It Was Twenty (Five) Years Ago Today


On Friday night, Magoo are celebrating their 25th birthday at the Norwich Art’s Centre, and whilst there’s always more to be said in looking forwards rather than backwards, it seems a more than appropriate point to briefly return to a moment that is now a somewhat indistinct memory.

Back in a time when the world seemed a slightly less finite concept, I attempted to forge a life in the world of light entertainment looking after the “telephones and typewriters” for a band called Magoo.

To be frank I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

Thankfully I don’t think the band were entirely clear what was going on either, so we kind of suited each other just fine for a while.

When I first started working with the band I only really had one goal, and that was to record a session for John Peel. I made a vague deal with them that I’d help as much as I was able to, as long as when, or at that point probably more honestly if, they ever got to record a session for Peel I would be allowed to make a guest appearance.

So you can imagine what the 12 December 1995 meant to me, as that was the day Magoo travelled down to the BBC’s Maida Vale recording studios (number four from what I can recall) to record their debut session for the show.

As ever with this kind of event I don’t recollect much about the day, other than feeling wildly overawed and hugely out of place. After all, this was the place that almost every band I’d ever loved had come to record at some point. This was the place where Delia Derbyshire had laid out huge lengths of tape loops in the corridors to produce the theme tune to Dr Who for the Radiophonic Workshop. The BBC Symphony Orchestra even called it home.

And here we were.

Magoo recorded four songs that day, namely Baxter Preminger, Eye Spy, Goldwyn and last but not least Valley As A Whole. And it was in the middle of this last tune that the band got to make good on that earlier agreed deal. With a good understanding of my limitations as a musician I played just a single chord during the three minutes of treble-heavy racket – a hugely enjoyable chord mind, and one that will stay with me until little else does (if you’ve got things to do and people to see, my moment of infamy begins at the 3:02 mark and ends, well, quite quickly after that).

Here are three of songs from that first session, sadly my recording of Eye Spy seems to have gone missing in the intervening years. 

Of the three songs that still remain in my archives I have to admit to never having really liked Valley As A Whole, despite my appearance on it (contrarian to the last). I much prefer Goldwyn – which owes more than a little to the repetitive racket of the band Loop, and Baxter Preminger – which was always a favourite and remains so twenty plus years later.

(For reference the ‘bloke’ mentioned by Peel in the introduction to Valley As A Whole was probably me – I’d gone up to Leeds for Sound City (do they still do these?) in an attempt to learn about “telephones and typewriters” and bumped into him after one of the events – in my defence I don’t think I ever claimed I was a member of the band but to be honest all I can really remember about the conversation was that he’d been for dinner at Delia Smith’s the previous week. This probably says all you need to know about my ability to make the most of a situation.)


So come along on Friday if you can, Magoo are well deserving of your time and support and twenty-five years is a mark well worth celebrating.

Happy birthday Magoo!

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