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The story of the Sect

Part 2 1976-1999

After the Sect had split the members were working on different projects. Don Craine started the folk music duo Finnegan’s Wake together with a friend from Ireland and later on he formed the blues duo Loose End together with harmonica player Paul Tiller. Keith Grant was in a band called Punchin’ Judy. Terry Gibson played with Houseshakers and Hellraisers and also did some gigs with rock legends Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry when they toured in the UK. Johnny Sutton was in a jazz band.

When the punk rock started in the middle of the 70:s, it also started a new interest for the Downliners Sect as the punks saw them as early forerunners to the punk music. And indeed, there were some similarities between punk and the raw raunchy music the Downliners Sect had played. The interest for the Sect made Charly Records re-release the three original Sect albums from the 60:s and also the EP "The Sect Sing Sick Songs". German label Line did the same some years later and also released an excellent compilation called "Be A Sect Maniac". All these events led to a rebirth of the legendary Downliners Sect. Don Craine, Keith Grant and Terry Gibson met and decided to start again. Johnny Sutton and Ray Sone were also asked if they wanted to join. Johnny accepted but Ray was in the middle of a divorce and didn’t feel for going on the road with a band at that point. As Pip Harvey still was unavailable the offer to join the Sect went to Paul Tiller who had played together with Don Craine in Loose end.

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Downliners Sect in 1977. From left to right: Don Craine, Terry Gibson, Keith Grant, Paul Tiller, Paul Holm

With that line-up the Sect did it’s historical come back in 1977. But after a while Johnny Sutton quit and was replaced by Paul Holm. In the end of the year the band recorded the single "Showbiz" for raw records. "Showbiz", a fast raunchy song inspired by punk and heavy metal reached the British new-wave list and also got a lot of attention in the rest of Europe and the US. The band also recorded a new album, which was also called "Showbiz" for Raw Records but in the end the record company couldn’t afford to release it. Instead it was released by German label Sky but the record didn’t sell, mainly because of bad marketing and other problems. It’s a pity because it’s a great album. A change in the line-up occurred when drummer Paul Holm left the band and was replaced by Rod De’Ath.

Downliners Sect 1981. From left to right: Rod De'Ath, Paul Tiller, Keith Grant, Don Craine, Terry Gibson

The band toured heavily in the UK and the rest of Europe during the 80:s. In 1986 a live album was released by Garageland Records. "Live In The 80:s" is an excellent album which clearly shows what a great live-band the Downliners Sect always have been. A new single, "Color Coded Red" was released in 1985 by American company Inner Mystique.

But in the end of the 80:s things started to fall apart. A lot of projects which the band had believed in hadn’t worked out the way they should. There were also internal problems in the band. Terry Gibson was unhappy with the current situation and decided to leave the band. There were also a rift between Terry Gibson and Keith Grant at that time but fortunately it is solved nowdays. The drummer Rod De’Ath had disappeared and presumed dead. But then Mike Ober entered the stage. He was an American businessman and rock fan who had worked a lot with music during the years. In 1989 he went to London to work and got in touch with Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. Together they started the music company Brisk Productions. At that point Mike Ober got in touch with the Downliners Sect because he was interested to do a video and an album with the band. A new guitarist and a new drummer was brought in.  The new members were Del Dwyer (guitar) and Alan Brooks (drums) who both had been in a band called The Barrier in the 60:s. Alan Brooks had also been a member in Keith Grant’s Punchin’ Judy in the 70:s. Bringing in these two members was a clever move because this excellent line-up is still existing and have been the longest lasting Downliners Sect line-up ever!

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The recent line-up discuss the future in front of the bridge to legendary Eel Pie Island. From left to right: Paul Tiller, Del Dwyer, Don Craine, Alan Brooks, Keith Grant.

The video was released in 1990 and at that point the new Sect line-up was playing and touring again. In the summer of 1991 the album "Savage Return" was released. An excellent album which clearly showed that the Sect was still alive and well. A raunchy, rocking no-compromising album in the same category as the debut album "The Sect". Most of the songs were written by the band members themselves. An American newspaper called it "Album Of The Year". In 1992 the Sect recorded an album together with keyboard player Matthew Fisher (ex. Downliners Sect and Procol Harum) called "A Light Went Out In New York" for American company Pigmy Productions which unfortunately didn’t reach the same standard as the previous album, despite some good songs. (To be honest, there were some covers of rather unknown Beatles song that the album would have done better without.). In the beginning of the 90:s Don Craine and Keith Grant were involved in a side project called The British Invasion All Stars together with Yardbirds Jim McCarty, Dick Taylor and Phil May from Pretty Things among others. Two great albums were the result of that project. During the recent years Don Craine and Keith Grant have also worked together with Noel Redding, once the bass player in Jimi Hendrix Experience. They have also recorded and played with Thee Headcoats, a band whose music is inspired by the Sect and who do their best to preserv  the great Downliners Sect heritage.

And the Downliners Sect themselves has continued to play during the 90:s. In fact, the band have had more gigs the recent years than it had in the middle of the 60:s. They are a great live act who always give their best, no matter how many there are in the audience. And they still make new interesting songs. In 1997 producer Mike Birch wanted to record an album with the Sect and the result of that was the album "Dangerous Ground" which came out in the spring of 1998. And once again the Sect have done it! Another excellent album with all the ingredients that a Sect album has. Here are the typical raunchy rock and rhythm&blues songs like the old Willie Dixon classic "Just Wanna Make Love To You" and the own composition "Keep On Rocking (a good advice!!!). But the album also has some different tracks, like a country version of "Working On The Railroad" (more known as "This Hammer"), the beautiful ballad "Love With No Strings" and the horror story "Bookworm", which brings back fond memories of "The Sect Sing Sick Songs".


In 2007, harmonica player Paul Martin lef the band and retired from the music business. He was replaced by John O'Leary, a highly skilled harmonica player who back in the 60's was co-founder of the legendary Savoy Brown blues band. He has been active on the British R&B scene for many years, playing with different bands, among them the John Dummer Blues band and Champion Jack Dupree. Recently he's been playing with his own John O'Leary band.

John is a friend of the members of the Downliners Sect since the 60's and knows all about their music. His first live gig with the Sect was in Skutskär during their recent  Swedish tour.

Alan Brooks, The Downliners Sect's excellent drummer  passed away. He died on Monday 4th January.of a heart attack.

 Alan started his rock carreer in The Barrier in the 60's. In the 70's he played in different bands, including Punchin' Judy which also included Downliners Sect bass player Keith Grant. Alan joined The Sect in 1989 and his steady drum play contributed to the sound of the Sect for 20 fantastic years.

Alan was a great musician but most of all a warm, wonderful person, sadly missed by family, band members, friends and fans.

Alan Brooks

 

What about the former Sect-members? Terry Gibson is in a band called  The TT.s and Johnny Sutton is playing jazz with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. The harmonica players Ray Sone and Pip Harvey are both living in London but not musical active as we know. The same can be said about drummer Kevin Flanagan who did a brief stint with the Pretty Things in the 80:s. Bob Taylor is living in Switzerland where he’s organizing music festivals for the UN. Barry Cooper is living in Australia and is working  as an acupuncturist at the Australian Institute of Sport. Drummer Paul Holm is playing in a duo together with his Finnish wife. Rod De’Ath was missing for a couple of years and there were rumors that he was dead. But Rod has showed up again after lying low for a while and is still alive and well but right now he isn't involved in any musical project.

I would like to quote Mike Stax, who wrote the excellent biography "The Downliners Sect Story".

 

"Although the Downliners Sect were among the first of Britain’s rhythm&blues groups and managed to release three albums and a multitude of fine singles during the 1960:s, they never got the kind of success they deserved. Nor did they get any respect."

And that’s true. A band which have existed as long as the Downliners Sect, a band which have been so faithful to their musical roots, a band which have never compromised or sold out to musical trends and still after all these years have the energy and feeling for their music-a band like that deserves both success and respect.

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The Downliners Sect in the 21th century. From left to right: Paul Martin (Tiller), Keith Grant, Don Craine, Del Dwyer, Alan Brooks.

 

The Downliners Sect did an excellent gig at the CC-pub in Gävle, Sweden in March 2000. From left to right: Paul Martin, Don Craine, Alan Brooks, Keith Grant, Del Dwyer. 

The gig was recorded and parts of it are available on a vinyl album which has been released as a CD in the US.

The album "Burning Snow" from the Gig in Gävle, Sweden can be ordered from:

Sect Select, 135 London Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1EF, England

See merchandise section for further details.

 

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