Friday, 31 August 2012

The Blue Halos - This Perfect Poison

It's not certain whether The Blue Halos were ever a live group, and as far as we know, their sole release was this full length vinyl LP that was released on Valentine Days Records back in 1989. The label appears to be the group's own and so the catalogue number of VD2 suggests that there may possibly have been a previous release - possibly a cassette? If anyone is aware of any, please let us know.

The LP was recorded in Gaerwen, Anglesey by Steve Rutter of Tacsi / Red Stripe / A5 fame, and it is thought that the group probably also originated in that area. The fact that they were a duo, playing all the instruments between them suggest that it was most likely a studio project. The group appeared to be quite divorced from any local musical scene of the time, their sleeve notes (see below) showing an almost paranoid over-defensiveness and alienation. Their music too, didn't fit easily with other local groups, veering between almost Syd Barrett-esqe psych and PiL type cathartic rage, taking in 80s synth rhythms and punky thrash along the way. An intriguing release... if anyone can fill in the gaps, please let us know!

Insert and sleeve notes from "This Perfect Poison"

Reverse of insert
The Blue Halos - This Perfect Poison
Vanetines Day Records VD2  (1989)

Colin Ryan - vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, synth bass, percussion
Derry Wilkinson - drums, synth bass, keyboards, percussion

1  Serenity
2  (end of another)
3  Harry in America
4  Captive
5  Dreemy (Captive dub)
6  Everywhere
7  Minian the Mole
8  K.K.K.
9  Deadbeat Backtrack:
    i) Phone Box
    ii) 852
    iii) B.T.

get it here

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Pinecones - Phase One: Summer 1981

The late, great Scott McKenzie
This week's sad news of the death of Scott McKenzie, undisputed king of flower power, inspired us to dig out The Pinecones' definitive 1981 reinterpretation of the great man's 1967 number one hit "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)". In the process, we came across three complete unreleased sessions by the group, featuring their very earliest line-up.

We've featured quite a bit of The Pinecones here at Turquoise Coal, but those of you who are only familiar with their classic period of spiky post-punk belligerence may well be surprised to hear the jangly psych-pop cadences of the earliest incarnation of the group.

For reasons now lost in the mists of time, A Silly Tree parted company with drummer Mark Windows following their gig at Plas Coch on July 14th 1981 and the three remaining members underwent something of a reshuffle as they morphed into The Pinecones. Bass player Maeyc Hewitt moved to drums and the trio recruited classically trained guitarist Martin Parry on bass, who had previously played alongside Mark Windows in Some Noise. After a couple of sessions as a quartet, one of which can be heard here, the group decided to widen the sonic palette by inviting Sarah Holyfield to play Vox Continental organ in the group. Sarah agreed on condition that the group dropped their cover of "San Francisco", a song she hated, from their set.

The group spent much of August holed up at Goetre Uchaf farm in Bangor's Penrhosgarnedd district putting together and polishing a body of original material, punctuated by a couple of covers - Nico's "Chelsea Girls" and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich's "The Legend of Xanadu". They played their first live performance on September 4th at the Castle Hotel in Bangor, supporting local superstars Fay Ray. Unfortunately, due the positioning of their name on the poster (see below), most of the audience thought they were called Disco & the Pinecones!

Poster for the only live appearance of The Pinecones Mk 1

The gig proved to be too much of a success, and the group were instantly booked to play two major gigs in the area the following month - at the University's main hall and at the annual Ogwen Valley Fair outdoor festival.

Never ones to embrace popularity without a fight, Alan, Maeyc and Maria decided on a plan to shed some of the unwelcome acclaim. For the two upcoming gigs, they decided that no rehearsed songs would be played and, with the help of an on-stage alarm clock, the set would be divided into 3 minute sections, during which the group would spontaneously make up material on the spot. To introduce further instability, they also invited several friends on stage to join in, including the notorious industrial pioneer Lustmord. The plan worked a treat, and not only did the group alienate the audience, but also Martin and Sarah, who promptly left the line-up! Sadly no recordings of this short lived phase exist.

Pineapple Cove, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - August 1981

1    Trust  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 2:37
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 4:48
    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:13
    Untitled  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 3:11
    Treading on My Toes (original demo)  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:38
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:48
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:17
    (If You're Going to) San Francisco  (Phillips) 3:35
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 9:56

Goetre Uchaf Farm, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - August 1981

10    Green Car  (Hewitt) 2:55
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 8:25
    Trust  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz) 3:03
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:46
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:17
    Chelsea Girls  (Reed/Morrison) 5:16
    Going Round in Circles  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:11
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:15

Goetre Uchaf Farm, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor - September 1981

18    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:04
    Nowhere to Run  (Hewitt) 9:51
    Treading on My Toes  (Holmes/Hycz) 3:42
    Feel Free  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 5:54
    Far Away  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 1:10
    Green Car  (Hewitt) 3:11
    The Legend of Xanadu  (Howard/Blaikley) 3:13
    Far Away  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 4:29
    Chelsea Girls  (Reed/Morrison) 5:43
    Playing for Time  (Hewitt/Holmes/Hycz/Parry) 4:42

tracks 1 - 9, 18 - 27

Maria Hycz - vocals
Alan Holmes - guitar, backing vocs
Martin Parry - bass
Maeyc Hewitt - drums

tracks 10 - 17 

Maria Hycz - vocals
Alan Holmes - guitar
Martin Parry - bass
Sarah Holyfield - organ
Maeyc Hewitt - drums

get it here

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Alun Rhys Jones Task Force

Alun Rhys Jones' love of nature eventually led to abandoning music in favour of a career in conservation

After several well received gigs as a four piece, Alun Rhys Jones and musical director Wil Jones felt it was time to expand the sonic palette of the Alun Rhys Jones Band. Having been impressed by a recent performance by The Kaseo Kid  (a.k.a. Dewi Evans), they invited Dewi to join the line-up, an invitation he was happy to accept. In addition, it was felt that a horn section might add a little fashionable 1982 colour to the arrangements and so Ann Matthews and Phil Leyton were drafted in from local post-punk funksters Kärnarvøn Kästle. An expanded line-up called for an expanded name, and so The Alun Rhys Jones Band became The Alun Rhys Jones Task Force in a satirical nod to the then recent South Atlantic conflict.

The first appearance by the new line-up took place again at the Glanrafon Pub in Bangor, on 13th August 1982 and once again was recorded. Here it appears, as on the second volume of 20th anniversary CD reissues, augmented by Alun's 1979 Christmas album Christmas with Alun Rhys Jones.

The group was not to last long however, and disbanded shortly afterwards. Wil Jones went on to play with the popular Felinheli combo Y Cynghorwyr in addition to becoming a highly acclaimed artist, while Alun Rhys Jones himself retired from the musical world in favour of a successful career in conservation. The rest of the Task Force went on to play in various incarnations of the mighty Cut Tunes, and indeed many subsequent interesting groups.

Cover of the 20th anniversary CD reissue

The Alun Rhys Jones Task Force
Live at the Glanrafon Pub, 13th August 1982

1 intro / Hawaii Five-0  2:44
2 Worms  3:43
3 Till There Was You  2:02
4 I Could Be a Knight in Shining Armour 3:00
5 One Girl at a Time  3:24
6 Pot of Gold  2:50
7 Woman in White  3:52
8 Eskimo Nell  2:15
9 Wombat  5:48
10 My Only Gal's my Bicy-gal  2:25
11 Cat Song  2:34
12 Chasing Rainbows  3:40
13 Champion the Wonder Horse  3:03

Alun Rhys Jones - vocals
Wil Jones - guitar
Gary Stubbs - bass
Maeyc Hewitt - drums
Dewi Evans - keyboards
Ann Matthews - saxophone, clarinet
Phil Leyton - saxophone

bonus tracks:
Christmas with Alun Rhys Jones (1979)

14 I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock 'n' Roll)  2:38
15 Silent Night  3:21
16 Johnny B Goode  2:18
17 Eskimo Nell  2:11
18 White Christmas  2:00
19 O Come All Ye Faithful  3:12
20 I could be a Knight in Shining Armour  2:13
21 Ding Dong Merrily On High  1:52
22 Auld Lang Syne  1:45

Alun Rhys Jones - vocals
Wil Jones - guitar
Celyn Davies - bass
Maeyc Hewitt - drums
Alan Holmes - trumpet

get it here

The Alun Rhys Jones Band

The Alun Rhys Jones Band live at Plas Coch, Llanedwen 30th September 1981

Felinheli based songsmith Alun Rhys Jones was a legendary figure on the north Wales scene during the late seventies and early eighties. Playing his first gig in July 1978 at Bangor's long demolished Castle Hotel as support to Mike Haslam, Alun would regularly spellbind audiences with his smooth croon and eerily realistic animal impersonations over the next four years.

The Alun Rhys Jones Band went through many changes during its lifetime, the one constant being guitarist and musical director Wil Jones. Wil would recruit the finest of the scene's contemporary players to provide the most sympathetic backing for Alun's catchy and idiosyncratic originals and sprinkling of carefully selected covers.

Alun Rhys Jones

By the time the group played at the Glanrafon Pub in Bangor on January 8th 1982, the original rhythm section of Celyn Davies and Neil Coleclough had left the area and was replaced by The Pinecones' rhythm section - Gary Stubbs on bass and Maeyc Hewitt on drums. Unlike concerts by the previous line-up, of which only photographic evidence remains (see above), the Glanrafon performance was captured in hi-fidelity sound for posterity and released as a limited edition cassette entitled, for reasons lost in the depths of time, Whistle Me Bimbo. We were unable to locate a scan of the original sleeve which featured artwork by Wil Jones and so feature instead the 20th anniversary CD reissue, which augmented the live set with some of Alun's earliest demos, including an ultra-rare recording of his very first composition Folk Song.

Cover of the 20th anniversary reissue of Whistle Me Bimbo

Whistle Me Bimbo: 
The Alun Rhys Jones Band live at the Glanrafon Pub Bangor
8th January 1982

1 Pot of Gold  3:32
2 Eskimo Nell  2:22
3 Till There Was You  2:13
4 Hard Headed Woman  2:06
5 I Could Be a Knight in Shining Armour  3:31
6 Wars on 45  5:02
7 Daydreamer  2:06
8 Rock & Roll Music  2:34
9 My Only Gal's My Bicy-gal  1:35
10 Do Ya Wanna Touch Me?  2:38
11 The Woman in White  2:22
12 Champion the Wonder Horse  2:33
13 Till There Was You (encore)  1:53

Alun Rhys Jones - vocals
Wil Jones - guitar / backing vocals
Gary Stubbs - bass / backing vocals
Maeyc Hewitt - drums

bonus tracks:
14 Folk Song  3:29 
15 Johnny B Goode  2:17
16 Get Back  3:01
17 Hearts and Flowers  2:11

recorded Pineapple Cove Studios, Penrhosgarnedd, various times 1977-1981
Alun Rhys Jones - vocals
Wil Jones - guitar / organ
Celyn Davies - bass / organ
(probable line-up)

get it here

Terry Waite ar Asid

Terry Waite ar Asid existed around the Mold / Ruthin area between 1988 and 1990. They appeared on a split flexi-disc with Ffa Coffi Pawb, contributing the song Chicken Jane and also released this 5-track cassette EP in their own right.  

Their irreverent, ramshackle and confrontational approach was a welcome antidote to a Welsh scene that was becoming ever more focussed on polite TV and radio appearances, something the group's material virtually ruled out, although they did make a memorable appearance on the S4C show Y Bocs (see below). 

The high point of their career probably came on February 25th 1989, when they supported My Bloody Valentine at Olivers, Chester. Such a high profile was not to last however, and following a gig in Bangor Football club with Fflaps on 20th January 1990, they split, promising to reform for a one off performance on the day that Terry Waite was eventually freed. This was never to happen though, the group citing their mental state at the time, claiming not to be allowed out of Denbigh Mental Hospital to fulfill their promise. A recent statement claimed that some of them have since recovered and are still considering a reunion.

As can be seen from the scan above, the cover of the EP doesn't give much away as to the contents - no track listing, group line-up, or even the band name! A little research and memory jogging turns up the following names of band members, although three of them seem to be drummers, so probably not all members simultaneously!

Llŷr Ifans, Paul O'Brien, Bonz, Gwion Llwyd, Al Edwards, Iwan Griffiths

Singer Llŷr Ifans (sometimes Evans) went on to a successful acting career, co-starring with his brother Rhys Ifans in the hugely successful Twin Town, as well as appearing in Very Annie Mary and an episode of The Bill. Gwion Llwyd went on to form cutting edge electronic group Mescalero with Gwern ap Tudur and Douglas Jones of the legendary Crisialau Plastic and is now a respected sound engineer. Al Edwards went on to drum for two of the most acclaimed Welsh groups of all time, Datblygu and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci amongst many others. Not sure about the others, but they're doubtless also doing great stuff... if you know, let us know too!

Likewise with the track titles... the three songs on side A seem OK, but not sure about the other titles, although track 4 is based on Kraftwerk's The Model musically, if not lyrically. We seem to remember the group having a song charmingly titled Alun Llwyd (Wancar) but don't think it's one of these... all help is welcome!

Terry Waite ar Asid - EP 1988

1  Caron Keating  4:37
2  Merched mewn Pinc  2:25
3  Terry Waite Ble Wyt Ti?  3:16
4  ? (The Model)  4:19
5  ? 3:18

get it here