So today, Sunday, always lots of sessions, Tony, Brian, Doug, but also it was Champions League final day. Without going on too much about it as not everyone out there likes football or even sport of any kind, I must tell you what happened. So I watched all the games in the competition and this was going to be the game of games, two brilliant teams with a record of scoring lots of goals, featuring many of the world’s best players. Well, it was ok and the game ended with Bayern Munich beating Paris St Germain with just one goal scored in the whole game. Bayern had beaten Barcelona 8-2, Spurs 7-2, Chelsea 7-1 and lots of teams by large margins over one or two legs. After watching all of the finals last week and even before the pandemic, during the game I went to the loo for one minute, that’s when they scored.
It was an indoor day for me today and I was hoping to carry on with the job of sorting out the archive but the sessions and other distractions had me contributing nothing to the job on hand. I managed to do day 80 of French during the adverts during the pre-game pundits’ analyses and somehow stumbled across the fact that today would have been author Jean Rhys’ 130th birthday and the idea that she might have lived to that age was amusing to me as I’m sure it would have been for her. A fascinating character with an intriguing life story she found acclaim late after a period of more than 20 years of no writing at all. I’ve read a couple of her books (Quartet) but her most famous novel was Wide Sargasso Sea published in 1966 when she was already 76 years old. Her latter-day fame didn’t impress, when questioned about it she responded: “It came too late”.
It’s also birthdays for Paulo Coelho, Stephen Fry, A.S. Byatt, Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep), John Cipollinna and David Freiberg (Quicksilver Messenger Service), Léo Ferré (French composer born in Monaco, I have two albums), Blues singer Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and Yasser Arafat. You may remember that Arafat was poisoned and it seems that the upcoming MOAT album, Poison Stream, is appropriately titled with music streaming and what it has done for us all both good and bad depending on where you stand on the subject. The poisoning concept, in general, is topical and really quite outrageous as the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny lies in a coma in a Berlin hospital. It reminds me of the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018 here in England as well as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko also in England in 2006. It seems that if you are a critical Russian, you may be assassinated, it puts into perspective the idea that wearing a mask in a shop might be a suppression of freedom.
We will be releasing a song from the new MOAT album in a couple of weeks but I want to stress it’s not a single, it’s a track. In the olden days before Caesar, we would release a single and hope that the single would chart and create interest in the album and that would mean that people would buy it. You may remember that with the ex-band the first single was She Never Said but it was the second single The Unguarded Moment that got people’s attention and made them interested in the band and the album. But these days we’re not thinking in terms of hits or charts or even significant sales because significant sales means something very different today than what it used to.
Times change, we deal with it, remember telex, record shops in every town, fax, cable, steam trains, the world before Hip Hop. We just carry on. Our goal is to make records we like and hopefully records that anyone that might be reading this will like and we will be very grateful if you purchase it so we can do it again and again and again until we all fall off our collective perch. You remember PledgeMusic and the disaster that they caused with their greed and their incompetence, well the concept is still our only chance of covering the expense of making a record and manufacturing it so we will be doing another campaign with another company as we attempt to cover the investment. The only problem is that with this company if we don’t make our goal then we don’t get the pledges. So we’ll be working hard to try and not only offer the album, the music, but other things as well, house concerts, illustrated lyrics, the heads of luminescent aliens. If you have any ideas about what you would like to see that we can make available, please let us know, email Olivia (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll see what we can do. Last but not least remember you can still pick up Noctorum’s 2006 album Offer The Light on CD for $5 plus postage & PayPal fee till the end of the month and yes you can always send cover art here to the archive to be autographed if we don’t see you on tour.
Music today comes from Armageddon and their one and only album released on A&M records in 1974. It was something of a supergroup with Keith Relf from The Yardbirds and the first incarnation of Renaissance on lead vocal. Relf was involved with production on Steamhammer’s final album Speech (1972) and that led to Armageddon being formed. The band was Martin Pugh from Steamhammer on guitars and Louis Cennamo from Steamhammer and Renaissance on bass with Bobby Caldwell from Captain Beyond and Johnny Winter on drums. It was something of a seventies Rock album, pre-Punk and post-sixties, not Progressive and despite critical acclaim, the band failed to support it with a tour and they disappeared rather quickly. Relf returned to England and died soon after, he was electrocuted whilst playing his guitar at home. If the riffing Rock band isn’t for you do at least listen to the jangling arpeggios of Silver Tightrope, the album is worth having for just this track.
After Relf left The Yardbirds he produced the obscure Progressive Folk-Rock band Saturnalia who released one of the first picture discs, Magical Love, in 1973. It’s a must-have for all record collectors of sixties and seventies records in this genre. It’s a little more Rock than Steeleye Span, less traditional. It’s another one of those bands that haven’t realised that the sixties has gone and haven’t quite become acclimatized to the realities of the seventies. They have male and female vocals and lots of potential to succeed but, well, they didn’t. The lineup is Aletta on lead vocals, Adrian Hawkins on lead vocals, Rod Roach on lead guitar, Richard Houghton on bass and keyboards and Tom Compton on drums. Roach and Hawkins had been in Horse (I have their record, I bought it for 10p in a charity store, it goes for £500 in very good to mint condition). If Saturnalia had stayed together there might have been a place for them on the British Folk-Rock scene but it wasn’t to be. There was the coup of having Relf produce them, the amazing picture disc, their flowery name and a style that had a following in the seventies. Perhaps they were a little lacking in the songwriting department but they were getting there and the future might have been rosy. The album came in a clear sleeve with a booklet, hard to find but I have it and a concert ticket, hard to find and I don’t have it. On the picture disc, all members are naked on the torso including Aletta. The pressings are early technology for picture discs so there’s some sound quality issues. Last but not least there’s a doubt as to when it was released, Wikipedia says 1969, Discogs 1973, I’m going with 1973 even though you can hear some Grace Slick sixties style in there.
Relf’s involvement might have been a precursor for his next band, Renaissance, with sister Jane on co-lead vocals, another ex Yardbird, Jim McCarty, on drums, Louis Cennamo on bass and John Hawken on keyboards. Or, if Saturnalia was released in 1969, that’s where he got the idea for the next band. The self-titled debut was released in 1969 and it was a bold Progressive affair. The first track, Kings And Queens, is 11 minutes long, the second, Innocence, 7 minutes long and Side 2 only has 3 tracks. It’s gone a long way from the Yardbirds in a very short period of time. It’s produced by ex Yardbirds bassist Paul Samwell-Smith who famously produced Cat Stevens’ successful records and another band called All About Eve.
They made one more album, Illusion (1971), before falling apart. The album was only released in Germany at the time and didn’t get a UK release till 1976. It’s an odd album which somehow sounds more sixties than the first album, its oddness is why I like it, it sounds like nobody quite knows what they are doing, as if they are waiting for somebody to come in and tell them what to do. That’s pretty much what happened as manager Miles Copeland got involved and began the rearrangement of the band – it’s complicated and they ended up being one of those bands that went on to have success with no original members. The single Northern Lights reaching No. 10 in the UK charts in 1978 – as a concert band, they grew to be very popular.
Songs Of The Daze
A rare video clip of Renaissance performing at the underground Olympia Pop Festival (666 – 6 bands for 6 hours for 6 days) in Paris in early January 1970:
Renaissance – Kings And Queens – Live, 1970 (Remastered) on Beat Club, 30/05/1970: