Friday, February 2, 2007

Free Agents [Pete Shelley] - £3.33 , LP, 1980, UK (NWW list!/Groovy label)

Pete Shelley
b. Peter McNeish, 17 April 1955, Leigh, Lancashire, England. When the Buzzcocks disbanded in 1981, Shelley soon embarked on a variety of solo projects. In fact, his solo history extended before, and during, the Buzzcocks career. As one of the Invisible Girls, he helped out on John Cooper Clarke albums while the Buzzcocks were still active. Around the same time he also launched his own independent label, Groovy. On this he released Free Agents (subtitled Three Pounds And Thirty Three R.R.P., which was also its original price). This consisted primarily of tape loops and feedback, and general free-for-all improvisation. Meanwhile, on New Hormones (the Buzzcocks' original label) came The Tiller Boys EP, another of Shelley's pet projects. The second release on Groovy was Sky Yen, a solo album originally recorded by Shelley in 1974 using electronic instruments. Much akin to work by Kraftwerk, it prefaced the electronic feel of his later solo work. However, it was 1982's Homosapien, a weighty slice of electro-pop concerning bisexuality, that marked the high point in Shelley's solo career. It was produced by Martin Rushent as a launch for his Generic label, and caused much discussion of Shelley's sexuality, and a re-examination of his Buzzcocks lyrics.XL1 in 1983 was more tame, although it did boast the novelty of including a Sinclair computer programme that reproduced the lyrics. One review compounded matters by mentioning no less than five Buzzcocks titles in comparison - a trifle unfairly. Again, it was produced by Rushent, this time with a predominantly disco feel.After 1986's Heaven And The Sea Shelley sought the comfort of a band again, and attempted to retain anonymity in Zip. He re-formed the Buzzcocks in 1989, enjoying an artistic and critical renaissance with the studio recordings Trade Test Transmissions, All Set and Modern. In October 2000 he reunited with the Buzzcocks' co-founder Howard Devoto under the Buzzkunst moniker. The duo recorded a well-received album which owed little to their respective musical pasts.
DISCOGRAPHY: Free Agents (Groovy 1980)**, Sky Yen (Groovy 1980)**, Homosapien (Genetic 1982)***, XL1 (Genetic 1983)***, Heaven And The Sea (Mercury 1986)**, with Howard Devoto Buzzkunst (Cooking Vinyl/spinART 2002)***.
Vinyl 12 inch LP released 1980 on Shelley's own label Groovy STP1
Pete Shelley notes: 'More of a solo project by Francis Cookson. One side features live recording from Tiller Boys gig at YMCA London [w/] Barry Adamson, Eric Random, Francis Cookson [& Pete Shelley]. Other side studio recordings done at Graveyard Studio, Prestwich.Doodles by Francis.'
The following is from a Shelley interview by C.P. Lee in N.M.E. Feb 9, 1980, although this is Lee talking, not Shelley: "The solo album is entitled `Free Agents' and subtitled `Three pounds thirty three, R.R.P' which is (not surprisingly) also the price. `Free Agents' is a collection of tracks about which the sleeve and the label give no information whatsoever. It's a montage of feedback, tapeloops and drum machines, with possibly a bit of the T.V in the background (well, it was made at home). Experiments in rhythmic annihilation and free form improvisation with just a hint of Buzzcock attitudes in the framing of several of the structures."[Gez notes that C.P. Lee is ex-Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias and journalist / personality.]
The C.P. Lee interview also mentions an album that was soon to be released called "Cinema Music And Wallpaper Sounds" recorded 1976.
Pete Shelley notes: '"Cinema Music And Wallpaper Sounds" was never released.'
Greg Earle notes: '6 pieces performed for a film soundtrack using guitars / effects / oscillators, drums and other noises. No vocals. It comes in a plain 12" (with hole) cover, much like a "white label" 12" single would. There is no writing on the record label, and there is a "cover" taped over the outer sleeve which basically looks like a page out of someone's notebook (lined paper, etc. ) that someone did some pen doodles on.'
sorry no pic sleeve scans


Anonymous said...

Amazing doesn't even begin to express the satisfaction that you've given me. I've looked for Free Agents forever. Thanks so much.

musicgnome said...

WOW! :) <- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you oh so very very much for this one. and a big thanks for your efforts for making this lovely blog.
anyone knows where to get ones sticky palms on the sky yen??

many thanks

/super swede

martinf said...

i posted sky yen 2 days ago:

salvapop said...

it`s amazing, crashed my head !!!
What experimental work!!!