Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Yeah Yeah Noh - Sumo, Leicester 21/12/2013

Christmas isn't Christmas nowadays without YYN's annual pre-festive spirit warm up in what is generally considered their hometown, despite the fact that all but Derek either live in or are from Birmingham.
Second gig with new keyboard player Fiona Hodgson, following the departure of Eva Landsberg to concentrate on whatever it is departing musicians concentrate on. First ever performance of new song She Pulls The Petal From The Flower, and Queen's Highway, first unveiled at the Peel All-dayer in Preston back in October. For the grey hairs wishing to relive their student days as cappacino-supping armchair socialists, Cottage Industry is also here.
The set kicks off with a radical new arrangement of Blood Soup. The song has been transformed into a medium paced rave for the middle aged who've lost that luvved up feeling and whose recreational highs are gained from nothing more nefarious than sucking on an aniseed ball or two.
YYN are set to go into the studio in January to record a new ep, slated for release in February. Several shows have already been scheduled for 2014, the next being in March at The Cross, Moseley supporting Vic Godard and The June Brides.
Thanks once again to Mr. Symons and his magical contraptions for doing the honours.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Beta Band - Black Session 10/6/2004

Hearts around the globe may have skipped a breakbeat or two with the unexpected appearance of The Regal Years, a 6 cd retrospective comprising every note the much-missed group committed to vinyl, along with a healthy two disc dose of rarities and largely unreleased material, as well as stray b sides.

Retailing at little more than the price of a single cd, the expansive set should appeal to a new generation of fans and those of us who witnessed them first hand who, if like me, bought everything they ever did on vinyl and wore out their copies through excessive spinning and frequent moves from one unsafe address to another until arriving at semi-detached sanity.

Minor gripes about the release: there appears to be no evidence of remastering, and aside from some entertaining liner notes in the accompanying booklet by non-founder member Richard Greentree, little or no involvement from the band itself. The rarities perhaps rely too heavily on radio broadcasts, with several songs duplicated more than once, the set concluding with highlights from the last gig at Shepherd's Bush Empire - the full set had already been released as a bonus disc with The Best Of compilation. The debut Breezeblock session from 1998 (posted elsewhere on this blog) would have been a far worthier inclusion in my humble opinion.

But the package does include the sketchy demo tape that features Gordon Anderson which ultimately clinched the deal with Parlophone, as well as the 1997 Radio 1 Steve Lamacq session containing the ultra-rare Shepherd's Dub and the version of Dry The Rain which was my introduction to the band and had not heard since the original broadcast.

With The Aliens seemingly orbiting distant galaxies and Mr. Greentree presumably settled in a career in carpentry in Pompey, only Steve Mason continues to raise his public profile - this year saw the release of his strongest solo set to date with Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time. Whether The Regal Years is a taster/tester for the eventual - and in today's musical climate, inevitable - reunion remains to be seen. And with Velvet Underground out-takes still being excavated from the vaults half a century after the fact, it's probably only a matter of time the fans will be treated to super deluxe editions of The Betas three albums with appropriate demos and out-takes.

Until whenever, here's a session that you won't find on the box set, recorded for a French radio station in front of a small audience just a matter of months before the break up. This was the second time the band had visited the Parisian studios, the first around the time their eponymous debut album in 1999. Both these sets surfaced briefly as bootleg cds about five or six years ago, along with other artists that had recorded sessions for the show. Sound quality is excellent, the performance is spot on (as you'd expect), marred only be some clumsy track splitting.


Inner Meet Me
She's The One
Lion Thief
Dog's Got A Bone

Monday, 2 December 2013

Folk Devils - Peel Sessions 1984-85

Great unsung punkified blues combo whose slim output has yet to receive a cd reissue.
The original incarnation of the group released just three singles/eps and recorded these three sessons for John Peel before imploding amid the capital's notorious heroin underground at the end of 1985.

In 1987, frontman Ian Lowery emerged with a new Folk Devils line-up who signed to Beggars Banquet and released The Best Protection 12" and the album Goodnight Irony - a collection of earlier singles and unreleased material. Lowery would finally issue his first full length album proper at the end of the decade, under the King Blank monicker, but to these ears the disc was a toned down affair of the Folk Devils ferocious potential.

Lowery would continue working as a solo artist until his untimely death in 2001.

The Peel sessions have recently been doing the rounds on youtube, mostly likely in better audio quality than the files presented here. But if you're sensible enough not to risk having your hard drive hijacked by all manner of malware by using online youtube to mp3 converters, then this post's for you.

While not exactly compatible with the C86 bracket, the revitalised interest in that scene in recent years has seen the group overlooked on recent - and possibly imminent - releases on the bailiff-baying reissue market. It would be nice if Lowery's works with the various bands and projects he was involved in were compiled on a box set. Should that time not arrive, thankfully there's the official Facebook page with lots of rare and unseen photos, unreleased songs and much more.

More info on Wikpedia.

Where The Buffalo Roam
Beautiful Monster
Tight Sleep
What's That Smell?
Big Car, Big Car
Broken Head
Ink Runs Dry
This Traitor Hand
It Drags On
Under The Bridge
Dead Heat

Update Nov 15:
All files have now been deleted.
The complete sessions are now officially available from Amazon and other leading digital outlets.