Who: Roman Holliday
What: Stand By
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Whenever people think about "John Peel" bands, two stereotypes usually spring to mind - the first is that of the classic indie or alternative act, normally dating from the eighties for some perplexing reason, even though Peel spent several decades effectively breaking leftfield acts. The second is bands who were so utterly, relentlessly experimental that they were never going to break through into the mainstream even if they spent an entire decade lodged on every daytime radio playlist in the world - yer Extreme Noise Terrors and yer Terminal Cheesecakes, then.
It seems to be an often ignored fact that Peel frequently had a soft spot for other acts which possibly didn't sit easily with his typical listener, and certainly didn't get any Festive Fifty entries. These acts were just struggling young pop bands rather than anything else - Frankie Goes to Hollywood would be a prime example of a band few people genuinely remember broadcasting a Peel session during their salad days. Fewer still can remember Shakin' Stevens being in session or talk about it, but it happened. Trust me. Go away and look it up if you don't believe me.
There again, Peel seems to have always had a not-so-secret soft spot for pre-sixties revival acts in whatever form they took, and perhaps that's why he booked Roman Holliday in session back in the eighties, an act now more famed for their actually pretty spiffing hit single "Don't Try To Stop It" than anything else. Apparently he chanced upon them performing their retro act in a dive bar in London (known appropriately as the "Jive Dive") and immediately offered them a session on the spot, meaning that his listeners were then treated to a whole bunch of fifties close harmonies and finger clickin' grooves on his show. It probably sounded out of place, but I suspect that most listeners knew better than to be baffled by Peel's unpredictability.
The band were clearly proud enough of the achievement to include their Peel session as a free extra disc with this single, and inside the gatefold sleeve there's a picture of him beardily greeting the fresh-faced young men in the band. Despite this, it has to be said that the average collector of Peel Sessions won't be too excited by this work - the competence behind the delivery is sometimes astonishing, and the attention to detail admirable, but the songs themselves aren't especially memorable.
Rumours persist that the band were originally a vehicle for the unstoppable Peter Noone, but I can't find any verification of that piece of gossip online, and in any case there's absolutely no evidence of it on any of their recordings. By the time of their fleeting success they were a seven piece band lead by Steve Lambert from East London, and only managed two hits (the other being "Motormania", which just made number 40) before fading away. Ah well.
Download it Here (has anybody else been having problems with Sharebee lately?)
A: Stand By
B: Round & Round
A: Jive Dive (Peel Session version)
B1: One More Jilt (Peel Session version)
B2: Stand By (Peel Session version)