-time.

Sievey died in 2010 but Frank Sidebottom was an enticing enough character to earn his own documentary — Being Frank — in 2018 and Sievey’s recently been in the news because GCHQ cracked a secret code he created.

I think he was a bit mad.

I had heard of The Freshies back in early 80s thanks to a John Peel show on Radio 1 during which he played My Tape’s Gone.

I liked their Punk/Post-Punk/Pop-Punk/New Wave (or whatever you want to call it) sound and tried my best to follow them. This wasn’t always easy in pre-internet, pre-digital days.

For a long while the only place that sold records in Chepstow — where I spent a lot of my childhood — was Woolworths and they only stocked the Top 40. I remember when they banned the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen. We’d go in every day and ask for it just to annoy them.

Us: “You stock the Top 40 hits don’t you?”

Woolworths: “Yes.” 

Us: “I’d like God Save The Queen please.”

Woolworths: “We don’t stock that.” 

Us: “Why not? It’s number 2 in the charts?”

Woolworths: “We don’t stock it.” 

Us: “Yes but why? You said you stock the Top 40.”

Woolworths: “We do but not that one.” 

Us: “But why not?”

Woolworths: “Get out, you’re banned.” 

Us: “Oh.”

So no Pick ‘n’ Mix for us.

Anyway, I digress. Eventually a proper record shop called Round Records opened in Chepstow and they stocked or could order a lot of the hard to get music I used to listen to (and that I listened to John Peel should explain why some of it was hard to get).

It was at that record shop I managed to get a single called I’m In Love With A Girl On A Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk by The Freshies.

It barely touched the charts, only reaching number 54 in the UK Singles Chart and number 46 on the (then) newly compiled UK Indie Chart. But I played that single a lot and for me it was the soundtrack of the early 80s. It is poignant now too because it reminds of an era when punk music, which was my formative genre of choice, began to ebb and the New Wave, New Romantic and Synth genres began to flow in its place.

I think it’s a properly good song and The Freshies never received enough recognition as a band.