Digital Vinyl #1: The Triffids – Field Of Glass

In this new Indie Credential feature I’ll be raiding my vinyl collection for some rare nuggets from yesteryear. I’ll rip them kicking and screaming into mp3 format, pops and crackles intact, and serve them up for your listening pleasure.

The Triffids - Field Of GlassThe Triffids’ Field Of Glass EP is a genuine lost classic. Released in 1985, the EP is a record of their Peel Session recorded in November 1984 and produced by Mark Radcliffe, who was then an in-house producer at the Beeb before embarking on his glittering DJ career. Radcliffe did an excellent job in capturing a performance that was so visceral and intense that it’s no wonder that the three songs were never re-recorded for a proper release. To my knowledge none of these recordings have ever had an official CD release.

Listening to the three tracks it’s fairly obvious that lead Triffid David McComb was in a bad place at the time. McComb was an alcoholic and heroin user whose substance abuse led to a heart transplant at the age of just 34 and eventually to his sad, early death two years later in 1999. The first two songs, “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Monkey On My Back”, deal directly with McComb’s drug abuse and are infused with bitterness and desperation. They’re brilliant songs but I’ll post them some other time.

The song which gave its name to the EP tells the tale of a loner who has some unrequited love issues with a rich girl who’s just finished school. He pleads with her to ride with him on a baking hot summers night and she goes along. Driven mad by the intolerable heat and by her rejection he murders her. Or at least that’s what I can make out. McComb’s performance on this recording is incredible; he completely inhabits his role as the protagonist, giving voice to his inner demons, howling into the black night. He is matched every step of the way by his band with Martyn Casey’s imperious bass, Robert McComb’s twanging guitar and Jill Birt’s eerie organ propelling the song along, stacking up the tension, getting faster and faster until it all breaks down and the band leave McComb to himself as he becomes more and more tormented and deranged. When the band burst back in at the end to glorious effect the song comes full circle and suggests that our anti-hero has been fantasising all along. What is clear is that, not for the first time, a Peel session produced something out of the ordinary, a performance that could never be repeated to such devastating effect.

The Triffids – Field Of Glass

13 Responses to “Digital Vinyl #1: The Triffids – Field Of Glass”

  • Tony Says:

    You champion! Thanks for making this great track available. Never saw them do it live, which is a great shame. What a band!



  • john Says:

    yes good one for posting this song & your commentary. Glad to have seen them many times around Sydney in the early 80s. I lost my pristine copy of this EP and was pretty gutted when all subsequent searches for this great song revealed no trace of it. Thanks for putting making it freely available in MP3!

  • The Ledge Says:

    Thanks for the comments guys. Looking at Domino Records’ Triffids minisite it looks as though the Field Of Glass EP is going to get a reissue all on its own. Doesn’t say when, though.

  • David Schofield Says:

    Yes, brilliant – both the track itself and you’re making it available. I always thought of this track as the Triffids’ peak. I talked to Rob McComb after a gig in Manchester ( along time ago) and asked why they never played it live. He said that they all felt that they’d never be able to do it justice live,although I have seen it on set lists elsewhere.
    The reissue of the EP is good news.

  • Robert Kok Says:

    I recorded this track when it was broadcast by John Peel in 1985. It was one my favorite tracks and never could find it on CD. I just discovered the re-issues on CD and started looking for Field Of Glass re-issue and discovered this track. Thanks for making it available so I can enjoy it again.

  • Bryn Says:

    I’m SO glad others have always thought how brilliant this EP is. I still have my copy and when having those nostaglia nights at home over a bottle of red I always pull it out and play ‘Field of Glass’. Its a stunning piece of music and i’ll never grow tired of it.

    I saw them quite a few times too in Sydney at the Tivoli and the Graphic Arts Club and they were brilliant live. Thanks. 🙂

  • The Indie Credential » Blog Archive » Digital Vinyl #2: Ultra Vivid Scene - Mercy Seat Says:

    […] exactly a year ago I posted Digital Vinyl #1 in the sincere hope that it would become a regular feature and that by now, many of my old vinyl […]

  • Peter Says:

    Better late than never:

    There’s a new release of Triffids’ songs, called ‘Beautiful Waste and other songs’.
    It features the ‘Field of glass’-EP (for the first time on CD) and I am just listening to it, in memory of Dave and the good times, when the EP came out.


    I wlak a field of glass, I buy a diamond ring, I take alonesome road, I’d buy you everything…

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  • Says:

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