21 May 2013
The Top 10 Worst Brass Band Uniforms of All Time
Here they are for New Year then. The top ten, worst, crummiest,
seedy, tactless and down right horrible set of uniforms it has ever
been a bands misfortune to have to wear not for a bet, but
on a contest stage. All we can ask is why? Why on earth someone
could possibly come up with the great idea that kitting out a band
in a set of uniforms so awful it makes Kurt Cobain look like Fred
These were for us were the worst. There may be even worse crimes
of humanity done by fellow human beings to one another, but to make
a group of 28 grown adults wear varying types of suede, velvet and
crimpolene is something that even the Court of Human Rights would
find would turn their stomachs. Weve compiled our list in
the Xmas spirit so please dont be offended if your bands appears.
We havent got pictures for them all the evidence may
have been destroyed to protect the innocents who had to follow in
the footsteps of their predecessors, but if anyone has a picture
out there of these monstrosities, let us know. This is X rated stuff
1. Grimethorpe Colliery Band (circa 1970 1997)
It just had to be didnt it? This was so OTT it became a byword
for kitchness that even Julian Clarey couldnt get away with.
It was of course those purple shirts that did it. Topped off with
bow ties the size of South American fruit bats and the uniform itself
made out of the type of material only found on the kneepads of industrial
welders, it summed up everything about Grimey that you ever needed
Some university clever dick would possibly say it was post ironic
iconoclasm and in the strange world inhabited by the likes of Lawrence
Llewellyn Bowen it would indeed by considered even fashionable.
No it was crap. Crap with a big huge capital C. Its
passing should be celebrated with bonfires and parties for small
children. Our deserved winner bar none.
2. Hammonds Sauce Band (circa 1977)
There are many good things about being a sponsored band, but having
to wear the companies colours as part of the uniform isnt
usually one of them. Take Hammonds for instance. Hammonds made sauces,
and by the looks of the uniform the poor players of the band had
to endure, Hammonds only made the type of brown sauces that were
the same shade of off - colour magnolia you found painted on the
walls of mental health institutions.
Thus they had to wear on stage a concoction of light brown jacket
with added dark brown frills around the lapels, brown bow ties,
brown trousers all toped off
.. wait for it, with brown
suede shoes. It was unspeakably evil.
3. The Hanwell Band (circa 1976 1980)
This is one that has been passed to us by word of mouth a
legend of an outfit that rendered many of the players incapable
of leading full and rewarding lives for years to come after the
experience of having to be forced to wear it.
We havent got a photo for it, but by all accounts the band
had sponsorship of some kind by the famous Roneo Vickers Company
who decided it would be a good idea to kit the band out in their
works colours. The problem was that the works colours comprised
a bubblegum pink jacket with added accoutrements that made the band
look like cheerleaders of a Gay Pride March in San Francisco.
This was as bad as bad can and whoever had the bright idea to kit
the band out in Shocking Pink should have been locked
up in an institution with electrodes placed on their nether regions.
It was criminal.
4. William Davis Construction Group Band (circa 1997
A fine and lamented band cursed with a uniform that made certain
players (who were not strangers to the odd fish and chip supper)
look like the fat bloke Tango man off the soft drinks
Orange is a nice colour primarily on oranges and not a lot else.
Making your band look like a Christmas bowl of juicy tangerines
may seem like a good idea on paper, but in practice it makes the
faces of the players glow as if theyve had too long on the
old sun bed at home. A dreadful choice that was the one part of
the bands history that should be consigned to the dustbin. Bleeding
5. Gotenburg Brass Band (circa 1992)
Our European friends are usually held up as harbingers of good taste
and refinement. Sweden for instance has a reputation of good stylish
design, cool and sophisticated and usually bloody expensive. This
is the country that has given us Habitat, Ikea, the Volvo S70 and
Sven Goran Erikson. How on earth then did they happen to kit out
their girls in frocks that seem to have been designed by a blind
man on an acid trip?
The poor girls (and it was only the girls of Gothenburg) turned
up in these ghastly creations at the European Championships of 1992
in Cardiff and immediately were given a sympathetic round of applause
by a Welsh audience for their bravery in wearing something that
would have given a chameleon a migraine. All this and the skirts
were pleated as well! Null points.
6. Tredegar Town Band (circa 1979)
Sorry to be a bit parochial on this one but, this was an example
of creation by committee. Tredegar needed a new uniform and being
Welsh they decided to form a committee to discuss and decide the
outcome. All of you who have had the misfortune to serve on a committee
will know that they never work in deciding something sensible and
well thought out.
The result in Tredegars case was the ensemble of Blue jacket,
red burgundy shirt, blue crimpoline tie and grey sports slacks that
had wider flares than could be found on a group of gay sailors on
a spot of shore leave. It was the type of design that was finding
favour at the time in Soviet Russia and it wasnt until the
demise of the Berlin Wall that evidence was found that Tredegar
had in fact been infiltrated by two Soviet spies whos intent
was to overthrow the capitalist system through undermining mens
outfitters in the valleys. It so nearly worked.
7. The Flowers Band (circa 1993)
Ever wondered where the Taliban got their ideas about the way in
which the women in their society should dress? It looks like it
came from the South West of England on this evidence (although the
Flowers Band were by no means the only ones that ensured their female
players had to wear the equivalent of a Bourka).
There was a time of course when full-length dresses were an essential
fashion item for the liberated woman but that was about 1972
and this picture was taken in 1993. This of course is not to say
that the darkest reaches of the West of England are behind the times,
but the poor lasses must have felt as sexy as a welder in his overalls
in this garb. They looked like Daleks for Heavens sake!
Thankfully for Flowers the garments have been burnt, but there are
still examples of these hideous creations still being worn out there.
8. Besses O th Barn ( circa 1993 onwards)
Besses are one of the most famous names in the banding world, but
even this couldnt save them from having to endure a uniform
There is nothing more depressing than grey especially when
its that type of grey that seemed to the national colour of
East Germany after the War. Add to this the lovely inspired choice
of bright red bow ties and matching handkerchief for the top pocket
and youve got the ensemble that elderly men on a Saga holiday
wear to impress the girls at the Darby and Joan Club social evening.
Given that someone also thought it would be a good idea to have
black buttons the type that caught onto the instrument causing
euph players to bust their lips when trying to extricate their instruments
on stage and youve got one hell of a mess on your hands. In
a way we think this was chosen deliberately to get into our top
10. It worked.
9. Desford Colliery Band (circa 1986 1999)
In a strange way, a band can be as famous for the contest wins they
have under their belt as they are for the hideous concoction of
assorted crap they have to wear above them. Take Desford for instance.
For four years or more they were without doubt the best band in
the land, but they also just happened to wear a uniform that was
universally regarded as something that would only looked good on
a Penny for the Guy. This was the type of uniform that
could stun a pig from 200 yards. Purple is the type of colour that
looked good on Julius Caeser and the rest of the Roman Emperors,
and even Brighouse and Rastrick have a toned down version. Desford
however had jackets that gave you radiation burns. Whoever had the
idea to mix and match different shades of the stuff should hang
their head in shame.
It remained the bands colours for many a year, and even given the
fact that something, however awful will possibly come back into
fashion after a long enough period, perhaps the band thought it
might make a revival. Thankfully it didnt and has now been
dumped in favour of a much more sensible black outfit, although
they still wear purple bow ties.
10. Leyland Vehicles Band (circa 1979 onwards)
Youve got to hand it to Dicky Evans havent you? Given
the chance to create a band in his own image he comes up trumps
with an outfit that wouldnt look out of place on Clarke Gable.
The pity was his band was primarily made up of blokes the size and
shape of a Gable end on a semi detached house and so the effect
of suave sophisticated white tuxedo suits, toped off with a dicky
bow and red rose, shiny patent shoes and trousers with creases you
could cut bread on was lost a little.
Thus the image was somewhat more of ice cream sellers, poncy Italian
waiters or even more cruelly, the type of seedy pimps you happened
to bump into in a Soho strip joint the night before the National
Finals (dont ask how we know that). Great band though and
they certainly had the balls to carry it off. As Dicky was prone
to wearing a cravat you seemed to think they couldnt actually
complain too much. A deserved entry in our top 10.
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