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