Today was super sessions day, Sundays always are, so Tony from Sydney, Brian from Orlando, Joanne from Portland and Doug from Wappingers Falls near Woodstock shared their ideas and I listened and made suggestions, like drink more tea, breathe, buy a cat, eat more cereal. Sometimes I would suggest wearing different colours or making friends with someone that owns a yacht. My best advice is to not rob banks if you get caught. Otherwise, I always recommend a diet of blue oranges and backwards apples for songs about slimming and custard cakes if you need inspiration for a chorus. You can obviously see why my approximately 20 sessioneers are with me as I help them on a musical journey through small canyons and large dark passages on rainy afternoons in the morning light. Feel free to contact me if you think I can help and remember if you’d like to pick up that Noctorum – Offer The Light CD for just $5 plus postage, contact Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s face it, I’m tired today! Phew! Looking forward to that wonderful slow-motion moment as your head descends towards the pillow. I actually find that when I do finally get to it, I’m more likely to throw myself down like a sack of potatoes being hurled into a cellar. I wonder if tiredness makes me madder. Have you heard about those people that attempt to stay awake for days to break records? Oh my, no thank you. When Olivia and I met we bonded on our love of sleep. I’m one of those people that goes to bed when I’m exhausted. I just find it so hard to say oh it’s midnight, I must go to bed. Even when I have to get up I go to bed late and this is the result. So Tony is in Sydney and our sesh is at midday my time because it’s getting late there. Midday could possibly be two hours earlier than when I would normally get up. So as I usually go to sleep around 5 or 6 it means only 6 hours of sleep, 2 hours less than normal (I wouldn’t change it for the world, the sessioneers are one of the great pleasures of my life). Olivia needs 9 hours a night and tries to get it and sometimes succeeds. One of the reasons she likes me is because I always tell her to go back to sleep and stay in bed as long as she wants. It’s the night hours when we are active and she contributes so much to everything we do in those waking hours – like playing the violin, booking tours, doing the driving, designing the artwork, proofreading the blog and getting it online as well as a million other things from deeply complex to domestic. I have an amazing wife.
The rest of the day eluded me today with the sessions and the football, Manchester United lost 2-1 to Sevilla who made it to the Europa League final next Friday. Ronnie O’Sullivan won the snooker and Harry the snail won the international slowness sprint in Prague. Oh, how much do I hate the adverts on the sports channels! Mostly ads for betting companies, terrible, they drive me nuts and you know how much money they are making out of the public by how many times you are seeing the ads. I wonder what the stats are for gamblers who lose and are addicted and continue to lose versus gamblers who got rich and lead playboy lifestyles?
The other day I was in a charity store and bought a book of Oscar Wilde’s prose poetry and in it was The Picture Of Dorian Gray (£1) written in 1890 and I thought that would be something to read again. But when I opened the book I found the print to be too small for me to read. It’s not like I was unable to read it at all, but it was a strain and even with my glasses, too hard, and of course, impossible without them. This reminded me of my Mum who used to read thrillers. There was a library van that used to come ‘round the houses and they had some books that she liked but she read books in the large print version. It’s so weird watching yourself turn into your parents. It’s fascinating to watch the incessant tumble towards oblivion whilst balancing it out with resignation.
Oh yeah, this is exciting – after I wrote that piece on Klaatu and posted the video of The Carpenter’s cover of their song Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft, I got an email from Klaatu drummer and co-writer of the song, Terry Draper, thanking me for recognising the band. So if you are reading this Terry, thank you for the mail (my friend Biggles was so excited), I’ll respond when I get a minute, which is why I’m responding here, in case that minute takes a week.
Music today has me investigating Assagai, after Osibisa they were the only other known Afro-Rock band in the seventies – in England anyway. They made two albums in 1971, self-titled and Zimbabwe both on Vertigo. I have a Music For Pleasure (cheap label) reissue which is actually Zimbabwe renamed Afrorock and without the original Roger Dean cover. It was either a copyright issue or someone at the label’s bright idea. Lots of drums and horns, the original band had three members from South Africa, drummer Louis Moholo, trumpeter/flautist Mongezi Feza and alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, and two members from Nigeria, tenor saxophonist Bizo Mngqikana, and guitarist/bassist Fred Coker who eventually left to join, you guessed it, Osibisa. Keyboardist Alan Gowen from Gilgamesh and National Health was briefly in the band as was Jamie Muir who played percussion with King Crimson.
This led me to Alan Gowen’s band Gilgamesh and the first self-titled album released on Virgin’s other label Caroline in 1975. It’s Progressive Jazz Fusion with Phil Lee on guitars, Jeff Clyne on bass, Michael Travis on drums and Amanda Parsons on occasional voice. I won’t actually be going mad tonight and writing a tome about obscure bands after a long day and also because this is mainly territory that I’ve already explored and explained and if you like this kind of thing, then you’ll love this. They made two albums of which I just have the first. In between the two albums Gowen had joined Dave Stewart in National Health but returned for Another Fine Tune You’ve Got Me Into (1977). A rarities record, Arriving Twice, was released in 2000.
Hatfield and the North’s second album The Rotters’ Club released in 1975 is a classic in the genre. The usual suspects are involved, Dave Stewart on the keyboards, Phil Miller on guitar, Richard Sinclair on bass and vocals and Pip Pyle on the drums. Guests include Mont Campbell from Egg on french horn, Lindsay Cooper from Henry Cow on bassoon, Tim Hodgkinson from Henry Cow on clarinet, Jimmy Hastings on sax (Pye Hastings from Caravan’s brother), and The Northettes, Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons and Ann Rosenthal on backing vocals. This music will either be totally uninteresting to you or completely blow your mind, the choice is yours.
Virgin Records released Afters in 1980, a compilation of tracks from the debut album and The Rotters’ Club and including the 1974 single Let’s Eat (Real Soon) and B-side Fitter Stoke Has A Bath, a different version than The Rotters’ Club version. There’s also two live tracks, the 2-minute Oh Len’s Nature! recorded in Lyon and Toulouse and edited together (the wonders of seventies technology). The other live track, Halfway Between Heaven And Earth, was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1976.
Song Of The Day is in fact a short documentary about the Canterbury scene: