Ruefrex – One By One

12th March 2023 · Uncategorised

Ruefrex (originally Roofwrecks) were the most musically interesting of the Belfast punk bands. And the most uncompromising, fearlessly ignoring the sectarian divide to take their music to both sides of the divide at the height of the Troubles.

On their debut single One By One – another of the early releases on Good Vibrations – they start off sounding like Magazine playing Motorcade and halfway through they become Wire soundalikes. It’s brilliant.

The band was formed in 1977 by drummer Paul Burgess and bassist Tom Coulter at the Boys Model School in Belfast. After their original singer Ivan Kelly left to join London band The Wall in 1979, Allan Clarke came in as vocalist along with guitarist Jackie Forgie.

They split up in early 1980 but were persuaded to reform three years later, returning with the brilliant single Capital Letters, which really could be a deep cut by Wire.

It was followed by Paid In Kind (1984) and they appeared on The Tube the following year with new guitarist Gerry Ferris, performing another epic tune, Wild Colonial Boy – an outspoken attack on Noraid’s notorious fundraising for the IRA in America.

In the same year they released their debut album, Flowers For All Occasions, on Kasper Records, distributed worldwide through Stiff – and a release that I must confess completely passed me by, along with its five-star review from Sounds.

A later line-up of the band featured Gordy Blair who also performed with Highway Star, the band that was to become Stiff Little Fingers. In 1976 he joined Belfast punk band Rudi while Forgie joined Colenso Parade and later formed the Black Taxi Ballads.