Brigandage by Jack Alarum

Jack Alarum - Brigandage


I live in Northern California. But thanks to the Internet I’m now in a band in Liverpool. And Los Angeles. And Spain. And England. File transfer — that’s the ticket.

The new band is called JACK ALARUM. The new album is called BRIGANDAGE.

Here’s a sample track, preproduction demo:

Luke Skyscraper James – Lead vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass
Eric S. Anderson – Bass guitars
Vuk Pavlovic – Drums
Iain Templeton (Shack) – Drums, backing vocals
Graham Higgins (Terry Pratchett graphic novels) – Artwork

Release date: Fall 2016

Stairway To Nowhere

The First Gig

Author LUKE JAMES Recalls Fáshiön’s Very First Gig (1978)

How to get beaten up in the toilets five minutes before you go onstage

Stairway To Nowhere – The paperback

YouTube Review: “Great to hear parts of this book read out. I feel The Mekons come out of this as pretty good eggs (while, in a later chapter, Joy Division come across more like rotten ones). The earthy quality to this section carries on throughout the book – all the sounds and smells of a hard working band struggling to find success at a time when music was at its most fertile. They tour the US with The Police, support groups like The Ramones, U2, and The Cramps, and deserved so much more success and respect.”

NOW AVAILABLE: Stairway To Nowhere – The Audio Book

Stairway To Nowhere Book Available Again Shock Horror

Stairway Book COVERS

Reports are coming in that both the paperback and e-book versions of the notorious book STAIRWAY TO NOWHERE have escaped from the maximum security wing at The San Quentin Book Suppression Facility.

Author Luke James was tracked by our fearless reporter to the New Wave/Punk section of the National Music History Museum in Nashville. Under the influence of extremely moderate bribery James released the following statement:

“Stairway To Nowhere was considered “spoiled goods” by the respectable world of real agents and publishing houses on account of it had been self-published. Mainstream publishing houses have long espoused the belief that self-publication can lead to blindness and cause hair to grow hair on the palms of your hands.

They laughed at me … well, actually they completely ignored me but it amounts to the same things. So I smuggled a PDF converter into San Quentin and busted the old girl out. Lulu drove the getaway car and the rest is history.”

So, if you want to know how Duran Duran were spawned, what Sting wore under his jump suit when gigging with The Police, what Bono really thought about journalists and CBS Records, who was the coolest B52, what The Ramones got up to backstage, and a host of other scurrilous nonsense while laughing your fluorescent socks off – this is the book for you.

Get the paperback or e-book here STAIRWAY TO NOWHERE

Luke James also issued an 8 hour 21 minute statement that turned out to be an audio recording of the entire book for those of you who can’t be bothered to read it, or are stcuk in traffic. Audio book US version is available here STAIRWAY TO NOWHERE AUDIO BOOK and the UK version is available here STAIRWAY TO NOWHERE AUDIO (UK)



The Duran Duran Auditions

DURANNick Rhodes – “Fáshiön were an inspiration on the Birmingham scene. John (Taylor) and I used to go and see them at The Barrel Organ in Digbeth virtually every week over a six month period. They were a great inspiration. We played our last gig with Stephen Duffy as our vocalist at Barbarellas supporting Fáshiön.”

John Taylor – “Fáshiön were definitely doing something new. You really had to be there with Fáshiön, but they were very important to Nick and me. It was like New Sounds New Styles, all about mixing things up. Fáshiön took a punk ethic, fused it with white reggae and there was a synth pop element. And clothes were important, posters were important, typeface was important. Birmingham had never really been known for style, we needed something. And Fáshiön did something different every week. They were pretty glamorous.”
(From Duran Duran Unseen … Paul Edmond –Photographs 1979-82)

Fáshiön Rehearsing At Rum Runner Club, B’ham 1980

We hack through some of our old singles Steady Eddie Steady, Citinite, The Innocent, and Silver Blades just to get warmed-up. Then we try to bludgeon the new material (Emotional Blackmail, Artificial Eyes, and Do it in the Dark) into some semblance of a hit record.

We decide to take a break from a rehearsal that’s going nowhere fast. Mulligan is just starting a game of Space Invaders on the wardrobe-sized machine by the door, Dik and I are standing behind him watching, when a silhouette carrying a guitar case appears in the doorway.

music_biogs_andy_taylor“’Scuse us, like, you Duran Duran?” a Geordie wants to know.

“Not exactly, no.” Dik says.

“No. Not at all, in fact.” I agree.

“I’m here for the audition. Just off the train. Name’s Andy.”

“Alright, Andy. We’re Fáshiön. Bits of it anway.” Dik says and grins.

Duran Duran’s gear is just through there.” I say, waving back into the darkened bowels of the club. “Go on through. I expect they’ll be here in a bit.”

“Right. Ta.”

“You’re welcome mate,” Dik says. “Just look for a pile of right tatty, old, road battered gear with steam coming off it. That’ll be ours. The brand new stuff opposite it is theirs.”

Dik and I go outside for a smoke. We hop around trying to keep warm while we add to Broad Street’s carbon monoxide.

“Here, they’ve been on at me, y’know.” I say.

“What? Who has?” Dik leers at a couple of passing office girls and they giggle.

“The management brothers.”

“What about?”

“They want to know if I think that new bloke can sing?”

“What, LeBonk?”


“What did you tell them?”

“Well, not the truth.”

“No. Why start now? Said he was alright did you?”

“Well, he’s not bad.”

“His shirts look a bit grubby though.” Dik adds, “Someone should tell his Mom about that new biological Persil, eh?”

Is he any good, they want to know. Does he have what it takes to be a star? Why would I even care, and how the fuck am I supposed to know? I’ve lost my way, I’m no longer convinced of the inevitability of my own stardom. I’m on a treadmill, going through the motions, it feels like I’m trapped on a stairway to nowhere.

“Looks like they’re looking for a guitar player as well, then.” I say, turning to stare back down the alley at the club entrance behind us.

“Oy. Don’t get any ideas, lanky, you’ve got a job.”

“You must be joking.” I say, “Me? Play with that lot of Mulligan worshippers? They think I’m some kind of oik in eyeliner.

“Well, you are.”

“I know. But I do have lovely eyes.”

“Come on, let’s go and see if we can persuade the god Mulligan to skank up the bass line to Do it in the Dark.”

We beseech him, but our prayers fall on deafened ears.

A couple of weeks later, Annette tells us that the newly furnished Duran Duran have finalized their line-up and want us to play a showcase gig with them at The Rum Runner.

“They’ll open up the show.” she says.

“Yes, and I’m sure we’ll manage to finish it off.” I add.

DD rum runnerOn the night, Duran Duran bang through their set with lots of dash and fresh-faced enthusiasm. The new guitar player, Andy, turns out to have just the right touch of funk to his playing to spark their sound.

I, on the other hand, play the whole set collapsing back against the mirrored wall, staring out at the crowd with a bored, fixed expression. Who knows how our show goes, most of the poseurs there probably weren’t even listening. I know I barely was.

And suffering the swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune there at the end of my so-called career, just a couple of weeks later we are down in London opening two shows at The Rainbow Theater for The Stranglers and I’m having the time of my life again!

Luke Atlanta color

The Trees Make You Younger Comeback Tour

Luke SkyscraperHere, I’ve just been reading this article on about how trees can make you younger. It’s by this bloke with a name that’s suspiciously like mine, some bloke called Luke James, cheeky sod.

Anyway, I’ve had a brilliant idea – I know, it’s the fifth one today, amazing, eh? The idea is quite simply that if being around trees makes you feel younger like this James whippersnapper says, if just 10 more trees on your block makes you feel 7 years younger, I reckon if I got the old band back together and we went and rehearsed in the forest for a month, we’d all make up enough time so we could do that comeback tour. Y’know, without pegging out onstage, I mean.

So, to the forest boys. Call me Sir Robbing of the Hoods. If you want. My name’s still Skyscraper and I will be back in a month’s time, hundreds of years younger, and raring to go. Yeah, we’ll have a new album and a tour coming to an arboretum … or an intensive care unit … near you soon!

Google Cars – It Ain’t What I Call Rock ‘n’ Roll

READ Luke James on Google Cars here

In the name of progress Google is spending squillions of dollars developing driverless cars. Wait a minute, when I was a kid a lot of the comics and movies about the future said we’d all have flying cars by now. What’s this pod-car and while we’re on the subject where are my jet powered rocket pants?

In the beginning I went to gigs in one of these.


All the while having fantasies about going to gigs in one of these!

When push came to shove I was sometimes forced to go to gigs in one of these

Time passsed, crowds grew bigger, and I started going to gigs in one of these while roadies carried the gear in trucks.

Eventually I got to ride to gigs in one of these

Or one of these

But I doubt I will ever go to a gig in one of these!

I’d be more likley to take one of these and go jam with Jimi and Janis!

READ Luke James on Google Cars here

Stairway To Nowhere – the audio book

Excerpt from Stairway To Nowhere by Luke James

“I’m worried about Dik.” Mulligan says.

We’re standing out in the alley that leads to the entrance of The Rum Runner, or Duran Duran Way as it’s becoming known. We rehearse in the Rum Runner, as do the chosen ones. The (English) Beat filmed the video for Mirror The Bathroom inside the mirrored tack of The Runner.

Mulligan and I are taking a break from another slog of a rehearsal, trying to come up with new material for the second album, and mostly failing. So, a quick breath of traffic fumes with our fags.

“What?” I ask. “Why?”

“I’m worried he might leave the band.”

“Huh. You should worry more about me leaving.” I say.

“Yeah. But the difference is … well, he might actually do it.” Mulligan says.

Oh dear Jon, wrong thing to say, very wrong thing to say.

Audio book review with image

“Goddamn it!” Miles yells and punches his desk. “I’ve lost two bands this week! First, this asshole kills himself. This other asshole steals the truck and all their gear and drives off into the desert. I got gigs lined up, radio, TV, all kindsa shit. I don’t need this. This is not some goddamned game we’re playing here!”

No, it isn’t. It’s people’s lives. Their deaths even. And soon, soon you pompous Yank git, there’s going to be another one of your bands who are a singer/guitarist short of a full deck.

Stairway To Nowhere Audio Book read by Luke James

Rock Against Racism

Birmingham, England 1978

On August 11, 1978 Birmingham band Fáshiön became the first white band to play the LSD club in Handsworth.

Fashion Shrewsbury Dec 1978

They opened the show for Linton Kwesi Johnson.

The LSD Club, or Lozells Social Development club to give it its full name, was a cultural and political gathering place for Handsworth’s Jamaican youth.

At that time as part of the punk rock movement bands in Birmingham and throughout UK began to play Rock Against Racism gigs. Punks participated actively in combating some of the turmoil and tension that existed due to the racism experienced by not only the Jamaican community but also the Indian, Pakistan, and Irish communities.

Fashion RAR poster

For the LSD Club show, Fáshiön lead singer and guitarist Luke Sky composed a song called Red, Green and Gold, a plea for racial harmony.

Red Green and Gold LYRICS

Red, Green and Gold as performed by Fáshiön at the LSD Club in Handsworth, Birmingham, UK on August 11, 1978.



Stairway To Nowhere by Luke James  (aka Luke Sky) is the true story about Fáshiön and the bands they toured and played with between 1978-80 in the UK and also during the US punk invasion. These bands included The Police, U2, The Ramones, Squeeze, The B52s, Duran Duran, Patti Smith, John Cooper Clarke, John Cale, and the Cramps.

The recenty released audio book narrated by Luke is available here in USA: STAIRWAY TO NOWHERE AUDIO BOOK (USA)


Sting… Bono… Luke Sky… who?

I never had a train set, never had a bike, lived on a council estate and ran with a gang. I never went on holiday, went to a state school, son of a taxi driver, but no feeble-minded git, me – no, clever. Sharp. Ambitious. No dole factory pension illusion for me. Pop star me!

As a teenager, I was laughed at for being a freak, I never got shagged, instead I got beaten up in the toilets. I was the black sheep of the family, who did I think I was, first with that long hair and guitar, then with that spiky hair and make-up? Blokes don’t wear make-up in Brum. Must be one of them bloody pooftahs. I’d get my own back though, show every bugger what was really what. Pop star me!

The first gig, we gatecrash: The Mekons at The Bournbrook Hotel, borrow all their gear, we only have curly guitar leads, drum sticks and the best-looking clothes. The Mekons give us five songs before their support band. We only have four songs, so we have to do one of them twice. Right before we go on, drummer Dik Davis and I go to the gents, which is stinking up the corridor outside the saloon bar. The saloon bar’s full of British Leyland track workers, swilling it down and setting fire to their fingers to prove how hard they are. We’re standing in the ammonia puke stench, taking a leisurely leak, when we hear a voice behind us, slurred and thick with menace.

“What the frig am that doin’ in the gents?”

“’Ey girls, the ladies is downstairs,” booms a second voice.

“Oh very funny, you dimmock.” Dik says.

“Yeah, ha-soddin’-ha spunk bubble.” I add.

“What do yow say, yow bleedin’ queer?”

Dik turns from the tile, smiling, “Your missus doesn’t think I was very bleedin’ queer last night.” he says.

I don’t have time to laugh or brace myself, much less zip up. My face is slammed into the tiles and everything goes barmy. I get hit, I try to hit back, I get kicked, I try to kick back, but there are fists and boots everywhere. It doesn’t last long, it’s over really quickly, probably just as well. As suddenly as it started, it stops and they’re gone. The British Leyland lads are already back in the saloon bar, laughing over a fresh pint of slop about the fun they had with the queers in the bog.

I’m down on my knees, cheek against the slimy tile. I struggle up from pee-stained knees, wobbling, waiting to see how badly I’m hurt. I can taste blood and my lips feel like old inner tubes. I see a pair of black leather legs sticking out of a stall. Dik’s lying on his back, head propped against a crusty, brown toilet bowl. One of his eyes is already starting to close and his nose is streaming blood.

“Yow alright?” I ask him. My mouth feels broken. He grins up at me.

“’Ello darlin’,” he says, “Come here often, do you?”

Just the working class fighting the working class – a necessary part of keeping things the way they are.

We play our five songs – one of them twice as an encore – and fourteen minutes later we’re out of the door, and off down the road, with the applause still ringing behind us.

Pop stars us!

We work hard, the gigs get better, we think we’re on the stairway, but we’re not on our way up, we’re Brummies, working class council estate oiks, second city, second class, tolerated but not really invited to the party that is London. Court jesters? No, pop stars us!

A year later onstage at the end of gruelling US tour we’re playing at The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. We’re still the support band, the opening act. We’re not The Police: a teacher on bass, a public school hippy on guitar, and a member of one of the richest familes in America on drums. We’re the hired help, the crowd warmers, fluffers to the Copelandic Empires naughty dreams of world conquest! We still have our pride though. We’re clinging to it by our black glitter fingernail polish. Pop stars us!

Come on you buggers, when do we get our go? All this promising us the nice car, then swindling us, working us to death, and sending us home on the bus with fifty quid between us.

Then the record company finally (and probaby accidentally) told us the truth – Your single won’t be a hit – we’re spending every penny to make sure “Message In A Bottle” by The Police is bought in every country across the globe. Whether they have electricity or not!

Sodding pop stars us! Now one old man, two dead, and one missing – pop stars us? Not really … not even close!

An Audition With The Police – New York 1979

Police drummer Stewart Copeland sporting a Fáshiön tee shirt

As well as touring as front man and guitar player with The Police’s opening band, Fáshiön, I did once actually play with The Police on stage. Well, sort of.

Excerpt from Stairway To Nowhere

New York City, 1979.

I walk back to the hotel, just enjoying moving through the bustle of Manhattan’s avenues. I find our drummer, Dik, on a bar stool in the bar next to the Iroquois Hotel lobby. He’s staring morosely at a the dregs of a large gin.

“Evening darling.” I say, sliding onto the stool next to him and whacking my knee against the bar. “Tough day at the office? What’s for dinner?” I grimace and rub my kneecap. “I sodding hate the standardized world. You’ve no idea what a pain in the arse it can be being a giant.”

He looks up at me, all bloodshot mascara.

“Shut up, you lanky git.”

“I love you too. A bottle of Becks and a double Jack on the rocks please, love.” I tell the barmaid. “Why the long face?”

“I could be having more fun down the Barrel Organ. At least we’d have a gig.”

“Yeah. I suppose. Still we are in New York though. I mean it’s not exactly sodding Digbeth, is it?”

I light a fag and look round the bar. An old bloke carrying a double bass case is struggling in through the door.

“Looks like they’ve get a band here tonight then.” I note.

The old man disappears through a door into a back room.

“Thrilling.” Dik says “Think they do any Pistols covers?”

“Well we can ask them. Might be a laugh.”

I slug down my Jack, pick up my beer, and head for the back room.

Inside, I find a dingy lounge and an ancient drummer, keyboard player, and the stand-up bassist. They’re all wearing Taho tuxes circa 1943. The audience consists of about twenty people who look as if they’ve also seen better days, and never mind they’re wearing their best party frocks. Also there, are Sting and Stewart Copeland – who have days better than they can possibly imagine to look forward to, and more party frocks than Barbra Streisand (should they so choose!).

“Watcha lads.” I say sitting down next to Sting. “What’s going on?”

“It’s the house band. A singer’s night I think.” Sting says. “This lot are all here to get up and do their party pieces.”

“Sounds wonderful.” I say, “Shall we do ours?”

One old dear in yards of taffeta has doddered to the mic and starts a crack-throated rendition of When Somebody Loves You. We listen to a few other relics strut their stuff, a couple of them quite tuneful as it goes, and then the keyboard player invites the Limey punk rockers up to see what they can do. So while Stewart hits the traps and brushes, Sting manhandles the bass, I nod at the keyboard player and lay down a decidedly dodgy Frank Sinatra impersonation in a surreal rendition of Strangers In The Night. I decide to add my stamp by singing every fifth note of the last chorus alternately sharp and flat.

“We’ll let you know.” Sting says to me afterwards.

“Not if I let you know first mate.” I say.

Fashion Shrewsbury Dec 1978