One of the handful of bands that successfully negotiated the musical shifts that led from punk to mod at the end of the 1970s, the Carpettes originally formed while at school in 1974, as the heavily Stones-influenced Brown Sugar. Based in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, the founding lineup of Neil Thompson (vocals), George Maddison (bass), and Kevin Heard (drums) went through a succession of names (and minor lineup changes) before re-forming in spring 1977 as the Carpettes. A locally recorded demo brought the band to the attention of the Small Wonder label, and late 1977 saw the release of the band's debut, the four-song EP How About Me and You. The group relocated to London around this same time, but a period of unrest saw the Carpettes' initial impetus fade. Heard departed, to be replaced by ex-Young Bucks drummer Tim Wilder, who himself was then replaced by former Merton Parkas percussionist Simon Smith. But Smith was only passing through, and Wilder returned in time for the band's next single, "Small Wonder."
Shifting to the Beggars Banquet label, the Carpettes cut their debut album in 1979, the perhaps aptly titled Frustration Paradise. The group's absorption into the percolating mod revival brought them considerable live success, but neither album nor singles "I Don't Mean It" and "Johnny Won't Hurt You" could capitalize on their visibility. Nor, the following year, could a new album, Fight Amongst Yourselves, and the Carpettes broke up in June 1981, bowing out with a farewell show at the Clarendon Hotel. The band reunited in 1996 to play the first Holidays in the Sun festival with a lineup of Thompson, Maddison, and Thompson's brother Paul. The success of that venture saw the reunion grow more permanent and, in 2002, buoyed by a successful Japanese tour, the band released its first new album in more than two decades, Fair Play to 'Em. ~ Dave Thompson
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