X-Legged Sally

X-Legged Sally is one of the oldest bands on this page, its first concert being performed in november 1988. The band retired in 1997. It may well be one of the origins of the current musical scene: they were one of the first bands to combine very different musical styles (jazz, rock, classical, funk, and the weird genre of the likes of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart). They also used a kind of improvisational way of composing songs, and gave the usual stuff a strange twist (which is best heard in the cover versions they played).

The first Sally albums were produced in New York by Bill Laswell. He was able to convey the live experience onto a studio cd, and gave the band an international reference. This made it possible for them to tour the world from Belgium to the US, Japan and Finland.

XLS was formed by Peter Vermeersch after he ended the minimalist band Maximalist! that he had founded to perform the music he wrote for dance and theatre companies. Likewise, XLS was at first meant to provide live soundtracks but soon grew to be a stand-alone band, although they also kept performing for plays and choreographies.

XLS had the luck of being discovered in the US, where Maximalist! and other earlier compositions by Peter Vermeersch had already attracted attention. Famous jazz label The Knitting Factory invited them for a session, part of which can be heard on the compilation album Live at the Knitting Factory, vol. 4. The year is 1990.

The first XLS album, Slow-Up, was recorded in 1991. By now, Pierre Vervloesem had joined the band to replace Michel Delory on guitar. The same year, they performed and recorded Peter Vermeersch' music for Immer das Selbe Gelogen, a choreography by Wim Vandekeybus for Ultima Vez.

The following years, X-Legged Sally continued performing for Ultima Vez. The songs of three different productions, Immer das Selbe Gelogen (1991), Her body doesn't fit her soul (1993) and Mountains made of barking (1994), found their way to the cd Eggs and Ashes (1994). Mauro Pawlowski does some vocals on this album, for a very silly waltz called 'Lulu'.

In 1995, Killed By Charity became the second 'stand-alone' XLS album.

A second stand-alone album released that year, The Land of the Giant Dwarfs, sounds a bit like the later Flat Earth Society. It begins with an Anthem (of the land of the giant dwarfs of course), and it contains a song called FES II. This album shows the beginning of a new kind of music for XLS: there is more melody, more structure, less 'noise'.

At this point, Peter Vermeersch decided that he should discover new horizons, and announced the retirement of X-Legged Sally. As a goodbye gift, Radio 1 recorded their goodbye gig and released this as Fired! (1996) Because XLS is an unusual band, this was not their last album.

Sally record one more album, Bereft of a Blissful Union, in 1996. This was done together with classical string quartet The Smith Quartet and their house composer George Van Dam. Bereft is a composition for an Ultima Vez choreography of the same title. It is perhaps the most accessible X-Legged Sally album, and in my opinion also the most beautiful.

Through frontmen Peter Vermeersch and Pierre Vervloesem, Sally certainly had its say in the creation of the early dEUS sound: they produced Zea, Worst Case Scenario and My Sister=My Clock. In many ways, X-Legged Sally was the end of an era, the era of free-form jazz and late prog-rock of the eighties and early nineties. In many ways, X-Legged Sally was also the beginning of a new era: a more intimate, yet still improvising kind of music, as in their Land of the Giant Dwarfs. A very wide range of bands emerged in this new era, from dEUS to Think Of One to Fukkeduk to Flat Earth Society.


There used to be two or three other albums available through atrecordings.com, an independant internet distributor that went broke some time ago. These albums were available only on cd-r, and I never bought them. More information is welcomed.


(completeness not guaranteed)

  • Peter Vermeersch (clarinet, saxophone)
  • Pierre Vervloesem (electric and accoustic guitar)
  • Bruno Deneuter (bass)
  • Paul Belgrado (bass)
  • Bart Maris (trumpet)
  • Eric Sleichim (sax)
  • Michel Mast (saxophone)
  • Jean-Luc Plouvier (keyboards)
  • Peter Vandenberghe (keyboards)
  • Danny Van Hoeck (drums)
  • Pieter Lamot
  • Michel Delory (guitar)
  • Jan Weuts
  • Thierry Mondelaers (vocals)