The original nucleus of the Jactars was already there in Culture Disaster (Trav, Morgan, Gary), a punk act formed in 1979 and fell apart one year later, but it’s only after a period of musical self indulgence and experimentation, with the Zyloids, Crompton Vest Band and Jades (all three groups including Tony ‘Crompton Vest’ Brown, later of Crickey! It’s the Cromptons) that their music developed into a consistent and solid style. The Jades became the Jactars when Brown was replaced by Tog, in 1985. This line-up recorded a couple of demos between 1985 and 1987, at Vulcan Studios (recording songs like Forced to Violence, To My Toes, Things not Seen, Break to Skin, That Sound, No Fair Catch, Deepest Respect, most of which remain unreleased), and provided the song Tadpole for the Vulcan compilation Ways to Wear Coats (1986, see relevant post).
The Jactars gigged quite consistently on the Merseyside, mostly supporting or supported by Crickey! It’s the Cromptons, or other Vulcan bands.
The Melody Maker reviewed one of the band gigs (possibly with the Cromptons) as follows:
‘The Jactars are less quirky but just as individual, musically. As individual themselves, though, they don’t matter because this is the sort of music that takes over. Literate words make real songs while the guitars and drums seem to be working in unison and the keyboards add their own comment. The result is single-minded direct and impressive’ (Penny Kiley, September 1986)
During some live shows Gary was replaced by Huw Williams (drummer with Crikey! It’s The Cromptons, later The Big I Am), who became a full member in 1987. This new line up recorded the band’s first single Wadlow (1987)
- The tallest Man
- Matter to Make
The life, music, aesthetics, ethics etc. of the Jactars original line up (Trav, Morgan, Gary and Tog) is thoroughly discussed in Sara Cohen’s Rock Culture in Liverpool (1991).