Nineteen year exposure
Today there was closure.
Five months ago a taxi returned a cardboard box containing the detritus I had left forgotten in an old studio. At the bottom amongst artwork and proofs lay the unused slides from a session I had shot for a record sleeve by the group See See Rider back in 1990.
Holding the transparencies up to the window I was struck by the richness, the depth, the wonderful analogue grain of film and resolved on the spot to abandon my digital camera. Within a week a Holga had arrived and my enthusiasm for photography rekindled.
My curiosity was also piqued with regard to whatever had happened to See See Rider. They were the favourite of all the bands I designed for, going beyond a working relationship, marking me a proper fan-boy: I still regularly play their EPs to this day. You probably haven’t heard of them, being probably the most criminally underrated group of the nineties (although No Man could also claim heir to the title).
Fronted by lead male and female vocalists, with a mini Keith Moon on drums they were for me, the essence of rock and roll. Songs about sex and drugs, hell, on sex on drugs, with no loyalty to any one style or genre. A fiercely intelligent song writer whose conversation would veer from porn to literature and back; perhaps you can see why I loved them. Tweedy their drummer was like hanging with all four Beatles at once. The only news I had of them was a couple of chance meetings with the other vocalist who became a fine art curator after they split.
During the months between designing the two EP sleeves I happened across a semi-detatched being renovated. The gutted parlour with it’s cane chair spoke to me of some dilapidated 70’s Performancesque glamour, tinged with overtones of a mock sexological test, the kind where you describe yourself as a path, a room, a wood. It struck me as being so very See See Rider. With the forthcoming album in mind I returned to photograph the house. That album was never to be, the record label disintegrated, the group moved on, and I was left with only my memory of some great songs from the handful of gigs they played.
Google is like magic. A few finger clicks later and it was revealed that a web site had recently been created about them. Outlining their brief career with a discography. I was amazed to see there, nineteen years later, the unreleased album available to download free, legally, as high quality mp3. At the time spurred on by the fact that Hallelujah had just hit number one and Jeff Buckley’s band of alt country was back in favour, I was going to post a little entry pointing to it, with a few words on how incredible these songs still sound. But I never did. (We shall forgo the fact that Hallelujah is really a Leonard Cohen song).
One of the reasons that See See Rider failed to set the world on light may have been their scant regard for the fashions of the time and instead playing some form of twisted Glam Country Soul, whoever uploaded the album had tagged the tracks ‘Eccentric Country Rock’. These tracks even as demos still sound fantastic, Gram Parsons gets a baby oil fisting from Suzi Quatro while Bolan riffs on wearing only see-thru plastic pants, perhaps accepting a line, toke or blowjob from Lou Reed. I surmise that by never being in fashion one never becomes dated.
I still have that transparency I shot intending to be on the sleeve, wouldn’t it be quite an act of closure if it were to be embedded in the mp3 tracks. The site is nothing to do with any members of the group so it has taken a while to track one of them down and email them the image. But today I received an email from the singer saying he would be delighted to use the image for the download. After nineteen years the photograph has finally come home.
You can download both the EPs and the album from www.seeseerider.co.uk. I’m not sure if or when the hand that graces the web site will upload updated mp3s with the image in place, so in the meantime help yourself here to the ‘new’ cover image in either PNG or JPEG format. Below is ‘White Flake Elite’ to whet your appetite.
* Technically it should be a nineteen year development not exposure, but that’s not such a snappy title.