Steven Allen

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In the spring of 1981, Steven Allen was one of three Scottish musicians who got together to form the Wake -- but this was a venture about life, not death. At least that is the way some rock record collectors…
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In the spring of 1981, Steven Allen was one of three Scottish musicians who got together to form the Wake -- but this was a venture about life, not death. At least that is the way some rock record collectors would see things, regarding each of the group's stack of sides as an occasion worth passing out cigars over. The Glasgow lads were fronted by singer and guitarist Caesar, whose background in the band Altered Images was hardly a case of "veni, vidi, vici." He did write that group's single "Dead Pop Stars," but quit before it made the U.K. charts, not that this prevented any karmic backlash from Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Buddy Holly, and the lot. Caeser's rhythm section was Allen on drums and Joe Donnelly on bass.

The Wake had to wind its own alarm clock, beginning with putting out their own single on their own Scan 45 label in early 1982. The lineup began to change, but Allen stayed put and enjoyed the group's transformation into something of a family band, as one of the new members turned out be his sister Carolyn Allen playing keyboards. Rob Gretton, manager of the then quite popular New Order, became an admirer of the band's single and evolving sound. He was behind the first CD release by the group, which was released on the Factory label at the end of that year.

The Allen siblings and bandmates began to enjoy somewhat more success the following year as the band toured around the U.K. and taped a BBC John Peel session. Sometime after the latter opportunity, one of the newer members named Bobby Gillespie split the group; he would later play drums in the Jesus and Mary Chain and front Primal Scream. Bassist Alex "Mac" MacPherson and pianist Vini Reilly were new collaborators, and the music of the Wake became more diverse, even including a Stevie Wonder cover.

In 1985, the group toured Scotland as the opening act for New Order. For everyone in the Wake, there was frustration developing with the record company relationship; for Allen in particular, a continually revolving door of bassists coming in and out was driving him batty. In the late '80s, the group was with the Sarah label and a couple members of the Orchids had folded in on a guest basis: bassist James Moody and guitarist Matthew Drummond. This was a convenient, if tiring arrangement when the Wake and the Orchids toured Germany and France in 1989. Allen and the band also toured France that year with the Field Mice, hopefully a combo and not something one might find late at night in a French country kitchen, scouring the floor for shreds of cheese. Make It Loud was released on Sarah in 1991, an album title that doubled as basic advice for amplifier manufacturers. Perhaps Allen actually wanted things to be more quiet, as he left the band shortly thereafter. His sister stayed with The Wake for the 1994 Tidal Wave of Hype, an album and not a description of a promotional campaign. As a band, the Wake went to sleep for good the following year, but pulled a Rip Van Winkle in 2001 for a new series of recordings, minus either Allen.