Click on the link here for Audio Player – Steve Hillage – In Concert at the BBC Paris Theatre – December 4, 1976 – BBC Radio 1 In Concert
Another artists synonymous with a decade and genre of music. Steve Hillage was associated with a number of influential artists and bands during the Progressive Rock era of the early 1970s, including Kevin Ayers and most notably, Gong.
When he finally went solo after leaving Gong in 1975, his debut release, Fish Rising was much anticipated and well received.
As times and tastes changed however, so did Steve Hillage. He dabbled in the Punk scene for a while, playing guitar on stage for Sham 69 during the 1976 Reading Festival and becoming a Producer in the 1980s, working with such bands as It Bites, Simple Minds and Robyn Hitchcock. In 2006 he returned to Gong and has been with them more or less since then.
Tonights Concert features the Steve Hillage recorded at the fabled Paris Theatre on December 4th 1976, during the time of the release of his follow-up album L.
(Sorry about the hissy sound of the broadcast. It’s an old tape and it’s seen better days, but it tried its best).
Going through a number of personnel changes in a short period of time.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – Strawbs In Concert from London – 1973 – BBC Radio 1 In Concert Series
Strawbs were a band who went though a number of musical changes during their initial tenure from 1964-1980. Initially a bluegrass/folk-rock ensemble, boasting the likes of Sandy Denny, who would later depart for Fairport Convention and a successful solo career. And Rick Wakeman, who would later join Yes and become part of that band’s halcyon days. Strawbs weren’t as wildly successful as the members who passed through, yet they had a substantial following, particularly in the U.S., and during their initial phase went from simple folk rock to Pop (touching on Glam for a bit) and eventually to Progressive Rock and became mainstays on FM radio in the early 70s.
They scored a substantial hit in 1973 with their single Part of The Union, which reached number two on the UK charts, and toured extensively with a group of up-and-comers, Supertramp, often with comparisons to each other in sound.
Tonight it’s a concert from the 1973 period. Wakeman had left to join Yes, and was replaced by John Hawken, formerly with The Nashville Teens. The sound was evolving as was their following on this side of the Atlantic, which was growing by leaps and bounds compared to the audience at home.
However, they did record this gig in London for BBC Radio 1’s In Concert series, and if they weren’t as popular in the U.K. as they were over here, it’s hard to tell by this concert.
A good time was had by all.
For those of you who have heard about Strawbs, but not actually heard them from this period, especially in concert – now’s your chance.
Overlooked, even by their own admission.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – The Call – live at The BBC – 1983 – BBC In Concert series – BBC Radio 1
Finishing up 80s week – for now.
If you go to The Call’s website, you’ll be struck by an phrase – one you hear over and over throughout the years: The Most Underrated Band In The World. In the Call’s case, they’re almost right.
The four piece band from Santa Cruz, California probably had a bigger reputation overseas than they did at home. They became something of a band’s band. Admired by everyone from Bono and Peter Gabriel to Simple Minds. They toured considerably, and did achieve Arena status, but as a support band – not as a headliner. It was the one aspect of success that eluded them, even though they were widely respected, they had numerous successes, and a number of successful albums and singles, they never quite got that final push into household name category they should have received. Fronted by Michael Been, formerly a member of the 60s Psych band Aorta (another wildly underrated band) and a resurrected H.P. Lovecraft (called simply Lovecraft), Been was the driving force behind The Call and responsible for the unique musical directions they followed.
Tragically, Been collapsed and died of a massive heart attack backstage at the Pukkelpop Music Festival in Belgium while working as a sound engineer in support of his son’s band The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. That was in 2010.
Tonight it’s the band early on. A set recorded by the BBC for their In Concert Series in 1983 that is both inspired and high-voltage. It perfectly captures the uniqueness of the band and recalls a great band that almost made it to the top, but fell short.
Enjoy – as always, play loud. It’s Friday anyway . . .
XTC – It would not be the 80s without them.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – XTC In Concert At Hammersmith Palais – February 7, 1981 – BBC In Concert Series – BBC Radio 1
You can’t have a week of 80s music without including a concert by XTC. They pretty much defined the decade (at least the first half) for me. One of the most instantly identifiable and influential bands to come out of that period. XTC were labelled all kinds of things – but they insisted on being considered a Pop band.
They embodied the craft of tight, well-executed song-making. From brilliant lyrics to instrumental lines, XTC were one of the most competent and successful bands of the period.
Listening to this concert, recorded on February 7, 1981 at the Hammersmith Palais in London, every song carries with it an indelible mark. And it’s amazing how many memorable hits they had during their tenure, and the energy level borders on Mach One. This goes under the heading of “Classic Concert”.
So as a reminder of how great this band was, here is XTC in concert as recorded by the ever-present BBC for their In Concert series for Radio 1.
I don’t think I need to tell you to crank this one up very loud.
Mixing it up, musically.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – UB40 In Concert – June 13, 1981 – BBC In Concert Series – BBC Radio 1
Continuing with the 80s tonight and a concert by UB40 from June 13, 1981. Recorded, as always, by the venerable BBC Radio as part of their In Concert Series.
Part of the Reggae/Ska movement of the late 1970s/early 80s UB40 were, in many ways, a breed apart from the beat-driven frenetic sounds of The Specials or the high-voltage energy of Madness. UB40 took it down a few notches and offered up some luxurious song-writing that factored high on many “music to shag to” lists in the early 1980s. They were hugely popular throughout the world and were voted Best British Band in 1984. All told, UB40 have sold some 70 million records during their long career.
They’ve gone through many career ups and downs and have weathered numerous personnel changes over the 30+ years, but they’re still together and still gigging.
This concert, from 1981 captures them during their formative years. Already with a string of hits, the best was still yet to come.
So, as a reminder of just how the 80s rolled . . . .
80s Electronica and then some.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – OMD In Concert – March 11, 1984 – BBC In Concert Series – BBC Radio 1
Keeping the 80s going this week with a concert from Electronica/New Wave pioneers OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) in concert from 1984.
Successful practically from the get-go with a string of memorable hits, OMD became a household name with their single Joan of Arc, along with the milestone video that got almost non-stop play on the then-fledgling MTV. They also figured prominently in the teen-angst films of John Hughes, with If You Leave, written especially for Pretty In Pink landing the group in the Top-5.
Cited as a major influence by a number of bands in later years, OMD covered a wide range of musical genres. Not crazy about the idea of being pegged a “synth-pop-techno band”, they embraced New Wave and experimental music throughout much of their early careers. And even though the band broke up in 1996, as tastes and audiences changed towards conventional Brit-Pop, they reformed in 2006 and have been successfully playing the festival circuit the past few years (I ran an OMD concert from a 2011 Pinkpop Festival in Holland not long ago). And have been discovered by a new and enthusiastic audience.
Tonight it’s the earlier incarnation of the band – not quite at their peak, but well on their way.
And a reminder of how versatile the 80s really were. And how interesting MTV actually were before they went south.
B.B. Blunder promo shot for Worker’s Playtime, with the inimitable Julie Driscoll disguised as Comely Barmaid.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – B.B. Blunder in Session for Top Of The Pops – 1970 – BBC Radio 1
As promised a few days ago after running Blossom Toes, here is the next logical step – B.B. Blunder came about as Blossom Toes ceased to exist. Together for what seemed like ten minutes, the band actually were together a bit longer, enough time to make the classic (and completely underrated/overlooked Worker’s Playtime), provide backup for a solo effort by Reg King who also briefly joined the band and then drifted back into neglect.
Worker’s Playtime was issued in the States, on the Polydor label, which may have explained why they were overlooked. Polydor was just getting it’s act together in the U.S. and not having an easy go of it in 1971. For some reason, United Artists (the label they were on in the UK) passed on the option to release them in the U.S., which probably compounded the lack of enthusiasm for what was otherwise a great debut album.
But as I’ve said countless times before; it’s almost impossible to predict what people will respond to and whey they won’t respond to where the subject of Pop Music is concerned. Bands you were dead-certain would make it massively came and went almost totally unnoticed.
At any rate – here is one of the rare appearances B.B. Blunder made via The BBC’s Top Of The Pops. Just two numbers, but enough to make you wonder why they weren’t a huge success in 1970.
One more band to wonder about.