Articles / Reviews

The Sound - BBC Recordings sleevenotes pt. 1

date: Dec 14, 2003


Transmissions to the Nation 

After the excitement of hearing our first two single releases on Great Aunt John Peel's slot on BBC Radio One we went along to the Lime Grove studios to record some more for the "Mike Read Show". The producer on this session was Dale Griffin - the drummer from the notorious Seventies rock band Mott the Hoople. The last time I saw him was at a rock festival in Essex in 1972. Just the top of his head bobbing about behind his enormous kit. As you can imagine, I was particularly enthusiastic about meeting a personal musical hero. The rhythm section is much better recorded than on the "Jeopardy" album - benefits of having an ex-drummer 

I guess Graham and I are playing really tight and Adrian sounds really alive here too. Intense and sparkling as he could often be when at his best. I like Benita's contributions better in this setting - she seems much more integrated into the band somehow. All in all, a fantastic session - with hindsight, producing results like these from just one day's recording makes me realise what a bunch of operators we were. Top marks to the BBC Engineering team. And I believe that's the only time you'll hear "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6" as a song intro.... 

The second session was for the John Peel show. The sound here has more "polish", as befits a post-"Lion's Mouth" session, but still retaining an underlying rhythmical punch that was a feature of the band throughout its life. Colvin's synth-washes give the music a more panoramic feel, and the whole band sounds more adept and competent. I even like "Hothouse" better - I always thought It a bit of a slight song, but here it has a real "new wave pop" fed to it. If you think you can hear the influence of Steward Copeland in the drumming you wouldn't be wrong. Adrian sings with real assurance and command on this track too...

"New Dark Age" - simply the best recorded version in my opinion - even the speeding up was left to its most effective place at the end of the song. I'm really proud of these recordings - everybody is at the top of their game, even having the confidence to start playing around with the original arrangements, quite subtly but nonetheless effectively. Obviously, recording under time pressure was a strategy we would have been wise to adopt for the studio albums - I can't believe how good we sound. I hope you agree. 

Mike Dudley, Leatherhead, Surrey 14/12/03 

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