Blanket of Secrecy
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|Blanket of Secrecy|
|Genres||New wave, pop rock, synthpop|
|Labels||F-Beat, Warner Bros.|
|Past members||Peter Marsh (aka Tinker)
Roger Bechirian (aka Spy)
Andy Howell (aka Tailor)
Blanket of Secrecy (BoS) was a British new wave trio that existed for a short time in the early 1980s. The band is notable for the fact that the band members, true to their band name, were never officially identified, using only the pseudonyms Tinker, Tailor and Spy. This led to some speculation in the music press regarding their true identity; their identities were revealed after several decades to be Peter Marsh, Andy Howell and Roger Bechirian.
Releases and chart history
The band's lone LP was titled Walls Have Ears in the UK, and Ears Have Walls in the US. The group can been seen in shadow on the album's back cover, and more clearly in the video for the associated single "Say You Will". Released in 1982, the album and single received some airplay on both sides of the Atlantic.
At the time Ears Have Walls was recorded, BoS also reportedly recorded an entire second album, which has yet to see the light of day. The band broke up before the record could be released.
Speculation about the band's identity
At the time of the group's one and only LP release, there were three main theories about the identity of the musicians involved with Blanket of Secrecy.
- Theory No. 1: Noting the album credit "Directed by Roger Bechirian", some[who?] assumed that meant that all songs and instruments must be by Bechirian.
- Theory No. 2: Some thought the album was actually by The Attractions. Known primarily as Elvis Costello's backing group, The Attractions (a three-piece band, just like BoS) had issued one LP in 1980 that had been produced by Bechirian. Additionally, The Attractions were known to favour pseudonyms—the "Brain/Hart" writing team that penned several songs on their 1980 album Mad About The Wrong Boy was later revealed to be Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve and his wife, poet and lyricist Fay Hart. Finally, the Attractions shared the same music publishing company as Blanket of Secrecy (Plangent Visions Music, Inc.), the same record label (F-Beat), and the same management company (Jake Riviera's Riviera Global Productions).
- Theory No. 3: Several reviews at the time mentioned the name Peter Marsh as the possible main-man of the band. Marsh had been an original member of Easy Street, a mellow acoustic act of the 1970s whose ranks also included Richard James Burgess. Marsh had formed New Wave band Twist, which released one album in 1979, and he subsequently went on to produce plenty of synthpop in the 1980s, collaborating with artists including Vangelis.
Extensive research by Blanket of Secrecy fan Gary L. Maher eventually identified the participants definitively as:
- Peter Marsh ("Tinker") – vocals and guitar
- Roger Bechirian ("Soldier") – keyboards and backing vocals, percussion, producer, engineer and mixer
- Andy Howell ("Tailor") – bass and backing vocals
Additionally, the single "Say You Will" bears a writing credit of Tinker/Spy. ASCAP has identified "Spy" as Phil McWalter. The song "Yo Yo" was credited to Tinker/Sailor, and Maher has identified "Sailor" as artist Ron Chadwick.
The Attractions connection trumpeted by some appears to be entirely incorrect, as no involvement by any of the Attractions in the Blanket of Secrecy project has yet come to light, although Pete Thomas played drums on two songs recorded for the second, never-released album. The song "Lovers", meanwhile, was written by Jack Hues and Nick Feldman (a.k.a. Nick De Spig) of Wang Chung, and arranged by Hues. One-time Wang Chung member "Hogg" (Dave Burnand) also appears on the album. The connection between the two bands is that Bechirian co-produced Wang Chung's first album, back when that group was known as Huang Chung.
Life before and after Blanket of Secrecy
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All three BoS members had a hand in Carlene Carter's C'est C Bon record from 1983. Bechirian produced, and all three played on the album, as well as co-writing two of the songs. Bechirian also produced Nick Lowe's 1983 album The Abominable Showman, which featured backing vocals from Marsh and a Marsh–Howell song called "Cool Reaction".
- Peter Marsh's musical career goes back at least to 1974, when he released a record with brother-in-law Ken Nicol under the name Nicol and Marsh (a/k/a Nicol & Marsh's Easy Street). They then changed their name to Easy Street and put out two records in 1976 and 1977. Their last record together was a 1978 release called simply Nicol & Marsh. Marsh's next project was Twist, which put out one album called This is Your Life (1979). Between then and BoS, he also worked with Vangelis, with whom he released the single 'Don't Be Foolish' in 1980 and Manfred Mann's Earth Band, and released solo singles including 'You Say You Wanna Love Me', 1981 (produced by Godley and Creme) and Harmony (1984).
- Roger Bechirian is a noted producer, having worked with Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Carlene Carter, Trash Can Sinatras, the Undertones, Bell X1 and the reunited Monkees.
- Andrew Howell is best known for having co-written The Monkees' reunion single "Heart and Soul", from Pool It!. He co-wrote and played many of the instruments on Simon Byrne's album Dream Crazy. He also played bass on Robert Ellis Orrall's Contain Yourself. Prior to BoS Andrew was also the bass player in South London punk band The Red Lights. Currently working on a number of projects, including The Unbroken Ponies with former Red Lights manager Harry Rogers and Steve Young lead guitarist from 1970s South London band Stone Cold Sober.
- Ears Have Walls (U.S., Warner Bros. Records 23722-1, 1982)
- Walls Have Ears (U.K., F-Beat Records XXLP 16, 1982)
- Walls Have Ears (Canada, WEA Records XWEA 58720, 1982)
- "Say You Will" (extended mix) / "In The Garden" / "Feather In My Hand" (Warner Bros. 12" single)
- "Say You Will" / "Close To Me" (Warner Bros. 45-rpm single)
Walls Have Ears/Ears Have Walls is still waiting for a CD re-issue -- although in 2013 the tracks were digitally remixed by Roger Bechirian and released for digital download on iTunes. Reportedly the unreleased second album, "BOS2" will also be "available soon".
- Say You Will (4:03) (Tinker/Spy) Intersong Music ASCAP
- Young Heart (3:42)
- Love Me Too (2:46)
- Remember Me and You (3:24)
- Long Cool Glass (3:35)
- Photograph (4:46)
- Yo Yo (3:19) (Tinker/Sailor) Intersong Music ASCAP
- Close To Me (4:16) (Tinker) Intersong Music ASCAP
- Something I Don't Need (3:02)
- Tell Me Baby (3:29)
- Lovers (4:52) (Hues/De Spig) WB Music Corp. ASCAP
- B.O.S. Theme (3:24) (Tinker/Tailor/Soldier)
All songs written by Tinker/Tailor except as indicated
All songs published by Intersong Music/Plangent Visions Music, Inc. ASCAP except as indicated
Copyright 1982 Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
Produced and Directed by Roger Bechirian
Recorded at Ampro Studios and Rockfield Studios
Mixed at Rockfield
Assistant engineers, Rob Keyloch at Ampro and Paul Cobbold at Rockfield
Hogg - saxophone
Jack Hues - arrangements on "Lovers"
Originally mastered by Aaron Chakraverty at The Master Room
LP design - Heeps Willard (a pseudonym for Barney Bubbles)
Photography - Brian Griffin