The Prisoners were the best garage band ever.. but never reached the star status that they rightfully deserved.
Formed at the tail-end of the ‘mod revival’ or early- doors of the ‘new psychedelic revival’ scenes (depending on which shirts you wore) of the early eighties in Rochester, Kent, despite being perfect for both genres, the group remained largely unknown.
The final- full band line-up: Graham Day - guitar and vocals, Allan Crockford – bass, Johnny Symons – drums and James Taylor - organ, only appeared on many peoples radar some time later when they inexplicably emerged at the heart of the ‘psycho-billy’ scene.
Regular stage-mates with The Stingrays and The Milkshakes (Bruce Brand from the Milkshakes featured in an earlier line-up), they later appeared on flagship Channel 4 music program The Tube (dressed in Start Trek uniforms) with these quiff-haired rockers. The garage band nature of the group’s sound fitted the rough and ready slap-bass rattle of this scene, the Prisoners were finally noticed.
After a couple small number pressings (A Taste of Pink in 1982 and TheWiserMiserDemelza 1983) Big Beat Records released the single, ‘Hurrican’, a fast riffed, Pretty Things inspired, mighty soulful pop rock record that everyone who ever heard it loved with a passion. The album The Last Fourfathers followed and established the band as the sixties- inspired band of the 80’s.
Graham Days strong song writing, a vehicle for his soulful, Marriot-esque, voice, backed by the solid rhythm section and screaming Hammond organ, (replacing the cheap cranked-up Casio of early recordings), won the band a loyal fan base and fearsome live reputation, eventually being asked by The Ramones to support them on their UK tour.
Unfortunately, despite 10/10 reviews in the N.M.E, chart success evaded the group. When Stiff Records subsidiary Countdown decided that the band should take a more ‘produced’ commercial sound on the 86 album, In From The Cold, tensions eventually flared and the band split. An alternate, preferred, mix from this session features on Sugarlumps 3.
Since splitting up the members of The Prisoners have featured in a wide range of bands. Taylor and Crockford formed Acid Jazz band JTQ in 1986.
Day and Crockford formed The Solarflares, who released four albums before splitting up in 2004,
Day formed Planet, plus other various groups, currently Graham Day & the Gaolers.
Crockford, again, played with The Stabilisers, again on Acid Jazz, and currently The Galileo 7.