I awoke this morning to the sound of someone getting out of the car singing Gene Pitney’s 24 Hours From Tulsa along to the radio (I suppose it could have been a tape, a CD, an MP3). I heard the car door open and close and then it was gone but it was a song that is branded on my brain. In the sixties, everyone knew this song and even for me the song always felt like it was from another era, probably because it was. It was a hit in the UK in 1963 when I was 5 but somehow the song had longevity and reappeared often, probably because it was a Burt Bacharach and Hal David song, their songs have a habit of doing that. There was also Gene Pitney’s unusual voice, totally unique. In 2006 Pitney was touring the UK, he had just played at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff to a standing ovation. That was the last he was seen alive, he was found dead in his hotel room by his manager apparently dying of a heart attack.
I didn’t really mean to start off talking about music today, it was just that waking moment but on the subject of vehicles, beware of low flying motorbikes! On the way to the studio, pasty in hand, a big black and chrome motorbike came roaring by and parked just ahead of me. The rider was wearing a leather jacket with Red Chiefs Cornwall emblazoned on the back. So I thought I’d ask him about his bike. It was a Harley although it didn’t have Harley written on it anywhere, he told me that he had built it out of two other Harleys. It was interesting, he was really quietly spoken, all the roar was in the bike.
It was warm today and up on the rec, three old small dogs were casually following their owner in a line. She was talking to a friend just knowing that they would be there behind her. It’s really lovely how faithful dogs are and how many different shapes and sizes they come in. The jackdaws were also out today, one sitting on a roof with two pigeons, birds hanging out together, not judging the colour of each other’s feathers.
I had a sesh today with Stefan in Germany and Olivia went down to the recycling and the supermarket but when she got there she realised she’d forgotten her mask and had to come all the way back to the studio to go all the way back down again, good for the legs, good for the body, good for the soul, the sea, the park, the fresh air, the sunlight and the last week before they take the recycling away. I’m going to miss the recycling, has anybody ever said that before?
I made a point of doing French early today and came to a tricky part – Ce, Cet, Cette, Ces, Ce sont, C’est. You just have to learn it and it is actually slowly sinking in, I wish I’d done this when I was 22 instead of 62 but I must have been doing something else important, haha, I wonder.
I also made a point of getting the record cleaning machine out today so I can get sorted in the archive. I’ve been pulling records out like there’s no tomorrow, there’s been new records arriving and they are piling up because I don’t want to put the old records back into the shelves until they’ve been cleaned and it takes some time and the machine is really loud, thank Lorde for noise cancellation headphones. The new Furs album arrived today, then there’s the new Dylan, Laura Marling, the unreleased Neil Young and lots more to catch up on.
I spoke to Salim today and I spoke to Jerome today, two projects that are works in progress where there’s forward movement – exciting. Everything takes time but it’s not like we need to rush to get these records out with MOAT, Space Summit and Nightjar in the wings, Ahad’s album in construction and Noctorum 5 started. People keep on telling me I should make an album in my name too, as well as MOAT and Noctorum where I mainly sing. Apparently there’s something about having a record out in my name? Hm, ok then.
Music today is Northern Irish Psychedelic band Andwellas Dream who released one album, Love And Poetry, in 1969. All the songs were written by Belfast lad David Lewis before he was 18 years old. Although the album descended into obscurity, it’s a classic of the era. Lewis was joined by Nigel Smith on bass and Gordon Barton on drums. (Rory Gallagher’s first drummer Wilgar Campbell played one track.) Lewis not only wrote the songs, but he also played piano and organ, played all the guitars and was the lead singer. Jazzer Bob Downes played all kinds of esoteric percussive instruments and flute. It’s a mellow and dramatic album (not melodramatic), the songs are strong and moody and one wonders how they failed to make an impression with this album except that it might not be Psychedelic enough to be a true Psychedelic classic and not catchy sixties Pop enough to grab that crowd either. Cocaine is somewhere between The Zombies and Fleetwood Mac. It reminded me of the time when The Hollies went Psychedelic, the times were dictating the vibe but the songwriter remained the same, he was just adapting. There’s some great guitar tones and it has that sixties production that puts the drums in one side of the speakers in my stereo which begs the question was this album supposed to be listened to in mono? The reissue doesn’t mention mono or stereo anywhere, so who knows? On my last stereo amp, I had a mono button so I could listen with the music in the middle of the speakers if I wished, in case the idea of the drums in the left speaker was too strange.
By 1970 they had shortened their name to Andwella and released World’s End, only David Lewis remained, joined by Jack McCulloch on drums, Dave Struthers on bass, and Dave McDougall as a permanent piano and organ player. The album sails nicely into the seventies but again one wonders who was buying it. I like it a lot, it’s a grower but it suffers from a lack of direction, one foot in the sixties, one foot in the seventies and times were changing fast, you didn’t want to end up like The Tremeloes who despite sixties hits and good seventies records couldn’t get arrested in that decade. Lewis had also written the music for poet David Baxter’s album Goodbye Dave (1970) who was on the same label (Reflection). Super hard to find and expensive. Lewis seemed to have all the skills but not the successes and the variation on World’s End seemed to hinder him rather than help him. World’s End Part 1 theme, the only piece not written by Lewis but by American Bobby Scott, seems completely out of place on this album which is exactly why I like it. It’s supposed to set up World’s End Part 2 written by Lewis as if suddenly we are in the middle of a concept album, are we?
Andwella’s last album, People’s People was released in 1971. Lewis again wrote all the songs and again there’s different styles, The World Of Angelique might be a Glen Campbell or Gordon Lightfoot song whereas other songs might be a less Pop Badfinger, if Pete Ham was singing and Joey Molland was playing guitar you’d be cartwheeling around the room to Mississippi Water and probably to She Taught Me To Love as well. It’s as if Lewis is again following some kind of sound of the day, the first album one foot in sixties Pop and one foot in Psychedelia, the second album one foot in late sixties and one foot in the seventies and this last album has one foot in seventies Pop and another in singer-songwriter land. It’s as if Lewis the songwriter shouldn’t be Lewis the band leader even though he is, he should be writing for all kinds of different people. He made two more solo albums in the seventies but hit pay dirt when he wrote Happy To Be On An Island In The Sun for Demis Roussos, a UK No. 5. Roussos also recorded a German version (Komm in den Garten der tausend Melodien).
Song Of The Day is Demis does David and one has to ask what is he wearing? And what is that escaping from his chest on its way to devour the audience? The song itself doesn’t seem to have come out of David Lewis but then Lewis was nothing if not versatile plus Demis’ voice does things to anybody’s song. Don’t let this put you off listening to Andwellas Dream and Andwella and remember before this Roussos was in Greek Progressive Rock monsters Aphrodite’s Child! I’ll leave you with one quote from Wikipedia: “Roussos sold over 60 million albums worldwide and became an unlikely kaftan-wearing sex symbol”.