legends Le Mat emerged out of the ashes of their earlier mod outfit, The
Leepers. The core of the band was Gary Simpson - Vocals, Pete Helmer -
Guitar, Paul Helmer - Bass,and Sav - Drums, with Mark Bonnicci adding
Violin and Keyboards. This line up was the key one that recorded the classic
'Waltz of The Fool' album on Whaam! Records and whom played many electric
local shows, forging a fanatical following in the process.
am the general and I lead the armies, I am the soldier, I fight and I
kill, I am the foe that was vanquished and beaten, I am the corpse that
was laid in the hill. I am the fool". 'Waltz of The Fool'.
1982 saw the band sign to independent label 'Whaam Records', and after 10 days recording on a budget of £2,000 at The Producers Workshop studios in Fulham, London, the band recorded the album 'The Waltz of The Fool'. Though more polished than their live performances, which was always where the band truly excelled, the album nevertheless contained some storming songs, including: 'The Message', 'Sun Arise', 'Running With The Wind', 'Somewhere in The Night', 'In The Room', 'Song For The Common People', 'Of Cats and Fiddles', 'Watkins Glen', 'Requiem', 'Waltz of The Fool'. A gig was booked at the London Dungeon to celebrate the album (which, after some delays, would eventually come out on Friday June 13th, 1983). With a coach ferrying their hardcore fans from Southend, the gig would help launch the band to a wider public and celebrate their success thus far.
this dark hour let us bring together, string together People of our land,
strength lies in numbers, in unity so lend your voices, together we shall
stand, and stalwart in our cause, all for one, one for all, stand ready
now be ready now, we must not waiver now".'Song For The Common People'.
"From the ashes of wrath grows the phoenix of hope, and we will stand with new life abounding, and test our wings in the wind of this world, a pledge for peace before we grow old". 'The Message'.
With the album finally coming out in June, another key gig at The Queens Hotel was booked to help launch the album further, although speaking to the Echo at the time, Guitarist Pete Helmer said "The album is really toned down compared to how we sound now when we play live. Our stage sound is much more raucous these days. The album was delayed because of money problems and other setbacks. It's quite a good effort for the time it was recorded."
Around this time, a couple of line up changes occurred too, with Rob Hollyoak (ex-Skyline Custard) coming in on Keyboards. Also, around the same time long time drummer Sav left too, and the band took time out to regroup and concentrate on writing newer material.
This they did, returning
with an updated sound, although live they'd still play some of their key
songs, and 1984/1985 found them moving in a slightly more Roxy Music-esque
direction. The original influence of clubs like The Groovy Cellar and
stores like The Regal were now being felt however, with new clubs opening
like The Alice in Wonderland and The Taste Experience, who would take
the original renaissance ideas even further. Le Mat would undergo a further
transformation too, undergoing a name change to reflect their changing
sound, becoming 'Holy Joe and The Last Electric Showmen'. The band performed
some great shows around this era, but ultimately things wound down and
the band eventually split.
|Le Mat - 'Videos'|
'Waltz of The Fool' c/w 'Ev'ry Dream' - 7" Single (Whaam! Records - Whaam008 - 1982)
'The Waltz of The Fool - LP
(10 Tracks) (Whaam!
Records - Big 6 - 1983)