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Scrumpy & Western

The definitive guide to the West Country music

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Pete Atkin

"walking back towards the music!"

biography | news | discography | gigs | links | Beautiful Changers | IC & The Jokers

Who Is Pete Atkin?

One of the greatest but alas, one of the most underrated singer/songwriters of all time, Pete Atkin is largely unknown - but getting better known all the time, thanks to the Internet! His music doesn't really fit the Scrumpy 'n' Western profile, but he is based in the Bristol area, so I guess that qualifies him for a mention...

Englishman Pete formed a songwriting partnership in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Australian Clive James, starting at Cambridge University with the famous Footlights. Pete mostly wrote the music and performed the songs, and Clive wrote most of the words. They collaborated on six critically acclaimed albums recorded by Pete, each of which contained some wonderfully thought-provoking and refreshingly unusual songs with challenging and sometimes unfathomable words and strikingly original melodies, and they quickly built up an enthusiastic following.

Unfortunately the following weren't enthusiastic enough to buy many records (the copies that occasionally turn up are immediately snapped up by Pete's ever-growing number of fans). After six years, disillusioned by their lack of commercial success, the pair went their separate ways in the mid 1970s. Pete went on to a new career as a successful radio producer, and Clive is now, of course, a famous wit, successful writer and globally popular TV megastar - yes, it is he!

Pete Atkin fan Steve Birkill created the Smash Flops: Pete Atkin website, as well as the Midnight Voices discussion group. This has generated enough interest to enable Pete and Clive to re-rom and go on tour. In addition several of Pete's albums are now available on CD, as well as new material being released. In addition, the sought-after 1970 Julie Covington debut album, containing twelve Atkin/James compositions has been re-released.

There are also two Pete Atkin tribute bands: the British-based The Beautiful Changers and their French counterparts IC & The Jokers, both who now have their own Scrumpy & Western website. You can even hear Pete Atkin accompanied by the Beautiful Changers in concert!

Zider Ed

Pete Atkin News

New Pete Atkin albums out now - after 25 years!

Pete Atkin's fans could be forgiven for thinking that the six albums he made in the 1970s would be the last they would hear - but 2001 sees the release of not one, but two brand new albums! What's more, all the songs on both albums are brand-new - at least, never before released officially. Many of the songs are those which Pete has been singing for over 25 years at live gigs, but which never managed to make it onto the earlier records. Not only that, but there are several truly new songs, written by Pete and writing partner Clive James in the last couple of years.

Recorded at Lakeside Studios in Bristol and featuring some of the best session musicians in the West, The Lakeside Sessions albums are available separately - or of course, as a set of two! The albums are available exclusively from Hillside Music's online shop. In 2002, Pete Atkin and Clive James embarked on their first major countrywide tour since the 1970s to promote the releases.

Pete's Final Two 1970s Albums Released On CD

February 2001: With the recently released double CD of A King At Nightfall and The Road Of Silk scarcely cold in their jewel cases, See For Miles are issuing the final two of Pete's 1970s albums Secret Drinker and Live Libel on a 2-on-1 CD. This means that (apart from a few obscure tracks) the whole of Pete's legendary output is now available on CD - paving the way for the oh-so-long awaited "seventh album"! So, if you've never heard him, go and buy the lot and find out what you've been missing for 25 years!

Secret Drinker contains some of Pete and Clive's best work - but then, of which of their albums couldn't that be said?! Tracks include the two songs Pete has since performed with tribute band The Beautiful Changers' - Rain-Wheels and I See The Joker; Pete's popular pièce de résistance Sessionman's Blues; the lyrically brilliant and musically challenging title track; and the evocative National Steel and Tenderfoot, among other gems.

Live Libel was described at the time of its issue as " An album of musical tributes to insufficiently neglected contemporary artists" - which should give you an inkling as to its content! Not a typical Pete Atkin album, this consisted of tracks by 1970s singers and bands with names like Griff Gostuffyourself, Marc Boloc, Strongbow Spam, Leonard Conman, Lindsey D'Oyle and James Paler - all of which sound somehow familiar...
These spoofs are by turns affectionate (but not very!) and satirical (not to say savage!) but are always hilarious. As Atkin-James afficionados will expect, many of the songs are excellent in their own right and Pete still performs the best ones today, long after many of the original targets have faded into the obscurity they so richly deserved. For full track listings and details of the CDs, visit Steve Birkill's official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website.

Two More Pete Atkin Albums Available NOW!

31 January 2001: The next two of Pete Atkin's sought-after 1970s albums A King At Nightfall and The Road Of Silk have been re-released as a double-CD set - in the shops NOW! Originally issued in 1973 and 1974 respectively, these two albums are now available for the first time on CD (See For Miles SEECD 722). As well as the two complete albums, the package includes two extra tracks, one of which is the rare single version of I See The Joker. The improvement in sound quality when compared to the original vinyl versions has to be heard to be believed! The albums contain some of Pete Atkin and Clive James' best-known songs - to name just four: Perfect Moments, The Wristwatch For A Drummer, Shadow And The Widower and Carnations On The Roof. Some of the top session musicians of the day are featured on the records, including Mike Moran, Darryl Runswick, Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers, Terry Cox and The Wurzels' bassist Dave Wintour. For full track listings and details of the CDs, visit Steve Birkill's official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website.

Pete Atkin's Albums To Be Released in 2001!

21 October 2000: Great news for Pete Atkin fans! Pete Atkin announced that he has finally persuaded the record company (BMG, formerly RCA) that holds the rights to the balance of his 1970s back catalogue, to grant a licence to See For Miles records to allow them to release Pete's last four albums on CD. The releases are scheduled for around March 2001. See the official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website for the latest details!

Goin' Down To Milton Keynes...

SoD Ticket 21 October 2000: Organised by Andy Love, this year's Pete Atkin event staged for the Midnight Voices was held at Stantonbury School in Milton Keynes, billed as the School of Dreams (or SoD) for the occasion. As well as Pete, there was a session by legendary blues guitarist Wizz Jones, himself a Pete Atkin admirer and one of the artists to have covered an Atkin/James song on record.
Pete's tribute band The Beautiful Changers also did a set - see The Beautiful Changers page for further details on their performance.
As for Pete Atkin - he did two long sets including several new versions of his songs, as well as introducing two new songs. For more details of Pete's two sets, see the review by Paul Gunningham on the official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website.

Pete Atkin Gigs

Pete Atkin does occasional gigs in folk clubs or concert halls - see the official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website for full details of forthcoming gigs, reviews and photos of past gigs, etc. Below are details and links to other reviews of some of his gigs.

Two For The Bristol City (May 2000)

30 May 2000: Pete Atkin and his songwriting partner Clive James appeared together at what was probably their best ever performance together to date at the wonderful St George's concert hall in Bristol. Pete was in top form and Clive was as entertaining and interesting as ever - the rapport between the pair, the outstanding performance of Pete & Clive and the St George's near-perfect acoustics all added up to an unforgettable evening for the lucky audience - for more details see the reviews by Paul Gunningham and Roy Brown on the official Pete Atkin Smash Flops website.

Islington Folk Club (December 1998)

See a review of Pete Atkin's gig at the Islington Folk Club, London, England on 13 December 1998.

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Pete Atkins Releases

Pete's six albums were originally issued between 1970 and 1976. His first two albums Beware of the Beautiful Stranger and Driving Through Mythical America were reissued on CD in 1998 on a 2-on-1 CD from See For Miles Records (C5HCD 664). This CD is still available in the shops.

After a long wrangle with the record company (formerly RCA, now BMG), Pete was at last able to announce the reissue of the remainder of his albums - the next two albums A King At Nightfall and The Road Of Silk are to be issued on a double CD in March 2001. The remaining two albums Secret Drinker and Live Libel will be issued in due course. All these albums will be issued by See For Miles Records.

For more details on all Pete's records, see the Pete Atkin website for track details, real audio clips and more.

Julie Covington "The Beautiful Changes" Re-issued on CD

March 1999: At long last, chart-topping Julie Covington's legendary 1971 debut album The Beautiful Changes has just been issued on CD for the first time (See For Miles SEECD 687).

Vinyl copies of this much sought-after album, which contains many songs by Pete Atkin and Clive James, have been like hen's teeth and have been changing hands for upwards of £100. Now you can get your hands on a pristine CD copy for a mere fraction of that at all good record stores.

The CD contains 15 tracks (the original album plus two bonus tracks), of which all but 3 were penned by Pete Atkin and Clive James. As well as being the first album recorded by Julie Covington, who later went on to hit the top of the UK charts in 1978 with the first (and to many critics, still the best) version of the song Don't Cry For Me Argentina, the album represents the first commercially available recordings of Messrs Atkin and James (apart from Pete's own album Beware of the Beautiful Stranger - also now available on CD!) and as such is of great interest to fans. In addition, Pete Atkin accompanies Julie on many of the tracks, alongside such highly regarded musicians as Herbie Flowers, Alan Hawkshaw, Kenny Clare and Brian Daly, to name just a few.

For further details of the CD, see the Pete Atkin website for track details, real audio clips and more.

Pete Atkins Links

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