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In memory of Peace & Freedom Band co-founder Andrew/Andy Bruce (1962-2017)
Animals, Freedom, Flowers, Trees, Peace, Fun, Rock... The Peace & Freedom Band
Influenced by the spirit of punk and hippie philosophy, the band consisted of poets/songwriters Paul Rance, Poseidon and Angelo Gravity, who all played guitar, keyboards and percussion, and sang vocals. The P&F Band has always been anti-establishment and has covered issues, such as animal and human rights, and the environment. Musically, The Peace & Freedom Band is largely experimental and alternative in style. Influences include psychedelic, punk and space rock music.
Their first album, Life, came out on cassette in 1988, and was helped by ex-APF Brigade member Andy Xport, who joined as an auxiliary member, and did most of the production. A number of other albums and EPs followed.
The band continues to make music, which they term 'eco' rock. Their final album on cassette was Universal Love, which was released in 1997. Earth in 2000 was their first album on CD. After being quiet for a few years, they began to venture into downloadable music, and Earth R.I.P. - Or?... was released in 2008.
- Andy Bruce, Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
The Peace & Freedom Band Albums Discography
Paul Rance on the making of the Life album
"Veil of Flames was my attempt at a creepy, horror soundtrack."
"There's quite a few tracks that are in sections... A lot of experimental stuff. Like Monty (Python), some works some doesn't."
"Andy Xport, Poseidon and I recorded a lot of material separately. Then Andy and I finished the album off at his home in Peterborough. It was completed around midnight if I recall. Luckily, Andy had cool neighbours!"
The Peace & Freedom Band Selected Videos
Lion Hug, with Music by The Peace & Freedom Band
The Tricky Neanderthal Question (Ug Mix)
The Peace & Freedom Band Music
Visit our Reverbnation page to download music
Memories of The Peace & Freedom Band By Paul Rance
I first met Andy Bruce in the summer of 1986. We had been in touch for a couple of years, and found that we had a lot of mutual interests. First, Peace & Freedom magazine came out of the friendship, and then we started exchanging musical ideas via cassettes.
I had become friends with Andi Xport in '86, and the three of us met up in London to visit Ralf Bevis (now better known as Arzathon, then also known as Gypsy). Ralf was a stalwart of the underground scene at the time, and later wrote a column for P&F. It was, safe to say, a wild meeting in Ralf's flat, and I remember getting in a VERY heated argument with Ralf about what constituted psychedelic music. The combination of alcohol and lingering bitterness over a failed romance couldn't have made me great company at the time, and I seem to recall threatening to hit Ralf! Not very peace and freedom, but then I've always had a dark side...
From 1986 to 1988, The Peace & Freedom Band was taking some kind of shape, and our first album, Life, was finished off in 1988 at Andi Xport's house in Peterborough past midnight one weekend. The album was experimental, and I could say that was how we wanted it, but that would be slightly disingenuous. My musical skills were limited compared to Andy B, and Andi X. The album was a mixed bag, and like Monty Python sketches some things worked and some didn't. The three of us had different styles - Andy B had a folk rock vibe going on at the time, my stuff was more psychedelic/experimental, and Andy X's work was power poppy, and heavily reliant on barrier chords. Life was released by the Peace & Freedom cassette label, as were subsequent releases Carry On Taping, Cedric and Universal Love.
Later in 1988, Andy Savage joined the party. Sav introduced a humorous element to the group, with a jaunty keyboard and unorthodox guitar to the fore. Carry on Taping came out later in '88. This was more of a mail music project (at the time mail art was popular, with artists sending each other art through the post to create one piece of art), with work recorded at the band members homes in Peterborough, Hartlepool, Whaplode Drove and Burnley. I did work with some material at Andy Xport's, but everything else was recorded and collaborated on independently. Secret Joinery was the third P&F album, produced by Sav, and such was the amount of work produced in '88 that there was comfortably enough for both Carry on Taping and Secret Joinery. The latter being released on Sav's Tapeworm Tapes in 1989.
In May of '89, Andy B and Sav stayed in Whaplode Drove with my family as the two Andys and I attended the Small Press Conference in nearby Stamford, which was organised by poetry publisher Kevin Troup. There we met fellow poets Steve Sneyd, Geoff Stevens, Jean Theaker and Nancy Whybrow. A nice three days there in a picturesque town. We were a fair bit younger than everyone else there, Sav especially. I was listed to read some poetry, but that was news to me, and I went a whiter shade of pale at the thought and so declined. Sav did read, seemed a natural, and jokingly ticked it off the list of venues he had read at to date. He'd also appeared in The Mirror reading poetry in a jacuzzi a few years earlier as a teenager. I can't remember telling him how impressed I was at the time, but I was.
At Stamford, performance artist Ty Dalby did a memorable turn. A likeable guy, and the three of us had the stamina to watch his long act to the end... It did run through my mind that collaborating with Ty might be fun.
Sav spent three days at Whaplode Drove, after travelling down from Burnley. Andy B spent the whole week in the village, and we also had an interesting trip to King's Lynn, where we ended up sleeping in a bus shelter. Our black cat Lucy seemed to spend most of the time Andy B was with us chained to his lap. Typically, Andy was uncomplaining. While our Boxer dog Dano welcomed two other young hearts to play with. With the chickens very much free ranging in our garden, and my Mum and Dad loving having the boys around, this was a happy time for me. With cutting poignancy it's just Sav and me left now.
In 1990, Is God A Dropout? was the fourth P&F Band album to be released. This album was produced by Sav, and was also released via Tapeworm Tapes.
In the late 1980s the poll tax was beginning to cause anxiety to millions. Consequently, there were sustained protests, a sizeable percentage of the population not willing to pay, and a major riot in London in the spring of 1990. Probably fearing for their own futures, the Tory Government abolished the tax. Margaret Thatcher's 11 year reign as a very divisive prime minister also came to an end later in 1990, as she was mainly brought down by her own commitment to the poll tax folly.
Andy Bruce, Andy Savage and I were not willing payers of this dreadful tax, and we received the usual threats of court and jail that other non-payers were receiving up and down the country. People were indeed imprisoned, including pensioners. Out of our anger came Cedric in 1991. Andy Savage had come up with the idea, and the album was narrated by Andy Bruce. The central character, Cedric, was not only beaten down by the poll tax, but also by a nasty landlord called Mr. Wankel - yes, this was to be no po-faced rant against the establishment. The album included not only poll tax-related themes, but also songs relating to the first Iraq War, and everyday human issues, such as dealing with unrequited love. Mr. Wankel also gets to do a turn. The ending is a happy one, and emphasises that however bad things may appear to be there can still be a positive outcome.
In 1997, Universal Love was released. Amongst the usual quirky songs were long, sprawling pieces with everything thrown in bar the kitchen sink, helped by Andy B introducing instrumental samples as we moved towards using computers and creating mp3s. A continuation of the positivity of Cedric was also emerging, with Andy Bruce's Alien Landscapes and Andy Savage's New to Earth looking at the human possibilities on Earth and beyond as the year 2000 approached.
In early 1998 Sav became a father for the first time. Sav also appeared on the Channel 4 sports show Under the Moon in this year, performing a footie song with the upcoming World Cup in France in mind. The show had asked for viewers to contact them with a view to performing their own compositions, and Sav duly obliged, performing with typical gusto.
One interesting aspect of the home taping scene of the 1980s and 1990s was getting the opportunity to be played on small radio stations around the world. The UK was singularly lacking in this area, but we managed to get airplay in the US, Germany and France, while a Dadaist station in Barcelona played a whole side of Universal Love, and sent us a postcard filled with effusive praise that I'm not sure was merited!
In 2000, we were one of the first British rock bands to release an album of mp3s. Entitled Earth, and, though we were like kids in a sweet shop, experimenting with computer musical software, programs and the new compressed mp3 digital format, the subject matter of our songs remained the same, with a strong environmental/animal welfare feel. Released as a CD by the pioneering American company and website, mp3.com, Earth felt like that was mission accomplished for us - our first actual record album release. Money had never been a motivation, though the cynics among you may say that's what all the bands who don't 'make it' say. But we never went looking for record deals, though one offer out of the blue that fell through probably discouraged us, too. The show of unsigned bands, that was to be hosted in Walsall by Robert Plant, and to which we were asked about performing at, never came to anything either!
When my Dad, Peter Rance, died in September, 2001, Andy Bruce and I drifted apart, as he had his own issues to deal with (of which lasted 15 years, and some of you will now be aware of), and we didn't communicate again until early 2006. From then we remained in regular contact till Andy's death. What Andy was put through by a certain individual beggared belief over those 15 years - that is maybe for another time. But life was always like a minefield for me, Andy B and Ralf Bevis.
We'd also been out of touch with Andy Xport for a decade or so from 1990, after he'd stopped his ISC Tapes series. In the middle to late part of the Noughties the three Andys and me were all communicating regularly via our blogs on Myspace. A new P&F Band track, Earth RIP, came out as a mainly composite song in 2008, that featured fragments from the four of us.
Unfeeling Monsters was the last P&F song released before Andy Bruce's death. Another month, and that probably wouldn't have seen the light of day, as my old cat Sparkle died in late August, 2015, and, facing eviction, too, I was at the end of my tether, including going 8 days without eating, and being visited by police and paramedics. As I said earlier in this publication, life had been a struggle for Andy and I for a long time.
Andy had virtually finished a song about whales, but that seems to have been lost in the aftermath of his death. I believe that death is not final, as it's hard to destroy a carbon-based lifeform. We all shine on somehow, but, until we meet again, I'll miss him.
This article originally appeared in 2018, in the Peace & Freedom Andrew Bruce Tribute Issue. Check out the Peace & Freedom Press website for more details.
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