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)

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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

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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

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