I’ve mentioned the past couple of Sundays how Paul Haig’s solo output would go to catch a few folk out, thanks to the music being far removed from the sounds associated with his former band, Josef K.

In a similar vein, the former frontman of Buzzcocks stunned many, fans and critics alike, when he released his debut solo single in September 1981:-

mp3 : Pete Shelley – Homosapien

I’m certain that I would have first heard this played at a night in the Strathclyde University Student Union on the basis that it had been banned by the BBC. I do recall, vaguely it has to be admitted, one of the weekly music papers having a real go at the record and its singer, accusing him of betraying his punk roots by sliding over onto the dance floor and jumping on the bandwagon of what the writer thought would be a short-lived craze for electronic music. Long live rock’n’roll and all that….

Did I take an instant liking to the track? Truth be told, not really as I wanted Pete Shelley to somehow create MkII of his former band. But, as I grew increasingly familiar with the song, I came to the realisation that it was an absolute belter of a new-era dance track, with as catchy a hook via the synths as had been managed previously with the guitars. Indeed, it is a close cousin to the new pop-savvy sounds that were being released by The Human League, which is no coincidence when you consider that Martin Rushent was could be found in the producer’s chair in both instances.

Few people knew that Pete Shelley was in fact revisiting his first love, having dabbled unsuccessfully in electronic music before meeting Howard Devoto at college and forming one of the most important punk/new wave bands to emerge out of the UK. It was something he had kept quiet about all the time his band becoming a success; in much the same way, he’d previously stayed schtum about his bisexuality, but the release of Homosapien, with its far from subtle references (e.g. ‘Homo Superior, in my interior) provided him with a perfect opportunity to be open about things.

It was a far less tolerant world back then, and there was a sense of a substantial number of fans moving towards disowning Pete Shelley. The excuse given was the shift in music, but there were other unsaid things at play…..

The debut album, also entitled Homospaien, was largely panned on its release, but it is one which has been somewhat reevaluated over time with many now acknowledging that, while not perhaps as instantly accessible as those of the big-hitting and chart-friendly acts such as Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, OMD and Ultravox, it certainly was a decent stab at things.

Here’s the b-side to the original release of the debut single….again it’s a bit different from the Buzzcocks without being aimed squarely at the disco floor:-

mp3 : Pete Shelley – Keats’ Song



Again….huge thanks to David for his patience on this as he sent it up weeks ago when much of Britain was grabbed by the mania of the Tour de France 2014:-


Like Adam over at Bagging Area, I too was not going to let slip a chance to see the Tour de France as it hit the North. So we set off from Manchester Victoria early on Sunday morning on a train packed to the rafters to Mytholmroyd, just beyond Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.

Parking our camping chairs on a grass verge at the bottom of Cragg Vale – at five and a half miles, England’s longest continuous single gradient – we and thousands of others waited three hours or more in glorious sunshine for the peloton to pass. Preceded by the publicity caravan, and a host of police cars and motorbikes, half of them your actual French Gendarmerie, they were upon us and gone in a flash.

As a cycling fan who grew up watching Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon, initially on ITV’s World Of Sport, then on Channel 4’s early coverage, when it was on for a whole thirty minutes a day, I never thought I’d get the chance to see it so close to home. At one point they were a mere fifteen miles from our house.

There were tears in my eyes after the boys in Lycra had gone round the bend up the road.

It’s surprisingly easy to tie in the Tour with 80’s indie music. First of all, because the rather wonderful theme music to the Channel 4 coverage of the time was written by none other than Pete Shelley.

mp3 : Pete Shelley – Tour de France Channel 4 theme

Secondly, when cycling garb is now all the rage, in the 80’s it was only really worn by… cyclists. Except that is, for The Age of Chance.

download (3)

Age of Chance formed in Leeds – which saw Saturday’s Grand Départ – in 1985, and were signed to Fon Records of Sheffield, where Sunday’s stage finished. They were darlings of the indie scene, often touted at the time as the band most likely to succeed, but they never really did.

They were more raucous than their C86 contemporaries, with a bit of funk thrown into their thrashy guitar sound. Working with Sheffield’s Designers’ Republic, they produced some striking cover art. The sleeve of “Don’t Get Mad … Get Even” was one of Q Magazine’s 100 Best Record Covers Of All Time, describing it as “too intricate to rightfully exist in the pre-desktop publishing age.”

Coupled with this, they were never seen out wearing anything else than kit of some of the biggest cycling teams of the time, notably Renault-Elf and Système-U. Because of their obvious love of design, they were sometimes unfairly derided for being more style over content, but they were a blistering live band who knew how to work a crowd.

Their greatest success was an Indie Number One with their cover of “Kiss” in 1986, at a time when few of us indie kids would dare admit to even listening to Prince. Two years before The Art of Noise did their own version, theirs is far superior, yet virtually forgotten.

Despite signing to Virgin in 1987, success always eluded them. They finally split in 1991.

Where they are now, I’ve no idea, but I bet they out at the roadside this weekend, cheering on the peloton through Yorkshire, getting envious glances at their vintage cycling gear.



JC adds……David’s words led me to dig out the 12″ copy of said song… contains a great remix and a more than half-decent b-side:-

mp3 : Age of Chance – Kiss
mp3 : Age of Chance – Kiss Collision Cut
mp3 : Age of Chance – Crash Conscious