MUSIC NEWS REVIEW
The Brainiac 5 Incarnations
B5(1) Bert Biscoe: Vocals, Guitar Mushy Doubt EP 1978
1975-78 Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar
Based in West Penwith, Woody: Bass
Cornwall Steve Hudson: Drums
B5(2) Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar World Inside 12” vinyl
1978-80 Richard Booth: Vocals, Guitar Recorded 1980,
Based in West Penwith, Woody: Bass Released 1988
Cornwall Steve Hudson: Drums Monkeys & Degenerates
Single (+ Bert Biscoe)
B5(3) Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar Space Is The Place
2012-2013 Duncan Kerr: Vocals, Guitar 10” vinyl
Based in London Woody: Bass 2013
Steve Hudson: Drums
B5(4) Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar Exploding Universe
2014-16 Duncan Kerr: Vocals, Guitar CD, 2014
Based in London Nick Onley: Sax, Flute
Wayne Worrell: Drums
B5(5) Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar Journey To X
2015-17 Duncan Kerr: Vocals, Guitar CD/12” vinyl
Based in London Woody: Bass 2016
Joe Malone: Drums We’re Ready CD
B5(6) Charlie Taylor: Vocals, Guitar Back to Shore CD
2017- current Duncan Kerr: Vocals, Guitar (tracks 1, 7 & 8)
Based in London Wayne Worrell: Bass 2019
Joe Malone: Drums
Who’s Who for Back To Shore
tracks 1, 6, 7, 8:
Charlie Taylor: singer, guitarist, keyboards
Duncan Kerr: singer, guitarist
Wayne Worrell: bass
Joe Malone: drummer, percussionist
Guests on tracks 2 - 5:
Woody: Bass, curator of the “Back to Shore” quartet of tracks. Sleeve design of current and previous three albums, in conjunction with Barry Field (Uni).
Bert Biscoe: Singer/song writer in original incarnation of The Brainiac 5.
Bert was also in Lip Service and Metro Glider with Chrissy Quayle 1978-80. He is currently still very active on the folk, poetry and political front in Cornwall. Contribution recorded Truro, Cornwall.
Chrissy Quayle: The Mermaid of Zennor, singer and multi-instrumentalist, big on the folk, rock and world music scene in Cornwall at the time of The Brainiacs’ first incarnation. Frequent jammer with the Band and later joined Bert Biscoe in Cornish rock bands Lip Service and Metro Glider 1978-80. Played with second incarnation Brainiac 5 guitarist, Richard Booth in reggae band, Farenji Warriors, 1983. Currently performing/ recording with Russell Roberts in Mask. Contribution recorded Granada, Spain.
Oli Arlotto: An acquaintance of Woody’s from the London jazz jam scene. Never heard or seen the Brainiac 5 before. Contribution recorded North East London.
Oxman: Works with Charlie and Duncan as the reggae expert at Reckless Records. A well-known figure on the London reggae toasting and DJ-ing scene. Contribution recorded Disco 2000, Epping.
Richard “Wild Man” Booth: lead guitarist in The Brainiac 5 mark 2. Played pre Brainiacs in Plummet Airlines with current B5 guitarist Duncan Kerr. Played with Chrissy Quayle in reggae band, Farenji Warriors, 1983 and in Audio Murphy with Duncan Kerr and Steve Hudson (Brainiac 5’s original drummer), 1988 to 92. Currently recording with The Richard Booth Band. Contribution recorded Newtown, Wales.
Dave “Bagpipes” Brooks: in comedy troop “The Greatest Show on Legs”, who were on the festival circuit with The Brainiac 5 first incarnation in Cornwall (check out their infamous Balloon Dance on You Tube). Later, circa 1982-4, lead Silly Boy Lemon, singing, playing sax, flute and rock and roll/reggae bagpipes with Woody on bass. Contribution recorded Disco 2000, Epping.
The Brainiac 5
Back To Shore
It isn’t often that I am stumped as to how to review an album but this one has me in a proper pickle.
The principle of the album is that after recording their last album, ‘We’re Ready’, they had an unused hypnotic loop. This was sent out to a number of ex-band members, associates and other detritus whom they encouraged to create and expand on the track in any way they wished. These included Bert Biscoe (original co-founder of the band), Chrissy Quayle – a legendary Cornish poet aka The Mermaid of Zennor – saxophonist Oli Arlotto, reggae DJ Oxman … you get the picture.
The resulting responses were ‘melded’ into the four part title track and the resulting creation feels as though it has no real structure. Except. Except the loop at the core of the music holds everything together so that every change in direction feels natural; unexpected and unusual but somehow inevitable and completely in keeping with the whole.
There is no common reference to place this in, no neat pigeon-hole, no box you can drop it into and pull closed the cover. For a reviewer it is a pain in the arse but for a music lover – wow!
The opening track, ‘Long Enough’, is a psychedelic trip with a strong element of Hawkwind’s driving rhythms aligned with Duncan Kerr’s screaming guitar but then you are drawn into the 4 part epic of ‘Back To Shore’ and all intimations of ‘normal’ are driven out into the long grass.
‘Part 1’ has folk elements with complex rhythms and draws the listener down into the depths with a stunning flute solo from Chrissie Quayle and a hypnotic refrain. It has a chant-like property, almost a calling down of the Cornish gods finally erupting into a punk/psych explosion that releases the tension as though you had been waiting for it all along.
After a chiming bell we find ourselves in the bucolic land of ‘Part 2’ featuring a strong Toast from Oxman building over a harmonica solo and strong bass lines and then ebbing back to Oxman’s dark poetry.
‘Part 3’ has a powerful sax line coupled with acid guitar, all the while underpinned by that exceptional loop – possibly the most like Brainiac 5 in tone and structure , you cannot help but wince at the difficult transitions but it is satisfying in ways that are difficult to explain.
‘Part 4’ takes us back in part to ‘Part 1’ with similar chants and refrains but more of a campfire jazz feel to it.
As a piece it is simply awesome. And it works, leaving you ponder deeply after trying to follow so many themes and forms in such a compressed space.
It is a wonderful work. It almost forces you to listen time and again to try and find where the threads originated. This one will be on my deck for a long while to come.
HEAR IT ON BANDCAMP: