Pele reviews

Gig review from NME, November 1992

PELE – Birmingham Edwards, Number 8You are right to be suspicious of Pele. For a start, they use a violin. Then there’s that laddish, football-related name. And they’re all OLD, look like they’ve just stepped out of Fairport Convention, and write ‘real songs with real instruments for real people’ etc, etc. BASTARDS!

Amazingly, though, they steer clear of pretentious, cod-Celtic folky toss apart from one genuinely chilling line halfway through the set (Anyone here remember Sean O’Casey?” NO! WE RUDDY WELL DO NOT!). The singer obviously wants to be Van Morrison, but luckily his ear is too well disposed to a sweet melody, the result being simple, unpretentious, and, dare I say it, heartwarming folky pop worthy of Martin Stephenson at his best.

Once you’ve got over any suspicions that Pele’s lead singer is in fact Kevin Rowland reincarnated as a waiter from Seville, the ridiculously whistle-worthy violin hooks and the upbeat vibe will drag you helplessly into a sea of moshing, politely bouncing drunken student types.

They verge on cloying sweetness at times, but they’re meaty and beaty to the core once you’ve got your teeth in. And not a single tin whistle, mandolin or fake Irish accent to be heard.

Johnny Cigarettes

Fireworks album review from Q magazine

The Liverpool-based newcomers have produced an accessible, highly melodic debut which suggests they will survive in the perhaps overcrowded area of vaguely Celtic folk rock. The whirling Monkey Scream stands out by virtue of a mesmerising violin figure, and the title track has a Jackie Wilson Said sort of punchiness.

Elsewhere, the fast numbers are too eager to please, Ian Prowse’s melodies seem slightly facile in their catchiness, lacking a hint of darkness. The stuttered chorus of Megalomania sounds contrived and the exuberant handclaps and la la la’s of Sly Times are not earned by a fairly ordinary tune. But any band that can begin a pretty love song with the line, Most policemen are childish (Policeman) has depths which can be mined. 2/5

Andrew Martin

The Sport of Kings album review from Q magazine

This second album from the Liverpool five-piece, picks up where their spring 1992 debut, Fireworks, left off, with its folk-rock, agit-pop musical style as striving and strident at ever. Singer Ian Prowse strains at the leash throughout, all up-front energy and earnest expression, as his musical collaborators work their hardest to pile crescendo upon whirling crescendo in an effort to keep up.

By all accounts storming, sweaty and inspired on stage, this all-stops-out approach to making music is riddled with too many pitfalls when the band return to the calculated confines of the studio. Over an unnecessarily indulgent 14 tracks, Pele crash from the impassioned to the portentous, from the inspiring to the embarrassing with regular, alarming ease. At their best on the souring, bitterly eloquent former single Fat Black Heart, they hit a nadir on the gauch, gratingly sincere Everyman & Woman Blues. 2/5

David Roberts

A-Live-A-Live-O album review from Q magazine

Coolly synchronised to tap into the warm glow of post World Cup euphoria, Pele’s latest is a glorious 40-yard free kick of an album. For a band so deeply populist in approach and whose songs are so stubbornly unashamedly commercial, it is almost astonishing that Pele are still Liverpool’s best kept secret since Stig Bjornebye.

This LP was recorded live at the epicentre of rock’n’roll, Loughborough University, and is a perfect snapshot of these ragamuffin Scouse soul rebels rocking the house with a sound which, at times, draws equally upon the best bits from Dexys, Deacon Blue, Microdisney and The Pogues. 4/5

Paul Davis

Gig preview from Sheffield Telegraph, June 1994

PELE/The Humpff Family, Sheffield Leadmill
Pele, Liverpool’s answer to Dexy’s Midnight Runners, who are promoting mini-album A-Live A-Live O, recorded live at Loughborough University. The line up is Ian Prowse on vocals/ guitar, Nico, violin/acoustic guitar, Dally, percussion, Wayne Morgan, bass, and Robbo on Hammond organ. Support from The Humpff Family, an energetic Scottish dance band with mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bass, drums, hermonicas and vocals. They like dressing up in women’s clothing and play at high speed, flat out. £3.50, Leadmill, Tuesday, 8pm.