It’s 1985 in Edinburgh, Scotland and Calvin Burt (vocals) Lenny Helsing (drums and vocals) and James Daly (bass) ask their new pal Clive Fenton to play guitar for them. They start out practising Kinks and Stones songs alongside obscurities from 60s comps.
They call themselves The Canadian Destinations, before thinking better of it and choose The Junkyard Things instead, but this only lasted for one or two gigs, including the “Gorgie Aid” benefit event alongside garage troublemakers The Stayrcase and, significantly, The Green Telescope, at that time on a backward path from their earlier psychedelic leanings.
Bassist Daly left soon after, his place taken by Andy Learmonth. A new name, The Lukes Of Us, took them a few more gigs forward, including another local “Live Aid” style benefit, called “Garage Aid”. The Green Telescope, The Stayrcase and those other 60s style garage-psych-surf trashers in town The Rubber Dolfinarium were also involved. The group switch names again, this time committing to The Offhooks.
John Robb (rhythm and 12-string guitar) is drafted in, and the group begin playing out-of-town gigs and, fast forward to early summer 1988, recorded the “Off The Hook” mini-LP for DDT Records. This was home to former Green Telescopians Lenny, Bruce and Alan, who, now having recruited The Offhooks’ singer Calvin to their drum stool position, were now calling themselves The Thanes. But The Offhooks were still a little unsteady first losing bassist Andy, before rhythm player John also drops out. Former drummer of The Green Telescope, Mal Kergan, who also played bass for local post-punk alternatives Rote Kapelle, was about to become The Offhooks new bassist. John’s guitar replacement was Barry Stark, a 60s garage punk enthusiast whom none of the group knew until he joined the group.
The group were now determined to create a new batch of songs that reflected their new intake, and to that end they were promised an LP deal with Nightshift records, a label semi-affiliated to DDT. So after many intensive rehearsal sessions, Chamber Studios were duly booked and in early March 1990 The Offhooks recorded what was to be “Outside Looking In”. It was to have been released in the late summer / early autumn…but alas it is now more than twenty years down the line, January 2011, and The Offhooks’ mythical second long-player still hasn’t seen the light of day yet. However, is that a light we see at the end of this dark tunnel?