Friday, November 22, 2019

Spacemen 3 : Recurring 1991

Spacemen 3 were an English alternative rock band, formed in 1982 in Rugby, Warwickshire by Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, known respectively under their pseudonyms Sonic Boom and J Spaceman. Their music is known for its brand of "minimalistic psychedelia".

They gained a reputation as a 'drug band' due to the members' drug-taking habits and Kember's candid interviews and outspoken opinions on recreational drug use. Kember and Pierce were the only members common to all line-ups of the band. Both founding members have enjoyed considerable success with their respective subsequent projects: Sonic Boom/Spectrum and Spiritualized.

In 1984 they made their first studio recordings at the home studio of Dave Sheriff in Rugby. This material – which included early iterations of the songs "Walkin' with Jesus", "Come Down Easy" and "Thing'll Never be the Same" – was used for a short demo tape entitled For All The Fucked Up
Children Of The World We Give You Spacemen 3. They got a few hundred cassette copies made and produced their own artwork and booklet to accompany it, selling the tapes for £1 at a local record shop. Spacemen 3's music at this stage had a loose, swampy Blues feel; some songs included harmonica and slide guitar, and their style sounded akin to The Cramps. These early demo recordings, which Kember later recalled as being "really dreadful", would later be released unofficially in 1995 on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label, thus providing an insight into the band's embryonic sound.

Kember and Pierce opted to upgrade their guitar equipment ahead of recording the new demos. Kember purchased a Burns Jazz electric guitar and 1960s Vox Conqueror amplifier; whilst Pierce bought a Fender Telecaster and a 1970s HH amplifier. Both of their new amplifiers included distortion/fuzz and tremolo; these two effects were key components of Spacemen 3's signature sound.

In January 1986, Spacemen 3 attended the Studio Morocco based at the home of Carlo Marocco at Piddington, outside Northampton, to record their new demo tape. They spent three-and-a-half days at the 16-track studio. Recording live as a group, with minimal overdubs, they managed to get demos for approximately seven songs. Kember and Pierce handled the production. with studio manager Dave Howard dealing with the technicalities. These "fine set of performances" (Ned Raggett, AllMusic) would later be unofficially released as the vinyl album Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To on the Father Yod label in 1990 (albeit described incorrectly as "rehearsals in Rugby").

Spacemen 3 managed to obtain a record deal shortly after producing their new demos.
The Spectrum album was advertised as being by the "founder member/leader of Spacemen 3".
Also in January, Pierce was developing ideas for forming a new band or side project of his own. He invited Spacemen 3 compatriots, Refoy, Carruthers and Mattock, to jam and rehearse with him at a
small church hall and his flat. Initially it was informal, but this was the origin of Pierce's Spacemen 3 'splinter' band, Spiritualized, comprising all the same members as Spacemen 3 except for Kember. In February 1990, this new grouping recorded "Anyway That You Want Me". This was recorded at VHF Studios; the purpose of these sessions was kept secret from Kember who was still working there. Speaking in 1991, Pierce explained the purpose of starting Spiritualized.

Recurring was the fourth and final Spacemen 3 studio album, finally released (after considerable delay) in February 1991, some time after the band had broken up. By the time the album was recorded, relations between the band had soured to the extent that the record is in 2 parts - the first side by Peter Kember, and the second by Jason Pierce.

The album included "Hypnotized", a Pierce composition that was a minor hit in the UK in 1989.
The only track on which both Pierce and Kember appear is "When Tomorrow Hits", a cover of a Mudhoney song, originally intended for a double A-side split single, with Mudhoney covering "Revolution" from Playing With Fire. This release was scotched when Kember caught wind of the fact that Mudhoney had fitted "Revolution" with somewhat irreverent lyrics about methadone suppositories. The Mudhoney recording eventually surfaced as a b-side. There's a subtle continuity between both tracks, specifically duelling references to The Stooges; the Spacemen 3 track opens with the "look out!" invocation that began "Loose", and "When Tomorrow Hits" is mostly a rewrite of "I Wanna Be Your Dog".


01. Big City (Everybody I Know Can Be Found Here) 6:35
02. Why Wouldn't I See 5:31       
03. I Love You    5:32
04. Just To See You Smile     3:28
05. Set Me Free / I've Got the Key    5:11
06. When Tomorrow hits 4:26
07. Feel So sad 2:48
08. Hypnotized    5:58
09. Sometimes    6:38
10. Feelin' Just Fine (Head Full of Shit)    4:34
11. Billy Whizz / Blue 1    5:09

Label: Dedicated ?– ZD 74917
Format: CD, Album
Country: Germany
Released: 1991
Genre: Rock
Style: Indie Rock, Space Rock

 Paul Adkins : Engineer
 Pat Fish : Flute
 Richard Formby : Lead Guitar
 J. Spaceman, Sonic Boom (2) : Producer
 Alex Green : Saxophone
 Owen John : Violin
Peter Kembe :  Bass, vocals and guitars
Jason Pierce : Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, percussion
Mark Refoy : Guitars (Played as singer/guitarist for The Tell Tale Hearts (UK), Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Pet Shop Boys, currently in Slipstream.)
Roswell Jonny Mattock : Drums, Guitars, Vocals.


  1. thank you for the post and all the great information about the band's history. One might add that they were an incredible group to see live, the energy and the mesmerising sound were something unique.

  2. ... to listen to, indeed! Thank you!~ Queertone