In the summer of 1977 as punk was sweeping the nation, a group of my friends invited me to join them in seeing a Jazz Rock group at the Norwich Arts Centre. Today this would seem quite a pleasant prospect, but it was less appealing for the teenage me. At the age of 18 however the worst thing that could happen to you was to miss out on what your friends are doing, there was also the incentive that Norwich Arts seemed quite a safe venue which seemed to be increasingly significant at a time when you could easily be beaten up for having your hair too long or too short.
Really the only downside was it was Jazz Rock.
The band was Landscape, I knew nothing about them but they were just fine for a Jazz rock band. As I might have anticipated, they all looked like lectures from a polytechnic apart from the drummer who had spruced himself up a bit. The evening slipped by painlessly and at the end they announced they had an EP for sale and, rather to my surprise, I purchased one. I must admit I was slightly motivated by avarice. I knew that obscure records could later be sold at a profit if the band became big. I hadn’t realised how little money was usually made or really considered just how big a jazz rock band was likely to become in the 70’s, it must have been an impulse purchase without which it’s likely I would have forgotten about the evening completely.
I played the a side of the record, the punningly titled U2XME1X2MUCH occasionally over the next few years, it was pretty good, it had an insistent beat and a funky trombone it was as much Can as Weather Report.
A few short years later. 1981 to be precise, Landscape where actually in the charts with ‘Einstein a Go-Go’ a frantic slightly novelty synth pop number featuring drummer, now singer Richard Burgess. All traces of Jazz had gone, the reed and horn players were now doubling up on keyboards. This included bald trombonist Peter Thoms looking rather unconvincing in his futuristic outfits by virtue of keeping his 70’s moustache. The band had a follow up single Norman Bates and an album, From the Tea Rooms of Mars …to the Hell Holes of Uranus . They explored the same music landscape as the more successful Thomas Dolby, its hard to imagine just who their audience was or whether Burgess regretted the years of honing his drum technique to be replaced by the most simple of drum machines on most numbers. Certainly it gave them a couple of years of making money before they inevitably got rid of the more diehard jazz members before the survivors lost the will to carry on.
Burgess actually had a pretty interesting career as a producer for the like of Spandau Ballet and Adam and the Ants as well as being something of a go-to guy for computer technology, being one of the first people to learn to work the Fairlight. Even more excitingly, Andy Pask, the bass player, wrote the theme tune to the popular TV series ‘The Bill’ which we all heard twice a week throughout the 90’s.
Back to the present day… I must still have my copy of U2XME1X2MUCH in the attic. Searching for it on YouTube is pointless as their stupid search engine remains convinced I want to listen to U2. I’m determined though, everything’s on the internet somewhere. Eventually I locate it on Discogs with a YouTube link, the bad news is that should I wish to sell my investment it is now valued somewhere between 99p and £2.49!