Monday, 31 July 2017

Family Patrol Group - Fear Death by Water (1983) C60

Back when I was just a schoolboy in short trousers, I went to see Whitehouse play live at a pub in Birmingham. I'm not sure if it was the first gig I ever attended, and I can't be bothered to check, but it was probably one of them. I went with my friend Grez, and possibly also Jez, although I have a feeling he may not have been able to make it - it was a long time ago. Anyway, despite being a youthful bag of nerves I made a new friend just by standing outside the venue with a Come Org badge proudly sported upon the lapel of my school blazer. His name was Colin Fisher and I think he'd helped organise the event. He was a member of Family Patrol Group, one of the two support bands, the other lot being D.Mag 52 / SHC standing for Death Magazine 52 and Spontaneous Human Combustion because they had two names, not yet having decided which they preferred. We went in and my eyes boggled at what the inside of a pub looked like. I noticed a bloke resembling the Shend from the Cravats stood on the other side of the room fighting off a massive crowd of fans, and David Tibet was perched at the next table reading out the lyrics to Whitehouse's Rock and Roll to his pals and making them laugh. It was exciting, and also kind of scary.

Family Patrol Group were first on with a fifteen minute wall of noise, followed by D.Mag 52 / SHC, who were good, but not as good, finishing with Whitehouse, who were terrifying. A glass casually lobbed into the audience by one of the Whitehousers hit Grez squarely on the top of the head. I turned to him so as to opine something along the lines of fuck this - let's go home and found my question answered in dramatic fashion by blood gushing down his face from where the glass had hit. This incident has somewhat coloured my view of Whitehouse since, but to get to the point, Family Patrol Group really stole the evening for me. There was something about the pure force of their noise, like standing before the business end of a jet engine, and a jet engine which caught our attention without turning the event into the pre-title sequence of an episode of Casualty.

I kept in touch with Colin and bought a few tapes off him, then saw Family Patrol Group again later that same year supporting a couple of bands I don't even remember - Seduction and Baptism with Fire. One of them was a Bauhaus tribute act or something along those lines. This second gig is captured on Fear Death by Water, or at least on my copy. I've a feeling the original tape may have been just the four studio tracks, and I added the recording of the gig in support of Whitehouse myself seeing as there was plenty of room on the tape. I had the impression that Fear Death by Water wasn't so much an official thing as just a tape they might slip you if they could be arsed. The cover doesn't give much away, certainly no titles, and some of this stuff turned up on compilation tapes with titles which may have come from the group, or may have come from whoever was putting out the compilation. I get the impression they were more interested in the live setting, and to be fair, they were fucking amazing live on the two occasions I saw them.

I still don't know much about Family Patrol Group, although their internet presence seems to have increased since the last time I looked, and there's even a website with a list of gigs performed. Their commitment to power electronics conventions of the time seemed tongue-in-cheek bordering on sarcastic, at least going by what Colin said about their Beyond Nilsen stickers. They clearly figured somewhere in that whole Birmingham noise thing which also bequeathed us Final, Smear Campaign, Con-Dom, Godlfesh and so on, and the two who weren't Colin Fisher had also been involved with D. Mag 52 / SHC, concerning which, please feel free to interpret whatever else you may feel you need to know from this excerpt from one of Colin's letters:

I'm not in D. Mag 52 / SHC, but the other two are. I'll give you the D. Mag 52 / SHC potted history if you like. Originally a large band of around nine members, fluctuating line up depending on who could attend, no rehearsals, just found instruments before gigs usually. Mainly metal bashing, drums, and other percussion, like Test Dept at times. Slimmed to five, four, or six piece - then mainly metal, tapes and vocals. Then down to two hardcore members - others thrown out or dissuaded. No gigs, but still fluctuating as people replace one another. At the Mermaid, Simon was helped out by a friend. The other hardcore member - Paul - was on 'holiday'. Truth is he was a bit embarrassed at supporting Whitehouse. I think he felt it was pointless trying to compete with them, as we all did, but nevertheless we didn't bottle out. After Family Patrol Group degenerated to nothing, mainly because of my absence at Sunday afternoon jamming sessions, Mike Grant, Family Patrol Group vocalist, was looking for gigs to play as D. Mag 52 / SHC, playing alongside Simon and Paul with Greg, our tape person. They got two, one at a pub which has a regular free spot on Monday evenings, and the second was at an all day festival where Nick Lowe was the main artist. They got ₤100 to play this, but I was told they used ₤80 in preparation by going into the recording studio to record backing tapes. I think it may have been Mike Grant's idea as he had not been into a studio before and was quite keen to do so. Anyhow, I didn't go to either of the above two, mainly due to Mike Grant falling out with me. Nothing serious, just once when we were in a pub he ignored me and he's never spoken since.

I'm therefore assuming that Family Patrol Group were Colin Fisher, Mike Grant, and some dude called Greg, but I'd be very happy to be corrected on any of this - always happy to revisit this little corner of noise history, given that you probably won't get to read about it in books written by tossers for whom it all started with comedy acts such as Ministry.

1 - Fighting Cocks, Moseley 17/12/83
2 - Fear Death by Water I
3 - Fear Death by Water II
4 - Fear Death by Water III
5 - Fear Death by Water IV
6 - The Mermaid, Sparkbrook 27/8/83

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Monday, 24 July 2017

v/a - Paranoia is Awareness (1982) C90

Regardless of accusations I may or may not have made last week, it really has to be said that Larry Peterson knew how to put a compilation together. A Sudden Surge of Power, which he released on his own Cause for Concern label, remains pretty much my favourite of its kind, and frankly it still pisses over better publicised tapes from the same era, notably the undoubtedly decent but somewhat overrated Red Sand. I'll put A Sudden Surge of Power up here at some point in the not too distant future, but in the meantime, here's Paranoia is Awareness - Larry's first compilation, maybe not the classic that was the later collection, but a fucking good showing nevertheless.

Because I'm a generous old fucker, I've scanned the A4 booklet which came with the tape, so that's included as a series of JPEG files in the folder which comes with the download. My copy was customised by various members of the Apostles and the Assassins of Hope, adding sarcastic commentary to their own respective pages before Larry got the thing to the safety of an envelope with my name and address written on it, so although I've cleaned up all the scans as much as I could so as to get rid of yellowing, coffee stains and so on, I left the thoughts of Chairman Martin as they were because it seemed right to do so.

The inclusion of the booklet also means I don't need to spend too much time telling you about these artists. You should be familiar with the Apostles, Matfield & the Pond and We Be Echo if you've been following this blog, and Third Door from the Left were the group of which Kevin Thorne was a part before he started recording as We Be Echo. The track here is actually an excerpt from a Third Door from the Left live tape released by Cause for Concern, one which I might put up here providing it hasn't been reissued by Vinyl on Demand (I still haven't got around to checking, although I know Frank did Face the Firing Squad on vinyl). You will no doubt recognise the Nocturnal Emissions tracks which first appeared on their classic Fruiting Body album which you own, or you should own, and if you don't, get the fuck away from me. I think Plastic Bag were pals of Nigel from Nocturnal Emissions as they had a mailing address around the corner in Camberwell and used to put out a zine called Apocalypso a Go Go, of which one issue was full of extremely naughty pictures and another was a special on Nocturnal Emissions. They also recorded some great harsh electronics as Brides of Christ II. Finally, I seem to recall seeing Nervous Legion mentioned in the cassette column in Sounds a good year before Dave Henderson started the whole Wild Planet thing, so I have the impression they were something significant which vanished off the radar just as I was becoming aware of this sort of stuff. I'm sure Larry told me that the guy behind Nervous Legion committed suicide, but I could be getting my wires crossed. Terrorist, as it appears on the tape, seems to end with the sort of repetitive scratches which suggest it may have been taped from a 7" single (can't be heard here due to my cleaning up process), which is intriguing; so if anyone knows anything about Nervous Legion, I'd love to know more. I've always thought those two Nervous Legion tracks were the bollocks.

1 - The Apostles - Redifusion Refugee
2 - The Apostles - Escaping Again
3 - Matfield & the Pond - Toxteth
4 - Matfield & the Pond - Paem Wyrd (theme)
5 - Matfield & the Pond - All My Toys
6 - Nervous Legion - Terrorist
7 - Nervous Legion - Gas
8 - NCP - Wild Thing / Johnny B. Goode / Standard Punk Song
9 - Assassins of Hope - Prisoner of Law
10 - Assassins of Hope - Rejection
11 - The Cause for Concern - Some Suffer
12 - Tom Castle - Adric
13 - Red Herring - Newman's New Trees I (advertisement)
14 - Red Herring - EZ Chew (advertisement)
15 - Tom Castle - This Place is So Rewarding
16 - Red Herring - Extranose (advertisement)
17 - Red Herring - Newman's New Trees II (advertisement)
18 - Tom Castle - You Stop Me (Doing What I Want)
19 - Red Herring - Newman's New Trees III (advertisement)
20 - APF Brigade - Dreaming
21 - APF Brigade - Burnt Offering
22 - APF Brigade - 1805-1945
23 - Third Door from the Left - Live at the Ship
24 - Nocturnal Emissions - LD50
25 - Nocturnal Emissions - Routine Surveillance Exercise
26 - The Event Group - Seward Rap
27 - Michael Jones - Uncle & Auntie Bastard
28 - Michael Jones - Delicious Enemy
29 - Michael Jones - Dance of the Wild Brains
30 - Michael Jones - Drinking Like Mad
31 - Plastic Bag - In the Corridors of a Train
32 - Swinging 3-Man Junta - Untitled
33 - Swinging 3-Man Junta - Larry is a Rock Star
34 - Alien Kulture - The Burden
35 - Tom Castle - Doors of the Mind

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Friday, 7 July 2017

Acrobatic Champions (1985) C15

This was a solo tape by Paul of Die Brücke, Apricot Brigade, Envy, and a million other musical identities. You may remember he had a couple of tracks on Moraals, possibly. I asked him if I could put some of his stuff out on my crappy label, and he said yes, picking the name Acrobatic Champions from either a TV documentary or a kid's book about bats, which are apparently quite acrobatic in their own way, and which appealed to Paul's sense of humour.

A full sixty-minute tape was to come, but first there was this because I liked the idea of putting out C15s for fifty pee (inc. P&P) on the grounds that it was cheap, no-one else seemed to be doing it, and it seemed like a good way to get the music out there. Flowers and Skylight were both composed as soundtrack material to a film and a video piece of the same names made by Paul as part of his degree at Maidstone College of Art, both recorded in the sound studio associated with our course. The third track was just something he came up with to bring the whole up to fifteen minutes. I watched him record it then asked what it was to be called, and he said, I'll name it Piranha, after the tape, because the C15 master copy was a brand of cassette manufactured by a company called Piranha. Crazy times.

For what it's worth, the distortion you can hear on Flowers is part of the music rather than the result of a knackered old cassette. Paul was somewhat ahead of the curve in his use of deliberately distressed sounds, at least in a blatantly composed and musical context. He really should have been disgustingly famous.

1 - Flowers
2 - Skylight
3 - Piranha After the Tape

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