Dare and I walked down to the studio from his house. He was wearing long pants and a jacket, I was in shorts with a T-shirt slung over my shoulder. I was still too hot, he was obviously just right. If I’d had to walk down to the studio wearing a jacket I would have exploded. So how come my hands are always warm and other people’s are always cold? Women might often get colder quicker but sometimes I’d shake a man’s hand (like we did in the olden days) and his hand would be stone cold. My Mum hated the heat, so I’ve inherited it from her. Australia was just way too hot for me so I like the climate here in Penzance where it never gets too hot or too cold. Olivia reckons it’s generally somewhere between 3°C and 20°C throughout the year. Portugal will be interesting if we ever get there but after Texas and Australia, having an apartment in New York and experiencing Asian countries, Portugal might not be too hard to get used to. In Sweden where it’s never cold indoors and can be seriously life-threateningly cold outside, I always struggled with the indoor heat. In England, my Aunty Gwen used to consolidate the heat into a room because it was too expensive to heat the house. I stayed with her once years ago and when I woke up in the morning I could see my breath. But also English bathrooms are known to be cold, that’s why there’s sometimes carpets. My Swedish friend Anders Paulsson said to me once (or twice), “Why would you have a carpet in a bathroom?” – that’s why.
Dare and I were in the studio today, finishing off guitars on one of Ahad’s songs, singing some backing vocals and adding guitars onto a new track. I put a bed down of acoustic Takamine 6 string and doubled it with Takamine 12 string, Dare had an idea to run it back through a chorus pedal after I recorded it, which we did to give it a swimming feeling and blended it with the dry 6 string and with some panning there will be an interesting widespread blend. I then added an arpeggio on my Les Paul before finishing with a blistering long guitar solo. The idea is (if Ahad approves) that this will be the last track on the album.
We thought we’d go crazy today and eat hamburgers. So we bought Quorn burgers and some buns and Olivia went to buy chips – except there was a misunderstanding and she came back with cheesy chips for herself and no chips for me! Noooo! Can one be disappointed when one doesn’t get his chips? I got over it and I just ate loads of avocado and spinach leaves on the buns and that was fine. Perfect food for the football tonight – Bayern Munich vs Lyon. It was 3-0 to the favourites (Bayern) and us football fans are looking forward to a very exciting final on Sunday between Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain. One week’s salary and I’d be able to buy the building for the archive – silly, isn’t it?
At the end of the day, we’ve started work on sorting the archive out, it’s got out of control with me pulling records out every night, new records arriving and my ambitious plan to clean records as they come out of the shelves. Looks like that’s not going to happen. If the collection isn’t in order it’s just no good, you have to know where everything is and be able to access it and if a record gets misfiled, it could be gone for years. So tomorrow is filing day and later I have an interview for a French magazine with my friend Arno, the idea is that a musician asks questions that a journalist wouldn’t ask, like how wide is your guitar strap?
My Betty Davis documentary DVD didn’t arrive so I sent them a message. Today they sent me a message back saying my money has been refunded and they will send me the DVD when it’s available for free. Really? Have I missed something? Did I just experience a random act of kindness? I realised that I rarely come into contact with the haters but I suppose the haters live in a haters’ world and are in eternal conflict. I feel so sorry for them, can you imagine being so messed up inside that skin pigmentation makes you angry?
Music today was another forgotten classic band from the seventies, Atomic Rooster, formed by ex Crazy World Of Arthur Brown members Vincent Crane on keys (Crane co-wrote Fire) with Carl Palmer on drums, and Nick Graham on bass and lead vocal, with John Cann on guitar and oddly lead vocals on the US release of their debut album. Apparently Nick Graham left, so John Cann re-sung the vocals for the US release but the US release didn’t happen, so the second pressing of the original album had different vocals but it wasn’t declared on the sleeve. And guess what? This record seems to have gone missing in my record collection. You could lose an ox in here, hopefully, it will turn up.
This music lives somewhere between sixties and seventies Rock and Progressive, a crossover period which is just what I like about it, one foot in the glorious past and one foot in the glorious future. Lots of organ solos and instrumental sections but lots of songs too. It was Carl Palmer’s only album with Atomic Rooster before he left to form Emerson, Lake And Palmer.
The first album I ever heard by Atomic Rooster was Death Walks Behind You (both the US and UK cover included in the pics because I can’t find the first album). I always loved the UK cover art and the melodic riff of the first and title track, plus you can hear the long hair. With the departure of Carl Palmer and Nick Graham, the band decided to only replace the drummer and enlisted Paul Hammond into the fold with John Cann handling the bass and the guitars. This album included a hit, Tomorrow Night, written by Crane and released in January 1971 and reaching No. 11 on the UK chart. It was followed by a bigger hit, Devil’s Answer, written by Cann, a UK No. 4 and released as an independent single between albums, but beware, there’s different versions and some suck, the original UK single release is the ONLY one. If you are on Spotify, the best version is on the Heavy Soul album. Death Walks Behind You and the first album were both released in 1970.
In Hearing Of was released in 1971 and the band again went through a transition period where Cann and Hammond were gone but still played on the album with Leafhound singer Peter French taking over on vocals and with Steve Bolton on guitar and Ric Parnell on the drums on the album tour. One imagines that bass was handled by Crane on the keyboards live. It’s getting into some pretty standard Rock territory now, the seventies have arrived. I sometimes think that I’m not listening to songs, I’m listening to the seventies not for nostalgic reasons but because I like the sound of the period, the warmth of the instruments, how the drums don’t dominate and sound like, well, drums.
In 1972 they released Made In England that came in a sleeve made of denim. Singer Peter French was gone and sixties singer Chris Farlowe was in. Farlowe was most famous for taking Jagger/Richards’ Out Of Time to No. 1 in 1966. He was a proper singer and the Progressive and the Rock side of Atomic Rooster suddenly had another influence, Soul, but although it doesn’t sound like a good match the opening track Time Take My Life is pretty great. The second track is where it all goes wrong, empty Soul Funk. So you need patience for these albums because a great track will be followed by a not so great track but the good ones are worth it.
After Atomic Rooster, Cann (now John Du Cann) and Hammond formed Hard Stuff and later they found themselves in a short-lived Atomic Rooster reunion. Hammond died of an accidental drug overdose in 1992, he was 39. Du Cann died of a heart attack in 2011 aged 65. Vincent Crane committed suicide in 1989, he was just 45 years old.
Song Of The Day – Atomic Rooster on Top Of The Pops in 1971 with Devil’s Answer and Tomorrow Night. Love those dancers.
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