Four years ago today Olivia and I met in Germany at the Night Of The Prog festival at the mythical Loreley Rock above the Rhine where the sailors are enticed to their deaths by the song of the siren. I was playing with Swedish Progressive band Anekdoten, Olivia was the host, and here we are married and playing and working together four years later. Lucky as we were to meet, it all seemed so much easier then (before Brexit), now even though we are married, being from countries inside and outside the EU, it’s all got complicated. Our plan is to move to Portugal and register there so I can stay on that side of the English channel without trouble and trips to England will have to be limited to short periods as Olivia, even as my wife, will not be able to stay here without the expensive paperwork. I will keep the archive, keep it growing, but visit it less. I will, of course, be here as much as possible to work with Dare on album projects. Brexit has really screwed us as we haven’t been together long enough to qualify for any automatic residency in each other’s country. As we are travelling musicians paperwork doesn’t explain how we live and with fluctuating income we can’t guarantee our ability to support each other, even though we obviously can and the fact that we haven’t been constant residents in any one place also makes any claims not valid. After some research, Portugal seems like a good option and as we hope to be spending more time in America in the future (should America survive the present), perhaps the European visa restrictions may not affect us after all. As Olivia is German/Swedish and I have a Swedish daughter and granddaughter as well as a Swedish mother-in-law plus two Swedish bands, Anekdoten and MOAT – I suppose there’s always Sweden.
So tonight to celebrate we had takeaway Thai because we know how to live it up (RIP Greedy Smith). We even used plates, ate half of everything and already have tomorrow night’s dinner. But of all days…I was in the studio with Dare playing bass on Ahad’s album. We managed to record three songs before I had sessions (Brian in New Jersey), then we watched Liverpool vs Arsenal over dinner (don’t ask) and then Noel in Surrey sesh straight after. So we did get some couch time with food and football and I know you are wondering if Olivia watches football? But now Olivia is practising violin in the other room and I am writing and listening to music. Oh, I did manage to get my French in between the studio and the first session. Andy from All About Eve called me whilst I was in the middle of a bass part, ten minutes after Dare had mentioned his name. Stuart, drummer from The Wild Swans, got in touch saying he was in town, so hope to see him tomorrow. Would anybody happen to have a basket of hours to sell?
Warning, muso talk alert! I was mainly playing my Rick bass today but for one track I tried my Hofner bass but was getting some kind of strange slightly sour aftertone on the bottom E string so I had to abandon it. I’m going to buy some flat wound strings instead of half wounds and go the whole hog on that thumping Hofner sound that we know and love. The Rick bass does something the Hofner won’t do, the Hofner does something the Rick won’t do and the Fender 6 does something neither of them will do. We contemplated double bass for a track too. Playing bass, what a wonderful thing it is. No wonder the image of the bass player is what it is, he’s simply quietly digging himself.
Lots of responses to yesterday’s post, thanks for reading. I’m not sure whether it was the pic of the rare Beatles album, the underrated Rupert Hine albums or the content of the other musings? All I know is that whenever Mojo put The Beatles on the cover they sell more copies. I was contemplating getting an annual Mojo subscription as it works out so much cheaper but was thinking if I’m not here, I won’t get to read them but then I thought they are archive essentials. I have quite a collection of music magazines that are really quite fascinating to look back at years later. Friends have donated their Mojos, Uncuts, Qs, PROGs, as well as NMEs and Melody Makers and various other magazines to the archive for research and fun. So don’t throw them away even if they are old, send them to me. Our mate Andy Collison did actually buy us a year-long subscription to PROG – thanks, Andy.
Music today has been by the bands that played the Night Of The Prog the weekend that Olivia and I met. Of course, these bands were at their best many years ago and most of them are left with few members and their heydays are over. Take Jane, as I remember they were billed as Peter Panka’s Jane. He was the original drummer and singer but he died in 2011. I think they called it this because there are a couple of other versions of the band. The album I’m listening to tonight is the earliest I have on vinyl, Jane III. It’s an odd record of jamming and shouting and has a mixture of great moments and not so great moments. I need to get the first two albums to investigate them more thoroughly because I have records beyond this one but not before.
A version of Lucifer’s Friend was also on the festival that night. They have different styles on different records. Sometimes Rock, sometimes Progressive, sometimes catchy tunes. I was trying to find the one I like the most out of the 4 albums I have and decided it was their second album with the silly title Where The Groupies Killed The Blues. They were a German band with an English singer, John Lawton, who was once in a band from the northeast of England (Stonewall) that included Paul Thompson (Roxy Music), Viv Malcolm (Geordie, Brian Johnson’s band before joining AC/DC), and John Miles, yes that John Miles – “Music was my first love and it will be my last”. John Lawton was also the singer in Uriah Heep for three albums after David Byron. I like this silly album, it reminds me of Rainbow meets Uriah Heep at a Blue Oyster Cult concert. The more I hear it, the further along, the better it gets, try it.
One of the strangest sites at Night Of The Prog was seeing Carl Palmer on stage setting up his own drum kit. I saw ELP live in the seventies on the Brain Salad Surgery tour at the Liverpool Empire. The Loreley show was odd because he did ELP songs but had the guitarist play the Keith Emerson parts. Original, yes, and how can you duplicate a man that dresses as a medieval huntsman in leather togs and thrusts knives into his Hammond organ, oh yeah his playing was amazing too. I’ve been looking for an excuse to play an ELP album and here it is. I decided on the second album, Tarkus (1971), because I once played it to someone who loved Goth and had never heard of them and she loved it despite their reputation for being worthless with the later style monsters.
Seeing Hawkwind at this festival as a headliner was one of the strangest moments. You got the impression the audience didn’t really like them that much and for many reasons. First of all, they looked rather like a gang from Mad Max and rather than being Progressive they were more Cosmic Punk. Nerd fans like me will remember their punky singles from the seventies, Urban Guerilla (B-side Brainbox Pollution) and Kings Of Speed, so it was no surprise to me to see them in this more aggressive incarnation. It was a long way from the Space Ritual tour that I saw at the Liverpool Stadium, they scared people off in Germany.
So tonight I picked an album that I hadn’t played for a really long time, Quark Strangeness and Charm (1977). It’s odd how this band and these late seventies albums somehow fit in with the Punk scene especially when you consider the band’s roots (but then look at Larry Wallis and Pink Fairies and Lemmy and Motorhead). The album has some great lyrical Robert Calvert madness and although it’s got a bit of a weird mix in the drum department, you get used to it. Put it on your list of Hawkwind albums to investigate after you’ve investigated the others…and yes, I did pre-order their upcoming album.
Song Of The Day is Silver Machine by Hawkwind because you never need an excuse to post Silver Machine by Hawkwind: