Salako in concert tonight, also from the Sound City ’99 festival in Liverpool, recorded by BBC Radio 1 and hosted by John Peel. General consensus of opinion puts Salako as one of the more quirky and idiosyncratic bands to come along during the 90s. Their label, Jeepster Records does nothing to dispel that, as is evidence by this excerpt from their bio:
“They started playing together in late 1995 as a four-piece featuring guitarists David Langdale and James Waudby, drummer Luke Barwell and friend Stu on bass. Through 1996, they performed numerous gigs at the Hull Adelphi, soon reaching the point where record companies started showing interest. Visiting A&R men were, however, less impressed by their live playing than their recordings.
A change was needed. And it came at the start of 1997 when Luke to bass, Stu shifted to keyboards and Tommy Spencer was introduced on drums. In this vastly improved guise they snared the interest of Mark Jones at Jeepster Recordings sending him tapes containing two new songs every week. Before long, he had a backlog of around thirty tracks. “He thought there must be something there if we can keep throwing them out,” Luke recalls.
Finally, in November 1997, Jeepster tested Salako out in a studio in Edinburgh, an experience they found “a nightmare, total waste of time”. Jeepster realised the band worked better in Luke’s bedroom and so resolved to simply sign them and buy them some better equipment. In February ‘98 they finally signed a deal, starting recording their debut album on their new gear the very next week.
Recording took place over around eight consecutive weekends during which James commuted back from university in London (he eventually dropped out after a year). After the ‘Growing Up In The Night’ single, the album ‘Re-Inventing Punctuation’ was released in October 1998. It featured a set of 20 songs (chosen from over 40) inspired by such great things as the Hayley Mills-starring children’s movie Pollyanna (‘The Story Of Bill’) and acclaimed modern architects Future Systems (‘For Inspiration Only’). The sleeve featured shots from the countryside around Hull that has inspired the band (indeed, James and Luke both remain stubborn village dwellers).
A gig at the 12-Bar Club in London also turned rather colourful when, following their own performance, the venue’s landlady commandeered their drum-kit, continuing singing and playing her own songs long into the night.
When the band decided it was time to turn in, they had to start deconstructing the drum kit around her. “She ended up singing and just playing a kick drum, before standing up and going, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.’ And then the audience started shouting at us…”
The band ended their first year of recording with a Peel session, with the esteemed one suggesting that Salako were destined for world domination.
Second album ‘Musicality’ was recorded over late ’98/ early ’99 and adopted some unorthodox methods along the way. Some guitar parts were recorded on the beach, others in a local newsagents where James used to work. For the vocal to ‘Arts And Crafts’, James hid under a pile of coats to better capture the song’s theme of being confined in an attic.”
You get the picture – okay, now hear the concert. As they were broadcast on October 28, 1999 – Salako at The Royal Court, Sound City ’99, Liverpool.