Cowboys International – Here Comes A Saturday

20th October 2022 · 1970s, 1979, Music

Cowboys International didn’t last long. They released a handful of singles and a solitary album, and by the end of 1980 they had disappeared after about 18 months together.

I remember seeing them at the Marquee in 1979 or 1980 (or both). I was probably lured by the band’s connections with ex-Clash drummer Terry Chimes and ex-PiL guitarist Keith Levine, though I’m not sure if they were playing.

They are one of those mostly forgotten bands that sprang up as punk began to morph into the more interesting hybrids of the New Wave, often (as here) with members of previous punk bands.

Something of an all-star group, they were formed by vocalist and songwriter Ken Lockie, who had been with Levene in a band called The Quick Spurts, and were more influenced by Bowie and Eno than the Pistols and Clash.

The first line-up boasted Lockie as singer, Keith Levene on guitar, Jimmy Hughes (ex- The Banned) on bass, Evan Charles on piano and Terry Chimes on drums.

Their first and last album The Original Sin did well enough to be No.11 in Melody Maker’s best albums of what is, by my reckoning, still the best year ever for albums.

There was also a handful of decent singles showcasing their futuristic keyboard-driven sound (arguably the template for the New Romantic movement that soon followed) of which this one – Here Comes A Saturday – remains the best.

But the band went through regular line-up changes, halting their progress. Six months after the album came out the only original members left were Lockie and Charles.

Chimes joined Generation X and was replaced by Paul Simon (no, no, not him), and ex-Adam & The Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni passed through before Steve Shears (ex- Ultravox) came in and, finally, Lee Robinson of Boney M. They split up altogether in late 1980.

Lockie and Levene were briefly reunited in PiL but Lockie retired in the mid-1980s, returning in the early 2000s to produce an expanded re-release of his old band’s solitary album and reunite them for another album.