Men From UNCLE

1980s Aberystwyth Music, and More

Playing the blues

Meeting again former Aberystwyth law undergraduate John Wyn Williams (1983-1986) at the recent Legal Wales Conference on 12 October was a great pleasure. While John reminded me of the sawn off oar on my office wall in the 1980s, I later recalled that he was the bass player with Aberystwyth student band The Men From U.N.C.L.E. John then sent me a copy of a published review of the band's performance, which considered them to be 'an interesting and invigorating combo who may well get somewhere' and a 'highly efficient jazz/funk/pop combo with good songs'.(in those days a band was called a 'combo'). I think I heard them play on the Pier.Other band members from the law cohort were Howard Adams (drums) and Anthony Robinson (lead guitar). Now was there something about studying the subject in Aberystwyth then which inspired such musical achievement ? A contemporary law student of that trio was Robert Spragg, who went on to gain fame as Larry Love, the leader of The Alabama Three (still going strong) and the writer of the track which opened every episode of The Sopranos, the famed US TV drama series - 'Woke Up This Morning'. The same ilk as The Men From UNCLE, as I recall: tight, funky, raw and clever. The decade that style forgot ? Rubbish ! I think that we had to wait almost another twenty years before Mick John-Hopkins arrived as a law undergraduate and used his cool saxophone to such good effect with Arts The Beat Doctor (check out their 'Fragments' EP, on Unexpected Records, 2006). What a good tradition.