Fades in slowly has posted the first Peel session by James, dating from October 1983. This is the James I wrote about over at Backed with, though I still retain enough affection for them to wonder whether their new seven song mini-album – The night before, released today – might be worth the price of entry. (You can currently judge for yourselves here.)
As well as a version of ‘Hymn from a village’, the session contains not one but two candidates for Nightingales. ‘Chicken wire’ became much better known as ‘If things were perfect’, so I’ve gone for ‘Vulture’, which even in this rough-cut form betters the version later recorded for Strip-mine.
I could take or leave the BBC4 documentary Do it yourself: the story of Rough Trade last night (UK only, available for seven days after broadcast). The account – topped and tailed by the dismal Duffy – was largely of the inevitably jaded and drawn-out financial end of an undertaking begun with earnest idealism, and when Geoff Travis smiled after another quiet admission that his recollection of events was dim, he resembled nothing so much as a hairless John Major.
But the hour of archive performance, Rough Trade at the BBC, was a dream. Finally forced by the subject to show all the bits of The Old Grey Whistle Test and the like that are typically dropped from retrospective compilations, we had the pleasure of seeing in action Young Marble Giants, the Raincoats, Delta 5, Weekend, Robert Wyatt, Microdisney – Cathal Coughlan magnificent in ill-fitting trousers and a green jacket borrowed from the US Masters – Violent Femmes, James performing ‘Sit down’ on Wogan, and even Camper Van Beethoven doing – you guessed it – ‘Take the skinheads bowling’. These may be more or less available via YouTube but here it was all nicely packaged into as pleasurable an hour of music television as I ever remember seeing.