WIRRAL music legends Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - are back at the Floral Pavilion for two nights only next month with shows celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary.

The brothers have been a leading force in the music business since the early 1980s and are renowned for their ability to create a massive 'live' sound with just two people.

They will take to the stage at the Floral Pavilion Blue Lounge on Friday December 1 and Saturday, December 2 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut single, Valley Of Evergreen.

Looking back on the band's formation, New Brighton-based Rob - who is also a playwright and theatre producer - told the Globe: “Alternative Radio was formed from the ashes of my previous band, Buster.

“In the late ‘70’s we’d had a lot of big hits overseas but on our return to the UK we struggled to make any real impact; we just couldn’t shrug off our youthful boy band image in what was now the ultra-cool era of ‘new wave’.

Wirral Globe: Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - at the Floral Pavilion last yearRob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - at the Floral Pavilion last year (Image: Rob Fennah)“I suggested to the guys that we should drop the name Buster and go under a new name; I picked Alternative Radio as a nod to local pirate radio station who had given us some airtime. Then, in 1981, to put our new image to the test, we entered the Radio City ‘Battle Of The Bands’ competition at the Liverpool Empire.

“It was renowned as a contest for rock and metal bands and was to be judged that year by Angie Bowie, Noddy Holder and Roy Wood.

“I knew we could hold our own on stage as we’d headlined at the 14,000 seater Budokan in Japan a couple of years earlier and been presented with a gold disc for a ‘live’ album, but I still wasn’t sure we could pull it off given the competition’s strong rock heritage.

"So much so, when the legendary Phil Easton was announcing the winner, I was outside helping the roadies load the van! Someone rushed out shouting, ‘You’ve won! You’ve won!’ “I was really chuffed. Seems little old Buster had triumphed again, albeit under a different name and disguised in trendy new stage gear, including fake leather pants”.

Wirral Globe: Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - in 1983Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - in 1983 (Image: Rob Fennah)Rob’s younger brother Alan entered the frame as a stand in on bass and guitar when members of the original line up were away pursuing other interests.

At around the same time, Alan and Rob gigged under their own names and built a healthy fan following, particularly in local rock venues such as Stairways, Sir James’s (Jimmy’s) and The Tap – bizarrely, it was the bikers who first took a shine to the unusual line up of acoustic guitar, bongos and close harmony vocals.

Eventually, when the original ‘Buster’ line up disbanded for good, Rob and Alan, who’d by this time written a substantial amount of new material, adopted the name ‘Alternative Radio’ and recorded four of those songs for a Radio 1 session with Janice Long.

Wirral Globe: Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - in 1983Rob and Alan Fennah - aka Alternative Radio  - in 1983 (Image: Rob Fennah)Alan said: “It was around 1982 when we went in search of a recording deal.

"Amongst the new songs we’d written we had a track called Valley Of Evergreen, which we performed live simply on guitar and congas but, as it was at a time when guitars were out and keyboards were in, we brought in a session keyboard player to give it a more modern feel.

“With that new demo recording we approached EMI Records and they offered us a deal straight away.

“In 1983, we recorded the final version of the song at a studio in the heart of Surrey. I’ll never forget standing in the middle of a meadow, freezing to death, to record the military drums that feature on the track.

Wirral Globe: Alternative Radio in 1988Alternative Radio in 1988 (Image: Rob Fennah)

“It was released in early 84 on the re-launched Parlophone label; the same label as The Beatles.

“That song, together with a few others got us a Radio 1 ‘Session Of The Year’ with Simon Mayo. Although it’s now 40 years old, it still remains a firm favourite with our audience.”

Tickets for Alternative Radio’s shows at the Floral Pavilion Blue Lounge on Friday December 1 and Saturday, December 2 are available here: https://www.floralpavilion.com/event/alternative-radio/