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PETE ASTOR

Pete Astor

Tall Stories & New Religions

    "As the fiftieth birthday approaches, you get the sense that your life is thinning out and will continue to thin out, until it thins out into nothing. And you sometimes say to yourself: that went a bit quick. In certain moods, you may want to put it rather more forcefully. As in: OY!! THAT went a BIT FUCKING QUICK!!!... then fifty comes and goes, and fifty-one, and fifty-two. And life thickens out again. Because there is now an enormous and unsuspected presence within your being, like an undiscovered continent. This is the past." – Martin Amis

    2024 marks 40 years of Pete Astor making records, a suitable anniversary point at which to take stock and double back on songs that first appeared on records by Astor-fronted combos such as Creation Records trailblazers The Loft and The Weather Prophets and Matador recording artists The Wisdom of Harry, as well as selections from solo albums that appeared on labels such as Danceteria and Static Caravan.

    Astor’s motivation for TS&NR is manifold. Some songs are effectively re-examined in the way one might linger over a resonant picture from a box of old photographs – connecting with the essence of a younger self. Other songs are newly recast in wiser and more reflective hues, while others simply demanded exhumation from wilfully opaque, lo fi non-production. The songs chosen are not the obvious ones – there’s no "Up the Hill and Down the Slope" or “Almost Prayed” here - but have been selected for more interesting, often esoteric, reasons.

    Astor is accompanied by an estimable band of co-conspirators, evolving out of many hours spent playing music together on records and at shows over the last decade. They are drummer Ian Button, (Death in Vegas, Papernut Cambridge, Go Kart Mozart), bassist Andy Lewis (Paul Weller, Soho Radio and Blow Up DJ), guitarist Wilson Neil Scott (Summerhill, Felt, Everything But the Girl) and keyboardist/ multi-instrumentalist/ producer Sean Read (Dexys, Mark Lanegan, Dave Gahan, Iggy Pop, Manic Street Preachers, Beth Orton, Chrissie Hynde...).

    Together they’ve revisited these lost gems of songs in a manner that has allowed Astor to balance the way that they still make sense to him now, looking both to the future and to that big and interesting new country, the past.

    TRACK LISTING

    A1. Model Village
    A2. Ladies And Gentlemen
    A3. Chinese Cadillac
    A4. The Emperor, The Dealer And The Birthday Boy
    A5. She Comes From The Rain
    A6. Nancy True Knot
    B1. Caesar Boots
    B2. Head Over Heels
    B3. Marsh Blues
    B4. Emblem
    B5. Disney Queen
    B6. On Top Above The Driver

    Pete Astor

    Time On Earth

      In my 50s I realised that the past slowly becomes a bigger country than the future. As always, the future is where I’m headed, but now the past and all that comes with it is stacked up behind me. And, as time on earth passes, more and more of my contemporaries have started to disappear from the planet.

      I’ve made 11 albums of new material since 1987. I realise that anything I’ve ever thought that mattered, that told the real story, is in those records. It’s been 5 years since my last album of new songs. Perhaps more than before, there’s been plenty of time over the last few years to think and reflect. Like every set of work, Time on Earth is an attempt to make sense of life by making work about it.

      As erstwhile editor of the NME and Q, journalist Danny Kelly wrote recently while interviewing The Loft: ‘a lifetime of listening to them has led me to believe that Pete Astor’s songs would have always found a way to reach an audience. If he’d been a Californian baby boomer, he’s have ended up in the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles, laying down late-night grooves with the Wrecking Crew for a largely-neglected, slightly gloomy, pop album that’d now be worth a fortune. If he’d been born into post-War Britain, earnest girls in sweaters would’ve fallen in love with him, and his songs, in Embassy-fogged folk clubs.’ Of course, I love this quote. And I believe that Time on Earth is most of these things. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

      Time on Earth has songs which were written in direct response to loss and bereavement (Undertaker, Fine and Dandy); songs striving for different kinds of belief (New Religion, Time on Earth, Miracle on the High Street); stories from either end of the cycles of life (Sixth Form Rock Boys, English Weather). And a few still searching for fulfilment of the heart. (Stay Lonely, Grey Garden, Soft Switch).

      I was lucky enough to be able to make the music with the help of multi-instrumentalist Ian Button (Wreckless Eric, Death in Vegas, Papernut Cambridge) on the drums, bass maestro Andy Lewis (Spearmint, Paul Weller, and DJ at London’s legendary Blow Up Club and Soho Radio), long time guitarist Neil Scott (Everything But the Girl, Denim) and last but by no means least, Sean Read (Dexys, Edwyn Collins, Rockingbirds) who recorded and produced the album at his Famous Times Studios. As you would expect, I’m convinced it’s the best record I’ve made.

      Pete Astor is a musician, writer and educator. He led Creation Records’ groups The Loft and The Weather Prophets, writing songs and releasing records that helped define the sound of the label and the emerging Indie genre. He has gone on to a lengthy solo career since then; writing, recording and releasing music on a range of labels including Matador, Heavenly, Warp, EMI and Fortuna Pop. He is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Westminster. As well as touring extensively, he also makes records with David Sheppard as Ellis Island Sound and releases his spoken word work as The Attendant on his label Faux Lux with the help of Ian Button. Since 2017 Astor has been signed to Tapete Records, home to Robert Forster, Lloyd Cole and Comet Gain among many estimable others.

      TRACK LISTING

      1) New Religion
      2) English Weather
      3) Stay Lonely
      4) Time On Earth
      5) Miracle On The High Street
      6) Sixth Form Rock Boys
      7) Soft Switch
      8) Grey Garden
      9) Undertaker
      10) Fine And Dandy

      Pete Astor & The Holy Road

      Paradise

        With the onset of the 1990s and the conclusion of The Weather Prophets, Pete Astor was in the mood for some artistic regeneration. To this end, he recruited a new group of musicians and friends, forming The Holy Road. The band consisted of erstwhile Felt and Everything But The Girl guitarist Neil Scott, bassist Chris Clarke, (soon to become a key member of both The Rockingbirds and Danny and the Champions of the World), and drummer Russell Lax, late of The Oyster Band and Billy Childish's Pop Rivets. And so arrived Paradise, becoming for many the album in which Astor, along with The Holy Road, most perfectly expressed his indubitable facility as a singer and songwriter. Only ever released in France, in 1992 twenty-seven years later, with Tapete's re-release, Paradise is a vital addition to a body of work which sounds as good now as it did then. 

        Pete Astor

        One For The Ghost

          This is a record born through time; seasoned and erudite Indie auteur, ex leader of Creation Records favourites The Loft and The Weather Prophets, Pete Astor brings together strands and tributaries in his work over the years, mining timeless guitar pop to frame wry lyrical insights and melodic hooks, making music for today, with a true line from the past and an eye to the future. Having released Spilt Milk (Fortuna Pop!) in 2016 to an overwhelmingly positive response, Astor continues the musical spirit of that album with James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Proper Ornaments, Veronica Falls) remaining a mainstay on guitar. He is now joined by The Wave Pictures rhythm section of Franic Rozycki on bass and Jonny Helm on drums; Pam Berry of Withered Hand and Black Tambourine contributes vocals. 

          Pete Astor

          Water Tower

            Water Tower is the new two-track single from Pete Astor, the seasoned and erudite Indie auteur, ex-leader of Creation Records' favourites The Loft and The Weather Prophets. It features all new material, again made with James Hoare of Ultimate Painting, Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls. He is now joined by The Wave Pictures' rhythm section of Franic Rozycki on bass and Jonny Helm on drums; Pam Berry of Withered Hand and Black Tambourine contributes vocals.

            Spilt Milk is the brand new album from indie auteur Pete Astor (The Loft, The Weather Prophets). It was recorded onto ½ inch tape at the home studio of James Hoare of Ultimate Painting, The Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls, with James playing guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and singing backing vocals. “He was”, says Astor, “an amazing band.” Other contributions came from members of Astor's live band, with Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Withered Hand) supplying vocals, Jack Hayter (Hefner) on pedal steel, Alison Cotton (The Left Outsides) on viola, and Robin Christian (Male Bonding) and Susan Milanovic (Feathers) on drums.

            The album has all the hallmarks of a future Pete Astor classic, drawing together key strands and tributaries of his work over the years, blending intuitive songwriting, acute lyrics and incisive melodies. After many years making more experimental, electronic music Astor has come full circle to the sound that made his name. From the opening track “Really Something” to the recent single “Mr Music” (a favourite of Marc Riley and Gideon Coe on BBC 6 music) the album’s re-connects Astor’s bespoke guitar pop with his long-standing embrace of The Velvet Underground’s musical DNA. Other standout tracks include “My Right Hand”, a hymn to everyone’s best friend, with guest appearances from Tony Hancock, Marvin Gaye, Philip Larkin and a host of ex-girlfriends; the slow burning drama of “The Getting There” recalling the atmospheres of Astor’s 80s kindred spirits, The Go-Betweens. Also, there is the wry drive of “Very Good Lock”, summed up by Astor as “a description of an injurious medical condition that often affects the male of the species”.

            Elsewhere there are the gorgeous harmonies of the grown up country lament “Good Enough”, which wouldn’t be out of place on one of George Jones’ most heartbroken albums. Spilt Milk is part of a continuum: from Astor’s beginnings with The Loft and The Weather Prophets on Creation Records in the 1980s, via his solo work through the 1990s and his more left field albums with The Wisdom of Harry and Ellis Island Sound on Matador Records, Heavenly and Peacefrog, through to his return to solo work with the Songbox album in 2012.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Really Something
            2. Mr. Music
            3. My Right Hand
            4. Perfect Life
            5. The Getting There
            6. Very Good Lock
            7. Good Enough
            8. There It Goes
            9. Sleeping Tiger
            10. Oh You


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