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BMX Bandits On The Radio (1986 - 1996) Vinyl Japan ASKCD105

BMX Bandits On The Radio cover Okay a first for this site. If you've known about the site since 1996 then you will know that I've pretty much done everything for the site including the reviews. However with the new BMX Bandits CD of radio sessions I felt someone who has listened to the Bandits a bit longer than I have would be in a better position to give a review. So here is a review of the CD by my friend Graham. As you will read is far more comprehensive than what I would have written. Graham is also putting together a BMX Bandits Critical List for this website too.

June 2003 and a new BMX Bandits CD released on Vinyl Japan. What do you get then? Three full sessions and an acoustic set originally aired on national Radio 1 plus three bonus tracks. As well as this you also get some typically honest sleeve notes from Duglas. These sessions span 12 years and as you might expect it is the later songs that are stronger but some of the early ones still sound good today. The recordings feature 11 Bandits and 9 guest musicians - so some of the following info may not be 100% accurate.

I have distant memories of hearing the Bandits first session for Janice Long way back in 1986, at the time I had probably just bought the E102 7" single. The line up for the session was likely to have been Duglas, Sean, Jim and Billy. According to Duglas the band turned up at the studio with one guitar and three kazoos, Sean drumming on the wooden floor. Not surprisingly these recordings are far from perfect. Strawberry Sunday is quite catchy and turned out well but better still is The Day Before Tomorrow, one of my favourites from that period along with E102 and Stardate. The other two tracks from this session are Groovy Good Luck Friend and a short instrumental version of E102.

A year later the Bandits returned to do another Janice Long session. This time with their own instruments. I've never heard this session before but Duglas was probably joined by Francis, Joe and Norman. Three originals were performed, Figure 4, Rosemary Ledingham and Flipper. They also tackled a cover of Take 5, a hit for the Dave Brubeck Quartet, you'll recognise it if you hear it.

You can find versions of most of these songs on the 53rd and 3rd Years compilation on Avalanche Records released a few years ago.

Seven years and three albums later came a third session, this time for The Mark Radcliffe Show. This was around the time when Duglas was Scottish correspondent for the program (I remember some really great moments happening including the tasting of Duglas' homemade wine - Edward). I managed to catch this first time round and am pretty sure Duglas was backed by Francis and Finlay for acoustic versions of Little Hands and Gettin' Dirty which at the time was a brand new song yet to be released.

Gettin' Dirty was one of the songs performed when the Bandits returned in 1995 to play again for Mark and Lard. This was another session that had passed me by but the line up is likely to have been Duglas, Francis, John, Finlay and Sushil. Drew Hammill from the Radio Sweethearts added pedal steel to some songs. As well as a cover of Jonathan Richman's Since She Started To Ride, the other songs performed were Hello Again and Tiny Fingers, Tiny Toes. The latter appeared in a more basic form as a b-side on the Gettin' Dirty single and it sounds even better as a full band version.

Two of the three bonus tracks are performed with the Pearlfishers in a kind of Beach Boys Party style. Funnily enough one the songs is a Beach Boys cover, Hey Little Tomboy. The other song is another version of Robert Burns' Green Grow The Rashes from the Star Wars album. Finally another cover version, this time the Television Personalities Someone To Spend My Life With. Another Dan Treacy song, Girl At The Bus Stop appeared on the Gordon Keen And His BMX Bandits mini album.

I've had chance to play On The Radio a few times now and I think it turned out better than expected. For fans this offers a good introduction to BMX Bandits while for older fans there are still new songs to discover as well as old favourites to enjoy.

Graham Marsland

A note by me: I liked the whole album as an insight into early Bandits and their development through a decade. My personal favourites on the album are the versions of Rosemary Ledingham, Tiny Fingers, Tiny Toes and Hey Little Tomboy. You will need to get it to read Duglas' honest thoughts and see the picture of the Bandits wearing quite fetching cardigans. Many thanks to Claire at Vinyl Japan. - Edward

On The Radio is out now on Vinyl Japan (ASKCD105), mail order available from the Vinyl Japan Website

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