PERSONAL MUSICAL HISTORYPAGE 3 OF 6
I join 'Transposed Men'. The name comes from a sixties book cover I have glued to the front of an old drum machine. Neol and Brad are already friends of mine and the line-up shows great promise - Neol Davies - Guitar and Vocals, John Bradbury - Drums, Desmond Brown - Hammond Organ, Steve Wynne (aka Vaughan Tive) - Bass, and myself on Guitar and Vocals. I have already recorded a few demos of Neol's songs at Brad's cellar in Warwick at a prior date. Anyway the main bulk of the songs we are playing will become staples in The Selecter's set and many will feature on their first album. Virgin Records are interested but nothing happens. Anyway I digress, when Brad leaves to join The Specials everything falls apart. After awhile Neol and Desmond team-up with some of the ex-members of Hardtop 22, Pauline Black joins them on vocals, and The Selecter is born, Steve Wynne eventually joins The Swinging Cats and sometime after that Dexy's Midnight Runners>> On My Radio (edit) - Transposed Men (1.8mb)
'79-'81, I get invited to do a support spot at a birthday party at the 'Rockhouse' in Coventry, The Urge are playing, later they ask me to record a rehearsal session. After a few weeks I join them, I play guitar, electric piano and EMS synth and start to introduce some of my songs to the groop. I employ Burroughs 'cut-up' techniques for some of the lyrics. We decide to dispense with the definitive and we are now just called urge ( • v. encourage or entreat earnestly to do something). We release our first single 'Revolving Boy' See video on youtube financed partly by student entertainment manager Duff (recorded at 'Spaceward Studios' in Cambridge) on our own label 'Consumer Disks'. When John Peel first plays it we are sitting in a car, needless to say it makes us feel ten feet tall when he describes it as "more Coventry genius!" When Fos joins us as our manager he also doubles as road-manager when we embark on a brief tour of Holland and Germany. After we get back Pinnacle agree to distribute the single for us. This period is covered to some degree in urge clippings • live review from Alternative sounds
David and I have good chemistry. It turns out to be a good song writing team, Dave writes most of the lyrics, I compose most of the music. We remain good friends in the future. The first single 'Revolving Boy' takes it's title from a pulp sci-fi paperback. It's a kinda fun song about a pre-pubescent boy named Derv spinning around in zero gravity searching for love. It's married to an updated Stax groove and underpinned by an hypnotic dub bassline, music fans! Also there's a certain irony that our second single about the boys in blue (Bobby) should be used by another person involved with the blues, Bobby Gould (CCFC Manager) as his theme music for a show he does for Mercia Radio. Although things are grim with Thatcher gaining power in the general election, this only seems to feed the desire of Coventry musicians to make a stand and take a strong political stance. Overall, there is a positive, more optimistic scene starting to grow. This is a good period for music in Coventry, there's lots of bands that play different styles of music, who all know (of) each other. There's friendly rivalry for sure, but a sense of unity seems to be the most prevailing attitude. Importantly The Specials success seems to galvanise the scene. Martin Bowes (Attrition) essential 'Alternative Sounds' is the 'zine with all the dope about what's happenin' locally.
During this period I release a cassette 'On Earth 2' on the 'Ambivalent Scale' label. This Nuneaton collective comprises Eyeless and Bron Area among others. I feel an immediate affinity with them and record some tracks for Side 1 of Bron Area's 'One Year' cassette. (EIG's Martyn Bates later matures into a prolific songwriter and an inspired, idiosyncratic and brilliant vocalist) We try to organise dates where Bron / Eyeless play with urge or myself whenever it's possible.
I start performing local live gigs with my Stratocaster and a tape-delay system, (this consists of 2 tape recorders, both in record mode, the tape spools from the left (tape deck #1) through two sets of recording heads and is taken up on the right (tape deck #2) the delay is the space between the tape heads, you can then improvise over the top of what you've already played, this is cool as it automatically records the performance. I find out about this system from Brian Eno's 'Discreet Music' album on his Obscure label. Here is a short excerpt from a live performance >> Coventry Climax Edit - Kevin Harrison (3.5mb)
After good press reviews and word-of-mouth for On Earth 2, Mike Alway from Cherry Red asks me if they can release it on their label as an LP. I agree. After a few overdubs, and a sprinkle of 'ear candy' at WSRS in Leamington by the talented and charming John A. Rivers, it becomes Inscrutably Obvious. (I'm fond of 'paradox' at this time. and no, this is not the name of another Coventry band, altho' it could be). The cover for this and the subsequent Fly EP are designed by my good friend Mark Osborne, who I later work with quite extensively, and will be featured in an exhibition of album sleeve art at the South Bank in a few years time. (Donated by Colin Newman of Wire). Also a compilation LP is released by Cherry Red - 'Perspectives & Distortion' features a track from Inscrutably Obvious. People in Space (1.8mb)
Photos: top to bottom: Kevin - Bus shelter '78 by Lynda • David '81 by Simon Reeves • Kevin in Barcelona '81 by Ian Foster