Friday, June 5, 2009

White China, great unknown band from Scotland

Early 1984 White China signed a record breaking major production deal with Island Records and Stiff Music in the UK, an American Deal with MCA was complete by the middle of that year.

It became quickly obvious to the Band that things werent all they could be, after spending 6 days in RAK Studios in London with Steve Brown as producer and Pete Glenister as co-producer, "Real World" the first single, was delivered to Dave Robinson owner of Stiff Music and now MD of Island Records.

Robinson wasnt happy with what he heard so, he asked Steve Brown to remix the song at Wessex Studios in London, but again he didnt like what he heard.

Robinson then had the single remixed a further 17 times with various producers and different studios, the final version being done in Rockfield, Wales with Julian Mendelsohn as producer, Robinson was heard in conversation stating, the success other artists like U2, Bob Marley, Frankie Goes to Hollywood were having on Island meant he had to delay the Bands debut single, due to no staff being available to push the band to radio and tv.

The Band werent happy with his decisions or this version of "Real World" and let Dave Robinson know in no uncertain terms, it appeared at that time Julian Mendelsohn was the prefered producer in Robinsons eyes, but on his first efforts the Band didnt want to work with him, Peter Powel of Radio 1 agreed that the Bands efforts with Steve Brown were by far a better version.

The tapes were then sneaked up to Scotland for Neil Ross at REL studios in Edinburgh to remix and complete a 12" version, Neils remix was considered good by the Band and management, he had origionally produced the Bands demos that had attracted so much attention from various major labels, but again Dave Robinson rejected this version.

At this point producer Martin Rushent stepped in, he was willing to do a new version of "Real World" at his Genetic Studios, this session didnt better that of the first Version by Steve Brown, so Dave Robinson decided to release Julian Mendelsohns version against the bands wishes.

The Band then Toured for the 3rd time with Big Country in the UK, Eagerly awaiting to find out how there first single was doing in the charts the band were given a bombshell blow, they had been penalised for selling to many copies in Scotland, indications of an initial top 40 with the first single were now in tatters.

The Band went back to the drawing board to find another producer to do a second single "Too Young", this was to be released 2 weeks into the Steeltown tour the band had agreed with Big Country.

Producer Howard Gray was then chosen, the Band then went to CBS Stusios in London, and then to be haunted in, The Manor Studios and Ridge Farm, again with co-producer Pete Glenister to complete the second single "Too Young", the Band were happy with the results, but Dave Robinson was not, his mention of Julian Mendolsohn again drove the band out of Islands offfices in disgust and off to tour with Big Country with no single to promote.

On this Tour the Band decided that this time they would find a producer to record the first Album "The Innocence" with or without Islands approval.

The Band were introduced to producer John Punter, instantly they struck up a good relationship with John and decided to go back to Genetic Studios, Phil Tennant was to be the engineer who the Band had previously worked with on Martin Rushents version of "Real World" so things were looking up!.

Now late 1985, the album was finished, the final mixes were to be completed in Air Studios, Oxford Street, London.

The Band were happy with what John Punter had finished for them, at last after having to record 48 track for most of the album it sounded close to how the Band did live.

Dave Robinson was given the album early 1986, this time he liked what the Band had done, he quickly released "Smiles and Jokes" to be followed by "Too Young" but sadly disaster struck, Dave Robinson was given his marching orders from Island and Chris Blackwell wasnt going to be back incharge for some time, so all Island releases were shelved for the time being.

The Band completely disolusioned by this time, and feeling very much a good TAX loss for Island, refused Dave Robinsons offer to move to Stiff to release the first album, a move that they might be thankfull for, Stiff Records/Music shortly after went bust, and the Band negotiated to get off Island, sadly the Band went there different ways at this point never to reform, but still remain good friends to this day.

The first album "The Innocence" is now being persued by the Band, it is hoped that Universal will honour Islands contract and return the master tapes, a release date of early 2007 is the target, the Album Island didnt want anyone to hear may eventually make it to cd, all be it some 20 years late.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fiat Lux and their secrets...

Fiat Lux comprised David P Crickmore, Steve Wright and Ian Nelson (above) and were together from 1982 to 1985.

They managed to brush the edges of the Top 75 singles chart during 1984 with 'Secrets' reaching number 65 and 'Blue Emotion' reaching number 59. After six singles the band eventually went their seperate ways in 1985, 'Solitary Lovers' being their last single. Most people would probably recognise 'Secrets' without knowing the artist. May be it was just a cruel twist of fate that meant Fiat Lux never made it 'big'.

It all began at Bretton Hall College, Wakefield, during the late 70's where Steve Wright and David P Crickmore attended. They came together when Steve joined the college band that David was in called The Juveniles (2 of their tracks appeared on a compilation album 'Household Shocks' around 1980).

After college, Steve joined the Yorkshire Actors Company. One of their productions was 'The Cabinet Of Dr Calagari'. One of the company, Andrew Winters was a Bill Nelson fan and realising the Cocteau connection, he persuaded Bill to write music for the show. This is how Steve got friendly with Bill.

Steve mentioned that he had some songs, and Bill suggested that he shout them into a cassette recorder and if they were any good he would do something with them at his home studio 'The Echo Observatory'. Instead of this, Steve went to David for help and they revamped and arranged the ideas and recorded them decently on a 2 track Reel to Reel. The result so impressed Bill that he abandoned the home studio offer. Instead, he booked time at 'Ric Rac Studios' in Leeds for them to record a single for his Cocteau Label.

While waiting for this to happen, Steve and David started gigging the material locally as 'He's Dead Herman'. They used a number of local musicians to bolster Steve's vocals and David's Casio keyboard and guitar. One of these was an Ian Nelson, who they met not through Bill, but through another local musician Ada Wilson, who had used Ian in his band 'Keeping Dark'. At this stage Ian was one of a number of random musicians who turned up on an impromptu basis.

Steve and David then recorded 'Feels Like Winter Again' and 'This Illness' as a duo, with Bill as the third musician and producer. It was at this point Bill asked them what the band's name was. The reply was 'He's Dead Herman'. After some laughter he suggested a change might be in order. Steve had a little red book full of names that they'd thought up, so he handed this to Bill and he picked 'Fiat Lux' out of the list.

There was another long wait before the actual release date, the start of radio play and the NME single of the week which led to the Blancmange Tour. During this period, Ian became fully assimulated into the band's line up.

The rest they say is history....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jimmy Jimmy, a jangly pop band

Jimmy Jimmy would have been considered a forgotten band from the '80s if anybody had actually known the group in the first place. A duo consisting of vocalists/guitarists James O'Neill and Jimmy Kemp, Jimmy Jimmy debuted with the chirpiest of singles -- the keyboard-laced jangle pop gem "I Met Her in Paris" -- in 1985.

Reminiscent of Herman's Hermits and the Mindbenders, Jimmy Jimmy had enough Merseybeat charm and British Invasion hooks to make listeners believe that they were '60s relics. Perhaps that is why the group failed to achieve mass acceptance, at least in the U.K. Obscure to most British and American music fans, Jimmy Jimmy found a spot between Aztec Camera and the Housemartins on the Philippines' new wave radio stations, as "I Met Her in Paris" and, to a lesser degree, the lovely ballad "Lady" became staples of the format.

Syrupy lyrics and boyish harmonies overflowed on the band's only LP, Here in the Light, released in 1986 on CBS in the U.K. Since the late-'90s Internet explosion, Jimmy Jimmy has acquired greater recognition, as collectors of rare new wave and indie vinyl have sought out the duo's scarcely available small discography.”

From AllMusicGuide


Monday, June 1, 2009

Yours sincerely, The Colourfield...

In January 1984 The Colourfield released their first single, "The Colourfield", which just missed making the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart. In the summer of the same year, they released "Take" as their second single, which commercially did not come close to their debut six months earlier. However, the next single release would be the one that would land them a high position on the charts. "Thinking of You" released in January 1985, made it to number 12 in the UK chart, and featured Katrina Phillips on vocals. The final single, released days before their debut album came out, was "Castles in the Air" which reached the lower reaches of the UK chart.

When Virgins & Philistines was initially released in April 1985 it contained twelve tracks in the U.S. release and ten in the UK version - but can now be found with twenty tracks as a Japanese re-release, containing many B-sides and live tracks. It failed to gain a large audience due to difficulty in marketing an album with such a diverse sound -- it mixes 1960s and early 1970s pop music with more acoustic based melodies and string arrangements. Virgins & Philistines is often regarded as the direct musical predecessor to the later work of The Lightning Seeds in the 1990s, whom Hall would later collaborate with in a songwriting role whilst providing occasional vocals.

Virgins & Philistines contained all original material except "The Hammond Song" (a cover of The Roches song), and "Can’t Get Enough of You Baby" (written by Linder/Randell), which was the only track that received much airplay. The album was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport (near Manchester) and was produced by Hugh Jones and Jeremy Green, and engineered by Chris Jones.

Additional personnel featured on the album included Pete de Freitas (Echo & the Bunnymen) on drums, Paul Burgess (ex-Camel, also drums), Preston Heyman (percussion), Ian Nelson (clarinet), Katrina Phillips (background vocals).

January 1986 saw The Colourfield become a four-man group, adding Gary Dwyer (ex-The Teardrop Explodes) on drums. Around the same time, the band's U.S. label compiled a six track EP entitled The Colour Field (sic) containing the new UK single and B-side "Things Could Be Beautiful" / "Frosty Morning" produced by Ian Broudie; two live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Palais, "Pushing Up The Daisies" and "Yours Sincerely"; and two older tunes produced by Hugh Jones, "Armchair Theatre" and "Faint Hearts". "Things Could Be Beautiful" did not make the UK or U.S. charts and it was another year before the public would hear anything new.

The Colourfield returned in the spring of 1987. They were now just a duo augmented by Raquel Welch's band and session musicians. Hall had to hire Welch's band after Lyons left during the sessions. The content of Deception was different from Virgins & Philistines. It is almost as if Hall formed a new band but kept the same name. Since then Hall has voiced his displeasure with the recording of the album, because he did not feel he had control of the session musicians and producers the way he needed to preserve The Colourfield’s sound. Deception was produced by Richard Gottehrer and Jeffrey Lesser at Wool Hall Studio, New York City.

The first two singles released from Deception were both covers: "Running Away," an original by Sly & the Family Stone, from the album There's a Riot Goin' On, released in 1971 on Epic; and "She," a song composed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. "She" was released as a 12” and contained the additional track "Monkey in Winter" with lead vocals by SinĂ©ad O'Connor. The track "Miss Texas 1967" is considered Hall’s best vocal performance on the album.[citation needed]

Additional personnel featured included Gregg Mangiafico (keyboards); Sammy Merendino (drum programming); Roland Orzabal (Tears for Fears) (guitar on "Running Away" and "Confession"); Dollette McDonald; Deborah Malone and Janice Pendarvis (background vocals on "Digging It Deep").

Hall has gone on to do many other projects since The Colourfield. In 1990, with a few ladies under the name of Terry, Blair and Anouchka, he released the album Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes which contained a cover of the Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together". In 1992 he collaborated with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) under the name Vegas. In 1995 he released his first solo album, Home. He has worked with The Lightning Seeds, Stephen Duffy, Gorillaz, and Tricky. He has also appeared live with The Ordinary Boys.

On 21 July 2003, Hall released his album The Hour of Two Lights which is a collaboration with Mushtaq (Fun-Da-Mental), a twelve-year-old Lebanese girl singer, a blind Algerian rapper, a Syrian flautist, Hebrew vocalists, a group of Polish Gypsies and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

Lyons is now a university tutor of graphic design at Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jim Jiminee, Hampshire's indiepop band

Hailing from Fleet in Hampshire in September ‘86, Jim Jiminee made catchy jangly guitar pop songs that are still popular today. They bounced into the indie top 20 with their first single ‘Do It On Thursday’ with a showing on ITV’s Saturday Morning TV Chat show which led to majors tours of the UK and Europe.
Over the next year they promoted their album and released a second single ‘Town & Country Blues’ which again the video was shown on the Chart Show and a BBC Radio Session.

Their next release was a track not featured on the album, ‘I Wanna Work’ which was followed by another UK during in early ‘89.

After the departure of Delphi left the band as 4 piece to carry on with recording the second album, ‘The Thatcher Years’ including the infectious lost classic single ‘Impetuous Girl’. Unfortunately, the steam went out of the band and in late ’89 they decided to call it a day and the album remained in the vaults until it was issued in 2000.

In 1999 saw Japanese label Vinyl Japan reissue the debut album ‘Welcome to Hawaii’ which surprised everyone to appear in their end of year top selling albums. This led to Vinyl Japan releasing their unreleased second album ‘The Thatcher Years’ and a compilation of singles, bsides and radio sessions, ‘Town & Country Blues’.

Of the original 5 members, 3 went on to form 'The Deep Season' and signing to Sony releasing 2 EP’s and an Album. Over the years they have featured/guested with a cornucopia of bands and artists including Arnold, The Sundays, Robyn Hitchcock, and The Audience.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Care's precious diamonds and emeralds..

Formed by Paul Simpson and Ian Broudie in 1983 in Liverpool, England. The band released a string of singles in the 1980s but soon broke up without producing an album. Their songs, which include "Whatever Possessed You," "Flaming Sword," "My Boyish Days," and "Chandeliers," were compiled and released posthumously as the album Diamonds and Emeralds (1997, Camden/Sire Records).

Paul Simpson, in between Care's activity, was the vocalist of another English band, The Wild Swans, whose songs include the Zoo Records 12" single "The Revolutionary Spirit" and "Young Manhood," "Bible Dreams," and "Whirlpool Heart," from their first album Bringing Home the Ashes (1988, Sire); currently, Simpson uses the moniker Skyray and released the albums The Dream Diaries and Liquid Crystal Display, both in 2004.

Ian Broudie, on the other hand, became more successful after forming The Lightning Seeds in the late 1980s, releasing a string of albums which spawned hit singles like "Pure," "All I Want," "Life of Riley," "Three Lions," and "Life's Too Short." Now solo, Broudie released his first album, Tales Told, in 2004.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shack, simply the best Liverpool band!

Before founding Shack, Michael and John Head were in the cult 1980s band The Pale Fountains, and released two albums, Pacific Street in March 1984 and ...From Across The Kitchen Table in March 1985. However, though critically acclaimed, the albums only reached Numbers 85 and 94 in the UK Albums Chart. That band folded in 1986 when bassist Chris "Biffa" McCaffrey died of a brain tumour.

The Head brothers soon re-emerged as Shack, signing to the Ghetto Recording Company, home of record producer Ian Broudie's solo project, The Lightning Seeds and British soul band Distant Cousins. Shack's first album Zilch was released in 1988, but was neither critically nor commercially successful. The follow-up, Waterpistol, was recorded in 1991 at London's Star Street Studio. Shortly after the recording of Waterpistol was complete, the studio burnt down and most of the tapes were destroyed. The only remaining DAT of the album was in the possession of producer Chris Allison. At the time, Allison was in Los Angeles, California and when he returned, it transpired that he had left the copy in his hire car. It was only found weeks later after a frenzied search. However, by this point, Ghetto had folded so the record was without a distributor. Shack split, with Wilkinson joining fellow Liverpudlian John Power (formerly of The La's) to form the successful Britpop band Cast. The Head brothers accompanied Love for a few touring dates. They then went on to form The Strands, which found them further critical acclaim.

Waterpistol was finally released in 1995 on the German independent record label, Marina (NME described Mick Head as "a lost genius and among the most gifted British songwriters of his generation"), but had negligible sales. Mick Head went on to suffer problems with heroin addiction.

The Head brothers, along with Iain Templeton (who drummed on The Magical World of the Strands) and bassist Ren Parry reformed Shack in 1998, releasing HMS Fable (1999). Perry was replaced by Guy Rigby on bass for ... Here's Tom With the Weather (2003). Wilkinson rejoined in 2005, replacing the departed Rigby.

The band are currently signed to Noel Gallagher's 'Sour Mash' record label. May 2006 saw the release of the album ...The Corner of Miles and Gil named after two of the Head brothers' heroes, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

In October 2007 the band released their greatest hits compilation album, Time Machine, including two new tracks. They toured briefly in England in October and November with Martyn Campbell on bass, including a set at the Liverpool Academy on 26 October 2007, which was filmed and recorded for a possible live album and/or DVD.