Prism were a band from Exeter in the late 1980s that featured the amazing talents of Emma Waters on vocals, Allan Veal on bass and guitar, Tom Woods on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, and later a drummer whose name has become lost in the mists of time. Paul Bateman of Daylight Studios did much of their engineering and played some guitar on their recordings as well, although he didn’t tend to appear live on stage with the band.

Prism formed in early 1987 at the Art College in Exeter (now part of Plymouth University) and soon developed an excellent reputation for their wonderful songwriting, eccentric performances and no drummer. They memorably performed at the Exeter Art College as support to Rough Terrain in a venue that was full. Once Prism had finished their set, everyone left. When Rough Terrain began their set, there were only eight people in the room. The four members of Rough Terrain, three of their girlfriends and Paul the sound technician. It was a hilarious gig from that point of view.

Looking beyond the immediacy of the jaw-droppingly virtuoso vocal stylings of Emma Waters, somebody watching the band would probably focus on Tom on guitar next. Such an understated individual and a remarkable character, Tom was a multi-instrumentalist, artist, mime, thespian and solo cabaret act whose artistic talents seemed to have no limits.

Allan on bass provided Prism with a strong, solid platform on which to stand their music and had an immense writing partnership with Emma from which Prism drew many of their songs. He played a Hayman bass which was green and had a cranky yet delightful retro sound, similar perhaps to something you might hear on an album by Caravan or Gong. Allan had a great talent for electronics and built a guitar from the remains of an old Kay electric instrument, some paisley pyjamas, a tin of varnish and an improbable amount of switches. He also had by far the most hair, both hanging down his back and attached to his face.

These eight songs by Prism were all lifted from a cassette that has survived for nearly three decades in our archives and received many, many plays over those years. What follows is quoted from the cassette insert, which was beautifully designed and coloured in using glorious felt tip pens by Emma:

Songs 1 – 4 recorded on Paul’s portastudio July 1987
Songs 5 – 6 recorded on Paul’s portastudio September 1987
Songs 7 – 8 recorded by Daylight Studio August 1988

Emma – vocal, percussion
Allan – bass, guitar
Tom – guitar, bass, vocal, keyboard
Paul – sound engineer, incidental guitar on The Hunted and Big Bang

Words – Emma, except Blindest Night – Tom
Music – Emma and Allan, except The Hunted – Emma and Tom, Blindest Night and Resurrection – Tom

I stared into their moon eyes, they stared back at me
Taught me something most people can’t see
Peace is the answer, I said NO MORE WAR
That’s what I saw, you take heed be sure…
– Rainbow Song

EW ’88
(little pussy cat drawing) © tom tom