The Beginner’s Guide to Pete Kember’s Six Best Songs

Pete Kember. You may not know its name, but you will know its sound. As a founding member of Spacemen 3, Kember – better known by his solo stage name of Sonic Boom – is responsible for creating some of the most adventurous records of the 1980s and early 1990s. Not to mention his production. considerable after the disbandment of Spacemen 3 in 1991. Since then he has recorded under the names Sonic Boom, Spectrum and EAR (Experimental Audio Research). Here, we’ll take a look at six of Pete Kember’s greatest songs, spanning the span of his varied career.

Kember formed Spacemen 3 with his school friend Jason Pierce while they were attending Rugby Art College in Warwickshire. At the time, Pierce was performing with a band called Indian Scalp but, having formed a close friendship with Kember, left the band to collaborate with the 16-year-old. As two guitarists, they knew they weren’t going anywhere until they found a drummer and a bassist, so they bought Tim Morris (drums) and Pete Bain (bass). With something like a full line-up taking shape, they took the name The Spacemen and started performing in the winter of 1982/3.

By 1985, they were the biggest band on the scene, headlining local venues and performing in packed venues. At the same time, they started to organize weekly club nights with another local group. ‘The Reverberation Club’ specialized in records from the 50s, 60s and 70s and sat at the very center of a growing noise rock scene, acting as a space for Spacement 3 to host their own concerts. One of these shows was attended by Pat Fish of The Jazz Butcher, who would later sign to Creation Records in 1988. With the support of someone with a foothold in the industry, Spacemen 3 was absent.

This is where our selection begins.

Pete Kembers’ Six Definitive Songs:

“Hey man” from Sound of confusion, Spacemen 3 (1986)

From the first Spacemen 3 album in 1986, Sound of confusion, “Hey Man” already contains all the seeds of the pioneering shoegaze sound that would define their subsequent recordings. Most of the songs on the LP are covers and even the ones that aren’t, like “Hey Man”, are largely taken from pre-existing songs by Bukka White and, most notably, The Stooges – to whom this song sounds. as a very obvious tribute.

It’s a surprisingly successful record, especially since Kember and the band were largely dissatisfied with it, failing to secure Pat Fish as a producer and being stuck with Bob Lamb instead, who seemed remarkably out of touch. sound that Spacemen 3 was looking for. . Still, it won favorable reviews for its blend of ’60s garage rock and ambient psychedelia.

‘Walkin’ With Jesus’ by The perfect prescriptionn, Spacemen 3 (1987)

Spacemen 3’s second album saw them hit their stride. After securing a deal whereby the band would have a huge amount of studio time to work on their new album in return for funding for new studio equipment, Spacemen 3 spent eight months meticulously creating the sound of Tit perfect Prescription, experienced and refining their material.

The process of recording the album was a huge learning curve for Kember, Pierce and others. In the cover notes of the reissue of The perfect prescriptionn, released in 2009, Kember remembers how the band became obsessed with creating the perfect record. “Mattresses were set up in the studio relaxation area and our kaleidoscopic light show remained on throughout the session,” he explained. “We spent several months… recording and reworking these pieces until we felt they were ready, slowly learning more about the studio and its techniques as we went. “

“Help me please” from Spectrum, Sonic Boom, (1989)

In 1989, Kember was working on material for Spaceman 3’s third album. Play with fire. He found himself with a surplus of songs and therefore sought another creative outlet in the form of his solo project, Sonic Boom.

New independent label Silvertone Records took over the project and offered to release Kember’s debut solo album, Spectrum, in March 1989, shortly before Spacemen 3 began its European tour. It really is a phenomenal record, which sounds as fresh as it did all those years ago. Other highlights include “Angel,” a song that sees Kember channel Lou Reed’s dismal vocals in The Velvet Underground as saturated drones slowly emerge from the darkness, devouring everything in their path.

“Lord can you hear me? “From Play with fire, Spacemen 3 (1989)

Upon release, Spacemen 3’s astonishing third album became one of the breakthrough albums of the year, making it their most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date. And much of that success was due to “Lord Can You Hear Me?”. It’s not a radio hit, but it still managed to capture the imaginations of a whole generation of teary, duffle-coated teenagers.

However, Play with fire also marked the beginning of the end for Spacemen 3. Tensions within the group were becoming intolerable and, the following year, the members would go their separate ways. In an exclusive interview with Far Out, Kember recalled this turbulent time: “I could see it slowly but surely disintegrating. We were a bit dysfunctional as a group. I probably didn’t even think we were dysfunctional back then. I just thought we were a bunch of kids, silly kids. But now when I look back, and I’m like God, we were so dysfunctional.

‘How do you satisfy me’ with Kiss of the soul (divine glide), Specter (1991)

Kember’s next musical adventure following the demise of Spacemen 3 in 1990 saw him go back to his roots and evoke the sound of early 1960s psych bands combined with that unique gothic vibe he had headed for in Tit perfect Prescriptionm

The project, for which Kember reunited with Richard Formby, who had played guitar and keyboards on the fourth and final Spacemen 3 album Recurrent, came at the right time, rejuvenating Kember’s art of song. As he told Far Out, variety has always been of the utmost importance. “I never wanted to do a lot of records and the idea of ​​making a new record every year, I just don’t feel inspired and I like to filter what I come up with.”

“The way you live” from All things being equal, Sonic Boom (2020)

In recent years, much of Kember’s work has been devoted to collaborations. He has released music with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab and Yo La Tengo to name a few, with their influence making its way into his 2020 album. All things being equal.

Describing his motivations for releasing this 2020 album, Kember told Far Out, “It felt right to me. There was also a certain perception, I think, on the part of the promoters, and maybe the labels as well, that Spectrum was not as well known as Sonic Boom because of the interest in Spacemen 3. At that level, it also made sense, and I just felt it was right.


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