The Swell Maps In Session – 1980 – Past Daily Soundbooth
The Swell Maps tonight. A band that got started in 1972, yet really didn’t gel until 1977. They had been influenced by the likes of T. Rex and Krautrock and were, by all accounts, devotees of what became known as DIY (Do It Yourself), and many have said foreshadowed Punk by several years. Although, by the time they actually became a full-fledged band, Punk was already well on to the musical landscape.
But they did do a lot in the area of Soundscape which did provide the basis for a lot of Post-Punk to come later. Still, they were active from 1977 until 1980 – released two albums and had a compilation in the works at the time of splitting up and went on to pursue solo careers.
Swell Maps consisted of the brothers Godfrey (Kevin and Adrian) otherwise known as Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden, along with Biggles Books (Richard Earl) Phones Sportsman (David Barrington) and Jowe Head (Stephen Bird). Their debut single Read About Seymour has been considered a Punk classic and their first album went to number 1 on the UK Independent charts.
After the split up, the members went their individual ways. Epic Soundtracks died of unknown causes in 1997 at age 38. And brother Nikki Sudden died in a New York City Hotel room in 2006 at age 49.
But even though they were together as a band for a short period of time and only released two studio albums, they wound up being highly influential to a number of groups during the Post-Punk period, among them Nirvana, REM, Sonic Youth and Pavement.
This session would wind up being their last for John Peel, and many considered it one of their best – they did some three sessions for Peel between 1978 and 1980.
You may not be familiar with them (I don’t recall seeing or hearing very much about them here in L.A.), but I would suggest you either plug in the headphones or crank up the speakers and give it a listen. Could be surprising.