Boomkat Product Review:
This Heat’s foundational 1977 recordings for John Peel resurface via the band’s own label, still sounding incredibly fresh and light years ahead of their time
A masterpiece of UK avant-jazz-funk and art rock, ‘Made Available: John Peel Sessions’ combines both of This Heat’s early Peel sessions in a definitive snapshot of the band in their classic first formation, featuring Gareth Williams who would go on to form Flaming Tunes, alongside Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward. First pressed up by London’s Legendary These Records in 1996 and now finally available to download, it’s as thrilling as ever to hear the trio scythe thru styles like young prophets from the future, channelling the ancient wisdom of worldly musical traditions with the punkish iconoclasm of the era in swingeing, ground-reshaping form.
In two riveting displays recorded only a month apart, their rock and jazz-honed intuitions meets jangly, obtuse art school angularity in a way that would come to inform everyone from RHCP to Black MIDI, and all the more impressively so as these were some of their earliest recordings, laid down off the back of Peel loving their demos, and years before their resoundingly influential self-titled album in 1979. However, Peel was really only into the first session’s raw, livewire jams, especially the Sun Ra-meets-Robert Wyatt stylings of ’Not Waving’ and the humid otherworldly song craft of ‘The Fall of Saigon’, and found their 2nd set “indulgent” and never asked them back. To be fair the 2nd session is different, touching on Bossa-noise-pop abstraction in ‘Rimp Romp Ramp’ and slipping into creaky avant-classical in ‘Sitting’, and the seance-like ’Slither’, but they’re just trippier and better than loads of plop also played by Peel.