The Ruts

The Ruts – Highly regarded band whose anti-Heroin anthem became a prophesy.

The Ruts- in session for John Peel – January 29, 1979 – BBC Radio 1 –

The Ruts tonight. One of the highly regarded early Punk/Reggae hybrids that took hold in the late 70s. The Ruts had formed in 1977 with vocalist Malcolm Owen, guitarist Paul Fox, bass player Seggs Jennings and drummer Dave Ruffy.

They made their live debut in September of 1977 at The Target in Northolt, Middlesex. Shortly after that they began recording and their first single, In A Rut was released on the independent label People Unite in January of 1979. The single attracted a lot of attention, including that of John Peel, who expressed his admiration for the band and invited them to record a session.

The results are what we’re playing tonight – that first session The Ruts recorded for John Peel on January 29, 1979. And it would be the first of three sessions the band would do for him during the first incarnation of the band. Shortly after their first session, they were signed to Virgin Records and issued their debut single for the label, Babylon’s Burning. It became a top-10 hit and positioned the band to gain wider recognition when they appeared on Top Of The Pops. A follow-up single, Something That I Said, also grabbed them a follow-up appearance on Top Of The Pops. Their debut album, The Crack, came out in September of that year and quickly climbed the British album charts, topping out at Number 16.

It was around this time that things started going a little askew. Singer Malcolm Owen, who had recorded a stinging rant against Heroin for the b-side of their very first single, found himself in an “art imitates life” situation, battling his own Heroin addiction. It was a combination of his Heroin use and his rundown condition that forced cancellation of many crucial gigs in 1980.

Because of that, Owen was ejected from the band, returning only on the contingent that he got and stayed clean. Owen did and was reinstated. But, it didn’t last long, and Malcolm Owen was found dead of an overdose in the bathroom of his parents house on July 14, 1980.

Tonight it’s that first session – the one which propelled The Ruts to doing bigger things and going bigger places. However, they would disband in 1983 and reunite in 2007.

Here’s a reminder of what got people excited in 1979.

Nikita Khruschev - 1959

Nikita Khrushchev – visiting the U.S. in 1959 – signs were hopeful, at least for a little while.

A Nikita Khrushchev Press Conference – National Press Club, Washington D.C.– September 27, 1959.

After a whirlwind tour of the U.S., which included a refusal by Walt Disney to let Khrushchev visit Disneyland, the Soviet Premier gave his final press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. before heading back to Moscow.

It was a significant trip. In the middle of the Cold War, extending olive branches and words of peace seemed strange, but in light of the circumstances and the stalemate by which relations between the U.S. and the USSR were going, something had to give. After the famous Kitchen Debate in Vienna between Khrushchev and vice-President Nixon, Khrushchev was invited to come to the U.S. to visit, to see for himself. The result was a 13-day visit, beginning on September 15, with a tour that began in Washington D.C. it was the first visit to the U.S. of a Soviet Premier and the media circus was palpable. With stops in New York, San Francisco, Coon Rapids Iowa, Pittsburgh, along with the infamous stay in Los Angeles, complete with visit to the 20th Century Fox film lot and the Disneyland episode, which made for an interesting and bristly press conference during that particular day. But highlights of the trip were a visit with Eleanor Roosevelt and a tour of Hyde Park, a tour of an IBM facility, which left Khrushchev unenthused about the future of computers. But his visit to IBM’s self-serve Cafeteria was an idea he brought back to Moscow with him.

Still, it was a step towards a thaw in the Cold War. And President Eisenhower was likewise invited to spend time in Russia and tour the country, as Khrushchev had done in the U.S. – a tentative date was set for Spring in 1960. And in the meantime, an informal agreement was set not to put a deadline on the issue of Berlin, not until the Summit the following year.

Here is the final American Press Conference of Nikita Khrushchev, as it happened on September 27, 1959.

September 27, 1940 Axis Pact Signing

September 27, 1940 – signing the Axis Pact. The unholy alliance from which there was no turning back.

September 27, 1940 – In Berlin on this day, Germany, Italy and Japan entered into an agreement by which any of the signatories of the agreement would come to the aid of the other, should that signatory be attacked by any country not actively involved in the war up to that point. It became known as the Axis Pact, and it would seal the fate for those countries in the coming years, as the tide of war changed. The pact also meant there would be an increased influence over Southeast Asia, with Germany aiding Japan in its continued invasion and occupation of territories in that region. But what it also signified, was a stepped-up and direct warning to those nations not yet actively involved in the war (i.e. the U.S.) that any aid to non-Axis nations (i.e. Britain), coming under attack would be considered an attack on all Axis powers and that Japan would feel obliged to retaliate just as Germany would be obliged to retaliate should there be aggression towards Germany.

It was a thinly veiled threat to the U.S., but one which seemed impractical on a number of levels. Because Japan and Germany were on opposite sides of the world, coming to the aid of the other would be difficult at best. Also, Germany and Japan had different objective views of this “new world order” which the Tripartite sought to express.

Over the coming months, other nations joined the Axis Pact – those nations now occupied by Germany at the outbreak of War – Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and the German-client state of Slovakia. Ironically, the Soviet Union did not. Informed of its existence prior to the signing, Moscow sent Molotov to Berlin to discuss joining, as the Soviets saw the Pact as an update of their agreement made several months earlier. There was an agreement in principle to the Soviets joining, and Moscow sent a revised version of the Pact to Berlin, outlining the benefits of partnership with the Soviets.

However, Berlin had no intention of allowing Russia to join and didn’t reply to the revision which was sent. They did, however sign an agreement on new economic offerings in January of 1941.

But on this day, the Pact was signed and the principals were on hand to witness the event, along with German Radio, who broadcast the signing live and offered commentary in several languages, including English.

Here is that broadcast – because it’s Shortwave, the sound is a bit muddled from time to time and the translations are sometimes hard to make out. But it’s a significant broadcast from a pivotal time in World history.

The Auteurs

The Auteurs – Rejecting the Britpop label, they stayed on the fringes of the music scene.

The Auteurs – in session for John Peel – Feb. 20, 1996 – BBC Radio 1 –

The Auteurs to start the week off. Not all that well known on this side of the Atlantic, The Auteurs were highly praised by the British music press when their debut single, Show Girl was released. Their debut album, New Wave, issued in 1993 was nominated for a Mercury Prize and again, widely praised in the British music press. They were hailed as one of the cornerstones of the emerging Britpop movement.

Trouble was, Luke Haines, the singer-songwriter/guitar/vocals and piano founder of The Auteurs took big exception to that label, preferring to stay on the fringes of the music scene, rather than be pigeonholed by it. So rather than go with the Britpop movement and establish themselves on a commercial basis, Haines sought to go in a different direction, away from what was perceived as their sound.

This session comes from 1996, which also saw the release of their third album, After Murder Park. Another critically acclaimed album, but which found Haines in a wheelchair during most of the recording of it, due to jumping off a wall, presumably as a reaction to the strains of touring. This session features material from that album.

It was also around this time that Haines put together another band, Baader Meinhoff, based on the German terrorist organization. It was an alternative to The Auteurs and very often both bands played at the same venues, changing clothes and using disguises.

One last album was issued in 1999 before Luke Haines called it quits. Most of the founding members had, by this time left and gone off to other pursuits, and the legacy of The Auteurs and the unconventional roads they took wound up being their legacy.

You may or may not be familiar with them, they recorded only one session for John Peel, and this was it. Crank it up and give it a shot.

Kimberly Bergalis

Kimberly Bergalis testifying before Congress – Her plight was Americas shame.

September 26, 1991 – CBS World News Roundup – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

September 26, 1991 – a day which marked some 55 hours since Iraqi security forces detained a team of UN nuclear inspectors in a Baghdad parking lot. The team uncovered what was called a “goldmine” of incriminating evidence against Iraq. But according to sources, the Iraqi officials seemed willing to make a deal; release of the inspectors and the evidence they found, in exchange for cataloging what they found. The Iraqis continued to maintain the evidence in the hands of the inspectors was mainly personnel records, and not the proof of a widespread and well-advanced program to make nuclear weapons. The Iraqis were attempting to turn the standoff in the parking lot as a sort of “them versus Washington”, charging that the UN team leader David Kaye, an American wanted to turn the evidence he has collected over to the CIA and the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The charge was outright rejected by everyone on the UN inspection side.

In other news – Senior Palestinian officials have told news sources in Algiers that they were no longer insisting on naming Palestinian delegates to a U.S. sponsored Peace Conference. However, it wasn’t clear whether all PLO entities had voted on that.

Reports persisted that an American hostage was going to be freed in Lebanon later in the week. No names were named, but bets were on that it was going to be Joseph Cicippio, held for over five years.

Word from Capitol Hill that confirmation for Supreme Court appointee Clarence Thomas wasn’t going to be a slam-dunk vote. Alabama Democrat Hal Hefflin voiced his strong objection and his promise to vote no on the confirmation.

And Kimberly Bergalis, the 23 year old woman who was dying of the AIDS virus, transmitted by her Dentist, spoke at a Congressional subcommittee meeting to push legislation requiring all Health workers to be tested for the virus. Bergalis’ father, George Bergalis bitterly told the subcommittee that Kimberly’s plight was Americas shame, that they have steadfast refused to deal with AIDS or attempt to find its treatment.

And that’s a small slice of what went on in the world, the September 26, 1991, as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.

The Spinners

The Spinners – guaranteed Soul Hit factory all through the 60s and 70s.

The Spinners – in session on Soul! – NET-TV – January 13, 1973 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

The Spinners were a huge hit making machine all through the 1960s and 70s. Still together today, but with only one surviving original member, Henry Fambrough, The Spinners were finally inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame last year, some 50 years after their first hit.

Tonight it’s a live session from the NET (pre-PBS) TV series Soul!, which was one of the mainstays of Public televsion and one of the best live Soul and R&B shows on TV at the time. Soul! was different than most of the shows of this genre, because acts played live, not lip-synched to tracks – it offered a different version of hit song, but it added that spontaneity between artist and audience. And Soul! was a virtual who’s who of African-American talent being exposed, in some cases, for the first time on TV.

This session comes from January 13, 1973 and coincides with the release of what was to become one of their biggest hits of the 1970s, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love. In the short amount of time they’re on, they run through a sizable number of hits, starting off the It’s A Shame, and then doing their very first hit, That’s What Girls Were Made For, and going from there.

The problem with many of these shows is that they haven’t been preserved. Fortunately, this one has. But a goodly amount of live Soul and R&B hasn’t, and it constitutes a big gap in the musical history, particularly a live performing one. Groups like The Spinners were impressive hit makers, but they were also outstanding showmen, and being able to see/hear them go through a live performance only adds to their legacy. One we need to be reminded of often.


Peter Warlock - Philip Heseltine

Peter Warlock aka Phillip Heseltine. His suicide in 1930 prompted many to suspect it was Heseltine who murdered Warlock, or vice-versa.

Peter Warlock: Serenade for Strings – New London String Ensemble – BBC Session – February 14, 1945 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

The music of Peter Warlock is seldom played these days, but probably more so than it was during his lifetime. Only two of his works were recorded prior to his death in 1930, and the only public performance of his work came in 1929, just a year before his death.

A tragic figure, but also an enigma. Heseltine adopted the name and persona of Peter Warlock, from his dabbling in the Occult side of things and had composed a number of songs as numerous vocal works. But he was primarily known during his lifetime for his unconventional lifestyle and somewhat scandalous behavior; neither having much to do with composing. He was also a music critic for a period of time, writing reviews and short essays for The Daily Mail and The Musical Times in 1915 and had written some 30 pieces for the publications.

He was not without champions though. The well-known British composer Frederick Delius was a long-time friend, as well as the Dutch composer Bernard van Dieren. It was Sir Thomas Beecham who gave the only public performance of his work; his Capriol Suite, which became his best known orchestral work.

This piece, the Serenade, has been recorded several times. This particular performance comes by way of the BBC Transcription service and comes from a session recorded on February 14, 1945. It features the New London String Ensemble, conducted by Maurice Miles. As with many recordings from this period, there appears to be pitch problems which are hard to correct, which may explain why this performance hasn’t been reissued in any form. But it does represent one of the few recordings of his work available at the time.

His suicide (some say it was an accident) from gas poisoning on December 17, 1930 led many to wonder whether or not it was suicide or murder. Some speculated it was his friend van Dieren, but still others speculated that it was a simple case of Peter Warlock murdering Philip Heseltine, or vice-versa. A mysterious figure with a mysterious end.

His Serenade for Strings, on the other hand, is a different matter.

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