Episode 159: Bob Manton & Jeff Shadbolt – The Purple Hearts

On this episode of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast, I chat with Bob Manton and ‘Just Jeff’ Shadbolt from The Purple Hearts. Formed in 1978, they were a mod-influenced band that blended elements of post-punk, new wave, and mod revival, creating a distinct and energetic sound that resonated with a wide audience beyond the confines of the mod scene.
We talk about their discovery of The Jam as punk loving teenagers in Essex, to the creation of their first band The Sockets and an original punk rock opera inspired by a NME cartoon strip that poked fun of Paul, Bruce and Rick…
That band turned into Purple Hearts and a more mod-influenced sound, which, thanks largely to The Jam, was beginning to capture public attention.
The band even went on to support The Jam in 1981 – and Paul Weller even produced and played on a couple of songs for what would have been their second album…

As you’ll hear on the podcast, whilst they were often associated with the mod scene, Purple Hearts transcended categorization, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of their audience that continues to beat strong over four decades later. Their unique blend of music and passion for mod culture set them apart, making them not just a mod band, but a band that truly loved and embodied the mod spirit.

For the latest news on the band – head to their Facebook group here

Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…

EP159 – Purple Hearts – Bob Manton & Jeff Shadbolt Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul

The Band

Bob’s distinct vocals and Jeff’s skilled bass-guitar work formed the foundation of the band’s sound with guitarist, Simon Stebbing and Gary Sparks on drums. Their partnership went beyond just musical collaboration – it was a meeting of minds that allowed Purple Hearts to craft songs that resonated deeply with their audience.

The Fans

Purple Hearts’ connection with their audience wasn’t just ephemeral; it was deeply personal and lasting. The band’s lyrics spoke to the realities of everyday life, love, and the struggles of youth, resonating with fans across generations. Their relatable songs weren’t confined to a specific time or place, giving them a timeless appeal that continues to draw listeners in. This connection wasn’t solely about the music; it was about sharing experiences and emotions that have universal relevance.

The Weller Connection

Purple Hearts signed to Chris Parry’s Fiction Records label in 1979.
You may remember Chris from Episode 76 as the man who signed The Jam to Polydor!.

When that deal came to an end, Paul Weller produced a couple of demos for the band – also playing and providing backing vocals on Plane Crash and Concrete Mixer ( both available on the Smashing Time LP release ).

In February 1981, Purple Hearts supported The Jam on tour dates at Sheerwater Youth Club Woking, Norwich University, Nottingham University and Crawley Leisure Centre.
Bob and Jeff also mentioned Brighton, although I haven’t managed to find a live date in 1981 for that in the archives…. do let me know people!

Photo on the cover – Martyn Goddard (Podcast Guest 41) also took the shot for the cover of their single “My Life’s a Jigsaw” on Safari Records.

In 2021, Bob and Jeff created PH2 (Internationally known as Purple Hearts 2) and released a couple of new singles – Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Steve Cradock – 1974 / You Can’t Tell Me Lies and Urban Soul / Livin’ in the 70’s.

In a further link with The Jam , you can see Purple Hearts on the road in 2023 and 2024 supporting Bruce Foxton and Russell Hasting’s From The Jam…

Beyond the Mod Scene

While Purple Hearts had strong ties to the mod scene, they were more than just a mod band. They didn’t merely replicate the fashion and sound of the mod subculture; they injected their own distinct identity into their music. This set them apart from bands that might have been pigeonholed as exclusively mod-oriented.

They weren’t just donning the iconic attire or playing the mod sound; they lived and breathed the mod lifestyle. This authenticity is what gave their music an edge – an edge that transcended any particular genre.

A Desperately Seeking Paul Playlist

Published by PaulWellerFanPodcast

The World’s first Paul Weller Fan Podcast - For the fans by the fans. A musical journey from In The City to Fat Pop (Vol 1). A radio broadcaster who gave up his career with one big regret. Never getting to interview the legendary British musician Paul Weller. This podcast exists purely to solve that issue. Welcome to Desperately Seeking Paul...

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