In bed at 5 AM, up at 1 PM, that’s eight hours sleep, I’m like a shift worker and in fact, in the late seventies, I worked in the Lansdowne Hotel in Fallowfield, Manchester as a night porter. I started off in the kitchen as a dishwasher and I was so good at it, I was promoted to this more prestigious role. It was then that I realised that bands stayed there and it was my first meeting with The Only Ones. Zena Kakoulli, Peter Perrett’s partner and the band’s manager came to reception to check them in. They were nice, I remember speaking to the late Mike Kellie, ex Spooky Tooth and unlikely Only Ones drummer. I was later to find out that the drums on Another Girl, Another Planet are double-tracked. If you listen now, you can’t unhear it.
Meeting and talking to Peter Perrett and his son James, saying hello to bassist Alan Mair, and chatting with Zena just brought back those early days. Later, in 1978 or 1979, I’d seen The Only Ones play at The Lyceum in London. In 1980, I went to Australia to join a band that was compared to The Only Ones, the singer’s voice, the guitars, the mood, the sound of the day, it was many things. When the ex-band went to England to play in the early eighties, our drummer and bass player (as I remember) jammed with John Perry, The Only Ones’ guitarist. Years later, I was to jam with Peter Perrett with our drummer and bass player from AAE.
Their album Even Serpents Shine has always been one of my favourite albums of all time. Why? Well, I had so many reasons, all the obvious ones, the songs, the lyrics, the melodies, the voice, the guitars, the production, the album cover, the title, I just loved it. Seeing them again recently at the Luna Fest here in Portugal was an unexpected treat and although Perry wasn’t having the best gig, James, Perrett’s son, was playing rhythm guitar which helped somewhat. Perry had all the parts, the tone, despite what seemed to be an overreaction and unhappy response to the sound of his amp, he just let it bother him and consequently didn’t play to his potential. But hearing him is always great, however well he plays, I know the songs and the parts so well and I fill in the gaps.
Peter told me that he’d been off drugs since 2011 and that before that he spent years just sitting in his room. Such a shame, what work he could have done. He also told me that next year he will be releasing what he considers some of his best work with a new double solo album. He told me the band wasn’t the same without Mike Kellie, original members create the magic, replacements cover for them. I hear U2 are playing shows without their drummer as are Aerosmith, not the same. Having said that, Soft Machine has no original members, maybe it’s different with jazz-rock.