Monday, 16 March 2009
The Brainiac Five
I had one of their posters for a gig at The London Inn on my bedroom wall for sometime and I'm pretty sure it had the date November 1978 on it. I am also pretty certain it was after this particular gig that several of us made the night-time assault on Carn Brea described here.
Anyway, I loved the Brainiacs. As I'd just started playing in band, The Imports, myself, I used to look up to The Brainiacs as something to aspire to. Bert Biscoe used to put on a great performance, usually whilst wearing a huge floppy pointed felt hat. I remember that towards the end of their second set he would suddenly put his guitar down, rush through the audience and exit through the front door....only to reappear several minutes later through a door at the back of the pub. My memory is vague but I think he used to do this during the middle eight/guitar solo of 'Endless River' which is one of the tracks featured on the Mushy Doubt EP pictured above.
I went down to watch them rehearse in Newlyn once. It was a hot summer's day and they had a basement in this amazing old house with a rambling terrace at the back which had stunning views over Mount's Bay. I thought that was so cool...being in a band and rocking out, entertaining the seagulls and probably half of Penzance at the same time.
Another favourite from their live gigs featured on the EP is "(I was a) Vegetable". The lyrics went along the lines of:
I was a vegetable...on a Saturday morning
I was a vegetable...she gave me no warning
I was a vegetable...I was a vegetable for yeeeewwwwwwuh....
It's a classic.
I'm not sure where my copy of Mushy Doubt has got to but in my Google quest to see if I could find anything relating to The Brainiac Five, I came across a Bert Biscoe compilation album called An Kynsa. You can play samples from this website.
To my delight, I discover two Brainiac Five tracks on it, the aforementioned 'Endless River' and another called 'Marilyn Munroe'...a punked up blues stomper (that Jean Genie riff) that I also vividly remember from their live shows.
Reading some of the blurb on that page I read:
"All Aboard" – a home recording of a song written in a moment for the moment – a warm time around Sal’s wedding to Ian – many friends."
Furthermore, as I play the sample I realise that it is in fact me accompanying Bert on my fretless bass to a song we basically jammed and made up on the spot. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and we'd just had an even lazier lunch at "Ian and Sal's". Bert had some lyrics and we started messing around with some chords and bass lines to go with them. Bert had a little basic cassette recorder with him and it was recorded probably in one take to maybe do something with at a later time. To me, the song was always called "Riding Along on My Best Friend's Dream". I think it very much captures the feeling of the moment...such a buzz to hear it again.
It was indeed a warm time as Bert suggests. A key time in my 'leaving home' phase. I was living at Ian and Sal's in Truro at the time. I think I'd just left college and was working at Trurographics. I was also playing bass with Flight Seven Seven. Ian & Sally would often come to our gigs and if we'd played a gig at The William in Truro they would often invite everyone back to theirs for drinks afterwards which is where I got re-aquainted with Bert again.
I believe Bert still lives in Truro and is a Truro City councillor as far as I know. Here's his MySpace site.
A few years ago he brought out a book called "Meditations on Carn Brea". It's a collaboration with a photographer Cliff Jones. Some poetry and musings well worth looking at if you know the area.
Anyway, enough of the free plugs!
Must drop him an email at some point...
Posted by Steve