“Rabies is a Killer”: Agony Bag’s infectious Punksploitation single

By on April 25, 2016

Agony Bag looked and sounded exactly like a fake band from an unusually trashy episode of Quincy, M.E.. The terminal point of the Spinal Tap-esque careers of UK musicians Clive Jones and Clive Box (no relation) the band was a final, glorious act of bandwagon-jumping following stints in groups like Pesky Gee! and satanic Prog rockers Black Widow, releasing one infectious Punksploitation single titled “Rabies is a Killer” before flaming out in 1980.

Watch their video and witness the threshold being crossed, that sublime moment in which something becomes so ridiculous that it renders any attempt at parody impossible.

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By the early 70s Black Widow had abandoned the occult trappings of their legendary Sacrifice LP for the Prog tedium lurking beneath, eventually forcing flautist Jones and drummer/conceptual mastermind Box out of the band. The Clives were in need of a new gig and a new gimmick but invoking the antichrist onstage promised to be a hard act to follow.

After months in the woodshed they opted for a kinky sex angle, allegedly dubbing themselves Agony Bag after a TV commercial featuring a sack of sugar getting punched in the stomach(?!). Ritual robes were traded for bondage gear and corpse paint and by 1976 Punk had left the backstage door open wide enough for the pair to crash the party.

“It was always difficult to have sex with Sue and suck cock at the same time but I always seemed to manage it.” – the multi-talented Clive Jones, who somehow also managed to sing and play several wind instruments onstage.

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Sashaying from the gutters of Wigston in the ugliest of drag, Agony Bag’s original line up consisted of long-frustrated front man Jones on sax/flute/vocals, Box on drums, Bruce Cluley on guitar, and Geoff Beaven on bass.

Promo shots feature the band modeling homemade costumes in front of a backdrop constructed from trash bags, the old standby of cheap haunted houses and amateur S&M porn. Topless dancers Sue & Maggie “aka The Bagettes” were soon hired on to strip over the course of their set, adding a sheen of hetero sleaze to the proceedings while ensuring that the punters stuck around for the duration.

Armed with a setlist of Jones’ tunes the ‘Bag began playing around the East Midlands, drawing large crowds eager to have their prurient interests appealed to. Based on their demos ticket holders found themselves exposed to a mutant strain of glam Punk idiosyncratically spiked with Jethro Tull-style flute solos and lyrics about golden showers.

They may not have been brilliant but were by all accounts entertaining and eventually gained enough notoriety to begin touring throughout the UK and Europe, finding a particularly receptive audience in Germany where their lone single “Rabies is a Killer” b/w “Never Never Land” was recorded in April 1979.

Agony Bag PS

“Rabies is a Killer” was released March 7th, 1980 on Monza Records, a tiny UK label who’s entire catalog consisted of Disco versions of the “Theme from Dallas” and 10CC’s “I’m Not In Love”. Inspired by a vaccination poster on a German ferry “Rabies…” is a driving tune with repetitive lyrics cautioning listeners about the dangers of the virus in English und Deutsch. It’s an ideal record for drunks to yell along with at closing time, like an Oi! song written by a sax playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

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Agony Bag toured relentlessly for the next eight months to promote their single but Rock and Roll stardom continued to elude them. By October of 1980 Bruce and Geoff had grown disillusioned with the whole weird scene and called it quits.

The Clives briefly attempted to regroup with new guitarists but the magic was gone and the band collapsed for good when Jones threw in the crusty towel a few months later, leaving behind their seven inch and its jaw dropping promotional video as the only evidence of their existence.

Since their demise Agony Bag has achieved cult status among record weirdos and “Rabies is a Killer” has become an underground classic of sorts. These days original copies with lurid picture sleeve intact will set you back upwards of $40 but for the vinyl fetishist on a budget it’s readily available on 7″ via Earmark’s Black Widow Come To The Sabbat Singles Collection.

For those craving the full ‘Bag experience the Feelmazumba CD/LP on Italy’s Black Widow records also includes their unreleased demos and songs recorded by Clive Jones post-break up.

Agony Bag Wigston

Bonus Track: Black Widow perform “Come to the Sabbat” on the German TV show “Beat Club” circa 1970 featuring Jones on flute and Box handling percussion.

About Travis Box

Aries. DJ, vinyl enthusiast, and film programmer from the City of Hate. His writing credits to date include several hundred submissions to Penthouse Forum, still largely unpublished.