The first of the new wave of indie labels in the mid-70s was Chiswick Records of Camden Town, a centre of Irish entertainment in North London. Ted Carroll had been running the Rock On market stall in Golborne Rd since 1971 and had expanded his empire with a stall in Soho and then a proper retail outlet in N5. Roger Armstrong ran the Soho location and had aspirations to produce records. Eventually the two of them turned up North London’s finest Polish, New Zealand, American, English R&B outfit who were renamed the Count Bishops and cut a hot and sweaty EP on a very hot and sweaty summer evening in Stoke Newington. And so a label was born. Ted and Roger soon recruited third partner Trevor Churchill who had real record company experience in abundance. Through Trevor’s contacts, the great British rock’n’roll record ‘Brand New Cadillac’ was licensed from EMI and garnered a lot of radio play.
There followed the 101ers with pre-Clash Joe Strummer, the Gorillas with post-Crushed Butler Jesse Hector, Radiators from Space with future Pogue Philip Chevron, the debut release from Motorhead with eternally there Lemmy, John’s Children survivor Andy Ellison fronting early power popsters Radio Stars, Johnny Moped led by Croydon outsider Johnny Moped and a whole lot of great pop and rock’n’rollin’ went on. Eventually we bumped into a couple of hits with the very ramalamadoowop Rocky Sharpe and the Replays and at the other end of the musical spectrum the very svelte Sniff ‘n’ the Tears in the ‘Drivers Seat’ of a very fine convertible. We were nothing if not eclectic round our way.
Along the way the Bishops stopped making Counts of themselves and turned into a muscular rhythm and blues and rock outfit, tearing apart the Strangeloves’ ‘I Want Candy’ before it made its chart bow (wow wow). Having let the Damned slip through our fingers first time out we were there to catch them second time around for their epic “Machine Gun Etiquette” album and a few more hits.
As the 80s loomed, rock’n’roll took a bit of a backseat to the massed synths of serious young men and women and the fun went out of it for a while. We looked to Albania to stay hip and up to date, had a go with two nice lads doing excellent soul funk, but they weren’t called Wham, who appeared a year after Two Two. We tried to be very pop but really we were more rock’n’roll, so we called it a day in 1983 with a Dr Feelgood record and then had a last gasp shot in the direction of the charts a year later with ‘La Bamba’ and our old friend Rocky Sharpe. But by then we were pretty much full time being Ace Records – and no bad thing. But it was all good clean fun while it