8 July 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 38 - Roman Holliday - Stand By

Roman Holliday - Stand By

Who: Roman Holliday
What: Stand By
Label: Jive
When: 1983
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street
Cost: 50p

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?)


Single One
A: Stand By
B: Round & Round

Single Two
A: Jive Dive (Peel Session version)
B1: One More Jilt (Peel Session version)
B2: Stand By (Peel Session version)


The Confused said...

OMG... I'd all but erased this lot from my memory but you swine... you just reminded me of them after so many years... and regardless to say I found John Peels' championing of them utterly baffling since I found absolutely nothing of merit... their big hit "Don't Try To Stop It" was irritating.... Christ, I've not heard that since about 1987 and hopefully won't hear it again till after my dying day.

I do recall much hype at the time and the BBC even broadcast a live concert as part of one of their "Rock Around The Clock" specials...

Unlike the 80's nostalgia freaks who thought it was a wonderful decade, the 80's continue to haunt me to this day since almost every shop I go in keep playing nothing but 80's music much to my annoyance since I hated most of it... and when and if I hear Roman Holliday again, I'll be diving for the exit faster than one can break wind!

lol... I do have the strangest memories of that era!

23 Daves said...

Ha, sorry about all that!

To be fair, though, I don't think the eighties were a worse decade for music than any other - you just had to dig a bit deeper to find interesting material by the time the mid-eighties rolled around.

I don't take Roman Holliday particularly seriously, but I am curious about a lot of big eighties hypes who now remain very much un-referenced: JoBoxers, The Truth, Hollywood Beyond, Belouis Some, Spelt Like This, etc. etc. Although I doubt many of these will ever get more than a fleeting mention on here, so you can rest easy.

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