Saturday, 20 August 2016

Oliver: Zeni Geva - Godflesh (16 February 1992)

Quick housekeeping note - this video has been mistimed.  The track is 4:40 long, not 7:23.

Wear headphones when you listen to this - only by doing that will this track by Japanese noise-rock band, Zeni Geva come anywhere close to bearing out my feeling that it sounds like the world of possibilities which heavy metal could have pursued as suggested by the coda to Helter Skelter.  If you know that song, I've always felt that the bit after John Lennon's comically shrill burst of saxophone suggests heavy rock picking itself up off the floor of its own bugged out exhaustion, renewing itself anew and charging into battle with the forces of ennui.  Contained within this track are those self same aural wars and if it doesn't quite attain full spiritual transcendence, there's no disputing the sense of spiritual uplift.  

Peel dedicated this track to his family who on 16/2/92 had been to Norwich to see The Wedding Present.

Video courtesy of Ruben Guastapaglia.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Oliver: Neutron 9000 - Which Way Are You Going? (16 February 1992)

The omens don't look good at the outset here, with the snippet of whale song and the trance music equivalent of excessive feedback wankery, but once the beat crashes in, Neutron 9000 point the way we're going and that's to the dancefloor equivalent of bliss. A plum pick from their first release not on Profile Records.  Unlike some of the other techno/trance selections on this blog, it sounds timeless.

I can't pinpoint where the spoken word samples come from.  I had thought the title line was spoken by Newt from Aliens, but she doesn't sound anywhere near as shrill.  The "Don't even tell me what's going to happen..." bit sounds like Sigourney Weaver on Mogadon.

Video courtesy of Abstructure.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Oliver: Mr Ray's Wig World - Elvis Begins With an E (16 February 1992)

If nothing else, this selection showed me just what I'm not prepared to do for this blog...

When Peel played this track on 16/2/92, as an example of the Liverpool scene compilation album, The Dark Side of the Pool, he added that the band were in need of a new bassist and gave out a telephone number for interested candidates to contact.  The fact that Mr Ray's Wig World, named after an American hair stylist, released their final record the following year suggests that whoever they found didn't do enough to spark their creativity too much.  I noted down the number and idly thought about phoning it, just to see if anyone connected with the band would pick it up, 24 years later.  That was a couple of months ago, and I as I started covering my selections from 16/2/92, the spectre of my idea began to loom large ahead of me.  Would I or wouldn't I?  The problem being that I couldn't think of a way to open a phone conversation with whoever may answer it without sounding either creepy or mad.  The real issue was whether I should refer to myself as a journalist (a tainted but recognised profession) or a blogger (someone with far too much time on their hands and no life) - I looked into the abyss and the abyss looked back into me....
I gave the number a quick ring yesterday morning, just to see if it was active. It rang and I put the phone down.  Now a definite decision had to be made.
In the end, I decided not to call back.  I believe in the creedo that says you should never meet your heroes, although it's different if there is a possibility you may not see them again.  Also, in the case of Mr Ray's Wig World, I couldn't think of anything to ask them.  The issue with following acts that gained the bulk of their exposure on Peel is that the near constant level of discovery and turnover means it's hard to think about asking any of them anything beyond, "How did it feel to be played by Peel?" and "What are you doing now?"  I couldn't bring myself to interrupt a stranger's afternoon or evening in order to plague them with such inanities - much less attempt a rambling reason for why I was calling only to discover that no-one at the number had been in Mr Ray's Wig World.
Of course, I would have been far too inhibited to ask anyone in Mr Ray's Wig World why they never again reached the heights of Elvis Begins With an E.  Its jangly guitars and bouncily unhinged mood in some ways could be seen as definitive of the Peel Show at a certain point in its history.  There is a wonderful tying together of Americana with E culture, before the track gleefully throws itself down a vaguely unsettling, echo-drenched plughole of Elvis impersonation - a real sense, even when dripping with irony, of the clouds that closed in around The King in his last years.  Peel maintained the mood by playing an Elvis record, My Baby Left Me.

I could also have asked Mr Ray's Wig World if anyone ended up enjoying themselves at the ghastly sounding "happening" which Mark Radcliffe's Hit The North programme accompanied them to, a
year after Peel played Elvis Begins With an E.

Videos courtesy of robpc and col cooper (from Mr Ray's Wig World - I should have YouTube messaged him about that number...)

robpc video is NSFW as it features violence from low budget movies and the aftermath of  Nguyen Van Lem getting shot in the head in the Vietnam War.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Oliver: Bunny General - Played By This Ya Sound (16 February 1992)

I'm re-writing this post as I've just had my initial certainties shaken after listening to it again.  In pondering who the champion that was referred to throughout the track, I initially suspected that it might be linked to a figure like King Emmanuel - The Black Christ.  As a result, I wrote a few lines about how the track reflected a charming attempt to reconnect with the spiritual father and a return to the care and devotion of the Lord.  But, perhaps alerted by the whistled refrain from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which runs throughout the track as well as talk of challenges to the King, murder, death and murky goings on at the border, it all points toward a landscape far more godless than I had first envisioned.  A world where sins of the father are taken forward by the sons, payments have to be made when they are demanded and where the only thing which matters is to be top dog or the champion.  Pretty depressing if it wasn't so damned catchy.

Video courtesy of Jarrett Mc.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Oliver: The Fall - Free Range/Everything Hurtz (16 February 1992)

A new Fall album was imminent and it was trailed by the single, Free Range.  Peel, as you would expect, played both sides of the single on 16/2/92.

Free Range grabs the attention straight away with its electro-buzz riff heralding a tumble into the propulsive driving bass line, over the top of which Mark E. Smith references Fredrich Nietzsche, Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke and Richard Strauss - a funky little beat combo who each followed Pink Floyd's Ummagumma lead and all threw their contributions into 2001: A Space Odyssey via Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  There's bowdlerisations of Shakespeare, "The summer of our malcontent" and Noel Harrison, "The winter of your mind".
It runs the gamut of emotions from the boundlessly optimistic; the free range of the title suggests the importance of thinking as broadly and openly as you can - to the guardedly paranoid, "It pays to talk to no-one. No-one!"  It also marks the moment when The Fall begin marrying elements of dance music more closely to their sound, and I would have loved it if any Falmouth nightclub had had the wit to put this on one evening in the early 90s.  It's certainly better to think of it as a rave-like book club, given the literary references that Smith works in as opposed to the soundtrack of a line-up imploding which how I was first aware of it.

Everything Hurtz starts out with a quote lifted from the Gospel according to Matthew and journeys into a screed about the trials of the working man racked by pains both internal (in the chestbone and through tinnitus) to the external (in the chequebook).  All whipsmart drumming, snarling guitar and another showcase for Smith's excellent vocal phrasing - the way he spits out quickfire repetitions of a single word before linking it to the rest of the line: dip dip dip dip dipping man etc.  Touches of care which it's easy to discount them as being capable of.

Videos courtesy of 221bk and Paul Connelly.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Oliver: The Cranberries - Linger/Wanted [Peel Session] (16 February 1992)

"This is another one from The Cranberries, in session.  It's called Linger". And thus the Reverend Peel baptised an inescapable monster hit: like it or not, one of the signature songs of the 90s.  Listening to it stripped of the string section, one is still seduced by the fact that it's a love song for the ages.  Albeit one that's dedicated to someone who is clearly no good for her.  Linger couldn't have been anything other than a smash hit.  It's one of those instances that crops up on the Peel Show through the years where form, feeling, style, melody and intent come together so perfectly that it seems inconceivable that it won't connect with record buyers who wouldn't have known who Peel was, let alone that his show would have been, I'm fairly confident to say,  the first one in the UK to play a tune that would conquer the world over the next 2 years.

If Linger was the snog on the dancefloor tune that the world had been waiting for in 1992, then Wanted comes on more like a Gaelic I Will Survive.  Catchy, throw-away, wearily defiant and refusing to play the victim if the subject of the song won't play fair.  I have a picture in my mind of a dancefloor covered in couples smooching to Linger, bursting into a riot of tango to the poppier, no-nonsense tones of Wanted, which after all is closer to the rhythms of day-to-day relationships than its  more celebrated session-mate.

The video is of the full session.  If you only want to hear the tracks I would have taped go to 3:30.  Both Linger and Wanted are back-to-back from that point on.  Both the opening and closing tracks on the session: Waltzing Back and I Will Always are perfectly fine in their own ways but are ruined for me by Dolores O' Riordan doing that trick with her voice that will make you want to rip your ears off the side of your head.  I feel horribly shallow for writing that, particularly given that part of the raison d'ĂȘtre for the Peel Show was to make you hear things you'd rather not, but honestly there are times when she does it in those two songs, that I'd be happier listening to Throbbing Gristle.

Video courtesy of John Peel

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Oliver: The Monkeywrench - Bottle Up and Go (16 February 1992)

It's always nice to know that there are certain annual events you can set your calendar by.  Comic Relief every two years; Olympics/World Cups every four years; General Elections every five years and most importantly, activity from the Seattle supergroup The Monkeywrench every 8 years.

Pulling together members of Mudhoney, Gas Huffer, The Primevils and, crucially, Poison 13 since it was a meeting between Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Steve Turner with Poison 13's Tim Kerr which got the show on the road.  The admiration which Arm and Turner had for the scuzzed up blues rock of Poison 13, a band who could apply scorchingly exciting treatments to songs by artists as diverse as Willie Dixon, Buffy Saint-Marie, Richard Hell, Reg Presley and Joy Division, led Kerr to mention that he had some songs which had been written for Poison 13, but never recorded, and would they be interested in working on them with him.

Early 1992 saw the release of a 7" single with Bottle Up and Go as the A-side on Sub Pop Records followed by an album, the splendidly named Clean As a Broke-Dick Dog.  My notes as to why I included it were that I liked the slide guitar but in the event it's quite sparingly used.  It fits into a tune which is quite beautifully desparing and which previews another American massacre.  The cliched "woke up this morning" trope is shaken up as our protagonist wakes to consider that the combination of a pointless job and a loveless relationship has seen him reach the stage where drastic action needs to be taken.  "I've been bled dry but you've got blood to lose".  This is a John Doe figure, whose "day to day life would never make the news", but who will change that on this black day.  And then it all explodes on the joyous bridge line, "The going won't get good till I'm good and gone".  Perhaps the suicidally psychotic genuinely think this.  In that rare area where blues rock and shoegaze cross over, then this tune and Wipe It Away by Bleach should find themselves on most pyschos' playlists.  An unpleasant recommendation, but a genuinely heartfelt one nevertheless.

After Clean As a Broke-Dick Dog, The Monkeywrench members went back to their other projects before reconvening for subsequent releases in 20002008 and as Mudhoney's website explains, they will be active again with live dates in late 2016.  Looking ahead to 2024 with bated breath already.

Video courtesy of Canale di Cindelora.