BIG, BOOMING AND MEMORABLE

p18143b73fs

Pete Wylie didn’t do things by half.  The three occasions that he managed to enter the higher echelons of the UK pop charts left us with magical and timeless bits of music.

I did consider having a go at pulling together an imaginary compilation album featuring his best moments but in all honesty while I have some albums and this fairly comprehensive compilation CD that brings together most of his best recordings I didn’t think my words could do him justice. My cop-out is therefore just to dig deep into the cupboard and pull out the three hit singles in 12″ form as well as a double-pack of 7″ pieces of plastic from his last Top 20 effort:-

1982 : The Story Of The Blues

This climbed all the way to #3 in the charts and is probably the best known of the hits. To my young(ish) ears it sounded like no other record that had ever been released at that point in history. To my old(er) ears it still sounds like no other record that has ever been released in history. Oh and the b-side on the 12″ is a new version of an earlier and much-loved flop single.

mp3 : Wah! – The Story of The Blues (Parts I and II)
mp3 : Wah! – 7 Minutes Live(ish)

1983 : Come Back

Pete was infamous for being a bit of a gobshite who loved to spout opinions about everyone and everything, and an unwillingness to play by the record industry rules and regulations. Nevertheless, he was regarded as such a talent that WEA, the biggest label in the world at the time, signed him up after The Story of The Blues. He delivered an album that horrified them and they refused to release it and in doing so nullified the recording contract.

In due course the album was partially re-recorded and eventually released on Beggars Banquet as A Word To The Wise Guy. There was a Top 20 hit single from it, released in a number of formats including this 12″ version:-

mp3 : The Mighty Wah! – Come Back (The Story Of The Reds)/The Devil In Miss Jones (combined and extended)
mp3 : The Mighty Wah! – Come Back! (The Return of the Randy Scouse Git)
mp3 : The Mighty Wah! – From Disco Dicko to A Kid in Care

This was an almighty two fingers gesture to WEA. It was the big sound they had demanded of the album but only provided after Wylie had gone to pastures new…and in the b-side version the lyrics were altered to enable a sideways swipe at WEA singers and bands who were enjoying regular chart success…

1986 : Sinful!

Almost thirty years on and this still sounds amazing when it blasts out of the radio. It reached #13 but was worthy at least of Top 3 to match his biggest ever hit. The 12″ Tribal Mix goes on for more than eight minutes and while it does occasionally betray its age thanks to the rather dated production techniques and tricks of the day, it is still hugely enjoyable and a fine commentary on the social injustices imposed on society by the Tories and Republicans in the first half of the ‘greed is good’ decade.

mp3 : Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks – Sinful! (Tribal Mix)
mp3 : Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks – Sinful!
mp3 : Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks – I Want The Moon, Mother

This was another single released in a multitude of formats and quite recently I had the good fortune to get my hands on the 2 x 7″ release of the single and here’s the two tracks that weren’t otherwise on the 12″ ( a word of warning…..they’re really only for completists):-

mp3 : Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks – Sophie’s Sinful! (for Maurice or Isabelle)
mp3 : Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks – The Joy Of Being Booed

Enjoy

AFTER COPE THEN McCULLOCH….IT HAD TO BE WYLIE ON FRIDAY

wylie

The best summary of Pete Wylie that I’ve ever read appeared in a piece in The Guardian just over 12 months ago:-

Pete Wylie was one of John Peel’s pet projects. He’d been one of the legendary (and barely existent) Liverpool group the Crucial Three with Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch before those two formed the Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen respectively. Wylie formed Wah! Or rather, with a grasp of how to succeed in the music business that fell far short of his grandiose ambition, he formed Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko Say! Wah!, Wah! The Mongrel, JF Wah! He got a major label, he released an album with the please-don’t-buy-this title Nah = Poo! – The Art of Bluff, he had a hit single with The Story of the Blues, he lost the major label deal. Through it all was a sense of a character who felt destined to be a star, and who had imagined the whole process from start to finish, with the possible exception of the bits in which he knuckled down and did what aspirant stars have to do: kissing label arses; doing the meet-and-greets; being a good boy.

The bio on the official website describes him as ‘part time rock star – full-time legend’ and reminds us that he has been behind some epic chart hits in our lifetime with the likes of Story of The Blues, Sinful and Come Back, the 12″ versions of which all have a place in the cupboard full of vinyl.

What I also think is well worth a read are the words of Wylie on how Story of The Blues became a hit:-

I started re-checking the Chilites doing this beautiful, very direct, emotional thing & around the same time saw Alan Bleasdale’s ‘BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF’; it made powerful political points by connecting emotionally, by dealing with the human costs of the day + MOTOWN WALKER BROTHERS etc all kicked in like long-lost family – we brought in mike HEDGES as producer (I love and love his work with the Associates, who during the recording brought in the most ale I’d seen at that point, and we ‘watched’ Scotland v Brazil, 82 world cup – love ya Billy). I programmed drumbox, arranged, played guitar, piano even – WEA thought BIGTIME; PEELE & JENSEN hammered it on Radip 1, the world breathed a sigh of indifference. Then, months after release, dead on its feet, we got a call; Granada TV were doing a Christmas show, Duran or such has been collared doing something shady, they needed a replacement quick and we were the nearest group; we did the show (first WAH! TV goes pop); in the make-up (MAKE-UP!) room Bet Lynch took a look at my quiff and said ‘OOH I haven’t seen one that big for years” I worw a tux (Like when ELVIS sang with SINATRA). The show aired Christmas day, the shops opened soon after and we humbly took our place in the nation’s charts – 6 MONTHS OF DOOM THEN BOOM! And it all got very different

mp3 : Wah! – The Story of The Blues (Part 1)

A rather less polished version was later recorded on 22 August 1984 for the John Peel Show:-

mp3 : The Mighty Wah – Basement Blues/Story Of The Blues

One of my other favourite Pete Wylie things was written in 1989:-

mp3 : Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List

It’s a spoken-word track is a list of his most hated people and things read by Josie Jones. Fast forward to 2004 and that very track was used as the opening salvo in Morrissey’s gig at the Manchester Arena (which myself and Mrs Villain managed to pick up tickets for!) and subsequently can be found on the DVD Who Put the M in Manchester?

And finally, here’s a rare chance to listen to Pete’s vocal contribution in 1990 to the original hardcore near nine minute version of a track that would be re-recorded and become a hit single a year later :-

mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (feat Pete Wylie) – It’s Grim Up North

Enjoy.