Monday, 18 May 2015
Oliver: Shonen Knife - Making Plans for Bison (8 December 1991)
By late 1991, the Japanese girl trio had gone from underground, cult favourites to being name-checked and courted by some of the most important bands of the era. Kurt Cobain was a fan, declaring his opportunity to see Shonen Knife play live as the moment he turned into a nine year old, screaming at the Beatles. Cobain followed through on his love for the band by inviting them to support Nirvana on their late 1991 UK tour. In the week that this show had been broadcast, Shonen Knife had broken off to perform a few headlining gigs of their own including one at Kilburn National which Peel attended.
The attention surrounding Shonen Knife and the credit that was being given to others for raising their profile caused the rarely seen, but always present, Peel ego to rear its head before playing this track from their 1986 album, Pretty Little Baka Guy:
And I was reading in the Melody Maker today an extended piece about Shonen Knife, and it was always nice to see that sort of thing. And of course, it was one of those few occasions where you always think, 'I'd like a little bit of credit here' you know, because the impression you got from reading it was that they'd been discovered by a series of American bands and then made famous, or notorious by Nirvana. And you'd like someone in the course of the article to say, 'Of course, Peel has been soft-pedalling the Shonen Knife stuff to the huddled masses since 1984 which would have been true."
It's an interesting outburst because over the years, Peel often rejected the notion that he'd played much of a part in helping bands and artists to break through, feeling that it was the music rather than the messenger that had resonated with people. Nevertheless, he was clearly aware of his place in the scheme of things and while still a number of years off being restored to his former prominence by Radio 1 and the BBC, wasn't slow to let people know that he had been ahead of the curve on so many things.
As for this present track, it would within a month, be presented in re-recorded form on Shonen Knife's first major label release, Let's Knife. However, whereas the Let's Knife version made them sound like shiny, kareoke novelties, the original (which is not exactly poorly recorded) cuts through with greater warmth and immediacy, especially on the chorus harmonies.
Awful isn't it?
Videos courtesy of Sam Heald and TheUsed1995.