Playground: Strychnine and Snakes Tape
Playground started as an idea in 1985 by both Richard Johnson and Andy P., who together were also respectively editing/publishing and writing the popular Grim Humour 'zine. Rehearsals intially comprised them and their friends Dylan Hollinsbee, Harvey 'Havoc' Francis and a couple of others improvising a kind of industrial-tainted noise-rock around a drum machine. As well as guitars, the band would use backing tapes and a keyboard sometimes. During the course of a year, however, the sound developed from being ramshackle and sludge-like to something more powerful, helped no less by the arrival of Paul Dudeney on drums and Paul 'Fuzz' Wright on bass (themselves replacing 'Havoc' and Dylan...who was asked to leave the band for being too good a musician). Still drawing from industrial music and both post-punk (such as Wire, The Fall, The Cure, ATV - whose "Splitting in Two" they covered initially) and its sprawling into the then extremely vibrant scene centred around NYC and Blast First Records, Playground's sound developed strongly before their first 7" release (released on Richo's Fourth Dimension imprint and originally pressed in an edition of 500 with handmade covers and stickered label, although Vinyl Solution handled a repress in proper sleeves...) in 1988. Following this, and sponsored heavily by Vinyl Solution's subsidiary label, Decoy, Playground played many concerts in and around London (supporting all from Into A Circle, Fugazi, Gore, HR, Mudhoney, Nitzer Ebb and their friends And Also The Trees), further galvanising an approach that became their own. Decoy drafted in Chicago's famous post-hardcore/noise-rock producer, Iain Burgess, to work on the next release, a mini-LP called "Sleeping Dogs", recorded over a period of several days at a studio in Wales. This came out before a final 7" appeared in 1989, "Conception Payoff", which itself signalled the end of this period of Playground and the beginning of Richo's next group, Splintered. Playground (Version Two), still helmed by Andy P., went on to record a further 12" and CD album for Steve Pittis' Dirter Promotions. The early versions of the group also appeared on various cassettes and compilations, mostly on Fourth Dimension, plus also released an extremely limited tape under a pseudonym (likewise on FD), which caught them in full-on noise mode.
The A-side of "Strychnine and Snakes" collects a variety of material from Playground's spanning from 1985 to 1989, whilst the B-side comprises mostly an appearance at London's Boston Arms. Black, sticker labeled cassette with black/white j-card in a bag with 20 page booklet with interviews, reviews, old flyers etc. Limited edition of 50 copies.