Friday, 30 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: Frankie Paul - Tell Them Fe Cool (8 May 1992)

When Peel played reggae music, it could be easy to become depressed at the human condition, especially given that so many of the records glorified criminality, gun violence and national prejudices.  The artists and the producers had him (and us) over a barrel though given the skill and intelligence that went into what they did.  Thank God for Frankie Paul though, who follows the previous year’s excellent piece of relationship advice for unhappy women with a note of temperance in the hair-trigger world of Carribean music.  For all that I’m unsure whether Frankie is asking the Rude Boys to hold their piece before unleashing their fury at a later stage or whether he just wants them to stay cool throughout and put violence aside, where Tell Them Fe Cool really scores is with the section at 2:36 which gives an appreciation of just how much dancehall music has changed Frankie’s life.  If life in the Carribean meant you went either into crime, sport or music, then this track makes an excellent case for committing oneself to the latter option.

Video courtesy of Exe-Dubz Sounds - the video has been mistimed, the track is 3:29 long.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: Bark Psychosis - Blood Rush (8 May 1992)

They wouldn’t have known at the time they wrote it of course, what with 1992 being the end of history but the two lyrical phrases that make up Blood Rush (“Say it again/our world is falling” and “You never stop/you never learn”*) seem horribly relevant and prescient in 2018.  It took me by surprise actually, especially given that what would have made the track stand out had I heard it when originally broadcast would be, exclusively, the dreamy atmospherics, exquisitely beautiful guitar work, lightly brushed drums and the way in which Bark Psychosis manage to mix in a squeaky chair in time with the “You never stop” line, every time it is repeated.  In tracks like this, lyrics are an adornment - a bow tied atop the package of this track’s sonic delights - to be thrown aside while luxuriating in the sonic goodies that Bark Psychosis serve up.  And there is plenty to enjoy here.  The first 4 minutes 20 seconds could best be termed the soft half of the track - murmuring and gentle.  Bark Psychosis used to record regularly in a church  and there’s definitely a sense of the state service to the opening exchanges but the tempo change at 4:20 really feels as though the blood is circulating freely - bringing the listener out of the gentle torpor and sounding like every body part beginning to work in harmony again.  Blood going to the brain and stimulating thought, vision, movement and wonder - but all playing out to gentle, repeated admonishment of the human race.  It’s an odd dichotomy, albeit one that Bark Psychosis always sought in their music, but it gels splendidly.

Peel played it as the final track of the evening on the 8/5/92 show and it is a perfect show closer.  It came from the group’s Manman EP and he found himself guessing the track’s title due to the childlike writing on the cover art.

*Lyrics copyright of Bark Psychosis (Third Stone Records)
Video courtesy of sunnyman1999

Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: John Peel Show - BBC Radio 1 (Saturday 2 May 1992)

Last week, through the medium of Bang Bang Machine, I ruminated that their session track, A Charmed Life reflects the sense that youth can be a halcyon time.  The challenge is to recognise it as such when it happens.  Well for me, Saturday 2 May 1992 was a wonderful day because my beloved Ipswich Town had clinched the Second Division championship and would be returning to English football’s top flight after an absence of six years and the promise of riches in the new FA Premier League  which would be starting the following season.  It wasn’t until August, when it became obvious just how much Sky TV were throwing money, attention and razzamatazz at this to try and mark it out as an event rather than simply The Football Season that I realised just how changed things were, not only from this 1991-92 season, but from the division that Ipswich had last competed in back in 1986.  On this day, it was merely the cherry on the icing of the cake that had been set with Ipswich winning promotion on the previous weekend at Oxford United.  Among the large crowd of 26,803 who saw Town lift the Second Division trophy after a 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion and hopefully joining in the pitch invasion at the end were The PigDanda and Tom. According to Peel, one of Alexandra’s friends had managed to give a Town player (not identified alas) a kiss during the pitch invasion.  I would have done too had I been there, but instead I was at home catching the final scores and thinking that, at last, when it came to talking about football among the Manchester United and Liverpool fans who had been my peers at school over the previous six years, I could talk to them excitedly about matches my team were going to have with their teams instead of trying to hype matches against Shrewsbury Town or Port Vale, like any of them would give a shit. However, a look at the table as it stands after our most recent match means I could be hyping up similar fixtures next season if results don’t pick up soon.

Peel was still buzzing from Polly Jean Harvey’s impromptu guest appearance in his previous show  Through her he had received a request for a Duane Eddy track from Gallon Drunk.  He was unable to oblige them but put forward what he regarded as a suitable soundalike in Vampire by The Belairs, though after hearing it he repudiated it as an Eddyesque substitute.
PJ Harvey (the band) were about to have their first Peel Session put out alongside those of their labelmates on the Too Pure Records label, Sterolab and Th’ Faith Healers on a 10” limited edition Strange Fruit release.  Peel was tempted to keep them all for himself because he liked the cover art so much, but he was giving 3 of them away in a competition.  Winners would be determined by whoever sent him “something interesting in an envelope - not vulgar and it must be flat”.  I really hope I get to find out what won.

I’ve been listening to Peel shows from the end of May 1992 in which he laments, not entirely in jest, that bands and artists never invite him to socialise with them.  Quite often on the weekend shows, he would relate that he had organised meetings with friends and acquaintances in London for lunch or drinks only for them to pull out and leaving him to kick his heels either in the city or at the Radio 1 offices.  Anyone looking to invite him may have felt  moved to complain that their parties always clashed with Peel’s own visits to exhibitions.  After his March trip to see Normski’s photography exhibition, Peel was looking forward to visiting Edward Barton’s exhibition at Afflecks in Manchester.  It was called Hole Keeper and featured among its exhibits a live Beat the Goalie activity.

The selections from this show were taken from a 79 minute file.  There were two tracks I would have been interested to share if I could have got hold of them:

Midway Still - Making Time - this would have owed its place to a very personal reason, namely that its central riff sounded very close to that used six years later by Therapy? on Church of Noise.  If I ever get my own music radio show I intend to call it The Church of Noise and use the chorus of that as my intro music.  There’s still time and if I find any of you have beaten me to it, I will find you and I will kill you (except for Webbie who has bailed me out that many times, they can use whatever
music they want).

Sin City Disciples - Go Work - an absolutely tremendous rock song by one of Kansas City’s finest, though if I was being critical I’d call it slightly guilty of some of the things Peel accused British bands of the time of being guilty of - namely being in hock to sounds that had come before.  But
when it’s as good as this tune was, who cares?

Falling from favour were:
TPOK Jazz Band - Zena Mama na Lolita - I had a question mark against it and found when I listened to it again, I got 3 and a half minutes before realising I hadn’t thought about the track once.

Full tracklisting

“Good evening my lords and ladies...”

Video courtesy of colzo666

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: Equitek - Stylus Flight (2 May 1992)

This industrial warehouse banger, a one-off collaboration between Bernie Von Braun and Marcos Salon took a circuitous route to get here.  Peel played it on 2/5/92 but I wasn’t initially persuaded by it until I heard it again on his 16/5/92 show, at which point it made the tape.  Strictly speaking, I should have waited several months until I start blogging about the selections made for that show, but I didn’t want to keep you in suspense, my lovelies, so I’ve brought it forward to the first time I heard it.
Beyond its musical delights, Peel was thrilled by Stylus Flight due to the progress that the stylus made when going across the vinyl, “In sort of fits and starts - won’t come across terribly well on the radio, but you try doing it with a CD.”  Coming the night after playing a record with a locked groove, the vinyl junkie in Peel was truly getting his tummy tickled in a variety of ways.

Video courtesy of thelostreef.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: Bang Bang Machine - Monkey/A Charmed Life [Peel Session] (2 May 1992)

In any cultural field it’s a brave person who declares in the opening week of the year that such and such a cultural artefact will be the best thing of that year.  John Peel didn’t quite go that far in his first Radio 1 show of 1992 but as he cued up Geek Love by Bang Bang Machine, he declared it “The first truly extraordinary record of 1992. Most of you are going to go mad for this.”  51 weeks later, Geek Love sat atop the 1992 Festive Fifty.  This strikes me as the Peel Show equivalent of the Michael McIntyre joke about lazy parental choice when it comes to naming a baby Aaron given that it’s the first name in the baby name book.  Due to file issues, I didn’t blog about or select anything from the 4/1/92 show.  Indeed, I didn’t hear Geek Love until I was listening to his 3/2/92 NachtExpress show for O3 Austria.  I really didn’t see what the fuss was about.  I found Elizabeth Freeth’s vocals exceptionally irritating to listen to while the rest was nothing but tedium.  In preparing this post, I listened to Geek Love again and nothing in it caused me to change my mind.  But what I would say is that although I didn’t like it, I could see why Peel and so many others went for it.  It had ambition and grandeur - especially for a self-financed debut single - it was trying to go that extra mile and it immediately sounded like no other band.  Original voices don’t always say things we want to hear though, and I think that was the case with how I responded to Geek Love.

With so much attention around that track, it was inevitable that they would record a Peel Session pretty quickly.  They duly did so on 28 January 1992 for broadcast on 15 February.  The session was repeated on the 2/5/92 show.  I only heard the two tracks included here, but the full session included other tracks called Justine, which I definitely would have included on a mixtape, and Say It Again,
Joe, which I wouldn’t have done.

Monkey starts out like a funk-rock workout, before going full shoegaze in its chorus.  Freeth’s voice, so teethgrindingly winsome to my ears in Geek Love, now bounces along while reeling off a lyric that appears to connect the ape of the title with working people who have been persuaded that the rat race and pursuit of status symbols is a good life to have, despite the contradiction of “Get a life/That’s no life” while the hair-raising “Oh”s sound like the trains and buses sending all us monkeys out to play at games and pull tricks like monkeys despite us being unable to win at the games that promise us its prizes.
A Charmed Life was more of a borderline inclusion.  It lacks the focussed intensity of Monkey, but stretches out into its spaces in interesting ways.  Around its watery, metronomic guitar patterns, Freeth sings of awakenings - potentially sexual ones - possibly political given the references to 1984, as well as the hunting of boar and other non-sequiturs.  But what comes over especially well is the sense of how youth can seem to be an eternal feeling of joy and optimism that can inoculate us to harsh realities.  Hopefully, we all experience moments in our youth where we feel amazing about life and sure that this feeling will last forever.  Once life intrudes though and pushes its clouds across our sunshine, all we can do is recall those better times and swear undying retrospective devotion to those we shared those times with.

And the ironic thing is that although I would prefer to listen to these tracks ahead of Geek Love any day of the week, neither of them sound anywhere near as original and definitively Bang Bang Machine as Geek Love does.  Which could be the reason why their other material never enjoyed the same level of posterity on Peel’s playlists as their Festive Fifty winner.  Even on the cutting edge of left-field music, there are acts destined to be remembered just for The Hit.

Videos courtesy of VibraCobra Redux

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Comedy of Errors: Bally Sagoo featuring Irene Perveen - Saiyo Nee Mera Dil (2 May 1992)

Although it lacks the grace and elegance that made Mera Laung Gawacha such a beguiling listen, Bally Sagoo’s reworking of Saiyo Nee Mera Dil may be a more vital recording.  If you were attending a Bhangra disco at the time, one could imagine this bringing male and female Punjabis out to dance off against each other in the style of Wanted by The Cranberries.  And once they’ve collapsed, exhausted, into each other’s arms, Mera Laung Gawacha would seal the deal.  Though I suspect the disco I have in my head is a long way different from the reality.

Sagoo used a vocal by Irene Perveen of a track that translates as My Heart is Beating For Someone and weaves around it a mix reflecting both 50s Bhangra and 90s Birmingham as high pitch keyboards  and soul choirs compete with ringing mobile phones (and in the early 90s, ringtones could be teeth rattlingly shrill).  Inevitably, there are a few touches that date this track painfully.  We get 2 and a half minutes in before the farting saxophones/shehnai blurt out and the coda of the track will remind listeners of between item “bed” music used in “youth” shows of the late 80s/early 90s.  But those touches made me smile and so much more of this moves me to dance.

Video courtesy of Bally Sagoo - Topic