Oh, you should have seen the beautiful cauliflowers I got today, I almost put them in a vase. The beauty of a fresh vegetable is something to behold, underappreciated. I also always wondered, when is a weed a weed and a flower a flower? Is it like pigeons? If there’s a lot of them they are a pest despite their intelligence, is a pigeon smarter than your dog? One can certainly admire a beautiful bunch of carrots as one can a buttercup, but they are seldom on display. A bowl of fruit can be a display but never vegetables. Daffodils but not dandelions. I’m kneeling by a dandelion lookalike in the pic today, is it cat’s foot or hawkweed? Or something else? Whatever it is it’s considered a weed and not a flower and it just doesn’t seem fair.
The summer rain fell out of the sky, small reminders that summer doesn’t always mean sun, not around these parts anyway. It’s wet, it’s sometimes windy, but at least it’s not cold, you can still make it around in a pair of shorts so you can at least kid yourself that summer is here. With the shops opened up I was so looking forward to the belt shop, but nope, it still hasn’t opened, so that old paisley dressing gown cord continues to be the attractive colourful band around my waist. It doesn’t look bad at all, perhaps similar to a piece of string around an evening dress.
I talked to Terje in Norway today (Hi Terje), he’s a new sessioneer that lives above the Arctic Circle. We had a really interesting talk about music, art, female Surrealists and one thing that relates to all sessioneers – you just need someone to bounce your ideas off. This is a crucial element and just being that person for somebody is extremely helpful. If you are stuck there by yourself in a room with a head full of ideas and skills, you can’t just play to the cats despite their approving purr. The dog will pant its approval too, even the goldfish will give you the thumbs up (don’t tell me you’ve never seen a goldfish with thumbs!). Solo self-motivation and objectivity are difficult beasts and there’s always something drawing you to the fridge. Distractions are all around you and focus and direction are all foiled by interruption from your busy mind. Tangent, this is the problem with the phone, it’s a distraction, you don’t need to check it 400 times a day to see what meaningless nonsense can take your mind off your work. If Dostoevsky had owned a mobile phone there would have been no Crime and Punishment.
Football came back today with the weirdness of no crowd. Man City beat Arsenal 3-0. As the game finished I heard the public address system playing Wonderwall in the stadium, please no, just because the band are fans doesn’t mean you have to do that. There was recorded crowd noise on the Sky Sports broadcast to help us all get into the atmosphere, it was very strange. There was also overdue revolution in the air as the football league supported the Black Lives Matter protests and in both games today Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and this game, all the players and staff ‘took a knee’. It’s such a turnaround, especially in America since the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem. There’s also been a feeling over here in Europe that the football authorities haven’t been doing enough against racist fans. I can’t imagine that those monstrous people are going to get away with this anymore.
Had a nice hang with Dare’s brother Dave tonight, too. I’ve known him as long as Dare as our families were friends and work associates. We also had to visit the sea and the recycling and the supermarket. It was so beautiful down there today. The sea was a millpond, the surface of the water was a luminous green and looked as smooth as a lawn. What qualified as a wave was the tiniest of breaks that left no impression on the shore. It was just so still out there. There were three people in kayaks in the bay, one had a fishing rod propped up at the front end but was paddling through the water, I guess he had a system. There was an ominous silence and an invisible mist that was dropping down from the low clouds that were unable to rain.
Last but not least Olivia and I found ourselves in an American magazine called Second Scene with a review of our show at a small venue in Wiesbaden in Germany where we played on our European tour in January and February. You can check it out here: SECOND SCENE Review. It really made us wonder when we would next be able to do so many shows in a row or even play again. I hope that all we’ve been going through with the pandemic will be forever condemned as a nightmare from the past – like racism.
Music today went warm. Help Yourself formed in 1970 in London as the back up band for singer-songwriter Malcolm Morley. To know what kind of music they make take what you will from this unknown quote, “American-flavoured country-rock…to acid-drenched psych”. Seems like quite a leap. Beware Of The Shadows (1972) was their third album and on listening to it I hear great musical moments that I prefer to their more traditional side, but I still like that tinge that makes them eclectic. They remind me of an English Grin (Nils Lofgren), not really countryfied, not really Rock, not really Blues, not really Progressive, but some mixture that makes them both intriguing and unfortunately for them, quite forgotten. The band has an affiliation with Welsh band Man who I’ve written about here before with Morley playing on Man’s Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics, the first album I ever had by them. Man’s Deke Leonard also played with Help Yourself. I’m really liking the second track, Reaffirmation, and American Mother, the third track on Side 2, that typify all these traits all at once and make it all worthwhile for my taste.
Bronco were the same sort of thing, a mixture of all these styles in one. Singer Jess Roden had left the Alan Bown Set and formed Bronco making Country Home in 1970. Robbie Blunt played guitar, he later joined Silverhead for 16 And Savaged (1973), then Broken Glass (1975) with Chicken’s Shack’s Stan Webb and then Robert Plant’s solo band and has worked as a session guitarist since leaving Plant after Shaken And Stirred (1985). Jess Roden made quite a few solo albums, sang with ex Doors Krieger and Densmore on the first Butts Band album (1973) and like many of these warm and musical seventies bands and their personnel, they seem to have disappeared into obscurity. But if you like Free then look out for Well Anyhow on Side 2, really great. These albums are warm treats, trapped in time but overflowing with feeling.
I could only follow this with Free’s Tons Of Sobs (1968). One of the great Blues-inspired Rock bands with one of my favourite guitar players, Paul Kossoff. The genius of this band is their originality despite their influences. Perhaps this is something to do with youth, they were all so young, bassist Andy Fraser was 15, guitarist Paul Kossoff was 17, lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirk were just 18. There’s an energy, a passion and it always mystified me why later generations abandoned this kind of heart and soul but stuck with the Punk ethic long past its sell by date. I love Free and the loss of Paul Kossoff at the age of 25 is one of the great tragedies. Andy Fraser was one of the unique players that left you stunned by his ideas on the bass (he too has sadly passed away). But when I listen to Paul Kossoff’s playing on Goin’ Down Slow at the age of 18, it floors me.
In 1970 Procol Harum made their fourth album, Home. Apart from a rather dated musical contribution from Robin Trower as the album’s opener (Whisky Train) all the songs bar one are written by singer/keyboardist Gary Brooker with all the lyrics by Keith Reid, whose only role in this band was to write the words. Trower perfected his own ideas later after he left Procol Harum and made a lot of great Rock albums into the seventies with lyrical guitar playing in a power trio and with a fantastic tone, but at this point he hadn’t quite nailed it.
After the mega success of A Whiter Shade Of Pale, a No.1 single in the UK and Canada (Top 5 in the US), they managed to follow it up in the UK at least with Homburg reaching No.6. But luckily for them as the sixties became the seventies it was the time of the album bands and their atmospheric sounds and evocative lyrics sat snugly in that era. I saw them live at the Bottom Line in New York in the eighties or nineties and Gary Brooker’s voice was perfect, I remember seeing Keith Reed in the audience, I wish I’d spoken to him. Home is an overlooked album especially after the wonderful album that preceded it, A Salty Dog (1969). Don’t let the opening track Whisky Train distract you.
In the ex band we had a song called The Dead Man’s Dream on Sometime Anywhere (1994). Here’s the lyric from Keith Reid’s version of the idea, co-written with Gary Brooker composing the music. I have four copies of this album. My French copy is called Whoosh, my American copy has a gatefold with some of the lyrics but not all of them, my Australian copy has a gatefold but no lyrics, my German copy has different artwork and somehow I don’t own an English copy, I must fix that.
As I lay down dying, a floor for my bed
And a bundle of newspaper under my head
I dreamed a dream as strange as could be
Concerning myself and somebody like me
We were in some city, the stranger and me
The houses were open and the streets empty
The windows were bare and the pavements dirty
I asked where I was, my companion ignored me
We entered a graveyard
Searched for a tombstone
The graves were disturbed
And the coffins wide open
The corpses were rotten
Yet, each one was living
Their eyes were alive
With maggots crawling
I cried out in fear
But my voice had left me
My legs were deformed
Yet, I moved quite freely
My head was on fire
Yet, my hands were icy
Yet, darkness engulfed me
I managed to scream and woke from my slumber
I thought of my dream and lay there and wondered
Where had I been?
What could it mean?
It was dark in the death room
As I slithered under
Song Of The Day is Hide Child by All About Eve from Touched By Jesus (1991), I wrote the words and co-wrote the music. It was a real honour to have a singer with such a beautiful voice sing words that I wrote.
I can see through you beyond the curtain
Inside, inside you
Winter is with you, ice in your eyes
This cold night, cold night
Hide child, I am but a breath away
Hide child, as you turn your face away
Hide child, everything is clear to me
Hide child, somebody be near me…bye bye
Evening lingers so I am alone now
So tired, so tired
Finding that my disappointment
Is the only way to follow
The light, the light
Hide child, shadows are your only friend
Hide child, as the shape of night descends
Hide child, the rain around me
Makes me want to cry child
Tell you about me
Some things you choose
You can’t make up your mind
So you lose it in time, in time
Hide child, quietly behind the door
Hide child, who can I be looking for
Hide child, somewhere there I can’t be sure
Hide child, the room is empty
(Willson-Piper, Regan, Cousin, Price)