The Outcasts – You’re A Disease

12th March 2023 · 1970s, 1978, Music, Punk

The Outcasts, a kind of rootsier Undertones also featuring three brothers, were another of the first wave of Ulster bands, but bad luck blighted their career. One of them was killed and another badly injured in two separate car crashes.

Before that they recorded this, the A-side of their three-track debut single. It came out on the IT label in March 1978, less than a year after the Cowan brothers – Greg, Martin and Colin – formed the band with their mate Blair Hamilton as the singer… only for him to leave a month later.

The Cowans brought in their friend Colin ‘Getty’ Getgood as a replacement, with bassist Greg taking over as vocalist. Two months after that they were playing their first gig in Belfast.

The second single, on Good Vibrations, was called Justa Nother Teenage Rebel (sic), backed with the grimly regrettable Love Is For Sops, a celebration of teenage lust that’s forgivable only because (as the A-side suggested) they were still teenagers.

The Cops Are Comin’, an even nastier little tale of killing a girlfriend before indulging in a little light necrophilia, followed as part of a double single package ‘Battle Of The Bands’ featuring three other local bands – Rudi, Spider and The Idiots.

Their debut album Self Conscious Over You, recorded over five days at Wizard Studios in Belfast, became the first LP to be released on Good Vibrations in July 1979.

The title track, featuring a sax break, handclaps and a catchy chorus and released as a single, is not a million miles away from The Glitter Band’s earlier hit single, Just For You.

Fate, however, would put paid to the band’s future career. Shortly before the album was released, Greg Cowan was involved in a serious car crash that left him in traction for fourteen weeks and unable to play bass.

They brought in Gordy Blair from fellow Belfast band Rudi as a temporary replacement, and replaced Colin Cowan – fired by his brothers “because he was such a bad drummer” – with a new drummer, Raymond Falls.

Tragically, Colin was killed in a car crash just after they released a cover of another Glitter Band song, Angel Face, in 1982. His brother Greg, perhaps forgetting firing him, described him at his funeral as “the core of the band. He started The Outcasts, he even gave the band its name”.

The large attendance at Colin’s funeral prompted the band to play a thankyou gig at the Harp Bar, and the positive reaction convinced the band that they should carry on. They recorded a second Peel session and released the Blood and Thunder album on Abstract Records, which reached number 20 in the indie album chart.

A few more singles and a mini-album followed, but the band split up in early 1985. Greg Cowan returned in 2003 with an “Irish punk supergroup” called Shame Academy with members of Rudi and Stalag 17.