When Blandford Forum resident and vocalist Roger ‘Dokus’ Hope was edged out of local band The Room in favour of Jane Kevern in February 1969, he was approached by former members of The Push, guitarists Stephen Hall and Fred Fry, bassist Terry Lowe and keyboard player Phil Bridle to form their own outfit with eventual drummer Royston ‘Roy’ Stockley. The name they chose for this new association, Team Dokus, was an amalgamation of Roger’s nickname ‘Dokus’, given to him by Stephen Hall from the TV cartoon character ‘Diplodocus’ and the Formula one racing team Lotus. Managed by Graham Cole of the J. C. Theatrical Agency based in Weymouth, the band honed their repertoire of Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Status Quo and Ten Years After covers, plus a smattering of originals, at local venues such as the Chequers Inn in Lytchett Matravers, the Old Harry pub in Poole High Street and the George Hotel, also in Poole.
By 1971 they were making headway on the national college and club circuit and recorded four tracks at Wessex Studios in Highbury New Park, Islington on 15th February. Two of the songs, “Tomorrow May Not Come” and “I Feel Your Fire” turned up years later on their sole album, while “My Name is Death” and “Feel a Little Higher”, have never been released.
Six months later on 18th September, the band recorded an ambitious concept album with a nuclear holocaust theme set during World War 3 for the miniscule Sphere label, a subsidiary of CBS Records. Sandwiched between dates with Nazareth at The Temple in Wardour Street and Genesis at the Potters Bar Youth Club, the ten songs were hurriedly taped in a matter of hours, leaving no time for overdubs, refinements or corrections. On the day of recording, Terry and Roger were suffering from severe bouts of flu and were promised a chance to return at a later date to re-record their vocal parts, but the opportunity never materialised.
A couple of months later over two Saturdays in October, the band decamped to Regent Sound Studios in Denmark Street to record shorter versions of two songs from the album, “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset” and “Tomorrow May Not Come”, for a single. A small amount were released in London and it was picked up by John Peel who played it on his radio show, but the record never reached the shops nationally.
In 1972 Team Dokus entered the southern area final of the inaugural ‘Melody Maker National Rock and Folk Contest’ (as opposed to the ‘Melody Maker Search’ contest that Roger’s former band Room entered in 1970). Held at the Chelsea Village in Glen Fern Road, they beat off the opposition and progressed to the final held at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm on Saturday 4th June 1972. The band missed out on a top three place and the chance of a recording contract because they were already signed to Sphere. The blues artist Lloyd Watson came out top in the solo category and the Anglo / American jazz rock outfit Listen were deemed to be the best band, while Team Dokus settled with fourth position. They received a consolation pat on the back from John Peel, plus a brand new Fender bass for Terry Lowe.
Later in 1972 the band broke up and returned to a quiet life in rural Dorset, becoming just another blip in the annals of rock history. However, the story doesn’t end there. In 1994, after requests from collectors who heard two songs on the psychedelic compilation albums, Psychedelic Salvage Company Volumes 1 & 2, the original recordings from 1971 were retrieved from the vaults and dusted down for release by Tenth Planet, a small record company dedicated to releasing obscure main stream recordings and private pressings. Apparently the mono Emidisc acetate was acquired at a record auction in Croydon by a employee from the record company.
Entitled Tales From the Underground by the record company and with no input from the band, the album became an instant rarity due to the limited run of five hundred, individually hand numbered, vinyl copies. As a result of the sound source, Roger’s ravaged vocal cords on the day, a rushed recording schedule and minimal production values, Tales From the Underground is not a hi-fidelity recording by any means. At best it is a patchy listening experience and while none of the songs particularly stand out, the scene setting “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset”, the jazzy “Tomorrow May Not Come”, “Night of the Living Dead” with its extended instrumental work out, the riffy, upbeat “Visions” and the hard rock of “I Feel Your Fire” are the best pickings from a set of average progressive rock songs.
Not as highly prized as some rarities, Tales From the Underground can be picked up for around £50 on bidding sites, although copies in America can go for up to $250. The record sold well in Germany and Italy and also behind the Iron Curtain in the Ukraine, Lithuania and Russia. It has never received a release on compact disc.
Special thanks go to Roger ‘Dokus’ Hope for additional information and for putting the record straight.
Team Dokus Discography
Team Dokus Single
Tomorrow May Not Come c/w Fifty Million Megaton Sunset Sphere (SPH 100A) No date on label and extremely rare
Team Dokus Album
Tales Form the Underground: Tenth Planet (TP 007) 1994 Limited vinyl edition 500 copies
Compilation Albums featuring Team Dokus
Psychedelic Salvage Company Vol 1: No Label (SALVCD 1) 1990 “Tomorrow May Never Come”
Psychedelic Salvage Company Vol 2: No Label (SALVCD 2) 1990 “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset”
Hens Teeth Vol. 3: Catherine on the Wheel: Hens Teeth (HEN03CD) 1999 “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset”
Psychedelia: Rubble (RUBCDBOX2) 2015 “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset”
The Psychedelic Salvage Company Volumes 1 and 2: Past and Present (PAPR2CD211) 2009 “Fifty Million Megaton Sunset” & “Tomorrow May Never Come”