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

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