I’ve just received a pile of copies of this compilation on Agdam records, straight out of Azerbaijan. Many thanks to Ahmed over there, who selected 7 meaty tracks from the many hours’ worth of tape I provided him with and assembled them on a full-to-the-brim 79 minute CD in an edition of 500. Nice work.
The track list is as follows (click on each link for short previews, although some of these tracks are really long on the CD):
1 = STEWART WALDEN ”Mmmmorning” (November 1990)
2 = GAY ANIMAL WOMEN ”Children on Fire” excerpt (May 1989)
3 = WELL CRUCIAL “English Second Language” (January 1986)
4 = WALDEN / CAMPBELL / PLAISTOW ”Morons” (December 1990)
5 = SEPOPEPLEL live at the 13th Note, May 1998
6 = NEIL CAMPBELL live in Aberdaron, August 2004
7 = AFTERCLAP live at the Pyramid, Warrington, June 2007
And here’s a press release thing I helped assemble:
Celebrating aspects of the multi-tenatacled freewheeling monster-truck madness that was and is The A Band. Featuring archive material by key players in the band, recorded between 1986 and 2007.
Kicking off with a solo track from Stewart Walden’s golden age of singer-songwriting, “Mmmmorning” features Stewart’s highly original power-starving (ab)use of a casio keyboard, over which he laments for not being able to stay in bed all day.
Gay Animal Women was Stream Angel’s late-80s multi-media project, largely solo but often featuring people who would go on the play major parts in The A Band. “Children on Fire” is a 23 minute excerpt from an hour-long performance in Nottingham in 1989. Stream set up a system of slowly evolving loops and beats, let it run for a long long time, then gradually added a variety of singers to maintain a constantly peaking state of semi-verbal ecstacy. For this portion Stream and Richard Youngs soar through sheets of stuttering reverb while the loops shimmer and shake underneath.
Well Crucial was the conceptual precursor of The A Band, formed by brothers Stewart and Martin Walden to expand the possibilities they opened up in their legendarily WTF duo The Strolling Ones. They eventually enlisted scores of people from all over the UK, many of whom would never meet, to form a virtual band, prone to pre-internet style postal collaborations and unilateral one-off guerilla performances. “English Second Language” is one of the earliest Well Crucial tracks, a maddening and mind-melting solo Martin Walden plunderphonic workout, where overlaid locked-grooves are interspersed with recordings of Martin’s repeated call-ins to bemused local radio quiz programmes.
For a few years at the end of the 80s and start of the 90s, Stewart Walden and Neil Campbell were a cabaret-style duo, specialising in abrupt, absurd and abject “pop” tunes. They recorded several LPs of songs, most of them unreleased and willfully obscure. “Morons” is the title track from their second LP, where they are joined by A Band founder Jim Plaistow on guitar for a comparatively mellow acoustic come-down. It’s easy to have fun when you’re a moron, indeed.
There have been few groups as obscure as Edinburgh’s Sepopeplel, who existed in the late-90s, consisting most often of husband and wife duo Stewart Greenwood and Minty Cracknell. Stewart was a late-period A Band stalwart and occasional Prick Decay collaborator, and it really shows. This live excerpt is a fine example of their self-styled “Viking Soul Music”, with blocks of radio static breaking open to reveal a tender clarinet and accordion duet at its core.
Neil Campbell’s solo track comes from a period post-A Band, pre-Astral Social Club, when he was a member of Vibracathedral Orchestra. A live excerpt with twisting loops and strings that could, and probably did, go on all night.
Afterclap was the first significant appearance by The A Band in nearly 15 years, a “remorphing” for the Warrington Festival of Experimental Music in 2007. For this performance, included here in its 33 minute entirity, the 12 piece band included several old-guard members (Stewart Keith, Neil Campbell, Sticky Foster etc), abetted by younger players such as 15 year old Megan Fletcher-Cutts, who previously played with the band as a 6 month old baby back in the early 90s, and drummer Pascal Nichols from the fantastic Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides. The ensuing ruckus is a timely restating of the visceral oomph and non-generic weirdo blare the A Band first unloaded on the world back in the early 90s, and a reminder that they continue to do so to this day.
I have copies of this for sale for £8 within the UK, or £9 worldwide – drop me an email if you’re interested.