Friday, 25 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Hyper-U - Demonic S-Cape (8 May 1992)

This techno-gospel fusion track should have been on this blog a lot sooner than now.  It was in the frame for inclusion with choices from Peel’s show on 10/4/92, but lost out due to similarities with In the Name of the One by Prudens Futuri which was broadcast on the same show.  I listened to a lot of Dutch techno before writing about In the Name of the One, mainly because the creatives behind it had their irons in a number of other creative fires, so maybe it was fatigue with the form that saw the trio, Hyper-U miss out back then.  But you can’t keep a good tune down and they popped up again on 8/5/92.

In contrast to In the Name of the One and other ecstatic grace dance tunes that Peel was playing at this time such as No Fortuna! by Traumatic Stress, Demonic S-Cape is a more minimal piece of techno, built around a murky synth part, phased wails and religious exhortations more suited to a Bible class than a cathedral.  It’s techno for quiet reflection with your deity rather than mass hysteria towards it.

Video courtesy of Engeltjeuit1970

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: The’s - Ah-So (8 May 1992)

I don’t know whether John Peel saw Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) before he died.  My guess is probably not given his previous comments on his film watching.  But if he did, I like to imagine him giving an exclamation of surprise when he saw the house band at The House of Blue Leaves, especially given the fact that he had played them on his show for the first time 11 years before the film was released.

The’s are a Japanese, female rock trio who have spent the last 30 years specialising in surf-rock, rockabilly and garage rock covers and pastiches.  Imagine The White Stripes if they were fronted by a Jacqueline White and rocked out in evening dress and mule heels.  For all that the immature can snigger at talk of “fantastic lock and loll”, these girls can play with affection, energy and force to not only match their inspirations - in this instance, a 1958 instrumental by The Highlights - but surpass them: beat for beat, riff for riff.
With these influences, it was inevitable they would find their way to Peel and that he would fall for them.  He confessed that he had missed their first couple of releases including the 1988 album, Golden Hits of The’s (featuring a cover of Peter Gunn naturally), but intended to make up for lost time now.

Videos courtesy of xTxRamoneS04 (’s) and Andrea Soriano (Highlights)

Saturday, 19 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Pitchshifter - Deconstruction (8 May 1992)

Whenever people talk about the size of John Peel’s record collection, I wonder how many of the circa 50,000 records include duplicate copies?  Does the P section, represented here by the first 100 titles in that part of his collection, include the two copies he had of Pitchshifter’s mini album, Submit?
On this evening’s programme, Peel thanked Pitchshifter for sending him a vinyl copy of the album because they suspected that their record label, Earache, would have sent it to him on CD.  However, whether through his own volition or Earache already being aware of his preferred method of listening to music, Peel already had a vinyl copy of the record, but was delighted to receive a second copy.

Deconstruction, the track Peel played, was very well titled with drum patterns that sound like wrecking balls rhythmically pounding into the ground and guitar riffs that sound like falling masonry.  In typical extreme metal style, the lyrics are sad and hurt in comparison to the violence of the music.  Ultimately comes across as a more raddled and grizzled Circus Lupus.

Video courtesy of GrindcoreDeathFreak

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Shalawambe - Kambowa (8 May 1992)

“In that golden year, 1988, I saw (Shalawambe) playing in a community centre in the middle of Leicester and they set the place alight, I mean lit it up, they really did.”

Peel had spent the week leading up to this programme in a state of great anticipation because a friend was sending him a group of records from Zambia.  However, they had not arrived by the time of broadcast so he had to fall back on a track from the brilliantly named Zambiance compilation album of 1989.  Furthermore, he was able to provide some background information about the song he played.  A kambowa is a small bird found in the north-west province of Zambia.  The song, Kambowa, is about the funeral procession for a deceased mother which passes by a tree in which a kambowa is perched. The bird detects the sadness of the funeral party and bows its head in respect, a guesture much appreciated by the bereaved son of the mother, who sings about how the bird shares his grief.  Clearly Kay Burley drew inspiration from this song after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.

Musically Kambowa is rather more skeletal than most of the African music tracks that I like to include here.  There are no catchy arpeggios to play out the last couple of minutes.  Having some context to the lyrics helps because it’s a track that relies on the singers to get it across more than the music.  My notes say the persistence of the chorus won me over.  It certainly does a good job of evoking an African funeral with the chorus suggesting the ecstatic sense of comfort that the party takes from the bird’s apparent attentions.

Video courtesy of ERML 2000 International.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Lonnie Mack - Sa-Ba-Hoola (8 May 1992)

John Peel was indebted to music. It gave him - to varying degrees - fame, security, status and influence. But there were prices to be paid in this relationship and on this programme, Peel ruefully lamented one of them.  He made his living passing judgement on the musical and artistic quality of hundreds of records, across dozens of genres, through decades of history and yet he had no real musical talent himself.  He never mastered a musical instrument, his singing voice as evidenced by his backing vocals on Altered Images’ 1982 cover of Song Sung Blue was workmanlike rather than melodic (good whistling though) and he only danced on rare occasions.  This vexed him considerably and on this show, the frustration reared its head thanks to a record which Peel had spent two months underselling to his audience.

On 1 March 1992 Peel played I’ve Had It, a track from a reissued compilation album of recordings by Lonnie Mack called Lonnie On the Move.  While declaring his admiration for Mack as a guitar player, Peel ensured that the pluggers at Ace Records, who issued the album, would be throwing themselves from the window in despair after he said that the album was “for students only.  I mean there’s nothing on there that’s going to fundamentally change your life”.  All the same, I would have included it here on the blog had there been a recording of the tune to share.  Two months later, another selection from Lonnie On The Move found its way onto his playlist and yet again, Peel did his best to kill interest in further research into the album by warning listeners that there “Wasn’t much to get the pulses racing”.  However such talk appears silly once Sa-Ba-Hoola gets started.
An instrumental released in the UK through Stateside in 1964, it’s a marvellous example of Mack’s funky jazz-blues guitar skills.  No wonder they called his first album, The Wham of That Memphis Man (1963), because his riffs land with a wallop and keep jigging on from there, especially in the euphorically escalating bridge at 1:15.
“Why can’t I do that and why didn’t someone give the orchestra a dime and tell them to go to the pictures?” wailed Peel after playing the track.  For my sins, I like the orchestra’s contribution - it provides an extra kick to the recording and doesn’t obscure Mack’s skill at all.  Best of all is the economy of the whole thing.  121 seconds in total and this struck me after seeing a picture on Twitter earlier in the week of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton circa 1967 and labelled, “When it felt like guitar solos could save the world”.  Superb players both of them of course, but the moment they decided to take 10 minutes to do what Mack did in 2 was a detour that I often wish rock music hadn’t taken.  I also know exactly how Peel felt in regards to wishing I could play the guitar - the urge usually hits me after hearing The Mono Men.

I’d still rather listen to Peel sing than Clare Grogan though.

Videos courtesy of cimmamomimf (Mack) and James Parker (Altered Images)

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Utah Saints - Something Good (8 May 1992)

Now this takes me back.  Not so much the track itself, which came to me unrecognised but immediately embraced once I heard Peel play it on the 8/5/92 file, but the brief ubiquity that Utah Saints enjoyed circa 1992-93.  That six-pointed star logo seemed to be constantly following me around at one point - in record shop windows, on festival-bills in magazines and on friends’ bedroom walls.  But I wasn’t interested at the time, stupidly mourning the death of guitar pop and wishing the spirit of the 60s tapes I was devouring then could come back.  So blame me for Britpop.  By the time I did start to look interestedly in their direction with the release of Believe in Me and the Newman and Baddiel Unplugged skit, they were withdrawing from widespread attention.  The occasional single release over 1994-96 and then nothing until The Millenium, by which point Britpop had absorbed my attention, and once I started listening to John Peel circa 1997, I really can’t recall him going back to them on any of my journeys back from rehearsal.

But no matter, because for that brief spell when they were a legitimate Top 10 chart act, they produced some wonderful slices of techno/electro/dance music.  Something Good throngs with life and infectious energy from the moment that the opening rocket ascent to the sky explodes into a million sparks of light.  Not such a bad metaphor really given that the vocal sample was taken from Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting.

Videos courtesy of Lance Trophy (Utah Saints) and imaginary92 (Bush)

Friday, 4 January 2019

The Comedy of Errors: Sequential - Prophet (8 May 1992)

In the words of a recent post from this very show, we now go back to Pod, who were intelligent enough to put out this debut release by trance duo, Sequential.  In the next two years, Christian Thier and Peter Kuhlmann would put out a series of eponymously numbered releases, but to begin with they were happy to give their records titles with a little more thought and invention.

Prophet starts out like a product of its time - awash in new age vibes, rainforest FX and dreamcatcher spirit - indicative of the hippy ethos that was trying to reassert itself as a 90s lifestyle choice at the time as environmental concerns began to be packaged for the average family.  This could all be a ghastly mistake in the wrong hands but Thier and Kuhlmann add pulses, life, mood swoops, spectacle and, from 3:54 onwards, lacerating stabs of frenetic synth.  I don’t know what their prophet was foretelling, but by the end of this, I was buying in to it.

Video courtesy of scubadevils.