Let us look back a little bit. A few years ago we delved into the world of the 1980s mod revival. Back then there were many groups, all of whom seemed to make records. The quality could be very variable, especially after the first flush of success, when the Jam were the most popular group in the UK and the Chords and Secret Affair rode high in the charts. Most of the recordings were self-financed and done on the cheap. We avoided this area for the one truly great mod label of the period, Countdown, which had been funded by Stiff Records. As well as some sterling compilations, they had signed the two best 60s-influenced groups of the period: the Prisoners and Makin’ Time. The Prisoners have been associated with Big Beat for quite some time, but Makin’ Time’s potential was harder to gauge. They had been an incredible, dynamic group, and in the figure of bob-haired keyboard playing Fay Hallam had an instantly identifiable and striking front woman (even though she wasn’t the group’s lead singer), but we were unsure if they would matter to anyone now. We needn’t have worried as copies of “Rhythm!” flew out the door. When Fay approached us about releasing the group’s second and final album, adding that there were unreleased demos to round out the package, we were more than keen.
“No Lumps Of Fat Or Gristle Guaranteed” has never been available since its original release on Makin’ Time’s own label in 1986, and listening to it again now, it still seems a shame that it was the last thing they did before they split up. It shows a group that really packed a punch; they had a unique sound forged on a Vox Continental organ, rather than the more usual Hammond; and they had made clear progress from their debut album.
The first album was poppier and more clean-cut than their live performance; to my mind the sound is much heavier than their fantastic live shows. The band had been influenced by label-mates the Prisoners by the time that they made this album: the soul touches are toned down and psychedelia and great British 60s pop songs are more to the fore. It makes for a compelling listening experience and shows that Makin’ Time were every bit an influence on the “baggy sound” as the Prisoners. That’s without factoring-in bassist Martin Blunt’s success with his later band the Charlatans, with whom he scored three number one albums.
Our CD is completed with a selection of demos and live cuts that show the band had much more in store but, as Fay told Lois Wilson for the in-depth sleeve notes “We started to get fed up with everything” and so, sadly, the band ended. Makin’ Time were always an uplifting experience, a joy to behold that’s demonstrated on this CD.
By Dean Rudland