Monday, 14 January 2019

The Downliners Sect - Photos by Paul Slattery of the 60's R'n'B Legends Recording a Marc Riley BBC Radio Session

The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
My Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast colleague the Rock Photographer, Paul Slattery was recently invited to the BBC studios in Maida Vale to witness The Downliners Sect recording a session for Marc Riley. He went along with fellow Sect fan Rob Symmons, once of Subway Sect and now The Fallen Leaves and kindly filed the following report and photos: "When you get a phone call from one of this country’s most singular guitar players then you know it’s important, and that guitarist happens to be Rob Symmons of the Fallen Leaves. I’ve been going to see the 'Leaves for some years now - they just get better and better. Their mantra is "Punk Rock for gentlemen" and, as I am of course a gent, their gigs are always absolutely perfect. Rob wanted to know if I was interested in going over to the BBC Maida Vale Studios to see a live recording by the doyens of the English 60's R'n'B music scene The Downliners Sect for a Marc Riley 6Music session. I’d only been there once before and was keen to go over and see this cavernous space again. It started life as an ice rink but the BBC took it over in 1933/34 and converted it into the studio that still exists today. 

The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
Some of the studios are massive and are big enough to accomodate a complete orchestra. It’s like an iceberg as three quarters of the space is below ground but all the studios have natural light. Rob and I headed for Studio MV3 where we found the band getting in some rehearsal time before their live session on Mark Riley’s show on Radio 6. There is a plaque here commemorating Bing Crosby’s last recording session on 11 October 1977. MV3 had a fairly regular Peel session on Sundays and Peel kept this studio and the next door studio MV4 busy with live sessions for more than thirty years. I’ve always been fond of "Hatful of Hollow" by the Smiths which is mostly a Peel session recording, plus it does use my photo of The Smiths on the gatefold sleeve! 

The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
You can’t help feeling the music history walking into this place and The Downliners Sect, contemporaries of The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things are one of those bands who started the English Rock scene back in the early sixties. In this country though we have scant regard for such notables, in France such musicians would be lauded, have a state pension and be heroes of the Republic. I’d seen the band play at the 100 Club a couple of years before and was enthralled. 

The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
It’s great chatting to Don and Keith, Don’s a West London lad like myself so there’s a common bond with the West London Rock scene and Eel Pie Island. This is a really class band, and while they are doing their live set they let me wander round and take photos in the studio. Their three numbers "Soup In A Basket", "Escape From Hong Kong" and "Let It Rock" are British Blues at its finest. I was brought up on this kind of music and it’s great to see it being played live. 

The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
BBC Studios Maida Vale - Photo by Paul Slattery
Tireless drumming by Mark Freeman and fluent bass and vocals from Keith Grant anchor the set while Don’s vocals and guitar give us the soul. Del Dwyer adds more clever guitar and John O’Leary's harp is superb. This is a truly great band, one of the originators of British rock music and I'd recommend that you go see them play at the earliest opportunity."

Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves with The Downliners Sect at BBC Studios Maida Vale by Paul Slattery
Thanks to Paul Slattery for the report and photographs, to see Paul's pics of The Downliners Sect live at The 100 Club please check the feature in the Blog archive here. For more information on The Downliners Sect you can check out their official web-site here. The excellent Eel Pie Island Museum in Twickenham has a superb collection of display material on the history of the local music scene revolving around the Eel Pie Island Hotel. From the initial Jazz, Mod and Blues scene through to the raw R'n'B sound of the early Rolling Stones, The Others, The Pretty Things and of course The Downliners Sect. You can check out the archive for the feature on the pop-up British Beat Explosion exhibition that preceeded the opening of the Eel Pie Island Museum here. The Eel Pie Club at The Cabbage Patch in Twickenham puts on regular live events featuring some of the legends of the scene such as The Pretty Things and Geno Washington, check out their site here for information.

Photo Retro Man Blog


No comments:

Post a Comment