David Gilmour

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2008-09-17

When the right one walks out of the door...

Rick Wright by Huug Schipper, 1974
Rick Wright by Huug Schipper, 1974.

It has been a sad week for us, music lovers. Rick Wright, one of the founding fathers of the band Pink Floyd, died of cancer. Wright was a member of the 1963 R&B cover band Sigma 6 that would grow, a couple of years later, into the next hip thing when Syd Barrett joined the gang. The hip thing would soon become a monster, a gravy train, a dinosaur, it had its up and downs, it was praised and loathed by the so-called serious music press.

I am not good at obituaries, and who am I to write one anyway, so I’ll pass the word to David Gilmour, not only a colleague but also close friend of him.

In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten.
He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound.
I have never played with anyone quite like him. The blend of his and my voices and our musical telepathy reached their first major flowering in 1971 on 'Echoes'. In my view all the greatest PF moments are the ones where he is in full flow. After all, without 'Us and Them' and 'The Great Gig In The Sky', both of which he wrote, what would 'The Dark Side Of The Moon' have been? Without his quiet touch the Album 'Wish You Were Here' would not quite have worked.
In our middle years, for many reasons he lost his way for a while, but in the early Nineties, with 'The Division Bell', his vitality, spark and humour returned to him and then the audience reaction to his appearances on my tour in 2006 was hugely uplifting and it's a mark of his modesty that those standing ovations came as a huge surprise to him, (though not to the rest of us).
Taken from: http://www.davidgilmour.com/

I admit I was one of those many fans who sheered louder for Rick than for the others on David’s last tour. Hearing him sing Echoes with David was probably my best Floydian encounter ever, topping Dogs that Roger Waters used (and still uses) to sing on his solo tours.

Roger Waters, normally a man of many words, has put the following appropriate statement on his website:

Candles, Roger Waters
Taken from: http://www.roger-waters.com/
 

Julianindica (aka Julian Palacios) wrote some great stuff about Wright at Late Night:

Wright’s keyboard style had a unique melancholic grandeur. He had an ear for exotic sounds, bringing in Middle Eastern Phrygian scales into his mix. Never one to play lightning fast or pound the notes out, Wright conjured up his unique style with patience. What was left out was as important as what stayed in, and Wright took a calm and methodical approach. The influence of Davis sideman Bill Evans introspective, melancholic piano was strong. Modal jazz had minimal chords and relied on melody and intervals of different modes. A slow harmonic rhythm opened space in the music, in contrast to bebop’s frenzy.
The full text can be found at Late Night.

The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...


Rick Wright portrait by Huug Schipper (1974) from the (unauthorisedl) The Pink Floyd Songbook, ca. 1978.
This entry has been previously published at Unfinished Projects.


2008-12-07

Love in the Woods (Pt. 1)

Langley Iddens
Langley Iddens.

On 30 June 1990 Pink Floyd played a short – albeit not very sharp - set at the Knebworth Festival. It has to be said that it was not the band’s sole responsibility that the gig was, how shall we call it, mediocre by Floydian standards. On this disastrous occasion, and this occasion alone, a 20 minutes promo film was shown at the beginning of the show, with a short appearance of none other than Iggy the Eskimo, somewhere between the 4 and 5 minutes mark.

The movie consisted of a retrospective of the Floyd’s history and included (parts of) several early songs (together with the predecessor of the promo clip): Arnold Layne, See Emily Play, Point Me At The Sky, It Would Be So Nice and others… Since it started with the first single, the movie had to end with the last one as well. Storm Thorgerson's visual rendition of the coke-euphoric-bring-on-the-digital-sound-effects Learning to Fly from the welcome to the drum machine album A Momentary Lapse of Reason ended the documentary.

In between the vintage scenes, Langley Iddens, who was then caretaker of the Astoria, David Gilmour’s houseboat studio, sits at a table contemplating the band’s past.

Langley Iddens (see top-left picture of this post) was a prominent face on the Momentary Lapse of Reason campaign. He is the man on the cover of the album but also acted in several promo and concert videos. He can be seen as a boat rower (Signs of Life), in flight gear (Learning To Fly) and in a hospital bed (On The Run). As Storm Thorgerson directed these backdrop movies it is logical to assume that also the Knebworth pre-show documentary was made by him.

There are however rumours that Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason was involved in the movie as well. Besides several promo clips of the Sixties the movie also shows pictures, newspaper articles, posters and flyers from the Floyd’s psychedelic past. It is a well-known fact that Mason has always been the archivist of the band, culminating in his personal account of the history of the band, Inside Out. That book, however, doesn’t reveal anything about Mason’s involvement on the Knebworth movie.

A short snippet of the Knebworth teaser, showing a happy Syd Barrett frolicking in a park with Iggy, made a collector’s career under the name Lost In The Woods or Syd Barrett Home Movie. This excerpt can be found several times on YouTube. Those cuts, however, are in a different order than on the original Knebworth feature. The Church has restored the initial flow and presents you hereafter two different versions of the so-called Lost In The Woods video.

Knebworth '90 Special Edition (DVD]

The first is taken from the DVD bootleg Knebworth '90 Special Edition on Psychedelic Closet Records. It is shared around the world amongst fans and it contains the complete concert plus some additional material, like MTV documentaries and interviews with the band.

It's a complete, stereo, recording from the original pay-per-view broadcast of Pink Floyd's appearance at the Knebworth '90 festival. The concert featured seven songs. Only five of these were broadcast. Two of the five were included on the official LD, VHS, and DVD releases. The other three songs haven't been seen since the original broadcast.

According to its maker, the pre-concert-documentary comes from a collector in England who had a first of second gen copy of the tape.

White Label [VHS]

Because the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit firmly believes in abundance, we have added a second version of the same movie, coming from a different source. The uploaded copy has been taken from a coverless VHS tape labelled Pink Floyd film, found at an open air market stall in London, and donated to the Church, in order to repent for his many sins, by Dark Globe.

Dark Globe took it upon him to further analyse the clip, it is obvious that it consists of different movies from different people at different places, and he even went so far as harassing, although the Church prefers the word investigating, some of the people who act in it. But the results of that enquiry will be highlighted in the next post in a couple of weeks.

Enjoy and don’t do anything that Iggy wouldn’t have done.

An image gallery with stills of the Lost In The Woods home movies can be found at the gallery.

Update April 2017: 2008 YouTube links have been replaced with their 2017 counterparts.


(This is the first part of the Love In The Woods topic. The second part can be found here: Love In The Woods (Pt. 2))


2009-08-10

Pink Dreams

Metallic Spheres featuring David Gilmour
Metallic Spheres featuring David Gilmour.

Some exciting news arrived last weekend through a Pink Floyd portal. Alex Paterson, head spinner of the band The Orb, said in an interview that he and David Gilmour had entered a studio ‘to work on an album’.

The news was vague and titillating enough to make all kind of assumptions. Did this mean that LX & DG were attempting a Fireman trick à la Youth and Mc Cartney? Perhaps Alex had finally lured Dave in his spider web with a little help from Guy Pratt who can be found as bass player and co-composer on several Orb, Pink Floyd and David Gilmour records from the past? (Pratt and Paterson also teamed up in a band called the Transit Kings.)

The Orb's record output is prolific and even then a lot of tunes and mixes stay hidden in the closet until LX decides to put them on a compilation album somewhere. They just celebrated a third release in the Orbsessions series from record company Malicious Damage and according to some online reviews I read it is either brilliant or utterly irritating, which makes it typically Orb, I guess. I haven't bought Baghdad Batteries yet, my days that I ran to the shop to get me their latest release are over as The Orb has left my attention span somewhat thanks to the record Okie Dokie that wasn't okie dokie at all but a mediocre Thomas Fehlmann album with the brand name glued over it to sell a few extra copies more.

The Orb The Dream
The Orb The Dream.

It took me over a year to listen to The Dream that followed Okie Dokie and although it has Youth written all over it the result is pretty average. Not pretty average as in pretty average but pretty average as in pretty but nevertheless a bit average. Probably I’ll get to Baghdad Batteries one of these days but I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I were you…

Although one fan found that the announcement came about two decades and a half too late the GilmOrb collaboration was making both Floyd and Orb communities very excited but excitement is something David Gilmour does not favour anymore in his line of work. This week the following comment could be found on his official website

David & Orb Rumours True – Up To A Point
Recent comments by ambient exponents The Orb's Alex Paterson that they have been collaborating with David Gilmour are true – up to a point. David has done some recording with The Orb and producer Youth, inspired initially by the plight of Gary McKinnon. However, nothing is finalised, and nothing has been confirmed with regards to any structure for the recordings or firm details re: any release plans.

In other words: forget it…

Update 2010: as the Metallic Spheres collaboration album came out in 2010, the above article was a tad too pessimistic.


This article first appeared on Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects: Pink Dreams, some updates have been made.

The Orbian 'Metallic Spheres' posts:
Pink Dreams 
Metallic Spheres 
The Relic Samples 


2010-04-24

We are all made of stars

Ponji in India (1967)
Ponji in India (1967).

History, as we know it, is the story of royalty and generals and does not contain the memory of the millions who succumbed or who tried to build a normal life.

This also applies to modern popular history. Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett biographies and the so-called Sixties counter-culture studies that have appeared all repeat the memories of a small, nearly incestuous, circle of people who made it, one way or another. You always stumble upon those who have become the royalty and generals of the Underground. Others are less known, the lower rank officers, but still officers.

Other people had less luck, but at least we know some of their stories. Syd Barrett, although a millionaire in pounds, still is the prototype of the drug-burned psychedelic rock star. But there are other members of the Sixties Cambridge mafia, a term coined by David Gilmour, who didn’t make it and whose stories are less known.

Pip

Ian Pip Carter, whose career started in Cambridge in the early Sixties as pill pusher, had to fight a heroine addiction for most of his life. After a visit to his friend (and employer) David Gilmour in Greece Pip was imprisoned for drug possession where he was forced to go cold turkey but he fell again for the drug once released, despite the fact that the Pink Floyd guitarist send him to (and paid for) several rehab sessions. “The needle had dug so far; searching relentlessly for a vein, (that it) had decimated the nervous system in his left arm”, writes Matthew Scurfield in his account of the Cantabrigian London mob.

Described by Nick Mason as 'one of the world's most spectacularly inept roadies' the Floyd eventually had to let Pip go. He was the one who accidentally destroyed a giant jelly installation at the Roundhouse on the 15th October 1966 by parking the Pink Floyd van in the middle of it or, different witnesses tell different stories, by removing the wooden boards that supported the bath that kept the jelly. (You can read the story, taken from Julian Palacios 1988 Lost In The Woods biography here.)

In 1988 Carter was killed during a pub brawl in Cambridge. Mark Blake writes how David Gilmour used to help his old Cambridge friends whenever they were in financial trouble and Pip had been no exception.

People familiar with the finer layers of the Syd Barrett history know how Maharaj Charan Singh, the Master of the Sant Mat sect, rejected the rock star for obvious reasons. The religion was strictly vegetarian, absolutely forbid the use of alcohol and drugs and didn’t allow sex outside marriage. Syd 'I've got some pork chops in the fridge' Barrett hopelessly failed on all those points.

Ponji

It is believed that John Paul Robinson, nicknamed Ponji, a very ardent follower of the Path, tried to lure Syd into the sect after he had visited India in 1967. And probably it had been another Cantabrigian, Paul Charrier who converted Ponji first. (Paul Charrier was one of the people present at Syd's trip in 1965 where he was intrigued for hours by a matchbox, a plum and an orange. This event later inspired Storm Thorgerson for the Syd Barrett (compilation album) record cover and an impressive and moving Pink Floyd backdrop movie.)

John Paul Robinson had his own demons to deal with and in the Sixties he visited a progressive therapist who administered him LSD to open his doors of perception. Only after he had returned from India he ‘literally seemed to be shining with abundance’, passing the message to all his friends that he had been reborn. Ponji gave up his job, wanted to lead the life of a beggar monk, but his internal demons would take over once in every while.

He'd sit on the stairs with his elbows on his knees and forehead placed carefully at the tips of his fingers, reeling out the same old mantra proclaiming how he was just a tramp, that his body was an illusion, a mere prison, a temporary holding place for his soul.

The story goes that he shouted ‘I refuse to be a coward for the rest of my life’ just before he jumped in front of an oncoming train (1979?).

Kaleidoscope

We only happen to know these people in function of their relationship with Syd Barrett. Their paths crossed for a couple of months and we, the anoraks, are only interested in that one small event as if for the rest of these peoples lives nothing further of interest has really happened.

But the truth is that their encounter with Barrett is just one small glittering diamond out of a kaleidoscope of encounters, adventures, joys, grieves, moments of happiness and sadness. It is the kaleidoscope of life: falling in love and making babies that eventually will make babies on their own. 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.

The Church should be probing for the kaleidoscope world and not for that one single shiny stone. Syd may have been a star, but our daily universe carries millions of those.

Dedicated to those special ones whose story we will never know.


Thanks to: Paro नियत (where are you now?)

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p. 47, p. 337.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 85.
Scurfield, Matthew: I Could Be Anyone, Monticello Malta 2009, p. 151, p. 208, p. 265-266. Photo courtesy of William Pryor, p. 192.

Update 2016: In the 2015 coming of age novel Life Is Just..., Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon describes early sixties Cambridge and the submersion into eastern religions.


2010-08-21

Metallic Spheres

Marija Oršić
Marija Oršić, extraterrestrial.

About, let me count, thirty-four to thirty-five years ago I was seriously investigating the so-called UFO phenomenon. Or whatever serious means for a sixteen years old adolescent who urgently wants to get laid but has found out that the chance to witness an encounter of the third kind is statistically more probable than to have an close encounter with the opposite sex.

I was a member of the Belgian Sobeps association, long before the Belgian UFO wave hit the skies and as the Internet was still a science-fiction thing we had to rely on their magazine Inforespace and the books, case files and real UFO pictures they sold by mail-order to their members. They also had an electronic UFO detector in their catalogue what made me wonder, already then, if they just weren't a bunch of petty crooks. I must still have a Betty and Barney Hill picture somewhere that I bought through their shop and who were then (and maybe still now) regarded as the proverbial Saul-stroke-Paul of the Holy Church of Ufology.

After a while opportunity knocked, even for me, and I didn't see the purpose anymore to devote my life to the flying saucer - abducting people for out-of-orbit enemas - enigma. But I am still mildly amused by the phenomenon, especially from a historical perspective. Not that long ago (at least not on the cosmic timescale) I partially read The Coming Race (1871) from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a (rather tedious) adventure book that apparently inspired Nazi-Germany to start building flying saucers. An internet search lead me to through several dubious websites, some that might even be legally forbidden to consult in my country as they vehemently propagate what I will mildly describe as Aryan beliefs, and only strengthening me in my opinion that for crackpots from all over the world the internet is Ultima Thule indeed.

If I have understood it well American secret services grabbed nazi occult mysteries by the truckload although it is not clear if they could ever restore the phone lines to the Aldebaran star system that became an après-guerre nudist resort for the mystical and mythical Vril Society pin-up girls (see image above and try not to drool). Thanks to these secret nazi inventions the Americans not only landed on the moon (although paradoxically enough conspiracy theory buffs deny this ever happened) but they also tested anti-gravity engines in earth-designed flying saucers and solved the so-called zero-point energy problem.

How do I know all this? Because Gary McKinnon told us so.

U.F.Off
U.F.Off, The Orb (compilation).

Beam me up Scotty

Gary McKinnon is a Glasgow hacker who thought for a while he was a Lone Gunman on a mission against the American government. Wanting to prove the things mentioned above he hacked into 97 United States military and NASA computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002, using the name 'Solo'.

Hacking is not really the term one should use here, more trial and error. Consulting a 1985 copy of Hugo Cornwall's The Hacker's Handbook McKinnon copied a Perl script that looked for Windows computers without a password and to his amazement there were still lots of unprotected computers residing in the NASA and military networks 15 years after the book appeared. One can duly wonder what these CIA, FBI and military secret service IT security guys had been doing in the meantime. Playing Pong, probably.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.", wrote Douglas Adams in the twelfth chapter of Mostly Harmless (1992). That quote may not be entirely his. Nobel price winner and inventor of the H-bomb Edward Teller noted down a couple of years before: "There's no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool." Anyway, in 2002 Gary McKinnon was the fool who undermined the American's pigheaded assumption of safety. Military security thought they had devised this big unsinkable Titanic and all it took was a entrepreneurial nerd with a screwdriver and a sack of sugar to pour inside the gas tank.

Rather than admitting they had done an enormous security cock-up the American powers-that-be turned Gary McKinnon into a terrorist super-hacker whose sole intention it was to metamorphose American secrets to putty and hand them over to Al-Queda, who - as we all know - have been praying a long time for this UFO technology. In consequence Gary could face a 60-years prison sentence if condemned before an American judge. Unfortunately the UK voted the 2003 extradition act making it possible to extradite UK citizens for offences committed against US law, even though the alleged offence may have been committed in the UK by a person living and working in the UK. A review of the extradition act was voted down by British parliament although there is a growing consensus amongst British members of parliament that Gary McKinnon will not stand a fair trial in the US.

Several charities have been raised to help Gary McKinnon in his struggle against the extradition and in August 2009 David Gilmour, Chrissie Hynde, Bob Geldof and Gary McKinnon recorded the Chicago (Change The World) single. The only awareness it ever raised was that extraditing Bob Geldof to Guantanamo Bay would be a benefit for mankind to say the least. Perhaps the US authorities could consider that for a while.

As a Pink Floyd collector for over thirty years now, with over a dozen legit versions of Dark Side Of The Moon, I was obviously offended. Probably I am just being jealous here but I still can't grasp the concept that a lawbreaking idiot with a UFO fixation got a chance to make a record with one of the ten best guitarists of this world while moi who has in his possession the ridiculously shaped Love On The Air (1984) picture disk and Gilmour's lamentable Smile (2006) single will never get the change to meet his idol from less than a 100 meters distance. Phew, nice I have finally got that off my chest.

Metallic Spheres (cover: Simon Ghahary)
Metallic Spheres (cover: Simon Ghahary).

Pink Florb

Last year, in the aftermath of the Chicago single, Alex Paterson of the ambient house band The Orb made a strange announcement:

I’ve just started work on an album with David Gilmour from Pink Floyd which I think every Orb and Pink Floyd fan will want to hear.

The news was almost immediately downsized by David Gilmour who acknowledged he had jammed a bit in a studio with Martin 'Youth' Glover but that nothing had been confirmed 'with regards to any structure for the recordings or firm details re: any release plans'.

But this week David Gilmour's blog had the following news:

David's 2009 jam session with ambient collective The Orb has grown into an album, Metallic Spheres, to be released via Columbia/Sony Records in October. David's contribution to the charity song Chicago, in aid of Gary McKinnon, sparked the interest of producer Youth (Martin Glover), who remixed the track and invited David to his studio for a recording session. With additional contributions from Orb co-founder Alex Paterson, the album took shape from 2009 into 2010, eventually becoming Metallic Spheres, to be released by The Orb featuring David Gilmour.

The album will be divided into two 25 minutes parts with five movements each, a 'Metallic Side' and a 'Spheres Side'. The Orb will consist of founder Alex Paterson (sound manipulation, keyboards and turntables) with part-time member Youth adding bass, keyboards and handling the production. It is not certain if Thomas Fehlmann (full member of The Orb since 1995, absent on The Dream (2007), but back on Bagdhad Batteries (2009)) and long time Orb and Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt will be present or not. For the moment it looks like a three men line-up with David Gilmour contributing guitar, lap steel guitar and some of his Chicago vocals.

Simon Ghahary created the artwork (see image above) and all artist royalties will go to helping Gary McKinnon fight his extradition.

When Gary McKinnon logged in on the military computers he allegedly found proof of extra-terrestrial involvement in the NASA space program, but unfortunately his telephone line did not allow him to download the pictures and documents. The only tangible result of his actions will be a Floydian cooperation that Orb (and some Pink Floyd) fans have been dreaming about for the last two decades.

Long live Gary McKinnon, long live the greys! U.F.FlOrb is finally on its way! And don't worry, I'm sure those pretty Aldebarans will rescue Gary if he ever gets imprisoned in the land of the free.


(This article first appeared on Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects: Metallic Spheres)

The Orbian 'Metallic Spheres' posts:
Pink Dreams 
Metallic Spheres 
The Relic Samples 


2010-10-10

The Relic Samples

Metallic Spheres, The Orb
Metallic Spheres, The Orb.

There was a time when I would put in the latest Orb CD and murmur blimey! Blimey because The Orb pleasantly surprised you or blimey because Alex 'LX' Paterson and band utterly frustrated you. They had that effect on me for years from their very first album Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (1991) until the quite underrated Cydonia (2001) and often the wow! and shit! effect could be witnessed on the same disk, most notably on Orbus Terrarum that probably contains the freakiest ambient track ever (the heavenly Oxbow Lakes) but also some of the worst.

The Millennium Orb

After 2001 Paterson continued to make albums under the Orb banner but the wow! effect had largely disappeared and his most prolific output lay on quite a few (from good to excellent) compilation and/or remix albums: Dr. Alex Paterson's Voyage Into Paradise, Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond The Call Of Duty (containing an Orb remix of Rick Wright's Runaway), Bless You (the best of the Badorb label), Orbsessions I and II (outtakes), Back To Mine, The Art Of Chill and last but not least The BBC Sessions.

For ages The Orb has been called the Pink Floyd of ambient dance but the only fusion between both bands was the use of some Pink Floyd samples on early Orb anthems (the four note Shine On You Crazy Diamond signature tune on A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld) and the presence of Pink Floyd bass player ad interim Guy Pratt on a couple of Orb albums. Contrary to a stubborn belief the so-called ambient (and illegal) Pink Floyd remix albums from the Nineties were not the work from The Orb, nor from Alex Paterson. Neither will we ever know Pink Floyd's retaliation: when the band worked on their 1994 The Divison Bell album they ended up with so many left-over material that - in the words of Nick Mason - "we considered releasing it as a second album, including a set we dubbed The Big Spliff, the kind of ambient mood music that we were bemused to find being adopted by bands like The Orb".

Update 2015 01 15: Parts of The Big Spliff may have appeared on the latest Pink Floyd album: The Endless River. See our review: While my guitar gently weeps... 

Metallic Spheres
Metallic Spheres, The Orb (alternative cover).

Rumours...

Exactly one year ago Alex Paterson, who has always been a bit of a bigmouth, revealed:

I’ve just started work on an album with David Gilmore (sic) from Pink Floyd which I think every Orb and Pink Floyd fan will want to hear.

But that news was hurriedly demoted by David Gilmour.

Recent comments by ambient exponents The Orb's Alex Paterson that they have been collaborating with David Gilmour are true – up to a point. David has done some recording with The Orb and producer Youth, inspired initially by the plight of Gary McKinnon. However, nothing is finalised, and nothing has been confirmed with regards to any structure for the recordings or firm details re: any release plans.

On the 17th of August of this year, however, the David Gilmour blog had the following to reveal:

David is not working with The Orb on a new album, contrary to some reports, but you may remember that he had been in the studio jamming with Martin “Youth” Glover in recent months. (…) Alex Paterson was not involved in the sole jamming session and the only plan initially was for David to play guitar on that one track.
However, as it turns out and as you can see, the result of that jam session has now been spread across the next Orb album, Metallic Spheres, which will be released as ‘The Orb featuring David Gilmour’. So there you have it. He was working on an album with The Orb. Sort of.

If I may read a bit between the lines I feel some friction here between Sir David and this Orb thingy. But the next day, David Gilmour's official website had the next comment:

David's 2009 jam session with ambient collective The Orb has grown into an album, Metallic Spheres, to be released via Columbia/Sony Records in October. David's contribution to the charity song Chicago, in aid of Gary McKinnon, sparked the interest of producer Youth (Martin Glover), who remixed the track and invited David to his studio for a recording session.
With additional contributions from Orb co-founder Alex Paterson, the album took shape from 2009 into 2010, eventually becoming Metallic Spheres, to be released by The Orb featuring David Gilmour. (underlined by FA.)

Calling LX Paterson an Orb co-founder is technically not untrue, but it feels a little weird when you have just been presenting Martin Glover. It is comparable to describing Syd Barrett as a Pink Floyd co-founder while discussing Bob Klose. Agreed, Youth (from Killing Joke fame) was probably around when The Orb saw the light of day but it is generally acknowledged that the band was formed in 1988 by Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty. Cauty's primary project however, the Kopyright Liberation Front (with Bill Drummond) pretty soon outgrew The Orb and when - at a certain point in time - some Orb remixes were released in Germany as KLF remixes this provoked a rupture in the co-operation between the duo as Alex and Jimmy started fighting over… copyrights.

After the split between KLF and The Orb Martin Glover helped LX out with two tracks (on two separate albums): Little Fluffy Clouds and Majestic, but he did not become a member of the band. Only in 2007 Youth will join The Orb for a one album project: The Dream.

Orb remix from Rick Wrights Runaway
Orb remix from Rick Wright's Runaway.

...and gossip

Together with the announcement on David Gilmour's website, and then we're back on the 18th of August of this year, a promotional video for the Metallic Spheres album is uploaded to YouTube. Depicting only Youth and David Gilmour several Orb fans wonder where LX Paterson, and thus The Orb, fits in this all. The first, original movie disappears after a couple of days for so-called 'copyright' reasons but is rapidly replaced with a second version (unfortunately taken down as well, now), containing some hastily inserted images of LX Paterson strolling through the grasslands and recording some outdoor musique concrète. It feels, once again, as if the Floyd-Orb connection didn't go down well at the Gilmour camp and Paterson's image was only included on the promo video after some pressure had taken place. But the above is of course all pure speculation and not based upon any fact, so tells you Felix Atagong who has been closely following the band for over two decades.

Bit by bit we hear how the album came into place. It all started with David Gilmour's charity project for Gary McKinnon, an X-Files adhering half-wit who hacked into American military and NASA computers in order to find out about extra-terrestrial conspiracy theories. Because of this he faces extradition from England to the USA where apparently they take these kind of idiots very seriously, see also the 43rd president who governed the country from 2001 to 2009.

It is not quite clear if Gilmour asked Youth (David Glover) to make a remix of the Chicago charity tune or if Youth got hold of the project and proposed to help (I've come across both explanations). The two may know each other through Guy Pratt who played in Glover's band Brilliant in 1986 (LX Paterson was their roadie for a while). In 1990 Youth founded Blue Pearl with Durga McBroom who had toured with Pink Floyd for the previous three years. Amongst the session musicians on their Naked album are Guy Pratt, David Gilmour and Rick Wright.

This isn't Glover's only connection with the Floyd however. In 1995 he teamed up with Killing Joke colleague Jaz Coleman to arrange and produce a symphonic tribute album: Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd, but only The Old Tree With Winding Roots Behind The Lake Of Dreams remix from Time combines a modern beat with romantic classical music.

Island Jam

To spice up the Chicago remix Youth invited David Gilmour in his home studio and out of it came a twenty minutes guitar jam. Glover soon found out that he could expand the session into an ambient suite and asked old chum LX Paterson for his opinion and to flavour the pieces with typical Orbian drones and samples, rather than to turn this into a sheepish Fireman-clone.

The Orb featuring David Gilmour can only be a win/win situation. Orb fans have dreamed about this collaboration for the past two decades and that will add to the sales figures for sure. And although artist royalties go to the support of Gary McKinnon there will always be a spillover effect for the artists involved, good news for The Orb whose last album Baghdad Batteries sunk faster than the Kursk in the Barents Sea.

Rest us to say that an Orb album is an Orb album when it has got the name Orb on it, whether you like it or not (and in the case of Okie Dokie, not a bit).

Promotional copy of Metallic Spheres
Promotional copy of Metallic Spheres, The Orb vs. Dave Gilmour.

Metallic Spheres

Metallic Spheres starts with Gilmour's pedal steel guitar over some keyboard drones that makes me think of those good old days when the KLF shattered the world with their ambient masterpiece Chill Out (LX Paterson - as a matter of fact - contributed to that album, although uncredited). But soon after that Gilmour's guitar wanders off in his familiar guitar style with axiomatic nods to The Wall and The Division Bell albums. A welcome intermezzo is Black Graham with acoustic guitar, not from Gilmour but by ragtime busker Marcia Mello. The 'metallic side' flows nicely throughout its 29 minutes and has fulfilled its promise of being 'the ambient event of the year' quite accurately.

The CD is divided into two suites: a 'metallic side' and a 'spheres side' (and each 'side' is subdivided in five - not always discernable - parts). The second suite however, is more of the same, clearly lacks inspiration and ends out of breath at the 20 minutes mark.

So no wow! effect here (but no shit! either)... Youth has done what was expected from him and produced an all-in-all agreeable but quite mainstream product leaving ardent anoraky Orb fans with their hunger, but perhaps winning a few uninitiated souls.

As far as I am concerned this is about the best Orb CD I heard for the past couple of years, but it is still far from Orblivion, U.F.Orb or Ultraworld. But as this is 2010 already you won't hear me complaining.


(This article first appeared on Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects: The Relic Samples)

The Orbian 'Metallic Spheres' posts:
Pink Dreams 
Metallic Spheres 
The Relic Samples 


2010-10-16

Gravy Train To Cambridge

Storm Thorgerson cover.
Cover: Storm Thorgerson.

A couple of months ago a new Syd Barrett compilation was announced and EMI (Harvest) was proud to proclaim that Syd Barrett had joined the league of Jimi Hendrix or Marc Bolan, meaning that the man has got more compilation albums written on his name than genuine albums.

Let's make a quick sum, shall we? Barrett, who was the founder of the mythical band Pink Floyd, was overtly present on their first album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. On the second album A Saucerful Of Secrets he had already taken a sabbatical, and although present on 3 tracks (out of 7) he only takes the vocal lead (and writing credits) on the testamentary coda Jugband Blues.

There are at least 7 Pink Floyd compilations that have Barrett's (sometimes unreleased) work on it and the last one Echoes (2001) turned Syd Barrett into an overnight millionaire. The fortieth anniversary edition of Piper (2007) has (in the deluxe edition) an extra CD containing some alternative versions and the Pink Floyd's early singles as well.

Barrett's solo output in the early seventies is limited to two albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, and that is all there is, give or take 5 or 6 compilations. The count depends whether one catalogues the Opel (1988) record as a compilation of alternative takes and unreleased material or as a real 'third' solo album.

The most recent compilation 'An Introduction To Syd Barrett' boasts that this is the first time in history that Barrett's Pink Floyd and solo tracks have been compiled on one disk. This is true, but… so what?

On the other hand a quick glance at the list of unreleased material shows that there are about a dozen Pink Floyd studio tracks from their Syd Barrett era, but alas this compilation still doesn't contain any of them.

So what could possibly be the added value of this album, one might ask?

Storm Damage

Not its cover, that doesn't show Syd Barrett at all but that has been created, as usual, by Storm Thorgerson. Thorgerson, and more particularly his Hipgnosis studio, made some landmark record sleeves in the Seventies and Eighties, but he seems not able nowadays to sell his creations to influential bands, unless you call the freaky weirdoes of The Mars Volta influential of course. Thorgerson's contemporaneous work flirts a bit too much with cheap kitsch and luckily there is still Pink Floyd Ltd that keeps him away from the unemployment office. I'm quite fond of Thorgerson's work and I do like the cover although most Syd Barrett fans I frequent compare it with visual diarrhoea so I leave it to you to make up your own mind.

Tracks Revisited

As a Barrett anorak I am not interested in the regular songs on this compilation - as a matter of fact I didn't even listen to those - but I jumped immediately on top of the so-called enhanced tunes. The compilation boasts that 4 tracks have been remixed and one track has been 'upgraded' with additional bass from David Gilmour who also supervised the mixes. (The following review has been largely influenced by Blade's comments on the NPF forum and MOB's comments on the A Fleeting Glimpse forum.)

Dominoes: the new mix has been so subtly done that there is hardly any difference. The vocals are more emphasized and the backwards guitar sounds a trifle clearer. Some corrections may have been done, because on the original versions several (drum) parts were out of 'synch'. These errors have miraculously disappeared on the 2010 mix.

Octopus: this track is 7 seconds longer, due to the fact that a 'false' start has been added at the beginning. The "isn't it good to be lost in the woods" vocals have been clarified and brought to the fore and it could even be that its first part has been taken from an alternative take (also a few drumbeats have been added that weren't there on the 1970 version). Overall the muddled sound of vocals and guitars have been cleaned.

She Took a Long Cool Look: this track has always been called She Took A Long Cold Look in the past, but the title has now been changed. This is one of so called 'live' bits from Barrett's first album. These included false starts, bad guitar playing, unstable singing and Barrett generally loosing it… David Gilmour said he included these demos in 1970 to reveal Barrett in all his fragility, but later regretted his choice…

The 2010 version snips some of the unnecessary background sounds (Barrett turning some papers) and the guitar breakdown in the middle of the song is replaced by some strumming from another take. And - as with all of these remixes - Barrett's voice sounds more crisp than before and with less disturbing echo.

Matilda Mother (Pink Floyd): the 40 years anniversary edition of Piper already had this alternative take but in a much shorter version. This one takes 50 seconds longer and has benefited from a real mix. Probably the 2010 version is a sound-collage of several outtakes.

Here I Go: this little dance hall tune has always been my favourite Barrett track. For over 40 years I have wondered how this song really ended and now the ditty lasts 5 seconds longer. Gilmour has done a fine job by adding extra bass and after my second listen I already felt that this was the way it should always have been. (There is also a tiny rhythm correction - compared with the original version - at 01:46.)

Personally I find it a bad judgment from Gilmour & Co to keep the fade out but the closing chord I had been waiting for can still be heard. And I know it's starting to sound repetitive, but Barrett's vocals have been upgraded as well and sound crispier than ever. You don't need to buy the album to listen to this track as a promo video has been put on the web as well: Here I Go (official video).

The few remixes on this compilation are subtle, have been done with great care and love for the original material so that my initial anoraky opinion of 'don't touch the originals' has now been switched over to 'why didn't they simply enhance all tracks'?

But the real revelation of the album can't be found on plastic. The CD contains a key to download the mythical Rhamadan track from the official Syd Barrett website and this is what the next chapter is all about.

R(h)amadan

I won't get into the old story, legend or myth, of Rhamadan as it is all old news by now. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit wrote a bit about it in Anoraks and Pontiacs and Rob Chapman in A Very Irregular Head describes it as a 'conga-heavy jam session lasting eighteen minutes and of little merit', although it is highly doubtful that the biographer could get hold of the piece.

The only person, apart from some EMI alumni, who could listen to the track in its full glory was David Parker, author of Random Precision. In order to get EMI's permission he had to sign a 'scarily draconian declaration', so scarily draconian that he even had to delete a forum post wherein he had simply admitted it had been 'scarily draconian'. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit sometimes threatens with the Holy Igquisition but apparently that secret service is peanuts compared to the EMI 'unlimited supply, there is no reason why' storm troops.

David was the only author who could write, in detail, how the piece sounded and as it is so damn accurate I see no point of trying to give my own description.

Peter Bown announces Rhamadan take 1 over some bass and organ noises. He pronounces the title Rarmardarn like a 1950's BBC newsreader. The piece itself begins with the conga drums (probably Steve Took from Tyrannosaurus Rex).
The bass comes in and immediately takes the lead role (whoever the bass player is they are extremely proficient) with some very fast Stanley Clarke style runs and slides in places. The vibes then begin to come in, along with some disjointed organ chording (mostly on one chord). This then continues for a couple of minutes with the bass leading over the conga beat, vibes and organ chords. A piano then enters playing a loose boogie rhythm, and someone starts playing some very staccato mellotron notes as well. Things settle into a groove, and a second drummer joins in, mainly on cymbals. After about 5 minutes Syd's guitar starts to appear, playing muted chords to fill out the sound. The bass falls back slightly, and the piano takes the lead, Syd's guitar feeding back momentarily as he begins to play solo notes. (…)
The piece eventually starts to fizzle out with some mad staccato mellotron, the ever present organ chord and a lot of bass improvisation with a sprinkling of piano notes. Syd plays some open chord plucking and everything gets rather free form with Syd letting his guitar build-up feedback and then fades it out. (…)
Syd starts another riff but it begins to fade until the bass player picks up on it, and everyone begins following along. Another crescendo of feedback builds up as Syd picks out what sounds like the Close Encounters three note theme (!). (…)
Things build up yet again, with everyone in random improvisation, then everyone stops except the organ chord. The bassist begins a strident riff, giving the vibes a chance to solo (with staccato mellotron accompaniment). The bass rockets off into a hyper-drive riff, then everything finally falls to bits, ending with our old friend the organ chord drone, the mad mellotronist and a few bass notes.

We don't really know who are the players on Rhamadan, but Steve Peregrin Took is a name that appears in almost all biographies. Biographer Julian Palacios, however, seems to disagree now:

Talking to my friend GH today, he wrote: 'I don't think that Steve Took is the conga player on these sessions. I knew Steve and discussed Syd with him on a few occasions, he said that Syd had jammed with him round at his flat and that he had recorded it, but there was never any mention of going into a recording studio with Syd. My understanding was that Steve didn't get pally with Syd until after his split from Marc (Bolan). Back in 68 Tyrannosaurus Rex where gigging like crazy and still very much a going concern.' (Taken from Late Night Discussion Forum.)

Rhamadan isn't half as bad as everyone, who had never heard it, claimed it to be. Especially when one remembers that the same biographers and journalists tend to praise AMM, The Soft Machine or The Third Ear band for their revolutionary musical approach. Rhamadan is of course a highly freakadelic experiment, almost free-jazz in its approach, a genre Syd Barrett was not unfamiliar with.

Rhamadan MP3 properties.
Rhamadan MP3 properties.

If you have bought the CD, Rhamadan can be downloaded (legally) from the official Syd Barrett website, but unfortunately only in the MP3 format with a rather cheapish 152kbs bitrate. But its bitrate is not the only amateurish characteristic. While millions of people all over the world have discovered MP3 tags, EMI is of the opinion that this invention is way over their heads. The tags are all empty and reveal that the track is untitled (Track 1), comes from an unknown album, is from an unknown artist and from an unknown year. Not even the Publisher and Copyright data are filled in. My 8-years old godchild can rip MP3 tunes better than EMI does, she at least knows how to attach a (sleeve) picture to the file. (Although I worked this out by myself, Jen D at madcapslaughing beat me by a day by publishing the same findings before me. As I haven't got an irregular head I'll give this bloke the credits.)

While EMI has been nagging us for years that copying is killing music a closer look on the MP3 tags reveals us that the file has been converted with FreeRIP. Here is the biggest music company in the world and it uses a freeware version of a (quite good, I agree) MP3 converter to spread around a track belonging to the founder of their second most commercially successful band, next to The Beatles.

I know of the bad financial situation of the music company but I wasn't aware that EMI was that close to bankrupt that they can't even afford a 29,75 dollar software program anymore.

Conclusion

None really. The best thing is to decide for yourself if the 5 remixes and the 1 download are sufficient to buy the album. As a Barrett anorak myself, I simply had no choice.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above)
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 215.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 132-133.


The Introduction album and Rhamadan track are further discussed here:
Introduction at Late Night
Introduction at NPF
Rhamadan at Late Night
Rhamadan at NPF
A review of the 40 years anniversary edition of the Piper at the Gates of Dawn can be found at Fasten Your Anoraks
Sister blog Unfinished Projects has recently published a review of the latest Orb album featuring David Gilmour: Metallic Spheres.

2011-01-21

EXCLUSIVE: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo

Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs.
Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs.

Words: Mark Blake.
Pictures: Storm Thorgerson, Iggy Rose, Rank Organisation.
Date: 20 January 2011.
Previously published on mojo.com.

If there is one image of Syd Barrett that never ceases to fascinate it's the back cover of his debut album, The Madcap Laughs. The reason: the mysterious naked woman perched on a stool with her head thrown back and face obscured by swathes of long dark hair. Syd's companion was known only as "Iggy The Eskimo". But as Barrett fans have been wondering since 1970 - who was Iggy and where did she go?

Photographer Mick Rock believed that his cover girl had "married a rich guy and moved off the scene". Barrett's old flatmate, the artist Duggie Fields, heard that "Iggy had become involved with one of the voguish religious cults of the time", before adding to the mythology with a story of once seeing her disembarking from a Number 31 bus in Kensington, wearing a 1940s-era gold lamé dress, and very little else.

In 2002, Mick's coffee-table book Psychedelic Renegades featured more shots of Syd and Iggy posing outside the Earls Court mansion block, alongside Barrett's abandoned Pontiac. Rock's photos found their way onto most Pink Floyd fansites, where Iggy had acquired cult status. Before long, The Holy Church Of Iggy The Inuit, a fansite in her honour, had appeared, its webmaster, Felix Atagong, sifting through ever scrap of information gleaned from MOJO and elsewhere with a forensic scientist's attention to detail. Among Felix's discoveries was a November 1966 issue of NME which featured a photo of "Iggy who is half eskimo" dancing at South Kensington's Cromwellian club.

While researching my Pink Floyd biography (2007's Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story Of Pink Floyd) I quizzed everyone about Iggy's whereabouts. Anthony Stern, formerly a schoolmate of David Gilmour's, told me he had met her at a Hendrix gig and had just discovered photos he had taken of her on a houseboat in Chelsea; Anthony had also filmed Iggy dancing in Russell Square. Meanwhile, former Middle Earth club DJ Jeff Dexter recalled meeting "the mysterious-looking" Iggy in 1963, when she was a "part of a group of very wonderful looking South London girls" that danced at The Orchid Ballroom in Purley. Jeff even hatched a plan with his friend, the late DJ and Shadows songwriter Ian "Sammy" Samwell, to turn Iggy and two of her friends into "a British version of The Supremes. We booked a studio but unfortunately none of them could sing." Believing that Iggy may have gone to school in Thornton Heath, Jeff and Anthony contacted The Croydon Guardian, who ran an article - So Where Did She Go To, My Lovely - enquiring after the whereabouts of the girl "who entirely captured the spirit of the '60s".

Then, in March 2010, MOJO received a letter from ex-Cambridge mod Pete Brown, who had "shared some wild nights on the town with Iggy in the 1970s". Pete informed us that Iggy had been last heard of in the '80s "working at a racing stables... and has since been keeping her whereabouts quiet." Pete sent a copy of the letter to The Croydon Guardian, whose reporter traced Iggy through the stables and phoned her out of the blue. Their subsequent article included a handful of quotes from its reluctant subject, including the words: "I have now left that life behind me." Which is why it came as a surprise when my mobile rang late one Saturday night. "It's Iggy!" declared the voice at the other end, as if I would have known that already. "I've been reading what you wrote about me in MOJO... about the pictures of my bottom."

Iggy on Worthing Beach.
Relaxing on Worthing Beach, early '60s.

The local newspaper's call had prompted Iggy to borrow a neighbour's computer and go online for the first time. She was amazed to discover MOJO, the fansites, the photos, and the wild speculation and misinformation about her time with Syd Barrett. Which is why, in October 2010, I found myself stepping off a train at an otherwise deserted Sussex railway station to be met by the woman that had once graced the cover of The Madcap Laughs. Three hours in a local gastro-pub and countless phone calls later, Iggy pieced together her story. Some of it was printed in MOJO 207, the rest is here...

Firstly, why Iggy? "My real name is Evelyn," she explains. "But when I was a child, my neighbour's young daughter could never pronounce Evelyn, and always called me Iggy. Now everyone calls me as Iggy. But 'The Eskimo' nickname was a joke. That was something I told the photographer from the NME when he took my picture at The Cromwellian." Iggy's father was a British army officer, who served alongside Louis Mountbatten, and attended the official handover ceremony from Great Britain to India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharial Nehru in 1947. "My father also knew all about Mountbatten's wife's affair with Nehru," she adds mischievously. During a spell of leave, he had travelled to a remote village in the Himalayas "where he met the woman that would become my mother." Iggy was born in Pakistan, and attended army schools in India and Aden, before the family moved to England. But not, as believed, Thornton Heath. "I grew up by the seaside," she reveals. "I went to art school. I became a mod in Brighton, and saw the fights with the rockers, and I met The Who when they were on Ready Steady Go! I loved soul music, loved The Righteous Brothers, and I loved dancing, so I used to go to all the clubs - The Orchid Ballroom in Purley, where I met lovely Jeff Dexter, The Cromwellian, The Flamingo, The Roaring Twenties..."

It was at The Cromwellian that Iggy encountered Eric Clapton. "I didn't know who he was at first," she insists. "He took me to meet Lionel Bart and to a party at Brian Epstein's place..." By the mid-'60s Iggy had become a Zelig-like presence on the capital's music scene, sometimes in the company of Keith Moon, Brian Jones, Keith Richards.... She saw Hendrix make his UK debut at the Bag O' Nails in November '66, and in February '67, narrowly avoided the police raid at Richards' country pile, in West Wittering: "The night before, I decided not to go, thank God." A year later, still in the Stones' orbit, she found herself watching the recording sessions for what became Sympathy For The Devil.

Iggy at granny Takes A Trip,1967.
Iggy at Granny Takes A Trip, 1967.

By then, Iggy had made her film debut. In 1967, IN Gear was a short documentary screened as a supporting film in cinemas around the country. Its theme was Swinging London, including the chic Kings Road clothes shop Granny Takes A Trip, a place, according to the breathless narrator that "conforms to the non-conformist image of the !" A mini-skirted Iggy can be seen in one silent clip, sifting through a rack of clothes and chatting with Granny's co-owner Nigel Waymouth.

By 1967, pop music had changed. The summer before, Iggy had met Syd Barrett's girlfriend Jenny Spires, and drifted into the Floyd's social clique, showing up at the UFO club nights where Pink Floyd played regularly: "When I recently watched that Syd Barrett documentary [The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett & Story] and saw Syd in the kaftan, chanting [on Pow R Toc H], the memories came rushing back," she explains. "I'd been there. I'd seen that." In April '67, Iggy joined the counter-culture throng in Alexandra Palace for The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream - "all 14 hours of it!" - where Floyd played a hypnotic set at dawn.

By early 1968, though Barrett had been replaced by David Gilmour, and, according to many, was on a drug-fuelled downward spiral. Towards the end of the year, he moved into a new place with his level-headed friend, the would-be artist Duggie Fields. The pair took over a two-bedroom flat at 29 Wetherby Mansions in Earls Court. Around January '69, at Jenny Spires' suggestion, Iggy, needing a place to stay, moved in. She hooked up with Barrett, but shared a musical bond with Fields: "Duggie and I were into soul music, and Syd used to laugh at me dancing around to Motown."

As Iggy told MOJO 207: "I didn't know Syd had been a pop star." Elaborating further, "I didn't make the connection between him and the person I had seen at UFO. I knew he was beautiful looking and he had real presence, but that was all." Once, when she picked up his acoustic guitar, fooling around, he took it off her and started playing properly. "I was overwhelmed. The way he played the guitar, the way he moved. He said, 'Do you think I look good?'," she laughs. "I said, 'You look amazing. Wow!' He then said, 'Would you listen to this?' And he bought out this big, old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder, and said, 'Tell me what you think'." Syd then played her the songs that would end up on The Madcap Laughs. One track, Terrapin, made an immediate impression. "I said, 'That's quite catchy', and, of course, I don't think Syd was really into catchy...It was a long tape, and he didn't demand any opinion, but just asked if I thought it was OK. At the end he said 'Someone at EMI - I cannot remember the name - wants me to make a record. How would you feel about having a rock star boyfriend?'"

Click here for Part 2


Previously published on mojo.com. Many thanks to Mark Blake for allowing us to host this article.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2

(This is Part 2 of Mark Blake's Iggy the Eskimo article, for part one click: EXCLUSIVE: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo.)

Words: Mark Blake.
Pictures: Iggy Rose, Chris Lanaway.
Date: 20 January 2011.
Previously published on mojo.com.

While there are many reports of Barrett being withdrawn and even aggressive at this time, Iggy remembers it differently. "People talk about Syd's madness and his dark side, but I never saw it," she states. "We had a wonderful giggly time. There were no sinister moments." Only briefly did she glimpse a more troubled side to his personality. "One day, he said to me, 'How do you feel? Are you sad?' I was naked, and he went and got some paint and painted two great big eyes on my breasts with two tears coming down, and on my belly button he painted an arrow and underneath that a picture of me with a big belly, and said, 'There could be life in there. I could give you life.' But I didn't want that at all. So I panicked, and scrubbed it off." He was also uncomfortable with some aspects of fame, as Iggy discovered on a night out with Syd to The Speakeasy, a music-biz haunt in Margaret Street. "We'd persuaded Syd to go, but it was full of posers," she admits. "There were a few of us there. Someone asked the DJ to put on See Emily Play, which was a stupid thing to do." A hit for Pink Floyd more than two years before, the dance-floor cleared. "So I went on and started dancing, but Syd ran off. He was obviously very sensitive about it all."

"We had a wonderful giggly time. There were no sinister moments."

In March '69, Barrett began recording The Madcap Laughs at Abbey Road, but his erratic behaviour in the studio resulted in Roger Waters and David Gilmour helping to oversee the sessions. Gilmour was now living in Richmond Mansions, a block so close to Wetherby Mansions that he could almost see into Syd and Duggie's kitchen window. One evening, Syd announced that he had to go out. Iggy wanted to go with him, but Barrett insisted she remain at the flat. "I think I thought he was seeing another woman," she says. "I got a bit jealous, a bit pouty - very silly. Duggie knew where Syd had gone but wouldn't tell me." With Syd gone, Iggy decided to pay a visit to David Gilmour instead. Fields helped Iggy back-comb her hair, plaster her face with make-up and paint her lips black. "I looked like Medusa. Like a banshee. Duggie then took me round to Dave's place. Dave was very beautiful and very cool, and his flat was nicer than Syd and Duggie's - it was warmer for a start. Dave opened the door, took one look at me, but didn't bat an eyelid."

Iggy by Chris Lanaway.
Iggy in 1978.

When Iggy walked in, she saw Syd sat in Gilmour's living room. "I went in, shouting, 'OK, where is she?' thinking there was a woman hiding in one of the rooms. But, of course, the meeting had been with Dave about the record they were making together." Barrett left Iggy with Gilmour, but rather the worse for wear, she knocked the stylus on his record player accidentally scratching his copy of Pink Floyd's brand new album. "I have no idea what album it was, only that it was their new album," Iggy sighs. (The likely candidate seems to be Soundtrack From The Film More) "So Dave threw me out... If he ever reads this I would like to say sorry for scratching his record." Back at Wetherby Mansions, Barrett was unfazed by her planned defection: "Syd just said, 'Come in love, and I'll make you a cup of tea'. How sweet."

By now, Barrett had prepared his bedroom for The Madcap... cover shoot, painting most of the floorboards orange and mauve. On the morning of the shoot, Syd asked Iggy to help finish the job. "He jumped off the mattress and said, 'Quick, grab a paint brush.' He did one stripe and I did another. If you look at Mick Rock's pictures, I have paint on the soles of my feet." When Rock arrived with the Floyd's sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson to take the photos, a naked Iggy went to put some clothes on. "But Syd said, 'No, don't'. That was his wicked sense of humour. I put the kohl around his eyes that day and tousled up his hair: come on Syd, give us a smile, moody, moody, moody! But he knew exactly what he was doing. He was as sharp as anything. He set the tone. He was the manipulator."

"Syd just said, 'Come in love, and I'll make you a cup of tea'. How sweet."

Iggy joined Syd for further photos outside the flat. Later, Rock recalled showing Barrett one of the pictures and Syd mysteriously scratching around Iggy's image; an act that has acquired some significance among Barrett's more earnest devotees. "They're making something out of nothing," she insists. "Later on, Syd showed me one of the pictures and said, 'You like that one, don't you? I know why, because of your cheekbones'. I think I was sucking on a cigarette, and, yes, I was being vain, I liked the way my cheekbones looked. So he tore the pic in half and gave it to me. There was nothing more to it than that." Strangely, Iggy also recalls other photographs being taken that day, which have never appeared since. "I don't think Storm and Mick were very impressed by them. If you've ever seen the cover of the Rod Stewart album, Blondes Have More Fun, they were a bit like that... Of me and Syd. There were others of me and Syd, as well, which remind me of the picture of John and Yoko [on Two Virgins] which came out later. I'd love to see those pictures now."

Iggy today.
Iggi in 2011. (Photo: Chris Lanaway).

Before long, Iggy had drifted out of Wetherby Mansions and out of Syd's life as quickly as she had drifted in. When she returned later, Duggie told her: "Syd's not here. He's gone back to Cambridge. Don't bother trying to find him." She never saw him again, and is adamant she only became aware of her presence on the cover of The Madcap Laughs after being phoned by the Croydon Guardian: "I went to a boot sale with my husband... When I saw the cover, I thought, Oh yes, that is my bottom."

Although the stories of her marrying a rich banker and joining a religious cult are untrue, there is a kernel of truth: after Syd, Iggy began seeing a wealthy businessman who was also a scientologist. However Duggie Fields' recollection of spotting Iggy climbing off a bus in a gold lamé dress is not in dispute: "It was a beautiful dress that cost £50." Still a fixture on the music scene, Iggy recalls accompanying Pink Fairies' drummer Twink to the Isle Of Wight Festival and turning up "for the very first Glastonbury... ". But in 1978 Iggy married her husband, Andrew, and "left that life behind me".

"I heard on the radio that Syd died, and I felt sad, but it was so long ago," she says. Since reading about those times in MOJO, the memories of the people and the places have slowly come back to her. "Mick Rock took some beautiful picture of me," she smiles. "But, of course, I wish I'd been paid some money for them. Still, it is amazing that people have been looking for me... and that someone has even set up a website. I still don't know what to make of all this." The fascination continues. Last week, Iggy called to tell me she had found a poem online written about her by a professor at a university in Missouri. "And it's in French," she said, sounding astonished. "'Iggy l'esquimo, Fille De Le Space'...it goes. I never believed anyone would ever write a poem for me."

by Mark Blake (www.markrblake.com)

Thanks to: Felix Atagong, Jeff Dexter and Anthony Stern


Previously published on mojo.com. Many thanks to Mark Blake for allowing us to host this article.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2011-08-28

Immersion

Light Blue with Bulges
Light Blue with Bulges, Nick Sedgwick.

The next months will be musically dedicated to Pink Floyd and several, if not all, of the serious music magazines are hanging a separate wagon at EMI's gravy train.

Classic Rock 162 (with AC/DC on the cover) comes with a separate Pink Floyd 24 pages booklet, titled at one side: The making of the Dark Side Of The Moon, and at the other side (when you turn the booklet around) The making of Wish You Were Here, written by Pink Floyd biographer Glenn Povey, with pictures of Jill Furmanovsky.

Mojo 215, ridiculously called the October 2011 edition while we purchased it now in August (somebody ought to tell those Mojo editors what a calendar is), has a 12 pages Pink Floyd cover story from Pigs Might Fly author Mark Blake and with pictures from... Jill Furmanovsky, but more about that later.

Rock Prog (out on August 31) will be celebrating the 40-iest birthday of Meddle, an album that – according to their blurb – changed the sound of Pink Floyd and prog rock forever.

But we start with the most recent Uncut (that has a Marc Bolan / T-Rex cover, but it didn't cross the Channel yet) where Nick Mason expresses his belief that there still is room for a combined Piper/Saucerful Immersion set. That extended CD-box-set would have early Pink Floyd rarities as Vegetable Man and Scream Thy last Scream but also...

...we've got some demos that were made really early on, which I think are just charming. these come from 1965 and include 'Lucy Leave', "I'm A King Bee", "Walk With Me Sydney", and "Double O-Bo". They're very R'n'B. Of course we were yet another English band who wanted to be an American style R'n'B band. We recorded the demo at Decca. I think it must have been, in Broadhurst Gardens. A friend of Rick's was working there as an engineer, and managed to sneak us in on a Saturday night when the studio wasn't operating.

As all Immersion sets come with some live recordings as well all eyes (or ears) are pointing into the direction of the Gyllene Cirkeln gig that was recently sold by its taper to the Floyd. But Mark Jones, known for his extensive collection of early Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett pictures, heard something else from his contacts at Pink Floyd Ltd. He fears that this gig will not be put on an early Floyd immersion set:

I doubt it, my answer from someone 'high up' was 'the Stockholm recording does not feature Syd's vocals'. I take that means either his mic was not functioning properly or he was singing off mic. (…) My answer was from 'high up' and from what I gathered it meant they weren't releasing it!

Like we have pointed out in a previous article (see: EMI blackmails Pink Floyd fans!) the September 1967 live set does not have audible lyrics, due to the primitive circumstances the gig has been recorded with (or simply because Syd didn't sing into the microphone). But that set also has some instrumentals that could be put on a rarities disk: a 7 minutes 20 seconds unpublished jam nicknamed 'Before or Since' (title given by the taper), Pow R Toc H (without the jungle sounds?) and Interstellar Overdrive.

It will be a long wait as an early Immersion set can only see the light of day in late 2012 and only after the other sets have proven to be successful.

Update 2016 11 11: that Piper 'Immersion' set, with the Gyllene Cirkeln gog, has been officiually issued in the Early Years box set: Supererog/Ation: skimming The Early Years.

Nick Sedgwick
Nick Sedgwick (front) with Syd Barrett (back). Picture taken from Mick Rock's Shot! documentary (2017).

Nick Sedgwick's manuscript

Back to Mojo with its Dark Side Of The Moon / Wish You Were Here cover article. Obviously the 'Syd visits Pink Floyd' anecdote had to be added in as well and at page 88 Mark Blake tells the different versions of this story once again (some of them can also be found in here: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory).

In his Lost In Space article Mark Blake also retells the almost unknown story about an unpublished Pink Floyd book that has been lying on Roger Waters' shelves for about 35 years. After the gigantic success of Dark Side Of The Moon the band, or at least Roger Waters, found it a good idea to have a documentary of their life as successful rock-stars. Waters asked his old Cambridge friend and golf buddy Nick Sedgwick to infiltrate the band and to note down his impressions. Another sixties Cambridge friend was called in as well: Storm Thorgerson, who hired Jill Furmanovsky to take (some of) the pictures of the 1974 American tour. Nick and Storm could follow the band far more intimately than any other journalist or writer as they had been beatnik buddies (with Syd, David and Roger) meeting in the Cambridge coffee houses in the Sixties. In his 1989 novel Light Blue With Bulges Nick Sedgwick clearly describes how a loud-mouthed bass player and the novel's hero share some joints and drive around on their Vespa motorcycles.

Life on the rock road in 1974 was perhaps too much of a Kerouac-like adventure. The band had its internal problems, with Roger Waters acting as the alpha-male (according to David Gilmour in the latest Mojo article). But there weren't only musical differences, Pink Floyd had wives and families but they also had some difficulties to keep up the monogamist life on the road. Then there was the incident with Roger Waters who heard a man's voice at the other side when he called his wife at home.

When David Gilmour read the first chapters of the book he felt aggrieved by it and managed to get it canned, a trick he would later repeat with Nick Mason's first (and unpublished) version of Inside Out. But also Nick Mason agrees that the book by Nick Sedgwick was perceived, by the three others, as being to openly friendly towards Roger Waters and too negative towards the others. Mark Blake, in a Facebook reaction to the Church, describes the manuscript as 'dynamite'.

Unfortunately Nick Sedgwick died a couple of days ago and Roger Waters issued the following statement:

One of my oldest friends, Nick Sedgwick, died this week of brain cancer. I shall miss him a lot. I share this sad news with you all for a good reason.
He leaves behind a manuscript, "IN THE PINK" (not a hunting memoir).
His memoir traces the unfolding of events in 1974 and 1975 concerning both me and Pink Floyd. In the summer of 1974 Nick accompanied me, and my then wife Judy, to Greece. We spent the whole summer there and Nick witnessed the beginnings of the end of that marriage.
That autumn he travelled with Pink Floyd all round England on The Dark Side Of The Moon Tour. He carried a cassette recorder on which he recorded many conversations and documented the progress of the tour. In the spring of 1975 he came to America with the band and includes his recollections of that time also.
When Nick finished the work in 1975 there was some resistance in the band to its publication, not surprising really as none of us comes out of it very well, it's a bit warts and all, so it never saw the light of day.
It is Nick's wish that it be made available now to all those interested in that bit of Pink Floyd history and that all proceeds go to his wife and son.
To that end I am preparing three versions, a simple PDF, a hardback version, and a super de-luxe illustrated limited edition signed and annotated by me and hopefully including excerpts from the cassettes.

For those interested in the more turbulent episodes of the band Pink Floyd this will be a very interesting read indeed.

Update 2016 12 04: the Sedgwick Floyd biography 'In The Pink' has not been published yet. In a 2015 interview for Prog magazine Roger Waters, however, said that the project was still on.


The Church wishes to thank: Mark Blake, Mark Jones & although he will probably never read this, Roger Waters.


2011-11-12

Careful with that stash, Gini

Careful with that stash, Gini
David Gilmour
David 'a Guinness is good for you' Gilmour.

Business as usual at The Anchor. Felix Atagong, that old drunk hippie, was sitting at the bar, ogling some of the mojito girls eagerly discussing Justin Bieber's posterior. At his fifth Guinness Felix usually starts to get all glazzy eyed and wants to start a Pink Floyd fight. Most of the time it suffices to name-drop Rob Chapman to make Atagong throw a tantrum, but there weren't enough spectators today to make this trick worthwhile.

"Alex", he said, "Did I already tell you that David Gilmour wore a Guinness t-shirt during the 1974 French tour, just to piss off their sponsor Gini?" I pretended not having heard this story a dozen times before.

"In 1972", he orated, "Pink Floyd signed a lucrative publicity contract with Gini, a French übersweet soft drink. The band went to the Moroccan desert where they had some shots taken by photographer William Sorano, a fact not a lot of people know of." Felix likes to brag a lot, especially when he gets a bit light in the head.

"Of course Pink Floyd wasn't a millionaire's super group yet when they agreed with the deal. They liked to describe themselves as an underground art band and only the French were daft enough to believe that. British have this national sport to fool the French and for three full decades those have thought that 'pink floyd' was English for 'flamant rose' or 'pink flamingo'. That rumour was started on the mainland by journalist Jean Marie Leduc after he returned from a trip to London in sixty-seven. Asking a freaked-out acid head what a pink floyd really meant he turned into the proverbial sitting duck and eagerly swallowed the bait."

Pink Floyd Ballet
The Pink Floyd ballet (Roland Petit).

"So whenever Pink Floyd wanted to get arty-farty they only had to hop into the nearest ferry to Calais where they were hauled in as national heroes. One of their sillier projects was to play behind a bunch of men in tights, jumping up and down in an uncoördinated way, and calling that a ballet. Of course there was a kind of 'intellectual snobbery' involved in this all, but even more the Pink Floyd's fine taste for champagne and oysters that was invariably hauled in by the bucket." Felix had certainly reached lift-off and would be raving and drooling now for at least the next half hour to come."

"Another project was the soundtrack for the art movie La Vallée, a typical French vehicle for long pseudo philosophical musings about the richness of primitive culture and the sudden urge of a French bourgeois woman to hug some trees and to hump the local Crocodile Dundee. Part of the movie is in the kind of English that would turn Inspector Clouseau green with envy. What does one expects from a bunch of hippies, making a tedious long journey to a mythical valley they call 'obscured by cloud' (not 'clouds')?"

La Vallée, end scene.
La Vallée, end scene.

"The hidden valley is supposed to be a paradise and the story sounds like a cheap rehash of the ridiculous Star Trek episode, The Way To Eden. Over the years journalists and biographers have rumoured that the movie is saved by showing a fair amount of frolicking in the nude, but it miserably fails in that department as well. Quite unusual for a French movie of the early seventies, I might add, as the cinematographic intellectual trend was to show the female form in all its variety. The only bush that can be seen is the New Guinean forest unfortunately."

"Obviously the Floyd couldn't resist this challenge and helped by the easy money soundtracks brought in they were wheeled into a château with a stock of red wine and boeuf bourguignon. Two weeks later they emerged with one of their finest albums ever." Atagong took another drink and belched loudly. This had only been the introduction, I feared, I was right.

Gini 1974
Pink Floyd 'Gini' Tour.

"Rick Wright recalls in a 1974 Rock & Folk interview how their manager Steve O'Rourke met a bloke on a French beach, waving a fifty thousand British pounds check in front of him. O'Rourke frantically jumped up and down, like a dancer from a French avant-garde ballet dancing troupe, making hysterically pink flamingo quacking sounds. Little did he know this was going to be first time in Floydian history that the band didn't manage to trick the French, a tradition that started in 1965 when Syd Barrett and David Gilmour busked the French Riviera. Of course it is easy to say in retrospect O'Rourke was duly screwed 'up the khyber' by the Gini coöperation, but in 1972 it appeared not to be such a bad deal after all. Part of the deal was that Gini promised to sponsor a French tour, including radio and television promo spots that unfortunately have not survived into the 21st century."

"The main problem was that in 1973 Pink Floyd suddenly turned into millionaire superstars thanks to Dark Side Of The Moon and that 50,000 pounds was now something they spent on breakfast orange juice. But Gini, waving with the two years old contract, threatened with legal action and the Floyd reluctantly agreed to meet the conditions."

Gini promo girl
Gini promo girl.

"In the summer of 1974 Floyd hit France and wherever they appeared a publicity caravan of 15 people would follow them. It had cute girls who gave Gini drinks, stickers and fluorescent t-shirts away, 4 'easy riders' on 750 cc super-choppers (painted by Jean-Paul Montagne) and a green 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith (numberplate: 567 AAF 75) with a loud stereo installation. Rumours go that at a certain point the atmosphere was so heated between the Pink Floyd management and Gini that a minimum distance between band and publicity people had to be agreed on. But according to Nick Mason, in his auto-biography Inside Out, it was only the band that got infuriated, the technical crew quite enjoyed the promo girls and they exchanged more than soft drinks alone."

"French journalists immediately accused Pink Floyd of a sell-out and the band rapidly declared that the money was going to charity, something in the line of a school for handicapped children. Rock & Folk squeezed out the names of the Ronald Laing Association and the French hôpital de Salpêtrière, but reality may have been a bit different. Nick Mason told Mojo's Mark Blake this summer that they probably just shelved the money, although David Gilmour and Roger Waters still keep up it was donated. Rest me to say that Waters was so angry at the situation that he wrote an unpublished song about the Gini incident, titled Bitter Love (aka 'How Do You Feel')." Felix Atagong paused a bit, to have a drink, so this was a moment for immediate action.

"Out!", I said, "The Anchor is closed."

"But", retaliated the Reverend, "this was just a mere introduction to start talking about the Wish You Were Here Immersion set that has just been issued and I would like to say something more about the 1967 Stockholm Gyllene Cirkeln show that has finally been weeded out to the public..."

"Out!", I said again, "There is no time for your drunken ramblings any more."

I pushed Felix Atagong out of the door and I heard him staggering back home, murmuring incomprehensible things. He'll be back tomorrow anyway.


(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
The Anchor wishes to thank: Nipote and PF Chopper at Y.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 179-183, 214.
Blake, Mark: Lost In Space, Mojo 215, October 2011, p. 85.
Feller, Benoît: Complet, Rock & Folk, Paris, July 1974, p. 44.
Leduc, Jean-Marie: Pink Floyd, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 1982, p. 125.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 197-198.
(unknown): La "caravane" Pink Floyd-Gini, Hit Magazine, Paris, July 1974.

One of the promo Pink Floyd Gini choppers is still around today and has its own Facebook page: The Pink Floyd Chopper.

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.


2012-05-11

RIP Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives

Clive Welham
Clive Welham.

On Wednesday, 9 May 2012, it was reported that Clive Welham passed away, after having been ill for a long time.

50 years earlier, he was the one who introduced a quiet, shy boy to Roger 'Syd' Barrett at the Cambridge College of Art and Technology. The boys had in common that they both liked to play the guitar and immediately became friends, that is how Syd Barrett and David Gilmour met and how the Pink Floyd saga started.

Perse pigs and County cunts (note)

Just like in the rest of England, Cambridge was a musical melting pot in the early sixties with bands forming, merging, splitting and dissolving like bubbles in a lava lamp.

Clive 'Chas' Welham attended the Perse Preparatory School for Boys, a private school where he met fellow student David Gilmour. As would-be musicians they crossed the social barriers and befriended pupils from the Cambridge and County School for Boys, meeting at street corners, the coffee bars or at home were they would trade guitar licks. Despite their two years age difference Clive was invited to the Sunday afternoon blues jam sessions at Roger Barrett's home and in spring 1962 this culminated in a 'rehearsal' band called Geoff Mott & The Mottoes. Clive Welham (to Julian Palacios):

There was Geoff Mott [vocals], Roger Barrett [rhythm guitar], and “Nobby” Clarke [lead guitar], another Perse boy. I met them at a party near the river. They’d got acoustic guitars and were strumming. I started picking up sticks and making noise. We were in the kitchen, away from the main party. They asked me if I played drums and I said, “Not really, but I’d love to.” They said, “Pop round because we’re getting a band together.”

Clive Welham (to Mark Blake):

It was quite possible that when me and Syd first started I didn't even have any proper drums and was playing on a biscuit tin with knives. But I bought a kit, started taking lessons and actually got quite good. I can't even remember who our bass player was...

Although several Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett biographies put Tony Sainty as the Mottoes' bass player Clive Welham has always denied this: “I played in bands with Tony later, but not with Syd.”

Another hang-around was a dangerous looking bloke who was more interested in his motorbike than in playing music: Roger Waters. He was the one who designed the poster for what is believed to be The Mottoes' only public gig.

After Clive Welham had introduced David Gilmour to Syd Barrett, David became a regular visitor as well. Surprisingly enough Syd and David never joined a band together, starting their careers in separate bands. Although they were close friends it has been rumoured there was some pubertal guitar playing rivalry between them.

The Ramblers
The Ramblers.

1962: The Ramblers

The Mottoes never grew into a gigging band and in March 1962 Clive Welham, playing a Trixon drum kit, stepped into The Ramblers with Albert 'Albie' Prior (lead guitar), Johnny Gordon (rhythm guitar), Richard Baker (bass) and Chris ‘Jim’ Marriott (vocals).

The Ramblers’ first gig was at the United Reformed Church Hall on Cherry Hinton Road. They used their new Watkins Copycat Echo Chamber giving them great sound on The Shadows’ Wonderful Land and Move It.

The Ramblers soon acquired a certain reputation and gigged quite a lot in the Cambridge area. One day Syd Barrett asked 'Albie' Prior for some rock'n roll advice in the Cambridge High School toilets: “...saying that he wanted to get into a group and asking what it involved and in particular what sort of haircut was best.”

Unfortunately the responsibilities of adulthood crept up on him and lead guitarist 'Albie' had to leave the band to take a job in a London bank. On Tuesday, the 13th of November 1962, David Gilmour premiered at a gig at the King's Head public house at Fen Ditton, a venue were they would return every week as the house band. Gilmour had joined two bands at the same time and could also be seen with Chris Ian & The Newcomers, later just The Newcomers. Notorious members were sax-player Dick Parry, not unknown to Pink Floyd anoraks and Rick Wills (Peter Frampton's Camel, Foreigner and Bad Company).

Memories have blurred a bit but according to Glenn Povey's Echoes Gilmour's final gig with The Ramblers was on Sunday, 13 October 1963. Beginning of 1964 The Ramblers disbanded but three of its 5 members would later resurface as Jokers Wild.

1963: The Four Posters

But first, in autumn 1963, a band known as The Four Posters was formed, although it may have been just a temporarily solution to keep on playing. David Altham (piano, sax & vocals) and Tony Sainty (bass & vocals) were in it and perhaps Clive Welham (drums). Unfortunately their history has not been documented although according to Will Garfitt, who left the band to pursue a painting career, they played some gigs at the Cambridge Tech, the Gas Works, the Pit Club and the university. Contrary to what has been written in some Pink Floyd biographies John Gordon was never involved:

I was never in The Four Posters. Clive and I were together in The Ramblers, and we left together to join Dave, David and Tony to create Jokers Wild. I don't know whether Dave and Tony came from The Newcomers or The Four Posters...
The Newcomers
The Newcomers.

1964: Jokers Wild

The Ramblers, The Four Posters and The Newcomers ended at about the same time and the bands more or less joined ranks. Renamed Jokers Wild in September 1964 it was at first conceived as an all-singing band. “We were brave enough to do harmony singing that other groups wouldn’t attempt, including Beach Boys and Four Seasons numbers”, confirmed Tony Sainty. The band had good musicians, all of them could hold a tune, and they soon had a loyal fanbase. They became the house-band at Les Jeux Interdits, a midweek dance at Victoria Ballroom. Clive Welham: “We came together in the first place because we all could sing.”

Some highlights of their career include a gig with Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, The Paramounts (an early incarnation of Procol Harum) and a London gig as support act for The Animals. This last gig was so hyped that a bus-load of fans followed them from Cambridge to the big city of London.

1965: Walk Like A Man

Mid 1965 the band entered the Regent Sound Studios in Denmark Street, London. They recorded a single that was sold (or given) to the fans containing Don’t Ask Me What I Say (Manfred Mann) and Big Girls Don’t Cry (The Four Seasons). Out of the same session came a rather limited one-sided LP with three more numbers: Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Walk Like a Man and Beautiful Delilah. This is the only 'released' recording of Jokers Wild although there might be others we are not aware of. Peter Gilmour (David's brother) who replaced Tony Sainty on bass and vocals in autumn 1965 commented this week:

Sad news. A great bloke. I'll replay some of those old recordings doing Four Seasons and Beach Boys numbers with his lovely clear falsetto voice.

Somewhere in October 1965 they played a private party in Great Shelford together with an unknown singer-songwriter Paul Simon and a band that was billed as The Tea Set because Pink Floyd sounded too weird for the highbrow crowd. Clive Welham:

It was in a marquee at the back of this large country house [that can, by the way, be seen on the cover of the Pink Floyd album Ummagumma, FA]. I sat on and off the drum kit because of my wrist problems. Willie Wilson sat in on drums and I came to the front on tambourine.

The musicians enjoyed themselves, jamming with the others and Paul Simon - 'a pain in the arse', according to drummer Willie Wilson - joined in on Johnny B. Good. A couple of days later Jokers Wild supported Pink Floyd again, this time at the Byam Shaw School, Kensington, London. Each band was paid £10 for that gig.

Jokers Wild
Jokers Wild.

1965: the Decca tapes

By then Jokers Wild were seriously thinking of getting professional. They were not only known by the locals in Cambridgeshire, but did several society parties in London as well. Also the military forces had discovered them: Jokers Wild was invited for the Admiral League dance at the Dorchester Hotel in London and played several dances at the RAF and USAF bases of Mildenhall, Lakenheath, Alconbury and Chicksands. Their repertoire changed as well, shifting more towards soul, R&B and Tamla Motown. Libby Gausden: “How we danced to David Gilmour, Peter Gilmour, David Altham, John Gordon, Tony Sainty and dear Clive xxx.”

Some promoters were sought for and the band recorded a single for Decca: You Don’t Know Like I Know (Sam and Dave) / That’s How Strong My Love Is (Otis Redding), but unfortunately it was never released because the original version by Sam and Dave had already hit the UK market.

After the Decca adventure the original band slowly evaporated over the next few months. Peter Gilmour left (probably after the summer of 1966) to concentrate on his studies. Clive Welham had difficulties combining his full time job with a semi-professional rock band and had some medical problems as well. John Gordon further explains:

Clive [Welham] became unable to play any more (with a wrist complaint) and was replaced by Willie Wilson... and that line-up continued for some time. It was later still that Tony Sainty was replaced by Rick [Wills]... and then, when the band was planning trips to France, I had to 'pass' to finish my degree at college.

1966: Bullit & The Flowers

Now a quartet with David Altham, David Gilmour, John 'Willie' Wilson and newcomer Rick Wills on bass, they continued using the known brand name, a trick Gilmour would later repeat (but slightly more successful) with Pink Floyd, touring around Spain, France and The Netherlands. Another failed attempt to turn professional made them temporarily change their name to Bullit and when David Altham also left the remaining trio continued as The Flowers, mainly playing in France. Around camp-fires on this planet it is told how a sick (and broke) David Gilmour returned to London, just in time to get a telephone call from Nick Mason, asking if he had a few minutes to spare.

2012: Nobody Knows Where You Are

Clive worked at the Cambridge University Press but always continued with his music. According to Vernon Fitch he played in a band called Jacob's Ladder in the Seventies and was a successful singer with local Cambridge band Executive Suite in the Nineties. Helen Smith remembers him as the leader of Solitaire, what must have been (according to Colleen Hart) in the mid-Seventies:

A brilliant front man in his band 'Solitaire' - he had a wonderfully sweet singing voice and could easily hit the high notes!

Update 2012 08 12: In 1978 Clive made a private, non commercial recording of Peanuts, originally a 1957 hit from Little Joe & The Thrillers:

Update 2012 08 13: In 2001 Clive Welham sang Barry Manilow's I Made It Through The Rain at The Maltings, Ely. The clip is courtesy Chris Jones (formerly of the Hi-Fi's) from www.world-video.co.uk and can be watched on YouTube: I Made It Through The Rain.

His last outing was on the Cambridge Roots of Rock of 2008.

On behalf of The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit we would like to offer our sincere sympathies to the Welham family.

Jokers Wild #1 (October 1964 - May 1966 / Source: Glenn Povey)

David Altham: guitar, saxophone, keyboards, vocals
David Gilmour: guitar, vocals, harmonica
John Gordon: rhythm guitar, vocals (1964 to late 1965)
Tony Sainty: bass, vocals (1964 to early 1966)
Peter Gilmour: bass, vocals (early 1966)
Clive Welham: drums, vocals (1964 to late 1965)
John 'Willie' Wilson: drums (from late 1965)

Jokers Wild #2 (Summer 1966 - Summer 1967 / Source: Glenn Povey)
AKA Bullit (3 summer months in 1966 at the Los Monteros hotel in Marbella?)
AKA The Flowers (end 1966)

David Altham: rhythm guitar (to December 1966)
David Gilmour: guitar, vocals
Rick Wills: bass (from January 1967)
John 'Willie' Wilson: drums

Listen to Jokers Wild on YouTube:
First three tracks ("Why Do Fools Fall in Love", "Walk Like a Man", "Don't Ask Me (What I Say)")
Last two tracks ( "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Beautiful Delilah")
Jokers Wild EP (5 tracks)

Afterword (Updated: 2012 07 01)

Perse pigs etc...

According to Julian Palacios in Dark Globe, quoting David Gale, 'perse pigs and county cunts' were friendly nicknames the pupils of these rivaling schools gave to each other. David Gale's assumption can be found on YouTube although it may have been a raunchy joke towards his audience and part of his 'performance'. (Back to text above.)

Syd Barrett in Jokers Wild?

In an interview for the Daily Mirror in August 2008 Rosemary Breen (Syd's sister) told:

He [Syd] started his first band, Jokers Wild, at 16. Sunday afternoons would see Cambridge chaps and girls coming over for a jamming session. The members of Pink Floyd were just people I knew. Roger Waters was a boy who lived around the corner and Dave Gilmour went to school over the road.

This seems to be a slip of the tongue as Syd Barrett never joined the band. In a message on Facebook, Jenny Spires adds:

Syd was not in Jokers Wild... He jammed with all the various members at different times, but he wasn't in it. When I met him in 64, he was playing with his old Art School band Those Without. He was also in The Tea Set at the same time. He played with several bands at the same time, for example if someone needed a bass player for a couple of gigs they may have asked him to stand in. Earlier, he played with Geoff Mott and also with Blues Anonymous. There were lots of musician friends in Cambridge that Syd played and jammed with. (Jenny Spires, 2012 06 30)

Many thanks to: Viv Brans, Michael Brown, Lord Drainlid, Libby Gausden, John Gordon, Peter Gilmour, Colleen Hart, Chris Jones, Joe Perry, Antonio Jesús Reyes, Helen Smith, Jenny Spires & I Spy In Cambridge. All pictures courtesy of I Spy In Cambridge.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 22-23, 34.
Clive Welham at Cambridge News Death Notices, May 2012.
Dosanjh, Warren: The music scene of 1960s Cambridge, Cambridge, 2012, p. 42, 46-47. Free download at: I Spy In Cambridge.
Fitch, Vernon: The Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, Collector's Guide Publishing, Ontario, 2005, p. 342.
Gordon, John: Corrections re Jokers Wild, email, 2012-05-12.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 27-28, 31.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 13, 20-24, 29.


2013-04-19

RIP Storm Thorgerson: caught in a triangle...

Storm Thorgerson
Storm Thorgerson at the TML photo shoot. Picture: Mick Rock.

What is there to say about Storm, except perhaps, like someone put in Birdie Hop, that he had a great name and a great life?

Storm Thorgerson was a member of the so-called Cambridge mafia, who in the early Sixties fled their home-town en masse to seek fame and fortune in the great city. They wanted to study in London, at least that is what they told their parents, but frankly these youngsters just wanted to get away from parental guidance and have an uncensored bite of adult life: sex, drugs and rock'n roll. Paradoxically, or maybe not, once they arrived in London they immediately flocked together, sharing apartments and houses and meeting in the same clubs and coffee houses.

The term Cambridge mafia was coined by David Gilmour to denominate that bunch of relatives, friends and acquaintances who stuck together, not only in the sixties, but are still doing today. As a relative young and unknown band Pink Floyd looked for associates, sound- and light technicians, roadies and lorry drivers in their immediate neighbourhood, often not further away than the next room in the same house.

Thorgerson was no exception, he had played cricket in the same team as Bob Klose and Roger Waters, and when the Floyd needed a record cover for A Saucerful Of Secrets, Storm managed to squeeze himself in, staying there till the end of his life, as the recent variations of the Dark Side of the Moon cover show us.

But even before Saucerful Storm had been involved with the band, it was at his kitchen table at Egerton Court that the members, minus Syd Barrett, discussed the future of Pink Floyd and decided to ask for a little help from yet another Cantabrigian friend: David Gilmour.

Obviously, this blog would not exist if, in the week from the 14th to 21st April 1969, Storm hadn't made an appointment with history to start a magical photo shoot.

Julian Palacios in Dark Globe:

Storm Thorgerson supervised the photo session for the cover of The Madcap Laughs, bringing in Mick Rock to photograph at Syd’s flat. ‘Syd just called out of the blue and said he needed an album cover,’ confirmed Rock. When Thorgerson and Rock arrived for the shoot, ‘Syd was still in his Y-fronts when he opened the door,’ Mick explained. ‘He had totally forgotten about the session and fell about laughing. His lady friend of two weeks, “Iggy the Eskimo”, was naked in the kitchen preparing coffee. She didn’t mind either. They laughed a lot, a magical session.’

There has been some muffled controversy who was the brain behind the pictures of The Madcap Laughs, not really helped by some contradicting explanations from Storm Thorgerson and Mick Rock. They both arrived the same day, both with a camera, and probably Rock handed over (some of) his film rolls to Storm as this was initially a Hipgnosis project.

Unfortunately we will never be able to ask Storm whether there was a third photographer present or not, but the chance is he wouldn't have remembered anyway. The rumour goes Storm was a rather chaotic person and that most Barrett negatives disappeared or were misplaced through the ages.

Perhaps the best, or at least the most personal, the most touching, the most emotional album art by Storm is the cover of the 1974 Syd Barrett vinyl compilation. It is a simple brown cover with Syd's name in handwriting and a small picture, taken from what probably was an autumn or late summer photo session also destined for the cover of The Madcap Laughs. The pictures of the so-called yoga photo-shoot however where not used, as we all know, for Syd's first album as Storm decided to use the daffodil and Iggy session from April instead. Hence the misdating in nearly all biographies.

Syd Barrett (vinyl compilation)
Syd Barrett (vinyl compilation).

In 1974 Harvest decided to package Barrett's two solo albums as a budget release. Storm, by then de de facto house photographer of Pink Floyd, was asked to design a new cover. Storm rang at Syd's apartment but the recalcitrant artist smashed the door when he heard about the reason for the visit.

Thorgerson went back to the office and decided to make a cover out of leftover pictures. On top of the brown background he put a plum, an orange and a matchbox. This was probably the first time that Storm played a game that he would later repeat with other Floydian artwork, leaving enigmatic hints that were initially only understood by that select group of Cantabrigian insiders who had known Syd personally.

Thorgerson's riddles culminated in the art for The Division Bell (and its many spin-offs) that had a visual companion for every song of the album, and rather than clarifying or portraying the lyrics they added to the mystery. It still is his opus magnum and unfortunately he will not be able any more to top it. We will never know if he was in with the Publius Enigma hoax although there have been a few leads pointing that way.

At a later stage Storm lost me somewhat. His mix of photographic surrealism and mockery became too much a gimmick and the freshness and inventiveness were gone. The covers of the latest Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd compilations were not always appreciated by the fans. Perhaps he was already sick by then.

But these few failings disappear at the magical visual oeuvre Storm Thorgerson has left us (and not only for Pink Floyd): A Nice Pair, Argus, Cochise, Dirty Things Done Dirt Cheap, Flash, Houses of the Holy, Lullubelle III, Picnic, Savage Eye, Sheet Music, The Lamb Lays Down On Broadway, Tightly Knit, Venus and Mars and many many more...

Thorgerson was a rock artist without having recorded a single note of music, he will be missed on Earth, but if there is that nirvana he will surely be welcomed by Clive, Nick, Pip, Ponji, Rick, Steve, Syd and the others...


Many thanks to: Lori Haines.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 340.


2014-02-09

Pink Floyd. Still First in Space. NOT!

Pink Floyd. Still First in Space. NOT!
Shindig Interstellar Overdrive
Shindig Interstellar Overdrive.

Interstellar Overdrive is the name of a January 2014 Shindig guide and it's worth every penny you spend on it. In 35 articles on 170 pages, it tries to define and explore the space rock phenomenon. It has in-dept articles on Amon Düül II, Gong, Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, Spacemen 3, Sun Ra and many others without forgetting the sci-fi movie soundtracks of the fifties (Forbidden Planet!) and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Doctor Who!).

In a six pages article 'The Reluctant Spacerockers' the on-off relationship between Pink Floyd and space rock is examined and what an enjoyable essay that is.

While journalists, who are nothing but a bunch of lazy buggers anyway, have labelled the band as space rockers, its members denied this, in particular Roger Waters who reacted in his usual diplomatic style: “Space – what the fuck are they talking about?” Probably the bass player is so demented nowadays that he has forgotten that his lame Amused to Death album features some alien anthropologists trying to find out why all these skeletons are sitting before their TV sets.

Then Austin Matthews chimes in and quite intelligible shows where and how the Pink Floyd used space rock tricks to appease the masses.

TM-7 mission patch
TM-7 mission patch.

Space 1988

There is an error in the article although the author is only partially to blame. (We are just being gentle here, that spaced out sod could of course have done a search on the Internet first.) On page 29 David Gilmour is cited:”To say that we are thrilled at the thought of being the first rock band to be played in space is something of an understatement.”

This refers to the Soyuz TM-7 rocket launch from the 26th of November 1988 five days after Pink Floyd had released their Delicate Sound Of Thunder (live) album. The French president François Mitterrand attended the launch because of cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien, who was the first western European man in space (this was his second flight, by the way, his first was in 1982). David Gilmour and Nick Mason attended because a cassette of their latest album was sent to the MIR space station, apparently on demand by one of the cosmonauts. We'll never know if this is true or just a staged lie but surely there was a mighty PR machine behind the band who made it clear to the world that this was the first rock music recording played in outer space.

Which was not true. Simple as that.

Soyuz TM-3 mission patch
Soyuz TM-3 mission patch.

spAce 1987

In 2003, while researching for an Orb biography that would never see the light of day, the Reverend stumbled upon the electronic band spAce who had a million-selling disco hit in 1977 with Magic Fly. The band split in the early eighties but electronic composer Didier Marouani had a particular successful solo career in Russia (and the East-European communist countries), often using the spAce name and logo, depending on the lawsuit of the month that ex-members were bringing on each other.

Marouani's solo work is slightly reminiscent of Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield or Tangerine Dream and was (still is) inspired by Russian and American space programs and sci-fi themes. In 1987 he released a CD called Space Opera (got the slight promotional nudge towards his old band?) and that CD was taken by cosmonauts Alexander Viktorenko, Syrian Muhammed Faris and Aleksandr Aleksandrov to the MIR orbital station in July 1987, more than a year before Pink Floyd made all that brouhaha.

In 2003, long before the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit was founded, the Reverend interviewed Didier Marouani who had the following to say:

I was composing my album Space Opera and I had the idea to bring Americans and Russians together on my album which at that time was very difficult (especially from the USSR). After negotiating with the Soviet ministry of Culture for 6 months I got the authorization to have the Red Army Choir together with the Harvard University Glee Club choir, who were recorded separately.
Following my concept I thought it would be very nice to have this first Space Opera shipped to MIR and then launched into outer space. They asked me to wait while they would study my request and in the meantime I wrote a letter to Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev who answered very positive.
Two months later the Ministry of Space confirmed an appointment. On July, the 2nd, 1987 I was received by the Russian cosmonauts and I gave them a CD, together with a CD-player and 2 small speakers. This was extensively reported in the Russian press.
The cosmonauts left Baikonur on the 22nd of July 1987 and in October 1987 the CD, the player and the 2 speakers were launched into outer space. So my music really floats into space which is for me a very big and happy achievement.
So for sure Pink Floyd did not have the first music in space. During a concert tour in the USSR, I met cosmonaut Aleksandr Pavlovich Aleksandrov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, again who told me that he worked in space for 7 months, listening to my music. [Note: actually Aleksandrov stayed 160 days in Space in 1987.]
Pink Floyd patch
title="Pink Floyd patch.

Lie for a Lie

But of course Mr. Gilmour may not entirely have been lying when he said Pink Floyd was the first rock band to be played in space. Didier Marouani's oeuvre is more electronic, new age (and recently: dance) oriented and the Floyd, as we all know, have never flirted with these musical styles before. (Yes, this is called irony.)

The last laugh may be for Didier Marouani though. In 2011 he released an album called From Earth to Mars and it was officially appointed by Roskosmos as the album that will go with the first manned Russian flight to that planet. But we earnestly doubt that listening to it for 6 months in a row will have a positive effect on its crew.

This is part one of the Shindig Interstellar Overdrive review. Part two covers an entirely different subject: Pictorial Press selling fake Pink Floyd pictures!


(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Marouani, Didier: First In Space, mail to Felix Atagong, 01 June 2003.

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.


2014-06-06

Grab that cash

The Floyds rockn roll swindle
Roger Waters, holding his favourite album
Roger Waters, holding his favourite Pink Floyd album.

It was probably Monday the 28th of March 1994 when the Reverend came home from work and had a burning hot CD in his pocket. On the train from work to Atagong mansion he had already opened the booklet, had thoroughly scrutinised the artwork by Storm Thorgerson, trying to read the music in the intriguing images. Cerro Tololo, the boxing gloves, the paper heads (and headlines)... The Reverend's heart literally skipped a beat when he found out that Rick Wright had been given a song he could call his own. Rick's first Pink Floyd song for nearly two decades (and literally the centrepiece of the album).

Probably the Atagong family had supper first, then LA-girl sat in the couch, and after the Reverend had put the CD in the player he sat next to her. It must have been a rather chilly day because there was some wood burning in the stove and Mimi, the fat and pregnant cat, was enjoying the heat in her basket.

The earth noises came in... and a new legend was born...

All this came back to the Reverend when, on the 19th of May 2014 a new Pink Floyd website appeared, called Division Bell 20.

Chernobyl Blues

There was a countdown clock and a new - Storm Thorgerson inspired - video for the excellent Marooned instrumental, that grew out of a jam at the Astoria recording studio between David Gilmour & Rick Wright. There were immediately some rumours in Pink Floyd internet land, some clearly more inspired than others, but the general consensus was that the album would be re-released in an anniversary or even an Immersion edition.

The obvious nod towards Thorgerson and Wright made the fans hope for the release of The Big Spliff, a Division Bell satellite album whose demos had been lying in the vaults since 1994. Nick Mason in Inside Out:

After two weeks we had taped an extraordinary collection of riffs, patterns and musical doodles, some rather similar, some nearly identifiable as old songs of ours, some clearly subliminal reinventions of well known songs. (…) But even having discarded these, forty ideas were available. (…) We eventually ended up with enough left-over material that we considered releasing it as a second album, including a set we dubbed ‘The Big Spliff’, the kind of ambient mood music that we were bemused to find being adopted by bands like the Orb, although – unlike Gong’s Steve Hillage – we never received any invitations to join this next generation on stage.

It needs to be said that the Reverend's expectations were running in overdrive as well, he was hoping for a new Publius Enigma clue (or perhaps a modest explanation of the riddle - stroke - hoax), hidden in the artwork somewhere, and of course the anticipation of some unreleased tracks, as on the other Immersion and Discovery sets (see also: Fuck all that, Pink Floyd Ltd).

Four Star Daydream

When the clock reached zero the website indeed revealed a pricey Division Bell box-set (actually it crashed at first, as it was hit by thousands of fans at the same time). Limited at 500 copies worldwide it contained an exclusive Limited Edition Division Bell 20th Anniversary T-shirt, a remastered double vinyl in gatefold sleeve, a Division Bell CD and a Bluray with 3 alternative mixes and the new Marooned music video. Some 7 and 12 inch coloured vinyl singles were thrown in as well, together with a 24 Page 12" (30 cm) booklet, 4 art prints and... some toasters.

Division Bell - limited 20 anniversay set
The Division Bell - limited 20 years anniversay set.

So basically Pink Floyd decided to ride the gravy train (again) by repackaging the same product five times in the same box and throwing it at the fans for the giveaway price of £157.50 (about 263 $ or 193 Euro, the unlimited box [without t-shirt and coasters] comes somewhat cheaper and is still available).

Each man has his price, Fred

The fact that it is Gilmour now who spits the fans in the face even made it into the papers and generally there is much disdain from the fanbase. What seemed to be the hype of the year was nothing but a cheap stunt to sell some recycled material at exorbitant prices. That the memory of Rick Wright and the legacy of Storm Thorgerson were thrown in to make a cynical million bucks more makes this release even more sickening. Polly Samson once wrote: “David Gilmour should be cloned so that every crowded house might have one”, but at this rate she can keep him inside, lock the door and throw away the key.

Did you understand the music, Fat Dave, or was it all in vain?

And when you feel you're near the end
And what once burned so bright is growing dim?
And when you see what's been achieved
Is there a feeling that you've been deceived?
Near The End - David Gilmour, 1984.

Upgrade 2014: a month after the publication of this article it was found out that a brand new 'recycled' Pink Floyd album was in the make, loosely based upon the Big Spliff sessions. However, this resulted in an unprecedented attack of the Floyd management towards its fans. Read: The loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...  


(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 315-316.
Samson, Polly: Perfect Lives, Virago Press, London, 2010, p. 225.

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.


2014-07-12

The loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories...

Pink Floyd manager threatens A Fleeting Glimpse webmaster.
The Endless River: fan-made impression
The Endless River: fan-made impression

Last weekend, we, The Anchor, the satirical division of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, felt the peculiar need for an apology. It is a feeling we seldom have, being a general pain in the arse and having carefully cultivated the pompous pernickety air our spiritual job has brought upon us. You may remember that we were not entirely favourable of the anniversary release of the Division Bell album. In the article Grab that cash we described it, and we quote:

What seemed to be the hype of the year was nothing but a cheap stunt to sell some recycled material at exorbitant prices. That the memory of Rick Wright and the legacy of Storm Thorgerson were thrown in to make a cynical million bucks more makes this release even more sickening.

We duly admit this was not nice at all and due to the recent developments in the Pink Floyd camp, more about that to follow later, we profoundly apologise. This doesn't mean that we are suddenly of the opinion that the Division Bell Anniversary Edition is worth the bulldog's bollocks, even if it may contain a hidden Publius Enigma hint. It still is utterly overpriced and utterly redundant, but of course what the honourable reader does with his money is his own business and not ours.

Europe Endless

On Saturday, the 5th of July 2014 at 3:13 PM (UTC), a mysterious tweet was send into the multiverse by Polly Samson, a tweet that created a heavy storm in the mostly silent waters of modern Floydiana:

Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called The Endless River. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright’s swansong and very beautiful.
Btw Pink Floyd album out in October is called “The Endless River”. Based on 1994 sessions is Rick Wright’s swansong and very beautiful.

The world first took its time to digests its scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, toast, coffee and marmalade (at least in the proper time-zone) but about 45 minutes later the news had been retweeted a few thousand times and had been copied on Facebook walls, forums and blogs all over the planet.

Durga McBroom and David Gilmour
Durga McBroom and David Gilmour.

Singer Durga McBroom, confirmed the news less than an hour later and added that a recent picture of her with David Gilmour hadn't been taken during a solo album session, as she had stated before, but that she had been asked to do vocals on a new Pink Floyd album.

Remember this photo? It wasn't what you THOUGHT it was.

A third confirmation came from Pink Floyd engineer Andrew Jackson, so the rumour that Polly Samson's Twitter account had been hacked and that this was nothing but a hoax was becoming less and less believable. There was going to be a new Pink Floyd album, after twenty years of silence.

This was not going to be just another Pink Floyd album. The starting point were the Division Bell ambient demos that had been nick-named The Big Spliff in the good old Floydian tradition to give recording sessions silly names. Work on the mixes started over a year ago and probably, although this is nothing but an assumption, it was foreseen as a short and sweet bonus disk for a Division Bell Immersion set. While working on the music however, David Gilmour and Nick Mason must have felt something of the excitement from two decades before, they must have felt the muse, the inspiration and the spirit of their friend and colleague (and in the case of bass player ad interim Guy Pratt, father in law) Rick Wright and decided to enhance the jams into a proper record, asking Phil Manzanera and Martin ‘Youth’ Glover to sit behind the mixing console.

Called The Endless River, after a line from the Division Bell’s magnum opus High Hopes (in itself cryptically referring to See Emily Play), the album will be mainly ambient and instrumental, although at least one track will be sung by David Gilmour with lyrics by Polly Samson.

Schoolmaster Mode (The Wall)
Schoolmaster Mode (The Wall).

Recycling Facts

Reactions from that strange horde, also known as the Pink Floyd fandom, ranged from scepticism to enthusiasm. Some critics found it strange that Pink Floyd would be recycling old material, perhaps unaware of the fact that this is something the band has been doing for ages. The whale song section from Echoes was borrowed from their concert staple Embryo, Us and Them was originally called The Violent Sequence and a Zabriskie Point soundtrack leftover, and the magnificent Comfortably Numb was something David Gilmour had been messing with for his eponymous solo album.

Half of the Animals (1977) album consists of songs the Floyd played live in 1974 but none of those fitted the Wish You Were Here (1975) concept. Animals was and still is a landmark album, something that can’t be said of The Final Cut (1983), practically a Roger Waters solo album, featuring some The Wall (1979) rejects (and unfortunately it shows).

Let’s not be cynical for once and forget that a separate release of The Endless River will shelve a few million copies more than a Division Bell bonus disc. Even if the record will mostly have ambient atmospheric pieces and may fail the default description of a typical Pink Floyd album we will consider it as Richard Wright’s musical testament and an honest tribute from the rest of the band.

Now, and here is a confession this old bartender has to make, when we read Polly Samson's tweet, we were literally shaking all over our body as excited as a puppy who has just been thrown a bone. We started browsing the well-known Floydian fan-sites for more and the first website who added the news to its page was Col Turner's A Fleeting Glimpse.

Don't take a slice...
Don't take a slice... (Money).

Segmental Pig File

Col Turner is not your average Pink Floyd fan site webmaster, he has dedicated his life to the Floyd and if you ask us, we think he is pretty daft for doing so. Nevertheless, we appreciate his masochist streak and if we want to know the latest news of the Dark Side universe Fleeting Glimpse (and Brain Damage) are the first ones we open.

When we say that Colin Turner is not an average fan, we mean he is not an average fan. Turner eats, feels, dreams and breaths Pink Floyd (frankly we are a bit curious what he does in the bedroom) and as such he already knew for a while that a new album was in the make. However, instead of putting that news on his wall, like we would have done in a nanosecond, he promised the Pink Floyd management to shut his mouth and wait until an official announcement of the band was made.

Now, we ask you, dear reader, can you get any closer to an official band announcement than the wife of the band leader, who happens to be the main lyricist as well, tweeting the news into the world?

Well, opinions seems to differ apparently.

Breast Milky
Dutch Penthouse 4, 1995 (Alan Parsons Interview).

The Bleeding Hearts and the Artists

An artist is, by definition, a creative person, a sensitive person, someone with a frail mind. He writes these songs that appeal to people all over the world, people who recognise themselves in these songs, who recognise the feelings, the emotions, the love, the sadness, the anger, the Angst.

We, the fans, may think these songs have been written for us and sometimes we are so touched by the beauty and sincerity of it all that we will ask the artist to play the latest album in our backyard, for a beer and a whopper on the grill. That is why an agent, or some management, comes in... While the artist may not have the guts to disappoint the fan, his agent's preferable syllables are invariably 'no', 'fuck off' and, if this is your lucky day, 'how much'.

There has always been a huge gap between Pink Floyd, the band, and Pink Floyd, the company, and it is pretty impossible to determine how the one has influenced the other. Although some of its members openly preached a socialist philosophy their business manners have always been exactly the opposite, at least after the Peter Jenner days. Steve O'Rourke was not only a quasi-mythical agent who uplifted the band from the gutter towards the moon, but he was a bully as well, bombastic in his manners, a Floydian pit-bull and above all... über-greedy. Rumour goes O'Rourke started his career as a dog food sales rep, so determined to succeed that he ate the stuff in front of his prospects to prove it was quality meat.

Giving none away

The band who criticised capitalism on Money, paid Clare Torry £30 for her input on The Great Gig In The Sky, less than a third of what a Dark Side of the Moon Immersion set costs. In a nineties interview for the Dutch Penthouse a bitter Alan Parsons recalled how the four gentlemen in the band never told him that he had the right to earn some ‘points’ on his engineering / producing work for Dark Side of the Moon. That situation was settled later when Parsons was asked to remaster the album for an anniversary release. Clare Torry had to seriously threaten with legal action before the band agreed to share a small slice of the pie.

Roy Harper sung the lyrics on Have A Cigar, another one of these sarcastic songs describing the shady corners of music business. It was made clear to him that he wouldn't receive any copyright so Roy asked for some football tickets instead. Although the band were multi-millionaires by now a season's ticket was too much to ask and he never received it. The kids, singing ‘we don’t get no education’, were only given a copy of The Wall album after a newspaper turned it into a scandal.

Where Kafka Rules (Te Wall).
Where Kafka rules (The Wall).

Turn, Turn, Turn

Colin Turner published the news about the new Pink Floyd album on A Fleeting Glimpse, after it had been tweeted by Polly Samson. Then he messaged the Pink Floyd management that the floodgates had been opened. While hundreds of others were already retweeting and commenting on social media a Pink Floyd goblin found it necessary to threaten Colin with legal action and made him remove the post.

This made Colin so bitter that he deleted the entire news page, and at a certain point he was so disillusioned he wanted to close down AFG completely.

I was (...) asked to remove the story as it had not been cleared by official channels. This I did and I am now awaiting approval to publish full details about the album, despite it now being widely spread across the Internet. I intend to honour the commitment I made and the site will remain down until such a time as I receive official approval to publish.

Louis Matos (and with him many other AFG readers) reacted in shock:

That high service to the fans and to the Pink Floyd brand (...) was respected by Steve (O'Rourke), is respected by Mark (Fenwick) and should be respected by whomever now attends to David's business. I find it insulting - as a professional of the music business - that a loyal dedicated fan had to be "disciplined" for reproducing a Tweet by Polly by anyone other than Polly or David (and they could have done it, mind you). Even - and especially - anyone on the business side of it. Remember "Welcome to the Machine"? Well, it was about that kind of abuse. (Taken from: The Endless River)

To add insult to injury, at the moment when one of Pink Floyd's little hitlers found it necessary to threaten to close down A Fleeting Glimpse, the official Warner Music Why Pink Floyd website had already inserted the announcement on its news stream. Double standards, anyone?

The Endless River announcement on Why Pink Floyd?
The Endless River announcement on Why Pink Floyd?

Now here is where this article is going to get nasty, so if you are easily offended, please go and visit the Boohbah page instead.

David Gilmour and Paul Loasby
David Gilmour and Paul Loasby.

Slithered Nerves

David Gilmour's (and also Syd Barrett's) management happens to be in the hands of One Fifteen who have the following Hunter S. Thompson quote on their site:

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

If our information is correct Paul Loasby probably was the toerag (note) who intimidated the Fleeting Glimpse webmaster. According to a Cambridge mafia insider, who we will not name, Paul Loasby is the opposite of a villain and an amicable man:

I have met him and spoken to him many times. He seems very pleasant and was always totally respectful of Syd... and others...

But apparently that is only when he doesn't see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, which he will receive anyway, regardless of him throwing a tantrum about a leaked tweet or not.

What had to be, for the fans, one of the most joyous days in Pink Floyd history, a new album, a much awaited tribute to Richard Wright, an indirect nod to Syd Barrett (mind you, not that we think One Fifteen knows anything about Syd Barrett), the Pink Floyd agent managed to turn it into something of a misplaced nightmare.

Mister Loasby, you are a party pooper and you should be ashamed of yourself.

David Gilmour and his dog
David Gilmour and his dog.

Game of Thrones

But in a way: hats off to Paul Loasby. In four minutes he managed to kick Steve O'Rourke from his throne as the eternal Pink Floyd baddy, simply by putting the knife in the back of someone who does a lot of Pink Floyd promotion, for free. If you are somewhat familiar with the Floydian canon – this is something dogs do for a living. Welcome to the machine, indeed.

We want to end this article with a friendly suggestion for Col Turner, who was at the centre of this crisette. There is a Dutch saying, dating from the Middle Ages: "Tis quaet met heeren criecken eten'." "It's difficult to eat cherries with noblemen", meaning that if you want to schmooze with the higher crowd you will be treated as their servant whether you like it or not.

Better be independent, better be vigilant, better be critical than to bark only when the puppet master allows it, this is The Anchor's motto and it will always be. While A Fleeting Glimpse may generally be the first and the best in giving Pink Floyd news, it slightly troubles us that they have completely forgotten to mention the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release, with Syd Barrett's last performance.

Sitting to close to the throne, too busy eating cherries over a lavish Division Bell box set, no doubt.

Epilogue / Update

On the quadrophonicquad forum Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson wrote on the 14th of July (2014):

No, still can't talk about Endless River, the 'leak' was damage limitation as a UK newspaper had got hold of the story.

So if we read this well, a newspaper - rumoured to be The Sun - heard about the new Pink Floyd album on the fifth of July and was going to publish the news, perhaps even in next day's Sunday paper. Polly Samson was then asked to tweet the news to the world before the newspaper would publish it. It all makes perfect sense.

But what we still don't understand is why Paul Loasby had to threaten A Fleeting Glimpse then. Why Pink Floyd? Why?

Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
Expressed in dollars and cents,
Pounds, shillings and pence
Can't you see
It all makes perfect sense
(Roger Waters, Perfect Sense, Amused to Death, 1992)
Harvested logo
Harvested logo.

The Floydian empire strikes back
(Update: 2014 09 14.)

For the past few months early Pink Floyd songs have been disappearing from YouTube: Scream Thy Last Scream, Vegetable Man, Astronomy Domine, Lucy Leave, King Bee. Even the Men On The Border live cover of Scream Thy Last Scream has been silenced and has now got the text:

This video previously contained a copyrighted audio track. Due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted.

Obviously this is a blatant lie and could be considered illegal, as the copyright holder of the audio track is Men On The Border itself and not Pink Floyd, nor EMI, Warner Music Group or one of its little helpers.

Harvested, a volunteer-driven organisation that archived, restored and weeded (for free) Pink Floyd live audio and video recordings has been taken down after a friendly reminder from Mr. Loasby. All its torrents have been deleted from Yeeshkul who suddenly went chicken shit and have forbidden the further use of the 'Harvested' word to all its members. Also the Pink Floyd Multicam website has been closed down.

The argument (from Pink Floyd) that ruthless entrepreneurs take the freely distributed material from Harvested (like The Man and The Journey), press it on a CD or DVD and sell it to the public doesn't make sense. Warner should go after the companies who sell these bootlegs and not after the people who give it away for free and thus spoil the 'market' for the bootleggers (although we do understand this is something of an illegal situation). By closing down Harvested (and in a near future, perhaps Yeeshkul?) fans will again be obliged to buy these recordings from shady companies if they want them, instead of downloading them for free.

As usual the big three fansites (A Fleeting Glimpse, Brain Damage, NPF) haven't mentioned this news at all, afraid to no longer receive the crumbles falling off the Pink Floyd table and to be left in the cold when 'The Endless River' will come out. Col Turner, who went apeshit over Paul Loasby threatening him (read the article above) has removed all trace of the incident and, as such, it never happened. (It is still in the forum, but you have to dig deep to find it.)

Acoustic Sounds, who will press the vinyl version of 'The Endless River' (they also did the recent 'Division Bell' release), received the lacquers cut straight from Doug Sax and crew at The Mastering Lab (Los Angeles) and posted some pictures on their Facebook page this week. Guess what, these (innocent) pictures have now been deleted and we can only guess who is behind that.

Who would have thought that ultimately Pink Floyd would turn into the neo-fascist impersonation of their Wall album?


(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)

Note: Toe Rag is also character in Douglas Adams' novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. He is an untrustworthy goblin, secretary of the mighty god Thor, abusing the trust and power the Nordic god gave him. Back to article.

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.


2014-11-08

While my guitar gently weeps...

The Endless River
The Endless River. Image: Ahmed Emad Eldin. Concept: Hipgnosis (2014).

(This is part two of our The Endless River series, for the bawdy introduction, go here: What the fuck is your problem, Pink Floyd?)

So here it is. The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's The Endless River review of what undoubtedly is the most anticipated record of the year.

Read

The album has four, mostly instrumental, suites, that Pink Floyd prefers to call sides. Each suite has several tracks, but these are best listened to in one piece as they form one ensemble. The 'luxe' edition has a 39 minutes extra DVD or Blu-ray with 6 videos of 1993 studio rehearsals and 3 audio tracks. The Blu-ray version is the most complete (and expensive) as it also has a stereo PCM, a 5.1 DTS and a 5.1 PCM version of the album, whatever these acronyms mean.

The front cover concept was designed by Ahmed Emad Eldin, in what could be called ersatz Hipgnosis style, probably chosen because it evokes the boatman who was present in The Division Bell artwork (and, in lesser extent, on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason). The other artwork is credited to the usual gang of graphic designers: Aubrey Powell, Stylorouge, StormStudios and, weirdly, Hipgnosis, although that company stopped in 1983. The 24-pages booklet has a maritime feel: compasses, maps, logbooks... The lettering misses a piece in most letters, to accentuate the missing keyboard player, who has been credited on 11 of the 18 tracks. Storm Thorgerson is remembered as well in the credits.

Boatman
Pink Floyd 'Boatman' logo.

Think

The album was created out of rejected 1993 jams and demos, with Richard Wright, Nick Mason and David Gilmour, that were probably revisited to be added to a Division Bell anniversary set of one kind or another. Rejected is too strong a word because way back, twenty years ago, it had been the idea to turn the The Division Bell into a double CD-set, what was abandoned for lack of time. That second album turned into the apocryphal The Big Spliff that still sits in Gilmour's studio in an unfinished form and that was assembled by Andy Jackson. Phil Manzanera was asked, in 2012, to work on it, but refused.

I don't wanna hear. I wanna hear every single piece or scrap that was recorded, everything. Outtakes from Division Bell. Everything.

In December 2012 Manzanera puzzled dozens of unfinished pieces into a skeleton, divided into four 12 minute suites, out of 20 hours of material. According to Manzanera, Pink Floyd thanked him and immediately put the work in a box where they forgot it. Martin 'Youth' Glover however says that he was invited in June 2013 and that David Gilmour had already worked on the two different versions of the project.

Within about 40 seconds, it sounded like Floyd. It was absolutely magical. (…) Listening to unreleased Pink Floyd recordings with David, the hair was going up on the back of my arms.

Youth then created a third version and in November 2013 a meeting was held between the two remaining Pink Floyd members and the three producers: Andy Jackson, Phil Manzanera and Youth. Gilmour and Mason picked the best ideas from each version and started working on something that could have been an atrocious Frankenmix but that turned out quite coherent in the end.

Listen

Tree / Roots illustration. Image: StormStudios.

Side One: ambient spaces

"Things Left Unsaid...", Gilmour, Wright
"It's What We Do", Gilmour, Wright
"Ebb and Flow", Gilmour, Wright

Things Left Unsaid (4:27): a very ambient, Cluster One atmospheric, introduction, with some voice samples of the Floyd members. Tradition wants that it only starts morphing into something of a melody after the two minutes mark. It gradually slides into It's What We Do (6:17) that thrives on a Shine On You Crazy Diamond moog synth and traces of Marooned later on. This is a typical Floydian spacey slow blues, ideal for those fans who want to chill out with a big spliff. It's lazy and slow and probably a bit boring for some, a typical trademark of the Floyd sound, and just because it is so intriguingly and deliberately slow, the first thrill of the album. It continues into Ebb and Flow (1:55), mainly an epilogue to the previous track.

Actually the first suite is pretty daring to start with in the hectic days we are living in today, this is so contradictory with contemporary music it nearly feels alienated. It's the kind of suite that will be used in nuru massage parlours around the world.

Radar Fantasy
Radar fantasy. Image: Stylorouge (?).

Side Two: early days tripper

"Sum", Gilmour, Mason, Wright
"Skins", Gilmour, Mason, Wright
"Unsung", Wright
"Anisina", Gilmour

Sum (4:48), there's that Cluster One intro again with ambient effects switching towards an Astronomy Domine space trip. Then it nods to an early seventies style Floydian jam, One Of These Days, although bigger and louder, including that good old perverted VCS3 machine.

Skins (2:37) further elaborates on the A Saucerful Of Secrets tribal rhythms and this is the first time in years we hear grand vizier Nick Mason take the lead on a track, finally! We could never think we would be so happy with a fucking drum solo. Gilmour makes his guitar scream à la Barrett in Interstellar Overdrive in something that can be described as a beat bolero. The track ends with some minor guitar effects, just for the sake of the effect and glides over to Unsung (1:07), an intermezzo that is a bridge to the ending of this suite, the magical Anisina (3:17). Those who think this is Wright in a jazz lounge must be contradicted. This is 100% Gilmour and it brings shivers down the spine, even if this a known track that has been bootlegged before as a Division Bell outtake.

The second suite is the experimental one, although the experiment is limited not to scare the casual listener away. We've heard people say that this Pink Floyd record is more of the same. And it's true. But who complains when The Rolling Stones or U2 bring out their umpteenth album sounding exactly like the previous one?

Talking Heads
Talking Heads sculpture. Design: StormStudios. Picture: Rupert Truman.

Side Three: all that jazz

"The Lost Art of Conversation", Wright
"On Noodle Street", Gilmour, Wright
"Night Light", Gilmour, Wright
"Allons-Y (1)", Gilmour
"Autumn '68", Wright
"Allons-Y (2)", Gilmour
"Talkin' Hawkin'", Gilmour, Wright

The lost art of conversation (1:43) is an introductory piano piece by Wright, obviously with some guitar effects from Gilmour. It segues into On Noodle Street (1:42), that is, as the title gives away, nothing but a light jazzy noodling, featuring Guy Pratt, Wright's son-in-law. It is easy listening for Floydheads, just like the next track Night Light (1:42). The first three tracks are merely the introduction for the highlight of this side, and perhaps the album.

Allons-Y (1) (1:57), is a two-piecer and a Run Like Hell copycat, only much better (actually, we find Run Like Hell one of the worst tracks by the Floyd). It is irresistible and the moment we really started tapping our feet. The mid-piece of Allons-Y is Autumn '68 (1:35), the much discussed archival bit taken from a Wright improvisation from the Royal Albert Hall in 1968, reminding us vaguely of a movement of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, only this dates from about five years before. Allons-Y (2) (1:32) is a reprise of the first part to close the circle.

Talkin Hawkin' (3:29) starts rather like one of those slow evolving (and a bit tedious) pieces from On An Island, but is – yet again – irresistible in its meandering movements. Nobody is so immaculate in creating these lazy and slightly boring moods than Pink Floyd. With its Stephen Hawking samples this track is the obvious link to The Division Bell, but the track itself is the counterpart of Keep Talking.

The third suite is the most light-hearted one, perhaps the most commercial and catchy, and it surely is saved by, here we go, Allons-Y.

Happy Rick
Happy Rick Wright.

Side Four: turn off the lights

"Calling", Gilmour, Moore
"Eyes to Pearls", Gilmour
"Surfacing", Gilmour
"Louder than Words", Gilmour, Samson

Anthony Moore, who made the Broken China album with Richard Wright is responsible for Calling (3:38) and it certainly has the mood of that pretty depressed, and unfortunately underestimated, album. The atmosphere is somewhat reminiscent of David Bowie's Warszawa, it is an ambient and dark and haunting piece. It is a nice thing from Gilmour to have added this obvious nod to Rick's solo album and one of the more interesting pieces of the album.

Eyes To Pearls (1:51) breathes the air of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks and has hidden hints of Money and One Of These Days, but one can find traces of earlier work in about all tracks on this album. Didn't Nick Mason quip once he was in the recycling business? Surfacing (2:46) acts as the intro to the final song, it seems a lesser track at first, but it has a weeping guitar that hit us right in the heart / stomach / balls. Actually most of the numbers may not be seen as individual pieces but as movements of each suite and as such they perfectly serve their roles.

Louder Than Words (6:37) was gravely discussed when it came out, it has been called Floyd by numbers and Polly Samson's lyrics are of syrupy soap series quality but in this context and as the coda of the album it just works great. Just listen to that piano intro by Wright, the last we'll probably hear, that irresistible refrain, the perfect ending solo, also the last we'll probably hear... This is Gilmour at his best and for once he doesn't stretches it too long, what was his problem on the previous Diet Floyd records where he had the habit of putting six minute guitar solos in three minute songs. Gilmour's playing on this album is to the point and you never get the feeling he is showing off like on, for instance, On An Island, although it is clear he bought a new set of pedals.

Communicate

This is a great album, a classic in the making, although perhaps only for the die-hard fans, and is far much better than we had ever hoped for.

(A third article, with a more critical approach to the album can be found at: Chin Chin.)


More reviews at A Fleeting Glimpse and Brain Damage. Illustrations (except the Rick Wright picture) taken from The Endless River and The Division Bell..
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Bonner, Michael: Coming back to life, Uncut, November 2014, p. 35 – 41.


2014-11-15

Chin Chin

Diet Floyd officially fat-free.
Gilmour, Astoria studio, 1993.
David Gilmour, Astoria studio, 1993.

The new Diet Pink Floyd album The Endless River is conquering the world, perhaps to the absence of any real competition. We don't think Susan Boyle's cover version of Wish You Were Here will pose a real threat, does it? In Holland the album, currently at number one, sells five times as much as the number two.

The Endless River is a slow evolving, ambient piece of work with obvious nods to the Floyd's glorious past... one hears traces of A Saucerful Of Secrets (Syncopated Pandemonium), Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Cluster One, Interstellar Overdrive, Keep Talking, Marooned, Money, One Of These Days (I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces), Run Like Hell, Shine On You Crazy Diamond and probably half a dozen more we've already forgotten.

The familiarity of it all has created raving enthusiasm for some and 'mainly yesterday's reheated lunch' for others and this also seems to be the opinion of the press. Mark Blake (in Mojo) politely describes the album as 'big on atmosphere, light on songs', Mikael Wood (in the Los Angeles Times) states that Pink Floyd drifts towards nothingness with aimless and excruciatingly dull fragments.

While the 1987 A Momentary Lapse Of Reason album was a David Gilmour solo effort, recorded with 18 session musicians and with the Pink Floyd name on the cover to sell a few million copies more, The Endless River originally grew out of jams between Gilmour, Mason & Wright.

Actually these were rejected jams, not good enough to include on The Division Bell, but over the years they seem to have ripened like good old wine. Well that's the PR story but in reality Andy Jackson, Phil Manzanera and Martin 'Youth' Glover had to copy bits and pieces from twenty hours of tape and toy around with every single good sounding second in Pro Tools to obtain something relatively close to Floydian eargasm. Phil Manzanera in Uncut:

I would take a guitar solo from another track, change the key of it, stick it on an outtake from another track. 'Oh that bit there, it reminds me of Live At Pompeii, but let's put a beat underneath it.' So then I take a bit of Nick warming up in the studio at Olympia, say, take a bit of a fill here and a bit of fill there. Join it together, make a loop out of it.

This doesn't really sound like an organic created piece of music, does it? The result is a genetically modified fat-free sounding record and while this is the most ambient experiment of Pink Floyd it will never get extreme, despite Martin Glover's presence whose only ambient house additions seem to be the On The Run VCS3 effect that comes whooshing in several times. Youth isn't that young and reckless any more so don't expect anything close to the KLF's Madrugada Eterna, Jimmy 'Space' Cauty's Mars or the Orb's A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld, unfortunately.

Update April 2017: One and a half year after the record has been released the involvement of Nick Mason can be finally discussed as well. Pink Floyd know-all Ron Toon at Steve Hoffmann:

Nick had nothing to do with this project except to play a few new drum tracks basically being brought in as a session drummer. Of course he was / is a member of Pink Floyd but his involvement in this project was minimal at best. The vision was David's and the other producers and Andy [Jackson] did most of the work. Source: Pink Floyd - The Early Years 1965-1972 Box Set.

But the music isn't the only thing that seems to be embellished. Last week long-time Echoes mailing list member Christopher, also known as 10past10, went on holidays, taking with him the new Pink Floyd CD and, as reading material, Nick Mason's Inside Out book. Then something happened which unleashed the power of his imagination (read Christopher's original mail).

The mid-book picture of The Endless River shows the Astoria studio with Rick Wright, David Gilmour and Nick Mason jamming in 1993, taken by Jill Furmanovsky. This picture has been stitched out of several shots, the borders don't match (deliberately) and Nick Mason (or at least his arms) can be seen twice.

Astoria session, 1993, courtesy of Jill Furmanovsky
Astoria session, 1993. Picture: Jill Furmanovsky.

But Christopher was in for another surprise when he looked at the fourth picture gallery in Nick Mason's Inside Out soft-cover (or on page 313 if you have the coffee-table edition). It shows another picture of the same session, with Rick Wright, David Gilmour and Bob Ezrin.

Astoria session, 1993, courtesy of Jill Furmanovsky
Astoria session, 1993. Picture: Jill Furmanovsky.

Now look at the man in the middle, the one who doesn't like to be called Dave. Christopher:

If you look closely at every piece of David's clothing, his hair, the way he is holding his guitar, the chords, the lot. It all matches exactly ... too much not be a match.
David Gilmour with double chin.
David Gilmour with double chin.
David Gilmour with single chin.
David Gilmour with single chin.

Not only does The Endless River centrefold superimposes Nick Mason twice, but they have glued in David Gilmour from another shot (and removed Bob Ezrin).

And still, that is not all.

Look very closely to Gilmour's face in the 1993 picture (left) and to his face on the 2014 release (right). Christopher explains:

The difference is in the original shot.
David has a double chin.
In The Endless River shot it has been dealt with.

There will be no fat on The Endless River, not on the music and certainly not on Air-Brush Dave.

(This is The Anchor's satirical review of The Endless River, or part three if you like. For the Reverend's opinion, check: While my guitar gently weeps...)


(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations may have been enlarged for satirical purposes.)

Many thanks to Christopher (10past10), Ron Toon. Pictures courtesy of Jill Furmanovsky.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
10past10 (Christopher), Alcog Dave no more, mail, 2014 11 14.
Bonner, Michael: Coming back to life, Uncut, November 2014, p. 39.
Echoes mailing list: to join just click on the appropriate link on their sexy echoes subscription and format information webpage.

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.


Christopher's original posting to Echoes: (Back to article)

Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:00:32 +1000
From: 10past10
Subject: Alcog Dave no more ...
To: echoes@meddle.org

Hi Ho All,

I do believe there is photographic trickery afoot!

Exhibit A: The centrefold picture in The Endless River depicting Richard, David and Nick in the studio.

Exhibit B: Inside Out; the fourth lot of pics in the paperback or p313 in hardback (1st ed), depicting Richard, David and Bob Ezrin.

Obviously it is a different pic of Richard and Bob/Nick. But I reckon the picture of David is the same one; except for one difference.

So, I reckon, to get the wider shot for the TER CD centrefold (I don't know how it may or may not appear in the other versions as I haven't seen them yet), they have made a composite photo using the shot of David rom the one Nick originally published and shots of Richard and Nick from one or two different pictures.

If you look closely at every piece of David's clothing, his hair, the way he is holding his guitar, the chords, the lot. It all matches exactly ... too much not be a match.

Does this matter? Of course not. Why not do that to get what you need. Obviously Nick himself is double exposed when you look at his arms.

Is it worth pointing out? Yes (but just because you can, not because it will change the world). Why? Because of the one difference.

The difference is in the original shot David has a double chin. In The Endless River shot it has been dealt with.

Some time ago I was castigated for calling David, Fat Dave. So I changed that to Alcog Dave. He is that no more. In my more whimsical moods I shall hence forth refer to him as "Air-Brush Dave".

I like Pink Floyd.

Rock On
Christopher

i am remotely morty

(Back to article)


2015-09-25

Attack the troll!

Rattle That Lock
Rattle That Lock, David Gilmour.

"Bored socialist millionaires making solo records."

This header from a review of the About Face album duly infuriated me, about three decades ago. In this review the critic satirised the fact that David Gilmour had asked colleague Pete Townshend, from an equally legendary band, to help him out on a couple of tracks.

In retrospect the About Face album tried a bit too hard to launch Gilmour on a successful solo career, it was a bit too AOR, too Foreigner-ish to be good. The general audience wasn't interested in Pink Floyd members going solo anyway and - in Belgium - Gilmour only played a small university hall in Brussels, that was only partially filled, if my memory is correct. Not that I was there, I didn’t go as well, but that was thanks to my legendary social anxiety disorder.

Things are different now, the music industry may be complaining music isn’t selling, but at least there is an appetite for the musicians formerly known as Pink Floyd.

The buzz has been going on for quite a while now and you might except that a new David Gilmour album is something like the second coming of Christ. I’m a bit sceptic when things are getting overhyped, since Star Trek V was promoted with the slogan ‘why are they putting seatbelts in theatres this summer’? As the movie-goers found out, it was to prevent them from leaving after fifteen minutes.

Although the preliminary signs weren't all too positive, who composes a (rather mediocre) song around an annoying French railway jingle anyway and links it to a text from John Milton?, I tried to remain neutral when the CD appeared in the stores.

TL;DR: It didn't help.

Rattle That Lock

5 AM starts a bit like the absolutely beautiful Let’s Get Metaphysical (About Face) and makes me think remotely of At The End Of The Day from Mason + Fenn's Profiles album. It’s a nice introduction, but just when it could go somewhere it simply fades out, what happens with several tracks on this album unfortunately. It’s a nice, somewhat colourless intro, but that is default Pink Floyd territory, so to speak.

Rattle That Lock sits in your brain like a cockroach and jumps up when you least expect it. It’s Gilmour’s most catchy number in years, sounding a bit like one of these irresistible Chris Rea tunes: I can hear your heart beat / Rattle that lock. The problem is, who has heard of Chris Rea for the last 3 decades? The song has a standard eighties feel with irritant percussion, irritant singing and irritant lyrics and is a serious contestant to replace The Dogs Of War as Gilmour’s worst song ever. On top of that the track uses a sample from the Momentary Lapse Of Reason days (Learning To Fly) and that is how it sounds actually, fucking dated. While David Gilmour gladly acknowledges that About Face suffers from the eighties (over-)production, he does it all over again on this track. Actually I am glad I don’t live in France so I don’t have to hear the SNCF jingle on a daily basis and be reminded every time of this turd.

Rattle That Lock (back cover).
Rattle That Lock (back cover).

Faces of Stone. For a moment I feared Gilmour was going klezmer but this is a little waltz that regularly puts you on the wrong foot. Perhaps the best track on the album, although not among Gilmour’s bests, if you know what I mean. It says something of the quality of the other tracks, I fear. I guess I’m just happy there is a cool solo at the end.

Gilmour’s eulogy to Rick Wright A Boat Lies Waiting starts with a long and slow intro that could have been on The Endless River. Although there is the tendency from fans to find it a fitting remembrance it is a bit monotonous, despite some nice singing from Crosby and Nash. The song ends rather abrupt as if these old tossers were suddenly out of breath, but others think that it is a symbolical way to visualise how Rick was taken out of this world. Beautiful, but not really earth-shattering and the fact that it is about Wright probably makes me judge it milder than the others.

I don’t honestly know what to think of Dancing In Front Of Me, I would like to like it, but then there is that feeling that it could’ve been much better and that it is just a filler. Gilmour obviously is a happy man and happy men, so goes the first rule of rock'n'roll, don’t make great records. What if The Wall had tracks like ‘My father and me went fishing’, ‘My mother was always positive towards me’ and ‘Pink has a successful garden shop in Cambridge’? Nobody would’ve bought it.

In Any Tongue first has some whistling for god’s sake, but then it takes off like all the others in that lazy tone that specifies this record. For a moment the refrain brings a solace, a glimpse of Floydian grandeur, but – fearing I’m getting repetitive – the song never seems to blossom, except perhaps for that ending 'Comfortably Numb'-ish solo. With some help from Roger Waters and Rick Wright this could’ve been an epic track. Wait a minute. Did I just ask for Roger Waters? Something must be really wrong with this record.

Beauty starts like it could’ve been a part of the last Floyd and perhaps it was. Still sounds like a bit of filler, with a slight touch of One of These Days. Too many bread and not enough cheese on this album though.

The Girl In The Yellow Dress or Gilmour and Samson go jazz. Unfortunately it is the kind of jazz you hear as a soundtrack on French romantic movies. This would be a cute track on a Jools Holland album and actually that guy manipulates the piano here, as are Robert Wyatt and Bob (Rado) Klose. But as it is definitely something else it kind of stands out against the rest. Different, not better.

Today starts like a church hymn, never a good sign, but then a funky guitar takes over with a Fame signature, unfortunately one of the David Bowie tracks I loathe the most. Today is a mixed bag, has some awful singing, and seems to be getting nowhere, like most of the disco dance floor fillers. Chris Rea once sang 'I'm in a European disco', but this is no Saturday Night Fever, I'm afraid.

And then… there is a relieved sigh that this record is finally over. The last instrumental will be used by radio makers all over the world to end their show with and thank the audience for their kind attention. If it had a sax solo it could also have been used to musically accompany an episode of Red Shoe Diaries, but just like that soft erotic drama series it never really gets off the ground.

Le Chat Noir.
Le Chat Noir (postcard).

No sex please, we're British

As a matter of fact that is not such a bad comparison. David Gilmour has given us a soft-core record, that will obviously be loved by millions, but personally I was expecting something more 'in the flesh'. Of course this isn't a bad record, David Gilmour is smart enough not to make 'bad' records, but it is just so... dull, flat, uninspired. Like that American cheese with no holes, no smell and also no taste.

As a final note I would like to add that the album comes in a regular and a deluxe version. At almost the triple in price you get an incredible amount of, what the Dutch describe so beautiful as, 'prullaria' (kitsch, rubbish). One of those is a piece of plastic that is called a plectrum, although 'plectrum-ish' would be far more closer to the truth. It could be a plectrum for an ukulele, but apparently that is an instrument you can't use a plectrum on, so tells me a musician who is the master of all things strings. Whatever. (At the Holy Church Tumblr page there is a gallery with the contents of the deluxe box: Unpacking Rattle That Lock #1 and Unpacking Rattle That Lock #2.)

The deluxe edition also contains a Blu-ray (or DVD) with a few meticulous surround mixes, a couple of barn jams between Gilmour and Wright and some horrifically bad remixes of Rattle That Lock. The barn jams used to be online but they have already been deleted by the Pink Floyd gestapo.

Conclusion

This is a fucking disappointing record and one that certainly won't help me through my midlife crisis. On the other hand, Jason Lytle has just announced a new Grandaddy album. So there is still a reason to keep on going on with this miserable life. But first, I think I'm going to have a listen to About Face, compared to Rattle That Lock, it is a masterpiece.

Keep smiling people!


Many thanks: Rich Hall. Rattle That Lock on the Holy Church Tumblr page.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
'Attack the Troll' is an anagram of 'Rattle that Lock'.


2016-07-29

Coming Back To Life (David Gilmour, Tienen)

Yesterday I had the privilege of watching David Gilmour perform at the historical marketplace of the small city of Tienen. I'm very glad my LA-girl pushed me to get tickets as I was so disappointed in his solo album I didn't even wanted to go. You can read my review of the Rattle That Lock (RTL) album at: Attack the troll!

David Gilmour, Tienen
David Gilmour, Tienen.

First Set

The concert started with three RTL-tunes and although they certainly have more balls in a live rendition, it didn't really help me to get in the mood. Actually I found the ambient-soundscape before the concert way better. Rattle That Lock had lost the annoying sample it was build around but that still doesn't make it a good song. What Do You Want From Me gave the concert a necessary kick-start, but as it was followed by The Blue the flow sank down like a soufflé that has just been taken out of the oven. So far the concert had just been hot air.

There was a second highlight with The Great Gig In The Sky with excellent vocal work by the backing singers, two ladies and a man. David Gilmour used the opportunity to say that the song had been written by Rick Wright, forgetting the little fact this the concert was actually taking place on Rick's birthday, but perhaps he had a valid reason as he also had his wedding anniversary to remember the next day. Understandably Great Gig was followed by A Boat Lies Waiting, Gilmour's musical eulogy to his old friend, but although I appreciate his honest effort to commemorate his friend it still is pretty average.

The set kept yoyoing between classics and RTL. Wish You Were Here, followed by Money, then In Any Tongue, the only song on his latest album that shows a momentarily glimpse of Floydian grandeur. High Hopes finished the first set.

As far as I was concerned, I couldn't call this a good concert by now. The general flow of the music was spoiled by the lesser RTL tracks, dragging the Floydian classics down. I gave it a 65% rating and was getting a bit depressed.

David Gilmour, Tienen
David Gilmour, Tienen.

Second Set

But I also remembered my previous David Gilmour concert, in Amsterdam, in 2006, where the public politely applauded after the obligatory bunch of On An Island, but not with much gusto. The second set, however was an eargastic spectacle with Echoes. Of course, in those days, Rick was still moving the Moog, getting a standing ovation from the crowd.

The second set could only be better, I braindamaged myself. Luckily, it was.

Astronomy Domine hit my body like a cocaine snort. Fuck, fuck and triple fuck. This was an entry with a big E. Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Fat Old Sun. Then a drop down with Dancing Right In Front Of Me, one of the unnecessary fillers on RTL. But the upward momentum couldn't be stopped. Coming Back To Life was a treat and On An Island couldn't spoil the good mood I was in (that album is quite an intimate and exquisite jewel compared to Rattle, if you ask me).

The Girl In The Yellow Dress is just a San Tropez throw-it-away kind of song, so I just put my attention on things I could pick in my nose.

It was finally time to work towards an apotheosis. First with the obnoxious floor-filling disco of Today, that I loathed on the record, but that seemed more or less to do its work here. If you have to pick one memorable tune from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, it is without a doubt Sorrow. Feeling the bass tones tremble in your stomach is a goosebumps experience. Run Like Hell is one of the worst Pink Floyd tracks if you ask me, but as a concert highlight it is.. well, a highlight. This was not a Pink Floyd tribute band, this was the real deal, helped by Mr. Brickman's fabulous light and laser show and an ear-splitting volume that you normally only have at Iron Maiden shows.

The second set also had its deal of yoyoing, but the last quarter made my rating rise to 80%

David Gilmour, Tienen
David Gilmour, Tienen.

Encores

The encores started with some ticking clocks, enough for the public to go berserk. A drizzle had started at exactly the moment when Gilmour sang 'outside the rain, fell dark and slow', but now it was pouring. (A proof that this man has some connections at Valhalla.)

Lucky for me because so nobody could see the tears running from my face. Time was given the full treatment with Breathe (Reprise) and that seeded without a break into the song everyone was waiting for: Comfortably Numb.

What can one say about Comfy? Let's say nothing about it as mortal beings have not the words for it. Tongue-tied and twisted this earth-bound misfit rated the encores at a whopping 110%.

Oops, you did it again, Gilmour. See you again in a decade.

David Gilmour, Tienen
David Gilmour, Tienen.

Setlist

First set: 5am, Rattle That Lock, Faces Of Stone, What Do You Want From Me, The Blue, The Great Gig In The Sky, A Boat Lies Waiting, Wish You Were Here, Money, In Any Tongue, High Hopes.

Second set: Astronomy Domine, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Fat Old Sun, Dancing Right In Front Of Me, Coming Back To Life, On An Island, The Girl In The Yellow Dress, Today, Sorrow, Run Like Hell.

Encores: Time/Breathe (Reprise), Comfortably Numb.

Pictures

A photo-impression of the show can be found at the Church's Tumblr, this page will be daily updated for about a week, so keep on visiting: David Gilmour, Tienen.


♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2016-11-18

Supererog/Ation: skimming The Early Years

Pink Floyd Recycling
Pink Floyd Recycling. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

Anticip/Ation

Nine years ago the Reverend made the remark that any new Pink Floyd release will create some 'controversy between the fans, the (ex-)band members and/or record company' (Fasten Your Anoraks).

Almost a decade later, with the release of Pink Floyd The Early Years 1965-1972, nothing has changed. Actually it only got worse.

Pink Floyd have always been a pretty hypocritical band when it comes to making money. There is nothing bad about trying to make a good living, obviously, but when you start selling inferior material for overabundant prices it's like spitting the fans in their face. Not that anyone of them would do that.

Of course nobody is obliged to buy The Early Years box (approx. 500 Euro and limited to 28000 copies) but I duly admit: I am an absolute sucker for anything with the Floyd name on it. And perhaps it's a nice pick-up line: “Wanna see my Early Years box?”

Summaris/Ation

The Early Years is a somewhat directionless, but nevertheless interesting, 28 CD, DVD and Blu-ray box containing demos, live tapes (some of bootleg quality), unreleased tracks, rarities, vinyl singles, movies and a 2016 remix of Obscured By Clouds. Someone must have said at a direction committee: 'you know what, we haven't got enough material on our Obfusc/Ation disk, let's throw in an Obscured By Clouds-remix'. Not that you hear me complain, Obscured By Clouds is in my personal top three, before Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall, but it does feel a bit awkward.

1965
1965.

Conceptualis/Ation

For this box, Pink Floyd didn't make the silly mistake of adding marbles, scarves or toasters, like in the Immersion sets. There are plenty of mini-posters, postcards, ticket replicas and other printed items though, for those who like that. (Personally, I tend to ignore that rubble.) An image of some of those, thanks to RobNl, can be found on Imgur. Another shot can be found at the Church's Tumblr: (Un)Packing The Early Years #12.

The box has a simplistic, black and white theme, but is... too big. The outside box is about 41 x 22 x 31 cm, but the actual set tucked inside only takes 19 x 20 x 14.5 cm. It doesn't take an Einstein to calculate that 80% of the box is made of... empty spaces. (Sorry, I really couldn't resist that pun.) I have put the outside box on top of a wardrobe, where it will probably stay for the rest of my miserable life. Picture: (Un)Packing The Early Years #6.

The 'inner box' contains 7 book-boxes, with ridiculously bombastic cut/up names. 6 of those will be sold separately over the next few months, the seventh is a bonus set, exclusive to this release alone. That's why I was waving so enthusiastically with my wallet. Picture: (Un)Packing The Early Years #14.

The one gadget everyone I have spoken to really wants, me included, is the Pink Floyd 'matchbox' miniature van. Alas, these have been made for promotional use only and will probably fetch high prices on eBay.

Update November 2016: meanwhile a Pink Floyd miniature van has been sold on eBay for the whopping price of 310£ (385$, 364 €), Tumblr link.

Pink Floyd Van
Pink Floyd Miniature Van.
1968
1968.

Miscre/Ation

The quality of the book-boxes is not optimal. On the web are already circulating pictures of pages that are falling out of the sets. Apparently they have been glued rather flimsily to the spine. Taking out a disk is always a matter of trial and error, and the first CD I picked broke one of the plastic 'teeth' holding it.

The inside pages contain pictures of the band, unfortunately the printing is rather average, although the 'later' sets in my box seem to be slightly better. Each set also contains a booklet with 'copyrights', thank you notes, a brief introduction by Mark Blake and seven times the same text by film archivist Lana Topham, for whatever reason, although I suppose sloppiness from the editor. These texts are printed in grey on brownish paper, making it nearly impossible to read them anyway.

If it breathes something, it breathes cheap instead of zen.

Expurg/Ation

When the box was announced, a couple of months ago, in the same amateurish way The Endless River was made public, the track-listing had some important differences, as it listed 5.1 mixes for Meddle and Obscured By Clouds. These can't be found on the released set (well, kind of) for reasons that seem to be taken out of a Neighbours episode.

It all starts with the fact that Pink Floyd has had several re-mixing specialists over the years, notably James Guthrie and Andy Jackson, who, in true soap-series tradition, hate each-other's guts as they belong to rivalling factions.

Andy Jackson, from the David Gilmour camp, was asked to create the 5.1 mixes for Meddle and Obscured By Clouds and handed these over to Mark Fenwick, who is Roger Waters' manager. Mark was a good dog and passed these to Roger, for approval.

Roger Waters remembered that these remixes had originally been promised to his protégé James Guthrie and when he found out that the 'other side' had done these, without consulting him, he threw a tantrum like a kicked poodle.

So this is, in a nutshell, why the genius of Pink Floyd vetoed against the inclusion of the Andy Jackson 5.1 mixes, although liner notes and promotion material had already been printed. All that had to be redone and the 5.1 disks that had already been pressed were for the dustbin.

Before somebody could say 'several species of small furry animals' the rift between the David Gilmour and Roger Waters camp was back in place and it seems that it won't be solved in the near future.

1969
1969.

Exacerb/Ation

So the Obscured By Clouds and Meddle 5.1 mixes are not in the box, right? Wrong. Well, partially wrong.

It was found out that the 1971 Blu-ray contains a hidden segment with the complete Meddle 5.1 mix. However, you can't play it on a regular Blu-ray player as one needs to extract the files to a computer first (or burn them on another Blu-ray with the hidden files set to visible).

Apparently this is not an Easter egg but a simple mistake. Or an act of Insubordin/Ation. Take your pick. Instead of deleting the Meddle 5.1 mix from the disk the Floyd's technical leprechaun only deleted the shortcut from the menu.

Keep on smiling, people.

Tergivers/Ation

The week before the box got released there was an impromptu announcement of the record company.

Pink Floyd fans ordering 'The Early Years 1965-1972’ will get an extra piece of the band’s history.
The box-set will now also include a supplementary disc featuring the band’s seminal Live At Pompeii concert as a 2016 audio mix.
The 6 tracks totalling over 67 minutes include live versions of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene', 'Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun', 'One of These Days', 'A Saucerful Of Secrets', ‘Echoes' and an alternative take of 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene’.

The truth is slightly different. When the sets were already made and put in the boxes for shipping a bright brain decided it was about time to check if the disks really contained what was printed on the booklets. Only then it was found out that the Obfusc/Ation set did not have Obscured By Clouds, but the Pompeii soundtrack. By then it was too late to open 28000 shrink wrapped boxes and replace the disks, so the Obscured remix was put in a carton sleeve and thrown on top of The Early Years box set, before closing the brown shipping parcel. Picture: (Un)Packing The Early Years #2.

At least the carton sleeve has the guts to say the truth:

REPLACEMENT CD DISC FOR OBFUSC/ATION
PFREY6 – CD
(STEREO 2016 MIX OF PINK FLOYD 'LIVE AT POMPEII' CD SUPPLIED IN ERROR)

Some quality control, huh? By the way, the 5.1 Obscured By Clouds mix is not in the box, but you probably already figured that out.

Update: some boxes seem to come without the Obscured replacement disk, as was expected...

(For those interested, the Pompeii CD contains an extra take of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, but no Mademoiselle Nobs. The box also has the Pompeii movie, without the interviews, without the singing dog, but in the director's cut version, so I have read. Another Indic/Ation that the Floyd team doesn't seem to know what lives in the fan community as that version of the movie is mostly regarded as inferior to the original.)

Update: the new 'mix' of Obscured By Clouds is (to quote Cenobyte) 'too top endy'. The mix generally repairs the muddiness of the original mix and brings everything out in a brilliant way, but adds this layer on top and that kind of ruins it. Some posters even think that something went wrong during the mastering process. (The same applies to the new Pompeii mix as well.)

1970
1970.

Overvalu/Ation

Several Floydian movies can be found in the box, but some come without English subtitles. This may not be a very big problem for More but La Vallée is basically spoken in Frenglish. And of course these boxes are shipped all over the world, to places were people are not familiar with the English language and could use subtitles.

It only feeds the rumour that the Floyd randomly added things onto the disks, just to fill them up, regardless of quality.

(Note: in my box, The Committee, that is on another Blu-ray than More and La Vallée, does have subtitles, even in Dutch.)

Extenu/Ation

The Committee's soundtrack does not contain music from Pink Floyd alone. One, pretty famous scene has underground colleague Arthur Brown singing Nightmare, but his name is not mentioned at all in the booklet. It is weird that a band that scrutinises YouTube looking for copyright infringements neglects Mr. Brown's rights.

As a matter of fact Pink Floyd even censored Nightmare from Arthur Brown's personal YouTube place, a few months ago, because they claimed his song hurt their copyrights. Unfortunately Arthur Brown doesn't have a legion of lawyers to fight this.

Don't ask a slice of my pie, how utterly convenient.

Inculp/Ation

Some of the tracks on this Compil/Ation are from inferior or bootleg quality. We know that and can live with that.

But what if we say that the Pink Floyd mastering team deliberately ignored some good takes and put inferior ones in the box?

Seems unthinkable for a band that used to flirt with high-end quadrophonic effects.

The 1967 BBC radio sessions, for instance, are in a bad quality, examples are 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun', 'Reaction in G' and 'Pow R Toc H' that is even incomplete.

It needs to be said that Pink Floyd consulted the official BBC archives but these are in a bad state. The BBC had a habit of erasing their own masters and only has copies of the Pink Floyd 1967 gig 'taken' from the air.

Top collectors, those that have the 'holy grails', informed the Floyd that (a copy of?) the masters of the 1967 recording are in a private collection but the Floyd didn't find it necessary to check this out. Andy Jackson received high quality stereo copies of the BBC recordings from at least two sources but the powers that be decided to use the inferior mono tapes instead.

Isn't is ironic that the 'bootleg' community has better versions of these Pink Floyd live tapes and early acetates than the band itself and that they are giving them away for free? The Floyd has thanked them by shutting down Harvested and threatening to shutdown Yeeshkul in the past. (More of these vicious rumours at: The loathful Mr. Loasby and other stories... )

1971
1971.

Finalis/Ation

Just as with the Immersion sets some Blu-rays come with errors, in this case (as far as we know): the 1972 'Obfusc/ation' Blu-ray and bonus package 'Continu/ation' Blu-ray 1. According to several testimonies the menu screen loads, but halts there. You better check out your version before it is too late.

Promulg/Ation

Fans were happy to find out that Seabirds was finally going to find a place on this collection. Seabirds is a song written by Roger Waters for the More movie, where it can be heard during a party scene, but it does not appear on the soundtrack album.

The song in the box though with the same title is not the one fans were looking for but an alternate take of the instrumental Quicksilver. God knows why this was erroneously labelled, but once again it seems that the Floyd historians didn't do their homework right and just threw songs on a CD without checking them out first.

Pink Floyd itself issued a statement, trying not to make it sound as an apology. It appears that 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.

While Pink Floyd is not to blame for that mishap we can at least say they have been badly communicating to their fans about this track, but Communic/Ation has never been the Floyd's strongest point.

(Another possible mistake can be found on the Stockholm disk where the first instrumental number is titled Reaction In G while most scholars think it is another 'untitled' instrumental, loosely based upon Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk. This was already published by the Church in 2011 so the Floyd had plenty of time to correct this. See also: EMI blackmails Pink Floyd fans!)

1972
1972.

Evalu/Ation

At 500 Euro a box this is a pretty hefty Christmas present, especially when you realise that at least 85% of the box has been circulating before, on bootlegs. Of course it is true that some visual material has been beautifully restored and some audio tracks sound crispier than ever. Other tracks have just been added for the sake of adding them, so it seems. Anything in the bin we can still use?

There are still plenty of tracks not in the box that the fans were hoping for. It has already been confirmed that one of these will be issued as a Vinyl Record Store Day exclusive.

Somehow I have the feeling that during the Cre/Ation of this set, that took twenty years, the energy went lost, or the interest. Perhaps there was a lack of time when the deadline came closer. Perhaps a greedy manager decided that they had already spend too much money on it. Perhaps Waters and Gilmour, and their servants Guthrie and Jackson, have been busy rolling over the floor fighting, rather than working together, in a cooperative way.

This could have been such an exquisite rarities box, an example for other bands to follow, if only the Floyd had put some extra effort in it, if only the Floyd had consulted their fanbase that gathers at specialised music forums.

Nick Mason, the gentleman drummer, probably takes better care of his cars than he takes care of his musical legacy.

"Those ungrateful fans, it took us 20 years to make this box and Felix Atagong, the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, just needed 20 minutes to trash it."

Update: this post was only published for about an hour when a new 'error' was published on one of the forums.

Belgian TV footage (1968): while the image transfer is great, Pink Floyd made a stupid mistake by overdubbing the video with the regular stereo versions instead of the original 'mono' sound. This leads to the following errors:
1. The stereo Paintbox is about 15 seconds shorter than the mono version, the last seconds of the clip are almost silent while there was still music during the original TV broadcast.
2. An unique early version of Corporal Clegg with an alternate ending has been replaced with the common stereo version.
3. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun has lost the early mono mix that was used instead of the album version.

Video transfers. Frame rates differ between 'vintage' movies and digital technologies like DVD and Blu-ray. When old movies are transferred to digital they have to be 'stretched' which is a pretty straightforward process. However, one may not stretch the soundtrack the same way because it will result in a sound distortion. Guess what, at least one movie in the box runs with half a tone difference than originally recorded.

So here is another case where bootlegs have it right and the official version has it wrong. Bunch of amateurs!


There are really too many people to thank for this article, but much kudos go to Ron Toon and the dozens of others who gave valuable information on the Steve Hoffman Music Forum (304 pages!), another thread on the Steve Hoffman Forum (72 pages!), Yeeshkul (161 pages!) and A Fleeting Glimpse (106 pages!). Sleeve illustrations by a forum member whose post I can't find back any more, anyway thanks!

20 pictures of the (un)packing of the box can be found at the Church's Tumblr: The Early Years.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2017-01-04

Happy New Year 2017 (and Happy Birthday Syd)

We wish you a very happy 2017, sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Last year was a pretty active one, on the Iggy, Syd and Pink Floyd front, although that didn't always show on the site you are currently reading.

Luckily there is a Tumblr micro-blog that we daily update, with coloured photographs!, a Facebook timeline and a Twitter account.

A short and sweet 2016 Tumblr overview

Barrett Celebration at The Geldart, Cambridge.
January 2016: (Private) Barrett Tribute and sing-along at The Geldart, Cambridge.
Barrett Celebration announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
February 2016: Barrett Celebration announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
Barrett bike wheel tribute artwork announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
March 2016: Barrett 'bike wheel' tribute artwork announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
Mojo Syd Barrett special
April 2016: Mojo Syd Barrett special.
French Octopus single sells for 10,500 Euro.
May 2016: French Octopus single sells for 10,500 Euro.
La gazza ladra. Picture by Charlie Gilmour.
June 2016: La gazza ladra. Picture by Charlie Gilmour.
David Gilmour, Tienen, 28.07.2016.
July 2016: David Gilmour, Tienen, 28.07.2016. Picture: Felix Atagong.
Anthony Stern Iggy Rose 'Iggnet' magnet.
August 2016: Anthony Stern's Iggy Rose 'Iggnet' magnet.
The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett, NME 1974.
September 2016: The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett, NME 1974.
Graham Coxon and Rosemary Breen, Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
October 2016: Graham Coxon and Rosemary Breen, Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
Programme of Syd Barrett: A Celebration.
November 2016: Programme of Syd Barrett: A Celebration (8 pages).
Merry Christmas from Terrapin.
December 2016: Merry Christmas from Terrapin.

The Church wishes to thank: Mick Brown, Mary Cosco, Rich Hall, Lisa Newman, Göran Nyström, Anthony Stern, Perse pigs, County cunts and Cambridge spies.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥


2017-05-29

Shady Diamond

Syd Barrett by Duggie Fields
Syd Barrett, by Duggie Fields.

Brain Damage

At the 'Mortal Remains' Pink Floyd exhibition that is currently running in London a Polaroid can be found showing Syd Barrett at the Abbey Road studio in July 1975. This is not the picture that was magically found back when Nick Mason needed to promote his biography in 2004 and that dates from June 1975.

Here is what Nick writes about that:

It was during these sessions at Abbey Road, on 5th June, that we had one totally unexpected visitor. I strolled into the control room from the studio, and noticed a large fat bloke with a shaven head, wearing a decrepit old tan mac. He was carrying a plastic shopping bag and had a fairly benign, but vacant, expression on his face. His appearance would not have generally gained him admittance beyond studio reception, so I assumed that he must have been a friend of one of the engineers. Eventually David asked me if I knew who he was. Even then I couldn’t place him, and had to be told. It was Syd. More than twenty years later I can still remember that rush of confusion.
Syd Barrett, 5 June 1975. Picture: Nick Mason.
Syd Barrett, 5 June 1975. Picture: Nick Mason.

Remember a Day

Confused is what Mason is indeed, as he doesn't mention Syd's second visit to the studio, a month later, accidentally - or not? - on David Gilmour's wedding day. In a Mojo interview from 2006 David Gilmour denied that Syd was at his wedding, although he seems to recall that Barrett visited the band more than once.

From a 1982 Musician Magazine interview:

He showed up at the studio. He was very fat and he had a shaved head and shaved eyebrows and no one recognized him at all first off. There was just this strange person walking around the studio, sitting in the control room with us for hours. If anyone else told me this story, I'd find it hard to believe, that you could sit there with someone in a small room for hours, with a close friend of yours for years and years, and not recognize him. And I guarantee, no one in the band recognized him. Eventually, I had guessed it. And even knowing, you couldn't recognize him. He came two or three days and then he didn't come anymore. (Taken from: December 1982 - Musician Magazine at Brain Damage)

So, Gilmour does seem to acknowledge that Syd Barrett visited the studio more than once, only not on his wedding day.

Mark Blake in Pigs Might Fly:

On 7 July, during a break in the Wish You Were Here sessions, Gilmour married girlfriend Ginger at Epping Forest Register Office, and the Syd tale takes on another curious twist. In conversation with Mojo magazine in 2006, Gilmour disputed any stories that Syd had attended his wedding. Yet at least three of the guests claim they saw Syd at a post-wedding meal at Abbey Road. Ex-manager Andrew King recalled Barrett looking ‘like the type of bloke who serves you in a hamburger bar in Kansas City’. Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley referred to him as ‘an overweight Hare Krishna-type chap’.

Young Lust

One who does remember - obviously, as it was her wedding day - is Ginger Gilmour in her autobiography Bright Side Of The Moon:

Ginger Gilmour - Bright Side of the Moon Bright Side of the Moon - Ginger Gilmour
Bright Side of the Moon, Ginger Gilmour.
Syd Barrett, 7 July 1975. Picture: Nick Mason.
Syd Barrett, 7 July 1975. Picture: Nick Mason.

Remember Me

For one reason or another, Pink Floyd members (and other witnesses) amalgamated the different Barrett appearances into one, quasi mythical, event. Venetta Fields hinted already in March 2004 that there were pictures of the event:

I think there were photos taken at that time... I remember telling someone that was showing me a photo. I can’t remember who? I may even have a picture. We took a lot of pictures that day. They had been at the studio for hours before we got there. I think that while we were there, Syd came into the studio. Everything stopped. We were all shocked to see him and the way he looked. (Taken from: An Interview With Venetta Fields at A Fleeting Glimpse.)

The Gold It's in the...

Another mystery is why Nick Mason, who has meticulously classified the Pink Floyd archive, only came up with this second picture now – almost by chance - when he needed to promote yet another Pink Floyd pension fund.


Check extra big pictures and other assorted trivia at our 'IggyInuit' Tumblr page: 1975.

Many thanks to: Marc-Olivier Becks, Johan Frankelius, Antonio Jesús, Göran Nystrom.
♥ Libby ♥ Iggy ♥

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 231-232.
Gilmour, Ginger: Memoirs of the Bright Side of the Moon, Angelscript International, 2015, p. 103-104.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 207.