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S J Birkill
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New track from Pete's first BBC session
« : 01.12.19 at 22:25 »
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As you'll all no doubt know from our 'BBC Sessions' page, Pete recorded 5 songs for "Sounds of the Seventies" on the 4th of August, 1970. The session, at the BBC's Playhouse Theatre, was produced by Bernie Andrews with engineer Nick Gomm, and Pete was backed by an eight-piece band (string quartet, wind ensemble and rhythm section) under the direction of Nick Harrison. The arrangements were much the same as on BotBS (Nick had directed the band on the album four months earlier -- could it be the same musicians were used? Pete will know). The session's first broadcast was on the David Symonds programme on August 24th that year.
 
You might have wondered why our "BBC Sessions" player (14th one down in the right-hand column of the 'Discography' page) includes only four of the songs:  
 
Girl On The Train,
Touch Has A Memory,
Master Of The Revels, and  
Rider To The World's End.  
 
Well, my memory of 1970 has become a little indistinct, and I couldn't account for it either, but those four were all I had.
 
Until today. Member Jeremy Pymer spotted, in the comments to Richard Williams' tribute to Clive in his "thebluemoment.com" blog, a mention by musician Colin Harper of that first PA BBC session, an off-air recording of which Colin had placed on his YouTube channel. When Jeremy told me of this, I naturally went to have a listen, and heard monophonic AM radio recordings of:
 
Girl On The Train,
Touch Has A Memory,
Master Of The Revels, and...  
Laughing Boy!
 
Most of the BBC sessions in those days were given two airings, perhaps one or two weeks apart. Ken Garner's essential "In Session Tonight" doesn't list the second broadcast. My hypothesis now is that four songs were chosen for each show, but not the same four songs!. Colin's source recorded one of the programmes, I recorded the other. Colin graciously offered to send me the .wav file of his recordings, rather than have me use the already-compressed YouTube version. It came through this morning.
 
So, here it is now, taking up its rightful spot as the fifth song in the 14th player (Gulp!). The most notable thing for me is the prominence, nay predominance, of the clarinet part -- give it a listen. Those with good ears will note the early fade on the clarinet outro, immediately corrected, and crosstalk from a Morse Code 'numbers station' at the very end (apart from which the noise level is remarkably low -- the studio tape hiss is more audible than the radio background, though the frequency response is limited by the AM radio bandwidth. Radio 1 didn't get its own FM stereo channel, or even a share of Radio 2's, at the start of SOTS, so one had to root around the various FM local radio stations to locate a stereo simulcast). While you're there, may I suggest you lend another ear to Rider To The World's End -- one of its most atmospheric versions.
 
Hail Jeremy Pymer and Colin Harper! -- a large thank is due to each.
 
Steve
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