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2011-03-23

Felix Atagong: an honest man

Fake Reverend unmasked at last
Felix Atagong
Felix Atagong.

The Anchor's editor was kindly asked, although summoned would be a more appropriate term, to do an independent review of an interview of the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit that recently appeared on the extraordinary Spanish Barrett blog Solo en las Nubes (Alone in the Clouds).

Run by Antonio Jesús the blog is a mix of information and fun, containing several references to La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal, that could be without doubt a title for one of the weirder Pedro Almodóvar movies. Quite recently, in a dark corner of The Anchor, dimly lit by a dripping candle in a bottle on the rough wooden table, I bend over to the gorgeous black-haired girl sitting in front of me, slowly whispering 'La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal' in her ears (actually, in one ear only as it is quite infeasible to whisper in two ears at the same time, except for Mick Jagger perhaps). Oh Alex Fagotin baby, she passionately sighed with heaving breasts, say that to me one more time, but unfortunately my hair already had caught fire by then.

One very interesting part of the Spanish Barrett blog are the so-called self-interviews (or autoentrevista) and so far Antonio has persuaded Duggie Fields and Laughing Madcaps front-man Kiloh Smith to reveal their souls in these autobiographical Rorschach tests.

Titled 'Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero"' the latest self-interview has provoked roars of hysterical laughter from the Åland Islands to Wallis and Futuna. We reveal no real secrets if we tell you that the Reverend has left a trail of female victims from Oslo to Tarzana and rumour goes there will be more to follow despite many international warnings.

The Reverend's self-interview can already be described as absolute rock-bottom and without doubt it will be voted the all-time-worst-entry at the - otherwise excellent - Spanish Barrett blog. Time to let you decide for yourself what a kind of pompous pathetic pumpernickel that Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit really is. Ladies and gentlemen, the Anchor presents, but not too proudly: Felix Atagong: an honest man...

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.

Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero"

Even the roads of rock are unfathomable.

Felix Atagong, from Belgium, has created a blog dedicated to Iggy, the model of The Madcap Laughs album. Nobody knew her whereabouts for almost forty years. The coincidence of life, meaning that it is not coincidental at all, has lead this case to an unexpected but long-awaited path.

Publius Enigma.
Publius Enigma.

In his self-interview, Mr. Atagong, the Sherlock Holmes of the Floydian world (he even helped to clarify the Publius Enigma) and always committed to the truth he slowly peels the layers of the story of his blog, and more... (introduction written by Antonio Jesús)

1. What is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit?

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is a blog for Syd Barrett fans dealing with the – very short – period in 1969 when Syd's alleged girlfriend Iggy lived with the singer. Apart from some unverified rumours about her Eskimo roots nobody really knew something about her, nor what happened to her after her sudden disappearance in 1969.

2. How did it all start?

The Church more or less started as a prank. Discussing the (theoretical) possibility of a Barrett religion on the Late Night forum I mentioned a Saint Iggy Congregation in 2007 and when, in March 2008, DollyRocker recognised Iggy acting in a 1967 British documentary, I jokingly announced the Church's birth. But the idea still ripened for five months before any blog post appeared.

3. What were your intentions?

These were quite ambiguous by design.

Obviously the Church frame, lead by an all-knowing Reverend who addresses his flock in a swollen and theatrical language, is satirical. I wanted to imitate those overzealous fans, who can't stop arguing that Barrett is the world's most underrated musical genius and graphical artist and who painstakingly, almost in religious stupor, scrutinize every minute of his life.

But while I was developing the blog I soon realised that I was painstakingly, almost in religious stupor, collecting all available puzzle pieces that lay shattered over the net, on blogs, in forums, that were published in different articles and biographies, thus creating the ultimate Iggy repository.

Both concepts share an an osmotic relationship and - by being what it is and what it pretends to be – the Church has evolved into a meta-concept, although that thin ironic line is probably completely ignored by the people who visit it.

4. But the Church did trigger an Iggy revival, didn't it?

Not really. Every avalanche starts with a couple of snowflakes and by sheer luck the Holy Church happened to be on the right place at the right time. After nearly 40-years of silence several people simultaneously remembered Iggy. Most of the time the Church was not involved but has been monitoring and commentating these events. What nobody expected, except perhaps for the Holy Igquisition, is that it resulted in some sort of Iggymania.

Iggymania started when Mojo magazine put Syd Barrett on its cover in 2010. Of course that cover story was all about The Madcap Laughs 40th birthday but the Church had clearly inspired one of the articles. Not only did this boost the hits on the website but a few days later The Church could reveal that Evelyn (Iggy) had been found back as well and that thanks to Mojo.

Beginning of this year Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake could finally interview Iggy and that is when Iggymania fully exploded.

5. Not bad for something that started as a joke.

Syd and Iggy - Spring 1969
Syd and Iggy - Spring 1969.

The Church had already turned serious when JenS shared her memories with us, revealing that she (probably) introduced Iggy to Syd and pinpointing The Madcap Laughs photo-shoot date in spring, rather than in the autumn of 1969. Some time later another acquaintance of Syd gave her first interview ever to the Church. Margaretta Barclay and her boyfriend Rusty were regular visitors at Syd's flat and they even tried to resuscitate Barrett's interest in music by dragging him over to Meic Stevens, who is still some kind of weird folk cult figure.

I find it rewarding that some of the Church theories have been reprinted in magazine articles and biographies, so I guess we're not all rubbish after all.

6. But finding Iggy also presented a major crisis for the Church, isn't it?

It is the ambiguity of all organisations that have a certain goal. What do you do if the goal has been reached? What will Greenpeace do if no-one hunts little seals any more? The worst thing that could happen to the Church was to find Iggy! But every time the Reverend uttered the fear there would be lack of Iggy, something new turned up. And 2011 has already proved to be no exception.

Thinking about the future the Church did some reorganising and will continue developing into other areas, of course not neglecting its primary task to inform about al things Ig. One of the new items at the Church will be a gossip corner called 'The Anchor', named after the Cambridge pub Syd Barrett used to visit in the early Sixties. We hope it will stir things up as the Barrett community has become quite lethargic lately. We're all old farts who fall asleep after our afternoon tea and biscuits.

7. The question we are all waiting for: is Iggy aware of it at all and what does she think of the Church?

Evelyn kept a low profile over the years, although she apparently never hid the fact that she had been on the cover of The Madcap Laughs album. But the path of Iggy and the path of the Barrett fan community simply didn't converge for the last 40 years.

Recently Iggy has contacted the Church and she gave us valuable information. However the question is what will happen when Iggymania freezes over. I feel it a bit hypocrite to say that now, but it was never the Church's intention to invade Iggy's privacy.

8. This interview should have at least one anoraky question, reflecting the true nature of the Church. Does the 'eskimo chain' line in Barrett's Dark Globe refer to Iggy?

Dark Globe is a very poignant, hermetic track and, as is the case in many of Syd's songs, its lyrics can be interpreted in different ways. I think Julian Palacios describes it as a lament to Pink Floyd or something of that order. It also reads as a goodbye song to a past love and here is where the 'eskimo chain' line fits in – or doesn't.

I'm only a person with Eskimo chain
I tattooed my brain all the way...
Won't you miss me?
Wouldn't you miss me at all?
Solo en las Nubes banner
Solo en las Nubes banner.

Most people who read Barrett blogs will know that Barrett recorded under the guidance of Malcolm Jones, but somewhere in May 1969 he passed the torch to David Gilmour (Roger Waters would join in as well on a later date). Jones had given up in desperation, as Peter Jenner had done the year before, that last one declaring that the sessions had been 'chaos'. Finally it was David Gilmour who pleaded Harvest records to allow Barrett a third and final chance to finish his solo record. Of course this is just one interpretation and not all biographers and witnesses agree with that. Another story goes that Malcolm Jones simply invited Gilmour (and Waters) for marketing reasons: three Pink Floyd members for the price of one, so to speak (four if one adds Rick Wright who might have done some uncredited overdubs on Golden Hair). Probably the truth lies, as is often the case, somewhere in the middle.

The first session of the third recording round took place on the 12th of June 1969. Barrett premiered two new songs: Dark Globe and Long Gone. On the third (and final) session (26th of July) Roger Waters joined David Gilmour and a couple of other attempts were made of the same songs. (this alternative version of Dark Globe, now retitled as Wouldn't You Miss Me, was later released on the Opel outtakes album.)

It would be logical to see Long Gone and Dark Globe as an indivisible pair as they are both sad love songs. But there is an abundance of that theme on The Madcap Laughs. Jenny Spires told the Church: “Syd wrote songs and not all of them were about one person or another. It was his job. (…) Syd was not romantically inclined this way. 'I'm only a person with Eskimo chain' refers to the evolutionary chain, not to a specific person. He was on a very much higher spiritual plane, not so much on the material.”

But on the other hand Syd liked to put wordplay and little nods to reality in his texts. Pink Floyd's second single See Emily Play refers to psychedelic debutante Emily Young and to Libby Gausden, Jennifer Gentle from Lucifer Sam is a mixture between Jenny Spires and an ancient English ballad called 'There were three sisters' (Jennifer, Gentle and Rosemaree).

Dark Globe also contains the verse: “'The poppy birds way, swing twigs coffee brands around.” At first sight this is just a nature description set in a romantic mood but if one knows that a former girlfriend of Syd was Vivian 'Twig' Brans it becomes quite clear that Syd has cryptically entered her name in that line.

So while Dark Globe may have no-one specific in mind the Eskimo chain line may have been a slight nod toward Iggy.

9. This explanation made my appetite grow for more. How can one join the Church?

To paraphrase Groucho Marx: I don't want to belong to any Church that will accept me as a member, so you can't. The Church does have some loyal friends though who have helped by passing on valuable information. Basically the Church just reaps what others have sown (a common practice amongst churches, I might add). Many kudos go to a long list of loyal brainstormers, informants, witnesses and friends (and I already want to apologise for the ones I have forgotten): Anne, Anthony, Bea, Denis, Dollyrocker, Douggie, Eternal, Gretta, Jenny, Julian, Kieran, Lisa, Mark, Paro, Prydwyn, Rod, Sadia, Sean, Vicky, our many visitors and fans... And of course Iggy herself.

10. What is this recurring thing about the Holy Igquisition?

Nobody expects the Holy Igquisition!

Self-interview courtesy of: Solo en las Nubes (2011) - Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero", introduction written by Antonio Jesús. Self-interview written in December 2010 and updated in January 2011.


The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


2011-04-10

Iggy at the Exhibition

Those that have been living on planet Magrathea for the past couple of months may not have been aware that Thursday, 17th of March 2011 was a great day in the life for a Barrett-fan.

The long awaited book 'Barrett', apparently nobody attempts to use a combination of Madcap or Crazy Diamond any more, which is a good thing, was launched with a mega-party and exhibition at Idea Generation, London.

The Church will review the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett in the weeks to come so for the moment you have to content yourself with the message that it is a splendiferous (and heavy... and pricey) work of art... and love.

Attending the launch were Anthony Stern, Aubrey "Po" Powell, Captain Sensible, Dark Globe, David Gale, Duggie Fields, Graham Coxon, Ian Barrett, Irene Winsby, Jenny Spires, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, Libby Gausden, Mark Blake, Miles, Philip James, Rosemary Breen, Vic Singh, Warren Dosanjh and many others... enough to make a Pink Floyd aficionado drool...

But for the Church (and not only for the Church) the star of the evening undoubtedly was a woman of international mystery... and here are some pictures of her:

Iggy

Iggy
(picture courtesy and © A Fleeting Glimpse)

Libby Gausden and Iggy

Libby and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Paul Drummond), this image may not be published without the permission of its owner.)

John "Hoppy" Hopkins and Iggy

Hoppy and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James)

Iggy and Andy Rose

Iggy and Andy Rose
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James.)

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible
(picture picture courtesy and © Captain Sensible)

Duggie Fields and Iggy

Duggie Fields and Iggy
(picture picture courtesy and © Jenny Spires)

Brian Wernham and Iggy

Brian Wernham and Iggy
(picture courtesy Brian Wernham, photographer unknown)

Iggy having some fun with the paparazzi

Iggy Superstar
(pictures courtesy and © Red Carpet)

Where is Iggy?
and who else can you recognise on this picture?

Flower People
(picture courtesy and © sydbarrettbook)

Some answers:
Antonio Jesús: "The tall guy in brown is Warren Dosanjh."
Mark Jones: "Duggie Fields."
Jenny Spires: "Nigel Gordon and Jimmie Mickelson, Will Shutes and Viv's nephew, Kieren and his partner..."
Libby Gausden Chisman: "Roe Barrett and her husband Paul Breen, Buster and his partner who used to come swimming with Dave Gilmour and me at Jesus Green swimming pool in Cambridge."

One of our brethren told the Reverend afterwards:

I saw Iggy at the launch yesterday. She did very well, considering it was her first public appearance. She had a legion of female admirers so she was happy, and people were thrilled to meet her.

It was a night of Happy Talk indeed.


The Church wishes to thank: Antonio Jesús, Mark Blake, Libby Gausden Chisman, Dark Globe, Paul Drummond, Jimmie James, Mark Jones, Jenny Spires, Brian Wernham and the beautiful people at Late Night and Facebook.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2011-08-17

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.

It is with great pleasure that the Reverend introduces a new contributor at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Not only did Antonio Jesús live in the beautiful city of Cambridge but as editor of the slightly fantastic Spanish Syd Barrett blog Solo en las Nubes he has published several Autoentrevista or Self-Interviews with Barrett specialists, biographers and friends.

These interviews will now find their way to the English speaking part of the world at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. We start with a bang as this one is already a world exclusive, an interview with the manager of one of Syd's first Cambridge bands: Those Without.

Warren Dosanjh
Warren Dosanjh.

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

If you would like to visit Cambridge this summer, it is too late to book an I Spy Syd In Cambridge tour. In 2008, Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager, was invited by a non-profit organisation to guide visitors through the city. Many of these field trips had exclusive and unexpected guests and left the visitors in awe.

Warren Dosanjh is every inch a guide. I was lucky to attend the very first tour, still a try-out, and it was a blast. He told us a thousand and one stories and anecdotes like only an expert could do. On top of that he also knows the best places in the slummy parts of Cambridge.

But today we're lucky as Warren has decided to give a self-interview for Solo En Las Nubes.

Where did you meet Syd Barrett for the first time?

We were at the same school. It was called The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys aka The County. Roger, as he was called then, was a year below me. I think that Roger Waters was one or two years above.

Those Without (the early days)
Those Without (the early days).

How well did you know him then?

Quite well but not as a close friend. Many of us were excited about the emergence of rock'n roll, R&B and to a degree some folk music, particularly Bob Dylan. Some evenings were spent at Syd's home in Hills Road or that of a neighbour, Dick Whyte, listening to and playing music.

Did you play a musical instrument?

I tried very hard to learn the 5-string banjo but as I am left-handed it proved to be too difficult in the long-term.

How did the band Those Without evolve?

Alan 'Barney' Barnes and Steve Pyle came to my home one evening wanting to form a new band. They were in a band called Hollerin' Blues but wanted to disband as a means of getting rid of Brian Scott, their manager. They asked me to be the manager of the new band and I agreed.

And the name Those Without?

Very late that same night Steve spotted a book on my shelf titled Those Without Shadows by Françoise Sagan. "That's it! We just drop the word Shadows.", said Steve. All bands in those days seemed to be called 'The' someone or other and this was certainly a new concept in band names.

VW Dormobile
Volkswagen Dormobile.

So what was it like being a manager?

Getting the bookings was quite easy I remember. The difficult bits were having transport for us and the equipment particularly when we played outside of Cambridge. Luckily I had a lovely girlfriend Vernia whose father owned a VW Dormobile.

But the most difficult part for me was handling Alan Barnes. He was without doubt one of the best musicians around, playing keyboards, harmonica and singing lead. He had a great feel for R&B. But unfortunately he knew this and could be very contentious and 'up himself' after a few drinks. There were often occasions when I would have to take him outside for a quiet word.

So what sort of music did Those Without play?

Mostly R&B. Bands like Jokers Wild were mostly playing cover versions of pop records in the charts whereas a few bands like ourselves were playing classic R&B covers of artists like John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, etc...

Syd with Those Without
Syd with Those Without.

How did Syd get in the band?

Syd wanted to have a go at being in a band. He had previously played for one night at a CND fund-raising event with a band invented for just that night, called Geoff Mott & The Mottoes. Steve Pyle brought Syd along to a practise and asked if he could play bass with us and help out on the vocals. They were at that time both at The Cambridge School of Art. I remember Syd bringing along The Kinks' new record - 'You Really Got Me' - and playing it over and over again.

You mention The Kinks - were there any other bands that influenced you?

I guess you have to mention The Rolling Stones and The Animals. But at the grass-roots were people like Cyril Davies R&B All Stars (Long John Baldry, Dick Heckstall-Smith) and Graham Bond Organisation.

So what was special about Cambridge in the 60s?

It was unique. A melting pot of contrasting views, opinions and influences that often fused together to create a new exciting life for young people trying to throw off the shackles of post-war Britain. I remember Allan Ginsberg giving a poetry reading at King's, Duke Ellington playing an organ recital at Gt. St Mary's Church, student 'rag' days, continental films at The Arts Cinema, nights in Grantchester Meadows, smoking my first spliff and losing my virginity. Much much more...

Those Without Shadows
Those Without Shadows.

When did you last see Syd?

I saw him a lot in the 60s. He played with the band about 12 times before finally settling in London and forming Pink Floyd. When he returned to Cambridge and after the failure of Stars he became more reclusive. Sometimes I would pass him in the street as he lived just around the corner from me but he was always in a different world and I didn't want to invade his privacy.

We, his school mates and friends, just let him go about his business. We just remember him not for Pink Floyd but as a well-spoken likeable guy that we grew up with - a friend who just lost his way.

© 2011 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of I Spy Syd in Cambridge & Solo en las Nubes.
Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.

Check out the I Spy Syd in Cambridge website that holds many goodies, even now when the tours no longer exists.

The music scene of Cambridge, Walking Tour, Venues and Bands. A must read for everyone who is interested in Syd's Cambridge. This 36 pages booklet contains a Cambridge city map and has descriptions of the different venues and many unknown Cambridge bands of the Sixties. Researched and compiled by Warren Dosanjh. Edited and layout by Mick Brown. Further contributions and research: Lee Wood, Alan Willis, Jenny Spires, Brian Foskett, Viv ‘Twig’ Brans, Stephen Pyle, Albert Prior, Jess Applin, Cherrill Richardson, Mike Richardson, Hank Wingate, David Ellingham, Jonathon Church, Sudhir Agar, Dave Parker, Graham Smith, Tony Middleton, Ivan Carling, Judy Woodford, Jenny Taylor, Stuart Dingley, Dave Thaxter, Tim Renwick, Pete Rhodes. (March 2011 PDF download, about 5 MB)

History of Those Without and Hollerin' Blues, with the staggering news that Syd Barrett has never been a member of that last band. More about the different gigs of Those Without (with and without Syd).

Pink Floyd Syd Barrett Interviews with Friends (2009): Roger "Syd" Barrett - Cambridge Autumn 2009 Interviews with friends Richard Jacobs, Sue Unwin, John Watkins, Stephen Pyle, Warren Dosanjh, Diana McKenna, et.al. by Alexandros Papathanasiou. Hosted at Youtube: Pink Floyd Syd Barrett Interviews with Friends.

Reflections: Sixties Counterculture in Cambridge, a film from Alexandros Papathanasiou & Kameron Stroud (2011). Reminiscence of the sixties alternative movement in Cambridge by 7 local interviewees, including Warren Dosanjh and Stephen Pyle. The film reflects the interviewees memories during that time as well as it addresses their powerful conclusions about the impact of the 60's alternative generation on the present time. Hosted at Youtube: part 1 (10:46) and part 2 (10:11). Hosted at Vimeo: Reflections.


2011-09-04

Lee Wood, the man who knows everything

Early November 2008, while we were baffled by The City Wakes festivities in Cambridge, a mystery man send the following message to some Syd Barrett oriented forums:

Next Week (November 10th) I begin filming a DVD of places associated with Syd and the roots of Pink Floyd in Cambridge. I'm looking for someone to assist as a production assistant. This will be PAID work. Three days - Monday, Tuesday and Friday. There are 25 locations I am aware of that were not included on the tours and I will also be including interviews with many people not at the Wakes events.
What does a production assistant do? Lugs equipment, gets coffee but also has an input into the production and filming. If anyone is interested please email me. (Taken from: Syd's Cambridge, help wanted.)
Lee Wood (60s)
Lee Wood in the 60s.

Raw Power

That man was Lee Wood who, in the sixties & seventies played in a few obscure bands such as The Antlers, The Pype Rhythms, The New Generation, The Sex and LSD. Because it was so difficult to find obscure records he opened a record store “Remember Those Oldies” in 1974 that grew into an independent punk rock record company after he had witnessed a rehearsal session from the legendary punk band The Users.

The sessions were recorded in Spaceward Studios who are known in Pink Floyd's territorial waters because they used to have the only tape in the world of a concert of the Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band, recorded on the 27th January 1972 at Corn Exchange, featuring a certain Syd Barrett. Also present were Hawkwind and their live set of that day has just been issued by Easy Action. There is no clearance yet for the other bands and at their website Easy Action has only put the following enigmatic message:

Syd Barrett, Pink Fairies
Easy Action has purchased a number of reels of master tape capturing a performance by Hawkwind, Pink Fairies and a band hastily assembled featuring Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett NOT Stars!
Recorded in Cambridge in January 1972, we will be investigating further copyright clearances and one day hope to produce the whole lot for your listening pleasure!
Lee Wood in 1978
Lee Wood in 1978.

Unfortunately Lee Wood did not become the second Brian Epstein or Richard Branson. As a newbie in the record business he didn't realise that even punk bands need a business plan (and some proper bookkeeping). He kept on releasing those records he liked, and about the only one that actually made a decent profit was 'Settin' The Woods On Fire' from rockabilly rockers Matchbox. Other bands that landed on Raw Records were The Killjoys whose leader Kevin Rowland would later form Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Soft Boys (with Robyn Hitchcock) and even Sixties sensation The Troggs:

When I was growing up in the 1960’s I loved The Troggs. It’s a long story but in 1977 I became their manager and we recorded “Just A Little Too Much” at the legendary Olympic Studios in London. (…) It was issued in 1978. (Taken from: Just A Little Too Much.)

Raw Records also had its Decca audition disaster. Between 1977 and 1978 Lee Wood literally received hundreds of demos, after he had put an ad in a music magazine. One came from an average Manchester band called Warsaw and the tape was binned without further ado. A year later the band had changed its name to Joy Division and hit the post punk scene with its dark and gloomy classics.

In 1979 the company was losing so much money that the record store couldn't cope any more for its losses (several singles only had white sleeves because there was no money to print covers) and after about 30 singles and a few LPs Raw Records was history. (Raw Records history compiled from: Punk 77.)

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

But a decade before Lee Wood ventured into punk he had been following the Cambridge R&B scene. Antonio Jesús could persuade him to confess the following on the Solo en las Nubes blog... and here it is, for the first time in the English language and exclusively licensed to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit...

Lee Wood
Lee Wood in 2008.

Lee Wood – the man who knows everything

How long have you been living in Cambridge?

I have lived in Cambridge since 1962. My parents moved to a small village called Histon just outside Cambridge when I was 12 years old and they ran a Public House.

Did you ever meet Syd or members of Pink Floyd?

I never met Syd but I probably bumped into him (literally) as I used to go Roller Skating about 3 or 4 times every week at Cambridge Corn Exchange and I’m told Syd went there with his sister.

I knew David Gilmour to say hello to, as I played in a band and spent a lot of time in the local music shops. In fact I was in a shop called Ken Stevens on the day David came in and bought a Fender Stratocaster. 3 days later we all read in Melody Maker magazine he had joined Pink Floyd.

I have since met a lot of his friends. People like Warren (Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager), the very beautiful Jenny Spires, Clive Welham (drummer in Geoff Mott and the Mottoes) and many more. Let me say – I can understand why Syd liked them so much. These people are loyal friends and wonderful human beings. It is a pleasure to know them.

Did you ever see Pink Floyd play live?

Yes. At The Dorothy Ballroom in Cambridge. Of course they were amazing.

Note: The Floyd played that venue on Friday, 17 February 1967 for the St. Catherine's College Valentine Ball, with Bob Kidman, Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and Pearl Hawaiians.
The Racehorse ad
The Racehorse ad.

What was the music scene like in Cambridge during the period 1965 to 1968?

It was probably like any other town or city of its size. There were lots of groups and a lot of places for them to play. Unlike today you could put on a concert at virtually any church hall or the back room of a pub and people would turn up. It was a very vibrant place. The music scene was incredible. Everything you read about the 60’s – and more. The Corn Exchange and The Dorothy ballroom put on lots of famous bands every week. I saw The Who just after My Generation came out, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Small Faces and many more.

Did you ever see Syd perform in his first band “Those Without”?

It is possible. When I was 15 some of the older guys who used to drink in my parents pub in Histon would go to another pub in Cambridge called "The Racehorse". Even though I was underage they would take me virtually every week and I saw a lot of bands. I didn’t drink – I just went to see the bands play. I am sure I saw Jokers Wild play there and I know Those Without played there around that time. The band I remember the most and my favourite were called “Something Else” after the Eddie Cochran song but it is possible I saw Syd play there and didn’t realise it. There was also another great band from the area where Syd lived called The Go Five.

Note: Those Without played The Racehorse on Sunday, 20 June 1965 while Jokers Wild had passed there on Friday, the 26th of March 1965. In those days Jokers Wild were quite popular, in 1965 they swept the Dorothy Ballroom 9 times and gigged 22 times at Les Jeux Interdits (Victoria Ballroom).

Were there any other bands in Cambridge who sounded like Pink Floyd?

Yes. There was a group called "This Sporting Life" who really liked them and copied their light show. They were a really good band. The drummer was a friend of mine called David Orbell who actually had a professional recording studio in Histon from 1965 and recorded a lot of bands. He is certain Syd came over and played guitar with another band on one occasion.

Note: the garage freakbeat compilation Le Beat Bespoké 3 (Circle Records, 2008) has an intriguing 1966 track, from an unknown Cambridge band: Time's A Good Thing by Syd's Group. Obviously the liner notes hint that Syd Barrett had a hand in this recording but actually nobody knows the band members, the record studio or the exact date. While some claim that the guitar play is similar to Syd's in a typical fuzzy Sixties style, Kiloh Smith from Laughing Madcaps has suggested that the track is an Eighties forgery annex tribute annex pastiche by a neo-garage-freakbeat band. If only someone could access those tapes in Lee Wood's collection...

He gave me the tapes of a lot of local bands who recorded there, including "The Wages of Sin" with lead guitarist Tim Renwick. David lives in somewhere like Brazil nowadays so I never see him.

Do you still have the tapes?

Yes I do. But I sold my old reel-to-reel tape recorder many years ago and have no way of playing them. But I did hear the track and it is possible. It certainly sounds like Syds style but was recorded in 1965. Who knows?

Syd's Bench
Syd's Bench.

Do you know where the famous bench dedicated to Syd that two fans told him about when they visited his house is located?

I know exactly where it is. I have visited it on several occasions. The inscription is not obvious. It doesn’t actually mention Syd by name. I show details of it on the DVD I produced called "Syd's Cambridge".

Can you tell us what is on the DVD?

The DVD consists of three seperate tours of Cambridge.The first tour is the City centre. The second tour is the area were Syd grew up and lived. The third tour is all the places inside and just outside Cambridge connected with Syd and the early days of Pink Floyd. As I have lived here all my life I know the city very well. A lot of the books that have been published have incorrect information so I decided to include all the correct details. It shows over 30 locations associated with Syd and Pink Floyd. It even shows the place where Stars played that no one knew about before.

It also corrects details about the only performance by Geoff Mott And The Mottoes. They didn’t actually play at the Friends Meeting House – or other places previously mentioned. I give the real location on the DVD. You can see it all. It also shows the inside of Syds house and garden and has an interview with the girls in the artshop where Syd bought his artist paints.

Syd's Cambridge DVD1
Syd's Cambridge DVD1.

Can you tell me about the special box set as I have heard about it but never seen one.

The box set is very special. A beautiful pink box with a ribbon containing two DVD, the tours DVD plus one of Matthew Scurfield and Emo talking about Syd and life in the 60’s. The box also contains a book of places connected to the band, the real estate agents details of Syds house when it was for sale (with details from his sister), a Cambridge postcard and bookmark, some special wrapping paper I had designed and specially made and also a small plastic bag with some soil I took from Syds garden when I visited it. There are also some other items in it.

There were only 100 copies of the box set made. Each one is individually numbered and when I sent them out to people they were sent from the Post Office Syd used just round the corner from his house. I also had a special cardboard posting box made to make sure the box set arrived in perfect condition. I’m quite proud of it and the comments and thank you letters I received bear this out.

© 2010 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Lee Wood. Notes, Introduction & Afterword: the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.

Syd's Cambridge DVD2
Syd's Cambridge DVD2.

Syd's Cambridge Box Set (Lee Wood)

Some people have asked me about the box set and what it contains, so here goes:

The first DVD is divided into 3 tours. In total we cover 58 locations. There is a lot of new information, including a review of a little known STARS performance at The Perse School, with the actual date and a review of the concert. There is also video of the hall where it took place.

The Geoff Mott And The Mottoes performance did not take place at either the Friends Meeting House or in the Union Cellars. The DVD reveals for the first time where this historic event did take place.

As has been revealed - our research proves beyond a shadow of doubt Sid Barrett was the Double Bass player with the Riverside Jazz Band - not the drummer as claimed in virtuallly every book and article. We also discovered the origins of his nickname originally given to him in the scouts.

Note: this was later confirmed by Syd's school and scouts group mate Geoff Leyshon in A very Irregular Head (Rob Chapman, 2010).

The DVD has footage of 183 Hills Road including the back garden and takes you right up to the front door. There is exclusive footage from INSIDE the Union Cellars and inside Homerton College. Both of these locations are not open to the public.

New information about David Gilmour just days before joining Floyd, the exact location of the park bench dedicated to Syd, the EXACT spot on the Market Square where STARS performed plus lots of photos from the 1960's/70's including The Dandelion Cafe.

There is also an interview with the girls from the art shop where Syd (Roger) purchased his brushes and paints.

Plus a lot more - his local shops, post office, supermarket and places he played when a member of Those Without, including Cheshunt College Lodge.

The city centre tour is conducted by two friends of Syd and at each location they reveal details of their times with him.

Note: these co-presenters are Warren Dosanjh (see: Syd Barrett's first manager) and Charlie Weedon.

The box set also includes a DVD of the City Wakes discussions by Emo and Matthew Scurfield, a book with maps and places around Cambridge, details of Syd's house, cuttings from the local newspaper including adverts for the STARS concerts, a Cambridge greetings card and a small sample of soil taken from 6 St Margaret's Square. There is also exclusive video footage of Syd's house and garden filmed by me in 2006. (Taken from: Syd's Cambridge Box Set.)

Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery

Our new gallery shows artwork of the (sold out) Syd Barrett Limited Edition Deluxe Box set issued in 2008 by Sound Publishing. The scans contain (most) material of the box and follow the numbering of the certificate. Some parts have (deliberately) not been scanned and some have been slightly tampered with: Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery. The interesting book inside the box is Pink Floyd Fans Illustrated Guide of Cambridge (96 pages) by Mark Warden and Alfredo Marziano. A review of this book can be found at Brain Damage and Amazon still has got a few copies left.

Notes (other than internet links mentioned above)
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 11-12.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 25-27.


2011-10-07

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Duggie & Iggy (2011)
Duggie Fields & Iggy (2011).

In the Seventies, Eigthies, Nineties and Naughties (sic) no interview with an (ex-) Pink Floyd member could be published without the obligatory Syd Barrett question. This enervated the interviewees sometimes at a point that they may have said things they would later regret but that are continuously repeated, decades later, by Sydiots all over the world in their quest to prove that member D, R or N still holds a grudge against that godlike creature named Syd.

I's a bit like Paul McCartney who will, forever and ever, be reminded of his 'It's a drag' comment the day John Lennon died, a comment he gave to the press vultures while he was emotionally exhausted.

In 2005 when Roger Waters' (rather unexciting) Ca Ira opera saw the light of day he was obliged to face the press, but his management insisted to talk about the opera and not about Pink Floyd. Belgian journalist Serge Simonart described this wryly as interviewing Winston Churchill and only asking about his hobbies. The music journalist however smuggled in a Barrett-related question and noted down the following statement:

The press is also to blame, because they want a juicy tale. Syd was a juicy tale, and that is why his influence seems to be so much bigger than it was in reality: he barely was a year in the band, and we have made our best work later without him. (Taken from WHERE ARE THEY NOW... ROGER WATERS (PINK FLOYD), currently hosted at A Fleeting Glimpse.)

Apart from the fact that Roger Waters needs an extra semi-trailer to transport his ego while he is on tour, he has a valid point although some Syd anoraks will obviously not agree with the above.

Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.
Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.

In December 1968 (give or take a month) Syd Barrett, Duggie Fields and a drop-out named Jules rented a three bedroom apartment at Wetherby Mansions. As Jules left a short while later the witnesses who can tell us something substantial about Syd's daily life are Duggie Fields, Gala Pinion (who took the spare bedroom about 6 months later), Iggy Rose plus the circle of close friends and, unfortunately enough, hanger-ons who were only there for the free food, free booze and free drugs. Syd Barrett was either a very generous host or simply too spaced-out to understand that he was being ripped-off.

Our good friend Iggy Rose is rather reluctant to divulge too much to the outside world and anything that she has told the Reverend stays well inside the Church's sigillum confessionis. Gala seems to have disappeared in Germany of all places, so perhaps someone ought to create a Semi-Holy Church of Jules in order to find and question him. Most people who knew Syd seem to have valid enough reasons to keep a low profile, unless they want to sell overpriced Barrett photo books.

The result is that all weight falls upon the man who lived with Syd for a couple of years and who tried (and succeeded) in making a successful art career of his own: Duggie Fields. But it must have been, and probably still is, a pain in the arse that whenever he wants to inform the press about a new exposition they all friendly smile into his direction and say: “Fine, but we only want to know about Syd Barrett really”.

So let's set the record straight, shall we? With a little help of our Spanish-sister-blog Solo En Las Nubes we hereafter present you an exclusive Duggie Fields self-interview (from the 24th November of 2010) and we will not add another word about Syd. Sort of.

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Artistically, a Duggie Fields interview speaks for itself and needs no introduction.

Although there are some obvious influences on his paintings, his art – like with all great artists - is immediately recognisable. But the Duggie Fields label is not limited to canvas alone.

His life is filled with very curious anecdotes. One of those is how he shared a flat with Syd Barrett (and – although only for a couple of weeks – with Iggy Rose [note from FA]), the protagonist of this blog. Exclusively for Todos En Las Nubes Mr. Fields has written this self-interview. An honor.

ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields
ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields.

So how do you start your day...?

Usually at the computer. In the winter in my dressing gown; in the summer in my underwear, with a cup of green tea....

And...?

I check my emails. Facebook. And then sometimes I sit working on a new idea, a picture or less frequently a piece of music. And some times hours can pass without me registering.

What are you working on then now?

On the computer I have a couple of new image ideas started. How well they’ll develop I don’t yet know. And a new piece of music on the way, the first for quite some time. There’s also the canvas I’ve been working on for most of the summer now.

So what’s that all about?

That’s not so easy for me to say. If it has a narrative I’ve yet to work out what it is about. There seems to be some kind of story. There are two figures in the picture occupying the same, but not quite the same, space. Both looking at something but not quite the same something. Both figures have spiritual overtones. The male figure came from a statue in the graveyard just around the corner from here. The female figure was a chance vision at an Arts and Antiques Fair up the road in Olympia. Photographed randomly, not initially intended to pair with him but somehow ending there intuitively.

Male Female - Duggie Fields
Male Female - Duggie Fields.

What’s “just around the corner” ?

Just around the corner is Brompton Cemetery. Just around the corner is also the name of a series of photographs I have been taking. Almost daily and with my mobile phone and then posted on my Facebook page. The Cemetery is Victorian, designed to echo on a much smaller scale St.Peter’s in Rome, and ravishing when over-grown and wild as it was last year. I photograph in there regularly. Always managing to discover unseen statues, so many angels, and a wealth of ever-changing imagery. And also I take pictures just around the corner on the streets where I live.

And where is that?

Earls Court, an area I’ve lived in now for over 40 years. In the same home, the one I first got with Syd Barrett shortly after he’d left the Pink Floyd and which we shared together for a couple of years or so before he left even further from the life he’d once lived, and that I’ve lived in ever since.

Have you always taken photographs?

At Art School I did photography briefly as part of my course there, enjoying time in the dark-room developing, processing and printing my own film, but not really getting on with their prevailing concepts of what the subjects should be. Over the years I’ve had various cameras, though nothing got me so involved again until going digital allowed me to print and process on screen. The camera phone I enjoy enormously, not having to carry a separate camera with me, one less item to fill the pockets and think about. I use it kind of as a visual diary. I upload the images to Facebook as it is currently simpler than adding them to my own website the way it is set-up at the moment.

Note: This year (2011) Just Around The Corner evolved into a very agreeable book.

That implies you might change it..?

That will change at some stage, but it’s a job that just adds to the list of things to do. And right now that’s a growing list. The website (www.duggiefields.com) works well enough as it stands. But all its sections, and there are many already, could be expanded on. Like everything it is a question of time, and of priorities.

Note: There is a Duggie Fields blog as well.

What’s the biggest change then that might happen to it?

Well apart from a dedicated Photography section, I have over 1,000 images to choose from to add there. Mostly landscapes and things, the “Just around the corner” series, “Tree offerings”, and “Curiosities”. There is more music to add. Quite a few more pieces in addition to what is already online. And lastly to update the “Word” section with some new writing. Have been working for the past few years on anecdotes from my life, from childhood on. Currently have written up to my early years in Wetherby Mansions.

And when might this happen?

You might well ask that. Really it depends. Right now I’m finishing off one very large acrylic canvas; thinking about what the next one I paint might be, painting always being my priority over everything, though now first starting with imagery made on computer whereas before it would start on tracing and graph paper. Working on a couple of digital images that will stay digital whatever, possibly being output as digital printed canvasses an option. As well as continuing with the music piece I started only recently. So I am occupied, pre-occupied, engaged, and other-wise committed. Enough in fact to think, this is enough for this too so I can back get on with some real work, which of course it always is. Time demanding however rewarding it feels in the process, which it does, there is never enough of it it seems........

© 2010 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Duggie Fields & Jenny Spires. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.


2012-01-06

Antonio Jesús Reyes, a new career in a new town

Iggy Rose, mid 70's.
Iggy Rose by Felix Atagong.

First of all, happy New Year sistren and brethren of the Church. These wishes do not only come from the Reverend but also from our mutual point of adoration, our nadir and zenith, Ms. Iggy Rose. With every contact she proves to us that she still is extremely exuberant, hilariously silly and all together daft as a brush (all used in a non-pejorative way).

Today, the 6th of January, is a special day as well for Sydaholics all over the world and it rejoices us that Iggy has been a part in the life of the diamond. Our wish to you, dear Iggy, is not to change a bit, because wherever you walk rainbows magically appear. We take the small inconvenience for granted that our ears are ringing when we lay down the phone. Keep on shouting to the world, Iggy, not only your anger, but your happiness and joy as well.

Somewhere near the end of 2010 the Reverend was invited by the webmaster of the Spanish Syd Barrett blog Solo en las Nubes (Alone in the Clouds) to produce a so-called auto-interview. You can read the original Spanish version of this slightly ludicrous interview at Autoentrevista - Felix Atagong: "Un hombre sincero" and an English version was later published at the Church (Felix Atagong: an honest man).

Solo en les Nubes

So now it is about time for La Sagrada Iglesia de Iggy La Esquimal to return the favour. Antonio Jesús Reyes from the Spanish Syd Barrett blog has finally found the time to add his version of the truth and nothing but the truth.

Antonio Jesús Reyes, a new career in a new town

Antonio Jesús
Antonio Jesús.

Tell us about your Syd-Floyd connection. How did you end up living in Cambridge?

This is a short but complex story. I met an English girl in Seville whose mother was moving to Cambridge and I ended up going out with her… no, not with the mother! So, we decided at some point to move from Seville to Cambridge although I did not know what to expect.

Things began to get surreal when we went to the first City Wakes concert (2008). I was introduced to Rosemary Brent, and after the show we had a drink (without Rosemary). In the pub I introduced my girlfriend’s mother to a good friend of Syd, who had played the drums in Those Without (I remembered his name from a picture I saw years ago).

From that moment on, and for the rest of my stay there, these two years were sydbarretianly amazing. I nearly met every Cambridge mafia member in town. Two years after the end of it all, I’m still realizing that I was often ignorant of the fact that I met these people who had been part of Syd's and the early Floyd’s life.

So coincidentally Stephen Pyle almost became my father-in law. He told me lots of anecdotes. We talked about films, paintings, music and his work for The Rolling Stones, Queen, U2… I miss him most of all.

I worked with him at The City Wakes. One day he introduced me to Jenny Spires at Mick Brown’s and it was only after thirty minutes of conversation that I realized that I had heard that name before. She was quite kind to me and has an extraordinary good taste in music.

The Cambridge experience was incredible. My literary idol, Laurence Sterne, ‘studied’ where David Bowie played in the 70’s and… ...well, there are too many stories to tell them all.

My relationship finished some time after returning to Seville. Let me quote John Milton’s Paradise Lost, I can affirm that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven". My Cambridge bonds are mostly cut off now but I still appreciate the friendship forgetting they were connected to one of my idols.

How did you begin to listen to Syd-Floyd music?

I hope I can tell you in a chronological way:

First: in 1994 I was watching a documentary about the career of Pink Floyd. I remember someone saying something like “If we could make it without X, we can make it without Y”. I was reading or writing something while watching it, so I was not paying much attention. First there came a lot of noise from the TV speakers, which annoyed me… and then… a piece of music that was enchanting. It was A Saucerful of Secrets, performed live in Pompeii. It was a life-changing experience forgotten in a minute or two. I was a teenager, and it was summer, please, understand me.

Second: one day while listening to the radio, I heard a song that really touched me. It was 'Wish You Were Here’. I completely misunderstood every single thing the radio show host said and thought it was written by Syd Barrett.

Third: in a record store I found the Crazy Diamond Box. I quickly read the info and I remembered all I seemed to know about him. There was a mistake in the price as well as one of those boxes was priced 1700 pts instead of 7100 pts. You don't have to guess which one I bought.

When I got home, and listened to it, I did not like it at all. With the passing of time (a year or longer!!) I tried to listen to Opel and found that it was so different to the stuff I was usually listening to, that I got hooked.

By chance, a friend of mine lent me The Piper at the Gates of Dawn… I began to listen to Pink Floyd, the band founded by the Opel guy. At the time, I was studying English Language and Literature, so Syd was a source of knowledge here (Lewis Carrol, Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear, James Joyce…).

With Stephen Pyle
Antonio Jesús with Stephen Pyle.

Wontcha tell us about your blog?

Why not? It all began when I posted Here I Go, sung by David Gilmour on a radio show. I noticed this post got some visitors and as it was the only Syd blog in the Spanish language on this side of the universe, I decided to do something about it.

After some entries I added a device to translate the entries into other languages. I thought that other people would be interested in some of the posts like, for example, the ones offering essential and very good bootlegs. I even dared to share a home-made compilation of the Have You Go It Yet? series. Things are growing rapidly and news is becoming the core of the blog.

I also wanted to share things that haven’t got a place in the project I’m working on, that is, a book about Syd… which is going to be a quite hard task to do. Time & money, apart from Pink Floyd songs, are quite annoying. I cannot say much about this yet. There’s always the bittersweet risk of giving up, so don’t hold your breath, or you’ll suffocate. I’m trying to do my best, I swear.

The self-interview section is my favourite. I got Duggie Fields, some Belgian Reverend and Kiloh Smith to interview themselves for the blog and others are in the pipeline. It is not easy as you run the risk of being misinterpreted when choosing the subjects. Basically there are only two rules:

1. Have fun.
2. Free subject matters.

What's next? It was a surprise when I found that www.sydbarrett.es was free… so my blog points to this URL as well. One problem is that my computer skills are limited. I need designers for the bootlegs and layout artists for things unseen in the sydbarretian world. The number of visits is high, the collaborators are scarce. The pipe of the pipeline is going to explode.

Why Syd Barrett?

His music works like a hyperlink (a thing he has in common with David Bowie). It’s because of him that I got to know some writers I didn’t study at the university. His musical influences are quite rich. By scratching the surface you end up knowing lots of amazing musicians and albums like Zappa’s Freak-Out, Love’s Forever Changes, the works of Kevin Ayers, and The Byrds to mention a few. It made me fully appreciate other genres like psychedelic folk and blues. Syd's friend, Stephen Pyle, showed me to appreciate blues. He used to play Bo Diddley (whom he met once!), John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy...

With Barrett, I learned to see what’s behind a song. Some of those, for reasons we know, were under-produced (sometimes, even less than that) and yet they have reached a kind of status that will make them last forever. You know they are quite good songs even without a proper production, even with a quite imperfect performance.

Today, we see the contrary. No matter the means musicians have today, most of contemporary music seems to suffer from a dance song fate and their perishability is faster than the yoghourts in your fridge. There must be something extremely special in those under-produced Syd Barrett tracks, rougher than demos, that makes them what they are.

Grantchester Meadows
Antonio Jesús at Grantchester Meadows.

Tell us about your favorite music.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Kevin Ayers a lot, and The The. Also The Beach Boys are on my mp3 player. They are something special. The sound and the songs of The Beach Boys have a special quality which makes this music a kind of healing experience, the kind of help we need to survive modern life. …The Manics, Travis, Maximilian Hecker, Sun Ra… Spanish singer-songwriters like Nacho Vegas and Diego Vasallo… Good old rock and roll, like Chuck Berry, Jerry-Lee Lewis, Elvis…

You could say I’m a kind of David Bowie connoisseur. I collaborated on Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie proposing some ideas I found interesting. I strongly recommend it. Bowie’s 1967 album is very avant-garde, and very ironic.

In general, I like artists who are innovative, like producer Joe Meek, and those who can transform the past into something completely different or revive it in a new and exciting way, like Suede.

What do you think about the recent Pink Floyd re-re-re-re-re-releases?

Those are not my cup of tea. These boxes have so much useless gimmicks and several music stuff is simply repeated! The unreleased material of every album could have been compiled in the way of The Beatles Anthology and then everyone would have been satisfied. The Pink Floyd vaults seem not to be very deep, but the treasures are so hard to get!

I understand that EMI intends to make business, however, at the same time and paradoxically, they don't make their customers happy. So what’s this for? To get cash and disappoint people? It makes people eager to download the stuff instead of buying it.

I don’t need a Piper / Saucerful Immersion set. I don’t want those marbles, I don’t need a scarf, I don’t use placeholders (I got plenty of them during my stay in Belgium). I haven’t got a Blue-ray player. In summary, I don’t want to create more needs… Do ya?

Would Barrett have become a second Bowie if only?

The otherness in Barrett could have derived into something different from Bowie or the other way round, but never would he have become a second Bowie. They would have provoked some kind of artistic turmoil in the best of the senses. Along with Brian Eno, both are (were) aware that "music is where you can crash your plane and walk away”. Songs like Arnold Layne, so childlike, or Astronomy Domine, with such an exciting and new sound, were made with a goal. Bowie and Barrett are the kind of artists carrying that old Monty Python sentence: “And now… for something completely different”. That’s what Barrett did most of the times. Every Syd tune was different.

Best memories of England?

It was all quite surreal. I remember walking on the grass of Grantchester Meadows, having coffee in The Cambridge Corn Exchange, and feeling like in a dream I had never dreamed, just because I was there by chance. I visited every place I had read about in the books, like St. Margaret Square. I also did the same in London, the three times I went there.

I arrived there in a sort of tele-transportation. I did not have the time to think of the things I knew I would see there. And surprises came in little by little; I did not know the grass of King’s College was the one mentioned on ‘Brain Damage’, for example.

I remember working for The City Wakes, restoring old magazine adverts for concerts and saying to myself… “What is this where I’m in??!!”. The result was part of a collage by Stephen Pyle (again), and it ended up on the wall of a jazz bar (and part of a postcard collection).

But life was not always easy for an immigrant. All in all it was a beautiful and wonderful bitter-sweet experience.

Storm Thorgerson signature.
Storm Thorgerson signature.

Apart from the aforementioned people… who else did you meet?

I met Storm Thorgerson during one of his exhibitions. I had some kind of problem with him. I had a City Wakes poster with me he made the artwork for and he put his autograph on it. I was going to leave, when he said “you have to pay 20 pounds”. I said I did not have a penny! And he let me go in a… special way.

I had the chance to meet Mick Rock, but I did not make the effort to avoid another disappointment. Steven Pyle and Mick met… and… during a chat in a bar, they removed a Syd poster from a wall and Mick dedicated it to me. Stephen said he was a very nice person, to which I thought… “****!”, it was like winning the lottery without having a coupon. A good summary of my stay.

What more can you say?

Not much. Visit Solo En Las Nubes using the translation tool or read it like that in order to improve your Spanish. There are a lot of surprises to come, not only for the Spanish speakers. Cool compilations, some material to read (in English too) and lots of music recommendations.

In the meantime, enjoy music.

© 2012 Antonio Jesús Reyes, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Antonio Jesús Reyes. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2012-02-11

Wondering and Dreaming (a self-interview with Ewgeni Reingold)

Ewgeni Reingold
Ewgeni Reingold.

The Venn-diagram-intersection of Proto-Floyd, Vintage-Floyd and Syd Barrett anorak sets isn't that ginormous and even if a same person carries different identities throughout forums and social media websites you keep on stumbling upon each other. Unfortunately, the Reverend is not really sure what the previous sentence really tries to say.

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit came across Ewgeni Reingold around October 2008 and our Russian friend is the living proof that new blood can bring a breath of fresh air into our rather sclerotised Syd Barrett community. Without wanting to sound too morbid we Sydiots need to realise that there are only a good two, perhaps three, decades left to unravel those great unsolved Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett mysteries. After that we will only have memories from third-party sources and not from the (f)actual people themselves...

All it takes are some adventurous people who dare to ask some questions, search through archives and go digging for the holy grails that are still undiscovered. Ewgeni did just that and his YouTube channel has several gems, not only from Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett, that would have stayed unnoticed without his research.

The Spanish blog Solo En Las Nubes had the honour to self-interview Ewgeni and the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit simply pinched the result and put is here. Life isn't fair, but such is life.

Solo en les Nubes
Ewgeni Reingold
Ewgeni Reingold.

Wondering and Dreaming (a self-interview with Ewgeni Reingold)

What if I told you that the rarest Syd Barrett and early Floyd audiovisual material has been published on 4 DVDs, that is it of professional quality, is extremely detailed, has been thoroughly researched and was compiled by just one person?

Right.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is to share what you love. This is the motto of Ewgeni Reingold, born in the city of Samara (Russia) on 12 May, 1991. He still lives there today and studied German and Public Relations at its university.

Ewgeni has had the honour to grace us with a self-interview. At the end of this entry, we'll describe this DVD collection in detail. But for the moment, let's focus on the what, how, why and when and who is responsible for such great work.

1. How did you discover Syd Barrett’s music?

Well, I’ve been a music fan since I was four or five years old. My parents used to play Beatles albums on a vinyl player, so I became an obsessive Beatles fan. Then I discovered new groups little by little: The Who, The Kinks, The Hollies, lots of old Merseybeat and all that things. In April of 2006 I heard a radio show about Syd Barrett. It smashed my mind completely. All that really weird music, the tragic story and all that stuff...

I listened to this special late night show with headphones, lying in my bed. I still remember the really strange feelings when I listened to “Interstellar Overdrive” for the first time. It was completely new music to me. Of course, I had listened to several Pink Floyd songs on the radio and on TV before (like “Time”, “Another Brick” and so on) but I didn’t like it at that time.

I didn’t expect to listen to THIS Pink Floyd. Fortunately I taped the program from the radio and listened and listened to it again and again. I still have this tape.

I became a big Syd fan: I began to search for early Floyd CDs and his solo albums around town and as I didn’t have Internet at that time, looking for video stuff and bootlegs.

2. How did you come to the idea of making those Syd DVDs?

It was around 2009. I realised that I had tons of video stuff related to Syd and the early Floyd. I loved the “Have You Got It Yet?” series so much, but the quality of the video material was poor. So I thought: “If I have these videos on my hard drive, why not making the definitive video anthology covering all the 1966-69 videos? That’s the moment, when the “Ultimate Collection” DVD’s started to materialize.

I didn’t know how to make DVD’s, so I spent a huge amount of time trying to make discs. When I finished that, I shared this on Yeeshkul and was shocked by a wave of greetings from Floyd fans. In the summer of 2011 after long research and trading with collectors, I started to make an upgraded anthology – 4 DVD’s (can you imagine?). It was called “Wondering and Dreaming” and included EVERY bit of known footage of Syd Barrett on circulation.

3. How long did it take to make “Wondering & Dreaming”?

Almost 2 years. New upgrades and new videos started to appear. (Amazingly, in the summer of 2010 we got the “Dope” footage!), I became more interested in trading with other collectors, not just using sources floating on the Internet. At this time I became more professional in using video decoding, DVD authoring etc.

Every DVD of this series has liner notes, correct dates and cool picture galleries.

4. What’s your favourite video with Syd?

It’s a difficult question; honestly, I like it ALL and can’t choose. I just hope more footage to appear in the future, especially the recovered “Top of the Pops” footage.

5. What was the most difficult video to find?

Definitely “Die Jungen Nachtwandler” footage from 24.02.1967 (UFO Club). Of course, this video surfaced around 2004-5, but I was looking for a better quality copy from the Bavarian Archive. Shit! It took me four years to get it, and finally I succeeded. You can compare the quality easily and the new version rocks!

Have you noticed that Soft Machine also appears in this scene?

I also want to mention other rarities: Jugband Blues with the original soundtrack (it sounds terrible, but this is an alternate unbooted mix!), Syd’s 1969 home movies in better quality and John Latham “Speak” – Floyd 66-67 backdrop film.

6. What do you think about the recent Pink Floyd re-re-re-re-re-releases?

It was great, those guys changed their minds and gave us the chance (finally) to hear something new, not just again a “super-dooper-cool” remastering. Of course, I really want to hear more unreleased Syd music. The full December ‘64 session, Bike with alternate lyrics (and other “Piper” era early mixes), the Stockholm tape in full and the holy grail of all Syd collectors: The De Lane Lea sessions from the Fall of ‘67 (John Latham, “Intremental”, In the Beechwoods, Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream). I would pay a high price to hear all that.

7. Can you imagine Syd Barrett today and still active as a musician?

No, I just can’t imagine Syd writing songs and performing in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Another Roky Erikson and the Aliens? Definitely not. It was a tragedy and big loss for popular music, but... Syd belonged more to the 60s than the 70s.

Most great music was gone in 1971-72 (with the exception of some glam) and briefly returned in 1976 with punk (just my opinion). I can’t imagine Syd playing hard rock or progressive and I can’t imagine him and Pink Floyd in the 70s. By 1970 Syd's songs became darker and depressive. Songs like “Birdie Hop” or “Word Song” are difficult to listen to, you know... I think Syd said to us all what he wanted to say and that he left rock music at the right time.

8. What are your hobbies?

Just listening to music, reading books (not often). My favourite music era is the 60s: Kinks, Soft Machine, Pretty Things, lots of raw garage and R&B, proto-punk. My last major discovery is Them with Van Morrison, T2, and The Untamed. If I had a time machine, I would go back to 1965 or 66 and never return at our times again.

9. Tell us something about the Russian pop-rock panorama.

Well, there is absolutely nothing much to say about that. There is no normal pop and rock scene, just shit everywhere. “Russian Rock” is like... well... quasi-folk in the worst sense of the word, and I can't define that as rock music honestly. You can check examples of this on YouTube (Воскресение Случилось Что-То В Городе Моем or Цой - Группа крови). The only good example is some good punk rock from the USSR, there were some nice groups in the mid-80s, but mostly it was just ripped off from well-known groups like T.Rex etc...

10. What more can you say?

Just do what you want to do and feel free to express yourself. Listen to great music and keep on rockin'!

© 2012 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Ewgeni Reingold. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.

Wondering & Dreaming DVD Collection (written by: Ewgeni Reingold)

Almost 4 years ago I decided to make a first major DVD compilation of all Syd Barrett material in circulation. The first set was called “Ultimate Collection” and released in 2009.

But all is different now because this time I used non-compressed sources for this anthology and also because many upgrades have appeared since the last time. I decided to make the most complete picture, using all available sources (such as: there are 4 versions of “Jugband Blues” with different audio and video, 2 versions of the complete “Look Of The Week” because I can’t choose what’s the source is the best, etc...)

This 3 DVD set covers the most important years in the Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd group history – 1966 to 1969. I also added a 4th bonus DVD with related material (such as: “Speak” by John Latham)

I would like to thank all people who help me in this project: Pete M, Ron Toon (& Harvested), Captain Bronstain for his technical help & patience, Felix Atagong & Mark Jones for his wonderful covers.

Enjoy !

Wondering & Dreaming
Wondering & Dreaming. Vol. 1.

Wondering & Dreaming DVD 1 (1966-67)
Torrent: http://www.yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?t=26610

1. Syd’s First Trip – Summer of 1966
1.1 Source 1: VHS
1.2 Source 2: HRV (edited, best quality)

2. “San Francisco” by Anthony Stern - 1968 (ARTE rebroadcast)
3. “Tonight Let’s All Make Love In London” – Floyd’s bits, 1967

4. London 66-67 – Filmed on 30.12.1966 (?), 11/12.01.1967, 17.01.1967 (?)
4.1 Copy from Japan Laserdisc (Interstellar Overdrive & Nick’s Boogie)
4.2 Unissued Fragment
4.3 Promo video for “London 66-67” release (1994)
4.4 Interstellar Overdrive (VH1 edited version)

5. Syd’s Silent Home Movies – 1966 or early 1967
5.1 Source 1
5.2 Source 2

Running Time: 71:18

Wondering & Dreaming DVD 2 (1967)
(same download location as above)

1. Scene Special aka “It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” – filmed on 27-01-1967
1.1. Full TV Special – Broadcast on 7.03.1967, taken from 2nd Gen S-VHS
1.2. Interstellar Overdrive – without voiceover (HRV)
1.3. Excerpts from Documentary, best ever quality

2. Excerpt from “Dope” Movie – January or February 1967

3. Excerpt from “Die Jungen Nachtwandler” Documentary, filmed on 24-02-1967
3.1 Interstellar Overdrive - Master Copy from BR
3.2 Interstellar Overdrive – VHS source
3.3 UFO Club – outtakes

4. Arnold Layne – Promo Film, Filmed in Late February 1967
4.1 Master Copy (?) (HRV)
4.2 16:9 Version

5. Beach Home Movies – Spring of 1967
5.1 Zoomed Footage
5.2 Original speed (and silent)

6. Abbey Road Home Movies – April 1967
6.1 Source 1: VHS
6.2 Source 2: HRV (edited, best quality)

7. Bouton Rouge – “Arnold Layne” Second Promo, filmed 29-04-1967
7.1 Original Non-Remastered Source
7.2 HRV Remaster

8. Look Of The Week – 14.05.1967, Source 1
8.1 Raw most complete source – Pow.R. Toh.H., Astronomy Domine, Interview
8.2 Pow.R. Toh.H. (without logo)

Running Time: 84:50

Wondering & Dreaming
Wondering & Dreaming. Vol. 2.

Wondering & Dreaming DVD 3
Torrent: http://www.yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?t=26725

1. Look Of The Week – 14.05.1967, Source 2 (BBC 4 rebroadcast + different source of interview) HRV
2. Top Of The Pops (See Emily Play) – 6.07.1967, Reconstruction

3. Pathe Newsreel (Scarecrow) – filmed on 8.07.1967
3.1 Original Complete Pathe Newsreel (21-09-1967) HRV
3.2 Scarecrow (16:9 Version)
3.3 Pathe Complete Outtakes feat. Pink Floyd, HRV
3.4 Pink Floyd Outtakes, best quality

4. Beat Club Mentions – 1967 to 1969
4.1 Hit Parade (22-07-1967)
4.2 “Reaction In G” audio from unknown source, 1969
4.3 Probably Pink Floyd footage, 1969

5. American Bandstand – 7.11.1967
5.1 Complete (Apples & Oranges, Interview)
5.2 Excerpts without timecode

6. Central Office Of Information (Jugband Blues) – filmed on early December 1967
6.1 Original Uncut Source with original audio
6.2 Harvested Remaster
6.3 BBC Soundtrack (fake)
6.4 “Seven Ages Of Rock” version

7. Tomorrow’s World – Filmed on 12.12.1967
7.1 Complete (Green Onions, Unknown song)
7.2 The Story Of Pink Floyd – first mention, 1994
7.3 Roger Waters on Jools Holland Show (without timecode)

8. Christmas On Earth Continued – 22.12.1967
8.1 Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help From My friends” promo
8.2.Floyd Footage – zoomed

9. Home Movies - Filmed Between 1966 and 1969
9.1 New Edit from best available copy
9.2 Zoomed footage
9.3 Best quality excerpts

Running Time: 81:20

Wondering & Dreaming DVD 4 (bonus) - (1967 to 2010)
Torrent: http://www.yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27280

Related Material (1967 – 1993)

1. Jeannetta Cochrane (Peter Whitehead 1967 Footage & IO soundtrack)
2. John Latham “Speak” (Pink Floyd Backdrop 1966-67 Film)
3. Road 1967 Footage ? (Taken from “Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd Story” DVD)
4. Mike Leonard – Pathe Newsreel (1968)
5. Mike Leonard – Pathe Newsreel Outtakes (1968)
6. Richard Laing ,1966 clip (Infamous Syd’s related psychiatrist)
7. Duggie Fields, 1975 clip (Syd’s neighbor)
8. Look At The Life, 1967 Film (feat. Iggy The Eskimo)
9. Excerpts From Anthony Stern 1968 Movie (feat. Iggy The Eskimo)
10. Peter Whitehead Interview (1993)
11. “A Day So Dark So Warm” – Syd’s Last Circulating Footage (1998, Better source, than usual)

Old Documentaries (1988 - ?)

12. Dave & Rick Interview (1988)
13. Knebworth Documentary (1990, Complete from better source, incl. 1969 Home Footage)
14. Eight Miles High (Japan Version)
15. Eight Miles High (English VHS)
16. Eight Miles High (Another Different Version)

Sad News (2006)

17 BBC News # 1
18. BBC News # 2
19. Sky News
20. Auction News
21. Mick Rock talks about his Book

Oddities (2007 - ?)

22. Seven Ages Of Rock (early Floyd part only)
23. Project Syd – Friends About Syd
24. Funny Cartoon
25. Here I Go – Promotional Clip, 2010

Running Time: 143 Minutes

Although there are several download locations for these DVDs the Church only deliberately gives the 'official' Yeeshkul torrents. Yeeshkul is a place where Pink Floyd audio collectors meet and share files through a torrent network. Registration is needed to access the files.


2012-11-10

John Cavanagh, so much to do, so little time

M. Soledad Fernandez Arana Photography
Picture by M. Soledad Fernandez Arana.

The official Pink Floyd franchise grows and grows, we have (or have had) Pink Floyd bags, bottle openers, coasters, golf balls, key-rings, mugs, playing cards, shoes, shooters, undies, wallets, wine and even incense sticks. There are countless unofficial (and a few semi-official) biographical and under-review-style DVDs and if we may believe certain rumours there are still a few of those in the pipeline.

And then we didn't count the books yet. At the Late Night forum there is a selection of Syd Barrett or vintage Pink Floyd related books, and currently there are over 35 listed: The Big List of Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd Books.

Dark Side Globe

There are, luckily, not that many books describing individual Pink Floyd albums but one that was announced, in 2005, with many bells and whistles was John Harris's The Dark Side of the Moon: The Making Of The Pink Floyd Masterpiece.

It is the perfect example to show the difference between a good and an excellent rock book. The book starts rather traditional with the well-known story about Syd and the boys and how Syd named the band 'in partial tribute to two of his favourite blues singers'. Even in 2005 that story was old news and, on top of that, wrong. The chance for Syd Barrett to have heard a Floyd Council track before 1965 was infinitely close to zero. As a solo performer Floyd Council is a footnote in blues history and only Piedmont blues scholars remember 'Dipper Boy' as a part-time member of Blind Boy Fuller's busking and recording band (a quick count shows he was only present on 7 out of about 138 songs).

copyright: Matt Groening
Picture by Matt Groening.

Although a pleasant read, with the odd interesting titbit here and there, John Harris's book has quite a few flukes. There isn't a word about the dozens different vinyl versions of the album, not a word about its many tributes, covers or parodies, not a word about the hundreds of bootlegs. It lacks an in-depth description of the songs or the themes on the album and no mention of how the revolutionary artwork has been 'cited' over the past few decades on records, magazines, books and in a well-known cartoon show.

The Making Of The Pink Floyd Masterpiece is a nice coffee-table book, especially if one realises that the artwork has been made by the same person who designed the record sleeve and for that reason it is unforgivable that John Harris, throughout the book, insists of naming that man Storm Thorgeson (without an R).

The Scottish Piper

Not only does John Cavanagh's The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn cost about one-third of the above but it also manages to spell Thorgerson's name right. And if you thought for a second this post was going to be about Dark Side of the Moon then you have entered the wrong universe.

Cavanagh's Piper, so tells the blurb, paints a vivid picture of how Pink Floyd's remarkable debut album was created. It brings to life the stories behind each track, as well as the Floyd’s groundbreaking live performances of the time. Generally, most reviewers think this is an excellent 'little' book about the Floyd's first and who are we to contradict them? John managed to interview Nick Mason, Peter Jenner, Jenny Fabian, Storm Thorgerson, Duggie Fields, Peter Whitehead and this lead to information, that in 2003 when it first came out, hadn't been told before.

Recently, the Spanish Syd Barrett blog Solo En Las Nubes published an auto-interview with John Cavanagh, and the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, as its preferred partner, has received the exclusive honour of putting the English version on here.

Solo en les Nubes

Self-interview with John Cavanagh, author of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Next to a musician and radio presenter the Scottish John Cavanagh is the author of a small guide about the Pink Floyd's first album. It is a work of pleasant reading and essential information. For Solo En Las Nubes he demonstrates what he knows and what we as well want to know. There will be no time for boring moments.

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by John Cavanagh
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by John Cavanagh.

Our readers may know you from the book you wrote about Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn album, that was published in 2003. Could you tell us something about that?

I was thrilled to be asked to write one of the first books in Continuum's series on classic albums, especially as it brought so much to my life on a personal level. The first person I found to interview was Vic Singh, the photographer responsible for the front cover of Piper. Vic had withdrawn from fashion photography to follow his other artistic and personal pursuits in the early '70s and no one had sought out his story in any Pink Floyd books I'd seen, so I was very pleased to find him. We've become good friends since then and he actually shot the front cover for one of my own records (the second album I made under the name Phosphene) using the same lens which he had on the Piper photo session. Since then, Vic has worked on photo and video work with quite a lot of new artists in London and he's a man who finds great excitement in the here and now, which I find very refreshing.

From my first conversation with Vic, the book developed through discovering many more stories which hadn't been told in print before. I thought that potential readers were likely to have bought other books on Pink Floyd, so I wanted to be sure that they felt they weren't just reading the same old stuff over again. Thankfully, that seems to have happened, as I've had so many positive thoughts on the book across time and it has found friends around the world - indeed, I have one very good friend whom I met thanks to this book, so it has a lot of personal significance in my life.

You were into Pink Floyd from a very early age - right?

The first Floyd album I bought was Meddle. That was when I was 9 years old. I discovered Relics the following summer, as I wanted more Floyd and this compilation LP was very cheap, so I had the money to buy it! That's what took me towards Piper - the Relics album and hearing Astronomy Domine on the radio - but my dad and I shared a lot of musical interests and we had, in time, all the Pink Floyd albums between us, so that band became a special thing for both of us and something I associate with discovering lots of music when I was growing up.

Phosphene (picture: Vic Singh)
Phosphene (picture: Vic Singh).

Let's talk about some of the other things you do... you mentioned your own music: tell me about that.

For a long time, if anyone asked me "do you play anything" (meaning an instrument), I'd reply that I played other people's records! Then, one day in 1996 when my friend Gayle and I were planning to do some recording of a band we knew using an old Ferrograph valve tape machine, she encouraged me to get out a clarinet, which I hadn't played in years, and she played a Farfisa Pianorgan. The idea was just to test the recorder and mics, but after improvising together we thought that it felt good, we rewound the tape and, in that moment of listening back, decided we should become a band and so that's how I found the magic moment of being able to create something as well as play other people's records!

We made a lot of our own records in the following 4 years, then we had our solo projects from 2000 onwards, mine is called Phosphene and Gayle's is called Pefkin. We played on each others things sometimes too and then one day in late 2010, we ended up doing a show in a wonderful place in Glasgow called the Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery. We were supposed to be playing with a friend who had to pull out that night, so all of a sudden we were playing a show which wasn't either of our solo projects and afterwards some friends who really enjoyed it kept saying that we should do things as Electroscope again, so we thought, well, why not?

Our first show went really well, so we've continued to enjoy playing again, we're working on a new album too and we released a compilation of rare tracks earlier this year called Diapause.

I have a fourth full-length Phosphene album pretty much finished too and in the time I've made music under that name, I've been privileged to record with lots of wonderful people, including Bridget St. John and the late and much missed Lol Coxhill.

John Cavanagh
John Cavanagh.

You said you played other people's records. I know radio is a big part of your life.

Oh yes, I've presented all sorts of shows for the BBC since 1990 and I also have a weekly show which goes out on a station called Radio Six International which is carried on various stations in such far flung places as Taiwan, New Zealand and the U.S.

Radio can be such a magical medium and I was very much inspired by free-spirited djs like Alan Freeman, John Peel and Johnnie Walker when I was growing up and also by a show called The Sequence which used improvised passages and Radiophonics to link the records and sessions they featured. I think that was important in my discovery and appreciation of abstract sound in music.

All of these things were important in forming my idea of what radio can be, so I was never going to head down the direction of working in some computer playlist format... not for me! I still find as much excitement as ever in putting together programmes with some sort of unusual twists in them or starting a long live show wherein listener requests will be a lot of the content and where I have no idea quite which direction we'll be moving in.

In more recent years, you've moved into producing other people's records too. How did that happen?

The first of those projects was The Seance at Hobs Lane by Mount Vernon Arts Lab, aka Drew Mulholland. Drew had already joined with Electroscope to cover Geoff Goddard's Sky Men and I'd known him for quite a while. He wanted to make an album with guests and acoustic instruments on it and he asked if I would work on that.

This was a really interesting process and it also led to my meeting with some people I would record with subsequently, like Raymond MacDonald and Isobel Campbell. At the time, the album had limited circulation, as there were business problems with Cargo, the company who released it, going bust, but it was re-issued more recently by Ghost Box Records. It was heartening to read that Seance was one of the things which inspired the people behind Ghost Box to start a label in the first place.

After that, other things started to be made here. A lot of the source material for the album Colleen et les Boites à Musique was recorded here, although Cecile Schott then manipulated the sounds in her own unique way, so that was quite different from recording a band or whatever. I got into that sort of thing rather more, starting with the first album by Family Elan "Stare of Dawn" and right now I'm working on the new record by Rab Noakes, which is tremendous fun! I've known him since I started working at the BBC and we've made, literally, hundreds of hours of radio shows, but we'd never worked together on his music before. Amongst many releases, Rab made 2 albums produced by Elliott Mazer (famed for his work with Neil Young, The Band, etc.), so I was well pleased when he asked me to produce a record, asking specifically that I choose the players who would work with him which gave me a lot of creative input right from the start. At the time of writing (August 2012), we still have some things to add before mixing starts, but we're both excited by how well it's coming together. In between those points, there have been albums by Nalle & Ben Reynolds, the debut by Two Wings, Trembling Bells first two releases, projects with some outstanding improv players active here in Glasgow including George Burt & Neil Davidson, Una MacGlone and an album by Lol Cohxill & Raymond MacDonald (yet to be released), plus the pleasure of working with George Gallacher and Fraser Watson of the legendary Scottish pop band The Poets on a new recording for a project being put together by Andrew Loog Oldham.

Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery
Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery.

You mentioned a place called Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery earlier. Tell me more about that.

Sharmanka is the unique and wonderful world of a Russian sculptor called Eduard Bersudsky. He and his partner Tatyana came to Scotland in the '90s and set up a permanent exhibition here which is now located in an arts centre in Glasgow called Trongate 103. I first saw Eduard's marvelous mechanical sculpture machines in 2000 and become completely hooked at once on this work which blends Eastern European woodcarving traditions with a feel Eduard has for using old bits and pieces to tell stories. In Russia, Eduard did some public art (a big wooden sculpture of a lion in a playpark, for example), but most of his creations were just made and operated in his own apartment using parts of old bicycles, typewriters, gramophones, you name it along with his carvings.

That's where Tatyana first met Eduard and, as a gifted theatre director, she saw a possibility to create a show which, in time, has become aligned to a whole sound and light experience and has toured many parts of the world.

The machines animate some sort of story, it might be about Soviet society, literature (for example, Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita), film (Fellini's La Strada), something from Eduard's dreams, it's very wide ranging. However, I thought there was another possibility and that was to have live players improvising with the machines and we've been running these shows on the first Thursday of each month since March 2010. I believe that Sharmanka is one of those things where, in many years time, people will look at photos or film and marvel that there was once a place where you could go and see this show, but it's here right NOW! If anyone reading this is coming to Glasgow - or is here already - I urge you to have a look at the website (sharmanka.com) and go along to see this place: I feel you will not regret it!

Sharmanka isn't your only connection to this Trongate 103 place, is it?

The centre opened in September 2009 and another of the places in there, Street Level Photoworks, began their exhibitions in this new location with a retrospective of work by John "Hoppy" Hopkins. Hoppy was another person I met and remained friends with through the Piper book, so I was asked to conduct a public interview with Hoppy in the gallery. This went so well that it developed into an occasional series of events and I've hosted discussions there with the likes of Barry Miles, Jenny Fabian, Jim Haynes and Joe Boyd. On one especially memorable Saturday afternoon in 2010, the room was packed to see Andrew Loog Oldham in conversation and this was a great day for me as ALO is someone I admire tremendously for his innovative spirit, style and chutzpah and he's also no pushover to interview, so that became a wonderfully memorable event.

There are extracts from some of these things on YouTube:
John 'Hoppy' Hopkins
Andrew Loog Oldham
Jim Haynes, Barry Miles & Jenny Fabian

John Cavanagh (picture: Vic Singh)
John Cavanagh (picture: Vic Singh).

You seem attracted to doing lots of different things. Tell us about some of the "one off" events you've been involved in.

Earlier this year I was one of five people chosen to contribute a sound-work to a series of pieces called High Slack Low Slack High devised by a Glasgow-based artist called Minty Donald. The theme of these pieces was to reflect or respond to the tidal flow of the River Clyde. My piece used a collage of sounds ranging from underwater gurglings captured at low tide by a hydrophone to the sounds heard inside a nuclear submarine. That was quite an experience in itself, to be permitted to have a peep inside that world and the way sailors live on these vessels. The sounds were fascinating too.

Then there was an event in an old place here called The Glue Factory which is indeed an erstwhile glue factory! That was called Games Night and was a "happening" in the true sense of that term, something unique for those who attended it. My friend Claire Biddles were co-presenters of a live game show which, at first, seemed to be an innocuous quiz event, but as each round unfolded it became increasingly bizarre.

Next month (September 2012) I'm off to the Isle of Lewis to take part in a show which is part of the celebrations of the centenary of John Cage's birth. That will be broadcast on American NPR radio stations, so that's all exciting too. Lewis is one of Scotland's Western Isles, I've never been there before and I'm staying for a few days so there's a chance to see round the island and visit some stone age sites there.

Those are some of the things happening this year. I do like the idea of exploring new things and... I don't know... maybe people get some sensation of that and respond by asking me to try working in new ways. Whatever generates it, I'm glad it happens!

What's the most unusual thing you've worked on recently?

Something I've done for a long time is to work as a commercial voice-over artist. That might involve voicing, say, a radio commercial for the tourist agency Visit Scotland, perhaps a tv spot for station in Ontario or some such place or providing the narration for a video for UNICEF in Vietnam. Recently I've been doing some children's story narrations which included character voices and even animal noises. Those were great fun, but I think the most unusual one was the American guy who commissioned me to read a love letter to his "Scots/Irish lass". This was, as you may imagine, a very personal thing to be entrusted with and I'd never been asked to do such a thing before, but I'm pleased to say that he was very happy with the outcome and, apparently, so was she!

What are your ambitions?

To keep on finding interesting things to do and to be able to enjoy working on them! I wouldn't say I was "ambitious" in any sense of wanting, you know, lots of money or anything like that. So long as there are ample funds to enjoy life and wonderful people to enjoy it with, places to see, things to discover... next week I'm going on an evening looking for bats and moths where we'll have a bat detector and be able to hear their ultra high frequency calls decoded in a range audible by the human ear. That, to me, is a more interesting thing to look forward to than be craving some flashy car or something... I don't even drive!

© 2012 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of M. Soledad Fernandez Arana, Matt Groening, Vic Sing, Sharmanka Kinetic Gallery & John Cavanagh. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.


2013-05-25

Spanishgrass, one year later

Acid in Oseira
Oseira Monastery
Oseira Monastery.

When the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit got hold of an Iberian Floydian legend, thanks to a Mexican Syd Barrett fan, the Reverend's alter ego, Alex Fagotin, spend a couple of days searching the Internet for clues and started to translate half a dozen of Spanish, Galician and Italian webpages about the subject. According to these articles Syd Barrett had stayed in a Spanish monastery where he had recorded a third solo album called Spanishgrass. If you missed it, you can still consult the original article here: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record.

In May 2012 the Holy Church published excerpts from these articles 'as such' under the satirical 'The Anchor' banner. Authenticity warnings were put at the beginning and end of the article and it was made clear throughout the text that the story was an urban legend that had thrived in Spain around the Eighties and was still discussed on Internet fora today.

Only a fool would believe this was a true story, but unfortunately the Internet is a fool's oasis.

La Naval
La Naval.

Investigative Journalism

Some airheads immediately accused the Church of deliberately spreading around false information, even going as far as claiming it had a hidden agenda. As if blogging about 'Paul is Dead' would automatically mean that you believe in it. Several Spanish speaking friends, however, were glad about the article and informed the Reverend that the Spanish press had indeed written about Syd Barrett overwintering in a monastery in Oseira.

Once again we repeat for those pigheaded readers that The Anchor, the Church's satirical division, didn't start this hoax. The Anchor merely reported about it, with a twenty five years delay. Unfortunately nobody could lead us to the origin of the hoax and our research lead to nothing.

This is when Barrett investigator Antonio Jesus, of Solo En Las Nubes, came into the picture. He decided to get to the bottom of this using his (Spanish) network of Barrett and Pink Floyd fans. After some exhaustive research he not only found the article that may have started the Spanishgrass legend but even contacted the journalist who wrote it. This first follow-up article is largely based upon his findings.

A warning for our fast food readers, what follows is rather long, even for people who are used to The Anchor's long-windedness.

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.
La Naval
La Naval.

Un canto a Galicia

In 1978 (ratified in 1981) Spanish region Galicia acquired a partial self-governance with its own president, parliament and court. This created a change in cultural and political awareness, fed by local television, press and organisations who wanted to cut the umbilical cord with Madrid. This was later baptised the Atlantic movement.

Journalist and musician of the influential Galician post-punk band Radio Océano, Xosé Manuel Pereiro, better known as Johnny Rotring, witnessed the birth of it: “Everyday new things were happening and you had the feeling that everything could pass.” A crucial turning point seems to have been a concert of The Ramones in November 1981 that showed that there was a growing contemporaneous underground scene outside traditional Spanish folklore. Leading Spanish newspaper El País wrote that it was a cultural awakening that buried 40 years of ostracism and dictatorship.

Franco's Legacy

In 2013 it seem weird that a concert of The Ramones would mark a turning point in the cultural history of a European country. To better understand this we have to start with a brief history lesson.

After the second world war fascism was abolished in Europe with one exception, Spain, where dictator Francisco Franco would rule until his death in 1975. Although Richard Nixon called General Franco 'a loyal friend and ally of the United States' it can't be denied that the dictator ruled harshly over his country, helped by the influential Catholic Church, the army and the police. European and American politicians however opportunistically regarded Franco as an enlightened leader and closed their eyes for the less friendly aspects of the regime.

This included the systematic suppression of dissident views through censorship and coercion, the imprisonment of ideological enemies in concentration camps, the implementation of forced labour in prisons, and the use of the death penalty and heavy prison sentences as deterrents for the opponents of the regime. (Taken from Wikipedia.)

After Franco's death democracy slowly settled in, including freedom of speech, freedom of press and the freedom to listen to subversive music. Before that, having long hair had been reason enough to be arrested by the Guardia Civil and be beaten in their cells (with wet towels, to leave no marks) just for the fun of it, like it was told to the Reverend by a young dissident who had fled Spain for Belgium in the seventies.

Atlanticism

From rock'n roll awareness, with alternative radio stations and Galician new wave and post punk bands, the Atlantic movement shifted towards more critical and political viewpoints, often with an ironic wink. This resulted into several alternative publications but the one that became the Atlantic manifesto was La Naval that appeared twice a year in a circulation of 5000 copies.

La Naval
La Naval.

La Naval

La Naval managed to unite most participants of 'Atlanticism', from Miguelanxo Prado over Enrique Ordovás to José Manuel Costa. It only existed for two years, between 1984 and 1986, but each number announced 'una visión crítica e irónica de la cultura y la actualidad ' to quote poet Louis Pereiro, one of its creators.

Its pages offered not only avant-garde Galician samples in art, literature, music or journalism, but it published self-confident, humoristic and hilarious articles about non-existent rock bands asking for parliamentary support, the 'National Cocho Front' forbidding all derogatory meanings of the word 'pig' and... the diary entries of a certain Syd Barret (with one T) who allegedly stayed at a monastery in Oseira.

La Naval, Revista Atlántica, appeared at least four times between 1984 and 1986 (and may not be confused with a few other Spanish magazines that carry the same title). Not only its countenance was alternative, but also its dates of apparition and the numbering. Number 0 came out in November 1984, followed by number 1 in March 1985, a third issue was numbered 00 in September 1985. The final issue had number 500 and was released somewhere in Autumn 1986.

That last issue had an article by José Ángel González, titled: Syd Barret busca en Oseira la armonía celeste and Antonio Jesús from the Spanish Barrett blog Solo En Las Nubes was so friendly to scan it in.

So here is, ladies & gentlemen, for the first time translated into English, the text that probably started the Spanishgrass hoax... (the scans of the original (Spanish) article can be consulted at our Spanishgrass library)


Syd Barret busca en Oseira la armonía celeste
Syd Barret busca en Oseira la armonía celeste.

SYD BARRET LOOKING FOR CELESTIAL HARMONY IN OSEIRA

In Oseira they are getting used to them, both are British, with blue eyes, and they annually visit the monastery. The novelist Graham Greene, who prefers the summer and the dry smell of the ground, scattered with crevices, perhaps mimicking his far-away tropical experiences when he was working for the Foreign Office. His annual visits to Oseira, where he is awaited by the monk Leopoldo Durán, confidant and cicerone of the British master, are reflected in the novel "Monsignor Quixote". In one of its pages Greene defines Oseira as "a deserted island colonized by just a handful of adventurers determined to build a home on the ruins of a bygone civilization."

Perhaps this same idea was playing in the mind of the monastery's other annual guest: Syd Barrett, founder and leader of the group Pink Floyd that coloured the sixties. One of the legends that periodically amused the world of 'pop' referred to the premature retirement of Barrett to a 'Spanish monastery', but hardly anyone decided to check this at the actual place. Barrett, more wintry than Greene, annually visited Oseira in the month of December and that since 1968.

The author of the two 'most genuine psychedelic albums of pop', as quoted by John Peel when describing 'The Madcap Laughs' and 'Barrett', searched each year for celestial harmony in Oseira that neither fame nor LSD could give him.

The village is gloomy, with that special, deep and captivating sadness that is standard for the northern beauty of Spain. However, the exception is the monastery 'El Escorial de Galicia', in the great plains surrounding the sandy slopes of Serra do Faro. For the monks in cyclic retirement the maelstrom of Oseira is a spiritual refuge.

La naval: original artwork
La Naval: original artwork.

There is also a pub, of course. The 'Sabadelle' is a sad café, with its original walls in rough granite that have been cemented by poorly masons. It is a sad place that is in tune with the landscape and its owner, Arcadio Mourin, admits with watery eyes that he 'has lived for thirty years in Galicia but has been homesick for Catalonia for at least twenty'.

From his two Mediterranean decades Mourin keeps a firm disgust for 'Pa amb tomàquet' [traditional dish with bread or toast with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt, the Anchor] and a no less vehement passion for Football Club Barcelona, evident on the walls of the 'Sabadelle', that is covered by Blaugrana flags and pictures of 'Lobito' Carrasco. The bar's decoration is further completed with calendars from Carballiño and Chantada ironmongers and bazaars that are nailed into the wall next to a tattered rag that announces a big 'fiesta' in Villamarin.

In a small shed, with a green semi-transparent corrugated plastic roof, attached to the 'Sabadelle' Arcadio Mourin has installed a youth club for the town youngsters. They meet on Saturday afternoons to play table soccer, seven balls for a peseta. Next to the wall is a stack of soft drink cases and at the other end stands a jukebox, a 'Wurlitzer' made in 1966, adorned with abundant chrome and painted fuchsia and blue, a nod towards the preferred soccer team of the owner.

The musical menu of the 'rockola' is renewed every Blue Monday by an Orense salesman, who also represents a famous brand of biscuits, and his choice is colourful but commonplace. For a peso you can musically acclimatise the place with songs of Georgie Dann, Fuxan os Ventos, Azul y Negro, Golpes Bajos, Xoán Rubia or Duran Duran. The least heard song of the entire repertoire of the machine is identified by the letter B and number 7. Rarely a young man will decide to spoil a coin on it, perhaps because the small piece of paper with the title and performer is illegible. But when Arcadio Mourin permits it, visitors can open the plastic dome of the Wurlitzer and examine the single in question. It is the only one not coming from the travelling salesman from Orense and is a British 1967 edition of 'See Emily Play' and 'Scarecrow', two songs written by Syd Barrett and performed by the group Pink Floyd.

Jose Ángel González


Interviews

To add further credibility to the article several small interviews and quotes were added from people who testify about Barrett's yearly trip to the monastery: Arcadio Mourin (pub owner), Francisco Gasalla (Spanish friend of Syd Barrett), Leopoldo Durán (Oseira monk), Joe Boyd (producer), Kurt Digger (journalist), Jo Cannon (lightshow designer), Robert Wyatt (musician) and Rodney Bennett (movie maker).


Oseira Bar
A bar in Oseira.

Oseira. 1985 by Arcadio Mourin

We thought he could not speak our language or that he was dumb. Coming down here almost daily, at nightfall, he took a few glasses of wine while watching television. (...)

We knew that he lodged at the monastery and that he was an English countryman and novelist... Sometimes he headed towards Povadura to walk in the mountains in silent solitude. I think he came here the first time in '68 or '69 and after that we got used to see him arriving every year, in early December. Today he is liked much more and he relates more to the people, but he still leaves after a short time. He gave me a single for the machine that is there and it will continue to stay there, because the youngsters will not spend a peso on it. (...)

His best friend here is Paco Gasalla, from the Chamber of Agriculture, who was an immigrant in England and speaks the language.

Comments:
A search on Arcadio Mourin or on the Sabadelle pub was without results.


Oseira. 1985 by Francisco Gasalla

I personally met Syd when I paid a visit to Father Durán, a long time family friend. It was in the monastery at Christmas 1975... Barrett and the Father spoke of Graham Greene. (...)

I thought he was a painter because I saw him walk on the mountain, carrying a large book, the kind of book to put sketches in, and a case of coloured pencils. At first he did not speak a Castilian word. With the monks he spoke in English, especially with Father Durán, and with others in French. (...)

I still don't know him very well, I did not even know he was a musician until an English journalist came by. We see him every year with the Christmas holidays. He always brings something from Cambridge and I use the opportunity to practice my English, because I miss that. And he asks me things about the people of the village, things about people's lives. (...)

He is very shy, very artistic.

Comments:
A search on Francisco Gasalla was without results.


Leopoldo Duran with Graham Greene
Leopoldo Durán with Graham Greene.

Oseira. 1985 by Leopoldo Durán, Oseira monk and a personal friend of Syd Barrett and Graham Greene.

Mr. Barrett, whom I have known for many years, has asked me to be discreet and not to have contact with the press. Year ago a British weekly published a sensationalist story full of exaggerations and we would not want something similar to happen.

Comments:
Leopoldo Durán, 1917-2008, was a professor in theology, philosophy and literature and a close friend (and biographer) of Graham Greene. There is no proof he ever met Syd Barrett. In over 35 years of Pink Floyd research the Reverend has never encountered an English press article mentioning Syd's annual retreats into a Spanish monastery, neither has it been cited in any of the biographies.


Oseira. 1985 by Francisco Gasalla

Once we went to Carballiño. We especially invited Syd because the annual Film Festival had put a film with Pink Floyd music on the agenda. It was called "The Valley", it was an African adventure film, made by some Germans. Syd had not seen it before and was very quiet, chewing 'Sugus' sweets, a sight I will not forget. Every year he would take several packages back to England. "They're for my hippie friends"; he once said. I asked him if he liked the movie and he said: “only the music”. (...)

I proposed him to come to my house if he wanted to grab a guitar or the Casio that my daughter's grandparents had given her for her name day, but he always said no. He said he had done 'too much music'.

Comments:
La Vallée is a (horrible and pretentious) 1972 French film written and directed by Barbet Schroeder. The most notable point of the movie is its soundtrack by Pink Floyd, resulting in one of their finest albums ever (Obscured By Clouds). A trifle more (satirical) info at: Careful with that stash, Gini.


Joe Boyd
Joe Boyd.

San Francisco (USA). 1983 by Joe Boyd, record producer and film maker in an interview for the magazine Cult

My first job as a record producer was in 1967, in London, a city that went through a musical frenzy. I did several singles with Pink Floyd, a group of Cambridge that had very little to do then with the band they are today. They were crazy, really crazy, continuously taking all kinds of drugs, but they were really creative, especially Syd Barrett, singer, guitarist and principal songwriter. (...)

I lost their track for a while, but Barrett once wrote me to ask for a copy of 'See Emily Play'. I sent it to Cambridge and I knew nothing more of it. The letter said he wanted to give the disk to a good friend.

Comments:
Joe Boyd is of course known by Pink Floyd admirers, he opened the UFO club and produced the Floyd's first single Arnold Layne. In contradiction with the above 'quote' he was not involved with the Floyd's second single, See Emily Play. Several magazines called 'Cult' have existed throughout the years but no interview with Joe Boyd for one of them could be found.


London. 1982 article signed by Kurt Digger in the weekly Sounds magazine, headlined "Barrett: Mad as Always"

The darling son of psychedelia has found peace in the arms of contemplative Catholicism. In the monastery of Oseira (Galicia, geographically the closest Spanish region to the UK), Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd and 'enfant terrible' of the London 'underground' 66-67 years, has retreated for a long stroll through the wastelands. (…)

Surrounded by monks Barrett showed himself proud, arrogant and even rude. (...)

"You are still waiting for me to return, vultures", he yelled semi-hysterical. (...)

No wonder his mother expels him annually from his home in Cambridge, thus the patient lady can enjoy a pleasant Christmas.

Comments:
Sounds magazine did exist in 1982, but a search on the title or the author didn't give any results.


LONDON. 1969 by Jo Cannon, head of the light show of the first concerts of Pink Floyd, in an interview published in the magazine Oz.

Late last year I received a postcard from Syd. It was a tourist view of a Spanish monastery called Ossarium (sic). Written on it were two stanzas of 'See Emily Play': “There is no other day. Let's try it another way. You'll lose your mind and play. Free games for May." Since then I've heard nothing more."

Comments:
Syd Barrett was already interested in light experiments before he hit the charts with Pink Floyd. Anthony Stern has told how he and Syd had been fascinated by Reg Gadney at King's College who made light projections (1964-ish) and later Syd tried to repeat these at home with John Gordon. In the early days of Pink Floyd the band lived in the house of Mike Leonard, who experimented with oil slides, rotating mirrors and lights. When the Floyd went professional in 1966 their first light show came straight from Haight-Ashbury, thanks to a couple of hippies, Joel and Toni Brown. Unfortunately they returned to the USA and Peter Jenner (and his wife Sumi) had to improvise a copycat-light-set.

At one point seventeen years old Joe Gannon was hired who became their first lighting tech, but he had already left when the Floyd started hitting the market.

It is improbable that Joe Gannon (not Jo Cannon) would have received a Spanish holiday card from Syd Barrett in December 1968. That month Syd, Duggie Fields and Jules moved into Wetherby Mansions and according to Jens she visited Syd there before year's end.


LONDON. 1968 anonymous entry, inserted in the journal 'International Times', part of the British Underground.

The sorcerer's apprentice can't stand 'speed'. Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's first singer, lived for two lost months a monastic life in a small place in north-western Spain. Barrett's mother confirmed a few days ago that her son is 'travelling', but denied that it had to do with any physical or mental problems. “He simply is doing some sightseeing.", said Mrs. Barrett, who owns a pottery shop in Cambridge. (…)

After his final separation with Pink Floyd, Barrett travelled last January through various countries on the continent and finally settled in a monastery in Galicia, in north-western Spain. This was revealed by light expert and close friend of the singer, Jo Cannon.

Comments:
As far as we know Syd's mother didn't have a pottery shop. It is also weird that the same wrongly named person, Jo Cannon, surfaces in two different articles in the English press. A search for Jo Cannon on the extensive IT database didn't give any result, neither did Joe Gannon, by the way.


Robert Wyatt
Robert Wyatt.

MENORCA. 1975 by Robert Wyatt, British musician and inhabitant of the Balearic Islands, in an interview by Claudi Montaña and published in the magazine 'Vibraciones'.

I knew that Syd Barrett was going through a bad time and invited him to spend some time at home, here in Menorca. He wondered where this place was and I answered that it was in Spain, next to Ibiza. "In that country only one place interests me," he replied but I had never heard of it. (...)

A few months ago he sent me a tape with traditional music of that Spanish region. It was similar to Scottish bagpipes but with more emotions. Something really spiritual.

Comments:
The Spanish magazine Vibraciones did have a Robert Wyatt article in its issue of November 1975 called En Menorca, de week-end con Robert Wyatt. Unfortunately the article itself could not be consulted.


LONDON. 1985 by Rodney Bennett, director of the 'Monsignor Quixote' production for Thames Television, filmed partly in Oseira and based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene. Published in the magazine Film Maker.

I knew that Syd Barret was a regular of the Oseira monastery and I wrote to Cambridge offering him to compose the music of 'Monsignor Quixote'. Graham Greene and the producers knew of the agreement. However, Barret declined the offer in a very nice letter. He wished me luck and success with the series, admitted being a fan of Greene and a "staunch defender of the purity of Oseira".

Comments:
The American magazine Filmmaker only started in 1992, but it is possible that a magazine with the same name existed before, although the Church didn't find any trace of that. Rodney Bennett did make a Monsignor Quixote television movie but nowhere he has mentioned Syd Barrett as a possible collaborator. Neither does any of the Barrett biographies mention him.


CONCLUSION

The La Naval Barrett article could be the source of the Oseira Floydian legend. It needs to be remarked though that in this article there is no word of an unpublished Spanishgrass album. That part of the story seems to have been added in a later stage when the story mushroomed in the pubs around A Coruña by people who failed to see the satire of it all.

Seventeen years later, in 2003, a certain Eric Burdon published a Spanish Internet article called 'Discos perdidos - Spanish Grass- Syd Barrett' that has been quoted ever since... And perhaps more solutions will be revealed by Antonio Jesús when he will publish his investigations at Solo En Las Nubes.


This is a follow-up of the 2012 post: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record 

Scans of the original La Naval article, in Spanish, can be consulted at our Spanishgrass gallery.

Many thanks to Babylemonade Aleph for rolling the ball in the beginning and Antonio Jesús for his incredible research.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the links above):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 32, 40-42, 60, 65.
La 'movida' que rompió con el 'telón de grelos' @ El Mundo
La efervescente esquina atlántica @ El País

The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info:
The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff:
Legal Stuff.


2013-06-15

Jose Ángel González, Spanishgrass & more

Jose Ángel González. Photo by Rafa Alcacer.
Jose Ángel González. Photo: Rafa Alcacer.

Jose Ángel González

Jose Ángel González (no accent on the first name, please) was born in Santiago de Compostela on February 28, 1955. Spending most of his youth in Venezuela he returned to Spain at the age of 17.

For the past 30 years he has been a free-lance journalist, covering a broad range of the classic and modern media: spoken and written word, video and television, electronic adventures in cyberworld for official and private institutions or companies. In those three decades he has witnessed successive births, deaths and resurrections of magazines and papers but this hasn't taken away the fun and inspiration to go on writing. In his own words: telling a story, whatever the medium, is the most beautiful of the story.

Jose Ángel González is also a photographer, has exhibited his work in Madrid, Barcelona and San Francisco and has published some work in magazines. He likes photography as an expressive medium as pictures can be a workaround for when words aren't telling enough.

In 1986 he published a mockumentary in La Naval, a shortlived 'Atlantic movement' journal that he founded. It was a fable about Syd Barrett's alleged stay at the Oseira monastery. Throughout the entire piece the protagonist's name is misspelled as Barret, not Barrett. Not that anyone noticed. See: Spanishgrass, one year later.

Unknown to him the story turned into an urban legend and the Syd in Oseira rumour was repeated and extrapolated among Spanish Syd Barrett fans.

In 2002 he published a follow-up article on a (disappeared) blog in a series of hypothetical records. Here is where the Spanishgrass album was named for the first time.

This added extra fuel on the urban legend and blogs and forums picked up the 'news'. According to González he was not aware of this until he was contacted by Antonio Jesús from Solo En Las Nubes who made it his quest to search for the origins of the Spanishgrass myth.

In 2001 Jose Ángel González published a book: Bendita Locura, la tormentosa epopeya de Brian Wilson y los Beach Boys (Editorial Milenio, 2001) [Blessed Madness, the stormy epic of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys].

Since March 2011 he lives in San Francisco (USA).

Antonio Jesús
Antonio Jesús.

Antonio Jesús

Antonio Jesús has lived in Cambridge where he helped at The City Wakes festival (2008, already) and met several people of the pre-Floydian incrowd. His blog Solo en las Nubes is the starting point for Spanish speaking Barrett fans all over the world. In a series of so-called Self-Interviews he has highlighted several personalities of the past and present Syd Barrett world.

As a close collaborator of the Holy Church he decided to investigate the Spanishgrass hoax, go to the bottom of it and find the source of the urban legend. Not only he traced back the articles that started the legend but managed to interview the author, Jose Ángel González.

Antonio Jesús is co-author of El Tormento del Erizo (2012).

Solo en les Nubes

Jose Ángel González, a journalist

He is the author of much more than "Syd Barrett looking for celestial harmony in Oseira" and "Monastic Syd" (aka Spanishgrass).

Once we had found Jose Ángel González, we had no other choice then to ask about his article of La Naval... However, there were many other things to talk about as we had only seen the tip of an artist's iceberg.

What follows are the questions, what follows are the answers ...

Jose Ángel González
Holga. © Jose Ángel González.

About the [Atlantic] movement that started in Vigo... when was the time when you realized that those changes were going to stay forever?

Have they "stayed forever"? Their remembrance should be personal and not entrenched in a historical museum. I think that all these changes have now been usurped by the professionals of recuperation: politicians, artists in search for the holy grail of early retirement, mediocre artists, professional curators looking for patronage... They want to be awarded with an approved nostalgic blessing, they want to give expression of a comfortable and comforting situation...

I'm thinking of the shameful and manipulative exposition Desembarco de los 80 (Disembarking of the eighties, 2011 exposition remembering the Atlantic movement) that was mounted on lies for the greater glory, also financial, of its survivors... I don’t like the durability of this idea, although of course I am a human being and I have the right to worship my private saints.

[Note: for an explanation what the Spanish cultural and political Atlantic movement was about, please see: Spanishgrass, one year later.]

Where did you live and what did you do then?

When the Vigo movement hatched in the media I was living in Coruña. I don't call her the Galician A Coruña nor the Spanish La Coruña, I only use the feminine surname of the city, as she is the lady whom I love. I was working for the only Galician FM radio-station that played the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Television, Patti Smith or the Ramones...

First the show was called Frenesí (Frenzy), later El lado salvaje (The wild side) and it was diffused by Radio Popular in Ferrol, but recorded in Coruña. Much later the show changed into Vuelo nocturno (Nightflight) on the FM station Radio Coruña-Cadena SER.

In 1980 I had returned from Madrid where I had been lucky enough to witness the first concerts of the groups that were liked by the [Atlantic] movement and I found out that Coruña was a wasteland where the people of my generation where listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer in the best case and to Mercedes Sosa in the worst.

La Naval [the semi-official magazine of the Atlantic movement] was not the only project I was involved in. I also organised weekly rock concerts in a discotheque and co-managed two official rock contests for my city.

The initial musical tristesse that I had found was ameliorating, but not much.

Jose Ángel González
Holga. © Jose Ángel González.

From the artists of that fruitful era, which one do you prefer?

There is no doubt for me: Siniestro Total (Total Sinister). They were provocative and cultivated despite their rudeness and they liked black American blues, which was quite strange in Galicia, where everything coming from the USA was considered imperialistic, influenced as we were by our nationalistic blindness.

How did La Naval come into place? Where there other competing magazines? What made it so different?

A new style of magazines was more or less created out of boredom with the old ones. We worked for newspapers and radio-stations of A Coruña but it was hard to get some media attention in the city and to have our alternative agendas published. The La Naval magazine began with 100.000 pesetas I had put aside on a long-termed bank account, the result of an apartment sale belonging to my parents. I think it will be obvious what followed: I never recovered the money.

[Note: 100.000 pesetas is roughly 601€, 802$ or 510£. The value today would be at least the double as in the mid-eighties.]

How was the atmosphere between the collaborators of La Naval?

Although I stayed on the editorial board for all numbers it was not my thing. The magazine's editorial line was based on the alleged alternative Atlantic culture, as opposed to the Mediterranean one. It soon led to an attempt to make a sales brand out of Galicia and to sell it to the mainland. It gave expression to nationalism, rascally and low-fi perhaps, but nationalism after all.

And how did La Naval end?

In my case, with a hole in the bank, but others took profit out of it. For example, Radio Océano, a band created by two of our founding members, recorded an album that was paid by national radio, where its leadsinger was working, by the way.

What do you miss most about the movement?

There was a clan feeling that was not bad, but it was limited to our own small tribe with mutual masturbation among participating journalists. We were a Mafia, like any other.

Jose Ángel González
Holga. © Jose Ángel González.

Number "500" had the article about Syd Barrett visiting the Oseira monastery. Was this based on some urban... or better said: rural legend? How was the article conceived?

The story was born in me with the fascination I felt for Syd Barrett and his work. The article uses no legend as a starting point. It is my own personal fiction.

A few years ago the story, without direct references to the original article, resurfaced on the Internet. How did you react to that?

None whatsoever. La Naval only had a limited impact. Only now I have learned through you about the impact of the article, and I'm interested and proud. I find it very funny that an urban legend grew out of it that has been further associated with others or confirmed by others.

A few years after the publication of the La Naval article I wrote an extended and corrected version for a series about hypothetical records. It was published on a blog that eventually ended and added the lyrics of some of the songs from Spanishgrass.

Why did you choose Syd Barrett as the protagonist of this monastic adventure? And why Oseira?

Because Syd Barrett is one of my preferential musicians. Because Oseira is a place of great tellurian force and it seemed appropriate as a setting for this fiction. The summers of the English author Graham Greene in the monastery, the power of nature, the retirement, the prime nobility of those Cistercian monks... All that, my fragile memory recalls, had to do with the initial idea.

What music are you currently listening to?

I've never stopped listening to old blues (Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf, Bessie Smith...), Bob Dylan, King Crimson, David Bowie, The Beatles... I'm not seeking for new things. But what has excited me most recently is Wilco.

How did you get into photography?

I started taking pictures and developing them in a dark room in my teens, but I had never any other intention than doing some family snapshots. A few years ago, while recovering from an illness and with my first digital reflex camera, I started using photography as a form of therapy, to try to find the humanity that was fleeing from me. Quite naturally I went back to analog photography. And here I am: I have already stated a few times that I would like to have more time to pursue photographic projects. It is not easy ...

Jose Ángel González
Holga. © Jose Ángel González.

What brought you to the USA and San Francisco in particular?

To make a long story short, I was keen to leave Spain and its sadness behind.

In the 'Strike' collection your photos seem not to capture the moment but the spirit of those who appear in it. Is that the magic 'analog' touch? And in the 'Her Name is Holga' series you seem to carry away the dream. Were these pictures taken in th USA? What inspired you?

I can rarely explain a photo, and especially those on the street have been taken instinctively. Someone said that the photographer is, or should be, an emissary of his own sadness. I apply that story.

Strike photo series: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/section/303188_strike.html
Her name is Holga photo series: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/section/303026_her_name_is_holga.html

Your blog is superb, in photographic work and in the texts you write. Do you think there is something in common? What accounts for your preference for black and white? When do you choose colour instead?

I see in black and white. Always has been. I do not pretend to be better or more arty: it's a spiritual condition.

And that romance with Holga? What does she has that others do not have?

The Holga camera is a simple, plastic toy, cheap and unsophisticated. I love flirting with her and I think she fancies me, as she returns miracles. I have over 50 cameras: if I have to choose just one, it would be the Holga.

Jose Ángel González
Holga. © Jose Ángel González.

What is Oraciones sucias (obscene prayers)?

It's a Tumblr, a scrapbook, a microblog... I have another as well: Hot Parade, dedicated to photos only. I also have two websites: joseangelgonzalez.com is my official site, I have recently rebuilt it after an accidental file loss. On joseangelgonzalez.net are those photos that embarrass me the least.

Do you have any artistic ambitions to further develop?

Just living and trying to be happy, which is already something.

To be continued...

© 2013 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Jose Ángel González, Rafa Alcacer & Antonio Jesús. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.


Many thanks to Babylemonade Aleph for rolling the ball in the beginning and Antonio Jesús for his incredible research. All (interview) pictures © Jose Ángel González.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Jose Ángel González can be found at the following places:
Blog: http://joseangelgonzalez.com/
Photography: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bichito/
Oraciones Sucias: http://oracionessucias.tumblr.com/
Hot Parade: http://hotparade.tumblr.com/
Canto de Caza (2010): http://cantodecaza.wordpress.com/

Soy padre de un hoax (I am the father of a hoax)


2013-06-22

Spanishgrass, the hoax revealed...

Previously on Spanishgrass...

Spanishgrass, the hoax revealed
June 2013: Syd in Spain. Spanishgrass, the hoax revealed.

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit receives many letters from believers all over the world and on the 23rd of may 2012 at 04:31 AM (UTC+1) Babylemonade Aleph asked the following to the Reverend:

I have read that Syd made a trip to A Coruña, who was in a monastery, and recorded some songs that formed part of a recording entitled, "Spanishgrass, songs for the space and the nap". What you know about that, friend?

Frankly this didn't ring a bell, but the Church decided to look further into the matter. As the story of Syd Barrett recording a partly Galician album in a monastery in Spain seemed rather improbable an article was published in the satirical The Anchor division (Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record).

Normally this should have been it. But some dull boring people didn't like that the Holy Church, always in for a bit of controversy – we duly admit, had thrown a stone into the quiet Barrett-pond, where self-proclaimed fisher-kings have been angling for the same fish for the last four decades. One of them even found it necessary to comment as follows:

Wierdos (sic) come on here presenting this sort of stuff as FACT, fake pictures, stupid stories about Syd recording an album in a Spanish monastry (sic). All balls.

Just when the Reverend was going to go into zen-therapy to recover from that vicious blow help came from the Iberian peninsula in the form of Antonio Jesús from Solo En Las Nubes. Not only did he find back the original article that started the Syd In Oseira rumour (Spanishgrass, one year later), he also managed to interview the author of the article (Jose Ángel González, Spanishgrass & more).

Jose Ángel González reveals that there has been more than one Oseira article and that he also invented the Spanishgrass album:

A few years after the publication of the La Naval article I wrote an extended and corrected version for a series about hypothetical records. It was published on a blog that eventually ended and added the lyrics of some of the songs from Spanishgrass.

And so, without further ado, here it is... (for the original, Spanish version, please click on the image below)

Solo En Las Nubes

Syd Barrett
"Spanish grass (twenty songs about space and siesta)"
Nonsense music, 1978

Spanishgrass (original cover)
Spanishgrass (original cover).

Manantial (Spring) / Reverential mourners / Black maid / Plastic gunpowder / Mouse after a fête / Breakwater and tea / Grey trees / Two bangers + mash / Whining at the moon / Greenland / Eu son Dhaga (I am Dhaga) / Na outra banda (On the other hand) / Un poeta esquece os días de chuvia (A poet forgets the rainy days) / Saturnalia / William Phips / Stede Bonnet / Gabriel Spenser / Gospel at noon / Waste Deep / Frog

Before leaving the world to enclose himself at Hotel Schizophrenia, Syd Barrett (Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1948), the founder and evicted leader of Pink Floyd, traveled to Spain for two years (1976 and 1977). Suffering from dromomania, the same paranoid ambulatory psychosis Rimbaud and other chronically restless people endured, Barrett toured anonymously, using public transport or by hitchhiking, through Andalusia, Extremadura and Galicia. No one was with him and his luggage was scarce and revealing: a backpack, a Martin acoustic guitar and the complete works of the visionary William Blake.

During one of his wanderings he discovered what would become his private retreat, the Oseira monastery in the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula.

Nestled in a secluded canyon of the City of San Cristovo de Cea (Ourense), the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Oseira is the first establishment in Spain (twelfth century) of the Cistercian monastic order, founded as a radical alternative to the aristocratic congregation of Cluny. The Cistercians practice Christian friendship, revere poverty, adhere mythical culture and establish themselves remotely from the world, in places away from roads and population.

Caught by the sturdy charm of the place, the quiet floating of monastic life and the hospitality of the monks, he was at peace with himself, perhaps for the first time since the wicked years of psychedelia. Barrett stayed in one of the Oseiran guest cells for four months in 1976 (September-December) and for three months the following year (April to June) and only left the monastery to roam the nearby hills. He liked in particular two nearby sites: Loma Chaira, a wide panoramic grassy terrace situated nearly 1200 metres high, and Penedo de Cuncas, a ridge shaded by an abundant mass of chestnut trees.

Jose Ángel González
© Jose Ángel González.

During his stay the visitor wrote and recorded a dozen songs. He sat in the courtyard of the monastery, usually at the siesta time, and softly sung accompanied by his guitar, afraid to disturb the community. The sound of the recordings is technically bad, but from a poetic viewpoint very suggestive: Barrett's voice is hushed, like it would never be recorded in a studio, by the wind blowing and the effervescing water fountain. Perhaps this was the 'untanned arms' and forestry environment he vainly had tried to outline in his two solo works "The Madcap Laughs" (1970) and "Barrett" (1971). [Note: this seems to be a Spanish poetical description the Reverend frankly doesn't understand.]

Late 1978 twenty songs were released on vinyl by a bootleg record company in A Coruña, called Nonsense Music, using the unique tape recording made by Barrett and smuggled outside by a deserting Oseira novice. The album was titled "Spanishgrass" ("Hierba española") accompanied by the subtitle "twenty songs about space and siesta," a phrase the artist used when the monks asked him about the meaning of his songs.

"Spanishgrass" is currently unavailable. The first and only edition of the record - about 20 copies – wase not made for profit. All copies were given away by Gema Noya, the Nonsense Music manager, to her closest friends, under the promise that they would not distribute or duplicate the material, a pact that was fulfilled to the letter thanks to the loyalty of these good hippies. Noya used the record as a farewell gift before retiring to a Buddhist community at Pokhara (Nepal), where she still resides. According to sources close to her family, she burned the original tape and scattered the ashes on the beach of Carnota, close to the Pindo mountain, the Celtic Olympus, after she had sent a copy to Barrett, who lived in Cambridge since 1978.

The tracks on the secret record are musically blunt with guitar arrangements that are stripped of all artificiality, almost always orbicularly strumming a single chord, but the lyrics are, in contrast, very dense. They range from the usual surreal Barrett humour (Mouse after a fête, Two bangers & mash) to Pentecostal mysticism, with quotations from ancient Welsh bard songs taken from “The White Goddess", Robert Graves's work that the English musician consulted with interest at the Oseira library.

Also other books Barrett read at the monastery seized him deep in his mind. He dedicates three songs (William Phips, Stede Bonnet and Gabriel Spenser) to the flamboyant characters described by the extravagant Marcel Schwob in "Imaginary Lives". But above all, Barrett was seduced by the medieval-sounding poems "Herba aquí ou acolá" from the fabulist Alvaro Cunqueiro. He put music and sings three poems of the book in Galician (Eu are Dagha, Na outra banda and Un poeta esquece os días de chuvia).

© 2003 Jose Ángel González (parts of the above text have already been published in: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record.


Lyrics

Jose Ángel González
© Jose Ángel González.

Black Maid

Little cloud,
the grass is green,

look at the time
of the black skirts.

An extra life,
among the flowers,

and saffron
wet with tears.

Pale
pale light,
I'm hungry,
hungry for tomorrow.

Maid
black maid,
detached
like a dry leaf.

© Jose Ángel González
© Jose Ángel González.

Breakwater and tea

A gift of the night from the black tie
starting the rumour of my breath
for ink waltz
with smoke
teacup.

Breakwater and tea
nothing more.

Breakwater and tea.

Saturnalia

King
of the Habichuelas,
Mister
Disorder,
Bishop
of Fools,
Abbot
of Unreason,
expelled of
time.

© Jose Ángel González
© Jose Ángel González.

Gospel at noon

The moon is my constant mistress
and the lonely owl my marrow.

The Mallard brand
and night raven

make music
for my affliction.

Amen.

Plastic Gunpowder

Praise the Lord
of heaven,

Kids say
with eyes of soot
and pockets full of
plastic gunpowder.

I sleep in peace.

Grey trees

Thorny
trees
shelter
against
the wind

Under the Milky Way.

© 2003 Jose Ángel González. Pictures courtesy of Jose Ángel González. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.


Many thanks to Babylemonade Aleph for rolling the ball in the beginning and Antonio Jesús for his incredible research. All pictures © Jose Ángel González.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Jose Ángel González can be found at the following places:
Blog: http://joseangelgonzalez.com/
Photography: http://joseangelgonzalez.net/
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bichito/
Oraciones Sucias: http://oracionessucias.tumblr.com/
Hot Parade: http://hotparade.tumblr.com/
Canto de Caza (2010): http://cantodecaza.wordpress.com/

Soy padre de un hoax (I am the father of a hoax)

The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


2013-06-28

Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting?

Picture: Eva Wijkniet
Photo: Eva Wijkniet.

We have just all had the BEST time ever in Cambridge - with the best people in the world - we have laughed and hugged and kissed and talked and none of us wanted to come home! (Libby Gausden Chisman)

Undoubtedly the best, friendliest, most lively and most accurate Syd Barrett group on Facebook is Birdie Hop.

It is the equivalent of Eternal Isolation's Late Night forum that, let's not be fussy about that, has suffered a lot from Facebook's ever-groping octopus tentacles. A person (m/f) with a critical mind could add that Facebook is shallow and volatile, that any post older than three days tends to disappear in a bottomless pit never to be found again and that, to the Reverend's mind, there is continuous repetition and proportionally it can get a bit boring.

But Birdie Hop has an audience. And people who have an audience ought to be heard. There is no point in constantly hammering that Betamax is the better recording system when VHS has conquered the world. Now there's a comparison that seems to be fruitless today and quite opaque for the young people among us.

Birdie Hop is a spirited place and like Late Night at its peak period it is the village pub. People come and go, friendships are made (and sometimes lost) and scarcely hidden love affairs happen, with snogging outside in the garden under the cherry tree.

But all this happens in the relatively safe environment of cyberspace. In September of last year the idea was uttered, among Birdie Hop members, to meet and greet in Cambridge. (The Holy Igquisiton has vainly tried to find that post back on Facebook, while on a forum it would take about a minute, perhaps somebody should call the NSA.)

We all have seen this happen before really, people saying 'let's meet', but when push comes to a shove, nothing happens. But Birdie Hop has an excellent set of administrators, not only they are friendly, beautiful and intelligent but they can be bloody effective as well.

Alexander the Great

Alexander made it his mission to make this happen, immediately a date was pinpointed (14 to 16 June 2013) and Mick Brown was kindly asked to act as Birdie's local liaison officer. The bandwagon started rolling and an I Spy Syd in Cambridge tour (with a bus) was organised through the capable hands of Warren 'Bear' Dosanjh. In March of this year Alexander travelled to Cambridge to tie the loose ends (and test the quality of the local beer) and from then on it was a restless wait for the day to come.

Here we go. (Underneath text largely taken from Alexander & Warren's tour program.)

Friday 14 June 2013

An evening at the Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street: a totally real ale pub with the best selection of (Belgian!) ales in Cambridge plus pub grub and a large beer garden.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Alexander.

Saturday 15 June 2013

09.30 Meet at Le Gros Franck for breakfast and to buy a take-away lunch from a fantastic choice of international dishes, 57 Hills Road.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Fernando Lanzilotto, Libby Gausden, Viv Brans, Mick Brown.

10.00 Botanical Gardens, where the actual tour started. Unfortunately they had to chase a bum away who had been sleeping on Syd's bench.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
The incredible Mr. Mick Brown.

10.30 Pick-up by coach at the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens in Bateman Street.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Warren Dosanjh, Alexander, Viv Brans.

Stops at:

183 Hills Road, Syd's house.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (now the Hills Road Sixth Form College), where Syd, Roger Waters, Bob 'Rado' Klose and Storm Thorgerson studied.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Morley Primary Junior School where Mary Waters taught her son and Syd.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Friends Meeting House on Hartington Grove, where Geoff Mott & The Mottoes played their one and only gig.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

6 St. Margaret's Square, where Syd last lived after moving back to Cambridge.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits where some Birdie Hop members did a bizarre reenactment of the Syd's First Trip movie.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Fernando Lanzilotto, Alexander, Brian Wernham, Viv Brans, Mario von Barrett, Libby Gausden, Neil Chisman, Tio Junior, Mary Cosco, Eva Wijkniet.

Grantchester Meadows: lunch stop with a pint (BYO) from the Blue Ball pub opposite.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Neil Chisman, Peter Gilmour.

Walk on the meadows...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer
Making for the sea.

...and back on the bus at David and Peter Gilmour's house, 109 Grantchester Meadows.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

City walk (Corn Exchange, Union Cellar, King´s College, Market Square etc..)

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

18.30: meet at the Geldart for dinner and drinks.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Mario von Barrett, Giulio Bonfissuto, Mrs & Dave "Dean" Parker, Fernando Lanzilotto.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Informal meet and goodbye greet at the Earl of Derby, 129 Hills Road for a full English breakfast from 8.30 in the morning or lunch from 12.00 for those who couldn't get out of bed. Unfortunately nobody seemed fit enough to take any pictures or wanted their pictures to be taken!

Birdie Hop

Be a part of the legend!

Why don't you join Birdie Hop, not only you'll be able to see all the pictures of this amazing journey, but you'll meet a bunch of friendly, sexy people!

The list of attendees of the 2013 meeting not only had the best Birdies around but also reads like a Cambridge Mafia wet dream: Libby Gausden Chisman, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Viv Brans, Eva Wijkniet, Sven Wijkniet, Dave "Dean" Parker, Mrs. Parker, Vic Singh, Brian Wernham, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Mary Cosco, Antonio (Tio Junior), Mario von Barrett (González), Fernando Lanzilotto, Giulio Bonfissuto, Hazel (Libby´s school-friend), George Marshall (school-friend of Syd and Roger Waters who happened to be drinking in the Blue Ball when the gang arrived), Gary Hill, Stephen Pyle (only Friday afternoon, afterwards he had to run a street fest), Warren Dosanjh (tour guide), Alexander P. Hoffmann (host)...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Two of a kind: Alexander & Warren Dosanjh.

Eva Wijkniet: Warren was the best tourguide and took us to the best pubs in Cambridge. Great guy to talk to and we have to thank him massively for the effort he made for us.

Brian Wernham: What a great day in Cambridge doing lots of Syd stuff, meeting some of Syd's old friends, Peter Gilmour and meeting some wonderful Syd fans as well!

Warren Dosanjh: I have guided nearly all Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett tours in Cambridge since 2006. But this was the best and most extraordinary ever.

Libby Gausden Chisman: too exhausted to tell you atm - I have lost my voice due to over talking and over laughing and over kissing and hugging - it was just the best time evah!

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
A nice pair: photographers extraordinaires Vic Singh & Mick Brown.

A 'many thanks' line to end this article would merely repeat the people who are all cited above, but let's have an exception and thank the most extraordinary person who wrote the most peculiar kind of tunes.

Many thanks to Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett, for making this all happen and for creating friends for a lifetime.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

See you in 2015...

Update 03 01 2014: Mick Brown made a video of the event that we forgot all about, so - with over a half year's delay - here it is.
Update 16 06 2014: The copyright gestapo censored Mick Brown's original movie, so a second version was uploaded with an excellent soundtrack by Rich Hall (taken from his Birdie Hop and the Sydiots record).


Many thanks to: Alexander P. HB.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

A second Birdie Hop meeting took place in 2015: Iggy Rose in Cambridge.


2013-08-08

Reverends and Sydiots

5 years Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit: 5 years.

(This article contains a much concealed review of the Rich Hall album Birdie Hop and the Sydiots, to immediately access it, click here.)

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrates its fifth birthday.

An official statement by the Reverend:

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is five years old. It has always taken an independent road and has maintained an ironic and satirical view on the Syd Barrett phenomenon and its fans.

We will, however, never spit on the fans. We have embraced the term Sydiot as our Geusenwort, meaning that we have reappropriated this derogatory nickname as an honorary title.

While we have the utmost respect for the casual Barrett fans, the cosmic brides (persons [m/f] who claim to have a relationship with Syd of some kind, often crossing spiritual boundaries) and the Sydiots, we intuitively question the official Barrett organisations, record companies and nincompoops who circle around Syd like vultures. We will not automatically endorse their websites, their records and their books... and this has not always been appreciated. It seems that nothing has changed much since those days in 1967 when Norman Smith was reprimanded by his boss:

EMI were ignorant, lazy and paranoid. I'd once been carpeted by Sir Joseph Lockwood, almost fired, told to stay away from courting Pink Floyd. But I took no notice.

If Norman Smith had obeyed we would never have had The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Taking no notice was, is, and will always be the Holy Church's attitude, even if this puts us in the firing line of some of the minor half-gods and makes us wonder if this Church was just a waste of time. But:

This is my church
This is where I heal my hurt
It's a natural grace
Of watching young life shape
It's in minor keys
Solutions and remedies
Enemies becoming friends
When bitterness ends
This is my church
(Faithless, God is a DJ, 1998)

All tomfoolery aside, we are proud to have put a thing or two on the Floydian agenda in the past five years that would otherwise have stayed unnoticed. If we may lead you to one paragraph on this blog, that we are particularly fond of, it is this one and we constantly try to live by those standards. So-called social media make witnesses easy accessible nowadays but this doesn't give the Sydiot nor the Reverend a wildcard to constantly harass them with questions about how 'Syd really was'. Remember:

A granddaughter's smile today is of much more importance than the faint remembrance of a dead rock star's smile from over 40 years ago. (Taken from: We are all made of stars.)

And for those who don't agree the Church can only bring solace by citing the following words of that great Cantabrigian band:

So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go fuck myself
You know you just can't win
(Pink Floyd, Lost For Words, 1994)

But this speech has been going on for too long, so...

Let's party!

It's a fucking birthday godammit! And we have exactly the right party album for that... and you can have yours too!

Rich Hall
Rich Hall.

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots

Richard Michael John Hall is a self-publishing artist in the 'alternative' or 'indie rock' genre with about a dozen releases on his name. In March 2013 he surprised the world with his songs The Reverend and Uncle Alex and it came to the Church's ears that this was going to be a part of a quintessential concept album. Written in about a month's time the album has been released a couple of weeks ago.

Birdies and Barretts

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots is named after a rather decent Facebook group and its members who range from the wacky to the insane now that an old cricketer has left the crease. Its first song, Birdie Hop, is a pastoral tune about this relatively calm oasis and how it is a reference to all who have enclosed Syd Barrett in their hearts.

I've seen your mother (and she's beautiful) is a track about our most cherished and most hated family member. Rich Hall perfectly catches that ambiguity (see also John Lennon & Roger Waters) but apparently that is not what the song is about. Let's just resume by saying that Barrett fans come in different colours and sizes. Cosmic brides are fans, who declare their unconditional love for Syd and sometimes meet him on a higher esoteric level. It is good that what happens in the spirit world cannot be seen by the naked eye although sometimes weird erotomanic anecdotes drip through. Cosmic brides are usually harmless, although they can be annoying when they start messaging people with important directives from the other side.

With Cheesecake Joe, a catchy hard rock tune built around one of Birdie Hop's most flamboyant members, the Birdie suite lifts off into the higher stratosphere. Cheesecake is the deadhead equivalent of the Floydian fan. He is the UFOnaut who still claims Pink Floyd is a stoner band and that their main message is to turn on, tune in & drop out...

The Reverend is the first highlight of the album, what a psychedelicate song, what a fine realistic description of this genius, what an adoration for Iggy the Eskimo, what a magic looking glass. But even after having heard this song for about 45 times I still don't know if the song really isn't an insult packaged as a gift. But walking the thin line between praise and mockery is what the Holy Church is all about. Great song. It should be a hit. Really.

A high-res Flash clip of this song can be found here.

The Reverend, by Rich Hall
The Reverend. Sound: Rich Hall. Vision: Felix Atagong. Hi-resolution Flash movie.

And for those who prefer a somewhat lighter YouTube version:

Just when you think that it can't get any better there is Uncle Alex, an ear-worm of a song. Not wanting to go too far into details I can only say that some of the apparently throw-away lines are far closer to the truth than you possibly can imagine. Rich Hall is a poignant observer. This should even be a bigger hit.

A videoclip for this song can be found on the Reverend's YouTube channel.

Solo en las Nubes could be the theme song for a Sergio Leone spaghetti western with Antonio Jesús as the vengeful balded bad-ass. On his own this man is responsible for most of the Barrett admiration in the Spanish-speaking world and thus he is, by definition, regarded as a potential danger by the powers that be. Speak out his name in a certain provincial university town, close by the river Cam, in East Anglia and gallows are spontaneously risen again. This is a song that should be played around camp-fires all over the world. This is an urban hymn.

Jenny and Libby makes me think of the Television Personalities for one thing or another. Throughout the song Rich Hall name-drops several Birdie Hop alumni and their doings. I wonder if the artist has amazing powers of observation and if he knew, when he wrote the song in spring 2013, that the refrain was predictive for the shape of things to come.

Jenny and Libby ends, what I call, the birdies section of the album. This is being followed by the madcap suite, a trilogy about the darker side of Barrettism where the weirdness, the madness and the obsessiveness turns into a Stephen King nightmare...

Blow Syd
Blow Syd.

Madcap Laughter & Hammerings

Fuggitaboutit, build around a fifties teenage tragedy song, is based upon the endless laments of certain self-proclaimed Barrett scholars.

Your Significant Other is a track about those weird trolls who infests groups with different aliases, spreading false information and starting discussions, sometimes among themselves, just for the sake of argument. So what's your name today, which identity will you choose?, is the question Rich Hall asks. Based upon a true story.

Yer List Monger. Call it this album's The Trial but with a haunting Twin Peakish atmosphere, a hot burning sun, a mad priest preaching on the telly about sin and redemption, a fat red-neck orating conspiracy theories at the end of the bar, suddenly spitting out the venomous question: are you real Syd Barrett fans? Dwarfs are passing by, walking backwards and speaking in tongues. Meet the Hannibal Lecter of the Syd Barrett world.

A Cry From The Outside

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots has its coda with a rather alienated version of Barrett's Feel that leaves me with a bitter-sweet taste in the mouth. It's puzzling, it's not nice. It's all dark, as a matter of fact.

At times Rich Hall's way of words makes me think of Jason Lytle and Lee Clayton, his music is a kaleidoscope of sounds that reminds my fragile memory of T-Rex, neo-psych or garage rock. But of course Rich Hall is at first Rich Hall and nobody else.

Throughout this article I have dispersed some quotes from Pink Floyd and I did catch some resemblances here and there with themes from The Wall, but that is probably because I've recently watched a Mr. Roger Waters show. Let's hope this album will never grow into a monster and that a 69 years-old Rich Hall will not be obliged to lip-synch next to a 130 metres long plastic wall with hi-tech projections and a ridiculous flying cactus balloon in the air.

You don't need to be a Birdie Hop member to enjoy this album as all songs stand by themselves, but if you grab this and listen to it why don't you let the birdies know what you think of it.

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots @ Bandcamp

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots
July 2013
Instruments & vocals by Rich Hall.
Mixed by Rich Hall and Ron Bay.
Mastered by Ron Bay.

Streaming & digital download (name your own price system, 0.00 is an option as well).


Sources (other than the above internet links):
Jefferies, Neil, Dartford's Finest Band, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p. 54-55.

Website: Richard Michael John Hall
BandCamp channel: RichMFHall
SoundCloud channel: RichMFHall
YouTube channel: RichFMHall

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Thanks: Anonymous • Freqazoidiac • Solo En Las Nubes • Psych62 • Anni • Bill • Euryale • Brooke • Jeff • Prydwyn • Chris • Helen • Sean • JenniFire • Sadia • Herman • JenS • Vince666 • Nipote • Gretta • Viv • Adenairways • Giuliano • Dolly • John • Babylemonade • Duggie • Synofsound • Mark • Xpkfloyd • Rich • Brett • Krackers • Peter • Phil • Zag • Warren • Listener • Bob • MOB • Nina • Dark Globe • Emily • Retro68special • Natashaa' • Vic • Jenny • Neonknight • Lord Drainlid • Ebronte • Simon • Ian • Will • Motoriksymphonia • NPF • Greeneyedbetsy • Anton • Hallucalation • PF Chopper • Lee • Felixstrange • Michael • PhiPhi • Eva • Cicodelico • Julian (Gian) • Denis • Dallasman • Emmapeelfan • Paro नियत • Ewgeni • Matt • Kiloh • Elizabeth • Alexander • Kirsty • Paul • Mohammed (Twink) • Nigel • Rusty • Braindamage • Pascal • Mark • Stanislav • Anthony • I Spy In Cambridge • Mick • Alain • Wrestling Heritage • Bloco do Pink Floyd • Moonwall • Rod • Charley • Amy • Joe • Griselda • Eternal • Dominae • Russell • Beate • KenB • Dan5482 • Tim • Antonio • Party of Clowns • Anne • Late Night • Lori • Colleen • Brian • Christopher • Jose • Göran • Jancy • Banjer and Sax • Ron • Vicky • ...and all those we have forgotten to mention!


2013-08-16

Men On The Border, Syd Swedish version

Shine! Men On The Border.
Shine! Men On The Border.

Is it already over a year ago that this blog reviewed the Men On The Border's Shine! CD? Lots of things happened meanwhile to the Reverend who was recently spotted at an Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. Since then, when he sits in the evening in his comfy chair, a glass of Amontillado in his hand, you can hear him murmuring the immortal refrain...

Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then...
Thinking that we're getting older and wiser
When we're just getting old
But I have grown older and
You have grown colder and
Nothing is very much fun any more.
(Taken from: Memory [Cats] / Near the End [David Gilmour] / One of my Turns [Roger Waters])

Roger Waters:

Andrew Lloyd Webber sickens me. He's in your face all the time and what he does is nonsense. It has no value. It is shallow, derivative rubbish, all of it... (Taken from: Who The Hell Does Roger Waters Think He Is?, Q Magazine, November 1992, hosted at: A Fleeting Glimpse.)

But it is not because the Reverend deliberately ignores Roger Waters' warnings that he can't recognise decent music any more.

Shine! from Men On The Border is a splendid album that shouldn't be ignored by the redneck Sydiots out there. Luckily, neither did the Spanish Syd Barrett blog Solo En Las Nubes and that's how the following self-interview came into place, an interview with some old friends...

Solo en les Nubes

Men On The Border, who or what are they? Are they men or myth? With an album, artwork and history myth-busting/building, they have rocked the psychedelic foundations of the Syd Barrett world with a pop mentality. Yes, pop. This sounds too cool to be true. We decided to find out more.

MOTB!
Men On The Border.

Men On The Border, Syd Swedish version

So who are these mystical Men On The Border?

Phil: Well, wouldn't you like to know! We're just a couple of sticky Swedes, except for me, because I'm just a Brit with Swedish tendencies.
Göran: And I am just a Swede with British tendencies.
Phil: I've now lived longer in Sweden than I did in Britland. I moved here because of my spiritual affinity with the elks and they're thin on the ground in London. Apart from that I've been a fanatic guitarist most of my life.
Göran: They are very thin is what I've heard.
Phil: Disappearingly thin.
Göran: Disappointingly thin.

How long have you been involved in music?

Phil: All my life, actually from a very early age and my earliest memories are musical - banging on boxes, as I wanted to be a drummer.
Göran: I wanted to be an astronaut. The space age - and the music that came with it. Ahhh.
Phil: From age 10 and onwards, everything was guitars. My life is littered with musical tags which can take me back to specific events in seconds - like most people probably have.
Göran: Indeed. Some good events, some less good, some joyful, some simply embarrassing.
Phil: Music has also steered major life-choices, like my conscious decision to reject both schooling and religion in my teens.
Göran: My music universe imploded and exploded at the same time. I was a punk rocker, a prog rocker and a 60s pop fan – all at once. My first band was named Läder, the second one Yeah. Then I ditched music for education and... things.
Phil: My first band was at the age of 17. Unfortunately I was unable to also reject the other very basic family philosophy: you have to have a proper job! Getting a good education was obviously less important. If I'd put my energies into music instead of a string of shit jobs in my teens, maybe this album would have been made 20 years ago.
Göran: Maybe it WAS made 20 years ago in a time vortex kind of thingie.

Why did you make the album Shine!?

Phil: I love to make music, I love to play and I love to record in my studio. If it's my music or someone else's doesn't really matter as long as it has something to offer.
Göran: As it happened, Syd Barrett had something to offer.
Phil: I hadn't actually heard any of his solo material when we started. I was a Pink Floyd fan, but had completely missed out on Syd.
Göran: This helped to motivate me. I sent him a first primitive demo.
Phil: Making Octopus whetted my appetite for more.
Göran: And this in turn drove me further. To convince people like Phil! The joy of discovery. Squid for dinner!
Phil: Well, he was dead keen to continue, so to make a whole album was an easy decision.
Göran: We made an early promise to be ready for a festival the next summer.
Phil: Yes. The absolute deadline for mastering was June 8th 2012.

Men on the Border
Men On The Border.

Can you describe the creative process of making Shine!?

Phil: Göran made acoustic demos which he sent to me. Sometimes I made an initial draft recording, which I sent back for suggestions on how to proceed and a few times we sat together and played.
Göran: It was a case of working out some new types of arrangements that would fit Syd’s songs without losing too much of the feelings behind the songs. Some of them were “road tested” in some acoustic gigs and more.
Phil: And more?
Göran: Dreaming in a forest, Phil. Then I just recorded on my smartphone and mailed over to Phil and he sent me some new amazing twists back. Every time was such a joy!
Phil: As an example of the process my string quartet arrangement in the Golden Hair part of No Man's Land was axed by Göran.
Göran: Sorry!
Phil: He came up with another suggestion, the one that ended up on the album. I thought that was SUCH a good idea, but was actually easily persuaded by Göran to ditch the strings....
Göran: Creative conflicts. We bounced things between us to create the right blend. Those strings were brilliant, but did not work in the context of No Man’s Land. It would have worked as a stand-alone.
Phil: I also waited until all the Shine! recordings were completed before listening to the originals and was thus not influenced by them at all.
Göran: Well, there was one where you cheated.
Phil: Yes! I actually listened to Gigolo Aunt because I couldn't figure out the timing from Göran's demo -there's a half-bar in there.
Göran: The fun and beauty of Syd's songs.
Phil: All-in-all there was a LOT of bouncing back and forth.
Göran: Happy bouncing!

Which are your favourite songs on Shine!?

Phil: All of the songs have elements in them which I love. But if I had to choose one song it would be Opal, because it has everything. Poignant lyric, great vocals from Göran.
Göran: Well...
Phil: And also my best performance ever on a recording. 7 minutes of stark beauty.
Göran: Opal was always special and I knew it had to be on the album. We saved it for last really. It's tricky and I had to record my demo to Phil in several segments.
Phil: Oh yes. A bit of a puzzle really.
Göran: I am very pleased with how it turned out. Personally I like the duo of Long Gone and No Man’s Land, moving in that punk/prog territory. Feel is also such a wonderful melody and we stretched that to tell a bit of a story, but with sound only. Wonderful guitar work from Phil.

Which great Syd Barrett songs did not make it to be included on Shine!?

Phil: Terrapin, which we recorded a week after the album was released. I love that song, but because of the deadline we didn't have the spare week we needed to record it. We'd planned to include that with a string quartet, though fortunately the quartet idea wasn't included. I love the result on that. There may be others....
Göran: Terrapin works best as a bonus track really. There is a thematic structure to Shine! and I am not sure how it could have fitted in. We had some ideas to include obscure Pink Floyd stuff, like Scream Thy Last Scream. I am sure that would have been really interesting, but then again it was never a Syd solo song.

Octopus (Jennifer D Andrea)
Octopus. Artwork: Jennifer D Andrea.

What can you tell us about the artwork included with Shine!?

Göran: Back in March 1971, Syd admitted that at heart he was really a painter. We just felt we should try to reflect this in our little tribute.
Phil: But none of us can paint.
Göran: We tried sonically to bring more colour to his rather bleak songs and also to illustrate the whole album with colourful art.
Phil: The cover was specially made for us by a wonderful Swedish artist, Kajsa-Tuva Henriksson. You can read all sorts of things into that painting.
Göran: Yeah. I first met her at a festival and played some of the early demos for her and she really liked it. Then later, I described the overall ideas and parts of Syd’s life. She made that painting to reflect all of this.
Phil: The booklet has one painting for each song in a sort of an exhibition, where you move through different rooms actually. The paintings were made by a Syd Barrett fan in the USA, Jennifer D’Andrea.
Göran: I really love those. I have Octopus framed as a constant reminder in my working room.

Now honestly, what is really so great about Syd Barrett?

Göran: It's all great. You cannot easily separate the life and the art of Syd Barrett. It is all so interwoven, as indeed it is with many great artists through history. Van Gogh springs to mind, but also many more. Their art might not have reached their true audience during their life time, but would grow in importance.
Phil: For me it has been a bit of a discovery really.
Göran: So Syd made some great stuff with Pink Floyd and got that band on track for stardom, but I think he actually did his best work after Pink Floyd. In a similar way that John Lennon did his best work at a very vulnerable stage after The Beatles. Their respective music is so extremely honest, but also very unpredictable and full of layered meanings. Entering the “Syd universe” is very worthwhile. We just want to help more people find it.
Phil: Turn on, tune in, rock out!

OK, you've convinced us. Where and how can we buy Shine!?

Göran: We have a few hundred copies left still, stored in USA, UK and Sweden. Just visit our website and drop us a mail. We are quick to answer and will happily send the CD to wherever you are.
Phil: By interstellar overdrive. We have fans on our Facebook page from all over the planet, but no worries, we can mail the CD to all locations!

Last question! Where is the pussy willow that smiled on this leaf - and if it’s there will you go there too?

Phil: I've been advised by my lawyer not to answer this question, but Göran, being brave and foolhardy in equal parts, probably has an exclamation up the sleeve of his kaftan.
Göran: The pussy willow is in springtime Cambridge, and yes we will certainly go there one day to gig and make recordings. Right Phil?
Phil: You’ll have to talk to my manager……

Men on the Border
Men on the Border.

Göran Nyström and Phil Eheridge are preparing a new album called (at least for now) Jumpstart that will at least have two other Syd covers and own material. On the third of October 2013 they are billed at the Floydian Cruise gig in Sweden.

© 2013 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Men on the Border & Solo en las Nubes.
Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
The Holy Church review of the Men on the Border album can be found here: Men On The Border: full of guitars and no dust... 

Links:

Kajsa-Tuva Henriksson

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajsatuva/sets/

Jennifer D'Andrea

Deviant Art: http://missjennifyre.deviantart.com/
Flickr 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missjennifire/sets/
Flickr 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyandbrett/sets/
Weebly: http://jennifiresart.weebly.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MissJenniFyre


2014-01-01

Love, Pain & Sorrow

Lindsay Corner, 1969
Lindsay Corner, 1969.

Happy New Year, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Another year has passed by, with ups and downs, with happiness and grief, with joy and pain... In our Inuit realm some people passed away unfortunately, and luckily some new ones were born... welcome Vasilisa Alla... to this world of magnets and miracles...

Browsing through our scrapbook with unfinished articles, pictures and movies for the Church we noted this report from our fashion department. It is a 1969 documentary about Ossie Clarke with Lindsay Corner as one of the models.

To quote our fashion specialist:

In the first bit Lindsey Corner is on the left, then in the yellow dress with the blonde in blue, then in the middle with a long pink thing, then again in yellow with the blonde. She's the one with darker blonde wavy hair basically.

And yes we are aware of the rumours that circle about Lindsay Corner and Gala Pinion since a year or two. And no, we don't know when this will see the light of day...

2013

2013 was a weird year for the Church and its Reverend. Again we thought we would not be able to write anything for our lustrum, but in the end we clocked down at 20 slightly stupendous articles.

We started anoraky enough with an article about Syd's hair-length in the early Seventies, this to please the female audience of our little cult: Hairy Mess. Sometimes the Reverend regressed into Brian Eno mood and then he wrote some ditty texts about sweet nothings: King's Road Chic(k).

For Easter Iggy and the Reverend were remembered in a song from Rich Hall (Songs of Praise) whose concept album Birdie Hop and The Sydiots was released around the Church’s fifth birthday: Reverends and Sydiots. Thanks Rich!

Among the monks

The Church's biggest scoop this year was made in collaboration with the Spanish Sole En Las Nubes blog. Not only did Antonio Jesús find back the article that started the infamous Oseira rumours, but he also managed to interview the author of the hoax, Jose Ángel González. The Church merely harvested Antonio's excellent work, like churches mostly do: Spanishgrass.

Facebook's thriving Syd Barrett community, Birdie Hop, organised a meeting in Cambridge with several young and less younger Barrett fans, friends and lovers. It was a most amazing meeting in remembrance of a man who wrote the most peculiar kind of tunes: Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting? 

Did Syd leave us a message in a letter from a decade ago? Sometimes the truth is more beautiful than the legend: Making it clear... 

2014

And that is what we will continue to do in 2014, make it a fantastic year, boys and girls! And everything seems so much brighter... Let's party! Thanks Men On The Border!


Many thanks to Alexander, Amy Funstar, Anonymous, Antonio Jesús, Babylemonade Aleph, Baron Wolman, Birdie Hop, Bob Archer, Brett Wilson, Cambridge News, Christopher Farmer, Col Turner, Dion Johnson, Elizabeth Voigt-Walter, Stanislav, Euryale, Göran Nyström, Herman van Gaal, HYGIY, Joanne 'Charley' Milne, Joe Perry, Jon Felix, Jonathan Charles, Jose Ángel González, Julia, Kiloh Smith, Kirsty Whalley, Late Night, Laughing Madcaps, Lori Haines, Mark Blake, MAY, Men On The Border, Michael Rawding, MvB, No Man's Land, Phil Etheridge, Psych62, Radharani Krishna, Rich Hall, Rod Harris, Ron Cooper, Simon Hendy, Stefan Mühle, USA National Register off Historic Places, Viper, Vita, Wolfpack, Younglight, Yves Leclerc... Love you Swoonies!

And if I go insane,
And they lock me away,
Will you still let me join in the game?

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Rich ♥ Alexander ♥ Liza ♥


2014-09-06

Spanishgrass, or the Duran Durán mystery...

Spanishgrass Redux 2014
Spanishgrass Polaroid cover
Spanishgrass Polaroid cover.

Last week, dear fanoraks, we wrote how a mysterious package arrived at Atagong mansion: Spanishgrass, the myth continues... 

It contained, next to a CD and several goodies, a tape reel, marked 'reel four'. An undated letter from High Fidelity GCA Sound, Purveyors of Fine Audio Equipment, explains how the four reels have been transferred to CD.

GCA Sound letter
GCA Sound letter.
Mastering Report:

Project instructions: Leopoldo Duran (customer) provided four reel to reel tapes. Customer stated reels have been left unprotected in a drafty room. Customer would like archive copies made from whatever is on tapes. No alterations to the sound are to be made. Please deliver transferred files on to a compact disc.

Project Engineer Notes:

Minor water damage to tapes. Main concern is tape quality. Tape age is estimated to be mid 1970s. Due to the age of the tape, the tape is oxidizing and showing wear. In order to achieve the most optimum archival copy, the reel to reel machine heads were cleaned and aligned before each reel. Tapes were baked to achieve optimum quality from source. While a digital copy has been created from the reels provided, certain audio defects remain present. Even with adequate preventative measures, tape transfer achieved was not optimal. Listener should expect audio imperfections. This is most noticeable as minor distortions, speed inconsistencies, and subtle drop outs.
Reel 1, courtesy Rick Barnes
Reel 1, courtesy Rick Barnes.

And then there were three

Our assumption that four tapes, each containing different tracks, have been anonymously 'delivered' to people around the world seems right.

Last week boxes arrived in Spain at the Solo En Las Nubes webmaster Antonio Jesús (reel 2) and in the USA at Birdie Hop administrator and music collector (and professional) Rick Barnes (reel 1). As a matter of fact the Spanishgrass set made it onto Rick Barnes' VC Vinyl Community update on Youtube (skip to 20 minutes to watch the Spanishgrass bit.)

For the moment we still have no clue about the whereabouts of reel number 3.

Next to the music on tape and CD there are some Polaroids from the Oseira monastery that further immerse the listener into the Spanishgrass set. These will be published on a daily base at the Spanishgrass section of our Holy Church Tumblr page.

The question that troubles most anoraks though is: do the tapes (and CD) really contain lost Syd Barrett tunes that have been recorded during his alleged stay at the Oseira monastery, somewhere in the seventies? We will only publish a review of the record next week, but this is what we can already divulge.

Reel 2, courtesy Antonio Jesus
Reel 2, courtesy Antonio Jesus.

Save a prayer

Leopoldo Durán, professor of (English) literature, philosophy and theology, lived for three decades in Great Britain where he was contacted by Graham Greene after Durán's doctoral dissertation about priesthood. The two men became friends for life and the author annually visited the priest at the Oseira monastery. Greene's humorous and satirical novel Monsignor Quixote was a direct result of the long religious and political conversations both friends had, more triggered by visits to local vineyards than for the need of philosophical discours. Graham Greene died in 1991, after his final confession was taken by his Spanish friend. Durán would still correspond with Greene's widow and family until his dead in 2008 and published several biographical books about the author.

The Durán archives, 48 boxes in total, containing letters, manuscripts, pictures from Durán, Greene and others are archived at the Georgetown University Library Special Collections Research Center, Washington, D.C., but nowhere there is a trace of a certain Roger Keith Barrett staying at Oseira.

Leopoldo Durán died in 2008, but the alleged Spanishgrass tapes were only posted six years later to four Syd Barrett scholars, after the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit and Solo En Las Nubes articles about the 1986 hoax (and its follow-up, by the original author, Jose Ángel González, in 2003). See: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record, Spanishgrass, one year later and subsequent articles on this blog.

Where did the tapes stay between 2008 and 2014? Surely, if Leopoldo Durán would have had the Spanishgrass tapes, they would logically be in his archive, but they are not.

Leopoldo Duran signature
Leopoldo Duran signature.

Last but not least. In the letter that can be found in the four Spanishgrass Immersion boxes (with one box still missing), Leopoldo Durán misspells his own name consequently as Leopoldo Duran, without an accent on the last a. On top of that Durán was a professor of English literature, so it is weird that the letter, destined for an English speaking audience, has been written in Galician.

Sometimes a hoax can be too elaborated...

So who or what is this Spanishgrass band or artist and what is on the album? Be patient, sistren and brethren, all will be revealed in due time...

(This is part two of the Spanishgrass, the myth continues... series. For part one press: Spanishgrass, the myth continues... Hi-def scans and pictures will be revealed, on an irregular basis, at our Spanishgrass Tumblr gallery.)


Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥

The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


2014-09-12

Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album

Spanisgrass reel 3, courtesy Stanislav
Spanisgrass reel 3, courtesy Stanislav.

Finally the fourth copy of Spanishgrass has been found. It is somewhere in that immense country that is Russia, in the hands of the slightly dadaist artist Stanislav, whom we happen to have met this summer in Brussels, the territory of Manneken Pis, Hergé and Magritte. If this was an episode of Crime Scene Investigation, where the actors have the uncanny habit of talking way too fast, we would say that the net closes around the Syd Barrett Facebook group Birdie Hop as all people who have received a copy are linked, one way or another, to that gang. On the other hand, as Birdie Hop undoubtedly is the best Syd Barrett group around on Facebook this is not really earth-shattering news either.

Oseira

The great grey edifice of the Osera monastery stretches out almost alone within a trough of the Galician hills. A small shop and a bar at the very entrance of the monastery grounds make up the whole village of Osera. The carved exterior which dates from the sixteenth century hides the twelfth-century interior – an imposing stairway, perhaps twenty metres wide, up which a platoon could march shoulder to shoulder, leads to long passages lined with guest rooms above the central courtyard and the cloisters. Almost the only sound during the day is the ring of hammers where half a dozen workmen are struggling to repair the ravages of seven centuries. (Graham Greene, Monsignor Quixote)

Let's cut the crap, once and for all. Of course the 2014 Spanishgrass (Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta) 'immersion' set, that has only been issued in four copies, isn't Syd Barrett's lost Oseira record. Syd has never visited that monastery. The Spanish blog Sole En Las Nubes has dedicated some valuable webspace to investigate the Spanishgrass hoax and managed to trace it back to a Spanish journalist and photographer who decided to have some fun in a satirical underground magazine of the mid-eighties. (Thanks to Antonio Jesús for allowing us to publish his articles in English: Spanishgrass.) If you call yourself a decent Barrett-fan you should know that by now, so don't feel insulted.

But this doesn't mean that there isn't a 'Spanishgrass' record by a 'Spanishgrass' band. The numbered and limited deluxe sets have been sent to four extremely lucky people on 3 different continents. There also seems to be a regular CD release, but it is pretty limited as well, and probably you will have to ask for one if you want to receive it, but of course you need to puzzle out who is behind the record first. Luckily the set has been released this week on Bandcamp where you can listen to it, track per track, or download the album in its entirety on a 'name your own price' basis (0.00$ is an option as well).

Why don't you listen to the Spanishgrass album on Bandcamp while reading this review?

Direct link: Spanishgrass: Twenty Songs of Space and Siesta by Spanishgrass

Spanishgrass (CD), courtesy Antonio Jesus
Spanishgrass (CD), courtesy Antonio Jesus.

Spanishgrass (Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta)

Spanishgrass 2014 is a re-imagination of a record that never was in the first place. Its maker had to explore the unexplored, like those medieval cartographers who wrote hic sunt dracones (here are dragons) on uncharted regions of their maps and who drew mythological creatures, dragons and sea serpents on the empty spaces.

The record, 57 minutes in total, has 23 tracks (3 more than on the 'original' Spanisgrass), divided into 4 blocks and closely following the track-listing and the lyrics that have been published by the Solo En Las Nubes and Holy Church blogs (Spanishgrass, the hoax revealed). Supplemental lyrics have been taken from The White Goddess (Robert Graves, 1948) and Imaginary Lives (Marcel Schwob, 1896).

Like in Eduardo Galeano's Book of Embraces where every anecdote stands on its own but interactively forms a complete chapter, each track has its own merits but unites with the others. The record has been made to listen to in its entirety, or at least part by part, 4 in total, each separated by a 'division' Bells track (#1, 2 and 3). An interesting experiment would be to play the record on shuffle and see what new auditive interactions are created.

The music consists of evocative instrumentals and up-tempo tunes, with a spacey, early Floydian, guitar sorrowing in the background, psychedelic keyboards, fragile percussion and spoken word, whispered mostly in English and sometimes Galician (Na Outra Banda). Soundscapes and musique concrète are omnipresent: babbling brooks, chirping birds, whistling teapots (Breakwater and Tea), a lawnmower (Waste Deep) and some excited monks.

Do not expect an easy parcours, the music can be annoying, harrowing, exhausting, cathartic, transcendental, repetitive. It is impossible to fit the tracks into a single category other than that melting pot that is avant-garde or art-rock. There are traces of early and vintage Floyd (from Ummagumma to Obscured By Clouds), haunting rhythms that stay remnant in your mind like those irritating Swans drones (The Seer), seventies porn flick lounge tunes, Tarantinesque exotica, Michael Nyman's repetitiveness and even (cough, cough)... Spanish bluegrass rockabilly (Grey Trees).

Either you find this record utterly irritating or utterly brilliant and the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit seems to fall in the second category. A masterpiece for non easy listeners, but we have never been easy, haven't we?

Reel three (by Stanislav)
Reel three (by Stanislav).

Tracklisting

Part One: Manantial (Spring) / Reverential Mourners / Black Maid / Plastic Gunpowder / Bells 1 (approx. 14 minutes)

Part Two: Mouse after a fête / Breakwater and tea / Grey trees / Two bangers + mash / Whining at the moon / Bells 2 (approx. 15 minutes)

Part Three: Greenland / Eu son Dhaga (I am Dhaga) / Na outra banda (On the other hand) / Un poeta esquece os días de chuvia (A poet forgets the rainy days) / Saturnalia / Bells 3 (approx. 16 minutes)

Part Four: William Phips / Stede Bonnet / Gabriel Spenser / Gospel at Noon / Waste Deep / Frog (approx. 13 minutes).

(This is part three of the the Spanishgrass, the myth continues... series. Hi-def scans and pictures will be revealed, on an irregular basis, at our Spanishgrass Tumblr gallery.)


Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package. Spanishgrass can be downloaded at Bandcamp.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥


2015-01-01

Of Promises Broken

Sad Barrett
Sad Barrett. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

Happy New Year, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. 2014 is gone and again what a long strange trip it has been, to quote – once again - musician, lyricist and poet Robert Hunter. Syd Barrett is dead all right and unfortunately his legacy hasn't been ageing gratefully at all last year. An enlightened visionary once said that if you put two Barrett fans together they will start a group and if you'll put three they will start a fight. This is past year's history in a nutshell and enough reason for the Reverend to say adieu to all Facebook Syd Barrett groups, without exception, even the ones he co-founded. 2014 showed they are as unique as Pepsi is to to Coca Cola, perfect clones and excelling in superfluous and sickly sweet mediocrity. This crusty dinosaur needed to get rid of the bickering, the hijacking of each other's members, the shouting to and fro, the arrogant standpoint of people who never heard of Syd Barrett three months before but who feel it their constitutional right to surpass their ignorance and insult the old farts for the only reason they can.

Luckily there are still some free minds around who do the things they do, unburdened, in all artistic freedom and who we can call our friends. Rich Hall comes to mind, over the years this multi-instrumentalist has acquired an impressive back catalogue of indie records, with of course the impressive Birdie Hop & The Sydiots that appeared in 2013.

This year he surprised the lethargic Syd Barrett world with an enhanced version of the Barrett track Opel. Opal, as some people claim it should be, is a haunting tune and has some of Barrett's finest verse (crisp flax squeaks tall reeds) but it only exists as a demo. Hall added additional layers of guitar, thus creating something that could be close to the definitive Opel / Opal version.

Opel (upgrade) by Rich Hall
Opel (upgrade) by Rich Hall. Opens in a separate window.

Link: Opel (Rich Hall upgrade)

Rich Hall
Rich Hall.

Roger Keith Barrett Superstar

In the privacy of the confessional Rich had already whispered into the Reverend's ears that he was of the opinion that Barrett's seminal 1974 sessions could be turned into something more coherent and because nobody believed him, the Reverend included, he decided to give these tapes the Opel treatment as well.

The Dark Side of the Moon had made Pink Floyd a supergroup and their record companies decided to earn some quick cash, surfing on the success of the million seller. The first budget release was A Nice Pair (1973) that combined the Floyd's first two records, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets, although American copies had some alternative mixes of some of the tracks. Actually this was not such a bad idea, because in America Pink Floyd had been a relatively unknown band till then. The compilation hit the Billboard top 40.

For the first time American kids heard of Syd Barrett and his two solo albums, that had never crossed the ocean, were re-packaged in 1974 as a double album with a 'founder member of Pink Floyd' sticker on the front. The album rose to position 163 in the American charts, which was an unexpected success and made the record executives hunger for more at both sides of the Atlantic.

Bryan Morrison, who was still Barrett's agent, convinced Syd to get back in the studio with Peter Jenner (who we interviewed this year: An innerview with Peter Jenner) to start a third studio project, but it only resulted in some hastily shambolic recordings. But now, in 2014, Rich Hall took the 1974 demos, added extra guitar, bass, drums and sleigh bells (where would rock music be without sleigh bells?) and here is how it sounds. The result is still best described as your drunk uncle torturing his guitar on Christmas eve after his fourth coffee cognac, but kudos to Hall for enriching the demos. At least we hear now where it could have led into if only Barrett would have had the balls...

Tracklisting: Start
Boogie #1 (with a trace of Bo Diddley’s ‘Pretty Thing’) 0'00
Boogie #2 1'28
Boogie #3 2'58
If You Go #1 4'24
If You Go #2 6'38
Untitled 8'25
Slow Boogie 9'40
Fast Boogie 12'22
Ballad 13'30
John Lee Hooker (actually Lighting' Hopkins' Mojo Hand) 15'20
Chooka-Chooka Chug Chug 18'18

Endless Insults

Opposed to a band called Pink Floyd there is a company with the same name that seems to have other interests than to serve the band it represents, even going as far as insulting and legally threatening webmasters and active forum members (read: über-fans) because they dare to write something that doesn't fit into saint David's money scheme, who thinks he is the caretaker of all things Syd Barrett, which – in reality – means buying all possible Barrett-related items, movies and recordings and hiding them in a storage place, out of sight of the public and the fans. Ted Shuttleworth about his Crazy Diamond movie script in 2011:

Presently, the script is with a guy who has been placed in charge of the Syd Barrett estate. He is also David Gilmour's manager, and ostensibly Pink Floyd's manager as well. I have no idea if he's ever read it. I imagine he hasn't. But if a movie about Syd is ever going to seriously happen, he is the man who is going to give the first OK. Maybe one of these days he'll call me back. (Taken from: Ted Shuttleworth and the "Crazy Diamond" Movie)

Well, in the case of the Crazy Diamond movie, that was equally trashed down by Roger Waters and by David Gilmour, this might have been a good thing.

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band
Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

The Last Minute Never Mentioned Boogie Band

Not that the webmasters of the Pink Floyd fan sites are any better. The three big Pink Floyd fan-sites, two of them serious and a third who copies all from the others, wet their trousers whenever a Floyd member or Floyd collaborator does a 'thing' however trivial that 'thing' might be. The Igquisition made a nice table about some recent Floydian events, counting the times they have been mentioned.

   

Event Person AFG BDA NPF
Goldtop 1957 auction Snowy White 2 1 0
Bombay Bicycle Club David Gilmour 1 1 1
Kirsty Bertarelli Nick Mason 1 1 1
Signal To Noise Andy Jackson 2 3 0
The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Syd Barrett 0 1 0

Of course we don't mind that Snowy White selling his 1957 Goldtop Standard Les Paul guitar gets a mention, it can be heard on the 8-track version of Animal's Pigs On The Wing (this track was later re-issued on Snowy's Goldtop compilation).

It is not more than normal that Nick Mason, sitting in on drums on a (frankly dreadful) Kirsty Bertarelli Christmas single (The Ghosts Of Christmas Past), or David Gilmour, joining Bombay Bicycle Club at the last gig ever on Earls Court, is documented on the fan-sites, that is what fan-sites are for.

But that Andy Jackson's solo album gets mentioned 5 times more by the fan-sites than the The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band, with Syd Barrett guesting on 3 tracks, is frankly unbelievable. The original tape of this concert was confiscated in 1985, in a rather NSA-shaped way, by a Pink Floyd black suit and then hurled into the maelström they call their archive (see: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). Luckily a second copy of this tape was found back in 2005 and issued by Easy Action records after nearly a decade of legal struggle.

When I am A Good Dog They Sometimes Throw Me A Bone In

That Neptune Pink Floyd is not aware of this release is probably just a sign of their overall ignorance. However it is more problematic for A Fleeting Glimpse not mentioning it. Col Turner, by his own words a fan of Pink Floyd since 1966, should be well aware of Syd Barrett's importance and legacy. His website, that has attracted over 50 million visitors and whose forum has over 13000 members, brags that it is the most accurate, the most informed and the first to come out with officially confirmed news. Not mentioning the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band could be a sign that Col T only publishes what his One Fifteen puppet master allows him to publish, as the Endless River incident has clearly proven past year (see: The loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...).

Update 2015 08 02: Browsing through the Late Night forum we came across a post from Lee Wood who made the Syd's Cambridge DVD Box Set, limited to 100 copies, in 2009. He send a copy of the box to one of the leading Pink Floyd fan-sites but was informed by the webmaster that they would not review the release. Lee Wood:

"The Management" of PF seems to like total control. I sent a review copy of the box set to Brain Damage whom I always thought were a good source of information but they couldn't run a review until they got permission from official sources. Needless to say it's been several months and nothing has appeared. So perhaps its not worth looking to them for unbiased information or any form of news of interest to fans. (Source: Syd's Cambridge Box Set.)

Oh by the way, the official Syd Barrett website never mentioned the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release either. But they are a One Fifteen product as well, and as such only interested in selling t-shirts, some of those are quite nice even.

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit published several articles about this record, with interviews of Carlton Sandercock, Mohammed Abdullah John Alder (Twink for short) and Fred Frith. Pearls for the swine, one might say, because even the self-proclaimed Syd Barrett fans largely ignored this release and were openly shouting for the tracks to be illegally published on YouTube.

Spanishgrass album 2014
Spanishgrass album 2014.

Caca Del Toro

When a Mexican Syd Barrett fan asked the Church, in May 2012, if we knew anything about a third solo album, allegedly recorded in a Spanish monastery, we didn't know this old urban legend would rip the Barrett community open like zombies with their entrails gushing out of their bellies.

All the Church did was looking into this (obvious) myth and reporting about it. The research was taken a step further by Antonio Jesús from the phantasmagorical blog Solo En Las Nubes who not only tracked down the rumour to its source, an article in a satirical magazine, but also managed to interview the person who started this hoax. What we thought was a fine piece of investigative journalism, taking months of research (the last articles were published in 2013), was considered inappropriate by those people who fill their time by studying the hair-length of Barrett (see: Hairy Mess) on coloured photographs that were once published in magazines back home.

However, the myth was far from over. In August of this year, four reel-to-reel tapes were sent in a luxury 'immersion' box to 4 people on 3 continents containing a 2014 re-imagination of the record. Two of them were the people who had published the Spanishgrass files on their blogs: Antonio Jesús & the Reverend. The two others were Rick Barnes, record collector, music investigator, administrator of the Facebook Syd Barrett group Birdie Hop and Stanislav Grigorev, whose Floydian con-artistic artwork even fooled the professionals that are Barrett's management.

Obviously the Church reported and commented about this (quite intriguing and musically excellent) record and published a review when it was streamed on Bandcamp (see: Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album). Useless to say that it was mostly disregarded by those fans who squawk orgasmically over photoshopped Barrett images where it looks as if someone has just vomited a bowl of three-coloured pasta all over him.

The general disinterest and the continuous backstabbing was a sign o' the times, so thought the Reverend, to seek up new pastures and to say goodbye with a cheerful bless you all.

Welcome to 2015.


♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2016-01-10

New Syd Barrett Website Launched!

Barrett (1967)
Syd Barrett (1967).

(Warning: this blogpost contains gratuitous nudity.)

Happy New Year, dear sistren and brethren, followers of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, we know these wishes come a tad too late, but for us, Sydiots, the sixth of January is all that more important, isn’t it?

Barrett’s seventieth birthday, as you probably know, was going to be remembered with the launch of a renewed official website at www.sydbarrett.com, under the supervision of Ian and Don Barrett and the help of some fans who want to stay anonymous, except the one bloke who bragged about it on that particular Whining Madcaps group we have long been blocked from.

Who is it who’s credited in 4 Syd books, spent months of (…) free time collating photos of Syd and the early Floyd cos NO ONE else had done it before, (…) has a credit at the end of the Technicolour Dream documentary, was interviewed by Storm for his Syd film, helped Pink Floyd’s manager with the original Syd website THEN was asked by Ian and Don Barrett for (…) help with the new one.

Who you gonna call?
Syd-busters!
The rant goes on after that and we seriously wonder why the man still hasn’t got a statue in that cultural indifferent town that is Cambridge, instead of the one that is going to be erected for Syd.

Antonio Jesus in Brussels (with ginger cat)
Antonio Jesus in Brussels (with ginger cat).

Caturday

Saturday the ninth saw two magical gatherings, one at the Geldart in Cambridge and one at the Cirio in Brussels. The one in Cambridge had the usual gang of Sydiots who don’t want to be remembered of the madcap’s London exploits. The one in Brussels was just an alcoholic debauchery between two webmasters and their mutual adoration for ginger pussies, which is a far more interesting starting point to, uhm..., start a conversation.

But, like we said, on the sixth of January of the year 2016 a new official Syd Barrett website was launched. It also immediately crashed which means that it either was inundated by the amount of hits or that the chosen internet provider happens to be a cheap and cheerful one who can’t handle more than a dozen clicks per minute.

Apart from that the website is a nice surprise, compared to the old one that already looked outdated the day it was uploaded (and that had many wrong entries, including wrong release dates for Syd's solo albums and examples of Stanislav's dadaist fanart that crept into several sections). See: Cut the Cake (2011) and/or Syd's Official site gets a makeover (2010).

Much effort has been put into a short biographical Introduction that tries to condense Syd's life into a readable article that won't scare the fans away. While every Barrett scholar would probably highlight other aspects of the madcap's life it is a nice treat, written by someone who cares.

The Photo section is what probably will attract most of the fans to the new site, publishing many unseen portraits of the artist as a young man, hidden – up till now - in private family albums. Obviously there are also sections of the early Pink Floyd and Syd's solo years, nothing really earth-shattering can be found in there (for the anorak, that is) but it is a nice touch though that the pictures with Syd and Iggy (by Mick Rock) have lost the legend that they were taken during the autumn of 1969. We don't see any Storm or Hipgnosis pictures in there but this could be a coincidence...

A ridiculously wide menu banner (it looks cool on a smartphone though) brings us to the Music page where different songs will be analysed. For the launch it is Octopus that gets the geek treatment, with – next to an introduction – Paul Belbin's Untangling the Octopus essay, in a Julian Palacios revision. It is great to see this 'Rosetta stone for decoding the writing inspirations for one of Syd Barrett's most beloved songs' appear on an official website.

Hidden underneath the introductory Syd Barrett Music page are four sub-sections that are, at first sight, not entirely coherent and can be easily missed.

Octopus (compilation)
Octopus (compilation).

Rocktopus

Syd's Recordings gives an overview of his discography, Pink Floyd and solo, including compilations and different formats. This list omits the 1992 Cleopatra Octopus CD compilation (although you can mysteriously find its cover on a different page) and also two early Pink Floyd compilations: The Best Of The Pink Floyd (1970) and Masters Of Rock (1974). Obviously the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release that was confiscated by Pink Floyd, unaware of the fact that a second copy of the tape was still hiding in a Cambridge cupboard, is nowhere to be found either.

Syd's Songs publishes a complete list of Barrett's compositions, released and otherwise, and it is a section that gives already much food for debate, especially as an early Pink Floyd Immersion set could be in the make.

Dedicated Albums tends to give an overview of tributes. It is a bit a superfluous (and very incomplete) list, perhaps only added to do Men On The Border the favour they deserve. Personally I don't understand why the pretty ridiculous Vegetable Man Project is listed 6 times, but the equally ridiculous Hoshizora No Drive not. Closer to home I don't see Rich Hall's Birdie Hop And The Sydiots, nor Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, appearing in the list.

Concert Posters gives what the title says, but also here the list is pretty random, although (early) Pink Floyd poster collectors are known to the people coordinating this section of the website.

But we've seen things change rapidly, even for the past few days, so when you read this some of these glitches may already have been repaired.

Shirley Anne Field by David Bailey, Playboy March 1966
Shirley Anne Field by David Bailey, Playboy March 1966.

Enjoy (f)Art

Obviously there is also an Art section on the site, divided into several sections: Student Days, Later Art, Notebooks & Sketches (this section has some unseen pictures of Roger's notebooks) and Syd's DIY furniture (and his bike). The Fart Enjoy art-book is published as well, but mentions that it was made in 1965, while it contains a pin-up from a 1966 Playboy (don't pretend you didn't see it!) and refers to a March 1966 Pink Floyd gig (see: Smart Enjoy). But here we are meddling with muddy Sydiot territory again.

Last, but not least, there is a Barrett Books entry. Also here it is all in the mind of the webmaster. Needless to say that the 'classic' biographies in the English language have all been mentioned, as well as other publications in a pretty arbitrary way.

London Live by Tony Bacon still makes it to the list. Other than the picture on the front, this book has got no real connection to Syd Barrett. It contains a history of London Clubs and the bands who played there. Pink Floyd is mentioned, obviously, but so are a couple of hundred other bands and artists.

The first two Mick Rock Syd Barrett photo books are included but not the third one: Syd Barrett – Octopus - The Photography Of Mick Rock, EMI Records Ltd & Palazzo Editions Ltd, Bath, 2010. There are other things as well, like the weird way some Italian and French books make it to the list and others don't, but this review is already messy enough.

Oh, by the way, there is a Links page as well (that we nearly missed) but we will not spend another word on it. Just check it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

But it is a start all right, and one in the good direction. Things can only get better.


Many thanks to: Anonymous, Paul Belbin, Mary Cosco, Stanislav Grigorev, Rich Hall, Antonio Jesús, Göran Nyström, Julian Palacios.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2017-02-03

Psychedelic Celluloid

This article started as a review of Psychedelic Celluloid by Simon Matthews but ended up as a long-read about Pink Floyd at the movies. Sorry, I can't help it. (This article does not pretend to describe all Pink Floyd related movies.)

Contents: • Psychedelic CelluloidThe Big BossConfessions of a Chinese CourtesanMore Sound DelinquentsPsychedelic Celluloid (reprise)À Coeur JoieThe TouchablesThe CommitteeThe Magic ChristianMoreThe BodyEntertaining Mr. SloaneLa ValléePsychedelic Celluloid (listomania)SalomePsychedelic Celluloid (conclusion)La MargeKindle rant

Psychedelic Celluloid by Simon Matthews
Psychedelic Celluloid by Simon Matthews.

Psychedelic Celluloid

I got a mail, a couple of months ago, from Simon Matthews, saying that he was working on a book that would explore the interaction between (psychedelic) pop music and British movies, in the golden era that was Swinging London. Not really coming as a surprise he added that Pink Floyd would figure in it a couple of times. I made a mental note to check it out, but like so many things it got lost in the dark corners of my soul. Call it divine intervention, or just a case of serendipity, but when Brain Damage did a short write-up of the publication it all came back to me and ten minutes later my Kindle was purring with joy.

Matthews starts his book by mentioning George Melly’s Revolt Into Style, a collection of sixties essays that has been borrowed from in all self-respecting Swinging London books in the past forty years. His introduction ends with the ad-hoc announcement that the most prominent ‘movie’ music performers between 1965 and '74 were not The Beatles, nor The Rolling Stones, but, yes, you’ve already guessed it: (The) Pink Floyd.

During my four decades long love/hate relationship with the band I have trodden many paths, some narrower than others, and so it may not come as a surprise to you that I have also tried to acquire some information on the lads in movieland. We all know that several members of the Cambridge mafia, revolving around the band, were dabbling into film: Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, Mick Rock, Anthony Stern, Storm Thorgerson to name just a few.

It happily surprised me that, in the chapter ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of W1!’, Matthews is casually mentioning that the Floyd’s music can also be found on two kung fu flicks: ‘Fist of Fury’ and ‘Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan’. I am familiar with those as well as my quest into Floyd in filmland has brought me to the weirdest places. Did you know there is a Syd Barrett presence in a Freddy Mandingo movie? Well, let me tell you, you really don't want to know.

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The Big Boss
Die Todesfaust Des Cheng Li (The Big Boss).

A fistful of Floyd

唐山大兄 Tang Shan Da Xiong (The Big Boss) is a (fairly stupid) 1971 Hong Kong movie that put a fairly unknown martial artist into the spotlight. Bruce Lee plays a somewhat dorky fellow, revenging the murders on his relatives, who found out the local ice factory is being used for drugs smuggling.

When the movie arrived in an American version it was retitled as Fists Of Fury, creating a mess for generations to come as there would be another Bruce Lee movie the next year called Fist Of Fury (without the s). Perhaps it was the other way round, as even Wikipedia isn't really sure which is which (and neither does Simon Matthews). Most of the world calls the movie The Big Boss, except for Germany, who like to give the plot away and baptised it Die Todesfaust des Cheng Li (The deadly fist of Cheng Li).

Not only the title gives food for confusion. The movie has been issued in half a dozen of different versions with entirely different soundtracks.

A first music score was composed by Wang Fu-ling for the (original) Mandarin release. It is believed Cheng Yung-yo assisted with that soundtrack, although uncredited. This movie was horribly dubbed into English for a limited run in the Anglo-Saxon world.

A second soundtrack was made by German composer Peter Thomas when the movie was re-cut and re-dubbed for the international market. This 1973 westernised version had several erotic and gory scenes deleted, including the legendary scene where Bruce Lee cuts an adversary's head in two halves with a saw.

A third soundtrack, using the international cut, was arranged by Joseph Koo, for a Japanese release, probably around 1974.

A fourth soundtrack for a Cantonese release in 1983 combines the Joseph Koo score (#3) with the one of Peter Thomas (#2) and adds incidental 'stock' music. This one includes snippets from Pink Floyd and King Crimson (Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two).

Peter Thomas (2016). Picture courtesy Stanislav Gregorev.
Peter Thomas (2016). Picture: courtesy Stanislav Gregorev.

Cut Into Little Pieces

An overview of Pink Floyd music in The Big Boss, thanks to the Martial Arts Music Wiki, with links to the exact sequence. Contains some minor spoilers.

Obscured by Clouds (1972, Obscured by Clouds)
Cheng Chao-an (Bruce Lee) and his cousin Hsiu are being followed by casino bouncers (13:05).
Repeated when Hsiao Mi (the big boss), his son Chiun and some henchmen are training (26:35).

Time (1973, The Dark Side of the Moon)
Hsiu and his brother visit the big boss at his mansion, trying to find out why two of their family members have disappeared (29:05).
Chen Chao-an (Bruce Lee) is invited for a meeting with the ice factory's manager (47:50).
Chen Chao-an visits the big boss to find out why four of his relatives have disappeared (01:06:14).

Time / The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Entertainment) (1969, Ummagumma)
Mixed together this can be heard when Hsiu and his brother try to escape from Mi's killer squad (31:58).

As far as we know, the Floydian soundtrack was only available on a Cantonese 1983 re-release, explaining that a 1973 song anachronistically appears on a 1971 movie. It isn't certain if the Pink Floyd tracks were properly licensed as they are not mentioned on the end credits. To add insult to injury other cuts of the movie - with alternative 'hybrid' soundtracks and extra or longer scenes - have circulated, so it is all rather messy. For a (partial) comparison of the different versions: Big Boss @ Movie Censorship.

Bruceploitation

Bruce Lee died unexpectedly in 1973 and the posthumous documentary The Man and the Legend (original title: Li Xiao Long di Sheng yu si) contains next to the King Crimson piece that was already mentioned above, Pink Floyd's One of These Days (1971, Meddle) and On The Run (1973, The Dark Side of the Moon).

After 1973, several Bruceploitation movies were made, often with a conspiracy theme. Tian Huang Ju Xing (Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger) from 1976 is not different and has actor Bruce Li (real name: Ho Chung Tao) fighting his way through some shady drug deals in something that will not be remembered as a great martial arts movie. Even the soundtrack borrows completely from others and has next to Isaac Hayes and John Barry, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975).

(Back to contents, top of the page.)

Ai Nu
Ai Nu.

Trouble in the brothel

A decade before The Big Boss (1983 cut) another kung fu movie had found out about the martial strength of Pink Floyd.

愛奴 Ai Nu, awkwardly renamed for the western market as Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, is a 1972 Hong Kong movie about the 18-year old Ai Nu who is kidnapped from her family and brought to the governor's brothel.

After the default set of humiliations and punishments she apparently accepts her fate and learns the noble art of self-defence from 'madam' Chun Yi. Once a kung fu champ she uses her seductive powers to eliminate her wrongdoers, one by one.

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan is a mixture of blood vengeance, lesbian sensualism (in covert seventies style) and it has been named as one of the inspirational landmarks for Quentin Tarantino's Killl Bill. Every scene looks so artificially crisp it nearly hurts the eyes and if Walt Disney ever makes a movie set in a brothel this is certainly how it will look like. Undoubtedly a seventies classic, director Yuen Chor (Zhang Baojian) can, without doubt, be placed next to Borowczyk, Fellini or Pasolini.

Another one bites the dust

Unfortunately the original soundtrack can't really decide between traditional Chinese and Tex-Mex western style tunes. Two Pink Floyd tracks of the 1970 Zabriskie Point soundtrack are prominent in three decisive scenes. (The links given here point to a very bad copy, dubbed in English, with terrible sound.)

Come In Nr. 51 (Your Time is Up)
Ai Nu has just been tortured by Chun Yi, who promptly falls in love with her (link).
After the final duel, when Ai Nu kisses her dying lover goodbye (link).

Heart Beat, Pig Meat
A few seconds of Heart Beat, Pig Meat at 43 minutes when Ai Nu and her lesbian lover openly discuss the first murder (not present on the YouTube version).
(The DVD has a documentary about the movie that uses the Zabriskie soundtrack even more, by the way.)

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Fen Nu Qing Nian (Street Gangs of Hong Kong or The Delinquent)
Scene from The Delinquent.

More Sound Delinquents

In Psychedelic Celluloid, Simon Matthews writes that Pink Floyd can be heard in two kung fu movies, but there is more, much more...

The Kung Fu Magazine forum has a 27-pages thread with, at the time of writing, 386 verified tracks (of different composers, bands and artists) that have been used, legally or illegally, in dozens of films. Sometimes the songs are used in its entirety, but often snippets of a second or less have been 'sampled' into the soundscape. Venomous Centipede at shaolinchamber36.com came up with the following impressive Pink Floyd list. All Hong Kong or Taiwan movies with a Pink Floyd soundtrack:

April Fool Come in Number 51, Your Time is Up - Zabriskie Point
Bedevilled, The Echoes - Meddle
Chinatown Capers The Grand Vizier's Garden Party – Ummagumma
When You're In - Obscured By Clouds
Delinquint, The The Grand Vizier's Garden Party – Ummagumma
Astronomy Domine - Ummagumma
Fist of Unicorn * One of These Days - Meddle (* Added by: OldPangYau.)
Gambling For Gold The Grand Vizier's Garden Party - Ummagumma
Astronomy Domine - Ummagumma
Atom Heart Mother - Atom Heart Mother
Happenings, The Echoes - Meddle
Absolutely Curtains - Obscured By Clouds
Hunchback, The One of These Days - Meddle
Kung Fu Inferno Echoes - Meddle
Legends of Lust Heart Beat, Pig Meat - Zabriskie Point
Operation White Shirt Time - Dark Side of the Moon
On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon
Pier, The Time - Dark Side of the Moon
Roaring Lion, The One of These Days - Meddle
Tales of Larceny Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Tiger Jump Time - Dark Side of the Moon
Training Camp Atom Heart Mother - Atom Heart Mother
Young Rebel, The Time - Dark Side of the Moon
On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon
Operation White Shirt Time - Dark Side of the Moon
On the Run - Dark Side of the Moon

So prepare a big bag of popcorn if you want to check these out.

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Blow Up in Psychedelic Celluloid.
Blow Up in Psychedelic Celluloid.

Psychedelic Celluloid (reprise)

Let’s get back to Simon Matthews’ Psychedelic Celluloid. After the introduction and a chapter dedicated to Pink Floyd the main bulk of the book consists of a chronological listing of about 120 movies, starting with Richard Lester’s The Knack (1965) and ending with Stuart Cooper’s Little Malcolm and his struggle against the Eunuchs (1974), described by some as the most expensive home movie ever made as it could only be seen at George Harrison’s place.

There is nearly a movie on every page, with a picture, a short description, some info on the director, the actors and its soundtrack, but that is exactly where the cookie crumbles, as this information is almost identical to what you can already find on IMDB and Wikipedia. The author could've added more anecdotes or juicy rumours if you ask me. Take Performance, for instance, not a word about the orgies and the drugs in front and behind the camera, as Iggy Rose once testified on this holy place (see: Iggy & the Stones). But of course, books have already been written about that movie alone.

Several times when I was at the point of saying 'this is starting to get interesting' the article ends and makes place for another one, leaving my hunger unsatisfied. The intriguing story of the (disappeared) movie Popdown is a perfect example. Starring Zoot Money, with music of Brian Auger, Blossom Toes, Dantalion's Chariot, Julie Driscoll, Gary Farr and a couple of others, its history is so fascinating that it could easily have taken six pages, but it stops at two. After reading that entry I spend a good hour browsing the Internet for more information, reading about a maniacal fan, Peter Prentice, who nearly spend a fortune trying to locate a surviving copy. Unfortunately I never found out if he succeeded in his mission, or failed. Perhaps that is what Simon Matthews really wants as I'm pretty sure he knows more about these movies than he was allowed to write. And the beauty of this guide is that it assembles a list of 120 'flower power' films in the first place.

Two Weeks In September
Two Weeks In September, French-Dutch poster.

The Pink Jungle

Pink Floyd are the uncrowned champions of the 'pop' movies during the psychedelic heyday, roughly from the mid-sixties till the mid-seventies, and that despite the fact that they even rejected a soundtrack for Kubrick. (Even more of a surprise is that Amon Düül ends second.) I count 26 Pink Floyd entries in the book and 5 for Syd Barrett. Let's have a nerdy look through our pink tinted glasses, shall we?

À Coeur Joie (1967), aka Two Weeks in September

This movie is only mentioned in one of the appendixes of the book. Starring Brigitte Bardot it is the story of a model, with a photo shoot assignment in London, who has to choose between her husband and a much younger passionate toy boy. This was Bardot's first attempt to excel in a serious movie, away from the sex kitten romantic comedies she had done before. Probably that could be the reason why the public didn't want to see it, but critics say the movie tried to look sophisticated but ended up pretty dull. Next to BB two English popstars play a small role: Murray Head and Mike Sarne, who had a number one hit in 1962 with Come Outside.

In a 2015 BBC documentary 'Wider Horizons' it was revealed that David Gilmour sang two tracks for the movie, composed by Michel Magne: Do You Want To Marry Me? and I Must Tell You Why. This was before he joined Pink Floyd and that is perhaps why Psychedelic Celluloid isn't aware of this.

The Holy Church Tumblr blog has several links to the songs and the movie itself: À Coeur Joie.

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The Touchables.
The Touchables.

The Touchables (1968)

Simon Matthews throws an ace with the news that The Touchables has Interstellar Overdrive during one of its scenes, something that – as far as I know – has never been put in a Floydian biography before. It is one of those thirteen in a dozen, throwaway, sex comedies with a plot 'thinner than a paper towel'.

Four good-looking beauties, who like to walk around in their underwear and who are literally living in a bubble, kidnap a wax sculpture of Michael Caine and then repeat the act with a popular pop singer, whom they abuse as a sex slave, not that he resists a lot. After having a go at the four of them he finally tries to escape but they shoot him down. The situation looks grim for a minute, but even that can't spoil the fun. It all looks like one of the less interesting Monkees shows.

Add a subplot with a few gangsters and, for an incomprehensible reason, some professional wrestlers and you have a product that creates immediate amnesia after watching it.

The story was written by Donald Cammell who would later enlarge some of its situations for Performance.

Dumb movie. Great find.

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The Committee.
The Committee.

The Committee (1968)

The Committee entry has one of Mick Rock's pictures with Syd Barrett standing in front of his Pontiac Parisienne - more of that car later (obviously) - which I found a bit weird, even for a Barrett buff like me.

Then it occurred to me that Barrett had first been asked to compose its soundtrack, without the Floyd. The reason is not entirely clear, maybe Barrett was thought to be cheaper than the entire band, maybe Peter Jenner wanted to give Syd's solo career a boost (although he was officially still in the band), maybe it was believed that Syd would better understand the movie's philosophy, inspired by the theories of R.D. Laing. Whatever...

On the 30th of January 1968, a couple of days after the Floyd – now with David Gilmour - 'forgot' to pick Syd up for a gig, he arrived one and a half hour late at Sound Techniques without a guitar and without a band. A guitar was found, Nice-drummer Brian 'Blinky' Davidson and Barrett-buddy Steve Peregrin Took were presumably called in and five and a half hours later a twenty minutes music piece was in the can. Unfortunately Barrett thought it sounded better backwards so at midnight they called it a day and all went home.

The collaboration with Barrett was stopped because his studio time was too expensive and their budget was practically zero. Syd didn't show any further interest for the project either and when a studio employee tried to phone him there was 'nobody home'. Roger Waters heard about the fiasco and agreed to do the soundtrack with the rest of the band, minus Syd, in an improvised studio for practically nothing. Max Steuer in Sparebricks:

The address was 3, Belsize Square, London NW3, the basement flat of the painter Michael Kidner and his wife Marion. (…) It was amazingly professional.

Steuer remembers that Syd's piece was 'jazzy, with a groove' and that Peter Jenner took the tape with him. In 2014 we asked Jenner about the whereabouts of this 'holy grail'. Peter Jenner in The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit innerview:

As far as I know I am not in possession of these tapes, I might have been given a copy, but surely not the masters. (…) Many things disappeared with the sudden collapse of Blackhill. My recollection is that they were less than amazing. However if I come across anything I will let you know.

The Committee is now part of Pink Floyd's Early Years box set, without – of course – the Syd Barrett tape. Unfortunately Psychedelic Celluloid was already in the can when that set was released and several times the author states that a Pink Floyd soundtrack has not been officially released, while some of it can now be found on the luxury box set (The Committee, Amougies 1969 with Frank Zappa, Kralingen 1971, Pompeii 1972).

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The Magic Christian (1969)

There is no immediate link with Pink Floyd in The Magic Christian, but Gretta Barclay and her boyfriend Rusty Burnhill worked on it. Gretta Barclay in the interview she gave at the church:

We did some film extra work for The Magic Christian. I have a feeling Iggy came with us? But I cannot confirm this.

As the movie was shot in March 1969, Iggy could indeed have been around. It wouldn't be the first time that Iggy was on a film set, nor the last. Another Syd Barrett friend made it even in front of the camera. One of Raquel Welsh's topless slave girls in the galleon scene was none other than Jenny Spires, but she didn't make it to the final cut, so don't ruin your eyes looking for her.

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More.
More.

More (1969)

How could we forget More? This Barbet Schroeder movie follows the hippie trail to Ibiza, but instead of sea, sun and illicit sex it adds the deadly ingredient of heroin. Pink Floyd wrote the soundtrack.

There are some differences between the music on the album and the songs in the movie. 'Main Theme' lacks some guitar and 'Cymbaline' has alternate lyrics and is sung with a 'head voice'. The movie also contains a short instrumental 'Hollywood' that is not on the album. The Early Years compilation includes an early version of this track, titled 'Song 1'.

The song that has made fans go crazy for almost five decades is 'Seabirds'. It is a pastoral hymn à la Grantchester Meadows, but unfortunately it can only be heard during a party scene in the film. When Pink Floyd announced that 'Seabirds' was included in The Early Years box this was considered as one of those great revelations everyone was hoping for. Unfortunately the song in the box was not 'Seabirds', but an alternate take of the instrumental Quicksilver. Apparently the master tape of the 'real' Seabirds was given to the movie producers who used it for their final cut and who destroyed the only copy afterwards.

Seabirds is probably lost forever. (For our critical review of The Early Years compilation, see: Supererog/Ation: skimming The Early Years.)

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The Body.
The Body.

The Body (1970)

Simon Matthews overzealously implies that Pink Floyd did the soundtrack for The Body, although it was a co-operation between Ron Geesin and Roger Waters (who can be found on 8 tracks of 22). One of these, Give Birth To A Smile, was recorded with the entire band, but it was credited as a Roger Waters solo effort. (Give Birth To A Smile was considered for inclusion on The Early Years box, but at the end it didn't happen.)

Psychedelic Celluloid also states that:

The majority of the music was assembled from sounds made by the human body – burps, farts, coughs, sneezes, heartbeats, human voices, general stomach noises, etc. (p. 132)

This is only the case on two numbers (from 22), Our Song and Body Transport.

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Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970)

Described by the author as a considerable tour de force of bad taste he rightfully notes that Georgie Fame wrote the soundtrack, but he fails to say that the most important actor of the film, a Pontiac Parisienne with numberplate VYP 74, first belonged to Mickey Finn and later to Syd Barrett. It would have been a fun anecdote.

Check some pictures of the movie on our Tumblr page: Entertaining Mr. Sloane.

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Miquette Giraudy (2016).
Miquette Giraudy, with The Orb (2016).

La Vallée (1972)

During the making of the soundtrack of La Vallée, so tells us Nick Mason, there was a (financial) misunderstanding between Pink Floyd and the film company. The band removed the title from the album and called it Obscured By Clouds instead. But for once Pink Floyd didn't have the last laugh as the movie was immediately sub-titled Obscured By Clouds for the English market.

Perhaps the weirdest thing is that Matthews finds La Vallée (Obscured by Clouds) a well made film with excellent photography. That last one is certainly true but most of the world is still trying to find out what the hell the story was all about. La Vallée regularly makes it into 'worst movies of all times' lists.

Throughout Psychedelic Celluloid the author duly notes when a rock or pop star occupies a (minor) role in a film. However, for La Vallée he overlooked the fact that Miquette Giraudy, wife of Steve Hillage, member of Gong and System 7, is playing the part of Monique.

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Listomania

The last part of the book has several entries that didn't make it to the central part, for one reason or another.
Appendix 1 (fiction) mentions Zabriskie Point, not a London based movie, and the French À Coeur Joie (see above).
Appendix 2 (documentaries and concert films) has Pink Floyd in Dope (1968) and Sound Of The City (1973).
Appendix 3 (shorts) lists Peter Whitehead's London '66-'67 with Pink Floyd playing the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream.
Appendix 4 (TV specials, documentaries & concerts) mentions the Belgian 'Pink Floid' special that has been unfortunately released on the Early Years with the wrong soundtrack.

One category that can't be found in this pretty coherent and detailed work are the many (perhaps too many) underground and avant-garde movies, for instance from the London film-makers' co-operative LFMC, started in 1966 by Stephen Dwoskin, Bob Cobbing and others in the legendary Better Books shop. Carolee Schneemann's Viet Flakes (1965) that puts happy pop songs over Vietnam images isn't there, nor is Malcolm Le Grice's Berlin Horse (1970) with a Brian Eno soundtrack and – oblesse oblige - neither is Iggy, Eskimo Girl from Anthony Stern that has See Emily Play. But avant-garde art movies probably belong more in specialised studies for a specialised clientele (and at special rates, Oxford University wanted me to pay £119 to consult an article).

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Salome.
Salome.

Salome (1970)

On three different occasions Simon Matthews mentions a Spanish movie that claims to include on its soundtrack a rearrangement by Jorge Pi of a Pink Floyd arrangement of Richard Strauss' Salome. Somewhat exasperated he adds 'if anyone ever finds a copy and manages to investigate'...

Well it is not that the Church didn't try.

In 1970 Rafael Gassent, the 'father' of indepent Valencian cinema, made a 51 minutes adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play and Richard Strauss opera Salomé. According to the IMDb movie database the soundtrack is composed by Richard Strauss, arranged by Pink Floyd and re-arranged by Jorge Pi.

Rafa Gasent, also known as Rafael Gassent and all combinations in between, is an experimental Spanish movie maker whose 23 and some movies are even more difficult to track down than those of Anthony Stern. Salome was allegedly shot in the Sagunto castle, inspired by the Andy Warhol school of filming and is apparently a blend of the hippie era and Spanish avant-garde 'grunge' from the early seventies. No wonder that these experimental directors weren't liked by general Franco and his Opus Dei cohorts and that these movies were only shown in underground clubs. Rafael Gasent would later work for Spanish television and his cinematographic work is now and then shown on movie festivals.

Obviously the Holy Church tried to find out what this 'arranged by Pink Floyd' means at the end credits of the Salome movie, but we couldn't find a copy to check if it is really there or not. The Church also asked Rafael Gasent Garcia for information, in English and in Spanish, but unfortunately posting holiday pictures is a more interesting activity for him than sparing a minute for some quick comment.

So until somebody clears this up, there is a kind of enigma here. Unless...

Rafael Gasent.
Rafael Gasent (2014).

Pinfloy

This doesn't mean that the Church doesn't have a theory. Personally I think it was nothing but a youthful joke, like the Spanishgrass hoax, and that Gasent didn't use Pink Floyd as a bandname but 'pinfloy' as a noun.

Just like the Dutch language had the term 'beatle' in the sixties, for a long-haired no-good (my mother used it all the time to shout at me), the term 'pinfloy' was introduced in Andalusia in the seventies as an equally pejorative term. A 'pinfloy', to paraphrase Antonio Jesús, is somebody who acts silly, crazy, or who is quite gullible, naive and/or a bit rare.

In underground and artistic circles however, 'pinfloy' may have been re-appropriated and stripped from its derogatory meaning although it was still used for alternative people from the wackier side of the spectrum.

If Jorge Pi (or Jordi Pi) is indeed the musician of the Desde Santurce a Bilbao Blues Band, as Simon Matthews writes, this all starts to make sense. The DsaBBB were a satirical band, who weren't from Bilbao to start with and who didn't play the blues either. The band mixed rock, charleston, folk, tango and forms of classical music, combined with humorous lyrics. This was not always appreciated by the Franco regime and in one case they were even arrested.

So, to get this over with once and for all, the Salome soundtrack may not contain a Pink Floyd arrangement but a Jorge Pi 'pinfloy' treatment of Richard Strauss, meaning that the Richard Strauss melody was given a goofy swing.

Case closed then, unless somebody else comes up with a more coherent theory.

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Psychedelic Celluloid (conclusion)

Psychedelic Celluloid is an excellent vade mecum, a quick reference book, for those that are interested in the interplay of British bands and movies of the psychedelic years. The description of the individual titles could have been more detailed at points, but somewhere I have the feeling that the author wants us, the reader, to move our lazy ass and go look for it ourselves. As a whole, bringing these 120 titles together in one volume is already a gargantuan task. Mission accomplished then.

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Sylvia Kristel in La Marge.
Sylvia Kristel in La Marge.

La Marge (1976) aka The Streetwalker, aka Emmanuelle '77, aka Emanuela '77.

Here is a movie that isn't mentioned in Psychedelic Celluloid, for obvious reasons. First: the setting takes place in Paris, not in London. Second: it was made outside the 'swinging London' decade, covered in the book. Still it is a must-see for people who want to know more about Floyd in film.

There is a French comedy about a film director who sells his dramatic script to a movie studio and finds out that he is expected to make a porn flick instead. This is exactly what happened to Walerian Borowczyk whose filmography evolved from art-house avant-garde to European soft-core, including the almost parodical Emmanuelle V in 1986.

Borowczyk started with ingenious stop motion and animations and shocked the public (and the censors) with the live action Immoral Tales (1974), The Story of Sin (1975) and The Beast (1975), movies that acquired a cult status and that placed him next to contemporary directors as Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski. These directors didn't avoid experiment either but were popular while Borowczyk was only known to a small circle of critics and movie buffs. For his next production he wanted to go for something less shocking and more accessible...

All the necessary ingredients for a successful product were there:
• Andy Warhol superstar and beautiful boy Joe Dallesandro, hot in France after appearing in Serge Gainsbourg's movie Je t'aime moi non plus, was hired for the male lead role.
Sylvia Kristel was the female lead. Although remembered as a sex-goddess, she was actually an excellent much-wanted actress and Europe's box-office queen (thanks to the Emmanuelle franchise).
• A top-score soundtrack was assembled with French songs, old and new, and international hits by 10CC (I'm Not In Love), Elton John (Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)), Sailor (Glass of Champagne) and Pink Floyd (Shine On You Crazy Diamond).
Bernard Daillencourt was the cinematographer and his work for Borowczyk was so appreciated that David Hamilton hired him for his flimsy but utterly lucrative erotic trilogy: Bilitis, Laura and Tendres Cousines. Actress Camille Lariviere would also figure in Bilitis.
• The original novel, from writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues, had won the Prix Goncourt for the best novel of 1967. He had also written The Girl on a Motorcycle, put to film with Alain Delon and a young Marianne Faithfull.

Joe Dallesandro in La Marge.
Joe Dallesandro in La Marge (screenshot).

Warning: spoilers ahead.

La Marge is a dramatic mixture of love, death, adultery, suicide and full frontal Euro-chic. A rich and handsome vine-grower, madly in love with his family, visits a brothel on a business trip to Paris. After the obligatory nookie he receives a letter that his son has drowned in the swimming pool and that his wife has taken her own life. Instead of returning home for the double funeral the widower tries to cope with the tragedy by visiting the prostitute who feels that something basically has changed in his, and her, attitude.

About everything was present to make this movie the autumn box-office hit of 1976 but La Marge sank without a trace. The blowjob scene, with Shine On You Crazy Diamond on the background, should have been tattooed in our brains, like Marlon Brando's butter extravaganza in Last Tango In Paris. To cash in on Kristel's fame the movie was renamed (and re-dubbed) as Emmanuelle '77 (or Emanuela 77) but that only added to the confusion. It has been rumoured that new scenes, filmed by another director without the knowledge of Borowczyk, were added for an American cut, known as The Streetwalker, but nobody has ever managed to compare both versions.

The soundtrack, with 10CC, Elton John and Pink Floyd, may have been the reason why the movie has never became a cult classic in later years. Pink Floyd's legal stubbornness, so is whispered, has prevented a general release on DVD. A Japanese version does exist, with several blurs at strategic places, and there also floats a French Canal+ copy around, omitting a few (voyeuristic) scenes.

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr has some pictures: La Marge.

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The Magic Christian in Psychedelic Celluloid.
The Magic Christian in Psychedelic Celluloid.

Kindle rant

While I would give the book Psychedelic Celluloid a seven rating (out of ten) for its contents, I am somewhat disappointed in the Kindle edition.

The book, as a traditional book, is beautifully printed, with a lot of white-space next to the text to include pictures in a separate column or to interact with the text as in the 'Magic Christian' example at the left.

However, the Kindle version does not allow in-text searching, nor adding notes, nor changing the font size. On my medium sized tablet screen (10.81 by 6.77 inches / 27.46 × 17.20 cm) the letters are the size of miniature ants due to the fact that every page can only be shown in its entirety. The picture legends have golden letters on a white background and are completely unreadable (you can't change the background colour either, as in other Kindle books).

Reading the Kindle version of Psychedelic Celluloid is like reading a badly xeroxed book but with the one difference that on good old photocopies you could still scribble some notes.

I would like to say to Oldcastle Books and/or Amazon this is a fucking disgrace and that you only bring the author's reputation down with this kind of crap.

Still a good book though.

Simon Matthews
Psychedelic Celluloid
Oldcastle Books, 2016.
224 pages.

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The Church wishes to thank: Gretta Barclay, Vanessa Flores, Stanislav Grigorev, Rich Hall, Peter Jenner, JenS, Antonio Jesús, Göran Nyström, OldPangYau, Dylan Roberts, Venomous Centipede.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Jesús, Antonio: Curiosidades - Pinfloy, un vocablo del sur, Solo En Las Nubes, 16.09.2011.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 169.
Muños, Abelard: Rafa Gassent, director de cinema, La Veu, 07.01.2014.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 320.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 119.

Our Tumblr page contains a description of another movie with Pink Floyd music, that we deliberately didn't include here: Alex De Renzy‘s Little Sisters (1972).