Saturday, May 03, 2008


An obscure band from Liverpool, Barbel released one mini-album and a 12" single, recorded two excellent Peel Sessions and then disappeared.

I reckon it was about 19 years ago that I first heard this song (on John Peel of course) and it still sounds as good today as it did back then. The first track on their mini-album "One Horse Planet" on Pink Moon Records which I bought in Crash Records (Merrion Centre Branch) in Leeds and promptly fell in love with.

"House By The Airport" is a kitchen-sink love story that just gets sadder and sadder, but the tune is relentlessly up beat and has some great lines - "he had a foot in every pie and a finger in every door". I love everything about this song from the great one-finger organ line to the bum notes they weren't afraid to edit out.

Aside from my gushing admiration I must admit that part of the reason for blogging this is because there is virtually no information on the web about them (or maybe there is if you're prepared to wade through page after page of Anglers Weekly content?) and I reckon they deserve to be saved from aforesaid obscurity. They remain to this day one of my favourite bands.

According to Ken Garner's "The Peel Sessions" book, the line up of Greg Milton, Alison Williams, Roger Sinek and David Morgan was augmented on their second session by Simon Breed (who I assume to be the same Simon Breed from..erm.. Breed who did 4 Peel Sessions of their own). I also know that Greg Milton went on to be in a band called Dead Cowboys with members of Benny Profane releasing two albums (the last being in 2004).

I recently pestered Andy at Pink Moon records about re-releasing the One Horse Planet album on CD as quite frankly my vinyl copy is knackered (as you can hear on the vinyl rip below) and got a nice reply that was more of a "maybe" than a "piss off you have to be joking" so we live in hope.

Oh and they did a cracking version of "Winchester Cathedral" on one of those Imaginary Records 60's covers compilations - but I'll save that for another time.

Barbel - House By The Airport

"he became mesmerised by the sadness of life, incapable of action....too bad"


stevedomino said...

this is the sound of the john peel show in the 80s - bands with this sound were everywhere - dour vocals, jaunty keyboards - i can imagine this being the opening track in the show - ah, fair takes me back!

Anonymous said...

I just made a mp3 of One Horse Planet. Greg Milton did sent me the album by request in 1989. In a note - which I found in the sleeve - he asked 5 pounds for the record. I hope I did pay him. Great record!

Alf Mancini said...

Hi and superb to find out more about Babel,as very little to be found so far.
Bought, on spec only, a near mint copy og the mini akbum yesterday at a Scottish car boot sale for £2.
I just love it, and only played twice so far.

Anonymous said...


Loved this record.I actually went to buy it from Pink Moon Record shop in Liverpool.

Saw them in The Duchess of York in Leeds and talked to them after the show. I remember Peel mentioning that he'd heard there was another album coming out.

And then that was it.

But the 8 songs from the Peel Sessions are out there. I have a rip I found some ten years ago.

And after the release of "Income Tax" on "Losing Touch With My Mind", is there the tantalising possibility that there is a whole album's worth of material and will it ever see the light of day?

I live in hope of the improbable.

frankosonic said...

Thanks - I hadn't clocked that track on the Psychedelia compilation.
The only other thing I have is a studio recording of Kicker that someone sent me (guy who worked at the studio I think)

James W said...

I as at school with Greg Milton and Roger Sinek. The school, Falcon College, was in the middle of the bush in what was Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The group's name, Barbel, is a fish found in lakes and rivers in Zimbabwe. Roger and Greg were a couple of years older than me, but they played in a band at school called "Mandragora", they played a couple of times in the school hall. Status Quo covers and Smoke on the Water from what I remember!