The Vortex Club was based at 203 Wardour Street in the heart of London's West End (originally the site of the legendary Crackers Disco) and was run by Terry Draper and John Miller. It first opened its doors to Punk Rock on Monday July 4th 1977 with a predominantly 'Manchester' night featuring The Buzzcocks, The Fall and John Cooper Clarke, though America's Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers also played as 'surprise guests.' Initially, the idea was to put bands on every Monday night but by mid September of the same year it was announced that The Vortex was to become London's first twenty-four hour Punk venue. The opening day of this new venture, however, saw Sham 69 being arrested for playing on the venue's rooftop!
This particular album was recorded on October 10th and 11th 1977 and released on December 5th through NEMS Records, with a gig at The Vortex featuring The Wasps, Maniacs, Neo, Mean Street and Art Attacks to help the album's launch. A single featuring "Can't Wait Til '78" by The Wasps and "Bunch Of Stiffs" by Mean Street was also issued by NEMS (NES 115) at the same time, though like the album itself, both are extremely expensive collectors' items.
The Maniacs were probably the best known of all the groups featured. The Band consisted of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Alan Lee Shaw, drummer Rod Latter (who later joined The Adverts) and bassist Robert Crash and they later signed to U.A. Records, releasing the classic 45 "Chelsea 77"/"Ain't No Legend" (UP 36327). Today Shaw, a former member of The Rings, is guitarist with The Damned! Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Ian North was the leader of Neo who also featured drummer Paul Simon (later of Thomas Dolby fame) and his guitarist brother Robin who later joined Ultravox and Magazine. An ex member of Milk & Cookies, North later went on to release three LP's - "Neo" (Aura, 1979), "My Girlfriend's Dead" (Chachalot, 1981) and "Rape of Orchids." The Wasps - Jesse Lynn Dean (vocals), Gary Wellman (guitar), John Rich (drums) and Steve Woolaston (bass) - came from Walthamstow and had already issued a single "Teenage Treats"/"She Made Magic" on Four Play Records (FOUR 001) prior to the "Live At The Vortex" LP. John Peel gave the band a session in February 1978 (by which time Steve Dominic had taken over from Woolaston). However, by the time RCA signed the band in early '79 only Lynn Dean remained from the original line up and so, with Neil Fitch on guitar, Dave Owen on bass and Tiam Grant on drums, they issued the 45 "Rubber Cars"/"This Time" (RCA PB 5137) and recorded a second John Peel session before splitting later in the same year, Lynn Dean issuing a solo 45 "Do It" for Creole in October 1979. The Art Attacks ran on and off from April 1977 to March 1978 and were led by 'Sounds' contributer Edwin Pouncey and also featured at one time or another, drummer Robert Gotobed (later of Wire), Ricky Slaughter (later of The Motors) and J.D. Haney (later of The Monochrome Set). Guitarist Steve Spears and bassist M.S. were regular memebers and appeared on the singles "I Am A Dalek" (Albatross, TIT 1) and "First And Last" (Fresh, FRESH 3). Bernie Torme's mix of Punk aggression with a Hard Rock feel established him as one of the best guitarists of the time and he later went on to join both the Ian Gillan Band and the Ozzy Osbourne Band as well as releasing many quality solo recordings.
Mean Street were originally formed in early 1977 by Gary Numan (bass, later of Tubeway Army), Jeremy Harrington (vocals, ex B Sides and later of Gloria Mundi and The Monochrome Set), Kenny Bishop (drums, later of Action Replay) and Chris Gorgier (guitar, also later of Action Replay). The band played all the major Punk venues of the day but by the time of this recording Numan had left and the group continued as a three piece until they split in April 1978, though they did briefly reform in 1980. The Suspects came out of the ashes of the Rotting Clits and featured vocalist Johnny, guitarist Andy Riff (later of The Dark), bassist Barry Farmer and drummer Pete Davies who later turned up in the UK Subs who often gave The Suspects support slots.