FIVE THIRTY -The Early Years
Tara Milton and Nick Baker formed Five Thirty whilst still at school near Oxford in 1983. They met and recruited drummer Steve Beatty a year later and played their first gig in May 1984. This initial line-up played a number of gigs - including support slots for The Truth, Makin' Time and Direct Hits.
Baker decided to leave the band in March 1985 and American replacement Shawn Gwin was spotted advertising his services in then then popular weekly 'Phoenix List'. Of those early years Tara remembers that Gwin “was important, because he raised the musical level of the band, we made the first ep then he just disappeared back to New orleans. We had some shows lined up and no guitarist, so I got in touch with Paul, a precocious talent, 2 years above me at school... his school band were called The Review and we actually played shows together. Paul was a fantastic guitarist even then.... having been impressed by our efforts on the Catcher ep, Paul decided to stand in whilst also playing for his funk band (Chocolate Starfish) in Reading”. However, before Gwin had left for America (and before Paul had took over the reins) Five Thirty (or 5:30 as they are sometimes known) released their first material, a 12” vinyl record containing an early version of “Catcher in the Rye” which was backed with “Weight of the World”, Mood Suite” and “Suburban Town”. “Weight of the World” was also included on a compilation entitled “The Cutting Edge”, a mod revival vinyl record that also contained songs by “Purple Hearts”, “The Blades” and “The Dansette”. All 4 tracks from the 12” vinyl were included on a CD re-issue in September 2001.
On Saturday the 15th December 1985, Five Thirty played at Walthamstow Town Hall under the banner of The Mod Aid Alldayer to raise money for the Band Aid Trust. The gig was recorded, and a double live album was released containing “Catcher in the Rye”
Five Thirty started of wanting to be a mod band (hence the name 5:30 “it sounded moddy” said Tara). Whilst looking the part, Tara confesses due to lack of musical ability they sounded more like a punk band. Eventually, the original drummer Steve Beatty was replaced by Keith McCubbin (see photo at the top of this page for the Bassett/ McCubbin/ Milton combo) and the 3 piece developed in to a very competent blues band. They played numerous gigs around the Reading area including the infamous Blueberry Jam. They would perform numerous covers such as “What I’d Say” (Ray Charles), “All Along the Watchtower”(Jimi Hendrix), “Bleeding Heart” (Jimi Hendrix), “Hear My Train A Comin’” (Jimi Hendrix), “Manic Depression” (Jimi Hendrix), “Can You See Me” (Jimi Hendrix), “Killing Floor” (Jimi Hendrix), “It Serves You Right to Suffer” (John Lee Hooker) and also “Train In Vain” (The Clash). Their set lists also included their own early compositions such as “Pigs and Sheep” and “One Step at a Time”.
In 1987 Five Thirty started recording their own songs and the following list will give you an idea of the songs they were playing with at the time. It also shows how prolific and talented the band were and listening to them how they progressed and evolved and improved.