Early in Henry Cow's Virgin days, when the company had just signed Faust, the then A&R man, Simon Draper played us a demo and asked what we thought of it. It was Slapphappy's Acnalbasac Noom. What we thought was that it was extraordinary. A little after this, Faust arrived in England and they and we embarked on a long co-billed tour together. Faust was missing two of its regular members - I think one had left and the other had tooth problems. As replacements they had invited the remarkable Uli Trepte (bass and spacebox) and Peter Blegvad - from Slapphappy- who played various guitars. Since we were touring together, we and Peter were soon making all sorts of plans. Meanwhile, Virgin decided to re-record all the songs on the Slapphappy 'demo' we had heard instead of releasing it as it was - a crazy decision since the 'demo' had Faust on it and was as close to perfect as you can get. Still, it meant that members of Henry Cow got to play on the new version, as well as on radio broadcasts and hopeful singles. Something like a year later, Slapphappy arrived at the house most of Henry Cow were then living in, bearing many bottles, and asked if we'd be the band for their next LP. By the end of the evening, we had merged the two groups. Together, we made 2 LP's, Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning, after which, although we rehearsed for concerts, we un-merged again - with Dagmar electing to stay with Henry Cow and John Greaves continuing to work with Peter. When John left Henry Cow a little over a year later, he and Peter made Kew:Rhone together. Peter began to work with John Zorn, Christian Marclay, The Golden Palominos and others, and he and John continued to work together intermittently on various other projects, including The Lodge and Peter's first solo record for Virgin The Naked Shaksepeare. Once Peter had moved to London and Virgin had decided that he wasn't going to make them rich, I took the opportunity to start building up a new Blegvad album, using time at Cold Storage (in which I was then a partner). Over the next couple of years Downtime was recorded, with various bass-players-Pere Ubu's Tony Maimone', The Work's Mick Hobbs and John Greaves. There was a short break while Silvertone offered Peter a record deal, recorded and released King Strut, failed to get rich too and then released from his contract- which left Peter, John Greaves and this writer free, as a basic trio, to make Just Woke Up, for ReR. This trio then started to do concerts and since then has played all over Europe, in America and Japan. ReR released a third CD in 1998 and the following year organised a large-scale London concert The Woodcutter's Ball at which we expanded the trio with various guests, including B.J. Cole, Adam Phillips, Stoffer Blegvad, Syd Straw, Eddi Reader, Loudon Wainright III, Jakko Jakszyk and the Dear Janes. On a completely different tack, ReR also published a number of Peter's stories and pictures and he has designed a number of covers for ReR releases.
-as SLAPPHAPPY/HENRY COW
DESPERATE STRAIGHTS. Reissued on CD.Virgin
IN PRAISE OF LEARNING. Reissued on CD.ReR HC3
- PETER BLEGVAD TRIO:
DOWNTIME. LP Re 34 CD: ReR PB1
JUST WOKE UP. ReR PB2
HANGMAN'S HILL. ReR PB2
- On the Art Bears 7" CODA TO MAN AND BOY.
Peter Blegvad Website
text and images chris cutler; site squidco 4974