The Nits

4-11-12          The Nits

Singer Lisa Stansfield born 1966, actor / director Vincent Gallo born 1962; both out of my league.

The Nits were first suggested to me by an employee of the venerable Dutch record shop Boudisque, Eric Heusevelt.  I believe he gave me an LP of “New Flat”, sometime in the summer of 1980.  The Nits were also to be found on a sampler LP I was also given, “Keihard & Swingend” (on EMI).

With “New Flat”, I could hear it immediately.  This Amsterdam band was working with Robert-Jan Stips and Aad Link of Supersister (of The Hague) fame!  It’s so very 1980, bright synths – choppy guitars – Beatles-cum-XTC vocals – great songs…instant fan!

I wasted no time in writing a fan letter to this amazing band; they had thoughtfully printed their address on the sleeve of “New Flat”.  I believe Michiel Peters wrote back.  The next time I went to Holland, I called Michiel – and he introduced me to Henk Hofstede et al.  I had already met Aad Link in 1979, when I schlepped down to Trekweg 8 in search of further Gruppo Sportivo information.

I quickly got an original LP of “Tent”, the album right before “New Flat” – at about the time that they were preparing to release “Work”, the album after “New Flat”.  Michiel took pity on me, and gave me a copy of their debut LP, “The Nits” – it had been recorded in England, and is a lovely ‘tribute album’ to both The Beatles and Hank Marvin & The Shadows (a theme that would particularly crop up on “Tent”).

So, hipped to The Nits by 1980 – friendly with the band shortly thereafter – and visiting Holland as much as possible.  My coterie of friends all got their butts kicked by “Omsk”, their next album – Robert-Jan was now a full-time member of the band.  “Adieu Sweet Bahnhof” was Michiel’s swansong with The Nits – by 1986, the band had to be re-invented / re-made / re-modeled.

In the shadow of The Art of Noise “Into Battle”, 1986’s “Henk” was an ode to the PPG / Fairlight’s capabilities.  Henk Hofstede was in particularly good voice and their momentum had been steadily building for a couple of years.  The EP “Hat” made less of an impression, but the dam finally burst with 1987’s “In The Dutch Mountains”.

After steadily selling albums in the medium thousands, they were now selling lots of records; they named their most successful album after a book by Cees Notenboom, which we all sought out and read.

But my 7 years were up.  I turned lots of people on to The Nits.  There were some that didn’t even start until 1987!  But I had done my dash.  I remained friendly with them, but my fandom nosedived after “In The Dutch Mountains” – they were no longer a secret; they were a popular and successful band.  The world is a better place because of this.

Start here:

LP           NITS, THE                        SCRAMBLE NL                     910.033

1978 12 TRKS debut, insert

LP           TENT                                CBS NL          CBS 84051

1979 15 TRKS original issue

LP           NEW FLAT                      CBS NL          CBS 84725

1980 14 TRKS original issue

LP           WORK                              CBS NL          CBS 85427

1981 13 TRKS original issue

LP           OMSK                              CBS NL          CBS 25364

1983 12 TRKS original issue

LP           ADIEU SWEET BAHNHOF                   CBS NL          CBS 25985

1984 11 TRKS original issue

LP           HENK                               CBS NL          CBS 26870

1986 12 TRKS original issue

LP           IN THE DUTCH MOUNTAINS                CBS NL          460071.1

1987 12 TRKS original issue

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5 Responses to The Nits

  1. Warren says:

    We are making summer travel plams now, and it Looks like I will be in Amsterdam at the beginning of June. Maybe I should look up the Nits?

  2. postpunkmonk says:

    Much love for The Nits. I first heard them with “Young Reporter” from “Tent” on Dutch CBS’s “Steppin’ Into The 80s” “New Wave” comp. Truth be told, I did not respond to their sound then. Too derivative of XTC/Talking Heads for me at that time. I next encountered them with “Hat,” which was the first Nits CD I bought, around the time of its release. That was much more to my liking. Next came “Da Da Da” at the time of release – I found it at a record show, and then “Dutch Mountains,” which I swapped something with somebody on the internet for. Or this may have been a video they were looking for in the back pages of Goldmine, now that I think of it. The person who had the want lived in the Netherlands, so I took the opportunity to ask for any Nits CD in return. They sent “ITDM.” Worked for me! That was all I had until they resonated with my wife, who hit CD Warehouse and came home with a bounty of Nits one day. When we heard “Ting” it was all over – we had to have every Nits album! We have them all except for “The Nits” and “Wool,” which evades my grasp. Paul Telman takes care of our orders every time we buy CDs and DVDs from their website. “Malpensa” just came out a month ago, so we’ll need to order one from their website. A great place to start for the uninitiated is the 10-disc “Soap Bubble Box” available on their website with a great selection of their albums [that are individually OOP] for 40 Euros, a killer price.

  3. ronkanefiles says:

    Last one I got was “Alankomatt”. The “Soap Bubble Box” does sound like a good deal…

  4. Thanks for the tip on “Soap Bubble” — I should definitely get that, as my Nits collection is kinda random. Of the VERY VERY limited number of CDs (like, we’re talking maybe 30!) we brought with us to Victoria, I think we managed three Nits CDs. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, they are in the strata of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson for me — musicians I greatly admire for their musicianship and “art direction” overall as much as any individual songs or albums, which enables me to “ride out” any changes in direction with minimal distress.

    Their post-“Da Da Da” stuff — at least the two albums “Alankomatt” and “Wool” — seemed to me fairly dreary affairs, perhaps reinforced by the fact that my favourite member, Stips, had departed. Jim played me some of “1974” and I was pleased with it, so I should resume my collecting now that Stips is back in. I would dearly love to see these guys in concert someday, Rob Kloet is just the most amazing percussionist, I never tire of seeing what new sounds he’s come up with, always the perfect ones for each song.

    PPM: I seem to have a memory of seeing the video for “Mask” on Rockworld at your house, but I may be misremembering. I know that Ron kindly sent me a copy of that video in a later compilation, and I’ve recently rediscovered a copy on The YouTubes.

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