Precious Recordings of London
Heavenly/Hefner/The Weather Prophets/Prolapse
Out Now/May 22
Let’s Make This Precious. The lyric borrowed from Kevin Rowland and used by Precious Recordings of London as their mantra. And Precious is indeed what they make it, with the latest batch of BBC radio sessions released between January and May this year, and more to come imminently.
Precious Recordings of London
I’m not sure enough credit, kudos or exposure has been given to Nicholas Godfrey and co. for what they have done, and are doing, with Precious, bringing to light so many fabulous radio sessions from some of the 80’s and 90’s best loved independent recording artists.
As with countless others, as a child of the 70s/80’s, much of my exposure to independent music and some of my favourite bands was through the likes of John Peel, Janice Long and Kid Jensen. With sessions from bands forming a large part of the draw of these shows. To this day some of my favourite versions of songs by The Smiths are the one’s recorded for John Peel.
To do what Precious is currently doing is like bringing back swathes of my lost youth, each time I get an e-mail from Nicholas to announce the next batch of bands featuring on the label, I get a slight palpitation with excitement as to what is coming next.
Of course, these records are about the music, but another of the elements of what makes Precious so, well, precious, is the attention to detail around the whole packaging of these bundles of joy. Each gatefold double vinyl 7” comes with a set of postcards, often with previously unpublished images and detailed sleeve notes including insightful quotes from members of the bands. All packaged up in instantly recognisable branding/packaging from Precious. These records take pride of place in my singles racks.
Thats all very well, but is the music any good? You need to ask? Have you seen the list of bands featured to date?
Having previously written about the initial releases, I’ve since been inundated in the post by this year’s offerings, much to my great joy and listening pleasure.
First up, 7 songs from post Tallulah Gosh Heavenly across two Peel sessions, the first from 1991, a departure from the norm in that only 3 songs were sessions, but these three songs live up to that old adage about quality over quantity, their familiar and endearing melancholic indie jangle featuring on the exquisite take on And the Birds Aren’t Singing and continuing on So Little Deserve. Escort Crash on Marston Street has an altogether different vibe, with a more upbeat punk tinged 60’s garage pop feel The first EP features extra tracks including Beatles cover It Won’t Be Long.
Their second offering is another Peel session, this time from 1994, the addition of Cathy Rogers taking the band further down the route of Escort Crash on Marston Street, Cathy’s Hammond organ parts really coming to the fore on the instrumental Sacramento, before its gloriously chaotic crescendo. The joyful vibrancy of the dual vocals really gelling on the wonderful Sperm Meets Egg, So What?, continuing to add the icing on the cake to the thunderous beat and crunching riffs in Dumpster
The Weather Prophets
The Weather Prophets feature on a Janice Long Session from 1985, and year and a bit later on John Peel’s show. The first session was early on in The Weather Prophet’s post Loft days. The first song on the session Love Song No. 1 was a song the band never released, while 24 Years will be more recognisable to most as Head Over Heels. Lighthouse Room also ended up changing title to Wide Open Arms before it was released. I’m not the only person who prefers session versions of some songs. The version of Almost Prayed recorded for this session was the one ultimately released as the single.
The 1986 session kicks off with the superb jaunty rhythm and matured sound of Swimming Pool Blue, before the swaggering laidback groove of Hollow Heart. The EP completed by She Comes From the Rain and a inspirational version of Faithful.
Perhaps the pick of the bunch for me are the two sessions from Leicester formed indie post punks, Prolapse. The juxtaposition of Linda and Mick’s vocals an alluring factor in drawing me into the band’s music. I say this as a Glaswegian myself, so I know this sounds like a cliche, but Mick’s vocal gives the music an edge and air of threat The versions of the four songs on the first session (from 1994) are utterly absorbing from every aspect, musically, lyrically and vocally. When Space Invaders Were Big a particular highlight, for some reason Mick Derrick’s delivery bringing to mind Hugh Reed’s 6 to Wan, but obviously with a much more serious subject matter. The first session closes with the experimental relationship breakup thrash of Broken Cormorant.
The second Prolapse session is from three years later, a 1997 Peel Session. Slash/Oblique opening things in a gloriously frantic manner before Deanshanger and its elongated intro, more or less a shit list of everything that’s been “crap” over the centuries. Outside of It is the most stark and spacious of the songs across the Prolapse sessions. All the more chilling and affecting for it. Place Called Clock closes proceedings in a sinister folky fashion. Perfect.
Next up on the release schedule its the turn of Hefner and the first two of three sessions from the band, the first two a John Peel and a Steve Lamacq session mere months apart.
The first session (Steve Lamacq) opening with a passionate delivery of The Librarian, with Tactile following in a equally ardent fashion.May God Protect Your Home initially smoulders before bursting into flames in this impassioned song of sexual encounters. Twisting Mary’s Arm closes off the first of the three sessions in flamboyant upbeat style.
Their Peel session from October 1998 kicks off with the understated slow build brilliance of the duo of The Science Fiction and I Stole a Bride before they create their own version of chaotic surf in their version of the Beach Boys, You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone.
Keep an eye out for more, with releases from Hurrah! And post Heavenly Marine Research already scheduled.
Precious recordings of London – Bandcamp
- Pre 001 The Jasmine Minks – John Peel 17.2.88
- Pre 002 The Jasmine Minks Janice Long 24.11.86
- Pre 003 BMX Bandits Janice Long 23.6.86
- Pre 004 BMX Bandits Janice Long 9.4.87
- Pre 005 Blueboy – John Peel 13.12.94
- Pre 006 Heavenly John Peel 14.4.91
- Pre 007 Heavenly John Peel 7.5.94
- Pre 008 The Weather Prophets Janice Long 10.10.85
- Pre 009 The Weather Prophets John Peel 1.12.86
- Pre 010 Prolapse John Peel 20.8.94 (May 22 release)
- Pre 011 Prolapse John Peel 8.4.97 (May 22 release)
- Pre 012 Hefner Steve Lamacq 15.7.98
- Pre 013 Hefner John Peel 13.10.98
- Pre 014 Hefner Steve Lamacq 24.3.99 (Aug 22 release)
- Pre 015 Marine Reserach John Peel 18.5.99 (Aug 22 release)
- Pre 016 Hurrah! David Jensen 8.12.82 (Jun 22 release)