Kevin Harrison (who was in Transposed Men, an early precursor of Two Tone band Selecter) is about to launch his new album OBSESSIVE under the name of reallife. (Click link to listen), feat. Two Tone top men Horace Panter and Neol Davies, along with other Cov musicians and friends - Mick Gawthorp (Sax) and Charles Bullen (guitar) and Lynda Harrison on vocals. The new album features some of the best sound-scaping Kevin has done to date, encompassing elements of many styles including Soul, funk and Dub Reggae. His masterful synth work and sampling and guitar is augmented by some power-punching bass licks from ex Special Horace Panter and some screaming, sound-scaped blues licks from masterclass guitarist Neol Davies - (the original Selecter). Add in some some vocal elements and some sax and plenty of echo and effects - the album is varied, highly evocative and fresh.
The following is derived from Kevin's personal history site with full illustrations and audio examples and links which can be found HERE
Kevin Harrison is no newcomer, his story starts in the late sixites when he joined the avant garde jazz rock outfit
Whistler in Coventry c 69, playing some progressive jazz-rock with tricky time-signatures and key changes. (influenced by Mothers of Invention, Caravan, Soft Machine). Whistler were a regular band at Coventry's Arts Umbrella Club, playing the Transcendental Cauldron Underground Arts fest, and the Music Marathon. Whistler were soon gigging all around Cov and much further afield and were one of the top Coventry bands of the early 70's. Besides Kevin there was Lynda Harrison (vocals), Mick Gawthorp (
Sax and flute) John Westacott (bass), Gary Kirton / Nick Trevisick (drums), Rick Woods (Trumpet) and Martin Barter (Hammond). At one stage they were even invited to write music for the film "La Compte de Foix". (The Count of Fools) - an American surrealist film.
By the early 70's Kevin's musical direction was moving from the progressive rock field more into experimental areas. He cites these artists as some of his influences- Can, Faust, Neu!, Cluster and Harmonia. He forms an innovative and synthy Zoastra, calling himself Zodicoaxial, working with musicans such as Al Docker, Rick Medlock, Charles Bullen, John Westacott (there were two line-ups - 1972 - 1975) I visited Kevin in 1975 to interview him for Hobo and was amazed to find a room full of electronic equipment and early synthesizers. Kevin was surely the Brian Eno of Coventry, ahead of his time - with not only his tape looping and synth effects but even down to his cut-up spacey prose/poetry lyrics and his stage name. The article never got printed as Hobo folded soon afterwards although some of the material and lyrics are on the site HERE.
Along the way Kevin becomes good friends with nascent outfit This Heat in London. They swap tapes/phone calls and listen to interesting and challenging musics (e.g. Can, Beefheart, Philip Glass, Magma, The Residents, Devo, Eno, Miles, Sun Ra, Harry Partch etc.) and on one occasion in '76, Kevin gets asked to record an early gig in a London pub. One of the tracks he records ends up on their debut album, (released in '79 - the blue and yellow one). Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward visit Lynda and Kevin in Bedworth and some casual recording is done. At Gareth Williams's invitation, Kevin also spends a few days in Camberwell playing & recording the trio.
In 1976 -77 Kevin is beguiled by punk, meeting Joe Strummer and Johnny Rotten at the Clash and Sex Pistols gig in Coventry and at this stage meets up with good friend Roddy Radiation, who often pops round to record a few demos. Favourite UK bands during this time include The Pop Group, This Heat, Subway Sect, The Fall, Gang of Four, Wire, PiL and Magazine. American 'new wave' artists favoured are Patti Smith, Television, Suicide, The New York Dolls, The Modern Lovers, The Cramps and Père Ubu. Later on he's also spinning Dr. Alimantado 'Best Dressed Chicken', Tapper Zukie 'MPLA', Augustus Pablo 'King Tubby meets The Rockers Uptown', Dillinger 'Cokane in my Brain' and Lee Perry 'Double Seven' and anything else I can find that is produced by 'Scratch'
In the late seventies, prior to Two Tone, Kevin joined the TRANSPOSED MEN. Neol Davies - Guitar and Vocals, John Bradbury ( later of The Specials) Drums, Desmond Brown - Hammond Organ, Steve Wynne (aka Vaughan Tive) - Bass and Kevin Harrison on Guitar and Vocals. Hear the early version of On My Radio as rehearsed by by Neol Davies's earlier band Transposed Men
The main bulk of the songs they played will became staples in The Selecter's set and many will feature on their first album. Virgin Records are interested but nothing happens. When John Bradbury leaves to join The Specials everything falls apart. After awhile Neol and Desmond team-up with some of the ex-members of Hardtop 22, Pauline Black joins them on vocals, and The Selecter is born.
In 1979 Kevin got asked to join Urge. Kevin "played guitar, electric piano and EMS synth and started to introduce some of his songs to the group. He employed Burroughs 'cut-up' techniques (he had begun to develop with Zoastra) for some of the lyrics. They released their first single in the midst of the Two Tone explosion. John Peel described it as "more Coventry genius" when he played it on his show. Both John Peel and Kid Jensen made it their "Record of the Week". They followed on with a tour of Holland and Germany. View some of the press cuttings HERE
Kevin says about Revolving Boy on his website "David Wankling and I have good chemistry. It turns out to be a good song writing team, Dave writes most of the lyrics, I compose most of the music. We remain good friends in the future. The first single 'Revolving Boy' takes it's title from a pulp sci-fi paperback. It's a kinda fun song about a pre-pubescent boy named Derv spinning around in zero gravity searching for love. It's married to an updated Stax groove and underpinned by an hypnotic dub bassline, music fans!"
and then goes on to comment on the Coventry scene around the time of Two Tone -
"Although things are grim with Thatcher gaining power in the general election, this only seems to feed the desire of Coventry musicians to make a stand and take a strong political stance. Overall, there is a positive, more optimistic scene starting to grow. This is a good period for music in Coventry, there's lots of bands that play different styles of music, who all know (of) each other. There's friendly rivalry for sure, but a sense of unity seems to be the most prevailing attitude. Importantly The Specials success seems to galvanise the scene. Martin Bowes (Attrition) essential 'Alternative Sounds' is the 'zine with all the dope about what's happenin' locally."
During this period Kevin released a cassette 'On Earth 2' on the 'Ambivalent Scale' label. This Nuneaton collective comprised Eyeless In Gaza and Bron Area among others. he felt an immediate affinity with them and recorded some tracks for Side 1 of Bron Area's 'One Year' cassette. They then try to organise dates where Bron / Eyeless play with Urge or Kevin whenever possible.
Kevin starts performing local live gigs with his Stratocaster and a tape-delay system, (this consisted of 2 tape recorders, both in record mode, the tape spools from the left (tape deck #1) through two sets of recording heads and is taken up on the right (tape deck #2) the delay is the space between the tape heads, you can then improvise over the top of what you've already played, this is cool as it automatically records the performance. He found out about this system from Brian Eno's 'Discreet Music' album on his Obscure label.
Cherry Red released a new version of On Earth 2 on their label as Inscrutably Obvious. (Link above)
Urge split up in 1981. A new Urge line up was quickly put together (including Lynda Harrison, Dave Gedney, Rick Medlock, Dennis Burns and Kevin but time had shifted and some of the elusive chemistry had gone. Chic and funky, they play plenty of gigs, but by this time they've had too much stuffing kicked out of them, and despite tentative record company interest, accept the fact that Coventry is no longer the fashionable city it once was and reluctantly decide to call it a day. (In hindsight, Kevin says that if they could have done some studio recordings things may have been very different)
Around this time Kevin signs to Glass Records and releases the 'Fly' e.p which also features Horace Panter, Lynda Harrison, Rick Medlock and Dave Gedney. Two tracks from this record (Views Of the Rhine / Inkman) have surfaced as Italo Cosmic Dance favourites and remixes this year (2007) in Italy.
Kevin followed on with various solo projects and various collaborations, continuing to produce fine and innovative music culminating in his new album OBSESSIVE (hear some of the music). Advance copies are available through Kevin's website or just e mail him form his Vox blog.
(Thanks to Kevin for minor corrections)
Read the full story on Kevin's site HERE
Kevin's other sites are -