King of the Slums
Charley Keigher - vocals, guitar
Sarah Curtis - electric violin
Various - bass
Various - drums

Click here for lineup history.
Manchester's King of the Slums - sharp, barbed, sarcastic, and bloody great!
Two things lifted Kots above their peers; Sarah Curtis's electric violin and Charley Keigher's lyrics. The electric violin added a new dimension to the group's sound, whether swooping and darting as a lead instrument (as on 'Bombs Away On Harpurhey'), used as a discordant rhythm instrument ('Bear With Me') or grinding away, adding a mournful texture to the song ('Psycho Motorbike Ride', for example). This arrangement complemented the often raw guitarwork. Keigher's lyrics tell stories from an urban landscape familiar with crime, violence, single mothers and casual sex; they tell of people struggling to make the most of the hand dealt to them by life, accepting breaking the law with a shrug of the shoulders if it means making a few quid. Keigher introduces characters whose ambitions and potential have been crushed by lack of opportunity (or lack of effort), which leaves them often nursing a brooding sense of being hard done by and wanting redress by whatever means. While the lyric 'I had so much potential / What on earth happened?' reveals a rare and poignant moment of reflection, most of Keigher's characters have a cockiness bordering on arrogance. His tales are peppered with colloquialisms and slang, and laced with delicious sarcasm.
This description may lead you to believe that King of the Slums were po-faced social commentators, but you'd be utterly mistaken. And heaven forbid if the electric violin makes you think of the dreadful Levellers. The songs contained a great deal of humour (often self-deprecating), but above all, this group had tunes; great tunes, which made the likes of 'Schooley' and 'Once A Prefect' cult hits on discerning indie dancefloors.
Most of the group's early recordings were compiled on the Playhard album 'Barbarous English Fayre', which also included four tracks intended for a scrapped debut album. Moving to the Midnight Music label, Kots issued their proper long-player debut, 'Dandelions'. An assured collection of strong songs with many highlights, 'Dandelions' is probably their best work. Highlights include the criminal's smirk of 'Armed Robbery', the problems of being a single parent ('Unfit Mother'), the driving 'Violate Nothing But the Best', the acerbic anti-racist 'Up the Empire / Balls to the Bulldog Breed', the social drama played out in 'Psycho Motorbike Ride' and the epic 'Bear Wiv Me'. Two further quality singles followed ('Once A Prefect' and 'It's Dead Smart') before a move to the Cherry Red label, on which the group issued their final album, 'Blowzy Weirdos' in 1991. While the likes of 'Casin' the Joint' and 'Joy' suggested a dub influence, the frantic 'Keepin' It All Sweet' and 'Clubland Gangs' showed that their bite hadn't mellowed with age. Sadly, they called it a day mid-way through that year.
As far as I'm aware, none of Kots' records are currently available. Charley Keigher may have sung, 'I consider it memorable how easily I'll be forgotten' ('The Pennine Spitter'), but Kots do not deserve this fate.
Special thanks to Mooney for his help in putting this section together.
Oct 2003 Charley Keigher got in touch. He told me that the Kots story didn't end in 1991. With a new lineup, he reverted to the group's original name of 'Slum Cathedral User' and toured Europe with a new set of songs. Although a record deal was signed, nothing was released by this incarnation. Charley also made some recordings on his own in the mid-90s, many of them dance / electronic orientated. Apart from some white label pressings, nothing has been released. He is currently writing a novel.
Feb 2005 Charley Keigher has been in touch again. He has a small quantity of CDs of an unreleased Slum Cathedral User demo, called 'Machine Gun Witchcraft' EP. Click here to view the sleeve. It features remixes of tracks from the Slums last album, plus some unreleased material. For more details, click here.
Click here for discography
Photo Gallery
Early interview from 1987 here
Sounds interview from March 1988 here
NME interview from February 1989 here
Gig advert 1989 here
House of Dolls interview from late 1989 here
Melody Maker interview from August 1990 here
Various reviews here

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