Once again, I’m not sure how I came across the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. It was certainly in the 1980s and I suspect I discovered the album Broadcasting From Home (1984) and worked backwards to the previous albums Music From The Penguin Cafe (1976), Penguin Cafe Orchestra (1981), and then Signs Of Life (1987).
I suspect I was intrigued by the “classical” nature of a lot of their recordings as well as the “folk” elements. The Penguin Cafe Orchestra was a collective of performing musicians created by classically trained British guitarist, composer and arranger Simon Jeffes. The Orchestra recorded and performed for 24 years until Jeffes died of a brain tumour in 1997.
Some of you have probably heard some PCO without even knowing it. The song “Telephone and Rubber Band” (from Penguin Cafe Orchestra) was sampled by Spacehog in their 1995 hit “In the Meantime”, from the album Resident Alien. Other songs have also been used many times in television, film and have been sampled by many over the years.
Until just now I’d had no idea that Simon Jeffes’ son Arthur started a similar collective called, simply, Penguin Cafe in 2009.
Some of the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra musicians who were not invited to join the Penguin Cafe with Arthur have performed as The Anteaters.
Prelude And Yodel (From Broadcasting From Home, 1984)
Music For A Found Harmonium (From Broadcasting From Home, 1984. Recorded live in 1989.)
Air a Danser (From Penguin Cafe Orcestra, 1981. Recorded live in 1989.)
Paul’s Dance (From Penguin Cafe Orcestra, 1981. Recorded live in 1989.)
Anteaters – Music For A Found Harmonium (2009)