The Penguin Cafe Orchestra


By now, dear reader you will have worked out that I like the odd song.  You’ll know that I am a music enthusiast and you’ll be aware that I do not hold back in the superlatives department.

It came to my attention however that I have never blogged and shared with you my love for Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  The prompt came from a member of the South Queensferry Arts Festival committee of which I am chairman.  (How esteemed I must be; you must think.)

Anyway, at home alone tonight and watching dull football I thought I’d trawl youtube for some PCO stuff.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, let me drool.

I love PCO.

Thinking about my relationship with them it may outstrip any other band or performer  I love:  The Clash,  The Cure, The Stranglers, Belle and Sebastian, New Order, Aimee Mann, Tom Waits – all have, at times, had profound effects on me and most are very long term – but for some reason PCO are more visceral, more important.

Perhaps it’s because their leader Simon Jeffes died so young (of a brain tumour before he was 50) and out of respect they were shelved (until recently).

Perhaps it is because they make the most beautiful music ever.  The aforementioned bands might not merit descriptors that could be widely aknowledged as beautiful.

I believe PCO can.

Yes, some people say to me “get that shite off”.

I pity them.

PCO is a profound and beautiful musical experience.  The PCO may be the greatest thing ever to happen to music.

But you can be the judge of that.

This particular tune (they only ever did one “song” on their first album) is called Music for a Lost Harmonium and features a harmonium.

Uncommon, lilting, infectious.  I may love the Harmonium as much as I love PCO.

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5 thoughts on “The Penguin Cafe Orchestra

  1. Hear Hear. and if you haven’t heard them you must. there was, of course, a wee period when their music was quite frequently used for commercials and the occasional tv documentary. A role the Gotan Project seem to have taken over when people aren’t jumping on the ‘new folk’ bandwagon.There is a fantastic compilation PCO album called Preludes and Airs. Has just about everything you need on it. (Though I believe there is also a fab live album kicking about somewhere.) I agree with you mark, PCO is something you keep coming back to, usually when you’re souring your CD racks and can’t think of anything you want to hear. you ALWAYS want to hear PCO and ALWAYS hear something new.

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  2. Mark introduced me to PCO in 1980something and I’ve been a devotee ever since.
    If you ever need cheering up try Bean Fields – guaranteed to make you smile.

    Like

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