Steve Davis' Interesting Alternative

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Some gems only sparkle at 45rpm…

The history of popular recorded music is without doubt inextricably linked to the 7-inch single. If it wasn’t for this tiny piece of PVC, Snooker Loopy would never have been the pop smash hit of 1986. However, 45s don’t feature that heavily in the history of prog. The 7-inch single and 20 minute drum solos never really gelled. Regardless of the mismatch, there have been a wonderful array of great 7-inch weird stuff over the years.

Firstly, for those of you who are into the more left field stuff that we regularly play on our radio show, then do yourself a favour and grab a copy of Voice Coils’ In Sixths/Field And Border. Their music is impossible to categorise but truly mesmerising.

If ever a band were never likely to break into the charts, even in the 70s, then it was a bunch of French weirdos called Magma. Released in conjunction with their second album Köhntarkösz, I can just picture the A&R executives at A&M Records sitting down (akin to the Haribo TV advert) and discussing whether this ‘devil’s Zeuhl music’ offering fitted on the album, before one bright spark chips in with, “I know! Let’s put this out as a single!” The incredible growling bass of Jannick Top was blended with the maniacal chanting of Klaus Blasquiz and Mekanik Machine became the most horrifying record (never) to have popped up on Juke Box Jury.

Staying across the Channel for a moment is the very obscure 70s Dynastie Crisis J’Ai Mal which starts off like a dodgy Eurovision effort but then morphs into a superb psych/jazz/prog wig out.

Of interest to the Canterbury scene and in particular Egg fans, will be the reworking of A Visit To Newport Hospital by The Baking Research Station. It’s faithful in essence (sort of!) to the original but has enough of its own character to make this a masterpiece in its own right.

For those that have a penchant for the psychedelic Birmingham band Broadcast, then seek out the dreamy collectible electronica of Melody’s Echo Chamber and the 7-inch Crystallized. Should you be looking for future psychedelic “funny music” collectibles, then under our noses is Happy Half-Life, Dear Friend, the B side of Knifeworld’s only 45 Pissed Up On Brake Fluid.

Let’s finish off with Roy Wood and Wizzard! No question that everyone has See My Baby Jive in their collection but have you ever turned it over to hear the amazing jazzy/prog instrumental Bend Over Beethoven? You can pick this Zappa-esque masterpiece up for a quid on Discogs.com and it may be your best purchase of the year.

Catch Steve’s Interesting Alternative Radio Show every Monday 10pm-midnight at www.Phoenixfm.com