Friday 21 December 2012

It's Christmas!

Here's a little festive treat for you - we are pleased to be able to bring you the 1981 Christmas night at Bangor's Glanrafon Pub in its entirety! The event took place upstairs at the legendary venue (now the "Yellow Pub") on Friday 18th December 1981 and was headlined by a special once-only extended line-up of jocular country combo The Yahoos, supported by all manner of festive talent.

Originally a trio of Scott Saunders, John Cratchley and Martin Wilson, The Yahoos on this occasion were quite different, augmenting their line-up with Malcolm Budd and Andy Beaumont of the Rub-a-Dub Jug Band on banjo and fiddle respectively and Maeyc Hewitt and Alan Holmes of the Pinecones on drums and bass. It's not entirely certain whether all the original line-up were also in this extended version, but front man and songwriter Scott most certainly was. The group played a set of Christmas themed country songs, specially penned for the event by Scott and never repeated. Malcolm and Andy also both had short solo spots during the evening.

The evening kicked off with a rare solo appearance by Cut Tunes' enigmatic leader Gary Cut, who performed a rousing version of Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas with the assistance of Alun Rhys Jones and Wil jones of the Alun Rhys Jones Band on backing vocals. Drummer Maeyc Hewitt then joined the trio as they performed Alun's classic Pot of Gold and their interpretation of perennial show standard Till There Was You.

Following Malcolm's moving rendition of Scarlet Ribbons, a special one-off group treated the audience to a variety of Christmas standards. The Festive 5 were a vocal harmony combo who got together specially for the night and comprised Scott Saunders on guitar and lead vocals, backed up by the harmonies of Pinecones Maria Hycz and Alan Holmes and The Bellman mastermind Phil Layton. The festive cheer is palpable on the recordings, with the audience cheering and laughing at Phil's hilarious Ian Curtis dance moves as he harmonised on the likes of Frosty the Snowman and Sleigh Bells.

Next up was Andy Beaumont, who enthralled the audience with his interpretation of Tom Lehrer's Christmas Time Is Here by Golly, a song he still enjoys playing 31 years later as the audience at this month's open mic night at the Auckland Arms in Menai Bridge can attest! All that was left then was for the rest of the Yahoos to join Andy on the stage to whip the crowd into a festive frenzy.

Much of the music contained here is of slim artistic merit, and the recording quality leaves something to be desired, but what the hell - it's Christmas! pour yourself a few beers, switch the TV off, crank up the volume and you'll be transported back 31 years to that crowded upstairs room full of melodious Christmas cheer!

1    Gary Cut - I Believe in Father Christmas
2    Alun Rhys Jones - Pot of Gold
3    Alun Rhys Jones - Till There Was You
4    Malcolm Budd and Ann - Scarlet Ribbons
5    Festive 5 - Winter Wonderland
6    Festive 5 - Sleigh Ride
7    Festive 5 - Little Drummer Boy
8    Festive 5 - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
9    Festive 5 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
10    Festive 5 - Frosty the Snowman
11    Festive 5 - White Christmas
12    Festive 5 - Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
13    Andy Beaumont - Christmas Time Is Here by Golly
14    The Yahoos - Introduction
15    The Yahoos - Tasmania
16    The Yahoos - Country Christmas
17    The Yahoos - Christmas in Tuscon
18    The Yahoos - Another Christmas Without Snow
19    The Yahoos - Granpappy
20    The Yahoos - The Finest Meal
21    The Yahoos - We'll Hang Our Stockings on the Bedpost

get it here

Saturday 1 December 2012

The Baudelaires

The Baudelaires were a short lived but unique group, existing between February and May 1984. In fact, the trio never decided on a name but when they were invited to support the legendary Cut Tunes at Bangor University on 29th March 1984, Gary Cut needed a name to put on the posters and so christened them The Baudelaires. This was to be the sole public performance of the group, who were memorably described by an audience member as "the worst group in the world ever".

Listening to the recordings made by the trio however, it becomes clear that the world in 1984 just wasn't ready for a group who operated so far outside the fashionable scenes of the period. The line-up of acoustic guitar, violin and bass sounded light years from the lyrical folk sound normally associated with such instrumentation, coming over more as a meeting between Sun Ra, Edgard Varèse and the Velvet Underground.

The group explored unorthodox harmonic and rhythmic structures, stitching together composed and improvised sections into an out-there post structural mélange of uncompromising wonderment. Although the trio were not averse to performing the odd song, their true strength lay in extended instrumental compositions such as the hour-long Concerto for Strings, composed and recorded in March 1984.

The Baudelaires - Concerto for Strings (1984)   1:00:00

Alan Holmes - acoustic guitar
Nicki Dupuy - violin
Scott Saunders - bass guitar

get it here

Friday 30 November 2012

Fflaps - videos 1987-1993

As November seems to have been Fflaps month here at Turquoise Coal, we really should squeeze another Fflaps post in before the month ends. In addition to the records already posted, the group also made several videos and TV appearances between 1987 and 1993, some stills from which can be seen here.

Rather than posting each clip individually on the blog, we have archived the complete collection over at the Turquoise Coal YouTube channel and created a Fflaps playlist. This contains 25 clips of the group, including both promo videos and live perfomances. There are a couple of complete live gigs still in the vaults which may also appear there in the future.

This almost completes the official Fflaps archive, the only remaining items being a handful of rare tracks that appeared on various compilations and a few out-takes. We plan on bringing all these oddities together for a further post in the near future. There are also some twenty odd complete live audio recordings, although the quality may not be great on some of them. If any of them prove to be of interest, they too may well appear here.

1 Hyll Eto (video 1990)
2 Cornwyd Pellaf (video 1990)
3 Rhowch Hi i'r Belgwyr (video 1990)
4 Arwyr Duwiol (live in Berlin 1990)
5 Y Dyn Blin (video 1988)
6 Nith y Gwlithlaw (video 1992)
7 Gadael y Dail (video 1992)
8 Hel Cnau (live at Llanharri 1990)
9 Malltod (live in Llanharri 1990)
10 Weithiau (live in Llanharri 1990)
11 Crebachu (video1989)
12 Dilyn Dylan (live on TV 1987)
13 Ebargofiant (video 1993)
14 Spio Trwy Tylla (video 1993)
15 Corrach Cogfran (video 1990)
16 Fictorianaidd (video 1989)
17 Cestyll a Llwch (live on TV 1991)
18 Greddf Pioden Gwern (live on TV 1991)
19 Amhersain / Llosg Llech (live in Cardiff 1989)
20 Saith (live on TV 1991)
21 Cestyll a Llwch (live on TV 1991)
22 Llawn (TV appearance 1992)
23 Spio Trwy Tylla (alternative video 1993)
24 Pen Crwban (live in London 1990)
25 Gadael y Dail (live in Pontrhydfendigaid 1991)

Monday 12 November 2012

Fflaps - S/T (3rd LP) (1992)

The period between Malltod and the final, self-titled Fflaps LP saw no let-up in activity for the group, taking in two German tours, three Irish tours and a tour of France and Belgium in addition to numerous dates around the UK. In all, the group performed live some 38 times between June 1990 and January 1992 in addition to making a number of TV appearances.

In contrast to the previous records, Fflaps was recorded in a variety of locations and dates, although the whole second side was again recorded by Gorwel Owen at his recently relocated Stiwdio Ofn, now in Llanfaelog, Ynys Môn, on the 12th and 13th November 1991. Most of the remainder of the album was recorded at Music Factory in Cardiff, and even includes a cameo appearance by Welsh rock legend Geraint Jarman and his co-writer Neil White. One remaining track was taken from a live performance in Caernarfon on 31st July 1991 - Dewi Evans of Rheinallt H Rowlands fame had guested with the group on that occasion and they felt that his contribution to the song Cestyll a Llwch made this version preferable to the one recorded at Stiwdio Ofn.

The album was released at the beginning of February 1992, again in a group-designed sleeve - this time featuring impressionistic shots of the group taken from a recent TV appearance and captured as one scene faded into another. At the suggestion of drummer Jonny, the sleeve was printed on the reverse side of the card, giving the cover a subdued tone, in stark contrast to the glaring colours of the previous albums.

The music this time was less angular than on Malltod, with a more hypnotic rhythmic edge, possibly inspired by the group's fondness for listening to the likes of Can and Neu! while touring along seemingly endless autobahns. The record also saw something of a return to the melodiousness of Amhersain, albeit with longer songs.


Following the record's release, the group immediately set off on their longest European tour to date, taking in dates in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia over a solid three week period. Unfortunately this intensity of touring proved too much for Jonny, who was trying to juggle the group's activity with a full time degree course. When the group returned to the UK, he decided to leave in order to concentrate more fully on his studies.

The group carried on with replacement drummer Maeyc Hewitt, playing further German and French tours during 1992 and into 1993, but by the time it came to record again, they decided that they had become a different group altogether and mutated seamlessly into Ectogram.

Note: for those of you who prefer to own the physical object, we have unearthed a limited quantity of original vinyl copies of both this LP and Malltod which are now available to buy directly from Turquoise Coal here.

Fflaps - Fflaps (Central Slate Records SLATE 12)  1992

Ann Matthews - guitar, vocals
Alan Holmes - bass
Jonny Evans - drums
with guests
Dewi Evans - keyboards (track 6)
Geraint Jarman & Neil White - vocals (track 4) 

recorded in Stiwdio Ofn, Llanfaelog (1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), Music Factory, Cardiff (2, 3, 4, 5) and live in Caernarfon (6)
produced by Fflaps, Gorwel Owen, Steve Howard and Neil White

1  Hwn yw Hon (This (m) is This (f))  4:02
2  Hyll Eto  (Ugly Again)  4:05
3  Crebachu  (Shrinking)  4:44
4  Nith y Gwlithlaw (Niece of the Drizzle)  5:18
5  Rhowch Hi i'r Belgwyr  (Give It to the Belgians)  2:44
6  Cestyll a Llwch  (Castles and Dust)  3:19
7  Greddf Pioden Gwern  (Gwern's Magpie Instinct)  6:44
8  Saith  (Seven)  5:40
9  Arwyr Duwiol  (Godly Heroes)  3:18
10  Gadael y Dail  (Leave the Leaves)  4:20
11  Cariad yn y Beudy  (Love in a Cowshed)  5:30

all songs (Evans/Holmes/Matthews)

get it here

Fflaps - Malltod (1990)

Following the release of their debut LP Amhersain, Fflaps went into a period of intense activity, playing 59 gigs between then and the release of this follow up. Notable highlights were a tour of Germany and a UK 'Three Nations' tour with Scotland's Stretchheads and England's Dandelion Adventure.

Malltod was recorded at Stiwdio Ofn in Rhosneigr, Ynys Môn by noted producer Gorwel Owen on the 13th and 14th of January 1990. The album had a much harder and more jagged edge than its predecessor, with the group's interplay tightened by 1989's constant touring. The album was released, again on the Probe Plus label, on the 8th of June at a joint launch party with label mates Levellers 5 in Liverpool's Planet X. As fate would have it, the launch clashed with a rare appearance just around the corner by avant-jazz deity Sun Ra which understandably diverted most of the city's hipsters!

The record again came housed in a striking two colour sleeve, this time in the form of a psychedelically surreal collage designed by the group themselves. The back cover once again reflected Fflaps' ongoing fascination with the communist bloc, featuring a road scene captured by the group while touring Czechoslovakia in 1988. The album's stand out track, Cornwyd Pellaf, dealt specifically with the recent revolutions in the region and included a news report of the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu on Boxing Day 1989. The group were to subsequently film a video for the song in the newly 'liberated' East German city of Magdeburg, when they visited the city on 21st October 1990. That trip also yielded further videos, with the group making promos for two new songs: Rhowch Hi i'r Belgwyr in Brussels on 18th of October and Hyll Eto in Berlin on 23rd October. These videos appeared in a travelogue directed by widely renowned film director Marc Evans who went on to greater prominence with My Little Eye in 2002.

Nine days after the LP's launch party, the group travelled down to Maida Vale to record their second session for the John Peel programme on the 17th of June. Surprisingly, the group chose not to use the session to plug the new LP, recording three brand new songs instead with only the LP's title track appearing.

Note: for those of you who prefer to own the physical object, we have unearthed a limited quantity of original vinyl copies of both this LP and the follow-up which are now available to buy directly from Turquoise Coal here.

Fflaps - Malltod  (Probe Plus Records PROBE 28) 1990

Ann Matthews - vocals, guitar
Alan Holmes - bass
Jonny Evans - drums

recorded at Stiwdio Ofn, Rhosneigr 13th-14th January 1990 by Gorwel Owen

1  Malltod  (Blight)  4:51
2  Hel Cnau  (Collecting Nuts)  2:33
3  Gaeaf yn Kragerø  (Winter in Kragerø)  3:50
4  Pen Crwban  (Tortoise Head)  4:35
5  Cenedl Malwan  (Snail Nation)  3:17
6  Corrach Cogfran  (Jackdaw Dwarf)  4:11
7  Cornwyd Pellaf  (Furthest Ulcer)  6:21
8  Pen yn y Nen  (Head in the Sky)  3:26
9  Nawfed  (Ninth)  3:10

all songs Evans/Holmes/Matthews

get it here

Sunday 11 November 2012

Fflaps - Amhersain (1988)

Following EP airplay and a session on John Peel's Radio One show, Fflaps were approached by Geoff Davies of Liverpool's Probe Plus Records in April 1988 with an invitation to record an LP for his label. The group booked themselves into Les Morrison's Unlucky Søn studio in Bethesda and recorded their entire live repertoire over a three day period between 25th and 27th April. The results, which can be heard in their original unreleased form here, captured the group's live sound of the time admirably, but Geoff was slightly unconvinced, believing that the recordings could benefit from further work.

Having a busy schedule during the Summer, including their debut gig outside the UK - at KOB in Berlin, in addition to performances in Deiniolen, Penmon and Newport, the group put the album on hold for a few months as they concentrated on live work.

The group travelled up to Liverpool with the master tapes on October 6th and spent a day in Sanatorium studios with engineer Kevin Wright adding overdubs (including a track of cutlery on one song!) and remixing the material until it was to both Geoff and the group's satisfaction. The following week, Fflaps were due to play in London and so Geoff booked in an LP cut to coincide with the gig so that the group could be present to supervise it. Ann went down on the train while Alan and Jonny drove down in the group van with the gear.

Unfortunately the van never got to London, crashing on the M6 and leaving Alan hospitalised for several weeks. Ann soldiered on however and ensured that the record was mastered properly (a legendary 'Porky Prime Cut', no less!) and Probe Plus' resident artist Steve 'Jacuzzi' Hardstaff (Led Zeppelin, Strawbs, Half Man Half Biscuit etc...) designed the sleeve, collaged from images supplied by the group together with his own. The cover looked great apart from the fact that the explanatory notes the group had supplied had been mixed up and were now designated to random songs! - see if you can match up the correct notes with the appropriate song!

The LP came out in November and was well received by the press, and again had plenty of airplay on John Peel's programme. Although not exactly a big hit, the entire pressing sold out and as a result, copies are quite hard to find these days.


Fflaps - Amhersain (Probe Plus Records PROBE 21) 1988

Ann Matthews - vocals, guitar
Alan Holmes - bass
Jonny Evans - drums
with Les Morrison, Kevin Wright and Geoff Davies

recorded at Unlucky Søn, Bethesda 25th-27th April 1988
overdubs and mix at Sanatorium, Liverpool 6th October 1988

1 Dilyn Dylan  3:27
2 Dyn Gwiail  2:27
3 Pethau Piws  2:41
4 Mynegai Mynor  2:38
5 Chwildroi'n Gam  1:56
6 Y Dyn Blin  3:37
7 Weithiau...  3:07
8 Amhersain  2:23
9 Esgob Mawr  2:01
10 Blodyn Tatws  2:41
11 Llosg Llech  2:21
12 Fictorianaidd 2:57

all songs Evans/Holmes/Matthews

get it here 

Fflaps - 7" EP (1987)

In response to a number of requests, we will be uploading the complete official recorded output of Fflaps this month, beginning here with their debut 7" EP on Recordiau Anhrefn.

Having played their very first gig in Bangor University Jazz Room on 24th April 1987, Fflaps became actively involved in bringing together the Welsh and English language music scenes in the Bangor area over the following months, working alongside such tireless legends of both scenes as 4Q and Anhrefn. This cultural mélange injected a new vitality into the scene, and by the time Anhrefn's Rhys Mwyn invited the trio to record an EP for his Recordiau Anhrefn label less than five months after their first appearance, the group had already played twenty gigs around Wales as well as one in London and one in Wigan.

Rhys booked the group into Foel studio in his remote mid-Wales hometown of Llanfair Caereinion for a day's recording on 4th October. The group were especially excited about this arrangement as it was the very studio where such seminal classics as The Fall's Fiery Jack, Peter Hammill's "Over", Young Marble Giants' Colossal Youth, The Pop Group's For How Much Longer do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, Datblygu's Hwgr-Grawth-Og, My Bloody Valentine's Isn't Anything and Van Der Graaf's The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome had been recorded. Fflaps arrived at the studio late at night on the 3rd of October, totally convinced that they were about to make a record that would join that prestigious list of classics.

They were greeted and entertained by the studio's owner Dave Anderson, the original bassist with both Amon Düül II and Hawkwind! This was the man who played bass on Master of the Universe and Archangel's Thunderbird - two of the pinnacles of human artistic achievement... and if that wasn't enough, he was also now in The Groundhogs! The group enjoyed a pleasant evening of drinks and anecdotes with the seventies legend before getting a good night's sleep in preparation for the following day's work. 

Happily, the session went well, with engineer Brian Snelling putting the group at ease and effortlessly capturing their raw energy in a series of first takes. In addition to three of their own compositions, the group chose to record a Welsh language cover of The Slits' Love and Romance as an acknowledgement of their roots, but also with one eye on John Peel airplay, knowing that the song was a big favourite of the legendary Radio One DJ, who was also a big supporter of Welsh music.

The EP was released on Recordiau Anhrefn a few weeks later, in a sleeve designed by the group using photos Alan and Ann had taken during a recent trip across the Iron Curtain to East Berlin. This was to be the first of several engagements with the eastern bloc by the group as over the next few years they witnessed and documented the fall of the communist regimes in the region. The front cover depicts the changing of the guard outside the Eternal Flame Against Fascism (since renamed the Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Tyranny) at the the Neue Wache on Unter Den Linden, while the back cover depicts a street scene of a trio of east German skinheads on their way home after a night of drinking, captured in as blurry detail as they probably perceived it themselves.

The record did indeed catch the ear of John Peel, who played it quite extensively and invited the group to record a session, and it also gained several positive reviews in the music press of the time. The three original songs on the EP would appear the next year on the group's debut album in re-recorded form, but here we present the Foel Studio recordings, as they appeared on the original 7" EP.

back cover of the EP

Fflaps - EP   (Recordiau Anhrefn  ANHREFN 012) 1987

Ann Matthews - vocals, guitar
Alan Holmes - bass
Jonny Evans - drums

recorded at Foel Studio, Llanfair Caereinion, Powys 4th October 1987
Produced by Fflaps and Brian Snelling

1  Chwildroi'n Gam  2:08
2  Dilyn Dylan  2:47
3  Esgob Mawr  2:33
4  Cariad & Rhamant  1:57

all songs (Evans/Holmes/Matthews) except track 4 (Albertine/Forster/McLardy/Pollitt)

get it here

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Ffa Coffi Pawb / Terry Waite ar Asid - split flexi

Back in August, we posted a 1988 cassette EP by Mold / Ruthin group Terry Waite ar Asid which proved to be quite popular with visitors to the blog. We mentioned that in addition to the cassette, the group had also released a split flexi disc with Ffa Coffi Pawb at around the same time. Gwion Llwyd from the group has now kindly provided us with a copy of that flexi from his own personal archive, which we present here in all its crackly glory!

Terry Waite ar Asid's contribution, Chicken Jane is slightly more melodic and jangly than the material on the cassette, while Ffa Coffi Pawb's track Gwn catches them in their early fuzz-bubblegum phase and would sit happily alongside such contemporaries as The Primitives and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Ffa Coffi Pawb released many other fine records over the subsequent few years, before singer Gruff Rhys and drummer Dafydd Ieuan went on to greater fame and fortune in Super Furry Animals.

A4 insert that came with the flexi-disc

Ffa Coffi Pawb - Gwn
Terry Waite ar Asid - Chicken Jane

get it here


Wednesday 24 October 2012

Miracle Cave - Coping with Illness (1983)

Cover artwork by Mark Thomas
Back in January, we featured the mysterious Miracle Cave's 1984 album "Turquoise Coal" from which we took our name. Since then we have managed to locate a copy of their debut release from the previous year. Once again, the album covers a wide stylistic range and again features one cover version among the group's originals, this time a version of Soft Cell's 1982 chart hit "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye". These two cassette releases comprised the group's entire recorded output, and they never performed live. The cover image for "Coping with Illness" was provided by Ghostriders / Megabats drummer Mark Thomas and featured a series of mystical esoteric symbols that Mark saw as representing the character of the group.As far as we know, it remains the legendary drummer's sole foray into sleeve design.

Miracle Cave - L to R: Alan Holmes, Maria Hycz, The Grand Master
Miracle Cave - Coping with Illness (1983)

1  Kiss  (Miracle Cave)
2  Cities  (Miracle Cave)
3  Stripes  (Miracle Cave)
4  Lay Down a Path To Walk  (Miracle Cave)
5  Love Wears No Mask  (Miracle Cave)
6  For Kathy Acker and out of Her  (Miracle Cave)
7  The Bones of the Immaculate  (Miracle Cave)
8  Paralysed Dance  (Miracle Cave)
9  Say Hello Wave Goodbye (Almond/Ball)

get it here

Tuesday 23 October 2012

The Megabats - Jazz Room, Bangor 9th February 1984

The Megabats were formed by Ominous Dr Clip Clop mastermind Maeyc Hewitt in 1983. Initially a three piece comprising Maeyc on guitar and vocals, Ian McMillan on bass and drummer Mark Thomas (ex-Inadequates / Ghostriders / Hot Water), they soon added Phil Layton (ex-Kärnarvøn Kästle) to the line-up, initially on sax but increasingly on Vox Continental organ.

Maeyc Hewitt and Mark Thomas     photo: Ann Matthews
The Megabats played regularly around the Bangor area, and supported chart biggies Haircut One Hundred on one occasion and up and coming press darlings The Smiths on another (14th October 1983). Most of the group's material was written by Maeyc, some of which ("Flags", "Betrayed") had previously been aired in a different form by The Pinecones, and others would later be adapted for future groups - "Sunday Sunday" (not played at this gig) by Reinheitsgebot and "Australians" by Third Spain, all of who can be found elsewhere on this site.

Maeyc Hewitt and Ian McMillan     photo: Ann Matthews
Their organ-powered garage rock sound was at times reminiscent of The Blue Orchids or The Modern Lovers, but Maeyc's distinctive songs and vocals gave The Megabats a sound very much of their own, and the group really cooked live, driving audiences into a frenzy.

Very few recordings of the group have come to light, although one further live recording in addition to this one is known to exist but is yet to surface. Here however, we present a full length 65 minute headline set from the Students Union Jazz Room in Bangor, capturing the group at their creative peak.

Phil Layton     photo: Ann Matthews
In Summer 1984, Phil moved away, his University course having finished and the group disbanded, Maeyc and Ian joining up with Alan Holmes, Scott Saunders and Emyr Tomos to form Reinheitsgebot. After a couple of gigs however, Mark returned to the fold, replacing Emyr on drums in November 1984.
Ian McMillan     photo: Ann Matthews

Megabats live at the Jazz Room, Bangor University 9th February 1984

Maeyc Hewitt - guitar, vocals
Ian McMillan - bass, backing vocals
Mark Thomas - drums, backing vocals
Phil Layton - organ, sax, mini-synth

1  Betrayed
2  Runaway Sky
3  Breathless
4  Silver
5  Tonight
6  Australians
7  Green and Grey
8  Flags
9  Big Step
10  Underground
11  Swans
12  Australians

get it here

Saturday 13 October 2012

Fflaps - Peel sessions 1988 & 1990

We've had several requests for more Fflaps since posting the rare original mix of their debut album back in February. Before posting the official releases, we bring you another rare archive recording, comprising the two sessions the group recorded for John Peel's legendary BBC Radio One programme.

The group recorded their first Peel session on March 13th 1988 on the back of their debut EP on Recordiau Anhrefn, which had been a favourite with the DJ. Rather than reprising any of the songs from that EP, they chose to present four unreleased tracks that would appear on their debut LP 'Amhersain' later that year. The session was produced by the notoriously cantankerous ex-Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin, who managed to render Jonny's ramshackle drum kit even more unplayable than it already was with some heavy handed 'adjustments'.

Fflaps at the Berlin Wall, August 1988

 It was to be another two years before Fflaps were invited to record another session, by which time John Peel had decided he didn't really like their new material very much (it was producer John Walters that offered them the session). Between the two sessions, the group had toured extensively around the UK and Europe and had become a finely honed and razor sharp crack unit. Even the repeat presence of Dale Griffin was unable to derail them this time, and the group were relaxed enough to spend much of the day hanging out with The Wee Papa Girl Rappers who were recording a session next door.

In typically contrary fashion, apart from a cursory run through the title track, the group chose to ignore their newly released second album 'Malltod' in favour of previewing three new songs which were not to be officially released until February 1992.

Fflaps - John Peel sessions

Ann Matthews - guitar/vocals
Alan Holmes - bass/violin
Jonny Evans - drums

1  Pethau Piws  2:43
2  Y Dyn Blin  3:55
3  Llosg Llech  2:17
4  Blodyn Tatws  2:29

recorded at Maida Vale 13th March 1988
produced by Dale Griffin

5  Malltod  3:43
6  Rhowch Hi i'r Belgwyr  2:42
7  Hyll Eto  3:27
8  Arwyr Duwiol  2:41

recorded at Maida Vale 17th June 1990
produced by Dale Griffin

bonus track:
9 First session complete with Peel intros  12:15
as broadcast 4th April 1988

get it here

Friday 12 October 2012

Kärnarvøn Kästle - August 1982

Kärnarvøn Kästle L to R: Phil Layton, Ann Matthews, Alan Holmes
The legendary Bangor music scene of the early 80s threw up many short-lived acts who would ignite in one fleeting burst of incandescence before dissolving into the shadows of myth. Names like The Axolotl, Gentle Reminders, One Hour Later Over Iran, The Baudelaires, Fugitive Binoculars, The Legendary Mountaineers, The Bellman, Sharon Angstrom, Armchair Theatre and The Dekorators all come to mind, yet none seemed quite as elusive as Kärnarvøn Kästle, who played live only once, at Bangor's famous Glanrafon Pub on the 13th of August 1982.

Kärnarvøn Kästle live at the Glanrafon, Bangor 13th August 1982 -  photo: Gary Cut

The group stood out from many of the other names of the period by their eccentric policy of only rehearsing at sunset in the deserted Iron-age village of Tre'r Ceiri, on the summit of a mountain some 25 miles from their home. After carrying out this strange ritual three times a week for the month leading up to their gig, the group then spent an hour jogging around the streets of Bangor that evening before running straight onto the stage to perform. To further complicate matters, their set was then performed largely on instruments they hadn't previously played the material on, due to the obvious logistical problems of carrying them up the mountain - only the saxophones and trumpet had featured in rehearsal. Despite this the spiritual unity, telepathic intuition and discipline instilled by their rigorous routine almost paid off, and their performance teetered at times on the edge of competence.

Kärnarvøn Kästle live at the Glanrafon, Bangor 13th August 1982 -  photo: Gary Cut

Sadly this brave start was also to be the end, and all three members were shortly absorbed into Gary Cut's nascent Cut Tunes...... but that's another story.

Kärnarvøn Kästle live at the Glanrafon, Bangor 13th August 1982

Ann Matthews - saxophone, bass, vocals
Phil Layton - guitar, bass, saxophone, vocals
Alan Holmes - drums, trumpet

1 Untitled 1
2 Untitled 2

get it here

Sunday 2 September 2012

Just When You Though We Were Dead

Between 1980 and 1983, annual Bangor area compilation tapes were released, bringing together a selection of the music made in the area during the previous year. We have already posted 1980's "Overloaded and We're Running" and now we jump somewhat unchronologically to the final tape in the series, which appeared in May 1983. This time, there were 29 tracks, covering a wide spectrum and lasting a full two hours, the release being spread across two C60 cassettes.

Among the tracks featured, all otherwise unreleased, was the first ever recording by the legendary Cut Tunes, the last ever recording by Fay Ray and the only released solo recordings by John Cratchley, Ian McMillan (as 'Manny'), Chris Walker, John Cratchley, Dav Devalle and Alan Holmes. We also get some electro-psych from the original Smiths, who had been operating under that name for a good couple of years before Morrisssey's gang took it on and one-offs from otherwise unheard groups like Armchair Theatre, Jung Again and Legendary Mountaineers.

Brer Fox were the ancestors of The Scapegoats, who can still be heard regularly at the Auckland in Menai Bridge, and Alternative Destinations marked the recorded debut of both Emyr Tomos, who went on to play with the likes of Glassglue, Hungry Dog Brand, Reinheitsgebot, Zombie Noise etc.. and Ann Matthews, who went on to fame and fortune with Fflaps, Ecotgram and Annalogue.

Many of these groups were very short lived, and some of them were even quite good.

Jeff Taylor - organ on 7
Roger Hughes - guitar, vocals on 23
Phil Layton - reeds, tapes, effects, drums on 13
Doig Housley - guitar on 18
Chris Ellis - grand piano on 19
Mark Creathorn - drums on 16, guitar, vocals on 21
Tony Travis - bass, vocals on 7
Alex ? - guitar on 25
Rob Parry - guitar on 17
Alan Holmes - organ, violin on 8, bass on 9, guitar, vocals on 22
Dav Devalle - vocals, guitar on 17, 24, synthesiser on 24
Greg MacMillan - sax, vocals on 25
Fran Lock - guitar on 26
Maeyc Hewitt - synthesiser, percussion on 3, guitar, vocals on 14, bass on 10, 13, 14, drums on 23
Peter Elliott - piano on 5
Carl Owen - bass on 29
Emyr Tomos - drums on 18
Colin Dean - bass on 25
Ann Matthews - vocals on 22, sax on 18
John Cratchley - guitar on 6, 12, vocals on 6, 17, bass on 6, 12, 17
Stephen Davies - vocals, synthesiser on 3
Gary Stubbs - vocals, guitar, bass, whistle on 9
Eilian Jones - drums on 29
Ian McMillan - guitar on 11, bass, vocals on 14
Sheila Brook - vocals, guitar on 7
Paul Fletcher - guitar, vocals on 28
Chris ? - violin on 1
Charli Goodall - guitar on 26
Dewi Evans - keyboards on 22, 27, vocals on 22
Scott Saunders - vocals, guitar on 16
Chris Walker - vocals, guitar on 2
Bev Jones - bass on 26
Maria Hycz - vocals on 10
Sean Williams - bass on 18
Paul Hill - bass on 19
Tim McCartney - congas, vocals on 17
Sam Beresford - vocals, percussion on 12
Alun Rhys Jones - vocals on 27
Nicki Dupuy - double bass on 5
Huw Heywood - guitar on 29
Huw Roberts - guitar on 10
Brian Roberts - bass, sax on 1
John Dexter Jones - vocals on 29
Ed Knight - keyboards on 18
Sue Hoy - bass, vocals on 23
Mike Fielding - percussion, vocals on 25
Andy Beaumont - vocals, guitar on 23
Steve Jones vocals, guitar on 1
Mark Thomas - drums on 17,19
Alan Slin -  keyboards on 1
John Lovering - guitar on 7
Robert McCawley - guitar on 12
Dave Evans - keyboards on 26
Jo Laxton - keyboards on 28
Gorwel Owen - synthesiser on 1
Martin Wilson - guitar on 16
Mike Penny - drums on 25
Hayley - vocals on 4, 15, 20
Owen Hughes - drums on 7, 26
Anton Hughes - drums on 1
Mike Sweeney - guitar on 25

get it here

Friday 31 August 2012

The Blue Halos - This Perfect Poison

It's not certain whether The Blue Halos were ever a live group, and as far as we know, their sole release was this full length vinyl LP that was released on Valentine Days Records back in 1989. The label appears to be the group's own and so the catalogue number of VD2 suggests that there may possibly have been a previous release - possibly a cassette? If anyone is aware of any, please let us know.

The LP was recorded in Gaerwen, Anglesey by Steve Rutter of Tacsi / Red Stripe / A5 fame, and it is thought that the group probably also originated in that area. The fact that they were a duo, playing all the instruments between them suggest that it was most likely a studio project. The group appeared to be quite divorced from any local musical scene of the time, their sleeve notes (see below) showing an almost paranoid over-defensiveness and alienation. Their music too, didn't fit easily with other local groups, veering between almost Syd Barrett-esqe psych and PiL type cathartic rage, taking in 80s synth rhythms and punky thrash along the way. An intriguing release... if anyone can fill in the gaps, please let us know!

Insert and sleeve notes from "This Perfect Poison"

Reverse of insert
The Blue Halos - This Perfect Poison
Vanetines Day Records VD2  (1989)

Colin Ryan - vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, synth bass, percussion
Derry Wilkinson - drums, synth bass, keyboards, percussion

1  Serenity
2  (end of another)
3  Harry in America
4  Captive
5  Dreemy (Captive dub)
6  Everywhere
7  Minian the Mole
8  K.K.K.
9  Deadbeat Backtrack:
    i) Phone Box
    ii) 852
    iii) B.T.

get it here

Wednesday 29 August 2012

The Pinecones - Phase One: Summer 1981

The late, great Scott McKenzie
This week's sad news of the death of Scott McKenzie, undisputed king of flower power, inspired us to dig out The Pinecones' definitive 1981 reinterpretation of the great man's 1967 number one hit "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)". In the process, we came across three complete unreleased sessions by the group, featuring their very earliest line-up.

We've featured quite a bit of The Pinecones here at Turquoise Coal, but those of you who are only familiar with their classic period of spiky post-punk belligerence may well be surprised to hear the jangly psych-pop cadences of the earliest incarnation of the group.

For reasons now lost in the mists of time, A Silly Tree parted company with drummer Mark Windows following their gig at Plas Coch on July 14th 1981 and the three remaining members underwent something of a reshuffle as they morphed into The Pinecones. Bass player Maeyc Hewitt moved to drums and the trio recruited classically trained guitarist Martin Parry on bass, who had previously played alongside Mark Windows in Some Noise. After a couple of sessions as a quartet, one of which can be heard here, the group decided to widen the sonic palette by inviting Sarah Holyfield to play Vox Continental organ in the group. Sarah agreed on condition that the group dropped their cover of "San Francisco", a song she hated, from their set.

The group spent much of August holed up at Goetre Uchaf farm in Bangor's Penrhosgarnedd district putting together and polishing a body of original material, punctuated by a couple of covers - Nico's "Chelsea Girls" and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich's "The Legend of Xanadu". They played their first live performance on September 4th at the Castle Hotel in Bangor, supporting local superstars Fay Ray. Unfortunately, due the positioning of their name on the poster (see below), most of the audience thought they were called Disco & the Pinecones!

Poster for the only live appearance of The Pinecones Mk 1

The gig proved to be too much of a success, and the group were instantly booked to play two major gigs in the area the following month - at the University's main hall and at the annual Ogwen Valley Fair outdoor festival.

Never ones to embrace popularity without a fight, Alan, Maeyc and Maria decided on a plan to shed some of the unwelcome acclaim. For the two upcoming gigs, they decided that no rehearsed songs would be played and, with the help of an on-stage alarm clock, the set would be divided into 3 minute sections, during which the group would spontaneously make up material on the spot. To introduce further instability, they also invited several friends on stage to join in, including the notorious industrial pioneer Lustmord. The plan worked a treat, and not only did the group alienate the audience, but also Martin and Sarah, who promptly left the line-up! Sadly no recordings of this short lived phase exist.

Pineapple Cove, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - August 1981

1    Trust  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 2:37
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 4:48
    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:13
    Untitled  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 3:11
    Treading on My Toes (original demo)  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:38
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:48
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:17
    (If You're Going to) San Francisco  (Phillips) 3:35
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 9:56

Goetre Uchaf Farm, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - August 1981

10    Green Car  (Hewitt) 2:55
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 8:25
    Trust  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 3:03
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:46
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:17
    Chelsea Girls  (Reed/Morrison) 5:16
    Going Round in Circles  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:11
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:15

Goetre Uchaf Farm, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - September 1981

18    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:04
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 9:51
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:42
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:54
    Far Away  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 1:10
    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:11
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:13
    Far Away  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 4:29
    Chelsea Girls  (Reed/Morrison) 5:43
    Playing for Time  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 4:42

tracks 1 - 9, 18 - 27

Maria Hycz - vocals
Alan Holmes - guitar, backing vocs
Martin Parry - bass
Maeyc Hewitt - drums

tracks 10 - 17 

Maria Hycz - vocals
Alan Holmes - guitar
Martin Parry - bass
Sarah Holyfield - organ
Maeyc Hewitt - drums

get it here