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Blue Aeroplanes, The

This unlikely answer to the Velvet Underground formed in Bristol, England, in the early 80s and endured endless line-up changes. Their original aim – a desire to mix rock and poetry and to involve as many musicians as possible in a communal manner – endured throughout their career.

The nucleus of the band always included deadpan vocalist Gerard Langley, his brother John (drums/percussion), Nick Jacobs (guitar), Dave Chapman (multi-instrumentalist) and – aping the Velvets – dancer Wojtek Dmochowski.

After a debut album for the Abstract label, Bop Art (April 1984), the band signed with the fledgeling Fire Records.

Several well-received EPs followed – Action Painting and Other Original Works (1985), Lover and Confidante and Other Stories of Travel (1986) and Religion and Heartbreak (1986). These were followed by a second album, Tolerance (October 1986).

The Aeroplanes third album, Spitting Out Miracles, surfaced in 1987. All were characterised by Langley’s monotone verse and a deluge of interesting instruments and sounds, albeit hinged around guitar.

Veils Of Colour (1988) coincided with Night Tracks, their February 1987 session for BBC Radio disc jockey, Janice Long.

A double album, Friendloverplane, neatly concluded their time with Fire, compiling the Aeroplanes’ progress to date.

It was not until the start of the next decade that, following a stint supporting R.E.M. on a UK tour, the band re-emerged on the Ensign label with the single Jacket Hangs in January 1990 and a new album, Swagger, the following month.

Both suggested a more direct, straightforward approach, and this was confirmed with May’s exploration into dance rock, And Stones.

In 1991, an eight-piece line-up released the roundly acclaimed Beatsongs, co-produced by Elvis Costello and Larry Hirsch. This was their highest charting album, reaching #33 in the UK.

A second compilation of rare B-sides and out-takes, Friendloverplane2 (Up in a Down World), was released in 1992.

The follow-up to Beatsongs was delayed until 1994 when the album, Life Model was released on the Beggars Banquet label, followed by Rough Music in 1995. Broken & Mended from Life Model was the band’s last single to chart.

A long break and another label change to ArtStar preceded the release of Cavaliers in 2000. The group then moved to EMI for a 2006 album of new material called Altitude, released on EMI’s Harvest imprint.

They then recorded an album of cover versions of classic tracks originally recorded by artists signed to the Harvest label. The album, called Harvester, was released in 2007.

Gerard Langley
Nick Jacobs
Dave Chapman
John Langley
Drums, percussion
Wojtek Dmochowski
Angelo Bruschini
Guitar, bass, organ
Caroline Halcrow
John Stapleton
Ruth Coltrane
Bass, mandolin
Ian Kearey
Guitar, banjimer, harmonium
Rodney Allen
Simon Heathfield
Paul Mulreany