Above: one of the new BMX Bandits DBL 7" of BBC session recordings
Janice Long fought Neil Tennant and Nick Heyward on the BBC Round Table celebrity record rating show for the honor of BMX Bandits and their debut single "E102". According to Duglas T. Stewart of BMX Bandits, "They both thought it was terrible but she loved it and wouldn’t give in." Janice, BBC 1 radio host and DJ played "E102" many times on her show and invited the combo down from Glasgow, Scotland to record an exclusive session in 1986, and again in 1987. Now both BMX Bandits Janice Long sessions are available for the first time on vinyl, part of a series of BBC sessions released as double 7" 45rpm sets by Precious Recordings of London, England; both BMX Bandit sessions are in stock now at The K Mail Order Dept.
Duglas remembers that first session fondly. The band had grown out of an earlier Glasgow combo, The Pretty Flowers, who were almost a super group in reverse, in that several of the members went to form groups prominent locally and globally: The Vaselines, Teenage Fanclub, Soup Dragons and BMX Bandits. Even though they had their own combos, there was a lot of cross-pollination. Sean Dickson of Soup Dragons and Norman Blake of Boy Hairdressers (who morphed into Teenage Fanclub) spent extended residencies in BMX Bandits, including the BBC sessions. "At first Norman wasn't involved, we missed his company so Sean and I asked him to join. This session was his first time in the band. After that he became a proper member of BMX Bandits."
"For the first session we turned up with one electric guitar, some kazoos and our enthusiasm. We didn't own any drums or amps at that point. We found a bass with rusty strings in the studio, an old Salvation Army big bass drum and a rather lovely piano." The producer and engineer for the session were a bit taken aback. They were used to bands arriving for BBC sessions with their four songs well rehearsed and ready to go, as the sessions were regulated with strict time limits. The BMX Bandits' enthusiasm carried them through as they improvised arrangements and even the choice of material. "There was a really nice piano so that's why we did 'Strawberry Sunday' - because Sean would sound good on piano."
In the end the producers and engineer really warmed up to the improvisational nature of the session, and Janice Long loved the overall shambolic feel of the set, which comprise the first DBl 7" 45rpm set on Precious Recordings. She ended up playing the material several times on her show. The band returned with a diff line-up (including Jowe Head on trombone) six months later for another four songs, which has been released as a second DBL 7" 45rpm set.
Janice Long presenting on Top of the Pops, mid-'80s
Though Janice Long didn't attend the recording sessions, she did attend some BMX Bandits shows. "Her enthusiasm really encouraged us, it meant a lot. She gave a lot of support to bands that John Peel was less enthusiastic about. Whenever I met Janice she was always warm, welcoming and would make you feel like you were continuing a conversation from just moments ago, even when there had been a gap of years."
Later Janice moved to Radio Wales. The budget didn't allow for the same kind of exclusive recording sessions, so her support took the form of interviews over the telephone. One time BMX Bandits were invited to play a live session on her BBC Wales show. "We could see the encouraging smile on her face, bopping around in her seat and it was lovely."
Duglas concludes, "Janice died late 2021. I am happy all these beautifully put together session releases are coming out now, especially the Janice ones. It is part of her legacy and it's good people know she was an important part of the story of all these bands. She loved them and wanted to share that love with others."