Thursday, 26 February 2015

Oliver: Loketo - Mondo Ry (1 December 1991)

This track, briefly, found itself in danger of being left off the blog when I listened to it before going to work on Monday morning.  Maybe it was because it was Monday morning when not even soukous music can hope to triumph over the slough of despond unleashed between 7 and 8am once a week.  Or perhaps it was because those dreadful low-fi synthesisers that plague so much soukous music seemed more prevalent than usual.  Whatever the reason, I couldn't have been wrong about the quality of this stuff, could I?

Not to fear, I usually listen to tracks several times through before putting them up, and a listen on Monday evening, by which time the rhythm of the working week is established, quashed any wavering.  The synths still sound desperate but those glorious guitar lines win the day.

Peel revealed that he had put the track into the programme because, for reasons he couldn't fathom, he'd given his copy of the Extra Ball album away to someone and hadn't got it back.  This lead to him spending the afternoon out shopping in London and buying a replacement copy on CD for £13.  A price which flabbergasted him both before and after playing the track.
"Thirteen quid...I mean it is a lot to pay for a CD, isn't it?  I know I'm fighting a losing battle on this whole CD/vinyl thing, but you're being taken to the cleaners and so am I."

Monday, 23 February 2015

Oliver: Magic Mushroom Band - Pictures in my Mind (1 December 1991)

No doubt people who went more often than I did will deny it, but if ever you wanted an example of the age old Cornish complaint, "The rest of country thinks Britain stops at Plymouth" it would be in the pathetic state of live music in Cornwall when I was a teenager.  Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of live music made up of covers bands and some local bands trying to build up a following, but when it came to bands who actually released records or got played on Radio 1, forget it.
It hadn't always been so.  The Flamingo Club in Redruth hosted many of the leading bands of the 60s.  The Sex Pistols came to Penzance in the 70s as part of the impromptu SPOTS tour in late 1977.  And I met numerous people who went to the Cornwall Coliseum in Carlyon Bay near St Austell in the 80s to see no less than Paul McCartney play there.  But by the early 90s, most of those venues had closed or become such shitholes, no one would play there.
Nevertheless, occasionally the county could surprise you and when I heard Peel play this on the 1/12/91 recording, my mind flashed forward 2 years to seeing promotion for a gig at Truro City Hall - Ozric Tentacles supported by Magic Mushroom Band.  Now there's a couple of names to take you back to the days when there were crusties on every street, aren't they. Being a censorious teenager, I had no interest in going to that gig which threatened, in my mind, to be nothing more than a stream of Grateful Dead-esque droning.  And that name, Magic Mushroom Band - you're not even trying.

Well it turned out to be my loss.  For while a listen to Magic Mushroom Band's 1991 album, Spaced Out, features a few long, meandering Eastern tinged instrumentals, there are some cracking pop songs on there as well.  Sometimes, tracks get selected because a band sound like someone else.  That could be the case here, because while there's evidence that when left unchecked, Magic Mushroom Band tried to be Quintessence, when they applied pop smarts to what they did they came on like an updated version of The Move and any band that invokes Birmingham's finest, whether by intent or accident is alright by me.

As for bands coming to Cornwall, progress was painfully slow.  Radiohead came to Truro City Hall just before they released The Bends (and who wanted to go and see a bunch of one hit wonders....).  I did see my favourite 90s band, Marion, at the Pirate in Falmouth but they had cancelled on at least 2 separate occasions prior to that.  Truro City Hall was eventually refurbished and renamed the Hall for Cornwall.  One of their first events was a concert from the Bluetones, the enormity of which was marked by Select magazine doing a feature.  Mark Morriss noted how grateful the fans seemed to them for coming down and remarked that it was preferable to being ignored at a more blasé venue like the Hammersmith Apollo.  But the Bluetones were only followed sporadically to Cornwall by the odd band/performer until 2002 when a double whammy of Coldplay coming to the Hall for Cornwall shortly before the release of A Rush of Blood to the Head and the first set of Eden Sessions in front of the biomes at the Eden Project started to effect a gradual improvement in the number of bands coming to Cornwall.

But Magic Mushroom Band were there first and on the evidence of Pictures in my Mind, I'm grateful.

The Sex Pistols in Penzance, 1 September 1977.  Thanks for making the drive down, fellas.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Oliver: John Peel Show - Radio 1 (Saturday 30 November 1991)

So we've got to the end of the first month's worth of shows, during which time I started getting to grips with the different roles I was playing in Oliver, learning the songs and adapting to the strange mix of activity and inactivity that characterise rehearsals.

From this show I made 8 selections, 3 of which were from the show's session guests, Barbel, a Liverpool based group who released a mini-LP, One Horse Planet, in 1989 and an EP, Inferno, in 1991.  The Peel session they did isn't available for sharing sadly though it was made up of the following tracks:

Income Tax

None of those tracks appear to have been recorded by them anywhere else and they didn't release any other records after Inferno.

I really hope the video they recorded for this song looks like this.

The other 5 selections can be seen in the posts below this one and I'm so pleased that access to more unedited shows has seen hip-hop and dance start to make its presence felt.

Programme tracklisting

Video courtesy of issakomat.

Oliver: Ultramarine - Geezer (30 November 1991)

For its January 2015 issue, Uncut magazine managed to tear itself away briefly from the altar of their regular cover star, Neil Young to present a review of Ultramarine's reissued 1992 album, Every Man and Woman is a Star.  Sam Richards's review used phrases such as "bucolic electronica" and "pastoral techno" to describe an album which he/she? felt pioneered techno dance music's initial excursions into "Arcadian bliss rather than dystopian dread".

This track, Geezer, popped up on several of Peel's playlists through late 1991 and has a nice Sunday morning comedown feel to it.  It walks the line of blandness at points, the type of sound that DJs on the radio use as background music "bed" tracks.  It wouldn't surprise me if Rob Da Bank had been a big fan of this.  However, I like it enough to give it the benefit of the doubt and the fact that this clip was filmed at a Cornish festival (Port Eliot near Saltash - an area which on the few times I drove through it when I went to North Cornwall made me wonder if there was anything for people to enjoy unless they were prepared to schlep over to neighbouring Plymouth) clinches the deal.

Video courtesy of downbylaw2012.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Oliver: Fu-Schnickens - Ring the Alarm (30 November 1991)

If I struggled to follow the thread of Krispy 3's, Don't Be Misled then I was completely flummoxed by this piece of machine gun like reggae hip-hop from Brooklyn based trio, Fu-Schnickens.  At times like this, all one can do is allow oneself to be floored by the artistry involved and to applaud them for their excellent taste in samples.  The "Ring the alarm" refrain being taken from the 1985 single of the same name by reggae/dancehall artist, Tenor Saw.

The source material.

Videos courtesy of Fu-ShnickensVEVO and Alexblaj18 (Tenor Saw).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Oliver: Back From Detox - Dove People (30 November 1991)

Oh such sweet naievety...
When I first heard this track, I thought Dove People were pacifists.  I was only 38 at the time.

Video courtesy of disruptcore.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Oliver: Bleach - Wipe It Away (30 November 1991)

When John Peel left London in the early 70s to move to the village of Great Finborough in Suffolk, he threw himself fully into the country life.  Whether it was inviting everyone at his local pub back to Peel Acres to celebrate Christmas 1973, opening the village fete, swopping Anfield for Portman Road to get his football fix  or running the local youth club (the brilliantly named Great Finborough International Airport), Peel was a part of the East Anglian furniture.

His residence there also meant that the East Anglian music scene had an important ambassador which provided East Anglian bands/artists with a window for their music, similar to that which Welsh bands currently enjoy with Huw Stephens.  At the time I started listening to Peel in the late 90s/early 00s, he would play plenty of examples of "the sound of young Stowmarket/Bury St Edmunds/Lowestoft" (delete as applicable).  Names like Cowcube, Miss Black America and The Vaults.  Peel planned to wear a Vaults T-shirt in the photograph that would have accompanied his unwritten article from his Peruvian holiday in order to give the band more publicity.

The best remembered of the East Anglian bands that Peel played were probably Extreme Noise Terror, whose short sharp bursts of explosive grindcore could inspire Peel to rhapsodic lyricism when singing their praises.  If you've never heard Extreme Noise Terror's music, it's basically the sound of a band vomiting, shitting itself and spontaneously combusting in quick succession.

Ipswich based 4-piece, Bleach were another Suffolk band that Peel championed and it was a message he read from the band informing him that their debut album would be out in early 1992 that encouraged him to play this track from their debut release, Eclipse EP, which had been released in 1990.
Starting out with a thumping drum pattern, the song is given the hurry along by Salli Carson's stroppy sing-song yowl as she canters through a thoroughly pissed off and demotivated list of complaints from the perspective of an exhausted worker - numbed by the tediousness of what she's doing, disgusted at the sight of schoolchildren in their uniforms "already fucking socialised" who will eventually find themselves in the same place as she is.  The rising rage is mirrored by the unfolding swirl of feedback running in the background as the first verse progresses.  When the guitar comes crashing in, I initially saw the battle between guitar and vocals as the song's declaration to reach for the skies, even when we can't lift our arms.  But as Carson announces her intention to have someone remember her after she's dead and the worms "eat my bones and turn me to dust", it suddenly struck me that this song is a planned workplace massacre set to music.  And it's absolutely brilliant.

Video courtesy of marmaladesoup.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Oliver: Wenge-Musica - Luc Bo Molo (November 30 1991)

Having started the November 1991 selections with a track from Wenge-Musica album, Aile Paris, it seems appropriate that one should crop up in the last November 91 show.

I don't think this track is as good as Nouveau Testament but the rejection threshold for soukous tracks is set very high on this blog, so dance on everybody.

Video courtesy of Elpollo Negro.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Oliver: John Peel - Radio Mafia [Finland] (Thursday 28 November 1991)

John Peel's breadth of musical influence was not only material but geographical. From Germany to Finland by way of the United States thanks to British Forces Broacast Services and The BBC World Sevice, he had claim to the most widely heard disc jockey in the world.  And all before the Internet made it easy to listen to whichever radio programme you want to hear. The programmes were almost all pre-recorded and mainly made up of records linked by Peel's inimitable narratives.  The lengths were anything from half an hour (World Service) to 2 hours on BFBS.  I have to say that an hour of Peel seems just right to me.  The onslaught of music he shared was a wondrous thing, but attention can start to drift when you're being exposed to thrash metal after an hour and a half.

The online community has done a great job of making many of Peel's foreign shows available for listening to and where a show is broadcast within the time period of any show I was rehearsing, it will be listened to in case any selections which had slipped past the Radio 1 recordings are included.

This show for Finnish station Radio Mafia seems either to have been an extended 90 minute show or two 45 minute ones.  I selected 6 tracks which would have gone on a mixtape, the only one of which I can't share is:

Perspex Whiteout - You Turn On My World.

Half Man Half Biscuit were nearly included with the track Hedley Verityesque, but after listening to it again a few times, and despite including a splendid barb at the Blockbusters Hand Dance, I decided it wasn't good enough to be included.  Selection is always in the balance until I write these show overviews. Already we've seen tracks included that didn't grab me on initial hearings and others which fell from favour between initial listens and blog post time.  It's a cruel business, but I don't think it will be long till Half Man Half Biscuit are back.

Ohjelma kappalelista

Oliver: Krispy 3 - Don't Be Misled (28 November 1991)

As exciting and brilliant as hip hop can be, it's an inescapable truth that when tracks from a hip hop album are listened to in isolation, deciphering the lyrics becomes an act of pure guesswork on the part of your humble blogger.  Taken from the Chorley trio's eponymous debut album, Don't Be Misled sounds like part of a concept suite of tunes about the difficulties of making it in the music business or of trying not to compromise artistic principles ("This tour ain't no sell out" - but what kind of non-sell out are we talking about?) before broadening out into an entreaty not to be seduced by the agendas of the media and for policemen to stop assuming that any black man driving around in a nice car has to have stolen it.
Or I could be completely wrong.   But I hope not.  I've got everything crossed that the "concept album inside the music business" fantasy comes true because from what I've heard of Krispy 3, including a fantastic Peel session which alas doesn't seem to be available for sharing, they could make it fly.

Some more information about Krispy 3.

Video courtesy of Ragga Hlp Hop.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Oliver: The Infinity Project - Virtual Reality is Here (28 November 1991)

Virtual reality is here, they said and as the film, The Lawnmower Man, showed the following year, it looked shit.

Several degrees better though was this splendid piece of techno from The Infinity Project, which was the b-side to their first 12" release, Hyperactive.  The Infinity Project was the brain child of Raja Ram who together with several collaborators including The Man With No Name and Graham Wood pioneered a form of dance music known as psytrance which had its roots in the Goan dance scene as thousands of old and new hippies who had gone to Goa attempted to attain enlightenment to frenetically blissed out music.  The Infinity Project released consistently through the 90s before Ram formed Shpongle and continued to release ambient music under this name up to the present day.

All of which is even more impressive when you consider that at the time Peel was playing The Infinity Project's first release, he had cause to remember playing Ram as part of his first musical incarnation, Quintessence, some 20 years earlier.  Ram was the flautist with this band, who specialised in spiritual/religious rock music but did it with a delightfully light touch in songs such as Notting Hill Gate, so as to ward off any of the naffness that the words "Christian rock music" can conjure up.  Quintessence often spoke in interviews about their music attempting to bring themselves and the audience closer to "infinity".  Perhaps the leap Raja Ram made when he swapped flute for mixing desk wasn't so large after all?

This video doesn't show them at their best, but I've included it as a potential link between Quintessence and The Infinity Project comes out of the mouth of the bassist, but sadly doesn't feature the London Weekend Television ident which is on the other video of this but which won't play on this site 😞.

I don't remember hearing this on the soundtrack to the Richard Curtis film, but I wish it was.

Videos courtesy of avsi gavilov (Infinity Project), colinharpervideo and Inner Life (Quintessence)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Oliver: Rum & Black - Wicked (28 November 1991)

I didn't listen to Radio 1on the day that Robin Williams died.  I'm sure that if any of their DJs played a musical tribute, it would have been Williams's performance of Blame Canada from the South Park movie which was nominated for Best Song at the 1999 Oscars.  However, I hope someone with a long memory pulled out this slice of breakbeat brilliance from the Hackney based dance duo, Rum & Black.  It's an equally fitting tribute, I promise you.

Lost out to Phil Collins, natch - The Oscars really do suck, don't they?

Videos courtesy of Mickeybeam01 (Rum and Black) and kyosexkittens (Williams).

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Oliver: Gear Jammer - Two Tons of Chrome (28 November 1991)

I've listened to most of the programmes John Peel hosted, at home and abroad, between 2 November and 29 December 1991 and throughout that run, one record label's output has been almost ubiquitous: Minneapolis based, Amphetamine Reptile  Records.  The label specialised in noisy rock blues through bands such as Helmet, The God Bullies, The Melvins and Tar.  The majority of tracks I've heard so far from Amphetamine Reptile haven't quite persuaded me but this punchy rocker from a side project that brought together members of Killdozer, Halo of Flies and Like Hell was a cut above Tar's On a Transfer or Helmet's Unsung which nearly made it on here in a double bill with this track until I decided it just wasn't good enough.

Built around a riff that sounds like The Anthill Mob's car, Chugga Boom on steroids, this track had to have been in the young Jack White's record collection back in the day.  Astonishingly, it would be another 3 years till the members of Gear Jammer reconvened to record a follow-up EP after which they were permanently back to their day jobs.  Such is the nature of the side project and in the fact it produced this astonishing tune, perhaps we should be grateful they chose not to try and sustain it to ever diminishing returns.

Video courtesy of Haze XXL.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Oliver: Aurlus Mabele - Rosine (28 November 1991)

You don't need to read a big write-up for this tune.  Just be aware that it's Aurlus Mabele.  Backed by Loketo.  With Diblo Dibala on guitar.
Put down what you're doing.  Press the play button on the video. And DANCE!

Videos courtesy of Tonton Ouzouk.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Oliver: John Peel Show - Radio 1 (Sunday 24 November 1991)

The selections from this show came from a 90 minute recording posted from about halfway through the programme.  I came up with 8 selections that I would have kept on a mixtape of which only 1 of them is unavailable for sharing or at least unavailable for sharing in the form I would like.  The Divine Comedy were a very different beast when they started out, from the urbane, lounge pop outfit that they had success as.  Neil Hannon was always a Cole Porter in waiting, but his deliciously sophisticated lyrics were, on the band's initial recordings, backed by a Byrds-like jangle.  Peel played their 12" single Timewatching on this night, a gloriously urgent tune about aging, but alas all that can currently be shared is the slower re-recording from a few years later.  I get impatient with it but will include it for any Divine Comedy fans who chance upon this blog.

The Divine Comedy - a little faster please!

This was a fairly momentous Peel show because for the only time in its history, the Festive 50 was abandoned by Peel, who, depressed by the slow trickle of entries which had been coming in through the month and which would have lead to any entry receiving a handful of votes getting placed in the chart, decided to abort it and instead choose his own favourite records and sessions of the year.  The Festive 50 would return the next year and the 1991 chart would be broadcast at the rate of one entry per show through the first half of 1993.  I have to say that having heard the Peel choices, I could have happily let him go on selecting "best ofs" for the rest of his life.  It was the only true reflection of the breadth of music he played year on year.

The programme was also memorable for news of a rock star death and Peel indulging in a rare piece of tribute playing as a result.

Programme tracklisting

Oliver: Mnaga a Zdorp - Ne, Ted Ne!; The Juwata Jazz Band - Tupa Tupa (24 November 1991)

Apologies for the philistinism, but I've put the opening two selections from this programme together as they are both foreign language compositions.

Czech band Mnaga a Zdorp (Peel: You have to get guttural in the middle of letters that don't really allow you the opportunity to do so.) which translates as Mud and Gadget owe the play of their track down to a meeting that the band had with Peel earlier on that day in a London market.  They implored him to listen to their album and he duly did, though I'm surprised that he played Ne, Ted Ne! (aka Not Now!) given that it features such a prominent saxophone in it.  Use of a saxophone was on Peel's blacklist for bands together with such crimes as:
Wearing silly hats in promotional photos.
Having band members who spell their names in unconventional ways - Jhon rather than John etc.
Bands who cite The New York Dolls as an influence.

Nevertheless the saxophone bookends a lovely tune.  If the video is to be believed, the song is about trying not to get ripped off by theives and strippers when you're on shore leave.

The Juwata Jazz Band track comes from the same album as the Orchestra Maquis Original track from the night before.  But whereas the Orchestra Maquis Original seemed to come almost from folk tradition, Tupa Tupa conjures up the sense of a sweaty night's dancing in a bar in downtown Dar es

Videos courtesy of Dan Konecny (Mnaga a Zdorp) and Power Nguzo (Juwata Jazz Band)