Now and again I knock the piece of furniture that the turntable sits on, sometimes, the needle goes across the record, other times the lid drops too hard and the needle jumps like a drunken flea across the grooves. Sometimes I even drop the record. Once in the mid seventies, I went over to Liverpool to buy a new album. I took the F19 bus from Thingwall where I lived on The Wirral to Woodside in Birkenhead where the Liverpool ferry went from. To go by ‘Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey’ was a very regular occurrence for us and the famous song by Gerry & The Pacemakers never came up. (I don’t think pacemakers, as in for the heart, had been invented yet.) It was where we lived, The Beatles and all that, we took it all for granted. I remember the ferries were called The Woodchurch and The Overchurch (Woodchurch Sec was where I went to school). There was one called The Mountwood, too, which I don’t actually remember or do I, vaguely?
I walked from the Pier Head to Mathew Street where Aunty Twacky’s Bazaar was, Probe Records was just around the corner and there I bought Gong’s Camembert Electrique. It had originally been released on Byg Records in France in 1971, but with Virgin’s new found fame as Mike Oldfield’s record label they started signing odd bands and releasing underground records. This was a real deal, it was 59 pence. Back to the ferry, I got off at Woodside to find the F19 and dropped the record. It slid clean out of its sleeve onto the road and smashed. I remember that moment of horror well, but I also remember thinking well it was only 59 pence, so I turned around, got back on the ferry and went back via Mathew Street to Probe and bought another copy.
Funnily enough when I was in Liverpool in November working on The Wild Swans record, Gong were in town supporting and playing with Steve Hillage as his band, so we went to see them. Olivia and I have got to know them a bit through her hosting the Night Of The Prog festival in Germany so they put us on the guest list, and they were great. Leader Daevid Allen died in 2015, but he encouraged them to carry on before he passed away and now led by Kavus Torabi they have become another version of what was always an evolving concept.
My point with all this is that although I did actually destroy a record in the street I can’t believe the condition of a lot of secondhand records and I simply cannot imagine what people did to them to cause such destruction. I do have a record cleaning machine so that helps a lot by sucking dirt out of the grooves, but there’s not much you can do about a massive scratch.
Oh to have a time machine and go back and buy all those rare records brand new.
With CDs you may remember the infamous story from the new technology program Tomorrow’s World, that used to be on the tele, where they told us that CDs were indestructible. I especially love the moment when he rubs the stone on the disc. Watch it here for a real good laugh:
Or see the children’s TV show version with the honey and coffee version of indestructible:
After a couple of days off from the studio today Dare and I went in to do something different. I’d done some shows in America with Chuck Mauk playing drums and the other day he asked me if I could play a solo on a song from his daughter Gracie’s project. She sings and writes and plays the keys. So that’s how we started the day. It’s so amazing these days that you can do things like this. It shows that remote mixing and recording can really work. Later today Dare got on with preparing the next Space Summit track for me to play guitar and bass on tomorrow.
We did get a walk down to the sea today on this Easter Sunday, just to look at it. That’s all you need, five or ten minutes of contemplating the waves, looking out into the bay, seeing the line of the horizon, seeing what mood she’s in. We ran into our friend Jack. He used to live very close to the studio and used to come here as a little boy and hang out. He has fantastic curly hair and thankfully he hasn’t cut it as he’s got older. He’s 19 now, training to be a paramedic and working as a lifeguard on the summer beaches and also up at the leisure centre. He’s on call at the moment and was driving by when he saw a body lying on the stones. He stopped and came over to see what was wrong only to discover it was me messing around! Ha ha. I’d just seen a six year old doing exactly the same thing, lying on the stones playing with the ones near his head completely in his own world. He was so intoxicated by those stones that I had to try it, Jack came over to save me, he’s such a good lad. His dad Julian features in the lyric to In A Field Full Of Sheep.
After I finished writing last night I played another couple of albums. The first Dire Straits album (1978) and the second, Communiqué (1979). I always particularly liked these two records. I lived in London when they came out and I bought the first album before they were big and then of course, they exploded. It was the arrival of a unique guitar player, a very difficult thing to be. Mark Knopfler went on to be in the biggest band in the world for a while there. He went from nowhere to working with Bob Dylan. We supported them on their Australian tour in the early eighties. I think we did about 13 shows with them. I remember during one of the multiple shows in Sydney I fell through a hole in the stage. It was covered in gaffa tape, but I didn’t get the memo. I didn’t fall all the way through, just one leg, but I was playing and it was embarrassing and probably painful, could have been serious. We only met Knopfler once, first gig he put his head around our dressing room door, “Got enough drinks lads?”. The drink container was empty. Also on the subject of Dire Straits, it seems Brothers In Arms was one of the first CDs.
So after studio and after seshs tonight with the prolific Joanne in Portland and the evolving Doug in Wappinger Falls I played Gong’s memorable mad Camembert Electrique followed by the post Daevid Allen album, wonderfully titled Rejoice! I’m Dead!.
So keeping it eccentric, today’s Song Of The Day is In A Field Full Of Sheep from Noctorum’s The Afterlife, it seems appropriate in lots of different ways:
In A Field Full Of Sheep
Olivia sewed up her skirt again
By the time the morning came it had broken
And I dragged the sleep out of my eyes
And realized that I had awoken
Martin lost his cane last night
He wrote a poem on the kitchen table
And Dare let his coffee go cold
And he said that he just wasn’t able
I don’t know why why why I die so badly
I don’t know why I try so hard
I fell off the chair
Onto the floor
I trapped my fingers
Under the door
Hudley slept in his football kit
And dreamt he was top of the table
And Boydie woke up to the roar of the crowd
And realized it’s all just a fable
Julian parked his van outside
He loaded a grand piano
Duncan blew his flute like a gale force wind
Till he suddenly ran out of ammo
I don’t know why why why time moves so slowly
When I try try try so hard
I fell out of bed
Onto my back
Sometimes I feel
I’ve gone off the track
[Find a way, yeah]
[Find a way, yeah]
And I know why why why I love you all so madly
I don’t have to try try try so hard
I broke my pen
I ran out of ink
Wrote half a list
And started to think
Slumped in a chair
I fell asleep
Awoke with a start
In a field full of sheep
(Willson-Piper / Mason)
Noctorum – The Afterlife (2019)