Keyboardist Dave Greenfield had been playing in rock and roll bands for over a decade when he joined the Stranglers in 1975. I have not yet managed to hear the pre-Stranglers groups the Initials (pictured below), Freeway or Credo, but Greenfield’s old prog band Rusty Butler, whose name suggests a particularly arcane and challenging sex act, has a few tracks up on this YouTube channel, and a record survives by a combo called the Blue Maxi.
Here’s what the Stranglers’ “authorised,” “uncensored” and way out-of-print biography No Mercy has to say about Greenfield’s early years in music:
Dave left school at 17 before his A levels, and spent the whole of his 18th year in Germany playing covers at gigs in American bases and civilian clubs. The next half-a-dozen years or more were spent travelling to and from the continent, working in England to raise the capital to finance a music career in Germany. In the late 60s and early 70s, Germany was home to some of the greatest talents in the pantheon of rock – Kraftwerk, Can, Faust, Cluster and Tangerine Dream . . . But Germany was also an important market for more mainstream pop acts and had a booming club circuit, ideal for both the journeyman professional or the ingénue keen to learn his or her trade. Back in Brighton in the frequent gaps between tours, he earned some extra cash tuning piano and mastering the now out-of-date technique of compositing for his Dad’s printing firm. Like JJ, he also developed something of an infatuation with motorcycles, although his interest has not maintained the Burnel proportions of idolatry still in evidence to this day. Dave was the only one of the band who was a true musician before becoming a Strangler and, in his spells in the UK had worked professionally in groups such as The Initials, Rusty Butler, and Credo.
In 1970, Greenfield played on the Blue Maxi’s lone 45, a bubblegum (psych-pop?) cover of Jerry Keller’s 1958 teenage idyll “Here Comes Summer,” released on the Major Minor label. Greenfield’s organ is lower in the mix than it is on the Stranglers’ records, but that’s unmistakably him pictured on the sleeve of the French single, third from the left, flashing a peace sign. To my ears, the Blue Maxi sounds like it would have been at home on Buddah Records. Enjoy its sunny, uncomplicated groove below.