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One Thousand Violins - John Peel Sessions 29.09.85 and 02.12.86

  by Dixie Ernill

published: 30 / 8 / 2023

One Thousand Violins - John Peel Sessions 29.09.85 and 02.12.86
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Dixie Ernill examines the release on 10” vinyl of two Peel Sessions from 1985 and 1988 by under-rated Sheffield C86/indiepop band One Thousand Violins.

One Thousand Violins ticked all the boxes to have been one of the leading names from the c86/indie pop scene that exploded into the provincial towns and cities of the UK on the back of flag bearers The Smiths’ arrival at the end of 1982, but are somehow often overlooked. They released 3 quality albums between 1986 and 1988 and a slew of impressive singles including their earliest ones on Dreamworld, a label run by Dan Treacy who also fronted the influential Television Personalities, but even such patronage failed to propel them to the next level. The only theory I have is that singer John Wood possessed a voice that was more akin to the 60’s balladeers, such as Scott Walker, rather than the often muffled and slightly out of tune vocalists that fronted some of the more feted bands of the day. I think the same is true of St Christopher, who failed to gain the retrospective plaudits that other less talented Sarah Records’ bands did due to their singer Glenn Melia having a similar vocal style to John Wood. For me though, it is John Wood’s vocals that lift the band above their rivals, like a silver coin being scooped from a murky pool and make them one of only a handful of bands from that era whose music has truly stood up well to ravages of time. Formed in Sheffield but spending much time in London (often staying on Treacy’s floor), the band quickly came onto John Peel’s radar when they were barely a single old and recorded their first session for his show in September 1985. Despite the band’s inexperience the four songs sound great and it was probably no surprise that the fourth track was a sublime cover of The Walker Brother’s classic ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’. The second session was 14 months later and is equally as good as the first, with the song writing quality showing the band to be on an upward curve. So much so, three of the four tracks would form the backbone of the band’s second album ‘Locked Out Of The Love-in’ that would be released the following year, whilst the fourth, the quite brilliant ‘If I Were A Bullet (Then For Sure I’d Find A Way To Your Heart)’, was saved for a stand alone single. Precious Recordings of London I salute you for bringing attention to this undervalued band.

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One Thousand Violins - John Peel Sessions 29.09.85 and 02.12.86

One Thousand Violins - John Peel Sessions 29.09.85 and 02.12.86

One Thousand Violins - John Peel Sessions 29.09.85 and 02.12.86

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Interview (2014)
One Thousand Violins - Interview
Anthony Strutt chats to John Wood, the original front man with 80's Sheffield-based indie pop band and C86 act One Thousand Violins, about his former group


Halcyon Days (2014)
Fabulous indie compilation from underrated Sheffield-based 80's indie band One Thousand Violins, which compiles together almost everything that the original line-up of the group recorded

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