Latin Quarter – Live At Glastonbury Festival (1986)

FrontCover1Latin Quarter is a British band formed in 1983. They had one top 20 single “Radio Africa” in the United Kingdom.

The British radio were cautious in the eighties to play their singles because of their political based lyrics. They became more popular in Germany and in northern Europe.

Latin Quarter released their latest album, Releasing the Sheep, on 29 October 2021. Their sound mixes elements of pop, rock, reggae and folk with largely political based lyrics.

Latin Quarter began when ex-printer and founder-member Steve Skaith left Liverpool for London in 1982 to write songs for music publishers Chappell. Skaith was also working on some rather more radical music with lyrics from an old friend of his called Mike Jones, both were members from the left wing political group Big Flame.

Mike Jones himself did not play with Latin Quarter, but he wrote the lyrics to the songs. The former technical school teacher from Liverpool had already been writing political songs for eight years and had been a friend of Steve Skaith’s since grammar school.

Their political viewpoint were sometimes reflected in the choice of subject matter and lyrics of Latin Quarter’s output.

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Latin Quarter were the first band to be managed by Marcus Russell (who is from Ebbw Vale along with Mike Jones). Russell formed the Ignition Management in 1983.

Skaith and Jones formed Latin Quarter in autumn 1983 with guitarist Richard Wright, a classically-trained musician and ex-member of the Inversions, a band active on the jazz/funk scene. Yona Dunsford (vocals/piano) and Carol Douet (vocals/percussion) joined the trio at the end of the year, with the line-up completed by Richard Stevens (drums), Greg Harewood (bass) and Steve Jeffries (keyboards). After the band’s first sporadic London gigs in 1984, ex-Police producer Nigel Gray recorded two of Latin Quarter’s songs at his own expense, and the band released Radio Africa on its own independent record label, Ignition in September 1984.

The band was signed by Rockin’ Horse Records, an offshoot of Arista Records, and completed work on their debut album Modern Times. After being re-released, Radio Africa finally became a UK hit at the start of 1986 when it reached number 19 in the UK Singles Chart.

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Jones described their first album Modern Times as “a veritable manifesto”. The album only spent two weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at Number 91, but was a top twenty hit in Germany and Sweden and sold well throughout Europe. They played at Glastonbury Festival 21 June 1986 and at the ‘Rock for Peace Festival’ in East Berlin at the Palace of the Republic in February 1987.

Darren Abraham and Martin Lascalles were new members on the follow-up Mick And Caroline, released 1987. An album that was not as successful as the debut. Skaith later told in an interview that he was not satisfied with Jason Corsaros production of the second album. Corsaro was a Grammy Award Winning music engineer and record producer.

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The band had slimmed down to the quartet of Skaith, Wright, Harewood and Dunsford by their third album Swimming Against the Stream, released 1989 on the RCA label in Germany. They recorded the album in Los Angeles, with producer David Kershenbaum and engineer Paul McKenna, but the album was not released in the US. With all lyrics still written by Jones, that album was dedicated to the eleven workers at Dunne’s stores, Dublin, who were sacked for refusing to handle South Africa goods. Their three year fight against dismissal culminated in the Irish Government’s ban on the importation of South Africa Agricultural produce. The single Dominion was originally recorded for the T.V. documentary series Animal Traffic, directed by Arpad Bondy & Ron Orders

After low sales in the UK the band originally split up. In October 1990, however, another album, entitled Nothing Like Velvet was released, which was made up of unreleased demos, alternative versions and live tracks. Judging by the sleeve notes, the band agreed to the release of these songs.

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However, the members, they all stayed friends, meeting each other privately. Skaith, Wright and Jones continued as Latin Quarter, and they collaborated with The Bhundu Boys on the latter’s 1993 Friends on the Road album, including a re-working of Radio Africa and two new songs written by members of both bands. Latin Quarter, released the albums Long Pig 1993 and Bringing Rosa Home 1997, both on German record labels. Both albums were recorded with session musicians and Latin Quarter finally went on hiatus in 1998.

Jones went on to run courses in Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. Skaith went to live in Mexico where he formed the Steve Skaith Band with Mexican musicians, and released the albums Mexile 2003, Empires and Us 2005 and Imaginary Friend 2007. He then returned to England and re-recorded some early Latin Quarter songs on Latin Quarter Revisited 2010.

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In 2011, Skaith and lyricist Jones re-formed Latin Quarter with original vocalist Yona Dunsford, bass player Greg Harewood and keyboard player Steve Jeffries. The band toured Germany and UK and they released the albums Ocean Head in 2012 and Tilt in 2014. Chris Rea was a guest star playing slide guitar on the Tilt album. Steve Skaith re-recorded acoustic versions of Latin Quarter-songs on Bare Bones in 2015.

In September 2016, Latin Quarter released The Imagination of Thieves, now featuring Skaith, Jeffries, Martin Ditcham (Drums), Yo Yo Buys (Bass and Guitars) and Mary Carewe (vocals).

In February 2018, the new track Pantomime of Wealth was released as a digital release on Westpark Music. The album with the same name was released 13 April 2018.

In April 2019, Latin Quarter released The Colour Scheme, now as a trio featuring Skaith, Jeffries and Carewe. The album consisted mainly acoustic rearrangements of early Latin Quarter songs plus a couple of songs from the Steve Skaith Band albums.

In October 2021 they released the album, Releasing The Sheep. (wikipedia)

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And here´s  a wonderful, a brilliant live recording (taken from the legendary “BBC In Concert” series).

Their music was a very special form of pop music, very subtle and always a little fragile. And the lyrics were much needed comments on all those damn topics of those years … Unfortunately, these problems have not really been solved to date, on the contrary.

Latin Quarter were and are an uncomfortable band, unfortunately indispensable in “modern times”.

Enjoy this rare live recording !

Recorded live at the Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Pilton/UK, June-21, 1986

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Personnel:
Carol Douet (vocals, percussion)
Yona Dunsford (keyboards, vocals)
Greg Harewood (bass)
Steve Jeffries (keyboards)
Steve Skaith (vocals, guitar)
Richard Stevens (drums)
Richard Wright (guitar)Inlets

Tracklist:
01. Sandinista (Skaith/Jones) 5.23
02. Remember (Skaith/Jones) 4.32
03. Freight Elevator (Jeffries/Jones) 5.05
04. See Him (Skaith/Jones) 5.07
05. Truth About John (Skaith/Jones) 4.03
06. Eddie (Skaith/Jones/Keefe) 3.03
07. No Rope As Long As Time (Skaith 5.02
08. I (Together) (Skaith/Jones) 4.20
09. Radio Africa (Skaith/Jones/Keefe)  6:35
10. The Night (Skaith/Jones) 4.32
11. Pyramid Label (Skaith/Jones) 8.36

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