Contemporaries of the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds, The Downliners Sect was formed by deerstalker-hatted rhythm guitarist Don Craine in the spring of 1963. Their brash and exciting brand of R&B soon gained them a residency at London’s Studio 51 club where they recorded their first E.P. ‘At Nite in Great Newport Street’, now a rare collectors’ item. A version of Jimmy Reed’s ‘Baby What’s Wrong’ became the unit’s first single for EMI and entered the charts in its first week of release. This was followed by ‘Little Egypt’ which brought international interest and took the band into the Swedish top ten,a success they consolidated with a major tour.
‘We were quite influenced by the Downliners Sect’: David Bowie referring to David Bowie and the King Bees – in Q Magazine.
The first British R&B I heard was the Downliners Sect. It was at the Ken Colyer Club, they were really doing it then. I heard the Pretty Things later but the Downliners Sect were IT’: Van Morrison
The group went on to record many classic R&B singles as well as three albums, ‘The Sect’, ‘The Country Sect’ (on the Canadian pressing of which they are credited with the creation of Country-Rock Music) and‘The Rock Sects In’ which is notable for the inclusion of ‘Why Don’t You Smile Now’ which was part-composed by Lou Reed and John Cale prior to their founding of the Velvet Underground. A ghoulish E.P. ‘The Sect Sing Sick Songs’ also gained them much notoriety and a blanket radio ban. After the release of the Graham Gouldman penned ‘ Cost of Living’, a one-off Pye single ‘I Can’t Get Away From You’ and four studio tracks later to crop up on a Swedish jukebox E.P., the group disbanded.
In the wake of the 1976 Pub Rock/R&B phenomena the Downliners Sect reformed to much acclaim, recording a new single ‘Showbiz’ and reissuing their first album ‘The Sect’, both of which figured in ‘Sounds’ new wave charts. This was followed by the albums ‘Showbiz’ and ‘Live In The 80’s’, a limited edition U.S. single ‘Colour Coded Red’ and the 1989 release of the ‘Yardbird-Downliners Sect’ and ‘Downliners Sect Story’ videos.(This led to the formation of the British Invasion Allstars, featuring the Sect’s Don Craine and Keith Grant, Yardbird Jim McCarty, Nashville Teens’ Ray Phillips and Creation’s Eddie Phillips, for the recording of the album ‘Regression’ for Promised Land and the ‘United’ LP which also included the talents of Pretty Things’ Phil May and Dick Taylor, Procul Harum’s Matt Fisher
The Downliners Sect went on to record ‘Savage Return’ (1991), described in ‘Union Jack’ as ‘the best album of the year’, and L.P. ‘A Light Went Out In New York’, in partnership with Matt Fisher, for U.S. label ‘Endangered Records’ (1993).
Don and Keith, in conjunction with Medway band Thee Headcoats, recorded the ‘Deerstalking Men’ album in 1996 (under the name Thee Headcoat Sect, on Hangmans Daughter Records). The twain then went on to take part in the recording of Art Wood’s ‘Quiet Melon’ project titled ‘Money Due’ for Ron Wood’s Rockyarch Ltd., through ’97.
With Very Special Guests, The Masonics
The Dirty Water Club started in October 1996 in the Tufnell Park neighbourhood of north London, at a venue called The Boston. The club's name is derived from The Standells' 1966 hit 'Dirty Water' which glorifies the US city of Boston, Massachusetts.
Past performers have included The White Stripes (voted by Q Magazine as one of the top 10 gigs of all time, Mojo one of the top 30 and Kerrang one of the top 100!), The Gories, NOBUNNY, Kid Congo Powers (from the Cramps), The Fleshtones, Billy Childish, Radio Birdman, The Dirtbombs, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The 18.104.22.168's, The Horrors and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to name just a few. The club has also seen some original '60s performers, such as The Monks, ? and the Mysterians, Kim Fowley, Sky Saxon, GONN, Michael Davis of the MC5 and more grace its stage.
Their in-house record label, Dirty Water Records, is one of the leading garage/beat/(real) R&B labels in the world.