Peeved Records

Goldfish Records logo

The company originally started as Goldfish Records, named after a particularly good radio programme the founders (Steve Hartwell and Peter Skelley) broadcast on Imperial College Radio. A company called Goldfish Productions took exception so we became Peeved.

Peeved Records logo

We released one single, by The Primary, which more or less sold out the 500 we had pressed. Thereafter we stuck with tape releases as they did not require anything like as much capital investment and could be produced 'just in time' to match the actual demand. The company was based in Cambridge hence all the local bands appearing on either their own releases or on compilations. Steve was born in Southampton which is why there are a lot of South Coast connections as well. The label was heavily influenced by the Southampton based indie cassette review magazine Stick It In Your Ear (SIIYE). In addition to covering the national and international home taping phenomenon they also did a lot to support local talent. The idea was to do the same in Cambridge, not just through the label but also through the local music magazine Scene And Heard.

A less comprehensive set of information can be found at Discogs and RateYourMusic.

The Gestalt Funeral Party Fashions cover

The Gestalt - Funeral Party Fashions
C60, Goldfish 001, 19th August 1983
Darkness / Blue Mountain / Now It's Coming Clear To Me / The Man Who Loved Electricity / Dental Floss / Agincourt / Sophia / Losing Control / Crash Course / Travel In Frame / Listen (To Me) / TV Screen Dream / Orient Express / Kill Mr Happy / Clocks / Sense Of Colour / African Desire / TV Screen Dream

Goldfish have in fact collated an anthology of The Gestalt's studio recordings 1979-83. Eighteen tracks that perfectly show a band developing both their style and studio techniques. All have been reviewed before in "Ear To The Ground" and six of the songs were on Stick It In Your Ear's 'In The Park' compilation, but just to remind you; they were a synth, bass, guitar and drum combo who always seemed to have something missing! I could never quite put my finger on the real problem until they burst into SIIYE HQ one day bearing their new tape which contained that missing ingredient - the magnificent voice of Louise Tierney. She completely transformed both the band's musical direction and my appraisal of them. Gone are the gloom-doom merchants of yesterday - they metamorphosed into a bright 80's pop band now known as The Primary.

Ear To The Ground

The Primary Radio Silence cover

The Primary - Radio Silence / Responding
7" Single, Goldfish 002, 5th October 1983, Discogs

The download comes with a free bonus track - Beating Hearts Temptation.

One of Southampton's best young bands - Primary - have just financed and released their single. "Radio Silence" is their first vinyl single although, as Gestalt, they recorded a cassette single, "Up Here" for the Stick It In Your Ear label.
They struck up a friendship with Tears For Fears, the Bath synthesizer stars, and used their Sleep Exchange studios to record the cassette single.
"This time the Riverside Studios in London were used because Tears For Fears were using the Sleep Exchange themselves," said Primary's Steve Hartwell.
Gestalt had a bleak synthesizer sound, but the addition of Louise Tierney on vocals just before they recorded their first single removed much of the harshness and Primary are now one of the best bands on the Southampton pub and club circuit.
As they are all students or working out of town Primary can only get together at weekends.

Southern Evening Echo

Released on the College-based Goldfish label Radio Silence is a remarkably professional first single. The elaborate production allows scope for a wide range of influences - unfortunate ones like ELO rub shoulders with Louise's excellent Souixsie sound-alike delivery. Obviously written by the drummer and keyboard player (the bass and guitar hardly get a look in) it rocks along nicely - the keyboards are really quite good although the drummer hasn't fully mastered the song's many changes of pace.

Felix, Student Newspaper of Imperial College, London

Much entertainment surrounded the release of this one. It originally appeared on ...... Records, accompanied by a frantic request from label boss Steve Hartwell on no account to mention the name of ...... Records, since there was another ...... Records and they were threatening injunctions. So here it finally is, on (justly) Peeved Records.
None of which should detract from the fact that it is a quite excellent single, and certainly the best thing to have come out of this area for a very long time. In it's favour we have a fine pressing, high quality recording (Riverside Studios), an extremely strong song (Peter Barker and Mark Taylor) and a faultless performance featuring smooth but disciplined keyboards and the outstanding voices of Louise Tierney and Gideon Hatch, which mingle in a delightful manner. The Primary (previously Gestalt) have come on by leaps and bounds and we're going to hear a lot more of them. Meanwhile, just buy it!

Gary Revillo, Due South

Line-up :
Pete Barker-Keyboards
Pete Nater-Bass guitar
Mark Taylor-Drums
Gideon Hatch-Guitar,vocals
Louise Tierney-Lead vocals

The PRIMARY used to be called the GESTALT with Gideon Hatch on lead vocals, producing a sound very much like Joy Division. But the voice of Louise Tierney was a wise addition, as this debut single is extremely good and if John Peel plays it a bit,it could make an impact on the Independent chart. I myself prefer the B side as it is not so commercial. It is called "Responding" and has a good tune, displaying what the Primary can really do.

Pigment #1 (April 1984)

The notion of 'the ideal summer sound' is a cliche of almost unmanageable proportions these days - 'ideal summer sounds' arrive by the flotilla as the weather improves, each hopefully touting its own variation on the idea of languorous warmth and sensuality - so it is more than time to replace this hackneyed icon with something newer and more relevant. Will you please meet and greet the ideal record for spring? These tunes positively shout about renewal. 'Radio Silence' is done to a turn with mentholate vocals, a crispy swinging beat, an arrangement that swamps all possible rivals with such dazzling sleight-of-desk that you can hardly hear the joins, and a hot grainy, soulful hot-nights-and-cool-breeze synthesizer sound that would make most of today's popstars sell their last car to be able to capture on record.

Ear To The Ground

Perfect Vision Demonstration cover

Perfect Vision - Demonstration
C30, PV003, 5th December 1983, Discogs
Play Red / Worksong / Drive Me / Bite The Bullet / Repetition / Labour Like This / On Edge / Great Figure
Great Figure was added at a later stage ( 30th September 1984)

Perfekte Tanz-/Dance-Music im stille von Human League, Simple Minds und trotzdem dufte nemacht, echt studiomassige Qualitat, von der Gruppe gibt's auch schonne 12", etwas kommerziell gemacht. Tut der Cassette aber keinen Abbruch.

Go For Gold

Take this cassette to your unbelieving hearts and you'll lead a better life. Vocally I'm reminded of the Human League and indeed the whole recording strikes many similar poses. Face it: there are few musos these days capable of producing music that retains interest after the first ten seconds, let alone keep the listener engaged for a mammoth 30 minutes with this intriguing, hypnotic mix of brittle rhythms, hard playing and all round inventiveness. This does all that and more. You pays your money, you makes your voice. Recommended.

Stick It In Your Ear #83

Demonstration and the vinyl EPs are available here

Martin Baxter Because It Was There cover

Martin Baxter - Because It Was There
C60, PV004, 10th December 1983
Darkhearted Man / Plain Jane / Sometimes I Feel Like Cryin' / Africa Here I Come / The 2nd Song Of The Quasars / Free Jazz 1 / Free Jazz 2 / The Call Of The Wild / Take 2000 / Sad Red Chevrolet / Echo Chorale / Accretion / Holiday Suite:- A)Introduction B)Dance C)Fantasy D)Conclusion / Dorothy And Michael (Freely) / Dorothy And Michael (Strictly) / I Really Wish It Was / Sub-Millimetre Valley / Allegro In Quasarheim / Ancient And Modern / La Rotta

atrocious, ambitious, adventurous and amusing

Chris Heath, Blue Seude News

Have you been looking for that elusive, most thoroughly chronic concoction of British eccentricity & the present moment? Then look no further, because Martin Baxter is it. The overall effect of the hour set is that of an exhilarating rush, as if towards the bar. Beneath his party hat beams a great grin - as a chameleon of the post hippy music scene, Martin has mixed styles and influences into a recording of a very distinct and original flavour. It's all such a refreshing change from the usual pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped music of the eighties.

Stick It In Your Ear #83

The Same Sync Or Swim cover

The Same - Sync Or Swim
C40, PV005, 8th November 1983
Set Zero / Hot & Cold / Larruping Shuftly / Auntie Meat / My First Ride In A Metro / Sampled And Held / Sync Or Swim / E Scapes.
Licensed From Unlikely Records.

Peeved have in fact licensed the entire back-catalogue of Robert Cox's 'Unlikely Records' recordings & re-released them. No sell out, no genuflection to prevailing trends here. Reliable master of the synth sound Robert has fashioned a tape that's strong in both song and sound. The music is better than before - pitched high, stretching higher and hitting tremulous peaks that are so ridiculously beautiful they make me quite ill with pleasure. Let's hope that Peeved continue to hit such heights with future releases. They deserve all the success they wish for!

Stick It In Your Ear #91

General Motors IOW 76/7 cover

General Motors - IOW 76/7
C60, PV006, 8th November 1983
Tubular Turd / Pompous Bullshit / Riley Passing / Still Lurking / Live Wasp Omelette, Lung / Set The Controls: Abdab Boogie / Bigness; A Medley 1) Men Dressed As Bishops, 2) We Are Not Paranoid, 3) Who Are Those Guys?, 4) A Horse, A Spoon & A Basin.
Licensed From Unlikely Records.

Rimarimba Below The Horizon cover

Rimarimba - Below The Horizon
C40, PV007, 8th November 1983
Steady State / Metal / The Melting / The One That Got Away / Ships / Bebag
Licensed From Unlikely Records.

See here for more info and a link to download it. It has also been released on vinyl as part of The Rimarimba Collection. Robert Cox, the man behind Rimarimba has recently retired and returned to making music.

Various Artists Felixstowe Rocks cover

Various - Felixstowe Rocks
C60, PV008, 8th November 1983

General Motors:     Tubular Turd
Piers Of The Realm: Manic
Someone Else:       Something Else
Robert Cox:         Sync Or Swim (Original Version)
General Motors:     Tubular Turd (Reprise)
The Same:           If You Want To - Do So !
                    Instrumental 7/3/82
                    Instrumental 18/3/82
                    Welsh Water
Robert Cox:         D Scapes (Major, Mixolydian, Dorian,

Licensed From Unlikely Records

Robert Cox Random Musics cover

Robert Cox - Random Musics
C60, PV009, 8th November 1983
A2 Is Missing / On Casting A Shadow / Parts 1,2,3 / Fetish / In The East / Tightened Up / C352
Licensed From Unlikely Records

The Detective Behind Wires cover
Cover art by Michelle Rondeau

The Detective - Behind Wires
C40, PV010, 11th March 1984
Quango Tango / Burning Bridges / Torture Town / Smash An Orange Carton (On Your Head) / Don't Know What To Do / Looking For Clues / Animal Pharm

The Detective's tape release is a very promising collection of songs reminiscent of Brian Eno's mid 70's pop phase. Steer clear of the indulgent synthesizer ramblings on side 2, but get a copy for side 1. At such a cheap price you can afford to tape over it if you don't like it.

Cambridge Town Crier

Another release on the local Peeved cassette label, this time featuring a mysterious gentleman known as The Detective, who plays all the instruments except drums, on which he is ably assisted by Chris Maitland from Zoom.
The tape sounds like middle period Brian Eno, with its English whimsical melodies and chord changes.
It's a very imaginative tape and makes me want to hear more from The Detective.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Cambridge has a mystery musician known cryptically as Detective.
For some reason this man does not want his identity revealed, but local label Peeved Records managed to track him down and just released a tape called "Behind Wires", which is available from The Beat Goes On, Cambridge.
It would be tempting to say Detective has chosen anonymity because is so bad.
But it's not. Not all of it, anyway.
That is the most striking feature of the tape - its astonishing variety of quality. The music ranges from lively, imaginative, pop songs to dull, esoteric indulgences.
The Detective has a fairly standard rock line-up with occasional help from those electronic things that play all your instruments for you.
But greatly to the Detective's credit is that the majority of the material on the tape is highly original and quite uncategorisable.
Unfortunately originality isn't always enough.

Cambridge Evening News

Another stunning release from PEEVED records, who have presented the most developed performers on cassette of late. 'Behind Wires' uncovers a host of songs which show that the Detective should really be making records. The first five tracks, the best of which are 'Burning Bridges' and 'Torture Town', combine politics with luring pop tunes, whereas the remaining two, 'Animal Pharm' and 'Looking For Clues', are electronic / experimental pieces which, if you let them, create a real atmosphere, man! Get on the case.

Unknown (for the moment) fanzine

Clue Sniffer Expose

When The Whistle Test visited Cambridge for a depressing, and largely misleading, location report, this is what they found: the town's leading venue with its doors bolted, a club venue gutted by fire, a fat man in his underpants, and an anguished poet prancing and squalling over a sea of taped backing. The last, who may yet redeem all the rest, was Rob Baylis ,alias The Detective, or rather half The Detective. For since he acquired his name, due to an apparent resemblance to the Chinese Detective of televisual celebrity, he's been joined by drummer Chris Maitland, who provides a rigorously dynamic synchronised accompaniment to the tape swirl.
The Detective were filmed in action winning the final of the Cambridge Battle Of The Bands and a single is expected to come out of the studio session the duo are claiming as first prize.
Rob was planning to form a band to play his songs until he realised the line-up for his arrangements would involve "five vocalists, two guitarists, a drummer, perhaps two bass guitarists and probably two keyboard players". So he applied himself to concocting multi-tracked tapes.
The Detective begins with the mainstream pop song and ferrets around its shady corners. There's the occasional bubblegum throwaway like "Quango Tango", but the best features are the more unnerving songs; the thick plush synthesisers and the multi-tracked Baylis vocals, which have a neat way of sounding strangely askew - memories of Eno's uniquely uncomfortable tones, a hint of Lennon perhaps.
The effect is heard at its best on the unsettling 'Time Is Sliding' and the death song 'Blood On Glass'. Rob takes his lyrical content seriously and enthuses about the message of The Smiths' 'Meat Is Murder', a theme close to his heart.
"We have one song that goes into materialism, bombs, feminism, class structure and then the lines 'Do you kill by proxy when you're eating? Are you a furtive knifer in a lab?'....
"It's almost The Detective theme song to me. The whole ethos of the words is detecting and investigating the sides of life that I don't care for. Unfortunately, not many people have heard my exposes on the subject"
But then, every detective must work undercover.

Jonathan Romney, NME

I like The Detective too. The two songs which stick in my brain are the wackily titled Quango Tango and Smash An Orange Carton (On Your Head). They're not as stupid as the titles might indicate. I think he's Peeved's greatest hope really: I find his stuff more memorable, and therefore, by definition, better.

No Class

As a sculptor of that sensuous, pleasure-based sound which has distinguished my tape deck these past few months, I have a lot of time for The Detective. This is a shatterproof slab of precision tooled movement. Just listen to his "Torture Town!" & I defy you not to be moved by his Porton Down anti-vivisection lyric. Strong & stirring stuff that deserves a much larger audience. There are lots of interesting things to discover on a trip into this collection. Easy listening & a lot of fun for all but the hard of hearing and the closed of mind. Highly recommended.

Stick It In Your Ear #94

Martin & Greaves First Flight cover

Martin & Greaves - First Flight
C30, PV011, 12th December 1984
Walk A New Dance / Love On The Sandbanks / Yesterday's Dreams / Skyrider / Jet Flight

Martin & Greaves are the first act I've listened to during my career as a music reviewer that's gripped me enough to stop me making notes during their performance. Exquisite synthetic pop music, with melodies that are a classic example of how to produce a chart-friendly sound in the best traditions of the British school of pop. Am I right in thinking that 'Love On The Soundbanks' provided us with The Faraway Stars' 'Whalesong' masterpiece?

Stick It In Your Ear #139

This sounds very much like a Channel 4 testcard. Synth/guitar/vocals which are much too restrained. The guitar should be more prominent I think, but it is evident that the duo has talent - "Walk A New Dance" itself is the best track on this good quality recording, but if the songs were more adventurous it might be better.

Unknown (for the moment) fanzine

Another release on the Peeved label. Three songs again, but in a very different vein from those of the Detective. They lack his attention to the qualities of their sounds, with the result that we are given a collection of disparate elements that never hang together as an original creation. Guitar solos sound like Rock Guitar Solos, synth parts like synthesiser solos, and drum machines sound like Drum Machines; the vocals are too low in the mix to distinguish themselves. The overall effect of this is to present three prime chunks of modern easy listening. Steely Dan, the Average White Band, Shakatak, bits and pieces all blended together to make a whole that is eminently forgettable.
It seems as if Martin and Greaves had deliberately set out to pastiche their musical heroes, which could explain the unoriginality of the sounds of the individual instruments. Well played, but wet.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

At least one of the band worked at Imperial College which is how they heard about the label.
Casablanca Style Into Legend cover

Casablanca Style - Into Legend
C40, PV012, 2nd April 1985
Turing's Question / The Shareholder / The Cauldron / How To Make A Puppet / The Desert Song / Heading Back Home On No. Nine / The Phoenix / I'll Be Seeing You
Blog post and download
The Cauldron (Youtube)

Described by the Peeved press release as being 'quirky pop from Manchester'...their bright pop tunes trot along amiably. But it is the distinctive vocals of John Kelly that provide the bands' individuality. Another ace up their sleeve is Rob Baylis' (alias The Detective) bass playing. The whole project conjures up a vision of medieval-progressive-pomp rock. Now, I know that this sounds somewhat ridiculous, but believe me, it's true! It's a marvellously exuberant collection.

Stick It In Your Ear #139

This is a tape released by Peeved Records of Southampton. Side one of this tape was recorded at home last year while side two was recorded five years ago in a professional studio which no longer exists. The later tracks have a very clear sound and a good signal-to-noise ratio, achieved by using few instruments and, therefore, little or no bouncing. I felt they were a little too sparse though and verged on the clinical. I actually preferred Side two because the real drums and piano create a certain warmth which the later tracks lack. I think that with a little treatment that warmth could be recreated. The drum machine could do with reverb for instance to make it sit better in the track; it sounds too disjointed and up front dry, dominating the track. Why not use real piano? Even if you don't have one with a Portastudio you can find the best one in the area and take your studio to it! (You couldn't have done that five years ago.) I quite liked the material, hard to categorise, but with elements of folk.

John Harris & Shirley Gray, Home & Studio Recording March 1986

The second side was recorded some five years ago, and includes Rob "Detective" Baylis on bass. None of the songs are particularly distinguished, and the band play adequately competent pop-rock. However, don't be deterred by this, as side B is really only a bonus after the glories of side A, which features Casablanca Style in the company of a Yamaha CX5 computer synth.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Casablanca Style, from Rusholme, are made up of Mike Taylor-keyboards, Jim-synths & Yamaha CX5M, Ian-will pluck anything with at least one string on it! and finally John who sings.
'Into the Legend' (sic!) is compiled of eight tracks. On side Alpha each song has a mostly synthesizer backing. They have very strong vocals sung by John Kelley, who is perhaps sometimes too careful in his pronunciation.
On side Beta drums and bass are added. Adding more 'colour' to the songs, with this and a different vocalist, the style of song on this side is completely different to Alpha. Casablanca Style's quirky pop appears to have a wide range of influences from Gilbert and Sullivan to Sisters of Mercy!

Alarm #6

The band used to appear with a cardboard cutout of Humphrey Bogart on stage with them....
The Faraway Stars Whalesong cover

The Faraway Stars - Whalesong
C15, badge and miracle fish, PV013, 20th January 1985

Residents-ahnliche Klange, Songs von Planktion und Liebe, handgezeichnetes Cover und sehr liebevolle Aufmachung.

Go For Gold

Selten solch eine liebevolle Cassette genossen wie diese, das fangt schon beim Cover an. Ein Wal sonnt sich in der Sonne, das Ganze ist hand-printed und einzig artig, wie auch die Musik. Sanfte, leicht an die Residents erinnernde Klange, ein Sprecher erzahlt eine Geschichte: MORE SONGS ABOUT PLANKTON AND SQUID?... und das Ganze wirkt ungemein taurig und kraftvoll zugleich. Ein heimlicher Renner in England, und in meimem (M. Lang) Recorder ein Dauerbrenner in ruhigeren Tagen.

Bleu Royal

This is quite the most hauntingly eerie & refreshingly original tape that has crossed my path for many a day. It's stunningly beautiful! The goods are served up with precision & passion - the dialogue floats (or should it be swims) in a crystal clear ocean of synthesiser whirlpools. Supposedly the Faraway Stars have a single out under the pseudonym "The Sugar Cuboibs"... if it's any where up to this standard it will be an absolute classic slice of plastic.

Stick It In Your Ear #109

One of the latest releases from the half local Peeved tape label, this tape is entitled "Whalesong" and comes beautifully packaged with a proper insert, a subtitle ("More songs about plankton and squid") and one of those little plastic fortune teller fish that you get in crackers.
The lyrics that are transcribed on the insert are intoned by a quiet Northern voice over a very gentle ambient synth backing; whale sounds and passages of MOR music break the monologue, but the overall effect is that of listening to the commentary to a TV documentary.
Not exactly gripping, even if the fish did say that I was "Passionate" (how true).

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Whalesong by The Faraway Stars is excellent: totally out to lunch commentary about, yes, whales. I quote: "Beethoven - blue blue blue GREEN. Strauss - blue blue blue green (green, green, green, green). B. B. King - blue blue blue blue. Consider the beat as an expression of man's whaleness!!! It all sounds like the soundtrack to a maritime documentary.

Never Surrender

This was a completely left field release that came about because the band had sent the tape to Steve Xerri and Chris Heath (yes the one who wrote the best selling Robbie Williams biography) for their Another Spark compilation a little too late. Steve passed it on to me and this was the result.
The Dead Goldfish Ensemble Structures and Strictures cover
Cover art by Steve Hartwell

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Structures And Strictures
C40, PV014, 22nd May 1985, Discogs
Dead Goldfish... / ...Don't Fight Back / Modes Of Thought / Important Haircuts / No Static At All

See The Dead Goldfish Ensemble album reviews for reviews of this release.

Various Artists The Eye Of The Storm cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - The Eye Of The Storm
C90, PV015, 12th July 1985

Perfect Vision:             Hidden Nation
                            This Hook
The Detective:              Cleopatra
                            Daily Wreck
The Deviance:               Perfect Strangers
President Reagan Is Clever: Don't Bring Me Down
                            The Philosophers Stone
Red Army Choir:             When You Lied
                            Mixed Media
Nick Brett De Vinton:       What A Day
                            The Truth
Exploding Hamsters:         Take My Breath Away
                            Lost Me Now
Snap! Cabinet:              Reckless Life At Home
                            Shiver And Pop
Fever Garden:               Butterfly
                            Show Me The Way
Flab:                       Killer
Colonel Gomez:              High Action In The Neighbourhood
                            Hole In The Head
Charlotte's Party:          Woman Of The World
                            Lady Of Lust

Yet another gem to emerge from the Peeved vaults. 24 tracks that reflect the blossoming of Cambridge's music scene. Some very diverse material is contained within the package & it's never less than interesting! Perfect Vision & The Detective provide the highlights of the set & I look forward to their future releases. It's a sharp move by the Peeved dynamic duo to release a tape representing an individual city - if only other brave indie tape outlets would follow suit - then perhaps the ailing music biz just might improve in originality & stature!

Stick It In Your Ear #109

Peeved's first tape, Eye Of The Storm, includes the powerful Red Army Choir, the popular Exploding Hamsters, and the up and coming Fever Garden. It also has songs from Perfect Vision (led by controversial local rock critic Jon Lewin), The Detective (winners of last year's rock group competition, The Deviance, President Reagan Is Clever, Nick Brett De Vinton, Snap! Cabinet, Flab, Colonel Gomez and Charlotte's Party - quite an impressive line-up.

Brett McDonnell, Broadsheet

There's no space for a full review of Peeved's tape compilation, so here's a brief run through the highlights: a new song from The Detective, "Cleopatra" is heavy aggressive synth-pop. The Deviance's two songs show them to be as good as we hoped - a great singer.
President Reagan provide a new version of their classic pop song "Don't Bring Me Down" (best yet). Red Army Choir add something to the Bunnymen and Talking Heads respectively on their two tracks. Snap! Cabinet's excellent 'Shiver And Pop' is here followed by two weaker tracks from Fever Garden.
Stormed's drummer turns up as Flab, and provides two violent Bauhaus / Nick Cave-type songs. Colonel Gomez sound more like AC/DC on record than live, and Charlotte's Party are much better recorded than live.
And there's a scorching new track from my band, Perect Vision.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

President Reagan Is Clever Trinity Live cover

President Reagan Is Clever - Trinity Live
C60, PV016, 21st June 1985
The Philosopher's Stone / Breakaway / Waiting All The Time / The Girl / Uncle Camel / The Wheel / Tiger Moth / Don't Bring Me Down / Play For Love / Too Much Talk
Think about the initials!!!!

I must admit to actually finding this a far more rewarding audio experience than their vinyl LP "From This To That" (Hyena Records). These starry-eyed radio children line an eerily lit club expectantly. The recording is further helped by the manic, agitated audience who voice their approval to an almost vicious edge. Musically the band concoct something that's joyous, energetic and infectious. If anyone is to televise the revolution, it's these cheeky scamps.

Stick It In Your Ear #139

Their mini-LP 'From This To That' can be found here.

Various Artists A Head Full Of Noise cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - A Head Full Of Noise
C60, PV017, 20th September 1985

The Herbs:         Sunny Road
                   Hands Off
Tablets For Felix: Hysteria
                   One Day
Glass Asylum:      Janie's Hill
                   Distant Island Named
Martin Baxter:     Computer Mad
                   Day In The Country
The Blue Mist:     Action 
                   Killing Time
Camera Shy:        Hot To The Touch
                   We'll Come Through
Stormed:           Hear Me Now / Dub

The second Peeved tape, A Head Full Of Noise, is not quite so full, but it does include the wonderful white-reggae-leftist-damned exciting Stormed and more Herbs, as well as Camera Shy, whose 'Hot To The Touch' sounds like a made-to-order radio hit, Glass Asylum, Tablets For Felix, Martin Baxter and the Blue Mist.

Brett McDonnell, Broadsheet

The second volume of the Peeved Tapes Cambridge compilation is out on the streets (Well it's in Andy's Records). Seven bands contribute two tracks each to 'Head Full Of Noise' a C60 of local music that costs only £2. Where the first Cambridge compilation, 'Eye Of The Storm' (still available), combined more established bands like the Exploding Hamsters and Perfect Vision, with complete unknowns such as Flab and the Fever Garden, 'Head Full Of Noise' draws on the talents of the better known groups from the up and coming generation of new musicians. Sixties fans the Herbs lead off with 'Sunny Road', one of their weaker songs, that still had me singing along by the second chorus. Jangly guitars, and a hint of the restrained pop songs of the Velvet Underground. The Herbs have a number of other works recorded at Makka studios on eight track - maybe a full-length tape is due soon? These persons have the potential to be very good in a year or so, as soon as they start outstripping their influences.
The recently unfavourably reviewed Tablets For Felix sound better in the context of this tape - a different recording from them perhaps? Coarse Gothic punk with a nice line in Phantom Of The Opera keyboard. Glass Asylum provide two disparate numbers. "Distant Island Named" reminds me of Tears For Fears and Eyeless In Gaza. Until it gets to the Mark Knopfler guitar solo... Interesting, but not entirely successful - good to hear an imagination at work though.
Martin Baxter, a solo artist with one Peeved tape release to his credit already, indicates that his writing ability has improved with both "Computer Mad," and "Day In The Country." I prefer the less whimsical latter track. Blue Mist come from the Peterborough area, and have already released two singles on their own label. Still a young band, they seem to have found their way out of the progressive rock cul-de-sac that trapped their previous recordings. Following them on side two of "Head Full Of Noise" is Cambridge's soul scene in the shape of Camera Shy. Even if they sound totally out of place on this tape, both these songs wear "classy" on the gold medallions around their necks. Very well produced, beautifully played and sung, it can't be long before their soft funk / soul reaches outside the area. Reminiscent of Culture Club in places; but will we ever see Honey Tonsils Buxton in a dress?
Last, but my favourite on the tape are Stormed's two and a half songs. "Hear Me Now," its dub, and "Teatime" make up the most adventurous contribution musically, breaking the boundaries that too often make homegrown reggae so tedious. The production is completely ridiculous (more echoes than the Grand Canyon) and the songs are good. Pop reggae of the sort Your Dinner used to play.
Congratulations to Steve Hartwell of Peeved for another consistently interesting tape.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

The Herbs At Play cover

The Herbs - At Play
C40, PV018, 5th November 1985
Sunny Road / Hands Off / I've Been Waiting / The Surfin' Druid / Dream All Day / The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short / I've Been Down / April Showers / Thursday / Hey Joe

The Deviance 101 Damnations cover

The Deviance - 101 Damnations
C40, PV019, 21st November 1985
Perfect Strangers / Pictures / Self Destruction / Perfect Strangers (Remix) / The Other Side / Watch It Burn / Frozen Moments / Savage Days / Happy World

At last this Cambridge band are given an opportunity to demonstrate their superb pop talent on this, their first solo cassette. Although the live tracks were originally issued on Peeved's "When Things Were Perfect" compilation & two of their studio tracks were on "The Eye Of The Storm", this collection shows just how strong a pop band The Deviance are. The band possess the sort of style that you want to cuddle up with. I'm completely awestruck. Make this a hit.

Stick It In Your Ear #139

Various Artists When Things Were Perfect cover
Cover art by Tom and Kate Richards

Various - When Things Were Perfect
C60 + Booklet, PV020, 21st November 1985

The Deviance:                   The Other Side
                                Watch It Burn
                                Frozen Moments
                                Savage Days
                                Self Destruction  
                                Happy World
The Children Of Some Tradition: The Last Resort
                                Town To Town 
Perfect Vision:                 Scratch And Howl
                                Hole In The Sole
                                Laugh At Breakage 
Red Over White:                 Killed By His Own Tribe
                                No Shame
This is a recording of a concert, headlined by James, that took place at Hinchingbrooke School one exceptionally warm and sunny day in September 1985. All credit to the organisers who ran a fanzine and produced the booklet that accompanied the tape.

Various Artists Tickled Pink cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - Tickled Pink
C60, PV021, 24th February 1986

Spike:                 I Feel You
                       Any Choice    
The Force:             Sweet Little Girl
                       Crazy Affair
Vanishing Point:       From The Heart
                       Face To Face
The High Tech Pagodas: Free
The Lovely:            Aniel I Said
Strange Brew:          Don't Wanna Be Lonely
                       Normandy Sunset
Worlds End Band:       The Party
                       The Party Of Light
The Lonely:            Nervous Hand
                       Something Happened Today

Licensed To Jar Music

This the third Cambridge compilation to emerge from those Peeved twins, showcases the overlooked pop/rock fraternity of that town. The mixture is smooth, which is no small feat for a cast that includes eight bands. The Lonely and Spike are the two most outstanding combos in my humble opinion, the former having already made my acquaintance and gracing these pages with their previous solo tape release. Peeved's dynamic duo continue to produce the goods with these excellently structured local compilations.

Stick It In Your Ear #122

Here it is, Volume 3 of the Peeved Cambridge Compilation series, with another eight groups pinned down by the fabulous Steve "Peeved" Hartwell, without whom none of this would have been possible. Spike provides two tracks, the better of which is "Any Choice," which has a chorus with some semblance of a tune. Spike have a female singer, a reasonable mastery of their instruments and no great style of their own. Unlike The Force, whose demo I have enthused about before. Good singing (interesting voice), good guitaring, and a heavy rock/pop near classic in "Sweet Little Girl". Hints of Thin Lizzy, perhaps, in the tunes they apply to their four square rock arrangements. The second song is less distinguished. Vanishing Point remember positive punk with two imaginatively mixed grimmo tours de force, featuring the charmingly demented singing of Dave Middle. The playing is good, the songs are tuneful, but the whole exercise is too formulaic for my tastes. More craziness and rule breaking needed.
The High Tech Pagodas draw their name from a piece on The Detective written for the NME by Jon Romney of Snap! Cabinet, and include aforementioned Steve Hartwell and The Detective. Something of a departure for the former, whose musical endeavours are more normally devoted to systems music. HTP's song on Tickled Pink resembles a track from the Beatles' White LP, processed through Brian Eno's balding pate. It's whimsical, tuneful, beautifully produced, and highly intriguing.
Side 2 opens with The Lovely, for my tastes the most interesting group on the compilation. Slightly Smithsy, but with the wobbliness and intelligence of Robert Smith from The Cure. Fever Garden should look to their laurels. The second of their two songs (Catherine Will) is too close to The Cure for comfort, but has a great chorus, punning on Catherine Will / Catherine Wheel "...around, around." Given the tougher guitar sound that launches the chorus, the song takes on a new and more original tone. Records soon? The omnipresent Strange Brew have bunged two of their older tracks onto Tickled Pink, the epic "Don't Want To Be Lonely" and the hard rocking "Normandy Sunset." It's interesting to hear what SB manage in the studio, where the thinness of their live sound can be corrected. Good stuff.
I've never liked the World's End Band's brand of local music, but there's no denying the strength of the two tracks here, "Party" and "Party Of Light." John Cook has a distinctive voice, and the songs are thoughtfully constructed. English progressive pop from the late 60's / early 70s is the nearest I can tag it. Worth hearing. It's fitting that the Lonely should close the latest Cambridge compilation. They're the town's longest lived group by some way (though it could be argued that they had actually died and been resuscitated several times). Recorded in a 24-track studio in London, this pair of songs lacks the sparkle and catchiness of some of the Lonely's earlier material. It's naturally expertly played, and would be enjoyed by all undiscerning Byrds fans in the Cambridge area.
There you have it, Tickled Pink: as wide a cross-section of local music as you could hope to hear.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

The Detective Human Wreckage cover

The Detective - Human Wreckage
C60, PV022, 24th February 1986
Cleopatra / The Daily Wreck / Rapping Behind Wires / Caucasian Man / The Machine / Blood On Glass / Time Is Sliding / Hunted By The Hunted / Blind Faith / The Ballad Of Ronnie And Micky / Die Mauer / What A Life (To Be A Goose)
Distributed By Underground Productions

My first album review is Human Wreckage by The Detective. This is their second cassette and the montage of newspaper cuttings used on the cassette cover creates immediate interest. They have even gone to the unusual expense of printing the lyrics so - what's inside the box? I found 12 well thought out tracks with lyrics expressing their views on recent events in the newspapers. Somewhat cynical in places but also a little too close for comfort. Die Mauer captures the oppressive atmosphere of the Berlin Wall whilst What A Life (To Be A Goose) confirms the disgust that many feel at the methods used in France to rear geese for Pate De Fois Gras. Other notables are The Daily Wreck, Blood On Glass and Time Is Sliding (this one is a very happy number). The solid rhythm section has Chris Maitland on drums and possibly Rob Baylis on bass. Their first album (Behind Wires), featured some outrageous instrumental acrobatics but these occur only too rarely on Human Wreckage. It does contain some lovely drumming but the synth end sequence in 'Goose' is too drawn out in an album offering such value. The vocals are good and in Caucasian Man the lead reminds me of Robert Smith of The Cure. At times there are two vocal lines with excellent harmonies showing some late Beatle influence. (I may be strangled for saying that).
Recording quality is fair but without an equipment list it's not right to comment further. The mix often favours the vocals at the expense of the backing but Human Wreckage is well thought out, certainly worth a listen and available from Nix Music.

Steve (publication unknown)

The latest release from Peeved Tapes appropriately coincides with the closing stages of the Rock Group Competition - appropriately as the tape is by The Detective, who created a great furore by trouncing all-comers a year ago in the first final. Since that time, The Detective has searched unsuccessfully for other musicians to join Chris Maitland and himself, recorded in Spaceward, got married (congratulations), and moved to Andover. The Detective's continued collaboration with Peeved's Steve Hartwell has led to this tape's appearance on our local label. 'Human Wreckage' is a C60 of The Detective, recorded both on his own (as just plain Rob Baylis) on eight track, or at Spaceward with drummer Chris; 12 songs for £2 and all finely recorded. The Detective' songs are built from drums (real and mechanical), bass guitar, multiple synthesizer sequences and the occasional topping of lead and rhythm guitar. His vocal arrangements are complex, ranging from the interplay of 'Caucasian Man', which contrasts several bass voices in call and response with a high keening lead vocal, to the female French recitation in 'What A Life (To Be A Goose)'. Elements of the Beatles' more experimental moments come to mind as a possible comparison. Musically, 'Human Wreckage' is well-organised - if only Rob could avoid singing so many sevenths. Rob's work is all ideologically sound, sometimes to the point of annoyance. In 'What A Life' he attacks the practice of force-feeding geese for the production of foie gras; lines about having a 'liver the size of a football' deal succinctly and wittily (what a weapon is wit) with the subject. But in songs like 'Daily Wreck' and 'Die Mauer' (about the Berlin Wall), the subject is treated dourly and thus less effectively - he deters the listener from agreeing. Too much preaching make The Detective a tiresome boy. This complaint aside, 'Human Wreckage' is an important tape from a maturing artist. It's technically and intellectually accomplished. Well done Peeved.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

The return of the multi-pop instrumental talent Detective, whom is ably supported by various musical associates on this his second Peeved release. 'Blood On The Glass' evokes memories of John Lennon in this reviewer - it looks plain enough on the printed page, I suppose but hearing it is a far richer, more affecting experience. Music, after all, expresses that which lies beyond words; and this is music of an order to be taken seriously.

Stick It In Your Ear #117

The Detective defies conventional labelling. They use lyrics to paint vivid pictures in the mind of their audience. They play straightforward unpretentious songs, simply put together. No punches pulled messages concerning politics, animal rights and vegetarianism.
Production is a little sparse but the music succeeds by virtue of its simplicity and its honesty. Although I would not say this was chart material, certain tracks, such as 'Time Is Sliding' with its impressive harmonies, somewhat reminiscent of the 60s might encourage people to investigate this album, which in turn will bring wider recognition.
I was pleased to find a lyric sheet enclosed, as I found difficulty, on the first listen, understanding some of the words. (I believe the lyrics are important in a reactionary song). Overall, the album is worth a second listen. Good, rhythmically tight, punchy music, although not often providing what the record-buying public wants, certainly deserves more exposure than this type of music usually gets.

Mark Woolstencroft, publication unknown

The Herbs Catching The Late Train cover

The Herbs - Catching The Late Train
C15, PV023, 15th April 1986
Nobody / Under Your Spell / Get You Back / Packin' My Bags.

A splendid 4-track cassette which perfectly compliments their previous Peeved C40-LP release. The recording's a clash between 60's pop (complete with the expected 'squeaky' organ) and those early 80's reconstructions by The Pleasers. From the first well harmonied guitar chord of disbelief, The Herbs prove that the style now dubbed 'garage/punk' still has a lot of mileage left on the clock. They are more successful in capturing that hot 60's mood than any of the current indie faves foisted upon us by Creation and the NME.

Stick It In Your Ear #122

The latest Peeved release, and presumably a posthumous one from the now sundered Herbs. The four songs on this C15 run the whole range of 60's punk, from the whining snotty Seeds-like "Nobody", to the Kinkiness of "Get You Back"; the nearest the Herbs get to modernity is in the weakest song "Under Your Spell", which sounds like Orange Juice attempting The Mysterians song. The production is authentic - tinny guitars and reedy voices, and even a cheapo organ floating around low in the mix - and it helps The Herbs deliver the songs with energy and conviction. Which is what The Herbs have going for them. They operate too strictly within the confines of their chosen genre: it's easy to pick a type of music which is already clearly defined, as all the ground rules are written for you. The guitars should sound cheap, the drums should be boxy, the songs should all go verse / chorus / verse / chorus / solo / chorus / verse / chorus / chorus / end, and the lyrics have to be dumb and American.
Adapting 60's punk to their own purposes would have been a good starting point for The Herbs; adapting themselves to fit the music is a mistake. And a waste of talent.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Various Artists If You Can't Stand The Beat cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - If You Can't Stand The Beat
C60, PV024, 22nd July 1986

The Detective:         Can I Please You
                       Green Eyes
The Accelerators:      The Night He Took Her To The Fairground
                       Sad For Leaving You Blues
Snap! Cabinet:         Scarred For Life
Glass Asylum:          Kill Me
Perfect Vision:        Everybody's Happy Nowadays
Exploding Hamsters:    Red Letter Day
                       Spirit Of Adventure
The Principle:         In Your Room
                       I Can Tell
The High Tech Pagodas: Gypsy Moth  

THE DETECTIVE: A sort of unpretentious, enigmatic Stephen Duffy, The Detective presents two more quirky, bizarre pop songs; a young English David Byrne, playing nice tunes on a Bontempi organ. Difficult to pinpoint, but easy to like.
THE ACCELERATORS: Unashamedly whorish and anachronistic in style, The Accelerators belie nostalgia by being real and genuinely spontaneous in execution.
SNAP! CABINET: Similar to The Go-Betweens, which is no bad thing. Particularly good on 'Mortified', when a sudden loud crash of emotional crescendo splashes into a cool, taut pool of tight trebly guitar and edgy vocals.
THE HIGH TECH PAGODAS: A simple melody made sublime by innovative arrangement of synth and guitar. Reminds me of Wire.
PERFECT VISION: These loved and hated local legends bow out in finely restrained style. Their almost ghostly version of the Buzzcocks' 'Everybody's Happpy Nowadays' sounds like musical black humour, while 'Clockjacks' is like a synthesised classical Russian ballad; deliberately claustrophobic, constantly increasing the pressure.
EXPLODING HAMSTERS: I know it's common practise to glorify dead things, but I've never liked the Hamsters' predictable Latin funk, and I was ready and willing to desecrate these tame rats, but, to be fair, 'Red Letter Day' is actually quite good; cliche- ridden, yes, and their other track here is in a more usual vein, but I think 'Day' may be just enough to save their souls from eternal critical damnation.
THE PRINCIPLE: Blondie without the danger; The Passions minus their freshness... nice tunes, but all rather tired. GLASS ASYLUM: Among the more original bands here, Glass Asylum grace both sides of a very worthwhile tape. Inventive yet accessible, these songs are excellent: 'Kill Me' is a glorious swirl of sound and melody, while 'Larne' begins as dream and ends as nightmare.

Sam Taylor (Scene And Heard No. 5)

The tape bullies off with two typical songs from The Detective: good synthesiser sequences, key changes, cleanly recorded, but with too many long notes? Rob's voice isn't strong enough to sustain drawn-out tunes. He even quotes Dylan in "Can I Please You".
The Accelerators come on like a cross between early Costello and Graham Parker on "The Night He Took Her To The Fair", but then subside into a Dylan / Lloyd Cole derivative with their second song. The overall feel is good - nice voice - but it needs a little more work on the style.
Snap! Cabinet have their styles sewn up tight, "Scarred For Life" is a strong song that sits midway between The Velvet Underground and The Smiths, with John Romney's singing right upfront. I like his voice better than Morrissey's. However their second number is an attempted rewrite of Television's "Marquee Moon" which lacks everything. Especially good guitar playing.
The last track on side one is the High Tech Pagodas, which is a suitably weird ditty about holidaymakers from The Detective and Steve "Mr Peeved" Hartwell.
Side two begins with two songs from the late Perfect Vision; the first is an ironic rendering of the Buzzcocks' "Everybody's Happy", while the second is a virtually solo Steve Xerri performing "Clockjacks", a weighty slab of slavic synthesisers. Good portastudio recordings, both. The equally late Exploding Hamsters provide "Red Letter Day" and "Spirit Of Adventure", two songs already reviewed in these pages. My first exposure to The Principle comes with the two tracks on this tape. Well-produced smooth pop, with a goodish voice mixed rather low down. Impressive start, and I'd like to hear more. The tape ends with the second of a pair of songs from the Glass Asylum (the first lurks furtively and unimpressively on side one). "Larne" is based around a chiming bell, and a simple bass guitar riff, before launching into a peculiar mutant waltz that sounds like the Cocteau Twins, early Banshees, and even Pere Ubu. Gripping stuff, this, and if only their other song had as imaginative. Very gothic and beautiful.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Subtitled 'A Cambridge Compilation Volume 4' this features The Detective, The Accelerators, Snap! Cabinet, Glass Asylum, The High Tech Pagodas, Perfect Vision, Exploding Hamsters, The Principle. Fifteen tracks that fall well within the pop mode. Each song is carefully constructed to display a chilling exuberance. Peeved along with Color and the above Cleaners label are the aces up pop's sleeve that call for immediate attention.

Stick It In Your Ear #122

Snap! Cabinet were fronted by one Jonathan Romney now to be found writing for newspapers about films... The Accelerators featured one Wes Stace who later performed as John Wesley Harding

The Primary A For Assassination cover

The Primary - A For Assassination
C46, PV025, 12th March 1987
Beating Hearts Temptation / Radio Silence / Responding / Why Call Them Back? / Nothing Will Last / These Desperate Hours / Looking In Your Eyes / Things Go Wrong / How Come The Faithful / Time Of Your Life / Frame By Frame

The addition of Louise Tierney on vocals turned The Primary from being a good group, into a great group. The strength and dynamics she added are ably demonstrated upon these studio and live recordings. Aided by the expertise of Phil Harrison (ex-Korgies & Tears For Fears man) their songs are gloriously melodic that spits on the eye of fad and fashion. The live side is exceptionally delightful.

Stick It In Your Ear #137

The Primary aren't a Cambridge band: they come from Southampton and Bristol and represent the other life of Peeved Records - the reason that the contact address on their tapes is in Southampton. Local supremo Steve Hartwell is but one half of that towering business corporation known to us as Peeved. In a former life, Steve was responsible for releasing The Primary's "Radio Silence" as a single, and was involved with the band throughout their three-year career. The Primary were a guitar/keys based mid-80's pop group - female vocals, strong harmonies, and ever-so-slightly moody songs. This posthumous tape, "A For Assassination," is a combination of live and studio songs. The two singles are here, plus their B-sides (my favourite track), "Responding", was the B-side of "Radio Silence". It's all sensible, measured, intelligent stuff, but none of it quite dramatic or aggressive enough - even the live material is too polite. The playing is good, but the general feel is uninspired.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

Various Artists Rough Diamonds cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - Rough Diamonds
C60, PV026, 19th December 1986

Wild Party Productions:          The Island Of Lost Souls
                                 Get Out Of Town
Soul Factor II:                  Soul Fires
                                 So Far Away
Promenade:                       Gattling Gun
                                 Palace Gardens
Flowershop:                      Ic Grey
                                 Calm Lady
Standpoint:                      Strut
The Honey Chainsaw:              Walking Like The Rain
                                 Sophie's Church
Sardines In Red Striped Dresses: Another Way (Life Goes On)
                                 The Old Song
Double Measure:                  Keep Your Loving
                                 The Night Goes On
The Dead Goldfish Ensemble:      All The Hands
                                 A Little Bit Of Nonsense

Other hot news this week concerns the imminent release of another Peeved Cambridge compilation. 'Rough Diamonds' is the fifth volume in this seemingly infinite series, and feature a host of new bands and hot talent, and some other stuff.
Filed among the other stuff are Wild Party Productions, Double Measure, Standpoint and The Honey Chainsaw. Wild Party Prods are milking yet more mileage (pardon my metaphor) from their 'Island Of Lost Souls', while Standpoint come across as a rather sadder early Black Sabbath. Double Measure provide half a dose of weedy hard rock, while Honey Chainsaw, in spite of their spiffing name, sound like the Jesus And Mary Chain without either the tunes or the imagination.
Soul Factor II feature talented bassist Ric Moore, some good pop ideas, half a tune, and not much else. They work too hard at something that has too little substance. They don't quite live up to the "soul" part of their name. Better yet are The Flowershop, with their cool (as in cold) alternative pop. Could this be the demo I condemned? Perhaps I did them an injustice, or perhaps they've improved.
Sardines In Red Striped Dresses produce the most professional sounding tracks on the tape, two songs that wouldn't sound out of place on the radio - guitar-driven aggressive rock in a punky tradition, with a nod to The Fall, and another nod to pub-rocky R & B. My two favourites on the tape are from Promenade, and The Dead Goldfish Ensemble. Beneath the latter disguise lurk the sinister talents of Peeved Tapes' Steve Hartwell. One can easily forgive the man who compiles these tapes the inclusion of two of his own tracks when they are as accomplished and witty as these. OK, so it's plinky synthesiser music, but it's jolly and entertaining.
Promenade feature the aforementioned Richard Heepes playing outside This Beeno - I reviewed these two songs on demo before, and they remain fresh and invigorating. Hints of John Cale can be found in 'Palace Gardens'.
This isn't the best of the Peeved demos. But its very existence is indicative of good things in Cambridge et environs; there's a breadth of types of music, as well as quality that make it well worth at least one listen from anyone.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

With this fifth Cambridge compilation, the Peeved dynamic duo have yet again produced a great collection of pop-ish material. Featuring Wild Party Productions, Soul Factor 2, Promenade, Flowershop, Stand Point, The Honey Chainsaw, Sardines In Red Striped Dresses, Double Measure & The Dead Goldfish Ensemble. One wonders just how many more fine collections are awaiting a Peeved release. Recommended.

Stick It In Your Ear #124

Perfect Vision Out cover
Cover art by Steve Xerri

Perfect Vision - Out
C60, PV027, 26th September 1986
Unreal Hour / Kiss Of Life / Landslide / Disguises The Lack / Glamorous Times / Worksong / Empires & Ashes / Barbarian / Money / Hole In The Soul / Scratch & Howl / Engines / Bite The Bullet / Amerika / Angelfull
Distributed By JAR

It must be said that the true consummation of Perfect Vision's unique talent (usually described using ambiguous euphemisms like "difficult" and "interesting") occurred on their excellent mini- LP, 'Tongues Out', and that the group's commitment to this retrospective collection of odds and ends can probably be measured by Steve Xerri's confession that he called it "Out" principally because it meant he could cut the end of their last record sleeve.
The groups greatest virtue was probably their greatest crime in the blinkered eyes of the Cambridge music 'establishment' - quite simply, their unconventionality; their music sounded harsh and aggressive, they didn't write 'love-songs', and, (the ultimate sin), they used backing tapes on stage... they were different.
This tape has many flaws: the inclusion, for example, of 'Hole In The Soul', 'Scratch And Howl' and 'Engines'; the only real difference between the demos and the record versions being poor sound quality on this tape. The gentle beauty of 'Barbarian' and 'Angelfall', the strange 'funk' of 'Money', and more conventional songs like 'Kiss Of Life'... all deserve to be heard. If the consciously experimental stuff (e.g. 'Glamorous Times') sometimes grates on your ear, you have to remember that P.V. were still developing - I mean, at least they TRIED. They didn't just hide behind over long guitar solos and pints of beer.
Whatever the aftermath of their split, (and I'm far from pessimistic), 'Out' will stand as an honest testament to an original and worthwhile group.

Sam Taylor (Scene And Heard No. 6)

This collection of live tracks, studio demos and rehearsal tapes proved to be Perfect Vision's swansong. In many ways it's better and far stronger than their Peeved LP release, 'Demonstration' (PV003). The pressure is off and the band cruise with style and panache through their best material. By Warhol's reckoning everybody is entitled to 15 minutes of fame and Peeved have given us a total of approx 120 minutes worth all told!

Stick It In Your Ear #137

The title is Out so that Steve Xerri could re-use the artwork from Tongues Out their mini-LP on Backs Records
The Dead Goldfish Ensemble Music For Bowls cover
Cover art by Steve Hartwell

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Music For Bowls
C40, PV028, 7th January 1987, Discogs
Intro / Grey Earls / All The Hands / Dazzling One / A Little Bit Of Nonsense / Openings / Eric / Cool Walls
Distributed By Underground And Unlikely (URT 107)

See The Dead Goldfish Ensemble album reviews for reviews of this release.

The Detective Bag Business cover

The Detective - Bag Business
C40, PV029, 3rd March 1987
Hong Kong Calls Me / Rampage / As Young As You Feel / Green Dream / Reagan Is A Moron / Green Eyes / Reluctant Hero / Can I Please You / As Young As You Feel (Slurry Mix) / Red / End Bag
Distributed By JAR

The Detective's new tape is his most mature release to date. It's also politically the most uncompromising. All the artist's profits are to be donated to the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group, and the tape is dedicated to Human and Animal Rights. The songs themselves are split between love songs, like the smooth and seductive sounding "As Young As You Feel", and more overtly political ditties such as "Reagan Is A Moron", and the Utopian "Green Dream" - a vision of a world under the sway of the Green Party. The Detective has a rather high voice, which unfortunately makes his more antagonistic lyrics sound rather petulant; he sounds more credible in "Red", singing "I'm a peace loving person and I'm finding it hard", a sentiment that obviously comes from the heart. The music is a busy hotch-potch of synthesizers and drum machine - no Chris Maitland on drums that I could hear. "Rampage" sounds like a particularly nasty nightmare Howard Jones once had, while "Red" could almost be latter-day Bill Nelson. The backings are frequently too busy and complicated for the songs' good, which detracts from the serious sentiments being expressed therein - sensory overload.
There's a real talent at work here, but at the moment, he's trying too hard.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

The Detective continues to plough his unique furrow of pop music. This tape gives us a further eleven songs of his own individual style that displays a humour that is sadly missing from the majority of today's musical offerings. As before on his previous tape-albums, Rob writes, performs and produces everything. The whole thing is a whirlwind of invention, furious playing and strong sentiments. Recommended.

Stick It In Your Ear #139

The Surfin' Druids The Surfin' Druids cover

The Surfin' Druids - The Surfin' Druids
C40, PV030, 12th March 1987
Hard To Get / I Sit In My Corner / The Laborfield / Once Is Never Enough / No Place Like Home / Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder / Books About Fashion / 1000 Miles / Sunday Morning Feeling / Bring This To An End / Ivan The Terrible Meets Percy Thrower In An English Country Sewer
Distributed By JAR

I suppose that the band can best be described as being exponents of 'power-pop'. They are certainly a power-house trio! The band are just right as a three-piece. No frills, simply directness and energy fed through their idiosyncratic songs. The Surfin' Druids are that rare thing, a rock band, British at that, who make a power trio set-up and electric guitar sound fresh, raw and unpredictable. They cut through rock's flab and excess.

Stick It In Your Ear #137

The Surfin' Druids are a pop group in the Sixties beat group tradition, using simple conventional song structures and exploiting the adenoidal twang in singer and guitarist Jez Quayle's voice in a very 1966 way. But they're not slavish in their approach to their obvious musical heritage. Thankfully this recording (another good one from Makka Studios) doesn't show the band attempting to recreate the crunchy mono recordings of 20 years ago - modern sounds like chorused bass and dry distorted guitar abound, giving the material an edge that would otherwise be blunted. And it's that material that's the Surfin' Druids' strong point. All three musicians write, and write well. The bulk of the songs are Quayle's, though drummer Paul Garner was responsible for the two most memorable songs in the Druid's live set, "No Place Like Home" and the quirky "Books About Fashion". This songwriting ability outweighs any possible accusations of revivalism ("Bring This To An End") or occasionally plonky playing ("No Place Like Home"), and points the way forward for the band. Almost all of their work has some redeeming feature: "Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder" has a great Costello-like melody, but a rather weedy chorus; "No Place" has a good hook line, but a weak verse; "1000 Miles" has an excellent sixties-ish melody but is instrumentally a bit dull...
If Jez and his cohorts could learn to be more discriminatory with their writing, they'd have a great chance of success in the real world - it hurts to throw bits of your song away, but it is vital if you want to make the best of what you have.
In the meantime, this is a good memento of the SD's current live-set.

Jon Lewin, Cambridge Weekly News

This is the biggest selling tape (but only half the sales of the single)
Various Artists Causing A Cammotion cover
Cover art by Mary Beauchamp

Various - Causing A Cammotion
C60, PV031, 2nd June 1988

Geneva Convention: Read About Her
                   I Can't Stand It
Fires In Arabia:   Shadows
                   This Is Blue
Giant Polar Bears: Falling Over You
                   Daft Not To
Louise Alban:      Autumn
Glass Asylum:      Three Portraits Of A Consumer
                   What A Waste
Only On A Sunday:  Walking The Tightrope
Quiet Life:        Peter
                   Get Out Of Here
The Detective:     Fanfare
Pluck This!:       Saturday Night
Deaf Goes East:    Window Panes
                   The Beating Of Washing Hearts
A Band Of Steves:  Marching          

Always odd beasts, compilations, and this is odder than most. Also better than most, if you can stand the heat. Eighteen ditties guaranteed never to become hits, from Geneva Convention, Fires In Arabia, Giant Polar Bears, Louise Alban, Glass Asylum, Only On A Sunday, Quiet Life, The Detective, Pluck This!, Deaf Goes East and A Band Of Steve. They all come from Cambridge and have their value.

Stick It In Your Ear #141

Causing A Cammotion, a Peeved Tape Compilation, featuring ten bands performing no less than eighteen songs between them. First off is GENEVA CONVENTION, with more of their music for dancing mules. 'Read About Her' and 'I Can't Stand It' are, in fact, only two of many tunes penned and performed virtually single handedly by Paul Garner. It's all very commendable, and the songs aren't bad, either, particularly 'Read About Her'. But it takes a fearless fellow to take on the singing with a voice like his. It is true that the songwriter will usually have the best idea of how his or her lyric should be sung, but if you can't do it, you just can't do it. He should keep the songs but get a singer; look at Vince Clarke.
As for FIRES IN ARABIA, I was beginning to wonder whether each member of the band were even playing the same song. They sound about as together as Bros will in six months. They paper over the cracks by trying to sound as shameless and diverse as possible. This is done by adopting the old 'we recorded in a telephone box and we don't care' attitude. I could well believe it. Boil it down and what remains is a shambolic muddle with the sound of someone gargling on Corn Flakes in the background. From the fire into the frying pan, and onto THE GIANT POLAR BEARS, who don't leave much of an impression. Their songs are fast and largely incoherent, leaving little space for anything like a tune.
LOUISE ALBAN's contribution, 'Autumn', is a welcome relief. If Tracey Thorn was singing, it might easily be an Everything But The Girl number, but she isn't, so it doesn't... songs about seasons are easy to knock, but the eloquent acoustic guitars and fragile voice blend nicely to conjure up images of September rain, falling leaves, puddles and things like that. The final songs on side one are provided by GLASS ASYLUM. They use string sounds and rolling military drums to produce a rather bizarre but intriguing piece called 'Three Portraits Of A Consumer'. Need I say more? It's bathed in a wash of reverb and effects, which is a shame, because the tune suffocates and becomes indistinct as a result. Their second song 'What A Waste' is a news commentator talking about nuclear dumping over a marching drum pattern for one minute. Definitely not for Bananarama party types.
And so to side two. 'Walking The Tightrope' by ONLY ON A SUNDAY is arguably the best song on the tape. Its melody and telling lyrics combine to produce a song of remarkable puissance and originality. However the second song 'Pinstripes' sounds laboured and hurried, as if someone was in a terrific rush to get it over with. I don't blame them, but it doesn't do the song any favours. A band to watch for... hopefully. Next up are QUIET LIFE. For a band with a name like that, they make an awful lot of noise, and most of it's unnecessary. 'Get out of here, 'cos here you don't belong', they sing. Well, I'd go along with that. They construct an enormous pyramid of solid shit with their music, and top it all with a vile dropping of pretentious prattle. They have one ability, and that is to destroy, but the smouldering pyramid remains intact.
THE DETECTIVE manages a crazed crossbreed of Depeche Mode and rhythmic raving in 'Fanfare'. I'm not sure that it warrants repeated listening, but it is one of the more distinct tracks on the compilation. In stark contrast comes the twangy folk shuffle of PLUCK THIS!, fronted by the distinctive chat-rap of Demmi. The jive is infectious and the treatment is unbelievable! It leaves little to the imagination, but that's not the point. It's pure, open air cider drinking jig-rap. DEAF GOES EAST contribute a couple of 'movements', by the names of 'Window Panes' and 'The Beating Of Washing Hearts'. The former sounds like something straight out of Brian Eno's sound lab, and the latter like something out of his rear end. About as artistically satisfying as picking your nose in a Happy Eater. Performing the play out is A BAND OF STEVES with 'Marching'. It sounds as if it could have come from The Dead Goldfish Ensemble tape, and maybe it did. It's a bumpy ride through Causing A Cammotion, but having said that, it does have its moments. 7 out of 18.

Chris Williams, Scene And Heard 15

The compilation is an interesting if somewhat sated eclectic collection, with two tracks from the first Geneva Convention line-up, a couple of out-takes from the Fires In Arabia, two of the best from the defunct Giant Polar Bears, plus two each from The Glass Asylum (pop), Only On A Sunday (pop), Quiet Life (hard rock), Deaf Goes East (synth-based pop noise from Steve Xerri and Steve Hartwell), and single contributions from Louise Alban (a new exciting talent from Huntingdon), The Detective (the thinking person's Howard Jones), Pluck This (Irish jig meets rap) and The Band Of Steves (Messrs Buttercase and Hartwell).

Cambridge Weekly News

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble Reality - A Surreal Nightmare cover
Cover art by Steve Xerri

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Reality - A Surreal Nightmare
C46, PV032, 26th April 1988, Discogs
Bouncing Eggs / Sea Blown Wand / Bi / Fractal Landscape / Tin He Said / Reality / Phase

See The Dead Goldfish Ensemble album reviews for reviews of this release.

Geneva Convention Look Again cover

Geneva Convention - Look Again
C46, PV033, 29th September 1988
Everywhere / Here I Go / Look Again / I Can't Stand It / Late One Night / Our Lives / Read About Her / Books About Fashion / I Couldn't Turn Back / Maybe Someday / Far Away / I Found You Alone

A superb pop collection from the ex-member of The Herbs & the Surfin' Druids (both Peeved recording stars). So there's nothing happening in Britain to set the Basement on fire, right? Wrong! This tape battles away at the apathy in the UK with surprising results, & giving the scene a technicolour kick up the backside. Geneva Convention are a lethal, swaggering pop band for psychotic times. I like it. Turn it up!

Stick It In Your Ear #152

Sleeve of Music For Pandas

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Music For Pandas
C46, PV034, 12th June 1991
Panda / Learn To Tickle / Precession / Shoots / On Land / Small Room / Bamboo For Tea / Panda II

See The Dead Goldfish Ensemble album reviews for reviews of this release.

Sleeve for Alive In Paris
Cover photo by Ewa Hartwell

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Alive In Paris
PV035, 18th November 2017
JDH / Drooling Generous Egg / Digital Grumpy Elephants v2 / Delirium Grand Exotic v2 / Delaminate Grinding Echo / Deep Gravy Effort / DeeGeeE / Decidedly Gregarious Engines / Darning Graduate Experts v2 / Dart Ghost End / Distinctly Gratuitous Expertise
JDH (video) / Drooling Generous Egg (video) / Delirium Grand Exotic v2 (video) / Delaminate Grinding Echo (video) / Deep Gravy Effort (video) / DeeGeeE (video) / Decidedly Gregarious Engines (video) / Darning Graduate Experts v2 (video) / Dart Ghost End (video) / Distinctly Gratuitous Expertise (video)
Dependence Gravity Elegance

Sleeve for Polonia
Cover photo by Danuta Dziadyk-Szczepińska

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Polonia
PV036, 19th August 2020
Ptak / Fail Ignite Glad / Whizz / Elevate Hero Flung / Gonski Beat / Frying Bigger Fish / Dawn At 53C / Ever Handling Fear / Warszawa

Download link only available to purchasers of Fishy Tails

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble Tails From The Pointout Lighthouse cover
Cover photo by Ewa Hartwell

The Dead Goldfish Ensemble - Tails From The Pointout Lighthouse
PV037, 17th October 2020
Talking Cash / Turn Around / In Tune With Noon / Painful Tears / Slighting Land / Mutual / Hot And Cold / Distant Sands / ID (False) / Olive Ears / 'Til The Dawn
This was due to be released on City Spools but the label ceased to exist before it made its way out into the world

Various - Tons Of Fun
A compilation for Hypertonia World Enterprises (Discogs)

The Primary                - Radio Silence
The Deviance               - Perfect Stranger
The Detective              - Hong Kong Calls Me
Geneva Convention          - Look Again
Perfect Vision             - Angelfull
Casablanca Style           - Turing's Question
Dead Goldfish Ensemble     - Bouncing Eggs
Gestalt                    - Losing Control
Martin Baxter              - Darkhearted Man
The Herbs                  - Dream All Day
President Reagan Is Clever - The Wheel
Martin & Greaves           - Jet Flight
Surfin' Druids             - Books About Fashion
Faraway Stars              - Whalesong (Extract)


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