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The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra

biography | discography | links | acknowledgments

Who Are The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra?

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra (or "The Piggies" as they were affectionally known) were a Bristol-based band who took their name from the region of the Gloucester Road just north of the old Bristol North swimming baths which known locally as Pigsty Hill. The band formed in early 1968 as a quartet consisting of Barry Back and Andy Leggett (previously of The Alligator Jug Thumpers), Dave Creech (previously of The Elastic Band) and John Turner (previously of The Downsiders). As well as playing bass guitar, John was also part-owner of the legendary Village Thing record label, and the label - and band - were very much at the heart of the Bristol revivalist folk scene.

Legend goes that the four musicians met at Fred Wedlock's New Year's party at the Troubadour Club in Clifton, Bristol; another integral part of the Bristol folk scene. The band soon built up a following in the Bristol area with their eccentric style and eclectic choice of material - perhaps somewhat reminiscent of The Temperance Seven and The Bonzo Dog Band. Like those two bands, their music had its roots in the 1920s and '30s, but as well as jazz influences there were others including blues and jugband music. Their eccentricity was underlined by the eclectic mix of instruments they played - some home-made; including the 'egg-cupaphone' and the 'ballcockaphone' - the latter being a reed instrument with a toilet cistern chain connected to a ballcock.

The band's debut album The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra Presents...PHLOP! was released in 1970 as the debut release on the Village Thing label. It sold well, establishing the band as a serious act in their own right. The following year, the band backed Fred Wedlock on his debut album, The Folker; which was also released on Village Thing. The Piggies were now gigging across the country and appearing at such prestigious events as the Cambridge Folk Festival.

But the band struggled for cohesion, and were plagued with personnel chnages over the subsequent years. First to go was John Turner who quit after the first album. He was replaced by 'Wild' Bill Cole who appeared on the band's 1971 album Piggery Jokery recorded in front of a receptive audience in Cornwall. A sign of the band's influence was the arrival of Rodney Matthews artwork for this release!

Next to leave was Barry Back who was replaced by Jon "Wash" Hays; and Andy Leggett left not long afterwards to join Stackridge - leaving Dave Creech as the surviving founder member! the band also split with Village Thing. Over the coming years, the line-up would remain fluid - the 1976 album, The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra (released on the band's own label) sees Dave and Jon calling on the services of Dave Paskett, Richie Gould, Pat Small and ex-Wurzel Henry Davies, as well as guitarists Chris Newman, Robert Greenfield and Diz Disley. A Melody Maker review of the album proclaims 'The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra must be one of the most popular acts on the folk scene. Their spontaneous humour and good time songs have held many an audience anchored to the floor in wonder.'

However good the audience response and the critical acclaim was, Dave was unwilling to continue with what had become more a collective of musicians than a cohesive band - and in 1979 The Piggies called it a day. However, in 1988 Barry Back decided to reform the band for an appearance at the Trowbridge Village Pump Folk Festival. This breathed new life into The Piggies - and with the arrival of Pat Small and Fred Wedlock's jazz singing daughter Hannah Wedlock on board, they began touring again.

In 1991 came the first new Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra album for 15 years was released entitled Back on the Road Again and thre line-up was augmented with the arrival of Jim Reynolds and Dave Griffiths. Barry then put together a retrospective best of compilation entitled Musical History, which contained a selections of song from 1968 to 1992. Sadly this was to be the last offering from the band as later in 1992 Barry died, and without the driving force of the reunion, the band decided to call it a day.

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra Discography

12" Albums    

Village Thing VTS 1

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra Presents... PHLOP!

Side 1: Cushion Foot Stomp / Funny Side Of The Street / Silk Pyjamas / Company Policy / On Sunday / Second Fiddle
Side 2: T'aint No Sin / Sleepy Time Blues / My Pet / Nothing Else Will Do Babe / Sporting Life Blues / Men Of Harlech

Line-up: Barry Back, Andy Leggett, Dave Creech and John Turner with guest Julie Bridson and Ian Hunt.

1970
Village Thing VTS 8

Piggery Jokery

Side 1: Sadie Green / Motorway Song / High Society / The Wiltshire Plumbers Saga / Sweet Miss Emmaline / Let Your Linen Hang Low
Side 2: Basin Street Blues / Meet Me Where They Play The Blues / Desperate Dan / The Silly Organ Story / Shim Sham Shimmy / Royal Garden Blues

Line-up: Barry Back, Andy Leggett, Dave Creech and Bill Cole. Recorded live in Cornwall.

1971
PHLO 001

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra

Side 1: High Society / Buddy Not A Sweetheart / Coney Island / Jazzbo Green / Everybody's Making It Big / Motorway
Side 2: You're Always Welcome / Five Foot Two / Short Of The Line / D. I. V. O. R. C. E. / Taking My Oyster For Walkies / Roland The Roadie

Line-up: Dave Creech, Jon "Wash" Hays, Dave Paskett, Richie Gould, Pat Small, Henry Davies, Chris Newman, Robert Greenfield and Diz Disley.

1976
 

Back on the Road Again

1991
 

Musical History

1992

Other Recordings Featuring The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra

Catalogue no. Title/Tracks Date
7" EP    
Village Thing VTSX 1000

The Great White Dap

Four-track EP sampler, described on the cover as a "33rpm Stereo Single". this contained tracks from Wizz Jones, The Sun Also Rises, Ian A. Anderson and The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra's T'aint No Sin taken from the album PHLOP!

1970
12" LP    
Village Thing VT-SAM 15

Us

Sampler album of tracks by various artists on the Village Thing label including the track Sweet Miss Emmaline taken from the album PHLOP!

1972

The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra Links

Acknowledgements

Thanks to:

  • Dusty Pulver for suggesting The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra as a suitable addition to the Scrumpy & Western webiste.
  • Kevin Goodall and Jim Benson for information about some of their records.



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