Pete’s Area 51

In order to honour Pete’s memory, a special playlist of Dark Company songs has been created at SoundCloud. All of the songs represent Pete’s character, his philosophy, his dreams and beliefs and some of the personal experiences he had. There are a small number that were added because they were his favourites. We kept the number down to just 51 songs and arranged them in a chronological fashion, by album, with every album represented. It was not an easy task and a different 51 songs could easily have been chosen.

At the time when Pete passed away, Dark Company were in the throws of creating their 12th album. DC12 will eventually be a triple CD. With a provisional title of A for Acronym, the songs were divided into a CD of rock songs (SNAFU), a CD of reggae songs (VSF) and a CD of weird songs that don’t really fall into either a rock or reggae category (FUBAR). All of these songs are still completely under wraps and scheduled for release after some other Dark Company albums are properly finished and released.

A few links to Wikipedia have been embedded in the copy for further reading and reference.

Here is the link to the compilation playlist:
https://soundcloud.com/wud-records/sets/pete

Playlist Notes

Finished Dark Company Albums

Signmaker (1991) – the only Dark Company I album from when, on a good day, the band numbered as many as nine.

1. Animal House – when Sammi was a young girl she once said that this song summed her Dad up. It does. The track was played at the funeral. “Better than any hymn,” said the Minister.
2. Blue House (laughter version) – not a very accessible recording, but here because the lyrics are autobiographical in the sense that they show how Pete could be enigmatic and awkward as well as brilliant and empathic. This particular performance shows what an awesome singer Pete actually was, keeping the band playing despite the total collapse into hysteria from everybody present at the truly awful trumpet playing being inflicted on the band. You can hear that there was a lot of fun and merriment here as well as the accomplished skills of Pete the frontman.

Rage in Heaven (1993) – the first album of the Dark Company II era, when all the band but Pete, George and Jeff had disappeared to the four winds and had been replaced by sequencers and synthesizers.

3. Sacrifice – the first verse sets the scene, relaxing with a smoke on a long comedown and contemplating the universe. The chorus “I just watch the world throw away what I keep” tells us Pete valued things others did not seem to in a changing and harsher social landscape. These things included loyalty, truth, friendship, trust and kindness. He felt alienated from the mainstream. The second verse gets to the heart of things -“Crowds that have but one head stumble round the town, Opinions of the doctor say that Heaven’s lost it’s crown” – society’s values are at odds with Pete’s, where it seems thuggishness and violence are seen as ‘cool’. The third verse expresses Pete’s frustration and helplessness at being unable to change these things. He would often say: “People see kindness as weakness, and it’s not. Kindness is strength.”
4. Medicines – Pete was able to access some highly esoteric spiritual places through his magikal practices and use of amphetimines, places that very few normal people have ever been able to access. This song describes some of these places and observations on the journey there and back to reach them. Pete’s journeys to the other side were a big part of his life for many years and he would often come back from there with a new song.
5. Terminal Road – one of Pete’s most inspired sets of lyrics, describing the implosion and self-destruction of society as he saw it at that time. True poetic genius.
6. Spoiler – this is a song that Pete used to rave about in the early days of Dark Company, the bass and the guitar especially. He was not so keen on his vocal part, he felt that there was another recording – hopefully still existing somewhere – where he sounded better. Spoiler is an enigmatic title that refers to telling the end of a story before arriving there – “We looked through all the cracks in Heaven’s walls”.
7. Under the Hill – Pete was a big fan of the artwork of Aubrey Beardsley and felt that his true spiritual home lay somewhere within his dot-drawings. This in turn inspired Marcus to make his own dot-drawing that makes up the cover of this album. He made the whole thing from scratch sat in the studio while George worked on mixes for the Rage in Heaven album. This song is all about the gradual breakdown in relations with his much younger wife. “Three dreams from Heaven” refers to his three previous marriages and the whole of that verse describes how he went down to the swingbridge behind his house near Topsham and sat in his van in the car park to contemplate his situation. The chorus refers to his inability or unwillingness to become whatever it was that his wife wanted him to be, instead of being what he was. Under the Hill was also the title an unfinished erotic novel by the late Beardsley, who died aged just 25.
8. The Forger – Pete had a job for a time with Terry as his carpenter and handyman at Interalia Antiques in Exeter. When people asked Pete what he did for a living, he would say that he made antiques. Most people don’t listen carefully to what is said in conversation and the ludicrousness of this statement used to fly right over their heads. Pete both loved and was frustrated by this paradox. On another level, this song is about only seeing what you expect to see and not what is really there. “The TV man” does not refer to sombody on the television, instead it refers to a highly convincing transvestite who is not recognised for what he truly is by anyone. Lyrically Pete was a master of the use of smoke and mirrors, and in real life too.
9. Last Train to Heaven – a beautiful allegorical song about living and dying and the wonderment of it all. One of Pete’s great lyrics. Works really well just as an acoustic guitar song by the campfire. Pete plays the full-scale harmonica on this, which gave the engineers a lot of work as it was not in tune with anything.

Unfinished Dark Company Albums

Alien Heat (1993) – this album was a tribute to Alien Heat, the band which came before Dark Company, and is a compilation of most of that band’s songs.

10. Abnormal – the very first new song that Pete and George worked on together in the band Alien Heat. It was written in Pete’s bedroom at 490 Topsham Road, Exeter on a cold grey November afternoon in 1989. Marc played his bass, Richard had Pete’s funny little keyboard with tiny keys and Graham was there but not with drums. There was a lot of discussion about a small cylindrical car jack from Dusty that might or might not have been strong enough to hold the weight of Pete’s van, which was going to be the band’s transport. This song has a unique beauty and only uses two chords. During the feedback and noise section towards the end of the guitar solo, Pete would stick his head as far as he could into George’s guitar cab.
11. Ship to Shore – a beautiful allegorical song about Pete and his magikal practices and journeys to the other side, as previously described. Gives instruction in how to get away with things you shouldn’t really be able to get away with, something he was remarkably adept at. “Cue the noise!” was the cry at the start.
12. Jigsaw – this was probably a song for Marc, Pete’s son, the phenomenally talented bass player of Alien Heat, with whom he had a rather difficult and stormy relationship. Pete hoped that being in the band together might improve things between them. In the end it finished them for good, such a tragedy. Pete was never very good at remembering the names of his songs as they are not always the obvious ones. This one and The Joker he always seemed to remember when listing Dark Company songs, possibly because they both began with a J.
13. Prisoner – Pete was very fond of his lyrics for this song, especially the chorus: “Am I dreaming I’m a butterfly, Does the butterfly dream me, Will I live or die in an insect’s eye, Can this really be” and often quoted it. He said the idea came from the movie The Dark Crystal, which he believed had an unspoken underlying metaphor – that men and women come from a being which is both genders, like some of the beings depicted in the Rider-Waite tarot deck. You cannot have one without the other, and the combined gender being is the true higher conscious being that men and women are the two halves of.
14. The Joker – this song shares a vocal melody with Armed & Dangerous from Signmaker, so the challenge for the musicians was to make the two songs different – and they did a great job. We tend to feel that this was another song about Marc. Pete had a strong belief in leading by example, and we think the verses are him attempting to set that example and the choruses are his frustration at his son’s inability or unwillingness to grasp that concept.
15. Mister Dream – Dark Company’s youngest fan, Tessa, aged just one at the time she first discovered this, loves this song more than any other song in the world. “Doo-wah doo-wah doo-wah” was repeated by Tessa as ‘doowadu’, and she still calls all music ‘doowadu’. The lyrics from this section apparently come from James Dean’s film Rebel Without a Cause. The “lucky charm keyring” he found in the road had a Leo on one side and an Aquarius on the other. Pete was a Leo, both Jeff and George were Aquarian. This object hung from the ceiling in Silent Running Studios during the days of Dark Company II and was a talisman of the band. This is a song about getting a job that Pete didn’t really want to ease his financial difficulties.
16. Traveller – this is a lyric that meant a lot to Pete. It is about his relationship with language, his muse and songwriting. The chorus is about going to the other side of the spirit world in search of a new song. The verses describe his uncanny ability to say exactly the wrong thing and upset people in all kinds of situations. Despite being such an outspoken and extrovert character, he always felt insecure and awkward. He couldn’t really help himself, he was incredibly impulsive. These days we would say OCD and ADHD but when Pete was growing up these terms did not exist. He would self-medicate with amphetamine. Medical professionals prescribe stimulants to some with this condition. Maxine once described Pete as the only egotist with a low opinion of himself. This song was written when Michaela from The Aerial came to stay with George to find out about BandSpace. Being a songwriter herself, she and Pete both agreed to separately write songs called Traveller. This one is Pete’s, Michaela never managed to write hers.

Can of Worms (1994) – an album of songs that were left over from Alien Heat and the Dark Company I era.

17. Phase Out – Pete’s sense of rhythm was completely unique, as you can hear in this song. In case you’re wondering, it’s a slow five. He had the ability to come in one beat early and remain one beat early for a whole verse and chorus. He could do it two beats late as well. He didn’t even know when he was doing it that way 99% of the time. He had the same ability with his pitching. He was actually very accurate in his tuning, but if he came in three semitones high, or seven low, or whatever it was, he would keep at that pitch. The other musicians he worked with found it baffling that he could keep this up for an entire measure of vocals. As a result he would sometimes accidently create a harmony part, and then curse for making more work for himself! It was all rather funny and sometimes a bit frustrating.
18. We All Light Up – probably Dark Company’s most heavy metal song. This one was a song that Pete did with Richard in their duo Hot Machine and the Silicone Dream. Richard was fired and then Dark Company started. The vocal melody remains the same and instead of bleepy synthesizers George tuned his guitar to DADGAD and turned up the filth. This sounds great when played loud and Pete’s vocal harmonies really add a twist to the song. It’s all about contemplating why the world is as greedy a place as it is whilst relaxing with a smoke. Written during the Thatcher years when greed was the new religion.

Ghost of the Art (1994) – Dark Company never really did love songs in the traditional sense. This album is perhaps their most romantic and emotional as the songs were composed when Pete was breaking up with his wife. In the end he had a total breakdown and the band was halted, ending what we think of as Dark Company II.

19. Mirror – this is a song that Pete particularly loved, especially the melody in the guitar and the refrain where the guitar and piano are playing in unison. It was one of the songs he mentioned most often as being a favourite. There is a story attached to it as well in that after he had found his mother dead in the flat downstairs and the ambulance people had taken her away, he was in a state of confusion and pressed ‘play’ on his tapedeck. This was the first song that he heard and so it was that after that event it always reminded him of his mother.
20. Reasons – when Pete first wrote this song he wanted to do it as a duet. First of all it was done with Mary from BoomShack and it was awesome. Then he sang it with his daughter, and again it sounded so wonderful and completely different. We tend to feel that the lyrics written for her in the first place. On this recording Pete sings just with himself using a different treatment for the response vocal. When this song was being upgraded in the studio, just after Mister Dream from the Alien Heat album, baby Tessa caught a hold of the chorus and repeated ‘doo-wad-doo-wad-doo-wad-doo’ which she eventually made her word for music, ‘doowadu’.

Mind Dance (1999) – Dark Company III was largely brought about due to a considerable amount of encouragement from Sammi to a skeptical George, who had recently returned from living in Prague. Sammi helped Pete with the singing and George did all the other things apart from the harmonica.

21. Venturi – of all Dark Company’s recordings, this one has the greatest number of separate vocal parts, with its dropped 4th harmony and all of the various ooos and aaas layered up to make a big sound. This is one of our favourite sets of Pete’s lyrics. Venturi came at around the same time as Damaged on the Benign Inquisition album. That song had a far more complex melody which Pete didn’t have the patience for when these songs were being made.
22. Götterdämmerung – a fascinating piece of music in that the first part of the song and the second part are completely unlike each other. It could almost be two separate songs. But that was the way it came out and the way it wanted to be. The lyrics are rather esoteric and completely wonderful. The “Beautiful whores and strangest dwarves” refer to two special people who were very dear to Pete at the time of writing.
23. Standing Still – we had to include this one because of Pete’s outstanding and original harmonica playing. When somebody says ‘jazz harmonica’, does anyone in particular come to mind? Perhaps Pete should. This shouldn’t really work on harmonica, but somehow it works beautifully thanks to Pete and his remarkable talent. The demo version is just as good and can be heard by clicking here. We really enjoyed recording this song and tried to get a few takes out of Pete, simply because the playing was so wonderful rather than him doing anything below par during the recorded performances.
24. Humpty Dumpty – a beautiful song all about memories, both the kind that you share with others as stories and the kind you keep to yourself. One of our favourite sets of lyrics from Pete. The sample of Sigmund Freud was something we did on the demo to fill a hole and Pete particularly liked it, so it was kept. It comes from a radio programme that was hosted by Ivor Cutler. Dark Company hope to employ some real live choirboys to sing the lines “‘Sacrifice! Sacrifice!’ the voices call”.
25. Broken Tubes – here is a classic lyric from Pete’s pen that seems very satisfying musically as well. Another one from the comedown contemplation school of thought, this is a song full of quotable lyrical gems. This song was originally called Horizontal Hold and another version of it by that name using synths and the sequencer is on the Can of Worms album. It was a song that Dark Company II left on the back burner.

Old Hands (2000) – some of these songs are a collection of lyrics left over from Alien Heat, the band that came before Dark Company, which were never used. The rest are things that were left over from the days of Dark Company II, songs that were recorded in rehearsal but never developed. Sammi had started University and had quit the band by the time Old Hands was being done.

26. Medicine Man – an old set of lyrics from the days of Alien Heat. Whatever else Pete might have been, it could not be denied that he was certainly a medicine man. This is an esoteric song about his visits to the dark side. Down in the basement, Barry is tuned to a Bb standard tuning with a drop Ab. One of Dark Company’s most heavy metal songs.
27. Fixed & Free – one of Pete’s greatest bugbears was that it seems to be wrong to be right, and it’s better to be cool and wrong than right and uncool. He had a clear view of the world and of situations and how they were and how they should be. He often felt frustrated at the shortcomings of others that to him seemed so obvious. Much as we love the tomfoolery at the end of this song, we plan to make it a fade-out for the final version. Another song from the days of Alien Heat.
28. Peek-a-boo – largely a nonsense song, this one is a lot of fun. Pete was fond of the swamp guitar and the heavy funk vibe. It was actually written in 2000 and Pete manages to describe himself with a certain amount of exaggeration.
29. One-2-One – this song was discovered on an old Dark Company rehearsal cassette from around 1992. It was not a song that the band pursued as it seemed rather unstructured. No surviving sequencer files were found so the band attempted to reconstruct the song using modern technology. Pete loved this, he often played it to his friends. He particularly liked how his vocals had turned out. We tried to make a faithful copy of the somewhat improvised cassette version. The ‘7-inch’ mix ends where it sounds like the sequencer reaches the end of its parts and returns to the beginning.
30. In Case of Emergency – another song that was originally composed during the Dark Company II era, here Pete is describing his addiction. Lines of white powder are often laid out on mirrors – “Are you not a mirror boy”. When the band returned to this particular song in their fourth incarnation they found a far more musically satisfying resolution of the key change for the chorus.
31. Slide – this is arguably one of Pete’s finest vocal performances. He sounds absolutely great on this even if it is not one of his most interesting lyrical compositions. There were two completely different versions of Slide that were found on old cassettes, one using the sequencer and the other with guitar, drum machine and voice. The band didn’t rate the song particularly highly until suddenly, for this recording, we combined the two versions and added some of Sven’s magic to make it sound properly phatte.

Benign Inquisition (2001) – an album of new songs that Dark Company III created post-Sammi. Both Pete and George experienced terrible personal tragedies during the time of writing this album. The band was halted again. George went to study in High Wycombe and the two would not work together again for a few more years.

32. Bright Monsters – at the same time that George was working on this album with Pete, he was also working on another project with his estranged son. George made several attempts to bring the two back together but it never worked out in the end. Pete hoped, although he never allowed himself to hope too much, that the situation would improve. This was the song he wrote about the possibility of improving relations. “What was it took you over there” contains more than just a hint of surprise and refers to a born-again Christian who did a lot to drive further wedges between Pete and his son.
33. Damaged – a beautiful song with a melody that was rather complex, one that was troublesome for Pete to record adequately which was why it was left until later following its initial composition. The song describes Pete’s addiction, the inherent situations and troubles brought and the time it can sometimes take to satisfy those particular needs again and again. The “God and His Son” verse is one of our favourites of all Pete’s writings. We associate this song with Venturi from the Mind Dance album as they are similar in feel and both were written at around the same tiume.
34. Falling Down – Pete was very aware of his own inadequacies and this song is about him reflecting upon some these and the associated anxieties and regrets. His tendency to procrastinate was described in “I know I’m wasting the time I should use to learn”. The verse “Caught a ball it was of stone” is laugh-out-loud funny at the same time as being touching and poignent. Musically the band wanted to keep this simple to allow the lyrics to shine out.
35. Colt 44 – dark and beautiful, this song is actually about just one woman who Pete knew very well. The woman in question was a closet lesbian and couldn’t handle that fact, although it seemed perfectly obvious to Pete and utterly normal – why should somebody not be who they really are? Each verse describes a different aspect of that unfortunate woman’s vulnerabilities, and the chorus is anatomical. As things turned out we can report that the woman in question came to terms with it all a few years later and the story had a happy ending.
36. Am I Norman? – one of Pete’s favourites and another of his autobiographicals. He particularly liked the swamp guitar and the eyeball-bleed baritone guitar that appears later on in the piece. The words hint at being older and retired from work and there are lyrical elements that anybody can find themselves relating to at some point in their life.
37. Seeing, We Should – Pete played all of the parts of this song on a wonderful and precariously unreliable old analog synth made by Korg, apart from the rattling of the house keys by George at the end of the lift-off section. George then arranged all of the parts and Pete sang his vocals. It was recorded using a primitive version of Logic. When the band tried to reassemble the parts years later it was impossible to recreate the atmosphere and intensity of the original version, so it was decided to go with the original after all. The title Pete once described as being a shortened version of: “Seeing? Hmm, that’s a good idea, we really should do some of that.” The lyrics are both trippy and disturbing. This was composed at a very bleak time and we think it relates to the imminent passing of George’s father who had had a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle against emphysema. One of Dark Company’s strangest songs, along with Future Sadness Past from Signmaker. The band came to a halt again shortly after this.

Bad Habits (2008) – the Bad Habits album marks the beginning of Dark Company IV. After a long sabbatical to recover from world-inflicted injuries, Pete and George reconvened. George had built a new recording studio by this time and wondered if Pete still had it in him to write and sing. As it happened, he did. The album was thusly named because we are told that bad habits die hard, obviously. The resumption of Dark Company was a source of great disappointment and disgruntlement to some of George’s closest friends at that time. Undeterred and with the addition of session players Sven Stiglund on drums, Josh Reynes on keys and horns and Maxx Damage on bass, Dark Company set about recording all of their back catalogue using as much as possible of what had previously been made by Jeff and George in Silent Running Studios. There is still plenty to be done at the time of writing this.

38. Whisky Priest – one of Pete’s great lyrics about trying to discover the meaning of life itself. He already knew that he had a terminal illness when he wrote this one. The music was inspired by Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, a song Pete also loved.
39. Nightshifters – one of those profound dreams that we all have from time to time inspired Pete to pick up his pen. He liked the electronic feel of this and we liked his words a lot. There is a wonderful moment in this song that Pete enjoyed where everything stops apart from Pete’s singing and George’s guitar playing in unison.
40. More or Less – this song was one of Pete’s favourites. He especially loved the melody in the guitar solo and the whole feel of the song and would often enthuse about it and play it to his friends. More or Less is about the great love he felt for his daughter who was living too far away for him to visit any more and the maggot of fatherly concern he felt regarding some of her friends.
41. Don’t Look Down – Pete played some wonderfully bonkers harmonica on this song, which is something of a black comedy about living a just little bit more before dying. Hard to listen to this without smiling at the dark humour of the impending inevitable.
42. One Heart – musically speaking the band were never terribly keen on this song, but the lyrics are among Pete’s finest. They describe what it is to live and then die in this finite existence we all have, as if looking at the whole of a lifetime – time being the fourth dimension – from the fifth dimension, where you can see any point on that timeline – “There’s the start, there’s the end, there’s the time for you to spend”. He captures the complex issue of living a whole life in just a few lines. The Russian part is actually just the “Whatever you wish, whatever you dream” verse backwards. Pete thought it sounded cyrillic, so that was the way Dark Company published the lyrics.
43. Night Man – as referred to in the song Future Sadness Past on the Signmaker album, this is one of those crazy tongue-in-cheek lyrics and fun songs that make it hard to not smile a little when listening. The Grey Lady is the New York Times, the kit car crane is reference to Pete’s fondness for building and painting scale models of planes and trains and other machines, and a bracket race run is a term used in high octane dragster racing, Pete’s favourite sport.
44. Amanita Alice – Pete would often play air guitar to the solo at the end of Amanita Alice as he loved it so much. He would still do this even when in the kitchen with an open packet of rice or spaghetti (etc.) in his hand. He would often report by text a spillage of monumental proportions due to his enthusiastic air guitar playing. This song was one of his absolute favourites. Pete loved this and it’s something a bit different to most Dark Company songs. He also hit a very low note in the choruses, demonstrating what a massive range he had as a vocalist.

Noir (2010) – Pete had another highly prolific period of writing in 2008-2010 and the songs on Noir were selected from a pool of around 70 demos and maybe 150 sets of lyrics. Songs were arranged alphabetically on the album because that was the way we became accustomed to listening to them and they seemed to flow together beautifully that way.

45. Cable Guy – another one of Pete’s personal favourites, he described this one as being about a suicide bomber who would come round to your house to fix the satellite TV then the next thing you knew he would be on the TV having blown himself to pieces. Pete particularly liked the guitar sound, the way the instrumental section motors along, and the use of Donald Rumsfeld’s speech sample.
46. Change the Light – this is a wonderful piece of allegorical lyric writing about the nephilim and how the light changed, a fascinating Biblical legend.
47. Mainstream Man – loosely based around the 1984 comedy sci-fi movie Repo Man, the words for this are full of wit and imagery. Pete was very fond of this track. Dark Company employed the well-known theme from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the guitar parts.
48. Please Try Later! – apparently Pete wrote this song to describe his brotherly love for long-time bandmate and co-composer George, who was a similar age to his own estranged son. Pete was saddened by the estrangement and felt that he had always left his door open to a possible reconciliation, even though it never happened and despite his worries for what the consequences of such a reconciliation might be.
49. Right Turn – there is something wonderfully child-like about the lyrics in this song, as if Pete were a young boy hoping to gain approval from his elders and superiors. We feel it is a song that everybody can relate to as it is human nature to desire the approval of others. There is a hint that this song may be in the voice of a slightly spoiled child from a wealthy family who is at present on the naughty step for unknown misdemeanors, possibly a thoughtcrime.
50. Tilt – Pete always said that he and Christianity parted ways shortly after his father suddenly died in the 13-year-old Pete’s arms and the local minister said that God needed him for some more important task. He would often quote the “Deacons reek of Christian chic” from this song, a lyric he was rather fond of.
51. Up West – the slightly surprising analogy of a moth as a nightclub reveller. ‘Up west’ was a London expression – “Are you going out tonight?” “Yeah, up west”, referring of course to London’s West End and its nightlife. Pete particularly liked the punky feel and guitar melody in this song.

The good news for fans of Dark Company is the band will go on. The songs Pete recorded will be released one day and there are plans for some live performances following the relocation of the entire entourage. More news of these events will be posted in the Wud Records News service.