The Blue Aeroplanes formed in Bristol in the early 1980s with a fluid line-up fronted by poet in shades, Gerard Langley, his brother John on drums, dancer Wojtek Dmochowski and usually a minimum of three guitarists at any one time.
Their sound ranged across a multidimensional, multicoloured spectrum from art rock to folk, from jangly guitars to psychedelic experimentation, from whimsical to gritty. With influences ranging from The Velvet Underground to Bob Dylan, The Stranglers to Fairport Convention, W.H. Auden to Allen Ginsberg. Gerard Langley spoke his words over layers of guitars, mandolins, hammered dulcimers and often angular rhythms, occasionally stepping back from the mic to let guitarist Nick Jacobs take over.
Their debut album, Bop Art was released in 1983, a rather ramshackle mix of guitars, percussion and poetry, including a rendition of 1930s poet Louis MacNiece's Bagpipe Music, with bagpipes.
Their sound came together and line-up settled down over the next couple of albums. Tolerance and Spitting Out Miracles featured a broad range of styles, but all unmistakably Blue Aeroplanes in sound. Friendloverplane, a compilation of outtakes and singles could have been a long trawl through substandard tracks, but instead was a rather fine mess consisting of some really great songs.
Jacket Hangs, 1990, was the single that heralded a new line-up that included guiatrist/singer Rodney Allen, for whom the word twee seems more appropraite than for other Blue Aeroplane members in songwriting style and for his voice - one or two other members of the band were occasionally handed the microphone and spotlight. The album Swagger is often regarded as their finest.
Then came another fine record, Beatsongs in 1991, which surely should be considered an indie classic, including a rocking cover of Paul Simon's The Boy in the Bubble and the hushed stream-of-consciousness wordplay of Cardboard Box.
Later years have been a little more varied, from the rather poor Life Model to the return to form Rough Music, and the rather impenetrable Cavaliers.
Also worth checking out are Ian Kearey, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist with the Aeroplanes over the years, guitarist Angelo Bruschini's work with bands such as Massive Attack, bass-player Ruth Cochrane's band Forest Giants, the early solo work of Rodney Allen. Edit this biography