Garth Hewitt – Nero’s Watching Video

Garth Hewitt
Nero’s Watching Video
1988 BrierPatch Music (BPM3001)
United Kingdom

Garth Hewitt – Vocals, acoustic guitar on “No One is an Island,” harmonica on “Freedom Fighter,” backing vocals on “Namarimbe”
Bryn Haworth – Acoustic guitar, mandolin, backing vocals, Slide guitar on “No One is an Island,” dobro on “Living Under the Mercy”
Tom Blades – Acoustic guitars, electric guitars, movement drum computer, steel drums on “Namarimbe”
Mick Parker – Piano, organ, synthesizer, vocoder, steel drums on “Zachariah the Zulu”
Luis Jardim – Bass, percussion
Paul Robinson – Drums

Jan Pulsford – Synthesizers and movement drum computer on “Nero’s Watching Video,” backing vocals on “Namarimbe”
Pete Wilshire – Pedal steel guitar on “Freedom Fighter”
Linda Jardim – Backing vocals on “Namarimbe”

Side 1:

  1. Nero’s Watching Video
  2. Freedom Fighter
  3. Water, Water
  4. Zachariah the Zulu
  5. Living Under the Mercy

Side 2:

  1. Namarimbe
  2. Rainbow Over Kampala
  3. So Much Better
  4. No One is an Island
  5. Road to Freedom

This tape started off as a bit of a surprise. I tend to think of Garth Hewitt as a folk rock / roots rock / singer-songwriter artist. But the first song here is pretty much new wave, reminiscent of Steve Taylor. But just as you begin to wonder if Hewitt had made an entire new wave album, it pretty much starts and stops with that one song. Too bad there weren’t at least a few more in the style – it is pretty good. However, once you make the jump in your mind, the rest of the album is a quality roots rock album. There are also several world music influences throughout the album, as Hewitt sings many protest songs about the way we treat our world and the people in it.

The Strait Tapes – Volume 2

The Strait Tapes – Volume 2
1985? (no label)
London, England, United Kingdom

Side 1:

  1. Garth Hewitt – Oscar Romero
    (from Alien Brain, 1985 Myrrh Records)
  2. Mark Heard – Victims of the Age
    (from Victims of the Age, 1982 Home Sweet Home Records)
  3. Daniel Amos – Home Permanent
    (from Vox Humana, 1984 Refuge Records)
  4. Sheila Walsh – Send Me
    (from Don’t Hide Your Heart, 1985 Sparrow Records)
  5. Randy Stonehill – Love Beyond Reason
    (from Love Beyond Reason, 1985 Myrrh Records)
  6. Paul Field – Valley of Dry Bones
    (from Visions, 1985 Myrrh Records)
  7. Larry Norman – Iron and Steel
    (from Quiet Night, 1984 Phydeaux Records)
  8. The Fat Band – Kansas City
    (from The Fat Band 7-inch, 1983 Stret Tunes)
  9. Steve Scott – Sound of Waves (12” mix)
    (special 12” mix not available elsewhere)

Side 2:

  1. Passion Polka – Fighting Alone
    (extended dance remix of an unreleased track)
  2. Charlie Peacock – Lie Down in the Grass
    (from Lie Down in the Grass, 1985 Exit Records)
  3. Phil and John – The Wasted Years
    (extended remixed version of a song from Count Me Out, 1983 Kingsway Music)
  4. Xtras – Don’t Look Back
    (previously unreleased)
  5. Pieces – Robot System
    (from Face 2 Face, 1985 Pila Music)
  6. Leslie Phillips – Give’em All You Got
    (from Dancing with Danger, 1984 Myrrh Records)
  7. The Front – It’s Hard to Take
    (from The Front, 1985 Benson Records)
  8. Avalon – Flags
    (previously unreleased)
  9. First Strike – Loneliness Kills
    (from Rock of Offense, 1984 Exit Records)

Volume 2 of The Strait Tapes continues where Volume 1 left off, with well-known and rare Christian music that leans towards the rock and alternative end of the music spectrum (with a dip of the toe into metal on this volume). No date is given on this tape (like the others). However, there is more detail on each song here, so I can more confidently place this as a 1985 release. Tracks from Garth Hewitt, Randy Stonehill, Leslie Phillips, The Front, etc speak of them being released later in 1985, while other tracks (like the Charlie Peacock song) are listed as already released (and those albums are mostly from 1985 or earlier). What I don’t know for sure is if all three volumes were released at once, or at different times. Volume I has 6 songs on each side, and less detailed notes on each song, while Volume 2 and Volume 3 have nine songs on each side and more details. What is mostly likely the case is that these are tapes that were sent out to people that bought or subscribed to Strait Magazine with each bi-monthly issue. The design didn’t change enough for them to be from different years, but there was some variation within each one to indicate they were not released as a set at the same time. But who knows? As with Volume 1, there are also many rare tracks here. Some notes on some of the tracks listed above:

  • The Fat Band song is a rhythm & blues cover of the Leiber and Stoller song, from a hard to find 4 song 7-inch single.
  • The Steve Scott song is listed as the 12” mix of the song, but it is shorter than the other 12” versions of the song.
  • The Passion Polka song claims to be an extended dance remix of an unreleased europop track from about 1982 or 1983.… but that track was released in 2011 and it is a lot longer than this version. Opps!
  • The Xtras track is an unreleased new-wave-ish track, and I can’t find anything on them anywhere.
  • The Pieces track is an alternative rock track bordering on hard rock, that the notes claim is unreleased, but it is actually on their Face 2 Face album from 1985.
  • The Avalon track is a hard rock track with 80s keyboards that border on metal – I also can’t find anything about them anywhere.

Missing Information: confirmation of the exact release date.

The Strait Tapes – Volume 1

The Strait Tapes – Volume 1
1985? (no label)
London, England, United Kingdom

Side 1:

  1. Larry Norman – If You Don’t Love the Lord
    (early version, later released on Rehearsal 4 Reality, 1986 Royal Music)
  2. Robin Lane – Hard Cover
    (from Heart Connection EP, 1984 Recon Records)
  3. Steve Turner – I Look Down
    (previously unreleased)
  4. Philip Bailey – The Wonders of His Love
    (from The Wonders of His Love, 1984 Myrrh Records)
  5. Jump the Nile – Innocence Abroad
    (previously unreleased)
  6. Ring of Fire – Brave Men Cry
    (previously unreleased)

Side 2:

  1. Bruce Cockburn – In the Falling Dark
    (from In the Falling Dark, 1976 True North Records)
  2. Maria Muldaur – There’s Gonna be the Devil to Pay
    (from Sweet and Slow, 1983 Spindrift)
  3. Randy Stonehill – Everything But Love
    (from Stonehill, 1985 Street Tunes)
  4. Press Any Key – Whistle on the Wind
    (early version, later released on Whisper in the Wind, 1987 Marshall Pickering Records)
  5. Garth Hewitt – Red Hot and Cooking
    (b-side to The Hungry Wind single, 1982 Blue Moon Records)
  6. Interface – Memories
    (from Memories, 1984 Embryo Arts)

The Strait Tapes was a compilation series of (at least) three volumes that seems to be pretty obscure. They are connected with the Strait Newspaper/Magazine out of London (which was the bi-monthly magazine connected to the Greenbelt Festival in England).  There is no date given on any of three volumes. Most of the music seems to be from 1984-1985, but some are from as early as 1976. Several are marked as pre-release. Volume II talks about one song from an upcoming release that was released in 1985, and another song that was already released in 1985. So that is why I choose 1985 as a probably release date for most or all of these. The problem is, there are a few tracks on these compilations that came out in 1986. But more on that in Volume II. Most of the music here seems to fall in the “alternative” realm – although a lot of it leans towards the pop or adult alternative realms. Artists like Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill you are probably familiar with (if you know this music scene), but there are several that only seem to appear here (as far as I can tell), like Steve Turner, Jump the Nile, and Ring of Fire. Other than that, most of these songs are on easy to find albums. Some notes on some of the tracks listed above:

  • Jump the Nile was an ex-ATF band, but I can only find one single they released other than this track.
  • Not sure if the Steve Turner on here is the author Steve Turner doing a random music track, or someone else.
  • I can’t find much on Ring of Fire.
  • Press Any Key is pretty rare as well – it is band made up of a former member of After the Fire and his brother. The track here is the title track from their only full-length (Whisper on the Wind). Note though that the singer on this version of the song says “Whisper” not “Whistle” like the j-card says (probably a misunderstanding). Also, the version of the song on this demo is more guitar rock than the later new-wavish version on their album.
  • The Interface song is also on a rare 7-inch on Embryo Arts that came out a few years later.

Missing Information: confirmation of the exact release date.