Spontaneous Cattle Combustion
Inspired by the genius of the Liverpool music scene of the late 70’s / early 80’s, Brummies Richard Batchelor and Naicher Mann found themselves in the city on St. Valentine’s Day 1989.
They stayed.
They formed a band.
It had a stupid name.
Spontaneous Cattle Combustion were Batchelor, Mann, bass player and Holly Johnson lookalike Paul Entwistle and drummer Steve Williams. Gigging largely at the deservedly mythical Planet X, they weren’t in all honesty very good until second guitarist Will Fatt joined in 1991, allowing Batchelor (hapless at the art of singing and playing at the same time) to concentrate on the singing. Mann, meanwhile, spent more time behind his Casio, his dramatic and manic expressions accompanying the punkadelic swirl.
‘Spontaneous’ developed a fine reputation as a live band but their recordings never really cut it on the whole. They managed just one release, ‘I love it when you sing in church’, on the Liverpool compilation ‘Dark Side of the Pool’ in 1992.
The onslaught of shoegazers and the departure for Cheltenham of Fatt and second bassist Nicholas Bosborne spelt the end for ‘Spontaneous’ in 1993. They never officially split up – there were vague plans to find replacements but it never happened. Batchelor got caught up in a new project and Mann concentrated on his acting career, joining the brilliant theatre posse ‘Reject’s Revenge.’

Ricky Spontane
Spontaneous Cattle Combustion frontman Richard Batchelor had a friend. Stephen A. Wood. Wood would heckle the band at every opportunity, albeit in a friendly manner, shouting ‘Ola Ricky Spontane’ or ‘It’s Naicher Spontane’ or ‘Steve Spontane’ at the various members.
….and so was named Batchelor’s new project – the word ‘spontane’ sounded kind of 1950’s – which was where he’d been coming from ever since he began only listening to post-New York Johnathan Richman and the Modern Lovers.
Joined initially by drummer Mark ‘Cakes’ Davis (doing one gig as a two-piece), Batchelor invited Wood (under the pretence of borrowing a pint of milk from him as the latter ate his poor man’s meal of one boiled potato) and ex-Friction man Ed Tidy (who had been lined up as a possible Spontaneous Cattle Combustion guitarist) to join the band on guitar and bass respectively. Realising pretty soon that Wood was surely the best guitarist in the country, Batchelor got excited.
The first single, ‘Dr. McCoy’, arrived on Preston’s Action Records label in 1994, complete with a delicious Wood-designed cover, a purple vinyl pressing and a mini-tour with stablemates ‘Ideal.’
Success beckoned for ‘Spontane’ but it didn’t quite happen, and eventually in 1995 Tidy (whose walking bass lines would be sorely missed) and Davis left in mysterious circumstances within weeks of each other.
‘Spontane’s search for a new bass player didn’t last too long. Wood, through doing some work experience for the local magazine ‘L-Scene,’ met journalist Terence Joynson who also had a £10 black bass waiting to be used. The then ‘Lady McCrady’ drummer Talya Davies offered to complete the line-up on a temporary basis…
For about the first five gigs Ricky Spontane were utterly useless, then suddenly it clicked... and it was magic!
The band’s live performances quickly became the stuff of legend. With Wood wheeling around in circles, Joynson pogoing on the spot making the bass sound like it was worth ten grand not ten quid, Davies shaking her head incessantly from side to side and Batchelor weaving in and out of the other three, undoing Wood’s shoelaces and sticking his head in Davies’ bass drum, it was like watching 4 different orbits, with the solar system greater than the sum of its parts. Occasionally Naicher Mann brought his Casio along and joined in the fun, his extraordinary face-pulling and unstoppable rapport with Batchelor adding a further dimension to the already spectacular.
The band began to pack out the legendary Brian’s Diner every month. Heady days.
In 1996, Spontane released a single, ‘The Perfect Sound’, on Liverpool’s Lowsley Sound label.
The two flip sides, ‘Dry Ice’ and ‘Stop Paddling’, came out of a five-song recording session in a Falkner Street basement which I consider to be their finest work. It captures the fact that they played real rock ‘n’ roll music. In what would prove to be a bad mistake, the group believed at the time that the recordings weren’t ‘professional enough’ or some nonsense like that, and didn’t use them as the basis for an album when they should have done. The songs, however, did win them ‘demo of the month’ in ‘Making Music,’ bringing them the much-needed prize of a brand new microphone, sweetly timed as they had just lost access to their previous one.
Thanks to their newly-found manager, ‘Spontane’ broke into the London circuit in l997, catching the attention of ‘Sleeper’ guitarist Jon Stewart, who was starting a record label. Oddly named ‘Old Eagle,’ the label signed ‘Spontane.’ A disappointing single followed but in May 1998 Ricky Spontane finally recorded an album, ‘Spontane Time’. By this time the unflappable Dr. Adrian Burke had been added as a semi-permanent keyboard player. With extraordinary time management skills, Irish-born Burke managed to combine rock ‘n’ roll and medicine.
Though praised by Steven Wells in NME and given 7/10, the band had reservations about many of the tracks, perhaps due to the crazy speed it had to be recorded in. It still lacked the magic of the basement recordings. That would surely have been 9/10.
Just before recording the album Joynson had left the band to front his own project, Juvenal, after almost coming to blows with other members on the Zanzibar stage. He remains to this day an integral part of Spontane’s finest hour. His replacement was the affable local painter, Sykes, while Burke’s medical duties finally saw him pass some of his duties to keyboard player Mark Davison.
In 1999 ‘Spontane’ released two singles - 'Hit the Town’ (single of the month in Melody Maker) and ‘Domino’ (played regularly by Steve Lamacq) on the ‘Full Strength’ label. Then came an eclectic second album, also named ‘Hit the Town’. It was a fine album but aroused little interest, and in late 1999 Wood and Davies left Liverpool and moved to the capital.
The band continued nevertheless, getting through a variety of bass players and keyboard players, including present ‘Cock Off’ incumbent Jim North, who still often appears from nowhere to sing a couple of lines at Ricky Spontane and Rickets gigs.
A permanent bassist arrived in 2000 in the shape of London mover and shaker Paul Kearney, in origin a native of Birkenhead. Highlights have included ‘Get Friendly’, Spontane’s contribution to a split single of Liverpool bands on Kearney’s own ‘Guided Missile’ label, various John Peel (bless his soul) playings which the band never managed to catch, and a support slot with ‘Franz Ferdinand’ in May 2004.
Ricky Spontane still exist and have recorded a mini-album which is reminiscent of their 1996 basement sessions – it’s rock ‘n’ roll, baby! So, in short, Spontane – still worth watching – Liverpool legends – you’re never sure quite what you’re gonna get!

Richard Batchelor
When two-thirds of the Ricky Spontane migrated to the capital in late 1999, singer Richard Batchelor got heavily into the art punk of Magazine, Doctors of Madness and Television, and marrying this with the more pastoral sounds of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake, created 'Richard I’, a further release on the Liverpool label Lowsley Sound. He insisted it was only ever recorded for geographical reasons.
The album was produced by Baxendale’s Tim Benton who with his beats added some London swagger to the Liverpool Georgian quarter sound. Former Spontane members Jim North, Dr. Burke and Naicher Mann assisted in various ways, with Batchelor’s future wife Elodie providing some interesting vocal parts. Initial attempts to play the songs live using a backing CD (the CD kept jumping) proved unsuccessful, so Batchelor formed another band to perform the album. This band became ‘The Rickets’ and became very much their own entity.
Batchelor left Liverpool to move to France in 2004 and is in the process of writing Richard II. There is also a compilation available of songs recorded between 1996 and 2004, entitled ‘Richard wanders around Liverpool’.

The Rickets
Formed initially to play Richard Batchelor’s solo album, ‘The Rickets’ mutated into their own thing, with Talya Davies on drums (usually), former Ricky Spontane merchandise man Chris Jackson on guitar, and Ashley and Johnny from the legendary ‘Zombina and the Skeletones’ on bass and Casio respectively.
They have recorded a collection of songs, ‘Les Couleurs en Angers par les Rickets’, an interesting mish-mash of recordings from different times and places.
Batchelor has been described, among other things, as a 'maelstrom of inefficiency'.

Johnny Brownbow