Thursday, December 08, 2022

Penguin Flagrante: Broadcasting from the Colonies

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Prelude & Yodel

In case you were wondering where I was, I'm right here! Let's kickstart December with an anniversary.

For 'twas a mere 38 years ago this evening when one of my personal favorite groups made their US debut.

They had been a thing for the better part of the preceding decade, having had their first record on Brian Eno's incredible Obscure label in the mid-1970s.

Something like a traditional Chamber orchestra of eons past, but with an eccentric taste in instruments and a very pronounced sort of Rock energy throughout the repertoire.

They were at first the brainchild of a delightfully strange multi-instrumentalist named Simon Jeffes, but he passed away 25 years ago this week. The remaining folks, plus new ones, still reunite and tour from time to time.

This concert -- as good an introduction to them as any I could think of -- was performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and broadcast over the great WNYC-FM in New York City.

I edited out some of the dead air and tuning, and remastered it a little bit to optimize its eyes and size.

So, without any further ado, here is the first American concert of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Next Wave Festival 
Brooklyn Academy of Music
New York City, NY USA

01 tuning
02 Air à Danser
03 Music for a Found Harmonium
04 Yodel 1
05 Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter
06 Isle of View (Music for Helicopter Pilots)
07 From the Colonies
08 White Mischief
09 Salty Bean Fumble
10 Paul's Dance
11 Numbers 1-4
12 Prelude & Yodel
13 Chartered Flight
14 The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas
15 band introductions by Simon Jeffes
16 Giles Farnaby's Dream
17 The Toy

Total time: 1:15:00

Simon Jeffes - harmonium, guitars, percussion, bass, violin, ukelele, keyboards, whistle & toy autoharp
Steve Nye - piano
Helen Liebmann - cello
Geoffrey Richardson - viola, bass & percussion
Marcus Beale - violin & percussion
Neal Rennie - ukelele, cuatro & percussion
Gillian McGregor - dancer

master off-air reel of the original WNYC-FM broadcast of the complete USA debut concert of the PCO
remastered, denoised and retracked -- with 4 minutes of tuning & dead air eliminated -- by EN, December 2022
445 MB FLAC/direct link

This is a beautifully captured show all around and, as I said, a perfect introduction to this most unusual little combo.

I've got a trippy holiday season planned for here, with a bunch of posts backloaded in the last two weeks of the year, but don't blow it on the PCO show!--J.

Rest In Penguin
Simon Jeffes
2.19.1949 - 12.11.1997


  1. EN, you'll be interested that the owner of my favourite Audiophile music and stereo gear shop said that Simon Jeffes was the single most talented musician it had ever been his pleasure to see on stage. A jaw-droppingly brilliant talent.

    Merry Christmas and all the best for 2023 to you and yours