Cake 1987. 12 PIECE 5
HansPeterExtra wanted a re-up of the Pigbros album I posted a while back. I’m reluctant to do it because it sounds awful and needs re-doing with my fancy new cartridge – for some reason it’s particularly good at salvaging something listenable from poorly pressed LPs. The problem is that about 2/3 of my vinyl is in storage because I’m about to emigrate – and that includes the Pigbros LP, so it’ll have to wait till I’m installed in my new abode.
However, this rather fine single is still on my shelves, so maybe it’ll tide him over till then. I think it was their last – it’s certainly a step up from their earlier work in terms of polish, and the sound quality is decent for once. The two tracks are excellent – both with really funky bass lines and Fuzz Townsend’s exciting drumming. I could live without two versions of each, but it reminds me of why I used to go see them so often back then.
I’ve moaned in the past about the non-availability of live Pigbros material – well I found some the other day. There’s a Mermaid gig (which I was at) here, and their Peel sessions here. Both are horrible MP3s, but as far as I’m aware, they’re not available anywhere else.
Cake Records 1987. CAKELP1
This is Birmingham band Pigbros’s only album, released at the tail end of their short career. It was, as I recall entirely ignored and I don’t think they sold many copies. I guess they’d pretty much reached the end of the line by the time it came out and they didn’t promote it. In fact even though I was a regular at their gigs, I was barely aware that this existed and bought it second hand some time after the event in Selectadisc in Nottingham.
It’s like much of their output – some great songs, well performed with interesting lyrics, let down by ropey production and a murky sound. I guess those things cost money and I doubt they had much of it. It’s a shame because their live sound was great – I’d love to find a bootleg, but I think I’ll be waiting a long time. No sign of them jumping on the indie reunion bandwagon like so many of the other bands I used to see back then either.
Despite those limitations, this is a great album. One of the tracks (Cheap Life) has appeared here before, but this is a slightly different version. It remains a stand-out, but I also love much of the rest, especially The Way Things Currently Are. The guitar playing is much funkier than you’d expect from a bunch of brummy indiepopsters (maybe they’d been listening to ACR?) and Fuzz Townsend’s muscular and inventive drumming backs it all up very nicely. Live the occasional appearance of Svor Naan’s rudimentary sax playing worked well, with a sinister bottom-of-a-well sound, but here it just sounds a bit lame.
For me this is a much more enjoyable listen if you pay attention to the detail. When the overall sound isn’t brilliant, concentrate maybe on the guitar work or the drumming – if you do it suddenly works much better and you wonder how they failed to make the album sound much better than it does.
Further listening? Ha, don’t make me laugh. Away from this blog I doubt you’ll find anything. I’ll gradually post the rest of their output – I have everything they did except a flexi.
Vinyl Drip 1985. DRIP 3
Another Vinyl Drip release and another debut EP, this time from Brum’s Pigbros who I’ve featured before. Like Cheap Life there’s some great material here and it’s well played, but it’s a bit let down by the production which doesn’t capture the power they had live. However it’s not hard to see through that limitation and see this for the inventive debut it was. There’s a dark gothy feel to much of it – a sinister guitar sound, lyrics often with a slightly subversive political edge and some great drumming.
This EP is notable for the one obvious recorded appearance of drummer Fuzz Townsend’s trademark tin bath on the track Excessive. Before Pigbros he was often to be seen busking with it, especially in the piss filled pedestrian underpasses near Birmingham fruit and veg market, but here it’s been incorporated into his kit. As Pigbros neared the end of their career the tin bath had started to disintegrate under the assault from Fuzz’s sticks. Maybe that was why they split up?
Backs Records 1986. 12NCH 110
In the mid 80s it seemed like I saw Pigbros play every week. They were local and they were good, and seeing bands (unlike buying records) was cheap back then. Often they’d be playing with Mighty Mighty, whose BBC sessions I posted a while ago, although Pigbros were an altogether darker prospect than their jangly buddies.
They were very much a part of the Birmingham music scene – Nic Beale had been in The Nightingales, Fuzz Townsend, the drummer, who I first became aware of as a busker drumming on an old tin bath which became part of his drumkit in Pigbros, later joined Pop Will Eat Itself (he was wasted there I thought, but I guess it was fun and paid the bills), Svor Naan went by various aliases and was in The Cravats, and Jonathan Cooke – sorry, no idea.
This track was really powerful live and sounds pretty good here, although I guess they didn’t have the cash to create such a full sound in the studio. Looking back, they split before they really reached their potential; they were certainly one of the more creative outfits on the local circuit.