Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Four Brothers - Peel Sessions 1988-89

Perhaps the most internationally successful exports from Zimbabwe, The Four Brothers were founded in 1977 in what was then still Rhodesia by Marshall Munhumumwe and Never Mature with Edward Matigasi and Aleck Chipaika. Munhumumwe, the nephew of Zimbabwean superstar Thomas Mapfumo, wrote most of the band's songs (sung in the Shona language), as well as being group leader, singer and drummer.

John Peel began enthusiastically playing their records in the mid-80s, which ultimately lead to a recording contract with Cooking Vinyl and several tours of the UK. Between 1988-2000, they recorded four sessions for Peel as well as several for Andy Kershaw, and even performed on the same bill as The Fall at Peel's 50th birthday party in 1989.

In 1997 Munhumumwe suffered a stroke following a car crash and was unable to perform with the band again. He passed away in 2001 aged 49, followed by Never Mutare in 2002.

Read a more in depth article on The Four Brothers here.


Rudo Chete
Paso Pano Pane Zvidzo
Wakazvarwa Seyi

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Llwybr Llaethog - Peel Session 17/09/1989

Llwybr Llaethog (MilkyWay) were founded in the north Welsh town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales in 1985 by John Griffiths and Kevs Ford. The two teens had spent the seventies growing up in the town's decaying industrial surroundings and were heavily influenced by reggae and the punk scenes that were sweeping the UK. After several abortive attempts to start bands, the turning point came in 1984 when John Griffiths was holidaying in New York and was impressed by a group of youths he saw at a nightclub breakdancing and the sounds of DJ Red Alert.

After returning to Wales, Griffiths fixed on the idea of marrying hip hop and far left politics with his native Welsh language. Llwybr Llaethog's debut release was an EP for the Welsh record label Anhrefn in 1986, entitled Dull Di Drais, which combined leftist political messages with what would become the band's trademark sound of turntable scratching, audio sampling hip-hop, and cut-and-paste production.

To date they have released six singles and eleven albums, the most recent in September 2013, Dub Cymraeg/Welsh Dub and have collaborated with many Welsh artists including Super Furry Animals, Datblygu and Sian James.

 In 2009 Llwybr Llaethog were the subject of an exhibition at The National Museum of Wales. In 2012 they were awarded the prize for outstanding contribution to Welsh popular music at the BBC Radio Cymru Rock and Pop Awards.
The duo cut four sessions for John Peel, the first in 1987. After the second in 1989, twelve years would elapse before they were invited back to Maida Vale in June 2001. Peel must have had a bit of a guilty conscience about the lengthy gap in sessions, and they would be invited back for a fourth session with Tystion before the year was out which was performed live to air session in front of a small studio audience. The John Peel Wiki compiled a top twenty of artists with longest gaps between sessions: Llwybr Llaethog scraped in at No. 20!

Fyw Dy Fywyd
Byd Mor Wahanol
Dinas Fawr

For all the latest news in the Llwybr Llaethog universe, check out their website.

The duo's third Peel session from July 21 is available @ Vibracobra.

Stella Chiweshe & Earthquake - Peel Session 6/3/1988

Stella Rambasai Chiweshe was born on 8 July 1946 in Mhondoro, Zimbabwe. In the mid-1960s she studied mbira, a traditional instrument of the Shona people that is rarely played by women.

As the 70s dawned,  she began performing in forbidden spiritual ceremonies under the danger of imprisonment through the colonial government before independence 1974. By the middle of the decade she had released over 20 singles that were big hits in her native Zimbabwe, earning her several gold discs.

In 1979 she formed Earthquake and began finding an audience in Europe, eventually settling in Gemany where her record label, Piranha, was based.

This session was the first of two  Chiweshe recorded for the Peel programme. Sadly, one track is missing.

Kana Ndikafe
Vana Vaka Vapera

Monday, 23 June 2014

Amayenge - Peel Session 27/7/1988

In the wake of The Bhundu Boys sudden and meteoric rise to a short-lived superstardom, western A&R men eager to cash in on a potential next big thing began plucking bands from the African continent out of obscurity and hastily shipping them to play the toilet circuits of Albion.

Amayenge hailed from Zambia and were formed in Chomba by leader Kris Chali in 1978. On their first, short venture to the UK they found time to make two trips to the BBC's Maida Vale studios. Strangely, the sessions aren't listed on either the Keeping It Peel or John Peel Wiki sites. The recording date for this session is unknown, so I've had to use the date of the repeat broadcast in July 1988. The band recorded a second session the following month before returning home to begin work on their debut (international) album released in 1989.

While success on a global scale eluded them, Amayenge continue to tour across Africa to this day. Electing to carry on after the death of their founder Kris Chali in 2003, the band are now led by his daughter, Alice.

Free Nelson Mandela
Munise Munise
Peel Outro

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Fire Engines - Peel Sessions 1981

Fire Engines cut two sessions at Maida Vale just ten months apart during their short-lived, fast-paced, and long-enduring career. Peel was a massive fan and gave airtime to each session on three occasions.

The first replocates their roughly-hewn, quirky and disjointed sound of their record releases, with a confident first stab at soon to be all-time classic Candyskin, and a fine version of Heaven 17's  pre-mainstream cult classic We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thing.

The second shows the group in tighter mode, perhaps aiming at a more polished direction that Davey Henderson's next project, Win, would demonstate. The four songs from this session were never appeared on record at the time, the group splitting early into 1982.

We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thing
Big Wrong Time
Young Tongues Need Taste
Produce To Seduce To

The Membranes - Peel Session 19/5/1984

The Membranes return to live action this Saturday at the 229 Club, Great Portland Street, London, as part of the C86 deluxe edition celebrates. They have just released a new single which will as a taster for the forthcoming album they're currently in the process of recording, their first album of new material since 1989's To Slay The Rock Pig and the first physical release Anagram's 1997 Best of, a 20 track compilation that barely touched the mammoth Mems back catalogue. Whether deluxe box sets of their original albums will surface in the wake of the new record is anyone's guess.
The group had been together several years before Peel offered them this their first - and what turned out to be their only - session for the programme. The band at the time was John Robb (bass, vocals), Ian Tilton (guitar) and on drums Coofy Sid, a line-up sadly under-represented on album, Tilton leaving the group by '84's end to be replaced by Stan The Batcow for debut full length proper Gift Of Life on Creation.
Shine On Pumpkin Moon
Big Nose and the Howling Wind
The Great Mistake
Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder

Laugh - Peel Session 9/3/1986

All you need is laugh, laugh is all you need.
Laugh are either best remembered for their surefire indie pop classic, Take Your Time Yeah!, or the fact that their drummer Spence Birtwhistle later joined The Fall in time for their least palatable album Are You Are Missing Winner?, and would famously depart the group with two other bandmates midway through a US tour promoting possibly their finest outing to date, Fall Heads Roll.
Laugh formed in Manchester in 1985 with a line-up of Martin Wright (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ian Bendelow (guitar), Martin Mittler (bass), and Birtwistle; The Smiths odd job man Craig Gannon was also in the group at some point. The original version of Take Your Time Yeah! was issued as a flexi disc in December 1985, given away free with issue 9 of Manchester-based fanzine, Debris.
The song was reprised for this their first of two sessions they recorded for Peel, and would be re-recorded again for their debut single proper, which didn't see release until 1987. The group went on to release a further three singles before eventually unleashing their one and only long player in 1988.
By 1990 Bendelow and Birtwhistle had departed, the latter joining The Bodines for their final single, Decide. Laugh morphed into Intastella with a new singer (and a dancer) on board, and moved into a more dance-orientated style prevalent of the times. Signing with a major label, they soldiered on well into the mid-90s, cutting two albums and several singles that reached the lower echelons of the mainstream charts, but commercial success would continue to elude them.
The flexi version of Take Your Time Yeah! is now available on the new deluxe edition of the NME's C86 compilation, released at the start of the week, while the 7" version was included on last year's exhaustive Scared To Get Happy box set.
Never Had It So Bad
Paul McCartney
Hey, I'm Still Thinking
Take Your Time Yeah!
Note: I could only find band photos of Intastella on Google Images, so a pic of the debut single sleeve art will have to suffice.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

I, Ludicrous - Peel Session 31/5/1987

I, Ludicrous famously came to prominence to the nation after sending a demo tape to Mark E. Smith. Smith was impressed by the demo, but mislaid the contact details, so simply added their name as support act to concert flyers for an upcoming London show. One half of the duo spotted a poster and after a few enquiries the gig did indeed go ahead. Twenty years later, MES would throw the band off the bill midway through a UK tour in 2008 for reasons never fully explained.

Their debut release, a flexi disc by name of Preposterous Tales, became an instant hit with Peel and his listeners, and they were soon invited in to do this session, first transmitted on June 16 1987. Peel remained a fan and gave ample airplay to their sporadic releases over the next 15 years, but surprisingly this was their one and only session for the programme.

Although physical releases have been few and far between in the 21st century, I, Ludicrous are still an ongoing concern, having played a gig in Brighton, sharing a bill with Yeah Yeah Noh and Anal Beard, just last April.

For the latest in preposterous tales and arguments in launderettes, check out the I, Ludicrous official website.
Quite Extraordinary
A Pop Fan's Dream

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Ivor Cutler - Peel Session 30/6/1985 (Complete)

The late great Ivor Cutler must have been one of most, if not THE most, recorded artists by the BBC. Beaten only by The Fall, Cutler recorded 22 sessions for Peel between 1969 and 1998, as well as several sessions for Andy Kershaw's programme, and the odd appearance on Radio 4 (a live on air session for Ned Sherrin-era Loose Ends springs to mind).

Recorded on June 30 1985, this was Cutler's 14th session for the Peel show and was first broadcast on 15th July, quickly followed by a repeat on the 30th of that month. The session has been circulation on youtube and in the land of blog before, but each version I've come across has two or three tracks missing. Even the Keeping It Peel site only lists six tracks as being recorded.

So here for possibly the first time ever anywhere in the world is the complete version of the session with all 13 tracks restored and fully intact. Note: tracks 7-9 were taken from a MW broadcast.

 Back Home
I'm Fixed
Knocking At My Door
It's Snowing
I'm Walking To A Farm
Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol 2 Ep 10
The Curse
Scratch My Back
A New Home
Large Et Puffy
Country Door
Are You A Tory?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Sophisticated Boom Boom - Peel Session 28/10/1981

Sophisticated Boom Boom were an all female quintet formed in Glasgow circa 1980. Taking their name from a Shangri-Las song, they recorded a total of three sessions for the John Peel show between 1981-83. These trips to the Maida Vale studios were the only times they ventured inside a recording studio. Apart from a live track that appeared posthumously on a Rhino compilation album, The Girl Can't Help It, they released no records whatsoever.

It's hard to imagine today, but even around the time the group were active all-female bands who played there own instruments and wrote and sang original material who weren't striving to be pop divas were still a relative novelty, and those aiming to make "serious music" (for want of a better term) were perhaps not necessarily taken seriously by some quarters of the music industry.

Peel evidently loved them, broadcasting this their debut session no less than five times between November '81 and December '82. The second session, recorded in September ''82, had already received two separate airings in October of that year before the final broadcast of the first.

The group would tape a further session in June 1983, which again received two airings within the space of a month, and showed them moving in a more melodic guitar pop direction. Soon after, original vocalist Libby McArthur left the group and was replaced by Moira Rankin. The band would changed its name to His Latest Flame and finally release the first of half a dozen singles in 1986, went on tour with The Housemartins when they were riding high in the charts with Happy Hour, and eventually released a lone long player in 1989.

Surrender To Me
White Horses
Is It About Sex?
The 1983 session can be found on youtube.
The second session is nowhere to found! Likewise a photo of the group, so I've used a pic of His Latest Flame instead.

Jegsy Dodd - Peel Session 6/8/1985

One and only session recorded in August 1985 by performance poet Jegsy Dodd. Emerging from the same stomping ground as Half Man Half Biscuit at roughly the same time, Dodd was offered the session after sending Peel a demo tape.
The following year saw the release of debut album Winebars And Werewolves with musical accompaniment by The Sons Of Harry Cross, named after a character in the halcyon days of Scouse soap opera Brookside played by the late actor Bill Dean.
Seven poems were recorded for the show, but alas I only have four. I've never come across this session on t'net before, so I thought I would post regardless.
Dodd continues to perform to this day, sporadically publishing books and releasing albums, his most recent being Loquacious, Loquacious, Loquacious in 2008.
The Day My Flat Turned Weird
Welcome To Hillview Heights
A Scouse Werewolf In London
No Place To Run

One Thousand Violins - Peel Sessions 1985-86

The One Thousand Violins back catalogue has received a well deserved and long overdue exhumation for the first time since Vinyl Japan's Like 1000 Violins in 2000.

Unlike that compilation, Cherry Red's Halcyon Days, released just last month, brings together the complete recordings made with original singer John Wood, with all three singles they released for Dan Treacy's Dreamworld label, as well bonus material on the European counterpart releases only ever issued in Germany on the Constrictor label, and tracks only ever issued on long forgotten indie comps and fanzine flexi freebies.

The two sessions the Lins recorded for John Peel aren't included on the disc though, and as they rarely seem to surface in completion on t'net, it seems appropriate to post these now.

The recording of the first session is a little hissy, but the real treat for fans is the otherwise unavailable cover of Scott Walker's The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore. The band returned to the Maida Vale studios 14 months later to tape what is perhaps their best session, sadly marred by my washy recording. The drumming on these recordings is superb and of the three known studio versions of No One Was Saving The World, this one is my favourite, complete with semi-psychedelic mini-freakout that takes Uncle John by surprise, as you will hear.

Why Is It Always December?
The Candle Man
Though It Poured The Next Day, I Never Noticed The Rain
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore
Almost Dead And Nigh On Forty Years To Go
I Was Depending On You To Be My Jesus
If I Were A Bullet (Then For Sure I'd Find A Way To Your Heart)
No One Was Saving The World