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Steve Davis On Forward-Thinking Prog

This Is Not This Heat live at Cafe Oto blackboard image

I think it would be fair to say that nostalgia has reached fever pitch here in the UK – no more so than in the field of music, and even more so among the wonderful acres of prog.

Old and young alike are tapping into our relatively recent past and (re-) discovering artists that have attained unprecedented levels of timelessness. Some bands are born timeless, some achieve timelessness and some are shit but people with crap taste award them that medal of honour regardless.

This Heat, however, were so far ahead of the clock that when they recently appeared at Café OTO in London for
a two-concert residency, word around the room was that they sounded ahead of even this time! Of course, if this statement wasn’t already bollocks, it was made even more testicular by the fact that the band weren’t even This Heat. They were This Is Not This Heat, hailing from a completely different era. Partly. From the moment This Heat struck their first dissonant chord back in the late 70s, they were the cutting edge of the future. The great John Peel gave them the timeless seal of approval no less. The pressure of being in more than one time zone at the same time must have been difficult for Charles Hayward and the crew. Craptasters don’t and won’t like you and future fans don’t know you exist yet, so you are left with a few fans born prematurely, as the medical and musical profession likes to put it.

To celebrate exactly 40 years since their first gig, two of the original three members, Charles Hayward and Charles Bullen, set about putting a band together that would make John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd look like kindergarten novices. The line-up was astonishing. Thurston Moore, Alexis Taylor, Chris Cutler, Daniel O’Sullivan, James Sedwards, Frank Byng, Alex Ward and a host of others joined the fun. But this was more than just nostalgia. For any newcomers to This Heat’s brand of music, these concerts may well have been an epiphanical moment! For us long-term fans, it was proof of how much good taste we had even in our youth.

The music played on those two evenings highlighted some of the most innovative and forward-thinking music of the late 70s. The only sadness was that Gareth Williams, the third member of the original line-up, was unable to attend. He passed away in 2001 just as the band were planning a reunion. The three This Heat albums have recently been reissued so it’s never too late to find out what all the fuss was about.