Saturday, 25 May 2013

Unsane - 3rd Peel Session 7/6/1994

Saturday summer specials were never as good as this when I were a nipper....

My introduction to Unsane came during summer 1992 when John Peel rebroadcast their debut 1991 session in its entirety as a tribute to original drummer Charlie Ondras, who died from an accidental heroin overdose in July of that year.

Normally I would avoid, plague-like, low end saturated, doom laden bands with caterwauling frontman who always sounded like they'd benefit greatly from a course of primal scream therapy conducted by experienced professionals in appropriately simulated environments; likewise any band whose members had heavily tattooed arms that looked as though they'd been infested with a particularly potent strain of tropical tapeworm, wore baseball caps back to front (anathema!) and sported the fashioned facial hair of a frustrated topiarist.

But there was that indefinable something about the propelling, pummeling, grinding intensity of Unsane that set them apart from the alt rock noise metal crowd and appealed to me for reasons I still can't fathom. They may give the impression that if you'd caught them burgling your house you wouldn't dare set the dogs on them (even if you kept Rottweilers), but underneath they were probably nice lads who spent Saturday afternoons playing golf with their mothers.

The aforementioned 1991 session, along with their second from autumn 1992, were given a cd release in 1993, bridging the three year gap between the first two albums proper. Long out of print, the sessions can be downloaded from the excellent Museum Of Radio Sessions.

If Strange Fruit had waited a few months more they could have included the results of Unsane's third (and final) trip to the BBC Maida Vale studios. Broadcast on 30th July 1994 as millions of grungey wastrels were revelling in the second coming of Woodstock across the Atlantic, the session featured two songs from recently released album Total Destruction, and showcased a new track from 1995's folow up Scattered, Smothered And Covered . The real treats though are the last two tracks: one a cover of a Jimi Hendrix 1967 radio jingle; the other a collaborative effort featuring guest vocals from Mule frontman P.W. Long.

Prepare to incur the wrath, with much banging on walls, of the neighbours!

Track list:
Radio One
Speak English

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Poev Vannary - Mietophoum Collection CD

Poev Vannary was a Cambodian singer and musician from the infamous Khmer Rock era of the late sixties/early seventies. Educated in the United States, she was heavily influenced by the American pop scene of the period. Upon her return home she would go on to cover several western hits including It Never Rains In Southern Califorinia, (Albert Hammond), Get Down (Gilbert O'Sullivan) and It's Too Late (Carol King/Dennis Brown). Vannary was not only the first female Cambodian singer to play guitar on stage but also had the distinction of singing in English.

Little is known about Vannary's life and only 25 of her recorded works are known to exist, of which 21 have been collected on this cd. Audio quality is a bit rough, but that is unsurprising given the rigorous conditions the master tapes were subjected to to ensure their survival.

When the Khmer Rouge seized power of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on April 17th 1975 it ended several years of civil war and foreign intervention. It also ended the Khmer pop and rock scene that had flourished since the early sixties. Within days the Khmer Rouge forced two million inhabitants - a third of the country's population - into labour camps to do agricultural work. Artists, writers, intellectuals and popular singers of the period like Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea and Pan Ron were all targeted for displaying western influences and either imprisoned or sent to the work camps. Many were later brutally executed or died from amlnutrition and diseeases. Poev Vannary is thought not to have survived the Khmer Rouge years.

Artefacts such as records and books were destroyed, along with films and studio recordings. (A surviving Sinn Sismouth 7" single from the mid-sixties recently sold for £240 on ebay). Master tapes were smuggled out of the country and shipped to the United States, where they eventually found a safe home at the Mietophoum National Library in Long Beach, California. Many recordings were secreted about the homes of friends, fans and associates at great risk to their own lives.

While many musicians tragically and needlessly lost their lives under a cold-blooded regime, there is some consolation that their music refused to die. Although Cambodia's internal struggles continued long after Vietnam's successful 1979 invasion that brought an end to the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge, the music gradually resurfaced on the markets of Siem Reap. Foreign travellers purchasing these cassettes out of curiosity lead to compilation cds like the Cambodian Rocks series, giving the artists wider exposure to a niche market audience on an international level. Contemporay bands like Dengue Fever and The Cambodian Space Project continue to perform and record material by leading artists like Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea..

1. Rom Leng Tgnai Saov /  Dancing on Saturday Night
2. Ouch! Sneaha /  Ouch! Love
3: Yom Os Tik Pnek / Cry Until Out of Tears

4. Anlong Monh Sneah / Anlong Love
5. Pka Os Lom Ong / Flower Out of Pollens (aka Get Down)
6. Soriya Asodongkot / Sunset
7. Bong Mean Tmey Heuy / You Have New Love
8. Yerng Rom Leng / We Dance
9. Anusavory / Memories (aka It Never Rains In Southern California)
10. Oh! Sneaha / Oh! Love
11. Avey, Avey Ning Plas Pdo /  Everything Changes
12. Msel Menh Mdong Theat / Yesterday Once More
 13. Nak Mdy / Mother
14. Kavey Songkhim / Poet's Hope
15. Minh Ach Bomplich Bong Ban / Can't Forget You
16. Jomreang Yukvakvey / Youth's Song
17. Thik Ho / Water Flow
18. Deung Chet Oun Te! / Do You Know My Heart?
19. Ber Mean Roub Bong / If I Have You
 20. Cherng Bong Gno Gnem / See You Smile
 21. Hous Pel Heuy / It's Too Late

If you enjoy this album I would encourage you to buy it (part of the proceeds go towards supporting the Mietophoum National Library and Cultural Centre). Mietophoum have an extensive catalogue of approximately 200 titles. The only outlet I know of to obtain these gems is eclinic-doc on ebay. The discs retail for £6.50 each and the seller offers very generous combined overseas shipping rates.

Not included on the Mietophoum cd is Beautiful Sunday, originally a transatlantic hit for Daniel Boone in 1972, which PV also released as a single backed with her take on Gilbert O'Sullivan's Get Down. Hear it on Youtube.

Another track that didn't make the above compilation is this upbeat number Rom Ning Knom, presumably an original. Available on Mietophoum Various Artists CD No. 7.

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Silver - Do You Wanna Dance (7" 1980)

Nice thought, but I must confess this is a reissue from 2004 that I finally managed to add to my collection earlier this year. 

First released on the Black Label Series label in 1980, original copies are about as rare as Lord Lucan riding a unicycle in your local supermarket car park while waiting for Elvis to return from buying a fresh batch of beefburgers. According to a slip of paper inside the sleeve, the single was reissued to coincide with the third EMP Pop Conference, April 2004 (!). Limited to just 500 copies, mine is no. 424. Other than that, no new information about this mysterious and elusive group has come to light

I first posted the A side on this blog last summer using a downloadable mp3 from The Silver's myspace page. I've since deleted the original blog but have reposted the text below, along with new mp3s ripped direct from vinyl, including this time the equally obscure b side Popper.

A1 Do You Wanna Dance
B1 Popper

This is the record that started my endless journey into the nether regions of pop culture.

Back in the days of three channel black and white tv, once News At Ten had finished my parents usually listened to the radio before retiring to bed. Momentarily forgetting that John Peel gate crashed Radio 2's VHF frequency four nights a week at 10pm, my humdrum semi-detached cul-de-sac world was changed forever in a few seconds of caustic mayhem by what sounded like a bunch of hyperactive delinquent infants on day release from borstal .

As my father lept out of his swivel armchair for the MW switch, I rushed to my bedroom and frantically turned the dial on my portable radio-cassette player to savour the rest of the song. Despite being only 11, 12 years old at the time, I was aware of punk and owned one or two Side-era Pistols singlles and vaguely recall my mother informing me of the death of Sid Vicious after she'd read the morning paper. But I'd never heard anything like this before.

It wasn't until December 1991 when I unexpctedly heard Peel play it again, during a tradition-breaking christmas show when he didn't compile a Festive 50. For many years I considered writing to Peelie requesting him to play the track again, compiling a letter in my mind similiar to what I've written here, hoping that I would one day get chance to tape it. But in those days he rarely did requests, a stance he would relax during the latter years of his broadcasting career. I never did write that letter.

It was only a chance rummaging on Myspace that I was able to download the track from the playlist on the band's profile page. But there was virtually no other information, apart from a passing mention they hailed from Finland, or indeed evidence of a b side.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Go Kart Mozart - Marc Riley Session 30/4/2013

After a postponement as long as your average pregnancy, the self-professed last man standing finally made his session debut on 6 Music 24 hours ago.

The inbetween song banter confirms Lawrence's ongoing disdain of the internet, but reveals tentative grasps with 21st century technology with the recent acquisition of a mobile phone.

Featuring a guitarless line up of  Ralph Phillips (drums), Rusty Stone (bass) and Terry Miles (aka Milestone Express) on keyboards and vocoder. The vocoder embellishments give the backing vocals an almost orchestral texture and more than compensate the void left by the absence of a conventional guitar.

Five songs in total, including Donna & The Dopefiends, pre-recorded for broadcast on Gideon Coe's show, which features some tasty new arrangements.

Electric Rock 'n Roll
West Brom Blues
The Sun
Donna & The Dopefiends

GKM recently made their first live appearance in eons at The Poetry Club in Glasgow back in February. An audience recording of  the gig has surfaced on the Felt Forum.

Also why not check out Terry Miles' vocoder tuition clip on Youtube.