A brand new crop of sessions will be here on the firstday of each month, replacing the ones before them. mr. obscure can be contacted via his old pal and cowering slave stuart Jones, at email@example.com
The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat and in Australia as The British Beat) are a 2 Tone ska revival band founded in Birmingham, England, in 1978. Their songs fuse ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock, and their lyrics deal with themes of love, unity and socio-political topics.
They were/are Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), and Saxa (aka Lionel Augustus Martin) (saxophone). They released three studio albums:I Just Can't Stop It (1980), Wha'ppen?(1981) and Special Beat Service (1982) and a string of singles, including "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Too Nice to Talk To", "Can't Get Used to Losing You", "Hands Off, She's Mine" and "All Out to Get You". Ranking Roger, one of the band's vocalists, added a Jamaican vocal flavour to the band's sound with his toasting style. Saxa added a Jamaican ska instrumental sound. He joined The Beat to record their first single, "Tears of a Clown," a cover of the Motown hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Although their main fan base was in the United Kingdom, the band was also popular in Australia, partly due to exposure on the radio station Triple J and the TV show Countdown. They had a sizable following in North America, where they were known as The English Beat for legal reasons (to avoid confusion with the American band The Beat).They toured the world with well-known artists such as David Bowie, The Clash, The Police, The Pretenders, R.E.M., The Specials and Talking Heads. Members of the band often collaborated on stage with The Specials. After they broke up in 1983, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger went on to form General Public and had a couple of hit singles in North America, while Andy Cox and David Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals with
vocalist Roland Gift from the ska band Akrylykz. Drummer Everett Morton and Saxa formed The International Beat along with the Birmingham-based singer, Tony Beet, and the band released an album titled The Hitting Line on Blue Beat Records in 1990. here's the third of three sessions for john; the recording date for this is not known, but it was broadcast on 29/03/1982.
Band of Susans were an American noise rock band formed in New York in 1986. They were Robert Poss (guitar/vocals), Susan Stenger (bass/vocals), Ron Spitzer (drums), with Susan Lyall (guitar), Susan Tallman (guitar), and Alva Rogers (vocals). The band would undergo several permutations over the years, usually involving guitarists. Poss, Stenger, and Spitzer were the band's core members throughout its duration. between 1986 and 1996 they issued five albums and four singles but imploded in '96. this is the first of two peel sessions, taped on 04/10/1988.
The English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist Billy Bragg blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is centered on bringing about change and getting the younger generation involved in activist causes. He developed an interest in poetry at the age of 12, when his English teacher chose him to read a poem he had written for a homework assignment on a local radio station. He put his energies into learning and practising the guitar with his next-door neighbour, Philip Wigg (Wiggy); some of their influences were the Faces, Small Faces and the Rolling Stones. He was also exposed to folk and folk-rock music during his teenage years, citing Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan as early influences on his songwriting. He was particularly influenced by the Clash, whom he'd seen play live in London in May 1977 on their White Riot Tour, and again at a Rock Against Racism
carnival in April 1978, which he admits was the first time he really stepped into the world of music as it is used for political activism. The experience of the gig and preceding march helped shape Bragg's left wing politics, having previously "turned a blind eye" to casual racism. After three years in a punk band called Riff Raff (there were a few singles) in May 1981 he joined the British Army. After completing three months basic training he bought himself out for £175 and returned home. Bragg peroxided his hair to mark a new phase in his life and began performing frequent concerts and busking around London, playing solo with an electric guitar under the
name Spy Vs. Spy (after the comic strip in Mad magazine). His demo tape initially got no response from the record industry, but by pretending to be a television repair man, he got into the office of Charisma Records' A&R man Peter Jenner. Jenner liked the tape, but the company was near bankruptcy and had no budget to sign new artists.
Bragg got an offer to record more demos for music publisher Chappell & Co, so Jenner agreed to release them as a record. Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy (credited to Billy Bragg) was released in July 1983 by Charisma's new imprint, Utility. Hearing Peel mention on-air that he was hungry, Billy rushed to the BBC with a mushroom biryani, so Peel played a song from the album - although at the wrong speed. B.B. signed to go! discs records and many fine releases ensued over the forthcoming years - between 1983 and 2013 he issued ten albums. there were no less than eleven peel sessions! here's the very first, recorded on 27/07/1983.
English post-punks the Gang of Four formed in 1977 in Leeds. The original members were singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. There have been many different line-ups including, among other notable musicians, Sara Lee and Gail Ann Dorsey. After a brief lull in the 1980s, different constellations of the band recorded two studio albums in the 1990s. Between 2004 and 2006 the original line-up was reunited; as of 2013, Gill is the sole original member. The band plays a stripped-down mix of punk rock, funk and dub, with an emphasis on the social and political ills of society. They're widely considered one of the leading bands of the late 1970s/early 1980s post-punk movement. Their later albums found them softening some of their more jarring qualities, and drifting towards dance-punk and disco. Their debut album, Entertainment! is ranked at Number 483 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and listed by some as one of the best of the 1970s. this is the debut peel session (there were two more), immortalised on 02/07/1979.
The Killjoys were from Birmingham, England, formed in 1976. Kevin Rowland (vocals), Gil Weston (bass), and Mark Philips (guitar) had been members of the mid-1970s Roxy Music-inspired Lucy & the Lovers. With the advent of punk rock, Rowland wrote new songs and started The Killjoys,
adding Heather Tonge (backing vocals) and Lee Burton (drums).The band relocated to London and took up lodgings in a disused Barclays Bank. The band came to the attention of Raw Records who signed them for the single "Johnny Won't Get to Heaven" which went on to sell 18,000 copies.
The tension between Rowland and the rest of the band was clear, the atmosphere described by one group member as "us against him." Several recording sessions took place for a debut album but the band disintegrated when Rowland's enforced eight-hour practice sessions began to take their toll and Rowland rejected a £20,000 contract with Bronze Records because it was only a singles deal, to the disdain of other band members. Some of the group left to form Out of Nowhere (later called Alternating, and then Luxound Deluxe). Rowland, disillusioned with punk rock, immersed himself in vintage soul music, particularly the records of Geno Washington, and formed a new act, Dexys Midnight Runners. here's the first of two Killjoys peel sessions, recorded on 11/10/1977.
Peter Hammill is an English singer-songwriter and a founding member of the progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Noted for his vocal abilities, his main instruments are guitar and piano. He also acts as a record producer for his own recordings, and occasionally for other artists. Hammill's solo career has coexisted with VDGG 's activities. The band was offered a contract by Mercury Records in 1968 that only Hammill signed. When VDGG broke up in 1969 he wanted to record his first solo album. In the summer of 1969 Hammill had a residency at The Lyceum and played weekly solo concerts there. Eventually the intended solo album was released under the VDGG banner as their first album (The Aerosol Grey Machine). Hammill's first real solo album was Fool's Mate (1971), containing songs from the early (1967/68) VDGG days. It was the first of 33 albums over four decades. here's the third of five sessions for our hero, taped on 19/08/1974.
English rock band Shriekback were formed in Kentish Town, London, in 1981 by Barry Andrews, and Dave Allen, expanding to a trio with the addition of Carl Marsh. They enjoyed some success on the dance chart on their original Y Records label, and had a string of hits on the UK Indie Chart, while their debut album, Care (1983) was picked up by Warners in the States. They left Y for Arista Records for 1984's Jam Science, also recruiting drummer Martyn Barker. The album reached number 85 on the UK Albums Chart, and the single "Hand on my Heart" charted in the Top 60 in the UK. They recorded the 1985 album Oil & Gold on Arista (released on Island Records in the USA). Marsh left during the sessions and was replaced on guitar by Mike Cozzi, with Andrews taking over lead vocals. Shriekback also left Arista and signed to Island Records for whom they recorded the 1986 album Big Night Music, after which Allen left to rejoin Gang of Four, and Shriekback remained a collaborative centred on Andrews. Allen would also go on to play in King Swamp and The Elastic Purejoy. Marsh was also in the band Happyhead. After a further album in 1988, Go Bang!, the band split up. Andrews continued working on other projects before re-forming Shriekback in 1992, although after the single "The Bastard Sons of Enoch" and album Sacred City, there would be no further releases until 2000's Naked Apes & Pond Life album. Both Allen and Marsh returned to the studio to contribute to the recording of Shriekback's 2003 release Having a Moment. Since then Andrews has recorded three albums for Malicious Damage (Killing Joke's original label) under the Shriekback moniker. Film director Michael Mann was a fan, and used several of their songs in his films Manhunter and Band of the Hand, and in his television series Miami Vice.Shriekback are still actively producing music. there were three sessions for the great broadcaster. this is the second, put down on 07/03/1984.
The list of band names below is purely for illustrative purposes - I don't pretend to have sessions by all these people - but I do have a frightening amount of them.