Sunday 29 January 2012

Glass - Amorphous Structures (1982)

Glass were a duo who worked in the 'industrial' / 'experimental' field around late 1982 and early 1983. They played a handful of gigs in the Bangor area and released this one cassette album at the very end of 1982. The group's core duo of Peter Elliott and Nicki Dupuy were joined on three tracks by Ann Matthews, later of Fflaps/Ectogram/Annalogue, who contributed vocals. This is believed to be her first recorded appearance.

Peter Elliott went on to form Human Trapped Rhythms and Blow by Blow who both released LPs on his Slip Records label in the mid 1980s. He has since concentrated mostly on behind the scenes work, running an agency and management company.

Nicki Dupuy remains an active musician, playing a wide variety of music around the Manchester area, notably as a member of the Beating Wing Orchestra.

Glass - Amorphous Structures (1982)

Peter Elliott - vocals/Korg MS20/clarinet/percussion etc
Nicki Dupuy - bass/violin etc
Ann Matthews - vocals on tracks 9, 10 & 11

1 Squeaky Seduction
2 The Lucky Star
3 Empty Heart
4 Concepts
5 Onward Christian Soldiers
6 Schizo
7 Changing Public Attitudes
8 Last Post
9 Interpretations
10 Torture
11 The Tiger Is Dead
12 Extract from Performance 10.12.82

get it here

Saturday 28 January 2012

V.U. Dance Party '93

V.U. Dance Party '93 was released as a limited edition cassette in 1993 to mark the then current and unexpected reformation of the Velvet Underground. The music comprised one 47 minute track, appearing on either side of the tape in different mixes, that covered the first VU album in its entirety. It was presented as a bland uptempo dance mix that aimed to simultaneously critique the group's neutered reunion and the bloodless state of the contemporary dance music scene during the dying moments of rave culture.

The album was credited to The Bland Velvet Underground and no label was credited but subsequent research has shown the release to most likely be the work of north Wales post experimental situationist prankster(s) The Groceries.

V.U. Dance Party '93

get it here

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Third Spain - Final sessions

Third Spain lasted almost exactly a year after being joined, post LP, by drummer Rick Joslin. During that time, they played a number of times around north Wales, together with a gig in Manchester's International club, run at the time by the legendary late Roger Eagle.

Throughout their lifetime, they never stopped producing new material and this post features the songs that constituted the sets that they were playing towards the end of their lifespan, recorded at two sessions, on July 3rd and October 25th, at their headquarters in the back room of the top floor at 5 Regent Street, Upper Bangor during the latter half of 1986.
None of these songs have otherwise been released in any form.

The whole of Regent Street was later demolished to make way for a monolithic new psychology department for the University. The space where these recordings were made now lies within a teaching facility, where the ever diminishing traces of these notes play within the minds of subsequent generations of psychology students.

Third Spain - 5 Regent Street, Bangor
July 3rd, 1986

Maeyc Hewitt - Guitar
Alan Holmes - Guitar
Rick Joslin - Drums
Ian McMillan - Bass
Scott Saunders - Vocals

1 I Coudn't Have Put It Better Myself 3:34
2 A Car on the Quayside 3:21
3 The Woman Who Made the Trees 2:23
4 Last Train to Penrhyndeudraeth 3:57
5 Roadworks 2:29
6 Juggling 2:54
7 Jesus, You're Not On My Mind 2:41
8 Linda Says 5:36
9 Old as the Hills 3:12
10 Couldn't Have Put It Better Myself 3:53
11 Monster 3:26

get it here

Third Spain - 5 Regent Street, Bangor
October 25th
, 1986

Maeyc Hewitt - Guitar
Alan Holmes - Guitar
Rick Joslin - Drums
Ian McMillan - Bass
Scott Saunders - Vocals

1 The Woman Who Made the Trees 2:15
2 It's a Yellow Room 2:22
3 Pete Townshend's Fault 1:58
4 The Woman Who Made the Trees 2:41
5 Couldn't Have Put It Better Myself 3:23

get it here

Miracle Cave - Turquoise Coal

OK... here's the release that gave us our name!

Miracle Cave were a shadowy and obscure Bangor group from the early eighties who released two cassette albums without ever performing live. The first, "Coping with Illness" came out in 1983 and was followed the next year by "Turquoise Coal", after which nothing more was heard of the group.

Maria Hycz and Alan Holmes from the recently disbanded Pinecones (see previous posts) appear to be involved, alongside a mystic figure known alternatively as The Grand Master or Mr Smith. "Turquoise Coal" also featured guest spots from Ann Matthews, later of Fflaps and Nicki Dupuy from Glass, both of who went on to greater things.

The album contains twelve original songs and a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Who Loves the Sun?". Of the originals, "Still Not There" and "In the Morning" were later recorded (but never released) by Reinheitsgebot (see earlier post), albeit in radically different versions. The music is difficult to categorize, flitting effortlessly between folk ballads, industrial grind and psychedelic extrapolation. An unique and interesting sonic experience!

Miracle Cave - Turquoise Coal (1984)

1 Time Approaches Beware (Miracle Cave)
2 Who Loves the Sun (Velvet Underground)
3 Janie's Dream (Miracle Cave)
4 No Need to Take the Car (Miracle Cave/Ann Matthews)
5 When the Mystery Came (Miracle Cave)
6 Her Body (Miracle Cave)
7 Janie, Sex and Death (Miracle Cave)
8 Make Me Bleed (Miracle Cave)
9 Still Not There (Miracle Cave)
10 Strange Girls (Miracle Cave/Ann Matthews)
11 In the Morning (Miracle Cave)
12 Rescue Operation (Miracle Cave)

All voices and instruments Miracle Cave with guests Ann Matthews (4, 10, 12) and Nicki Dupuy (7)

get it here

Sunday 22 January 2012

Third Spain - Third Spain LP

Between 20th June 1985 and 9th Octobe
r 1986, Third Spain played 29 gigs, during the course of which they performed 48 of their own compositions, and released one self titled LP on Central Slate Records (SLATE 2).

Emerging Phoenix-like from the ashes of Reinheitsgebot when drummer Mark Thomas left that band, Third Spain performed their first four gigs with either a drum machine or guest drummers, until Rick Joslin completed the line-up in October 1985. Their only officially released recordings were actually made before Rick joined, and featured guitarist Maeyc overdubbing the drums afterwards! In fact the final track on the record, 'Winter' was actually a Reinheitsgebot recording, salvaged from an unrelease session the group recorded in Bath in May 1985.

Despite picking up numerous plays from John Peel and Andy Kershaw on their respective BBC Radio 1 programmes and gaining a glowing review in "Sounds" magazine (who described the record as "underground music for subterranean people"), the group somehow managed to completely evade a brush with success.

To avoid confusion, it should be noted that a completely different group with the same name also existed in Bangor during 1980. This group also included Scott Saunders but was otherwise totally unrelated. Their recordings will be posted here in due course.

Here's a complete list of the group's live performances:
20th June 1985 Jazz Room, Bangor (with The Slivey Toads)
8th July 1985 Glanrafon Refectory, Bangor (Welsh Special Games event)
20th July 1985 Treborth Playing Fields, Bangor (with Zombie Noise & Victims Of The Fury)
28th September 1985 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Offspring & Proffwyd - Ethiopa benefit)
11th October 1985 Albion Pub, Bangor
17th October 1985 Angel Pub, Aberystwyth (with Xzma, Bonclust & others)
24th October 1985 Jazz Room, Bangor (with The Creations)
1st November 1985 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge (with Maffia Mr Huws & The Ghostriders)
13th November 1985 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge (with Steam Radio)
12th December 1985 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Holy Smoke)
20th December 1985 Albion Pub, Bangor (without Scott)
23rd January 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor
21st February 1986 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge (with Holy Smoke)
11th March 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Cut Tunes)
26th March 1986 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge (with Steam Radio)
12th April 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with The Liquidisers)
18th April 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with The Paraletics)
26th April 1986 J.P. Hall, Bangor (with Maffia Mr Huws, Anhrefn, Cut Tunes, Datblygu & Fascination)
19th May 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Cut Tunes, Anhrefn & Y Cyrff)
26th May 1986 Bryn-y-Neuadd Hospital, Llanfairfechan (without Scott)
6th June 1986 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge (with Anhrefn)
14th June 1986 Castle Hotel, Harlech
19th July 1986 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge
16th August 1986 Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge
23rd August 1986 Dinmor, Penmon (with Ghostriders & others)
26th September 1986 Village Inn, Llanfairfechan
4th October 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Cut Tunes)
6th October 1986 International, Manchester (with Passmore Sisters & I'll Show Harry)
9th October 1986 Jazz Room, Bangor (with Cut Tunes & Anhrefn)

Third Spain - Third Spain (mini-LP)
Central Slate Records - cat. no. SLATE 2
released October 1985

Scott Saunders - vocals
Maeyc Hewitt - guitar/drums
Alan Holmes - guitar
Ian McMillan - bass
Mark Thomas - drums (track 7)

1 Splendid View 3.43
2 Haywire 4.15
3 In the Twilight 4.00
4 Wave 4.16
5 September 4.15
6 Australians 4.51
7 Winter 3.58

all songs by Hewitt/Holmes/McMillan/Saunders
song timngs by Stephen Davies

get it here

Reinheitsgebot - The complete R.S.C. sessions

Although Reinheitsgebot played live twice in a formative version featuring future Glassglue/Hungry Dog Brand drummer Emyr Tomos during September 1984, it was not until the first of November of that year that the "definitive" line up - that of Ian McMillan on vocals, Maeyc Hewitt on bass, Scott Saunders and Alan Holmes on guitars and Mark Thomas on drums - made their public debut.

Having built up a dedicated local following, the group made the first of two visits to RSC Studios in Bath on December 17th 1984. Here they struck up a fruitful rapport with producer Rob Craven, resulting in eighteen of the twenty seven tracks recorded during their lifetime. A second visit the following May yielded a further nine.

In between the two recording sessions, the group played a series of live dates in their home area of north Wales, the most memorable being one in a local mental hospital in March '85 and one a month previously supporting top chart act The Blow Monkeys, where the group was actually fined for mistakenly eating some of Dr Robert and co's food!

Things were not to last, and soon after the second trip to Bath the group played what was to be their final gig on 15th June 1985 at Treborth playing fields in Bangor. Drummer Mark left to pursue other interests, the rest of the group eventually metamorphosing into Third Spain and the rest, as they say, is history.

Although they existed for a mere nine months during which time they played only fourteen concerts, Reinheitsgebot left behind a legacy as impressive as many groups manage in that many years. Now at long last we have an opportunity to hear again and reassess the many facets of this seminal group - the wistful paeans to the passing seasons, the aching cries of longing, the vehement rockers, the darkly brooding atmospheres - they are all represented here in this trawl through Reinheitsgebot's rich archive.

Reinheitsgebot - R.S.C. Studios, Bath
December 1984 & May 1985

Ian McMillan
- vocals, harmonica
Maeyc Hewitt - bass
Scott Saunders - guitar
Alan Holmes - guitar
Mark Thomas - drums

1984 session:
1 Winter's Warmth
2 Sunday Sunday
3 One Apart
4 Linda Says
5 Words Don't Know
6 Autumn
7 Help Eleanor Come Home
8 Waiting for Daybreak
9 Summer
10 Sunset Sky
11 Cry Again
12 In the Morning
13 Quicksand.mp3
14 Still Not There
15 Cheer Up
16 It's Only Fortune
17 Splendid View
18 Sad Angel
tracks 1-5 recorded 17th-20th December 1984
tracks 6-18 recorded live in the studio 21st December 1984

1985 session:
1 Waiting for Daybreak
2 Winter
3 Linda Says
4 Wrong Side of the River
5 In the Morning
6 One Apart
7 Winter's Warmth
8 1000 Different Things
9 Still Not There
recorded May 17th, 18th, 20th and 21st 1985
mixed May 24th, 25th and 29th 1985

get the 1984 session here
and the 1985 session here

Saturday 21 January 2012

The Pinecones - November 1981

Following major changes in line-up and musical direction as documented in an earlier post, The Pinecones got together at Goetre Uchaf Farm in Bangor during November 1981 to work on a completely new set of material. All previously played songs were discarded and a new approach was worked out, based largely on improvisation and the use of harsher more dissonant sounds than previously. The first song the group came up with was 'Malutki Kotek', sung in Polish by Maria, and inspired by her (imaginary) pet cat. The song could almost be an out-take from The Raincoats' then contemporary second album 'Odyshape', but despite its airy groove and quirky charm it was never to be performed live. Apart from two untitled improvisations that were never developed further, the rest of this recording features nascent versions of many of the songs that were to form the core of the group's live sets for the remainder of their active life.

The Pinecones - Goetre Uchaf Farm, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor
November 1981

Maeyc Hewitt - drums
Alan Holmes - guitar/bass/trumpet
Maria Hycz - vocals/bass
Gary Stubbs - bass/guitar

1 Malutki Kotek 10.49
Break 2.39
Calling 2.51
Can You Show Me the Way? 5.44
Forward 4.21
Friday 3.53
Red Dress 3.21
Untitled 4.41
Scream (instrumental) 4.03
On My Mind 3.37
Whys (instrumental) 7.37
Untitled 1.52
Calling 6.09
Calling 5.56
(all songs Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Stubbs)

get it here

The Inadequates - The Loudest of The Inadequates

The Inadequates were the first punk group to emerge in north Wales, forming in Bangor towards the end of 1976 and continuing in various forms until early 1979. Their whirlwind of chaotic energy was a godsend to the disaffected youth of the area and a whole scene soon coalesced around the group and their gigs. Other punk combos soon sprung up in the area, and groups like CBL and The Zuggs could soon be found supporting The Inadequates.

Fronted by the legendar
y Scott Saunders, who had allegedly invented punk with a previous group back in 1974, The Inadequates went through several line-up changes after losing equally legendary guitarist and founder member Chris Pilditch, eventually settling on the classic line-up of Alan Wilkinson on bass, Pete Dudley on guitar and Mark Thomas on drums alongside Scott. It was this group that played at the legendary Eric's club in Liverpool on 27th October 1978 as part of a 'new groups' night. Although they went down a storm, their future proved to be less illustrious than that of the other two new groups on the bill - The Teardrop Explodes and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

After this high point, the group became disillusioned with just playing the same old gigs in Bangor and performed for the last time on 20th April 1979, Mark leaving to join Hot Water and Scott simultaneously forming The Verbs and Some Noise, who both went on to make some great music over the following year or so. Alan would reunite with Scott in 1980 to form Third Spain, not to be confused with the later group of the same name! Mark and Scott would also be reunited as members of the group Reinheitsgebot in 1984.

"The Loudest of the Inadequates" was released in 1981 as a cassette containing 18 tracks covering every phase in the group's career. It came with a booklet "The Story of The Inadequates" detailing the convoluted history of the group. The booklet is included in the download in pdf format, along with the cassette insert.

1 I'm a Hog for You Baby (Leiber/Stoller)
2 Police Dog (Sawyer/Saunders)
3 The Deal (Sawyer/Saunders)
4 Inadequate (Saunders)
5 Honky Tonk Women (Jagger/Richards)
6 Steady (Saunders)
7 Damage (Saunders)
8 Fuck Off (Saunders)
9 Nihilistic Romance (Haley/Saunders)
10 Coronation Street (Hefti arr. Dudley)
11 Watch Your Step (Saunders)
12 Programmed (Saunders)
13 Gospel (Saunders)
14 Energy Waltz (Saunders)
15 Do the Pram (Wilkinson/Saunders)
16 Ain't no Rock 'n' Roll in Bangor Town (Saunders)
17 See Her Face (Saunders)
18 Hey God (Dudley/Saunders/Thomas/Wilkinson)

1-3 Students Union, Bangor June 1977
4-12 Students Union, Bangor June 1978
13-17 Eric's, Liverpool 27/10/78
18 Cod Club, Bangor 20/4/79

get it here

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Stephen Davies - 1982 recordings

A well known character in the Bangor underground for more than four decades, Stephen Davies is a true renaissance man. A respected actor and film director, appearing in or directing films like "A Pinch of Snuff", "Wil", "For Freedom We Strive", "Mega-Alien", "Tim the Dinosaur", "The Gun Remains the Same", "V.A.F." and "The Quest", he was an equally talented writer, photographer, fine artist and musician.

His musical career started at the Bangor Jazz Club in 1976, where he improvised his uniquely surrealist lyrics over the cocktail jazz of the resident combo, which featured noted jazz guitarists Ken Thompson and Trefor Owen. By 1982 however, he had moved on to develop his own innovative style as these two sessions, from the 21st of January and the 5th of May, both in collaboration with Maeyc Hewitt,
bear witness. They feature several of Stephen and Maeyc's co-compositions, along with a sixteen and a half minute cover of Fay Ray's then-contemporary single "Heatwave".

Stephen later went on to play keyboards with the likes of Glaring Green, Raising Cain and Pearl Necklace, as well as recording his own electro-based compositions like "ADSR" and "Wendell Goes to Market" in the early 90s, when he was also briefly a member of Cut Tunes. Stephen Davies is truly a man so far ahead of his time, it is only now that his true influence is being acknowledged by a new generation of underground musicians and film makers.

Stephen Davies - 1982 sessions

Stephen Davies - vocals/electronics/percussion
Maeyc Hewitt - instruments

1 Getting Up (Davies/Hewitt)
Disco Dancing (Parts 1 & 2)
3 You Are Mine (Davies/Hewitt)
4 Toxic Fumes (Davies/Hewitt)
5 Forest of Colour (Davies/Hewitt)
6 I Pick Flowers for Her Hair (Davies/Hewitt)
7 Heatwave (Lovering)

1-4 recorded 5th May 1982
5-7 recorded 21st January 1982

get it here

A Silly Tree - January 1981

By the end of 1980, it became apparent that Gary's commitments in art college made him unavailable for midweek gigs, ruling out most of the regular nights in north Wales at the time.

Mark and Alan called on bass player Maeyc Hewitt and violinist Rebecca Ward to fill the gap and organised a special Christmas event at the Glanrafon Pub in Bangor on December 11th, going under the temporary name of A Silly Christmas Tree. Sadly the event was not recorded, the first documentation of this line-up coming from January 1981 when the group reconvened at Pen-y-Bryn Manor. This recording features a couple of new songs brought to the group by Maeyc, as well as new versions of a couple of old favourites, together with a one-off cover of Hot Water's debut single "Different Morning".

This line-up lasted only a couple of months before morphing into two separate groups - Alan, Maeyc and Rebecca forming One Hour Later Over Iran (as previously posted) and A Silly Tree bringing back singer Maria Hycz alongside Mark, Alan and Maeyc.

A Silly Tree - Pen-y-Bryn Manor, Abergwyngregyn
January 1981

Mark Creathorne - drums
Alan Holmes - guitar / vocals (3-6)
Maeyc Hewitt - bass / vocals (2)
Rebecca Ward - Violin

1 Hazard (Holmes) 2.44
2 Hip Hip Hooray for Christmas (Hewitt/Holmes) 5.25
3 Football (Hewitt/Holmes) 4.27
4 Guilty Feeling (Holmes/Hycz) 3.44
5 Different Morning (Lovering) 4.35

get it here

Tuesday 17 January 2012

The Pinecones - February 1982

Here's another Pinecones recording, made just a couple of weeks after the previously posted one. Again recorded at Goetre Uchaf farm in Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, the group are in fine form and try out some new songs as well as an unlikely cover of Goffin & King's "Sometime in the Morning", originally recorded back in 1966 by The Monkees.

The Pinecones - Goetre Uchaf Farm
February 1982

Maeyc Hewitt - drums / bass / guitar / vocals
Alan Holmes - guitar / bass / trumpet / vocals
Maria Hycz - vocals / bass / guitar
Gary Stubbs - bass / guitar / xylophone / recorded / harmonica / vocals

1 Friday 3.53
2 Forward (instrumental) 7.17
3 Red Dress (instrumental) 4.34
4 Sometime in the Morning 2.30
5 Just a Glance 7.02
6 Looking at Flags 5.15
7 A Hat 3.13
8 Forward 3.10
9 Can You Show Me? 4.54
10 Break 1.58
11 Forward 3.37
12 Forward 3.56
13 Red Dress 3.51
14 Red Dress 3.23
15 Forward 4.20
16 Untitled 4.39
17 Looking at Flags 5.00
18 Looking at Flags 5.38
19 Lampost 5.08
20 A Hat 3.06
(all songs: Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Stubbs except 4: Goffin/King)

get it here

Monday 16 January 2012

One Hour Later Over Iran

No band on the north Wales scene of the early eighties are more mythical than One Hour Later Over Iran and yet many people are to this day only sketchily aware of their existence. This is in some ways understandable when you consider that their entire public presence was limited to a single gig at the Glanrafon Pub in Bangor and 28 minutes and 24 seconds of recordings which were released on a very limited and highly sought after cassette, both in 1981.

Their single release was duplicated onto clear body cassettes - a brand new development in 1981 - and housed in a transparent case, all the information being printed on the label of the cassette. Although the packaging was inspired by Faust's classic 1971 debut LP's clear vinyl and sleeve, there doesn't seem to be any further discernible Faust influence on the group's music. With an ironic nod to music industry trends of the period, it was also released as a "1+1" cassette - with all the music on one side and a blank side for fans to record their "second favourite group" on!

These recordings amply display just how far ahead of their time the group were, anticipating the ramshackle DIY naïveté of the "C-86" scene by some five years. There's an endearing charm to the way all three members switch between instruments, although special credit must be singled out for Rebecca Ward's fine violin playing and drumming, probably the closest any of the group came to competence. Conversely, Alan's one attempt at drumming on the unreleased out-take "One Day the Red Flag Will Fly Over Albion" displays exactly why an otherwise fine song was excluded from the original release! It was of course this multi-instrument layered approach that was responsible for the group's reluctance to play live, although on the one occasion they did, they acquitted themselves admirably, without resorting to backing tapes or additional musicians. Sadly, the event was not recorded for posterity, and all that remains of this most elusive of groups are the seven songs that made up their sole release, together with two out-takes from the same sessions, presented here for the first time.

For trivia spotters, this page from the 1969 TV21 annual provides insight into the origins of the group's somewhat cumbersome name:

One Hour Later Over Iran - Complete recordings

1 A Road and a Field 3.09
Rebecca - violin/drums Alan - guitars Maeyc - vocals/bass
2 The Man in the Brown Coat 2.50
Rebecca - violin/vocals Alan - bass/organ/vocals Maeyc - vocals/drums

3 The Big Footprints 3.51
Rebecca - violins Alan - vocals/guitar Maeyc - drums/bass/vocals

4 A Woman Like You 3.11
Rebecca - bass/vocals Alan - guitar/vocals Maeyc - vocals/drums

5 Running Back 4.03
Rebecca - bass/violin/vocals Alan - vocals/guitar Maeyc - drums/guitar/vocals

6 People I Know 4.40
Rebecca - violins Alan - bass/organ Maeyc - vocals/drums/guitar

7 Nid Rwyf Eisio Mynd I'r Ysbyty 6.14
Rebecca - violin Alan - vocals/bass Maeyc - drums

bonus tracks:
8 One Day the Red Flag Will Fly Over Albion 5.11
Rebecca - bass Alan - drums Maeyc - vocals/guitar
(unreleased out-take from original album sessions)
9 Strut 90 4.05
Rebecca - drums Alan - guitar Maeyc - vocals/bass
(early version of 'A Road and a Field' with alternative lyrics)

get it here

The Pinecones - January 1982

The Pinecones existed for less than a year, yet during that time managed to transmute through four distinct phases, each with its own radically different sound.
Rising from the ashes of legendary Bangor post-punks A Silly Tree in the early Summer of 1981, the Pinecones started out as a bright and breezy psychedelic pop outfit, featuring the talents of classical guitarist Martin Parry on bass and experienced keyboardist Sarah Holyfield on Vox Continental organ. Several months were spent writing and rehearsing material in preparation for a debut gig at Bangor's Castle Hotel. In the event 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.

The third phase in the group's career was something of a one-off anomaly, with a subtle change of spelling to become The Pink Ones for one night. In this guise, they performed a complete set of Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd songs at a Psychedelic event at the Glanrafon pub on 27th October 1981. Martin rejoined briefly for the event and their friend Scott Saunders, previously of Some Noise, The Verbs and The Inadequates stepped in on organ, whilst Alan took over lead vocal duties for the evening. It was a most entertaining evening, although the group inadvertently pioneered the concept of the tribute band in the process, for which they are very sorry.

Immediately the group set to work on their definitive incarnation, inviting old school friend and founder member of A Silly Tree Gary Stubbs in to augment the core trio. The new sound was harsh and discordant, at times reminiscent of the No-Wave scene that was happening in New York at the time. The group debuted their new material at Plas Coch in Llanedwen on November 24th and it was an unqualified success, if only artistically. A gig on the 22nd of January 1982 in the Glanrafon was even better and is generally remembered as the greatest live event to have ever been experienced in Bangor. Sadly, after this peak the group found it difficult to live up to expectations and played a couple of final gigs in March at the Padarn Lake Hotel in Llanberis (4/3/82) and the Victoria Hotel in Menai Bridge (12/3/82).

The Pinecones - Goetre Uchaf Farm, Bangor
January 1982

Maeyc Hewitt
- drums / bass / guitar / vocals
Alan Holmes
- guitar / bass / trumpet / vocals
Maria Hycz
- vocals / bass / guitar
Gary Stubbs
- bass / guitar / xylophone / recorder / vocals

1 Forward 3.13
2 Red Dress 3.47
3 Can You Show Me the Way? 4.50
4 On My Mind 3.38
5 Break 1.47
6 Friday 5.00
7 Calling 4.49
8 Whys 6.25
bonus tracks:
9 That Look 2.03
10 That Look 2.08
11 Being In Love Is Nice 1.59
12 Go! 2.16
13 Peter Owen 3.12
14 I Can Reach 0.57
(all songs: Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Stubbs)

get it here

Sunday 15 January 2012

A Silly Tree - September 1980

By September 1980, A Silly Tree had already dropped several of their earlier songs, concentrating on their more extended rhythm based material. They made two sets of recordings at Pen-Y-Bryn Manor during the month, the first featuring more focused versions of some of the songs that featured on the August recordings, and the second set featuring a hint at future directions.

This second session saw the original trio augmented by singer Maria Hycz, who had previously played with Alan and Gary in The Zuggs, whose songs "Isn't Life Such Fun" and "Hazard" had formed part of A Silly Tree's early live sets. The three songs featured in this session displayed a radical departure from previous material, with Mark playing guitar on two of the songs and an abandonment of the afro-rhythms that had began to creep into the group's material. More contemporary groups were beginning to use ethnic influences and A Silly Tree became suspicious of this trend for dubious cultural colonisation, seeing a possible escape route in jettisoning rhythm altogether at times. Although Maria's tenure alongside the original trio was brief, she was to return to the group the following May as part of the final line-up.

A Silly Tree - Pen-Y-Bryn Manor
September 1980

Mark Creathorne - Drums / Guitar (8, 9)
Alan Holmes - Guitar / Drums (9)
Maria Hycz - Vocals (8-11)
Gary Stubbs - Vocals (1-7) / Bass

1. Still a Problem (Stubbs) 5.05
2. Surfin' 63 (Creathorne/Holmes/Stubbs) 7.32
3. Still a Problem (Stubbs) 5.10
4. Big Time (Stubbs) 4.46
5. Hazard (Holmes) 3.01
6. Accusation (Creathorne/Stubbs) 7.23
7. Accusation (Creathorne/Stubbs) 6.48
8. She'll Never Know (Holmes/Hycz/Stubbs) 6.15
9. Storyteller (Creathorne/Hycz) 4.18
10. Guilty Feeling (Holmes/Hycz) 5.05
11. Guilty Feeling (Holmes/Hycz) 4.56

get it here (part 1)
and here (part 2)

A Silly Tree - First recordings

A Silly Tree existed for only a year, forming in July 1980 and splitting up in July 1981. In that time they went through a variety of different line-ups, initially as a trio of Gary Stubbs on bass, guitar and vocals, Alan Holmes on guitar and bass and Mark Creathorne on drums.

Gary and Alan were inspired to form the group while attending a gig by The Pop Group
at the legendary Eric's club in Liverpool on December 1st 1979. The headliners' intensity and unhinged energy charged the duo with determination to take their own music more seriously, but it was support act Delta 5 that actually convinced them that they too had the capabilities of actually doing this themselves. Gary and Alan spent the next few months writing material, before a chance meeting with teenage drummer Mark Creathorne in the Glanrafon pub in Bangor completed the line-up. Mark had played in Some Noise, probably the first 'post punk' group in north Wales, but as they had recently fallen apart, Mark was looking for some fresh action... and A Silly Tree was born.

This is the first documented recording of the trio, recorded in a room at the top of the tower of
Pen-Y-Bryn Manor in Abergwyngregyn where Mark's family were living at the time. The material is pretty much a run through of the set from their debut gig at the Castle Hotel in Bangor that same week, but with the addition of an out-of-character cover version of Herman's Hermits' "It's Alright Now" which thankfully never made it to the group's live repertoire!

A Silly Tree - Pen-Y-Bryn Manor, Abergwyngregyn, North Wales
Saturday 2nd August 1980

Mark Creathorne - Drums
Alan Holmes - Guitar (4-8) / Bass (1-3, 9)
Gary Stubbs - Vocals / Bass (4-8) / Guitar (1-3 / 9)

1 Dancing Partners (Holmes/Stubbs) 5.52
2 Isn't Life Such Fun? (Holmes/Hycz/Stubbs) 3.02
3 Only Grey (Stubbs) 3.28
4 Big Time (Stubbs) 5.12
5 Surfin' 63 (Creathorne/Holmes/Stubbs) 6.10
6 Accusation (Creathorne/Stubbs) 7.30
7 Hazard (Holmes) 2.17
8 Still a Problem (Stubbs) 6.43
9 It's Alright Now (Noone/Hillary/Most) 2.57

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