something more about
chris, pete and wendy, railway land and magic circle, lewes. photo's by buzz.
Live Sex was built around the trio of Peter Pick (saxes, vocals, lyrics), Wendy Halsted (keyboard, vocals) and Chris Harris (guitar, bass, arrangements). Over the four years of their existence these members were supplemented by various guests and conscripts, including Marc Hayler, Piers Margerey, Dave Bailes and Turan (now Joshua) Simpson (drums), Colin Reading, Crispin Gravett and Nick Tribe (bass), Brett Madison Matthews (guitar, bass) and Derek Austin (keyboard), to name some of the more significant contributors.
They released 4 tapes of largely improvised music, (Faulty Jazz, Verification de la Bougie, Electric Soup and Love Acts) which were well-received in the tiny but enterprising tape scene of the early 1980's, being reviewed in fanzines and in the august (and long defunct) weekly music paper 'Melody Maker'. One of their improvisations - through the efforts of the label 'Very Mouth' - was played by John Peel on his famous BBC Radio 1 show.
The LIVE SEX album 'An Expression of Faith' was funded by the American independent 'Hopewell Records'. Hopewell supplied dribs and drabs of money sufficient for Live Sex to make their rather ambitious album, at one point sending paycheques from the American Army in Saudi Arabia, stamped 'U.S. Armor Corps' (a fact rendered even more peculiar by the generally radical political stance of the Live Sex collective and the fact that one of their earliest pieces was the "chirpy little finger-snapper" 'Ayatollah'). We assumed (naturally) that we were being funded by the CIA, although we couldn't work out why.
Live Sex quickly developed a combination of improvisation and composition which led them in two directions, and which was to prove a decisive influence on Aural Witness. They lived together in the dank gothic gloom of Iford Manor near Lewes, East Sussex, in a huge room about 40 feet tall with a balcony halfway up. It was here that they set up their equipment, improvised, rehearsed and hosted some legendary parties to the considerable discomfort of their neighbours while mould grew in the cupboards and (in winter) water filled up the basement. Iford is 0 metres above sea-level, according to the Ordnance Survey, and situated in the beautiful Ouse Valley south of Lewes, where Virginia Woolf drowned herself.
'An Expression of Faith' was reviewed in 'Sounds' (another defunct British music weekly), where it got 5 stars, and was played on American college radio. Absolutely no-one at all bought it*.
Live Sex split up in 1984 or thereabouts. Their music remains one of the more extraordinary manifestations of the early 1980's, combining synth-pop, post-punk, ugly jazz, song-craft and psychedelia into something entirely itself.
* It has come to my attention that somebody DID buy it, and they wrote me an e-mail to tell me so, and what's more they bought it in Australia, in respect of which i can say only that 1) nobody got any royalties as a result and 2) almost nobody at all bought it.