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The Predators

New Wave

“Of the six acts on Shots In The Dark it was Stockport's new wave group “The Preds” who went on to bigger things and albums in their own right though ironically it was with “Christian ghetto” Pilgrim/Marshalls that the band recorded their later albums The Predators (1982) and Social Decay (1983). At the time of recording Shots in the Dark The Preds were made up of Kevin Smith (vocals), Kelvin Allwood (guitar), Chris Thompson (bass) and Fran Johnson (drums).

How did The Predators come to be involved in the Shots in the Dark compilation? “We were the only northern band that Laurie Mellor could find that were already doing this kind of ministry,” explained the group's singer now working as an accountant, Kev Smith. “Also, we were not afraid to preach a 'full' Gospel which included the judgment of God and Hell, as well as God's love and his salvation. The style of music reflected this as it was aggressive and 'in yer face', which complimented my no-nonsense preaching. The project was about getting Christian music out to the people who weren't saved in secular venues, which is what we were trying to do.”

All of the bands except The Predators were taken to ICC studios in Eastbourne to lay down tracks for the LP. The Preds recorded their two tracks - “He Thinks He Knows Me” and “Plastic Surgeon” - in a studio in the north-west. Why did the Preds not make the trip to ICC? Guitarist Kelvin Allwood, “At that time drummer Fran Johnson was in a business partnership regarding the operation of a recording studio in Stockport. Hence, the band had the ability to rehearse and record in the studio at minimum expense. It all went fairly smoothly from what I recall.” Kev Smith elaborated, “We were the only band allowed to record at the studio of our choice and as it was local and as Fran was in the band, it meant we could record the songs as we wanted them to sound. Many Christian rock band recordings were poor and not reflective of their live sound. Both of our songs sound very different to the other bands on the album. We were very inexperienced but it was good fun and as Fran was part owner of the studio, we spent longer on the tracks than we would have been allowed if we'd recorded elsewhere.”

Did The Predators share Laurie's vision of pushing Christian music into the mainstream and do they think Shots in the Dark was a good way of achieving this? Kelvin, “The main driving force behind all that we attempted to achieve was a very powerful desire to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the youth of the day. We knew that many of them felt alienated and misunderstood by the contemporary Church. So often the music that orchestrated their lives was trashed by the Church and deemed evil and satanic. Hence, we were on a mission to show that God's love and care could embrace and transform all kinds of music to announce renewal and healing of broken lives. Therefore, mainstream music was targeted, not for any desire for fame and fortune but simply as a means of reaching the lost as effectively as possible. As to whether 'Shots In The Dark' achieved its goal; it probably represented a brave and optimistic start in what is a very difficult objective. U2 are undoubtedly the most successful Christian band of all time, but they have had to lose their Christian branding in order to be successful commercially. Nevertheless, their legacy in influencing subsequent bands and worship styles is there to be seen. After the Fire, also had limited commercial success, but the Christian message is implied rather than implicit. Basically, all different kinds of approaches are valid, but an overt Christian message within music usually closes the door on any kind of commercial success.”

Kev continued, “It was a great idea that was not supported by visionary or wealthy Christian band promoters so it never got off the ground as a project. I think it could have been a great success if it had been given the right promotion but I felt there was fear in the ranks of the Christian music hierarchy that didn't like Christians playing rock music. Yet look at Stryper in the USA who went on tour with Motley Crue; the tour was called the Heaven And Hell tour! They were a great success and continued to reach out to secular audiences all over the world. They showed the world that Christians could be true to their faith whilst playing great rock 'n' roll. Many Christian bands have sold out today and I include U2 in that category.”

Excerpt from Peter Timmis reports on 'SHOTS IN THE DARK', an ambitious album designed to push Christian music into the mainstream. (from


1981 Don't Mess Around (single)
1982 The Predators Marshalls
1983 Social Decay Ears and Eyes
1984 Part Time Soldier (single)
1984 Time and Time Again (single)
1987 Offensive
2011 Roundabout

Don't Mess Around (single)

1981 Independent

  1. Don't Mess Around
  2. Do You Wanna Dance
  3. Plastic Surgeon

The Predators

1982 Marshalls

  1. Sunday Boy
  2. Man of the War
  3. Don't Burn That Cross
  4. Don't Mess Around
  5. Maybe Tomorrow
  6. Never Said a Word
  7. Plastic Surgeon
  8. Emotional Upset
  9. Where You're Going
  10. You Better Run
  11. Drift Away

Social Decay

1983 Ears and Eyes

Kevin Smith – Vocals
Kelvin Allwood – Guitar
Brian Westhead – Keyboards, vocals
Andy Rayner – Bass, vocals
Francis Johnson – Drums, percussion

  1. Jack
  2. Free World
  3. Man in My Room
  4. Stand Up and Be Counted
  5. Lost at Sea
  6. 2 Out of 7
  7. One More Time
  8. Wipe the Tears
  9. Nasty Video
  10. Never Say Die

Part Time Soldier (single)

1984 Independent

  1. Part Time Soldier (live)
  2. You Better Run

Time and Time Again (single)

1984 Independent

  1. Time And Time Again
  2. I'll Never Let You Down


1987 Independent

Fran Johnson - Drums, Percussion
Any Rayner - Bass and acoustic guitars, vocals, tubular bells
Kev Smith - Vocals, percussion, manic shouts
Paul Truswell - Electric guitars, keyboards
Brian Westhead - Keyboards, vocals, peruvian nose flute, hitting the monkey, bass guitar

  1. Your World (Rayner/Smith) (3:57)
  2. No Connection (Westhead) (3:03)
  3. Fallen Angel (Johnson) (4:07)
  4. Nothing at All (Rayner/Westhead) (3:05)
  5. Built on Sand/Sagina (Westhead/Campbell) (6:27)
  6. Love You to Death (Rayner) (3:23)
  7. Dead on Arrival (Westhead) (3:56)
  8. Lies (Human Jungle) (Johnson/Rayner) (5:05)
  9. Don’t Laugh at Me Now (Johnson) (4:08)
  10. Rescue Me (Johnson) (4:17)


2011 Independent

  1. Set Me Free
  2. Burning Ambition
  3. Prodigal
  4. Blind Pride
  5. Not Another Monday
  6. Your Love
  7. Coms Breakdown
  8. You'll Give Them Hope
  9. Suicide Bomber

Compilation Appearances

Shots in the Dark (1981):
05) He Thinks He Knows Me
08) Plastic Surgeon

Kevin Smith - Vocals
Kelvin Allwood - Guitar
Chris Thompson - Bass
Fran Johnson - Drums