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.