The town was full of tourists today. A Polish family asked me for directions. In Poland, they have just voted the anti-gay president back in. There should be a rule that says that if you want to suppress people’s sexual behaviour then you must first try it out yourself to see how it feels, just in case you like it. Whilst we are on the subject of the ridiculous behaviour of the white men in charge, I saw a really disturbing interview on YouTube today where the politician was saying that the UK was selling arms to Saudi Arabia for their war in Yemen whilst sending humanitarian relief ships to the port that is being bombed by the weapons they have sold them, using the argument that at least if the UK sells them weapons rather than anybody else, we can make sure they are following the rules of war. The world has surely gone mad.
Ricky from BJM turned me on to one of his friends that lives in Porto and Olivia and I had a chat with him and his partner (Phil and Marta) today about the possibilities of living there. We need to fix this asap as we are booking shows for next year and I need to be able to move around in Europe without someone asking me if I’m working or how long I expect to be in one of these countries. There are awful Brexit ads on at the moment, “Let’s Get Going” they say as they fail to negotiate a deal with the EU. Well, perhaps Scotland will leave the Union and we can all go live in the Highlands and leave little sad England to itself.
I bought amazing carrots today and they were so beautiful I almost didn’t want to eat them. When you think of shrink-wrapped vegetables or those waxed apples it makes you wonder how the world can’t see the worth in potatoes that still have the soil on them or cauliflower that comes with caterpillars. And the taste, the difference, the flavour (not the caterpillars). Plus vegetables are so cheap and they are cheap enough to buy the more expensive better quality flavourful versions instead of the cheap ones that look like carrots but taste like the equivalent of an iced lollipop that has had the flavour drained out of it.
Olivia and I ran into Janet today who is a manager at the leisure centre. They reopen on Saturday but only the gym, not the pool, you have to book, you get 50 minutes and you can’t use the showers, hopeless, what’s the point? I really miss the swimming and so does my body. The sea doesn’t offer the same choices, lap swimming is my thing and call me nesh but bobbing up and down in freezing water with a seagull isn’t my idea of exercise.
I had one sesh tonight with Jeff in Ohio and we ended up talking a lot about books. One thing I did when I just played guitar in a band was read a lot. What a privilege that was. But today I was doing French and attempting to get into the archive and do some serious record cleaning and filing but I just can’t find the time. It’s almost as if I have to plan breaths.
The other day I found another lava lamp in the charity store. It was £4 and has a metallic blue-grey liquid which reminds me of Star Trek planets. The reason I mention that is because tonight over dinner we watched the final episode of the original series. I’m really hesitant to go Deep Space Nine. I remember it being one of those relationships in space series, I need aliens that don’t speak with California accents! Haha. There’s way too much about humanity and the foibles of humans in the storylines. Whilst I’m on the subject, I have all the time in the world for Brad Pitt but I thought Ad Astra was dreadful. The part where he was running to catch the rocket, the shielding of the small meteorite pieces and the relationship with his father, oh lord distract me. Olivia didn’t like it either, we also didn’t like The Shape Of Water, I could see the mask, we really are from another planet.
Talking of masks, tomorrow is mask day but one thing I wondered about for all the people that think it’s an attack on freedom, surely it allows you to not be recognised, if they were trying to mess with your freedom, wouldn’t they want to see your face?
Music today has taken a turn back to 1970 and Progressive madmen Egg. They were formed out of the ashes of Uriel after Steve Hillage left in 1968. They made their debut album in 1970 on Deram and messed with the minds of the music scene at the time with main writer Mont Campbell’s obsession with Stravinsky and the English sense of humour. Intellectuals that don’t buy Pop stardom and have songs called Seven Is A Jolly Good Time (not on the original album but on the CD) have to be taken seriously. They became associated with the Canterbury scene due to the involvement of the keyboard player later known as ‘the other Dave Stewart’ (due to the mega-success of Eurythmics) who later joined Hatfield And The North and because of the Canterbury connection with Richard Sinclair and Phil Miller, plus the fact that Uriel included Steve Hillage. It is a wonderful mixture of jamming, Psychedelic, Progressive, complex, Classical, humorous, avant-garde moody instrumental and vocal meanderings that all make complete sense particularly instrumentally on Movement 1 and Movement 2 with Stewart’s great playing and keyboard tones and Campbell’s relentless bass.
Egg released their second album The Polite Force in 1971 but the label interest had waned with the lack of success of the first album they had to convince the label to release it. It follows the same madness as the first album, some kind of controlled abandon. Everyone knows what they are doing but it sounds like they may fall off the edge at any minute. It’s a really amazing set of sounds incorporating what might be called samples these days but are actually field recordings of this and that, some meant to be scary others funny.
Drummer Clive Brooks went on to join Groundhogs for Hogwash (1972) and Solid (1974) and then Liar, Straight From The Hip (1977) and Set The World On Fire (1978) before becoming Pink Floyd’s drum tech. He died in 2017.
Mont Campbell has a long story that you can read on Wikipedia that includes study, soundtracks, dissatisfaction with Egg and Rock music in general and then returning for another album with his old bandmates, The Civil Surface (1974). Joining National Health with Stewart and Canterbury luminaries, learning instruments and the fact that one of his six daughters, Anna, was killed in Syria in 2018 fighting for the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units.
Dave Stewart’s discography is impressive if you like this kind of thing. Uriel, Egg, Hatfield And The North, National Health, Khan and then he played with Bill Bruford. Then out of nowhere, he recorded the Motown Jimmy Ruffin hit What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted with Colin Blunstone and made it to No. 13 in the UK charts and followed it with a version of Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party with Barbara Gaskin that made it to No. 1. Weird.
Khan’s Space Shanty (1972) is one of the great forgotten Progressive and Psychedelic and inventive Rock albums. Steve Hillage was doing that echo repeat idea before Brian May and Dave Stewart is there with his great keyboard ideas. Eric Peachey plays drums and Nick Greenwood plays bass. Greenwood made a solo album, Cold Cuts, in 1970. He had played on the first The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown album (1968) under a different name, Sean Nicholas (for some reason?). The songs are written by Hillage bar three co-written with Greenwood. Hillage’s first solo album Fish Rising (1975) had material that was originally intended for Khan Two but that never transpired. If you like great Hillage lead guitar, you’ll love this. Real songs, real instrumental passages, good vocals, moody, complex, simple, ace.
So Arzachel (1969) were actually Uriel with the original lineup of Egg and Hillage under pseudonyms because Egg had been signed to Deram since Hillage left. Strange but true and it’s a great Psychedelic freak out of an album. Highly recommended, like all of these records.
Song Of The Day is hard because none of these bands have any footage so here’s Steve Hillage on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976: