Billy Penn’s Brother / Calvin’s Dream – Heaven

Billy Penn’s Brother / Calvin’s Dream
1992 Sticky Music
Heaven, Scotland, United Kingdom

Side 1:

Richard Nicholson – Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, mouth harp
Charlie Irvin – Lead guitars, backing vocals
Dot Reid – Piano, backing vocals
Steve Butler – Bass, backing vocals, piano on “Scream”
Eddy John – Drums, percussion

Sugar for Ma Honey – Rhythm programming on “Scream”
Northstar – Rap vocal on “Scream”

  1. When the War is Over
  2. Taki to Treblinka
  3. Melon
  4. Walk on Water

Side 2:

Dougie Gay – Vocals, guitar
Simon Halliday – Guitars
Rachel Morley – Bass, vocals
Wilf Taylor – Drums

Ken Nisbet – Additional vocals
Dot Reid – Additional keyboards

  1. Guilty
  2. Come Down Love
  3. Struggle
  4. The Waiting Room

This is an interesting split tape called Heaven by Plankton Records. Side 1 is Billy Penn’s Brother, with four songs from Ruckus in Real Time. Billy Penn’s Brother played an excellent form of roots rock/alternative rock on their album, and this is four of the best. Kind of The Call meets Midnight Oil. I have heard all of those songs before. The real treat for me was side 2, which contains all of the songs from The First EP by Calvin’s Dream. I have been looking for this demo for a while, as I have their Fanatical CD and really like it. There is no liner information on the tape, so I had to pull some info from online. Also, I don’t know if these are the same versions of the songs as on the actual EP – but I pulled the information about this tape off of the website that was created by the person that collected all of these tapes I am digitizing, so that means I probably will see the actual tape soon enough. Until then, if someone has full scans of the j-card and tape from The First EP, I would love to see it. The sound is basically high quality alternative rock with a late 80s roots rock influence as well as an early 90s college rock influence. A lot of bands were doing this sound, just few were this good.

Billy Penn’s Brother – Power Blocs / Mustard Seeds

Billy Penn’s Brother
Power Blocs / Mustard Seeds
1990 Torn Curtain Records (RIP C003)
Brixton, England, United Kingdom

Richard Nicholson – Vocals, acoustic guitar, high strung, mouth harp, tambourine, songwriting
Johnny Pacitto – Electric Guitar
Kirsti Reeve – Flute
Dave Markee – Electric bass, bass fiddle

Side 1:

  1. Who Loves You Baby?
  2. Song for Annette
  3. Oh Danny Boy
  4. To Kiss a Fool
  5. A Golden Bell is Chiming
  6. In a Daze

Side 2:

  1. The Ten O’Clock News
  2. O Savage Land
  3. Going Down to Jericho
  4. Death on the Installment Plan
  5. Delusions of Grandeur
  6. You’re Beautiful

Billy Penn’s Brother Returns with a fuller band outing after the one man show of Coals of Fire. Of course, this is still acoustic folk music – the added instruments give it some added depth and cultural connection here and there. Nicholson addresses a wide range of topics, from tragedy to love to politics to culture. You can read about many of these various topics in detail in this review on CrossRhythms. I assume this is his third demo (since this is release RIP C003 and the last one was RIPC002), even though I can’t find what the first one is called. I do know that two years later the band was expanded to Billy Penn’s Brother & The Telephone Church for their 1992 release Ruckus in Real Time. Just not sure what happened after that.

Billy Penn’s Brother – Coals of Fire

Billy Penn’s Brother
Coals of Fire
1988 Torn Curtain Records (RIP C 002)
Brixton, England, United Kingdom

Richard Nicholson – Vocals, guitar, songwriting

Side 1:

  1. England’s Burnin’
  2. Sad House
  3. The Wreck of the Poor Mary Rose
  4. Oh! Margarita
  5. The Great American Nightmare

Side 2:

  1. There is a Farm in the Yonder Blue
  2. Charismatic Man
  3. What’s Up Doc?
  4. Big Boy Now

Another British import, this time acoustic folk music that is just a guitar and vocals. There is not a whole lot of variation from song to song, so this may not be everyone’s thing. The tape also comes with a full fold out sheet of lyrics. To me, it sounds like this leans towards Irish and Scottish folk music – but I am sure that someone from the area could correct me on which one it is. An online interview from few years later indicates that he was influenced by Bob Dylan. Vocally he is much clearer than Dylan, and I am not sure his guitar is Dylan-esque – but I guess that serves as a starting point. There are several other demos under this moniker – which Richard explains the origin of in the interview as well. Eventually it seems he made his way to Sticky Music. Other albums include Power Blocs/Mustard Seeds (also on Torn Curtain Records) and Ruckus in Real Time (on Sticky Music).