The Innocent Vicars – She’s Here

29th March 2024 · 1980, 1980s, Music, Punk

This refreshingly primitive punk nugget by The Innocent Vicars is one of those lost gems that you unearth by chance. Or in this case because I’m reading the singer’s newly published memoir, Strange Things Are Happening (Adventures In Music).

The singer is Richard Norris, who would become better known in the early ’90s as a member of million-selling duo The Grid with Dave Ball of Soft Cell.

Not to mention his alter ego as one half of remix/DJ duo Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve (with Erol Alkan) and multiple other iterations and collaborations since then.

But it all began here in 1980 when he was 13 or 14 with the formation of his punk group The Innocent Vicars in St Albans. This was their first self-financed single, She’s Here, recorded in a Christian recording studio by Norris (vocals and rhythm guitar) and his schoolfriends Aaron Russell (lead guitar) and Nigel Benson (bass).

The drummer is their friend Cally from another local band, The Tea Set, whose front man Nic Egan sings baking vocals on this and the B-side, Antimatter.

The single sold out of its initial pressing of 500 thanks to being played by John Peel – after Norris gatecrashed Radio1 to give him a copy – and sold by Rough Trade after he turned up unannounced with a box of singles and did a deal on the spot. It was even played on Radio 1’s Round Table show… straight after The Clash.

The short-lived group played regularly in and around St Albans, Hatfield, Luton and Harpenden, mostly in school discos, youth clubs and church halls, plus a girls’ boarding school and St Albans Abbey (twice) – on account of being too young to get into a pub.

The Innocent Vicars released just two singles – the second is a pretty dreadful cover of Lipps Inc’s hit Funky Town, backed by Voices – but also had a couple of other tracks (She Was My Girl and Starship 22) on punk compilations.