Saturday, April 29, 2006



One of the things that I like about blogging is the way it flows naturally almost like a conversation, let me explain with the help of an example, yesterdays post had a drug related title and although I had something totally different in my head for today, LSD got me thinking about another song altogether and so today's post is different from that which was planned. And the song in question 'Get Stoned'. I doubt that many of you have ever heard it, trust me, it's good time music but well worth the listen, a song as full of humour as it is drug references and all this from non English speakers! As regular readers will already know by the beginning of the 90's I was working as a radio DJ for a station that shared it's home with a concert hall, so it was normal for us to promote gigs that took place there. During 1991 a record fell into my hands by a group that I had never heard of, Rausch, as the name would suggest they were German, signed to the major Vertigo, they were already known in their homeland but not in other countries and their record company wanted to give them the big push. They were due to play Montpellier as a free concert in a few months time, so I gave their latest album 'Glad' a listen to, and truth be told it wasn't half bad, a highly competent mix of new wave and more classic rock. There was this one song that stood out from the others and shouted out HIT to me, and that song was of course 'Get Stoned', and so I started giving it some serious airtime while informing my listeners of their forthcoming concert, my enthusiasm for the song was taken up by my colleagues, and the song became a local hit. Come the day of the concert and the hall was filled to it's 1000 person capacity, the group aware of the local status of the song saved it until the end of their set when it was welcomed by an over excited audience that went totally ape sh*t. The group went on to release another album in France but never achieved real stardom, except in their native Germany. An other title I favoured at the time on my shows was the slow brooding 'Let The Machines Work', a litle bit long at five minutes but worth a listen to. I believe the group have split up and a web search was without result, so if any of the German readers can fill in the gaps I'd be happy.

Friday, April 28, 2006



Now I've got your attention we can start, and as you can see I'm back from Paris, a city that has always reminded me of my native London in terms of its richness in ethnic terms and its extremes of poverty and wealth. So what's changed? I get the feeling that generally speaking it's a lot cleaner but maybe the down side of this is nothing is free, you pay for everything! I remember a few years back the Pompidou Centre had a free entrance with certain exhibitions pay to enter, well this has changed and having talked to some members of staff even they cannot understand this policy. Here in France they talk a lot about national heritage, what I don't understand is why we pay our taxes which are spent in part on the up keep of these treasures for which we have to pay for the pleasure of visting them, I must say that the English policy of free entrance to Museums and the like is much more in keep with the spirit of national heritage. And as for Star Wars I found it uninteresting in the exteme and of my two boys only one of them enjoyed it, though the Cité des Sciences where the exhibition is hosted does come highly recommendedd if you have children.
So back to the title of today's post, back in the early 90's I was often in Paris for a few days as I had friends that then lived there or I was on a record company freebie, and there is a song that reminds me of this period by the French band La Souris Delinguee (LSD). I really can't tell you much about them except that they were part of the French alternative movement that was popular at the time, that also gave birth to Mano Negra amongst others. They released a number of albums which did little for me except their 1991 effort 'Banzai' which did a good job of mixing rap, rock and certain world influencess as can be heard on 'Les Rues De Pekin' and the song that really does remind me of that period when I was discovering the diversity of this city, 'Paris Ajourd'hui', I won't insult your intelligence as the titles are really easy to understand, so enjoy the music and maybe I'll be back tomorroww.

Saturday, April 22, 2006



In a moment of weakness I agreed to take my boys to Paris. The result is this evenining at 19:04 we leave Nimes by TGV to arrive in Paris some three hours later. On the menu for me during the next five days 'Star Wars' exhibition (and I've never seen one of the films), Eiffel Tower (for the fourth or fifth time), the Louvre (I always thought the Mona Lisa looked the same everytime I stood in front of it) and a whole load of other sites to see with lots of metro and walking involved. All this and no internet and no posting until Friday April 28, when French Riot police obliging Sound of the Suburbs will be back, until then I'll leave you with 'At Home He's A Tourist' by the ever wonderful Gang of Four to listen to.

Thursday, April 20, 2006



Looks quite nice doesn't she? Anyway strictly speaking this not a post about the airplane but surprise surprise one about a song. As a an avid listener of John Peel in the early eighties I was smitten as were many other listeners with the charming nonsense that was 'There Goes Concorde Again' a song signed by the ever famous And The Native Hipsters, remember them? The song almost seven minutes long was a minimalist home recording, a song with no recognisable form, occasional haphazard bass, teasing guitar, primitive synthesizers, many strange noises and the spoken lyrics of Nanette Greenblatt charming us with her history of fat women going up the hill and Concorde! I loved it and is still one of those songs that will put a smile on my face. The band did very little of note after this and seemed to disappear and be consigned to histories could have beens. It was therefore with much joy that I saw the song was part of the Four CD set celebrating 25 years of Rough Trade released in 2001, but the biggest surprise was seeing that they had recorded enough to release a compilation! Both discs are still available. I always thought the song would be great on an advert for maybe Hovis bread or something, who cares it would just be great to hear it on mainstream TV.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Killing Joke

I always liked the name but they were never one of my favorite bands, I did get to see them once, in the early eighties when I was living in northern Italy. This period was rather dry in terms of gigs for me as few bands came anywhere near where I lived during this period, but the Joke did they played an open air gig in a medieval square in the city of Bassano del Grappa, an excellent setting for this troupe of war painted new wave stompers.
Fast forward 25 years and I'm going through the review section of the latest Mojo where their twelfth album 'Hosannas From The Basements of Hell' is reviewed and it must be said a glowing four star review at that. A week or two later and I'm browsing through the new releases at and see that they have the new Killing Joke, why not give it a try I think and so two clicks and a few hours later an the album is occupying space on my hard drive. To be honest I'm still not a big fan but must admit it's not half bad I especially like 'Invocation', which is very much in the vein of the Page/Plant classic 'Kashmir' being heavily dosed in Eastern Mysticism. I must say that I totally agree with the Mojo description of it being "a widescreen affair pitting lush orchestration against pernicious pounding. It's as close to a diabolical Bond theme as you're likely to get, marrying Coleman's twin musical interests of clattering rock and symphonic mischief" well worth a listen!
The album is with us grace of the UK label Cooking Vinyl who started out as a folk label though in later years seem to have become very much a refuge for the survivors of the new wave period. Their current catalog includes Blondie, Billy Bragg, Buzzcocks, Church, Cowboy Junkies, Echo & the Bunnymen, the excellent Jackie Leven, Tom Robinson, Soft Cell, They Might Be Giants, Wedding Present and XTC, rather impressive, and for those of you that like finger in your ears music they haven't forgotten their roots either.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Easter Sunday

I had a plan for Easter Sunday. Laurence me and the children would drive to her parents for lunch watch the kids looking for their eggs and then fighting over them and maybe even throwing up. We would then eat and drink and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon relaxing before leaving the children with their grandparents while we did the remaining 25km for Montpellier, with good rock'n'roll gig on the agenda to wind the day up. As with lots of plans something goes wrong. I think it was Thursday I phoned Fifi the owner of the venue only for him to announce to me that the gig was canceled. The reason, a valid one, was that Billy Lunn, the bands singer had been Hospitalised as a result of problems with his voice, things growing on his vocal chords or something. It was considered serious enough for the bands European tour and possibly this summers festival dates to be canceled. So who are they? Only the Subways that Teen Trio from the UK that run away with the best unsigned band award at Glastonbury in 2004, the result was that they didn't stay unsigned for much longer as they rapidly joined forces with V2 releasing their debut Ian Broudie produced 'Young For Eternity' in 2005. A rather fresh and energetic punk inspired take on pop rock, I was particularly taken by the albums opener 'I Want To Hear What You Have To Say', all raspy vocals and once it gets going reminded me of a young Supergrass. So we never got round to seeing them, which is a shame as from all accounts on stage they ROCK, their record company say that the dates will be rescheduled, that I will believe when I see it. And a closing thought for Billy, get well soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Peel Sessions 4

Something from the mid seventies today, they came from Liverpool, recorded 4 Peel sessions between August '76 and April '78 and Suggs, Madness singer, said "I was so taken by them that I married the singer and their guitarist went on to produce all of Madness's records". Anyone guess who they are? Deaf School is their name, an art rock band credited with kick starting the Liverpool new wave scene single handed. An eight piece who blended rock music and vaudevillian stage theatrics, their strong live reputation led to a contact with Warner Brothers but as with many other art rock bands from this period such as Supercharge and Alberto Y Los Trios Paranois, reproducing their stage act proved to be illusive in the recording studio and their vinyl outings were often pale imitations of the real thing. They went on to release three LPs 'Second Honeymoon' (1976), 'Don't Stop The World' (1977) and 'English Boys/Working Girls' (1978). These three albums along with their four Peel sessions have been put together as the double CD package 'What A Way To End It All' by those kind people at Castle the title is also that of the first of today's tracks it could almost have been written in the 40's, shades of tin pan alley and strong Cole Porter and Rogers & Hart influences showing through. I can remember as a 17 year old loving this flop that should have been and wearing my copy of ot out. The second song 'Final Act' shows another side to the band with this sleazy sounding slice of Kurt Weill straight out Berlin in the 30's.
As for the singers name Bette Bright and the guitarist turned producer Clive Langer who went on to be one of the more in demand producers from the eighties.

Friday, April 14, 2006



I was thinking about an Easter theme post for today, and so started searching my hard drive with key words such as Easter, egg and bunny, and you guessed right the results gave me Echo & the Bunnymen. Though will will not be stopping there as I rediscovered a bootleg/mash -up by Go Home Productions that, for me, does a good job of making the Bunnymen's 'Killing Moon' and Abba's 'Voulez Vous' one song, a shame there was not as much imagination used for the title 'Abba & The Bunnymen', a joyous celebration of both bands music with Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Claude François thrown in for good measure. So who or what is Go Home Productions? At 600+mo of my hard drive, this must be good stuff! GHP is the nom de plume of one Mark Vidler, producer/remixer/DJ and magician. If I were to sayfaileddmusiciann I hope it would not upset him too much as it is with his remixes and mash-ups that he really has scored, the man obviously has a very wide knowledge of popular music and and puts his understanding of it to very good use. Some of his better known works are: 'Ray of Gob' (Pistols vsMadonnaa), 'Rebel Never Gets Old' (mash-upcommissionedd by Bowie himself) and 'Rapture Riders' (Blondie vs Doors currently climbing its way up the charts of several European countries). GHP is one of the more interesting remixers involved in the movement and as such has been rewarded with acontractt with EMI and his first album is due out this spring. If you have some hard drive space to spare you could do your self a favour and and visit the GHP site where there is plenty of good toons to download.
Just in case you forgot Abba spilt up and probably went on to sell even more records than before and as for the Bunnymen well they got back together again their latest album being called 'Siberia' and I rather doubt they sell as many records today as they did in 80's.
Happy easter egg hunting and a little bonus for today the Bunnymen With their version of 'Ticket to Ride'

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Boo Radleys

One of the problems with my illness, compulsive record buying and collecting, is that I have If I am to be honest I have got far too many and not really enough time to appreciate them all, I'm sure that many have been listened to only once. This is certainly not the case with the Boo Radleys 1993 classic album, and I do not use that word lightly, 'Giant Steps', an album that spent long periods being listened to and explored with my listeners on the airwaves during the ninties. These days I would be lying to say that I listen to it on a regular basis, sorry Martin, but from time time it is always a pleasure to dig this little jewel up and give it a spin again. That is exactly what I did the other day as was a smitten as ever with it. An observation that I made was the richness of the album, there really is so much there to explore, having been named after a John Coltrane number the bar was set high and the general concensus is that it was a huge success. These four youngsters from Liverpool, friends from their school days, dreaming about being the next Beatles and for many of us in critical terms this they did achieve. This album was where their early promise was realised. Who can remember the taster single released before the album, 'Lazarus'? For me this is one of the most majestic pieces of music ever put down on tape. From its drawn out intro, its dub bass line, its shimering echo heavy gutars, Steve Kitchen's soaring trumpet to Sice's angelic vocals, I loved ever second of it and it is still one of those songs that sends a shiver down my spine whenever I hear it, and I would like to add that it must be listened to LOUD. When the record hit the racks it did not dissapoint, its sixties influences, Beatles, Kinks and Beach Boys were more than evident but who cared with music of this quality. To talk about stand out tacks would be stupid as there were 17 of them though my personal favorites are the baroque 'Best Lose The Fear', the full on pop attack of 'Barney and Me' and the previously mentioned colossal 'Lazarus'. Who would ever have thought that Four scousers, Martin Carr, Sice, Tim Brown and Rob Cieka could make such a beautiful noise!
I thought long about the songs to post and decided to go for B-side and remixes from this period, it must be said that Martin Carr was so prolific that their B-sides were often better than other bands A-sides. So good were their throw a way songs that at one stage I felt obliged to compile by own compilation 'Boo Bees' on a CDR.
1. 'Lazarus' Kris Needs remix.
2. 'Petroleum' originally to be found on the 'Lazarus' single
3. 'Peachy Keen' originaly to be found on the 'I Wish I Was Skinny' singles
The album itself is still on catalog, and for the tourists looking for a one stop compilation there is 'Find The Way Out' a two CD set from 2005. Happy Listening, and turn the volume up!
By way of a post script if you never got the chance to see them live you really did miss something as they were very special on stage and amazing party creatures after the gig but that's another story.

Monday, April 10, 2006



Back in '74 when I was 13 the older kids were listening to Roxy Music and David Bowie and the more rebel minded amongst them would come to school adorned in make up and mild forms of cross dressing, as impressionable teenagers our reaction was a mixture of shock and of awe . At this time the most outlandish our tastes were was maybe Slade or Sweet and then along came the Mael brothers AKA Sparks and for those of us still firmly under parental control they seemed very daring. They were camp in the extreme and everyone knows how much the Brits like their campness, Ron with that cute little moustache and 1950's hairstyle coming over like a demonic cross between Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin and Russel counter balancing him by being the good looking permed hard rock pin-up. Musically they were some where between good old prog rock and 1930's style Berlin cabaret with that so falsetto voice, rumour has it that Freddie Mercury himself was jealous! In these pre punk days they provided something for us to cling to that our parents couldn't understand. And they had songs didn't they? Real big hit songs that worked their way to the top of the charts like their 1974 hit 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us' from their glam-bubblegum opus 'Kimono In My House'. Thirty odd years later and they're still around making music and looking as kooky as ever. If AMG are to be believed 22 albums in 35 years, their latest from earlier this year entitled 'Hello Young Lovers' contains their usual signature quirky pop songs harking back to their glory days. While what is left of their old rivals, Queen, have taken a sad road to touring with Paul Rogers, Sparks are still full of youthfulness and NRG.
So what got me thinking about Sparks was last weeks Clash covers post, the album from which the songs were taken included a great child like take on the Strummer song 'We Are The Clash' ( taken of course from the bands piteous Jonesless final album 'Cut The Crap') by the Mael boys. Their take on the song comes over like a cross between a Broadway musical and Pink Floyd definitely shades of 'The Wall' showing through here, but still well worth a listen.
Should you have just realised that your collection is lacking in Mael pop there is still the larger part of their repertoire sill on catalog including numerous compilations.


Fatal Microbes

A recent post over at Silence Is A Rhythm Too mentioned the 'Rip It Up And Start Again' compilation which is scheduled for a 15 May release on V2, obviously the compilation has been inspired and endorsed by Simon Reynolds and his book of the same name. Running through the track listing there was one song that grabbed my attention and got the old memory working. It was 'Violence Grows' by the Fatal Microbes that was to be their unique single from 1979 on Small Wonder Records. Now the said label is one that is very close to my heart, it was founded by Pete Stennet in 1979 and taking its name from his Walthamstow record shop of the same name. Small Wonder were responsible for the first vinyl outings of amongst others the Cure (Killing an Arab 7"), Crass (The Feeding of the 5000 12") and the Bauhaus (Bela Lugosi's Dead 12"), they also gave a home to such noteworthy left of centre acts such as Patrik Fitzgerald and Fatal Microbes and of course had their fair share of the days punk bands; Angelic Upstarts, Cockney Rejects and the more pop orientated Carpettes and Leyton Buzzards. As already mentioned Pete Stennet was the owner of what was Walthamstow's finest record shop and it was there that I often found myself on an afternoon passing many an hour in Pete's company chatting and listening to the latest releases before parting with my money in exchange for some new vinyl treasure, Believe me the late 70's was a very exiting period for music. Pete and his wife, Mari, would not have been out of place at a free festival and were all the proof that I need that not all hippies were a waste of space! To give you an idea of what he was like back then and if my memory serves me correctly, his oufits were always punctuated with a wooly hat be it summer or winter, a bit like Badly Drawn Boy.
And so back to the Fatal Microbes, and as was the case with the majority of the Small Wonder singles I owned my own copy, which passed more than its fair share of time on my turntable. They were formed by the then 14 year old singer Honey Bane in 1978. They rapidly recorded the three tracks that became their only single, released in 1979 and honored as single of the week in sounds. Echo laden guitar, a half-hearted reggae bass line helped to make this a lazy repetitive sinister song, not that far removed from early Fall recordings, with Bane's teasing innocent child like vocals. They were of course destined to be one miss wonders as their effort failed to chart and they went there own ways. Guitarist Pete Fender went on to form Rubella Ballet and Sid their second Drummer played with Flux Of Pink Indians. As for Miss Bane she recorded a single with Crass using the name Donna & the Kebabs whilst on the run from a childrens home. Jimmy Pursey, then acting as talent scout for the EMI owned punk orientated Zonophone signed her up for five years though stardom was not to be unless you consider her roles in soft porn films to count! She disappeared from the musical radar until resurfacing in the mid nineties as singer with a London based heavy metal band. Shame really, as 'Violence Grows' is one of many lost treasures to be found from this period, that she never did anything to live up to this early promise.
Anyone interested in looking further into the Small Wonder story can check out the two compilations of their single releases available on Cherry Red.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Peel Sessions 3

They don't Look like hip young guns do they? Hard to believe, but in the late seventies the Only Ones really were a force to be reckoned with. Overflowing with classic rock'n roll rebel attitude and its attendant bad habits this band of well tuned competent musicians managed to be darlings of the musical press as well as finding themselves an audience though nowhere near as large as it should have been. They were also appreciated by Peelie recording four sessions for him between 1977 and 1980.
"When somebody who'd never heard the Only Ones wanted to know what they sounded like I'd always play them the Peel Sessions in preference to the studio albums. They're rougher but there's more feel 'cos the songs were more or less recorded live. You'd do four song in an eight hour session then mix the same evening on an 8-track desk that looked like it had been there since Reith; the faders worked back to front so if you leaned on one by mistake the surge didn't blow the transmitter. There were no effects beyond reverb and some compression, but you could do whatever you wanted; nobody was at all put out when I wanted to record the sound of my Strat being thrown around the room for the end of 'Oh No', they just went out and set up the appropriate mics. The great thing about recording under those conditions and at that speed is that it shows whether the songs stand up by themselves" (John Perry, guitarist, talking to Sounds 1989). A nice little insight into to how musicians thought of and the actual condition involved in recording these legendary sessions.
So two songs today from their first session from September 1977, 'Lovers of Today' was the A side of their first single on their own indie Vengance. A song with all the trademarks of the Only Ones already in place, Peter Perett's drawling teasing vocals and his slashing rhythm guitar, John Perry's beautiful fluid guitar lines, a hit, well for my ears anyway. Second up is an early version of 'Special View' which is to be found on the B side of the first release of their new wave classic 'Another Girl Another Planet', at this period the song was called 'Telescopic Love'. A charming piece of acoustic psychedelia along the lines of Syd Barrett period Pink Floyd.
The four sessions can be found along with a Radio 1 in concert recording and two BBC2 Old Grey Whistle Test shows on the double CD 'Darkness & Light' recently released by Hux Records and available at all good record stores.
It is on purpose that I have not said much about the band, because as a long time fan I fully intend one day to do another more detailed post including where and what they're up to today.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


My Jealous God

A London based answer to the Madchester scene, My Jealous god were formed in 1989 initially as a means to finish off a demo tape for guitarist/singer Jim Melly. As with many other bands from this period Jim Melly's indie roots were shaken when he started clubbing and took aboard new dance related influences. Thanks to the demo tape they signed on with Geoff Travis's Rough Trade label. A first single, 'Every Thing About You' was released to favorable response. Hardly surprising really with it's addictive spiraling wha wha guitar and a filthy dirty bass line that just insisted that you move and grove to it, the vocals were well down in the mix and sound rather stoned, and all this was over looping backward tracking rhythms. Not bad at all, true it didn't set the charts on fire but it got the band noticed.
There finest hour was to be their second single 'Pray' which is considered to be an indie dance crossover classic till this day. This time the vocals are more present in the mix which is a good thing as Melly's voice is a pleasant one, again those shuffling rhythms with a welcome recurrent guitar riff. Personally I think there are shades of the Charlatans which were to became even more obvious an their third and final single 'Easy'. By this stage they had been picked up by a major label, Fontana, I can only presume that an album was in the pipeline though it was never to see the light of day and so My Jealous God called it quits after only three singles, another band that could have ..........................Who Knows? Needless to say their is nothing commercially available so check out the second hand dealers. The last thing I heard of Jim Melly's where abouts was in 2003 when he published a book on the Faces.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Soup Dragons

Having served his apprenticeship as a member of BMX Bandits, Sean Dickson Formed the Soup Dragons in the mid eighties, the name comes from the UK children's TV program 'The Clangers'. There is a nice parallel to be drawn between them and another c86 band, Primal Scream, they both had strong indie roots then recorded something altogether harder before finding the chart success that they craved with an indie dance rock hybrid, which they followed up with a back to the roots Stones influenced album. For the Soup Dragons their indie years were summed up by 1987's 'Hang Ten' a voyage through the singles that they had released during the 2 previous years. 1988's 'This Is Our Art' was a mixed bag described at the time as a schizophrenic collection of songs and at times dangerously close to Black Sabbath for comfort. With the new decade it became obvious that their hedonist side was gaining the upper hand as they aligned themselves with the Acid House dance scene and all that went with it drugs included. 'Lovegod' was unveiled in 1990 and rewarded them with an international hit with their reworking of the Rolling Stones 'I'm Free'. Mixing rap, reggae, funk and ragga, they were aided by toaster Junior Reid from Black Uhuru, the song soon became a floor filler classic at discos around the planet. The album like many from this period has not dated very well, with certain notable exceptions such as 'Mother Universe' and the title track but no one ever claimed it to be a classic or did they? Two years latter they came back with 'Hotwired' a more classic rock influenced album drawing heavily on Jagger and co, as to be heard on 'Divine Thing', many consider this to be the band finest hour. From here on in it was to be downhill as Dickson kept the bands name but went to all intent and purposes solo recording a final album, 'Hydrophonic' using name artist session musicians, variously described as soggy, limp or plain stupid it failed miserably on both artistic and commercial terms. Their biggest seller 'Lovegod' is still on catalog and as for their other albums you will have very little trouble finding them second hand and at reasonable prices.
The last to be heard from Sean Dickson was that he had formed a new band High Fidelity and released an album 'Demonstration' in 2002, those interested can read more here and also find a downloadable song from the album.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Clash Covers

I spent a few hours last week end behind the wheel of my car and as usual I had selected a couple of CDs to listen to, one of which was the Uncut Clash cover version CD from 2003. I was quite surprised at the quality of the cover versions which only go to reinforce the status of Jones and Strummer as a classic songwriting team . After much thought I have chosen three covers for today for today, though I could easily have gone for more.
1. Jeff Klein 'The Guns Of Brixton'. Really not much to say about this version, very different from the original totally losing the reggae beat, for something altogether more dirge like and downbeat, but it works for me.
2. Josh Rouse 'Straight To Hell'. A captivating acoustic take on this number complete with American accent.
3. Edwyn Collins '1977'. This one is my favorite with Edwyn completely reworking this B side to the very first Clash single, in its original form so full of rage and anger and turning into a great big slice of upbeat pop with a strong Bo Didley backbeat complete with slide guitar, I think Strummer would have approved. Enjoy!

Monday, April 03, 2006


Peel Sessions 2

PJ Harvey both the name of a group and a person, one of John Peel's long term favorites that has recorded five proper Peel Sessions and a Peel acres special, these were sessions that were recorded at his home as opposed to the BBC studios in London. I saw PJ live in Montpellier it must have been 1994 but maybe I'm mistaken about the date I think she was touring to support her second real LP 'Rid Of Me' that had been unleashed on the public the previous year. I must admit to not being her biggest fan, but what I can say is how much the gig moved me. On stage she represented both an extreme fragility and at the same time a lions share of aggression. The image of the beginning of the concert has stayed with me till this day, PJ all alone bathed in white light Wearing a dress, legs a stride, nothing vulgar more a statement of intent, Strumming and singing along to the songs intro, captivating maybe a bit cliched but you had to be there. The other memory of the evening was her taking out a disposable camera inbetween songs and snapping the audience, I guess she did this at all of her gigs, I often wondered if she ever got the photos developed? So an excellent gig, and sidetracking a little bit here, last Saturday I saw the Rakes and I'm sorry to say I was seriously unimpressed, I don't think it was me as others expressed their disappointment, it was really just that we'd seen it all before and done better.
today's chosen number from PJ Harvey was the song that made us all take notice and ask who was this woman, her debut single 'Sheela Na Gig' as recorded for her first Peel session 29 October 1991. This number was just a preview of what would come, her early albums were a strong feminist take on that most macho of musical forms primal dirty blues with the added bonus of being catchy songs with the necessary hooks to seduce you.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Renegade Soundwave

Described as one the great lost English bands of the late 80's early 90's, I must say I think this is a bit of an exaggeration, though they have proven to be very important in terms of what was to follow, and they always put a smile on my face and got my feet tapping and that can't be bad. Forming as a trio in West London's Ladbroke Grove their roots were as DJ's and warehouse party promoters. Their debut on vinyl was for the dance orientated rhythm King with a song that was to serve as their manifesto 'Kray Twins', nothing more London in subject mater than the Krays. A strong mix of hip hop and dub with Gary Asquith's half sung half spoken London accented lyrics overflowing with punk attitude.
The major minor Mute were quick to snap the band up and sent them off to the studio, the result was 1989's almost schizophrenic 'Soundclash'. This album underlined what was to hold them back from lager mainstream success, their almost uncanny ability to mix rock and dance music which was ahead of its time by a good few years. Nevertheless 'Soundclash' was graced with a UK top 40 hit in 'Probably A Robbery', a song that would not be out of place on a Guy Richie soundtrack. Again it was a song that dealt with the London underworld using strong local slang terms - a song that has always made me think of a more upbeat take on the Clash's 'Bankrobber'. There was also a close miss for a hit with the wonderful 'Biting My Nails' a nervous twitchy number heavily sampling 'Knock on Wood'. They followed up 'Soundclash' the next year with 'In Dub', a set of new and reworked instrumentals. By the time 'How You Doin'?' there second proper album was released in 1994 they were a duo. A very confident record with tales of London night life and mixing intelligent samples with their own brand of east end hip hop. The album's lead and their theme song 'Renegade Soundwave' kept up the gangster influence being based around Serge Gainsbourg's 'Bonnie and Clyde'. To celebrate the release they hit the road and toured just like a real band, but the success they merited was not to be and by 1995 they were no longer together. Had they hung on for a bit longer, they might have reaped their just rewards as there works layed the groundwork for Big Beat and Drums and Bass. It is no wonder that the Chemical Brothers have cited them as a major influence. They were also, during there life time, in demand a remixers for artists as diverse a Inspiral Carpets and Nitzer Ebb.
If you are looking for something to buy there is an very good compilation still available 'RSV 87-95' that gets the balance right between their different elements.

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