One of those fluffy cloud days today, like a massive bag of cotton wool balls had burst into the sky. I walked to the bakery to pick up my pre-ordered pasty, I only ever just make it before they close. When I arrive the door is always already closed but I can see Lisa and Amy in there cleaning up. They are always good-humoured about my last-minute show, once I was there half an hour before they closed and they both fainted. I went up to Thornes the greengrocers (shouldn’t it be a florist?) and met our local friend and fellow nutty Liverpool fan Eloha, we solved the world’s problems before we both bought our unshrinkwrapped vegetables (it’s one reason why we go there). In the street Louella was playing guitar and singing her heart out, she’s good and in between songs I chatted with her. I never have cash on me but today I had £1.43 that I left in her guitar case. Then I ran into mellow Sean before finally getting to the studio. Olivia and I went to Dare’s for a bit, chatted in his sun trap (the back garden) with him and visiting brother Dave. Dave reminded me that when we were kids I used to eat sugar sandwiches which pretty much explains the teeth. I reminded him that when we were kids he took the budgie out of the cage and sang “Bend it, bend it, just a little bit” (the Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich song, no animals were harmed).
Down at the sea today there was a strange grey ship that looked like it couldn’t possibly float. It was all the wrong shape and must have been some kind of working vessel with a specific task. I could see a tanker sitting on the horizon and Mount’s Bay looked huge today, wide and blue and open, a calm sea with a high tide, few birds and only the occasional waft of seaweed. The cats were out in the secret pathways to and from the promenade and the recently hatched seagull chicks are aware of their presence. They are growing to be as big as them but they are still not able to fly. The parents keep an eye out to protect them, I wouldn’t bet on the cat against one of these massive birds.
I had a sesh with Brian in Florida today but we talked quite a lot about the situation in America first. It made me think about how power corrupts and blinds, turning cagey cretins into glorious fools (prizes for the music nerds here?). Surely if you were as dodgy as Clamp, the last thing you would want is scrutiny? But the lure of power has drawn attention to every lie, every dodgy deal, every broken law. Only an idiot crook would bask in the limelight instead of keeping a low profile…and then after the protection of office has gone, without power, the many enemies will be waiting to pounce whether it be on January 20th 2021 or God forbid in 4 years if America can survive that long.
Dinner was late tonight, it was leftovers with added carrots to change the colour to make it seem like something different. Earlier in the day I’d switched to my computer and stumbled across Jarvis Cocker interviewing Paul McCartney at LIPA. There’s always an interesting Beatles story to be told for the fans and as Jarvis said later we could talk till the end of time. The interview is 1hr 11 minutes long and is sometime before the release of Egypt Station and the gig he played at Liverpool Echo arena that Olivia and I saw. That was the time I had my first meeting with Paul Simpson from The Wild Swans and his partner Gemma – and look what happened.
The gyms are opening up 25th July and an Email arrived today from the Penzance Leisure Centre but it looks like you have to book a time for the gym and there’s no mention of the pool. Olivia and I are trying to imagine next year when we can travel, play and release records. Can you imagine the things that I will be able to write about having been in different countries with different languages, different atmospheres and meeting new and different people? Of course, I won’t be able to go through the albums like I can here at the In Deep Music Archive but it’s the 21st century, it’s not like it’s impossible to listen to new or old amazing music online and share it as a link or make playlists.
Music today began with a record that arrived in the post. Clear Light were an Elektra Records Pop Psyche band that made one album in 1967. I mentioned them before as the bass player Doug Lubhan played on several Doors albums. This self-titled debut was produced by Doors producer Paul A. Rothchild and has lots of fuzzy guitar solos and sixties organ sounds. If you like Love you’ll love A Child’s Smile. The band also featured Dallas Taylor on drums who went on to play with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, you can see his picture on the cover of Déja Vu. The other interesting thing about this band was that they had two drummers (the other was Michael Ney), unusual for the time, or any time.
Side 2 opens with a creepy Psychedelic Tom Paxton song, Mr Blue, for a creepy 6 minutes. Sometimes you have to search through records like this for the gems and if you ever liked The Byrds you need to hear They Who Have Nothing, written by lead guitar player and occasional singer Bob Seal. He didn’t sing this one, that was left to Cliff De Young, who later became an actor (he was in The Hunger that starred Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve). Organist Ralph Schuckett played with Todd’s Utopia. Schuckett and Ney played on The Monkees classic The Porpoise Song, covered by the ex-band on A Box Of Birds (1999). Clear Light’s only album, it reached No. 126 on the Billboard chart and is a true document of the times.
I followed this by listening to the other Clearlight, who are French and feature keyboardist leader Cyrille Verdeaux. Clearlight Symphony (1975) is their first album. It also features three members of Gong, Didier Malherbe on sax, Tim Blake on synths and percussion and noises and Steve Hillage on guitar. It was the time of Tubular Bells and records like this were probably going to sell especially if they were on Virgin Records who understood. Side 2 was recorded at the same studio as Mike Oldfield’s masterpiece (The Manor in Oxfordshire) and there were high hopes for its success although I don’t see a chart position anywhere. It’s some kind of epic, symphonic, jazzy, new age, classical, instrumental Rock album – what could go wrong?
The label decided that Side 1 should be Side 2 and reversed Verdeaux’s original concept (that he addressed later for the CD re-release). Side 2 had different musicians Christian Boule on guitar, Martin Isaacs on Bass and Gilbert Artman from Lard Free on drums, vibraphone and percussion. It was recorded at David Vorhaus’ Kaleidophon studio. If you are not aware of his White Noise project that included BBC radiophonic workshop innovator Delia Derbyshire, read on. Clearlight Symphony is a must for fans of Gong (especially Pierre Moerlin’s Gong), Mike Oldfield and epic seventies instrumental albums.
Clearlight followed this symphonic first album with Forever Blowing Bubbles, also released in 1975. It was also recorded at The Manor but this time with a mainly French band with Joel Dugrenot on bass and lead vocals, (sporadic) Brigitte Roy sings Narcisse et Goldmund (the title from the Hermann Hesse novel of 1930) – only Artman survived from the first album. There was one Englishman on there, King Crimson’s David Cross played the violin. The album continues in the multi-mood genre, highly enjoyable, but you have to want to like it.
Last album tonight is the experimental An Electric Storm by White Noise (1969). It’s the album mentioned earlier, the brainchild of David Vorhaus. It came about when Vorhaus attended a lecture with Delia Derbyshire (Dr Who theme anybody?) and managed to enlist her and fellow BBC sound scientist Brian Hodgson into the project. It’s an incredible record because it’s both absolutely experimental and wonderfully melodic. There are also lots of vocals from John Whitman, Annie Bird and Val Shaw, percussion is by Paul Lytton. It’s not an easy record to explain, you might be best going to Wikipedia, read about it and then dive straight in at the deep end.
Song Of The Day is the mostly forgotten Esther Phillips version of The Beatles’ And I Love Her (And I Love Him) mentioned by Paul in the interview and introduced here by John: