Friday, 13 January 2012

Radio One

In the days before t'Internet, radio was the major way of hearing new music and in the UK that meant BBC Radio One. In the early 80s, daytime R1 was basically wall-to-wall chart fodder, with indie music tolerated from 8pm onwards. Initially, a mere three years after punk (the BBC did always respond quickly to new trends), Mike Read filled this slot, playing what might best be described as a mixture of mod and power pop between 8 and 9.30 pm. He was replaced by another 30-something pretending to be down-with-the-kids, newsroom escapee Richard Skinner, but by the time the Sisters were making radio waves it was Canadian David (formerly "Kid") Jensen in the hotseat, another late conversion to post-punk sounds. After them, of course, at ten o'clock came the perennial Peel, playing his eclectic mix of whatever he liked, reggae one minute, hardcore punk the next. I recall hearing the first Sisters studio session on his show on Radio One (in the days when they were recorded days in advance rather then the Live Lounge of today), but not being a particular fan of the band yet by September 82 it was not one of those nights where you sat huddled next to your radio cassette player with Play, Record and Pause depressed ready for the next session track. Things had changed by six months later and the first chance to hear studio versions of some of the slower burning classics from the live set that would form the basis of The Reptile House was an ocasion not to be missed. The Sisters had recorded a session for the David Jensen Show, but the host was on holiday and his predecessor Richard Skinner was in the DJ chair that week. Skinner seemed a little bemused by the band's sound, and when reading out the list of the band's forthcoming gigs (the official tour supporting the Gun Club rather than the solo dates beforehand), he mentioned the gig at Norwich Gala Ballroom and said "they'll be taking the mirrored disco-ball down for that one." He also managed to do a time check over one of the songs, but I played the tape I recorded of the four songs until it wore out and the official version of the EP was released - minus Jolene, of course ...

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