Hailing from south east London, The Rank Deluxe were an atypical indie outfit by any standard, sharing as much of an affinity with Grime or old school UK punk as they did with most of their supposed contemporaries. In thrall to no one, by turns willful, divisive and difficult (but also intuitive and funny), the band’s legacy lies in the shape of it’s dazzlingly ambitious and surprisingly diverse debut ‘You Decide’ – a furious car-crash of punk-rock, reggae, rock-steady and even zonked psychedelia - as startling for it’s tunes as the band’s instinctive, intuitive knack for aligning musical and social commentaries that similarly characterized bands like The Specials, Ian Dury or Gang of Four in the late ‘70s and early ‘80’s.
Summer 2006’s opening salvo of three punchy and exhilaratingly raw AA side singles – ‘Doll Queue’, ‘Style’ & ‘Poorman’s Cab’ threw The Rank Deluxe into sharp relief: NME suddenly found itself witnessing ‘the rowdiest, angriest punk rock explosion in the capital’, Uncut describing their set-closer ‘Style’ as a ‘thug-rock masterpiece’ while John Kennedy at Xfm made every release a Single Of The Week.
Releasing their eponymously titled EP in October ‘06 (bringing the three previously limited 7” single releases together on one CD), the band toured the UK and after a short & chaotic trip to Budapest, made their US live debut in November at two CMJ/ Fat Cat showcases in New York, playing - slightly incongruously – alongside labelmates The Twilight Sad, Nina Nastasia and Tom Brosseau. While there, the band also demoed new material, returning to the UK to play a clutch of dates through November. Witnessing The Rank Deluxe live, NME saluted a band “unfussed about their own safety and even less bothered about making friends”. The Fly, while noting their ‘oodles of attitude’ were charmed by the ‘definite romance to their scratchy riffs and vocal-fuelled riot.’ Clash Magazine liked the cut of their cloth so much they booked them on to their night at the Luminaire, then asked them to come back to DJ a reggae & dub set at the Lock Tavern.
In January 2007 in a 4-page feature ‘The New Cross Code’, Time Out picked up on south-east London’s burgeoning, inclusive DIY arts scene (aka ‘Rocklands’), that helped support Rank Deluxe and has spawned the Artful & Deptford X Festivals. Italian Vogue went so far as to compare the area – essentially Brockley, Lewisham and Deptford - to Paris’ Montmartre district! Rich is quoted in the Time Out piece: ‘Just get involved and do something’ he says, ‘The modern world isn’t full of spectators. People have gone from consumers to co-creators; It’s a conversation rather than a lecture. It’s not about one upmanship either; people aren’t saying, “Look at what I can do, I can do something better than you.” It’s like, “Look at what I can do, how does that make you want to do something?” It’s not about competition; it’s about community. I just love it man, it’s what I live for.’
After lengthy arguments as to how best set about recording the album, an initial session in January 2007 with producer Mark Rankin was abandoned as rehearsals disintegrated into slanging matches. Re-grouping at Easter, the basic parts – less vocals - were recorded quickly but with Mark struggling to finish the Kate Nash record with Paul Epworth, the sessions drifted and the album was not finished until the end of the year. In the meantime, as they struggled to complete the record, gigs would routinely become the (literal) stage for simmering inter-band rivalries to boil over. Untroubled by such phoney notions such as ‘putting on a show’, fists would fly mid-performance over any number of unresolved trivialities. Amazingly, two fine singles ‘Tightrope’ and ‘They Don’t Matter’ appeared in the first half of 2008, but guitarist Lewis, wearied by the process, bailed out of the band in June, and the band’s continued existence ceased.
The Rank Deluxe was: Richard Buchanan on Lead Vocals, Lewis Dyer on Lead Guitar/ Vocals, John Wallis on Bass, and Chris Ballard on Drums.