Cowboys International® may not have been the most well-known band around, but a nifty little who's-who of musicians made stops in their lineup on their way to or from bigger-name projects.
In its earliest form in the late '70s, Ken Lockie's band of Cowboys was called The Quick Spurts, and included Keith Levene, who had been an early member of The Clash (he co-wrote "What's My Name?" among other early Clash singles), and who would go on to form Public Image Ltd. with John Lydon (and have a rather nasty falling out with the former Mr. Rotten as well!). Adding original Clash drummer Terry Chimes (a/k/a "Tory Crimes") and bass player Jimmy Hughes from The Banned, Lockie changed the moniker to Cowboys International® and off they went to record their lone album of the era, The Original Sin, which hit the shelves in 1979.
Neither the name Cowboys International® nor a pedigree that includes former members of The Clash and future members of PiL suggests that the listener should be expecting smooth synth-based New Wave pop, but that's what the album consisted of. And it was damn good, too! The singles "Thrash" and "Aftermath" are obvious standouts; other highlights include "Pointy Shoes," "Wish" and "M(emorie)."
While on tour supporting the album, Terry Chimes quit the band to join Generation X and was replaced with Paul Simon (the drummer from The Radio Stars, not the partner of Garfunkel); original guitarist Rick Jacks was replaced with once-and-future Adam Ant sideman Marco Pirroni. Pirroni, in turn, was replaced by Steve Shears from Ultravox. After playing a final show in Berlin in 1980, Cowboys International® folded completely.
Lockie went on to join PiL himself briefly in 1981, and then turned to collaborations with other musicians, reaching his highest success in 1984 working with Dominatrix on the club hit "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight."
In 2003, 20+ years after it's release, Lockie oversaw a CD reissue of the then lone Cowboys International® album. Retitled The Original Sin Revisited, it appended various remixes and demos to the original album. The following year he revived the Cowboys International name (without the "®") for a brand new album, The Backwards Life of Romeo, which compares favorably to Lloyd Cole or The The. A pleasant surprise.
For this week's NW4NW, we reach back to the early days for Cowboys International®'s first single, "Thrash," and a clip of the band performing "Pointy Shoes" on The Old Grey Whistle Test. Enjoy!