11.11.14

BASEMENT 5 : Silicon Chip EP (Island 10", 1980) / John Peel session 1980 (Radio broadcast).

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Reposted by request, & puzzlingly omitted from the otherwise authoritative 1965-1980/In Dub compilation, here are a couple of vital missing pieces from the Basement 5 jigsaw. "Silicon Chip" was the band's debut release (on 7" & extended 10") & even a cursory listen throws up all the usual "why wasn't this a massive hit?"-type misgivings. A rather weird, very under-rated single, it's quirky chart-friendly (this was 1980 remember...) veneer is offset by some cogent bottom end wobble, with trace elements of PiL & early On-U Sound very much in evidence (B5 were often lazily tagged as a "black PiL" after all). "Chip Butty" is, of course, a dubby versioned version of the a-side.

Their only Peel session was recorded on 21st April 1980 with Maida Vale whiz Tony Wilson - "another one", as Peel would wryly mutter. The line-up at this point comprised of Dennis Morris on vocals, the mysterious J.R. on guitar, Leo Williams on bass & T (aka "Tony") on drums (replaced on vinyl by PiL's Richard Dudanski). Essentially thrashed out live in a well-equipped BBC studio, it's heavier & rootsier than their records & goes someway to corroborating those "You had to see them live" testimonials we've all enviously read. The extended version of "Silicon Chip" is the high-point for me, but all of these BBC takes are superior to the official Island versions I think? Sound quality is A+ throughout (though "Immigration" unfortunately cuts slightly prematurely) - massive thanks to whoever had the foresight to archive it to cassette & take care of it for so long (in other words I've forgotten where I found it, sorry).

5 comments:

  1. I just bought this 10" -- what a coincidence! The curator of the Peel session may have been the estimable Vibracobra, and he's got a live recording of B5 from 1981 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2PKrnSuU8U ...Leo Williams is still working the punk/dub nexus in the band Dreadzone: they released a very good single last year with Mick Jones ("Too Late"), Leo's ex-bandmate from Big Audio Dynamite. Leo and Don Letts also had an interesting post-BAD band called Screaming Target. Their lone 2006 album includes the single "Who Killed King Tubby?"

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  2. Cheers, I didn't know about the Dreadzone connection, that's v. interesting! :)

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  3. Anonymous20.11.14

    Amazing, bought the LP when it came out but had totally forgotten how great these guys were. Thanks for posting this long lost classic.

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  4. Thanks for the kind words. :)

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  5. Thanks for posting this!

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