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
Bridget St John is a British singer and songwriter, best known for the three albums she recorded between 1969 and 1972 for Peel's Dandelion label. Our hero produced her debut album, Ask Me No Questions. She also recorded a large number of BBC Radio and Peel sessions and toured regularly on the UK college and festival circuit. Her popularity peaked in 1974 when she was voted fifth most popular female singer in that year's Melody Maker readers poll. An accomplished guitar player, Bridget credits John Martyn as her guitar mentor. The second album, Songs for the Gentle Man, was produced by Ron Geesin. She then recorded another, Jumble Queen, for Chrysalis Records in 1974, after which she emigrated to the USA (Greenwich Village, NY) in 1976 and virtually disappeared from the public eye for over 20 years. She emerged to take part in the Strawbs' 25th Anniversary festival held at Stansfield in Suffolk in 1993, where John Martyn (among others) also performed. Bridget also appeared at a Nick Drake tribute concert in New York in 1999, performing "Northern Sky" and "One of These Things First". She toured Japan in 2006 with the minimalist French musician Colleen. Aside from work under her own name, Bridget has also recorded with Mike Oldfield on his albums Ommadawn (1975) and Amarok (1990), as well as the late Kevin Ayers. In 2007 she reunited with Ayers (in New York) to record a duet, "Baby Come Home," on his album The Unfairground. She was described by Peel as "the best lady singer-songwriter in the country". here's her seventh session for John - there are eight listed on the official BBC 'keeping it peel' website, but there were probably even more. It was recorded on 11/12/1975 and then broadcast on 07/01/1976, to bring in the new year.
Culture are a Jamaican roots reggae group founded in 1976. Originally they were known as the African Disciples. The one constant member until his death in 2006 was Joseph Hill. The group formed in 1976 as a vocal trio using the name The African Disciples. They soon changed name to Culture and auditioned successfully for the "Mighty Two" – producer Joe Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson. While at Gibbs' studio they recorded a series of powerful singles, starting with "See Dem a Come" and including the hugely successful "Two Sevens Clash" (which predicted the apocalpyse on 7 July 1977), many of which ended up on their debut album Two Sevens Clash.The song was sufficiently powerful that many in Kingston stayed indoors on 7 July, fearing the prophecy would come true. A second Gibbs-produced album, Baldhead Bridge, followed in 1978, by which time the group had moved on to record for producer Sonia Pottinger. The group entered into a long-running dispute with Gibbs over royalties to the first album. Two Sevens Clash meanwhile had become a big seller in the United Kingdom, popular with punk rock fans as well as reggae fans and boosted by the support of Peel on his show, and reached number 60 on the UK Albums Chart in April 1978. This prompted Virgin Records to sign the group to its Front Line label, releasing Harder than the Rest (1978) and International Herb (1979). the group went on to record further studio sessions for Peel, and their performance at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1998 was broadcast on his show. in 1986 the original line-up reformed to record two highly regarded albums – Culture in Culture andCulture at Work. Several albums followed in the 1990s on Shanachie Records and Ras Records, often recorded with Sly and Robbie. Joseph Hill, who came to symbolize the face of Culture, died in Berlin, Germany on 19 August 2006 while the group was on tour, after collapsing following a performance. His son, Kenyatta Hill, who had acted as the group's sound engineer on tour, performed with his father's band at the Western Consciousness show in 2007, which was dedicated to Joseph Hill, and became the lead singer of Culture; the most authentic of traditional reggae acts, at the time of the first Rolling Stone Record Guide publication they were the only band of any genre whose every recording received a five-star review (of bands with more than one recording in the guide). this is the first of those four peel sessions, immortalised on 11/12/1982. sadly, two tracks from the session are missing, for which, my apologies.
uk punky-pop rascals the Flys evolved from a band from Coventry, England named Midnight Circus, who were Dave Freeman (guitar, vocals), Joe Hughes (bass), Neil O'Connor (vocals, guitar, keyboard), and "a string of unnamed drummers". In 1976 their manager's brother, Pete King, joined in on drums (he would later leave and be replaced by Graham Deacon) and the Flys were born. Their career began by regularly opening for the English punk band the Buzzcocks. In late 1977, with Lyn Dobson on saxophone, they self-released the Bunch of Five EP. One standout track from it, Love and a Molotov Cocktail, caught the attention EMI Records, a label that rejected Midnight Circus, who now signed them to a deal. Their initial EMI release came in January 1978, the EP Love and a Molotov Cocktail, which garnered some positive reviews, including this bit of praise: "the first undisputed classic 45 of 1978". In April they released the single 'Fun City'. The release of their first LP, Waikiki Beach Refugees, came in October 1978. It contained the future single 'Oh Beverly', and the title track which EMI had released as a taster single on yellow vinyl in September. Their second LP, the frankly awesome Flys Own, was released on 11 October 1979. It would be their last release on EMI. Like their debut album and all their singles it didn't chart in the UK. The band were transferred over to the EMI subsidiary Parlophone and released an EP, Four from the Square which included two songs from the last album, and a final single, 'What Will Mother Say?', before disbanding. In the wake of the departure of Neil O'Connor, who joined his sister Hazel's band, the Flys disbanded in 1980. In 1990 See for Miles Records released a compilation CD and in 2001 Waikiki Beach Refugees was reissued with eight bonus tracks covering their brief history. Joe Hughes and David Freeman would work together again in the short-lived 1980s new wave band The Lover Speaks. This is their last peel session (there were three in all), put down on 18/09/1979. it's fucking great.
The Method Actors, a critically adored post-punk/new wave band from Athens, GA, was formed in 1979 by two members of the short-lived Tone-Tones: guitarist/vocalist Vic Varney and drummer/vocalist David Gamble. Though they gigged extensively throughout New York City in a concentrated burst a few months shortly after forming, it was back in their hometown where they were picked up by England’s Armageddon label, whose Peter Dyer was in town to sign Pylon, a like-minded band managed by Varney. From 1980 to 1982, the Method Actors recorded and released a number of well-received discs, including This Is It, the 'Rhythms of You' EP and the double-LP Little Figures (reduced to a single LP in the U.S.). While touring in support of their album they took on a third member, guitarist Michael Richmond (Varney had switched to bass), but Gamble was out before the end of 1982. The band was a quartet by the time it released its final album, 1983’s Luxury. Varney subsequently formed Go Van Go, which was active on and off through to 1987, then he carried on as a solo artist with several albums to his credit. Much of the Method Actors' early material was compiled on This Is Still It, released in 2010 by the Acute label. they came over to the uk and taped a session for our hero, on 18/07/1981, and i'm throwing it at you this month. however, one track, EYES, is missing. sorry. but this is better than fuck all, right?
The English writer and performer of comic songs, Neil Innes, is best known for his collaborative work with the Monty Python team, for playing in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and later in The Rutles. In the late 1960s, Innes appeared with the Bonzos on both seasons of the UK children's television series Do Not Adjust Your Set which also featured some future members of Python. He played a major role in performing and writing songs and sketches for their final TV series in 1974 (after John Cleese left). He wrote a song called "George III" which appears in "The Golden Age of Ballooning". He also wrote the song "Where Does a Dream Begin?", used in "Anything Goes: The Light Entertainment War". He co-wrote the "Most Awful Family in Britain" sketch and played a humorous stilted guitar version of the theme song, The Liberty Bell March, during the credits of the last episode, "Party Political Broadcast". He is one of only two non-Pythons to ever be credited writers for the TV series, the other being Douglas Adams. Innes wrote the songs for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He appeared in the film as a head-bashing monk, the serf crushed by the giant wooden rabbit, and the leader of Sir Robin's minstrels. He also had a small role in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky. Because of these long-standing connections, Innes is often referred to as "the Seventh Python." After Python finished its original run on UK television, Innes joined with Python's Eric Idle on the series Rutland Weekend Television. This was a Python-esque sketch show based in a fictional low-budget regional television station. It ran for two series in 1975–76. Songs and sketches from the series appeared on a 1976 BBC LP, The Rutland Weekend Songbook. This show spawned The Rutles (the "prefab four"), an affectionate pastiche of The Beatles, in which Innes played the character of Ron Nasty, who was loosely based on John Lennon. Innes played Nasty in an American-made spin-off TV movie, All You Need Is Cash, with Idle. The project also yielded the commercially successful soundtrack album The Rutles released by Warner Brothers. The songs written by Innes so cleverly parodied the original source material that he was taken to court by the owners of The Beatles' catalogue. Innes had to testify under oath that he had not listened to the songs at all while composing The Rutles songs, but had created them completely originally based on what he remembered various songs by The Beatles sounding like at different times. Ironically, Innes himself would go on to sue the ugly, useless, unoriginal and shitty Oasis over their 1994 song 'Whatever', as it directly lifted parts of its melody from Innes's 1973 song How Sweet to Be an Idiot. This event was subsequently referenced in The Rutles song Shangri-La in their 1996 re-union album The Rutles Archaeology, itself a parody of The Beatles' Anthology. After Rutland Weekend Television, Idle relocated to the USA and Innes went on to make a solo series in 1979 on BBC television, The Innes Book of Records, which ran for three seasons. here's neil's third and final peel session, taped on 18/05/1977. It features an awesome early version of his hilarious but uncanny Rutles' classic "Cheese and Onions."
The Piranhas are a British ska-influenced punk band from Brighton. They were formed in 1977 and were originally part of the Brighton punk scene, first coming to prominence when, in 1979, Peel started playing their three tracks from the legendary Attrix records' compilation LP Vaultage 78 on his Radio 1 programme. Plans were made for the recording of the Piranhas' debut long-player and recording time was booked at Pebble Beach studio in Worthing in March 1980. These sessions resulted in a very fine album, with the cream of their best material from their live set, the arrangements polished and improved during rehearsals and Peel sessions at the BBC. Later that year Sire/Hansa records signed them and directed Attrix to destroy any artwork, test pressings and lacquers involved with this original Piranhas album. However, some test-pressings were kept. Meanwhile the group achieved their biggest success with their cover version of the South African kwela song "Tom Hark". This had been an instrumental hit in 1958 for Elias & His Zig Zag Jive Flutes, and had already been covered in a ska style by Millie Small. With new lyrics written by the band's frontman "Boring" Bob Grover, it was a Top 10 hit in the UK in 1980. It was the first song to feature on BBC Television's music programme, Top of the Pops, when it returned in 1980 after being blacked out for several months by industrial action. Much later it also became a popular chant amongst British football fans. The band re-recorded their album with an expansive budget and a professional production team - the result was a much blander and glossier copy of that fantastic unissued Attrix LP. A follow-up single - a horribly bland remake of their classic "I Don't Want My Body" - failed to sell and they split up. Two years later a slightly different line-up of the group recorded and released a version of Lou Busch's "Zambesi," acheiving a top 20 hit in the UK Singles Chart, after which the hits dried up. "Boring" Bob Grover still lives in Brighton, and was gigging around the UK with his band Dates. They released their debut album, First Party, Fire and Theft on Hah! Records in March 2007. Dates split up in 2009. Guitarist Johnny Helmer (also still a Brighton resident) went on to become a songwriter and author. He is best known for writing lyrics for Marillion's second incarnation with Steve Hogarth after the departure of Fish. He also published a novel entitled Mother Tongue in 1999. As a day job, he works in marketing for a Brighton company (as of 1999). Bassist; Reginald Frederick Hornsbury now works as a mechanic in Wiltshire. Recently, Grover and Helmer reunited to co-write new material and perform together again as Piranhas 3D. The current line up is Bob Grover, guitar and vocals, John Helmer, guitar and vocals, Oweninstereo (Owen Kellett) bass and vocals and Steve Burnaby Davies, drums, percussion and vocals, with guest Dominic Dring, saxophone. here's thier debut peel session, layed down on 07/02/1979. They would go on to tape another two for the great broadcaster. This particular session was recently re-broadcast on UK radio, so this copy of it is of master-tape quality. Not only that, but it features the best ever version of "Saxophone," the only studio recording of "Cheap and Nasty" and has been meticulously remastered by mr obscure himself! blimey. Play loud!
Roy Hill is an under-rated English singer songwriter. In 1977 he won a Melody Maker music contest and gave up his day job to give the rock lifestyle his best shot. Roy was living in the sleepy Spa town of Cheltenham at the time, having moved from Ledbury where he'd learnt to play the guitar from scratch and gigged in local pubs, clubs and dances with friends in bands called The Upways and The Crestas. Eventually he sent some demos round the major labels and got a deal weith arista records. In 1978 the debut album, rather unimaginatively titled Roy Hill, was released. Despite its ten tracks (all penned by Roy) receiving positive praise in the music press, some felt was a lightweight and syrupy debut offering. Legendary producer Gus Dudgeon, best known for his collaborations with Elton John, was hired to make it a hit Lp - a controversial choice of producer during the time of punk rock. The album went well over budget, sank without trace and Roy Hill never made another. Dudgeon was also behind Roy's second single release, 'George's Bar', the second track lifted from the album. Both singles failed to make the chart. Two appearances on the UK television music show Revolver in July and August 1978 didn't seem to improve the record sales, sadly. A naff "handsome hunk" photo of Roy on the front of the LP sleeve didn't sit well in record racks next to covers adorned with scowling, emaciated punks with safety pins through their noses. In 1980, Dave Cousins left the strawbs and Roy was recruited as the replacement lead vocalist. Five years later he teamed up with Strawbs' bassist Chas Cronk to form a new outfit, Cry No More. They released three albums. A couple of compilations of outtakes and other stuff by the Roy Hill Band were issued later, also in the eighties. The two sessions they taped for Peel are frankly marvellous; melodic, well-arranged songs with intriguing wordplay and powerful guitars. this is the second, immortalised on 02/04/1979. "TV Detective" is, in my humble opinion, one of the best tracks I've heard on any Peel session.
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.