Helen And The Horns was a British cowpunk band founded by Helen McCookerybook (born Helen McCallum, a.k.a. Dr Helen Reddington), who left the Chefs in 1982 due to musical differences. At a gig, she met Dave Jago, a trombone player, and recruited him and his friend Paul Davey, on saxophone. McCookerybook couldn't afford to rehearse with a full band, even though Geoff Travis from Rough Trade had financed some demos.
The cost of transporting a drum kit proved prohibitive in itself, and so she switched to playing guitar and practised with just the horns. The Monochrome Set then offered them a support at Kingston Polytechnic in their rehearsal set up (vocals, guitar, trombone and saxophone, with no drums or bass), as Helen and the Horns. The performance was a success, and they decided to stick with that format. A trumpet player, Marc Jordan, was added to form a three-piece horn section.
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Links to Peel
As a fan of the Chefs, Peel and his producer, John Walters, called McCookerybook to enquire what she was up to and, subsequently, Helen and the Horn's first Peel session was recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios, and broadcast in August 1983.
After Peel and Walters enjoyed their first session, a second one was recorded and broadcast, which resulted in the band signing to RCA Records, releasing two singles with them. Disillusioned with being signed to a major, they got released from their contract after a request from McCookerybook.
Their third Peel session was broadcast in August 1984, with new trumpet player Chris Smith. Their final original release, was the self-titled album, Helen and the Horns on their own record label, Rockin' Ray Records (distributed by The Cartel), in 1985. Not wanting to become a cabaret band, or to add extra instrumentation, they disbanded amicably. McCookerybook reforms the band occasionally, to perform live.
- Pioneer Town / Footsteps At My Door / Snakebite / Freight Train
- Secret Love / Twice Brewed / I'd Been Hoping For A Happy Ending / Southern Belle
- Lonesome Country Boy / Two Strings To Your Bow / Girl Versus Boy / Take Five
Recorded from ICA Rock Week on 1984-10-06. First Broadcast: 10 December 1984
- Southern Belle
- Freight Train
- Two Strings To Your Bow
- Secret Love
Other Shows Played
- 30 January 1984 (BBC World Service): Freight Train (7") Thin Sliced
- 14 March 1984 (BFBS): Pioneer Town (album - Helen And The Horns) Rockin' Ray
- 09 September 1984 (BFBS): Footsteps At My Door (single) RCA
- 22 April 1985: Northbound Train (album - Helen And The Horns) Rockin' Ray