A Musical Education , My Experience of Public Service Broadcasting
Be Informed , Educated and Entertained
I first heard Public Service Broadcasting on BBC Radio 6 with the song “ROYGBIV” an acronym for the sequence of hues commonly described as making up a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The band are London-based consisting of J. Willgoose, Esq. on guitar, banjo, other stringed instruments, samplings and electronic musical instruments, Wrigglesworth on drums, piano and electronic musical instruments, and J F Abraham on flugelhorn, bass guitar, drums and assorted other instruments including a vibraslap.
Willgoose started on his own before adding Wrigglesworth , and producing “The War Room” EP which was instrumentals laced with war and film commentaries relating to the songs such as the ironic Motorik of “Spitfire” , Motorik being a relentless German music genre with a mechanical beat, pioneered by bands such as Neu!.
The band have been given access to the National Sound Archive for the samples they use in their songs. There is no singing , every vocal sound is programmed and sampled. Even in live environments Willgoose never speaks , communicating through his computers and keyboards but still making you part of the experience.
“The War Room” gave us twenty minutes of samples taking us back to World War Two with “If War Should Come” and “London Can Take It” painting a picture of the onset of the war an dthe bombings before “Spitfire” takes us into The Battle of Britain. Before playing out with “Dig For Victory” and “Waltz For George”.
Their debut album “Inform Educate Entertain” does just that , reprising “ROYBGIV” and “Spitfire” , “Lit Up” could also have been on “The War Room” EP but is an almost magical commentary on a Naval Fleet. The album is disparate but every song is an educational vignette.
We have “Late Night Final” and “Night Mail” a John Betjamin poem , then “Signal 30” based on road safety broadcast which is very hard hitting and was repurposed by the BBC for Formula 1 coverage when the BBC last had it, far more purposeful than Fleetwood Mac’s excellent but now pedestrian “The Chain”.
Next up was the single “Everest” which gives us the story of how Everest was discovered, this was also on the Inform Educate Entertain album.
I keep saying every Public Service Broadcasting Service song you hear , you will learn something , almost like a musical history lesson.
I have seen the band three times and they have never disappointed me, and are one of the greatest live experiences you can have this side of the millennium.
Next album was “The Race For Space” giving equal billing to the Russians and Americans with some stand out moment including the dancing spacesuits in the “Gagarin” video and the sheer go for it energy of “Go” which puts you right in the control room at Houston for the Apollo 11 launch,
The full listing follows with each song referring to a particular space mission.
1. "The Race for Space" John F. Kennedy's September 1962 Speech
2. "Sputnik" Sputnik 1 (1957 - First satellite)
3. "Gagarin" Vostok 1 (1961 - First human in space)
4. "Fire in the Cockpit" Apollo 1 disaster (1967 - First planned Apollo mission)
5. "E.V.A." Voskhod 2 (1965 - First spacewalk)
6. "The Other Side" Apollo 8 (1968 - First human orbit of the Moon)
7. "Valentina" (featuring Smoke Fairies) Vostok 6 (1963 - First woman and first civilian in space)
8. "Go!" Apollo 11 (1969 - First Moon landing by a crewed spacecraft)
9. "Tomorrow" Apollo 17 (1972 - Final Apollo mission)
The next album “Every Valley” chronicles the rise and decline of the Welsh Coal Industry. Willgoose described the album's premise as an allegory for today's "abandoned and neglected communities across the western world", which have led to a "malignant, cynical and calculating brand of politics."
The band travelled to Ebbw Vale, Wales, a former steelworks town, to record Every Valley in the lecture hall of a defunct workers' institute.
Their most recent EP was the “White Star Liner” EP which was performed on the slipway where the Titanic was launched (I think) but whatever it is another history lesson and that is the lead in for this piece.
There is a lot I have missed but this band are a treasure trove of experience.
Listen , enjoy , be informed , educated and entertained.