Nick Mason

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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))


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.


2010-07-03

Syd meets... a lot of people

Meic Stevens
Meic Stevens.

Syd meets Meic

A couple of weeks ago this blog published excerpts from Meic Stevens' autobiography Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini (in Welsh, but awesomely translated by Prydwyn) describing how the Cymry bard encountered Syd Barrett in the late Sixties.

These meetings, as far as the Church is aware, have never been mentioned before, not in any of the four main Syd Barrett biographies and not on any website, blog or forum dedicated to the Pink Floyd frontman. It is a bit weird, seen the fact that the biography already appeared in 2003.

Normally Syd related news, regardless of its triviality, is immediately divulged through the digital spider web tying Syd anoraks together. The Church does not want to take credit for this find, it is thanks to Prydwyn, who contacted the Church, that we now have this information, and we hope that it will slowly seep into the muddy waters of the web. (Strange enough the Church post was almost immediately detected by (Welsh) folk music blogs but completely ignored by the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett communities. Is the rumour true that there is a general Syd Barrett fatigue going on?)

The psychedelic London Underground was not unlike the rapid transit system that listens to the same name. The counterculture wasn't really an organised movement, but constituted of many, independent stations with tubes going from one station to the other. Some persons travelled a lot, switching from line to line using intersecting stations as apparently Syd Barrett's Wetherby Mansions flat was one, much to the dismal of Duggie Fields who wanted to produce his art in peace.

Spike Hawkins
Spike Hawkins.

Syd meets Spike Hawkins

In a YouTube interview Rob Chapman, author of the Syd Barrett biography A Very Irregular Head, recalls how he found out that beatnik and poet Spike Hawkins was an acquaintance of Syd Barrett. He was interviewing Pete Brown for his book and when the interview was over he remarked that some Barrett lyrics had a distinct Spike Hawkins style. At that point Pete Brown remarked: "I think Spike Hawkins knew Syd Barrett." Without that lucky ad hoc comment we would (probably) never have known that the two artists not only knew, but also met, each other at different occassions, although it was probably more a Mandrax haze that tied them rather than the urge to produce some art together.

Syd meets Dominique

The Church already mentioned the names of Meic Stevens, Jenny Spires, Trina Barclay, Margaretta Barclay and her friend, painter and musician Rusty Burnhill (who used to jam with Barrett), Iggy (or Evelyn, who is rather reluctant to talk about the past) and the French Dominique A., who was - at a certain moment - rather close to Barrett.

Dominique is, like they say in French, un cas à part. Unfortunately nobody seems to know what happened to her, but if the six degrees of separation theory is accurate it might not be too difficult to find her. The problem is that nobody remembers if she stayed in Great Britain or returned to France. But if you read this and have a granny, listening to the name Dominique A., who smiles mysteriously whenever you mention the name Pink Floyd, give us a call.

Update May 2011: thanks to its many informants, the Church has traced the whereabouts of Dominique. She currently lives in a small village, close to Bayonne, near the Bay of Biscay (French: Golfe de Gascogne). Unfortunately she doesn't want to talk about the past.

A mysterious brunette.
A mysterious brunette.

Syd meets Carmel

Church member Dark Globe compared the English version of Meic Stevens' biography Solva Blues (2004) with the excerpts of the Welsh version we published at Meic meets Syd and found a few differences. Apart from the fact that Meic Stevens also had an Uncle Syd who appears quite frequently in the book there are some minor additions in the English version, absent from the original Welsh.

The Welsh version notes fore instance that 'Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd came to see us in Caerforiog':

Syd Barrett o Pink Floyd fydde’n dod i’n gweld ni yng Nghaerforiog.

The English version adds a small, but in the life of a Barrett anorak, rather important detail. It reads:

Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd who used to visit us at Caerforiog with his girlfriend Carmel.

It is the first time the Church (and Dark Globe) hears from this lady, and she is probably one of those two-week (or even two-day) girlfriends Mick Rock and Duggie Fields have been talking about.

(Warning Label: The picture just above has been taken from the Mick Rock movie Lost In The Woods, nobody knows for sure who is the mysterious brunette. This blog does not imply she is Dominique A. or Carmel, for that matter.)

Drug problem

The second reference (about Syd visiting the Outlander sessions) also has one addition in the English version. Solva Blues adds the line:

I wouldn't have thought he had a drug problem - no more than most people on the scene.

If there is one returning constant about the underground days it is its general tunnel vision. In the brave new psychedelic world every move, the crazier the better, was considered cool and there was a general consensus to deny any (drug related) problem that could and would occur. Rob Chapman is right when he, in his rather tempestuous style, writes:

What do you do if your lead guitarist is becoming erratic / unstable / unhinged?
Simple.
You send him off round the UK on a package tour (…) with two shows a night for sixteen nights.

Nick Mason acknowledges this illogical (not to use another term) behaviour:

If proof was needed that we were in denial about Syd's state of mind, this was it.
Why we thought a transatlantic flight immediately followed by yet more dates would help (Syd) is beyond believe.
R.D. Laing
R.D. Laing

Syd almost meets R.D. Laing

Of course looking for professional psychiatric help in those crazy days wasn't that simple either. Bluntly said: you could choose between the traditional cold shower - electroshock therapy or go for anti-psychiatry.

Although it is impossible to turn back the clock it still is the question if experimental anti-psychiatry would have helped Barrett. In a previous post we have given the example how an experimental therapist administered LSD to a Cantabrigian friend of Syd as an alternative way of therapy and R.D. 'I like black people but I could never stand their smell' Laing was no exception to that.

Pink Floyd's manager Peter Jenner made an appointment for Syd with R.D. Laing, but Syd refused to go on with it, but this didn't withhold Laing to make the following observations as noted down by Nick Mason:

Syd might be disturbed, or even mad. But maybe it was the rest of us (Pink Floyd, note by FA) who were causing the problem, by pursuing our desire to succeed, and forcing Syd to go along with our ambitions.

This is the main theory that is overzealously, but not always successfully, adhered by Chapman in his Syd Barrett biography. R.D. Laing ended his Barrett diagnosis, who he never met, by saying:

Maybe Syd was actually surrounded by mad people.

Although some biographers may think, and there they are probably right, that the other Pink Floyd members may have been an ambitious gravy train inspired gang, there was also the small matter of a 17,000 British Pounds debt that the architectural inspired band members still had to pay off after the split. They didn't burden Syd Barrett, nor Peter Jenner and Andrew King with that. Now that is what the Church calls accountancy.

We now know that giving Syd Barrett the time and space, outside the band, to meddle at his own pace with his own affairs and music was not entirely fruitful either. In the early to mid Seventies Syd Barrett entered a lost weekend that would almost take a decade and that is a blank chapter in every biography, apart from the odd Mad Syd anecdote.

Mini Cooper (based upon a remark from Dark Globe)

It is also interesting that Meic Stevens mentions Syd's Mini Cooper:

He was a very good-looking boy, always with a beautiful girl on his arm when he was out or driving his Mini Cooper.

Presumably this is the same car Syd drove all over England in, following the band, when he was freshly thrown out of the Floyd.

Syd swapped this Mini Cooper for a Pontiac Parisienne (and not a Buick as car fanatic Nick Mason writes, although Buick and Pontiac were of course closely related brands) with T-Rex percussionist Mickey Finn in the beginning of 1969, which would date the first meetings between Stevens and Barrett prior to the Mick Rock photo sessions.

But that photo session has been discussed here ad nauseum already so we won't get further into that. So, my sistren and brethren, bye, bye, till the next time, and don't do anything Iggy wouldn't have done. Especially at this warm weather.

(This article is a (partial) update from this one: Meic meets Syd)


Many thanks go to: Dark Globe for checking the English version of Meic Stevens' autobiography. Prydwyn for checking and translating the Welsh version of Meic Stevens' autobiography.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):

Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 201, p. 227.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 210. (R.D. Laing quote)
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 87-88, p. 95, p. 129.
Stevens, Meic: Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini, Y Lolfa, Talybont, 2009, p. 190-191, p. 202.
Stevens, Meic, Solva Blues, Talybont, 2004 (English, slightly updated, translation of the above).

Rob Chapman's An Irregular Head biography has been reviewed at: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory


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 


2011-02-09

Scream Thy False Scream

Fake Pink Floyd Acetate Found
Pink Foyd 1967 acetate
Pink Foyd 1967 acetate.

What you see at the left is the only remaining copy in the world of an unreleased 1967 Pink Floyd single: Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream.
Approximate value: 10,000 US dollars, even on a rainy day.

Part one: Holy Syd!

The songs are on an acetate disc and without going to much into detail we can simply say that an acetate is a test pressing of a vinyl record. An acetate has not been made to last and every time a needle reads the groove the acetate is gradually but irrecoverably damaged. Bands and producers often used acetates to test how a record would sound on cheap home record players before sending the master tape to the record factory.

This precious copy is in the hands of Saq, an American collector in Los Angeles who acquired it about 15 years ago and has cherished it ever since. It is, without doubt, what collectors call a 'holy grail': a rare, valuable object sought after by other collectors. One of the side effects of a 'holy grail' is that it can only acquire that status if other collectors are aware of its existence, but not too many. If nobody knows you have an exclusive item it might as well not exist. Syd Barrett already acknowledged this in his Arnold Layne song: it 'takes two to know'.

Holy grails can be frail, especially when they only consist of audio material. One popular Pink Floyd holy grail are, sorry: were, the so-called work in progress tapes of The Wall (most people, websites and bootlegs refer to these as The Wall demos, which they are clearly not, but that is an entirely different discussion). Around 1999 they circulated amongst top-notch collectors and were generally unknown to the public, The Anchor included, until a track called The Doctor (an early version of Comfortably Numb) was leaked as an alt.music.pink-floyd Christmas 2000 gift. It didn't take long before the complete set was weeded to the fans, who were happy to say the least except for the one of the few who had lost their priceless treasure.

Part two: the guns of Navarro

When Barrett fan Giuliano Navarro met Saq in 2009 he was let on the secret and from this moment Giuliano became a man with a mission. He received pictures of the acetate and finally, on the 15th of January 2011, he proudly announced at Late Night:

I tried to stay in communication with him for more than a year and begged him to at least have the tracks recorded. He agreed to do me the favour, and sent the acetate to a professional studio in San Francisco. (...)
After more than a year of waiting, I finally got the tracks and now I want to share them with all of you. We are the real Syd Barrett crazies and we all deserve to listen to his art. There should be no discovery made that ends up back in the vaults.

Giuliano Navarro is, without doubt, a man of honour. But it helped that Saq didn't really ran the risk that making the content public would ruin his holy grail (as with The Wall WIP tapes). Quite the contrary:
he still has an ultra-rare acetate from 1967;
is envied by collectors from over the world and, knowing that;
the value of this unique recording can only sky-rocket.

At least that is what he thought until about a couple of weeks ago.

Part three: cracks in the ice

An uproarious bigmouth called Felix Atagong, who also goes by the ridiculous epithet Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, proposed Giuliano to upload the sound files to Yeeshkul. At first the recordings were received with great enthusiasm, but after some days the place was stirring with comments of an entirely different nature.

Yeeshkul is a place where Pink Floyd audio collectors meet and share files through a torrent network. They vary from the average je-ne-sais-quoi fan to the specialised sound freak who has the means and the knowledge to find out whether a certain audio file comes from an earlier or a later generation tape. And obviously this spectacular find was going to be analysed to the bit...

Navarro received MP3 files taken from the acetate and shared these immediately with the fans. Not unusual as MP3 is about the most popular sound format in the world, but it does compress the sound and reduces the quality. The Yeeshkul specialist sound brigade argue that lossless files in 24/96 (or even 24/192) should exist as well. Nobody will be that stupid to put an ultra-rare (and very fragile) acetate on a turntable, only to convert the audio to MP3.

16 Khz cut
16 Khz cut.

Vince666 did a spectrum analysis of the MP3 files and found that the sound had been mysteriously cut-off at 16 Khz (see left side image). Some members maintain that this is a typical result of MP3 compression, but others disagree. But despite the compression and the obvious quality-loss these mono tracks still sound a lot better than other versions that have been circulating for decades.

Felixstrange (no relative to the Church) discovered 'something which sounds a lot like tape damage at 0:54 during "Scream Thy Last Scream':

The noise a minute into STLS is definitely a result of creases in magnetic tape. However, there is definitely vinyl/acetate surface noise present. I've been doing a lot of vinyl rips lately and I immediately recognized the all-too-familiar clicks of debris in the grooves of a record.

Question: How can a brand new, original EMI master show tape damage, before it has even been used to make vinyl records out of it?
Answer: It can't.

Part four: screaming vegetables

Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream (let's shorten that to VM and STLS, shall we?) are both unreleased Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd gems from 1967. EMI has been tempted to put these on compilations before, but for different (copyright) reasons that never happened, luckily two different mixes have leaked to the public.

When (The) Dark Side Of The Moon proved successful EMI compiled early Floyd as A Nice Pair and put the two Barrett solo-albums together in a Syd Barrett budget release. The selling figures (especially in the USA where the solo albums had never been released) were important enough for EMI to beg for a third Syd Barrett solo album. Producer Peter Jenner soon found out that Syd Barrett really wasn't in the singing mood and scraped the barrel in order to find some unreleased material.

On the 13th of August 1974 Peter Jenner (with a little help from John Leckie and Pat Stapley) mixed a stereo tape of unreleased Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd originals, including VM and STLS. This tape, with reference 6604Z, almost immediately evaporated from the EMI archives and re-materialised – so goes the legend – miraculously in one of Bernard White's cupboards.

Almost day by day thirteen years later, Malcolm Jones compiled his personal 'Syd Barratt (sic) Rough Mixes'. It is believed that he accidentally lost this tape just when he was passing by the front door of an anonymous bootlegger.

Part five: check your sources

The Anchor needs to get a bit nerdy and technical here, like those Bible scholars who combine different fourth century Greek editions in order to reconstruct the ultimate Bible source. We are going to compare the different versions of the tracks, so you have been warned.

Barrett fans have strong reasons to believe that the Malcolm Jones 1987 (mono) tapes are the closest to the original 1967 Pink Floyd recordings. In 1974 Peter Jenner added extra effects, echo and reverb to the mix, most notably on VM, and these are absent on the Malcolm Jones tape. The Malcolm Jones mix of STLS fades out, while Jenner's version ends abruptly with – yet – another sound effect.

That is not all. In the case of Vegetable Man there is even a third mix - the so-called Beechwoods tape. It has survived on tape from a 1969 radio show where Nick Mason opened his Pandora’s box of 1967 outtakes. A fan found it back in 2001 and promptly donated it to Kiloh Smith from Madcaps Laughing.

As the acetate allegedly dates from 1967;
Vegetable Man must sound like the Beechwoods version, and
Scream Thy Last Scream must sound like the Malcolm Jones rough mix.

Right?
Wrong.

Part six: listen to the music

Yeeshkul member MOB compared all known versions and came back with the following report.

Vegetable Man
Vegetable Man.

Vegetable Man:

The acetate mix is mono, but definitely different than the Malcolm Jones mono mix from 1987.

The 1967 acetate mix is also different from the 1967 Beechwoods tape, believed to be the most authentic studio version of the song. On the Beechwoods tape, there is absolutely no echo or reverb during the sentence "Vegetable man where are you" but they are present on the acetate.

The only version with extra echo and reverb is the 1974 stereo mix by Peter Jenner.

MOB concludes:

Actually, if I take the 1974 Jenner stereo mix and convert it to mono, I have the same mix as the "acetate" mix. So to me it seems the current mix is not from 1967 (if it was the case it should be close to the 1967 Beechwoods mix, and it's not), but from 1974.
Maybe the 1974 Jenner versions were copied, traded, with some "mono-ization" in the lineage, then pressed as fake acetates?
Scream Thy Last Scream
Scream Thy Last Scream.

Scream Thy Last Scream:

The 1967 acetate mono mix is not the same as the Jones 1987 mono mix (the Jones version fades out during the street noises). Instead of that, on the acetate mix, the street noises end abruptly with an echo effect.

MOB:

Is it pure coincidence that the echo is exactly the same effect as the one used by Jenner during his 1974 mixdown?
Again, if you mono-ize the 1974 Jenner mix, you have the current acetate mix (minus the scratches and tape flaws). Same effects at the same moments.

Part seven: the time-paradox explanation

Of course this all makes sense, especially in a Barrett universe, and the contradiction can easily be explained.

Somewhere in 1967 Barrett invented a time-travelling device by combining a clock with a washing machine. When asked to compose a third single he hopped to 1974, stole tape number 6604Z from the EMI archives and returned to 1967.

Thus it is perfectly logical that the 1967 acetate sounds exactly like the 1974 Jenner mix and en passant we have solved the mystery how the tape has disappeared from the EMI vaults.

The utterly boring explanation is that the 1967 acetate is fake, counterfeit, a forgery, made by a scrupulous thief to rob a few thousands of dollars from a collector’s pocket. In other words: mono-ization turned into monetisation.

Part eight: let's get physical

The Anchor is like one of those boring Roger Waters songs: once we're in a drive, we can't stop and we have to make extra parts of the same monotonous melody over and over again.

Even without listening to the counterfeit acetate there still is something dubious about it (thanks neonknight, emmapeelfan,...).

Due to their production process and their fragility acetates are - most of the time - single sided, just like the surviving acetates of Arnold Layne and See Emily Play. Albums were even issued on two different single sided acetates to avoid further damage (but some double sided acetates do exist, like the very first Pink Floyd recording with Bob Klose in the band: Lucy Leave / King Bee [but that was definitely not an EMI acetate]);

Engineers at EMI were invariably nerdy administrative types, who attended recording sessions dressed in white lab coats. These cheeky little fellows would never label an acetate without putting the name of the band on top;

Although a pretty fair forgery the label on the record is not identical to the 'official' EMI acetate label, there also seem to be some glue marks that are usually not present on real acetates;

and last but not least;

Acetates are ad hoc test pressings and in the extremely rare case of a double acetate this means that a certain relationship has to exist between both tracks, like both sides from a single or takes from the same session. STLS was recorded on 7 August 1967 (some overdubs were made in December 1967 and January 1968 for a possible inclusion on A Saucerful of Secrets). VM was recorded between 9 and 12 October 1967. They were never meant to be each other's flip side on a single, so finding them on the same acetate simply makes no sense, unless it is a fake, of course.

Part nine: a spoonful of charades

So basically here is what happened:

1. someone, somewhere in summertime, got hold of the Peter Jenner 1974 stereo-mixes of VM and STLS (not that weird as they have been circulating for at least 3 decades);

2. these were copied on a tape (perhaps even a cassette for home entertainment) but unfortunately it was damaged, trampled, eaten and vomited out by the player (crumpled sound between 51 and 55 seconds);

3. this cassette was downgraded from stereo to mono;

4. the mono 'remaster' was cut on acetate, a fake EMI label was glued on it, and sold to a collector (probably in the mid Nineties);

5. the acetate, believed to be genuine by its owner, was copied in a professional studio to (hopefully) a lossless digital format (there are vinyl record clicks to prove that);

6. the digital copy was then converted to MP3 (with a compression cut off at 16 Khz) and torrented through Yeeshkul.

Part ten: let's add some extra confusion

It has now been established that the 1967 acetate is fake and a mere mono copy of the 1974 stereo mix, but there is still some confusion and a bit of hope.

Although a copy from a copy from a copy the acetate sounds better, crispier and fuller than the Jenner mixes that are currently circulating. To put it into technical gobbledygook: the forger has a better sounding, earlier generation tape at his disposal than the one that Barrett collectors have now. This is something what duly pisses most Syd anoraks off.

Instead of sharing the tape to the fans it has been used to produce bootleg acetates. One can assume that the criminal sold more than one unique acetate, so there must be other collectors around who have purchased this record, believing they had the only copy in the world.

The high-priced acetate market is not that big. Perhaps if we stick together, we can trace the seller who must now tremble like a leaf, and before cutting off his balls and roasting them on a fire, confiscate the low generation tape and use it for the better.

fake Pink Foyd 1967 acetate
Fake Pink Foyd 1967 acetate.

Part eleven: last words

What you see at the left is an acetate counterfeit of a nonexistent 1967 Pink Floyd single
Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream.
Approximate value: 10 US dollars, not a cent more.

Let us be fair: not all is lost for Saq, the current owner.

The Anchor has got an excellent business relationship with Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers Bonhams. For a small 35% commission rate the Anchor is willing to put the acetate on sale at Bonhams as they already have a habit of selling overcharged fake Barrett memorabilia: Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem.


The Anchor wishes to thank: Giuliano Navarro, Hallucalation, Vince666, Felixstrange, MOB, Neonknight, Emmapeelfan and the other participants at Late Night and Yeeshkul.

Late Night forum thread: Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream (Acetate Recordings)
Yeeshkul forum thread: Pink Floyd - "Vegetable Man / Scream Thy Last Scream" from rare acetate, 1967 (members only)

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


2011-08-28

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.
Update 2017 07 30: The 'In The Pink' journal can now be bought at the Pink Floyd Their Mortal Remains exhibition in London or at a Roger Waters gig: see In The Pink hunt is open! 


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.


2012-03-26

Formentera Lady

Formentera Magical Mystery Tour
Formentera Magical Mystery Tour.

Despite the fact that the sixties children of the revolution all wanted to express their individualism and refused to be a part of the square 9 to 5 world they all managed to show up at the same places, dress virtually the same and take the same chemical substances.

This also applied for their holidays. Although they had been seeing each other the whole year in old rainy England, in summer they would pack their bags and flee – en masse – to the same cool (but sweaty) locations, following the so-called Hippie Trail.

The Hippie Trail extended to the Himalayas and several Cantabrigian hipsters made it to the Indies, looking for a guru who would teach them things a local vicar couldn't teach them. Paul Charrier, one of the Cantabrigian mods, beats or whatever denomination they liked that week, was one of the first to witness this. When he returned to England and opened his bag of tricks, he managed to convert a few others to the narrow path of Sant Mat, but others, like Storm Thorgerson and Matthew Scurfield, opposed to this 'wave of saccharine mysticism hitting our shores' (see also: We are all made of stars).

India and Pakistan were long and hazardous journeys and for those who only had a few weeks to spend there were always the Balearic islands where they would meet at La Tortuga or La Fonda Pepe.

Some 700 hippies arrived in Formentera in 1968 and by the summer of 1969 there were already 1,300, almost one for every 2.5 islanders. They didn’t stay all year round but were usually university students spending their holidays on the island. In 1970, Franco’s regime threw all 3,000 of them off Ibiza and Formentera. According to the regime, the hippies gave the place a bad name, but the islanders didn’t agree – for them the hippies were simply tourists. (Taken from: Thinkspain.)

Of course the islands of Formentera and Ibiza (Balearic Islands) already had some reputation of their own. The place not only gained popularity by (American) writers and artists after the second world war for its mild climate, but also because it was a central drug smuggling point. The heroes of Beat literature not only liked the bohemian's life, but in their quest for nonconformity they also actively sought contact with 'the perilous margins of society - pimps, whores, drug dealers, petty thieves'.

Quite some Dutch artists visited the place, for one reason or another. The proto-hippie-folk singing duo Nina & Frederik (Dutch-Danish, in fact), who had some hits in the fifties and early sixties, lived there. In his later life Frederik Van Pallandt attempted a career as drug smuggler and his murder in 1994 may have been a direct result. Other artist included poet Simon Vinkenoog, author Jan Cremer and Black & Decker trepanist Bart Huges. The sixties saw visits from the Beatles, the Stones and in their wake some beautiful people from London (for a more detailed list: Ibiza in the beatnik & hippie eras.)

1963

David Gale, his girlfriend Maureen, Dave Henderson, Storm Thorgerson and John Davies went to Ibiza in 1963 for their holidays where they visited Formentera island for a day. Back at home they all decided to have another holiday there.

1965

Mary Wing (and her friend Marc Dessier) found Formentera so beautiful that in 1965 they decided to stay there.

Syd Barrett, Formentera 1967.
Syd Barrett, Formentera 1967.

1967

Nick Mason acknowledges that after the '14 hour technicolour dream' (29 April 1967) the band was very tired and that Syd showed more severe symptoms than the others. Despite all that the continuous, eight days a week, gigging went on with the mythical Games For May concert two weeks later (12 May), the memorable Hans Keller BBC interview (14 May) and the See Emily Play recording session (18 May). There were nearly daily concerts or recording sessions between May and June of that year, but little by little cracks started to appear in their overcrowded agenda.

June, 11: two cancelled concerts in Holland
June, 18: public appearance on a bikini fashion show for Radio London, cancelled
June, 24: two cancelled concerts in Corby and Bedford
June, 25: two cancelled concerts in Manchester

On Thursday, July the 27th 1967, the Pink Floyd mimed (for the third time) on the Top Of the Pops show although Barrett was rather reluctant to do it. The next day they had a recording session for the BBC, but apparently Syd was seen leaving the block when it was their turn. This time the band and its management took Syd's behaviour seriously and decided to cancel all August gigs (with the exception of some studio recording sessions).

Update September 2012: one of these cancelled gigs was the 7th National Jazz, Pop, Ballads and Blues Festival that was visited by Iggy the Eskimo: Iggy - a new look in festivals.

Now what would you do when the lead singer of your band has got mental problems due to his abundant drug intake? You send him to a hippie, drug infested, island under the supervision of a psychedelic doctor who thinks that LSD has been been the best invention since masturbation.

Sam [Hutt, aka Smutty] was the underground's very own house doctor, sympathetic to drug users and musicians: as Boeing Duveen And The Beautiful Soup and later Hank Wangford, Sam was able to introduce a performer’s perspective. (Nick Mason)

In 1969 Smutty would have his medical office at Jenny Fabian's apartment: “I did find it a bit weird though, trying to lie around stoned listening to the sounds of vaginal inspections going on behind the curtain up the other end of the sitting-room."

Hell O Formentera © Stanislav
Hell O' Formentera © Stanislav Grigorev.

After a first attempt in the studio on Scream Thy Last Scream, Pink Floyd finally went on holiday for the second half of August. Syd Barrett, Lindsay Corner, Rick Wright, Juliette Gale (Wright), Dr. Sam Hutt, his wife and baby went to Formentera while Roger Waters and Judy Trim (Waters) headed for Ibiza. They all had a good time, except for Barrett who – during a storm - panicked so hard he literally tried to climb the walls of the villa, an anecdote that is so vehemently trashed by biographer Rob Chapman that it probably did happen.

In retrospect the decision to take a hippie doctor on holiday wasn't that stupid. One of the underlying ideas was that he would be able to communicate with Syd on the same level. The band, conscientiously or not, were also aware that 'there was a fear that sending Syd to a [traditional] doctor for observation might lead to his being sectioned in a mental hospital'.

In those days most care centres in Great Britain were still Victorian lunatic asylums where medical torture was mildly described as therapy. At least these were the horrid stories told by the people who had been so lucky to escape.

He showed me to the room that was to be mine. It was indeed a cell. There was no door knob on the inside, the catch had been jammed so that the door couldn't be shut properly, the window was high up in the wall and had bars over it, and there was only a standard issue bed and locker as furniture. (William Pryor)

Nobody wanted this to happen to Syd, but a less prosaic thought was this would have meant the end of the band, something that had to be carefully avoided. “The idea was to get Syd out of London, away from acid, away from all his friends who treated him like a god.”, Rick Wright explained but in reality Dr. Hutt, and the others, merely observed Syd Barrett, catatonic as ever and still 'munching acid all the time'. Nick Mason, in his usual dry style: “It was not a success.”

Whoever thought that giving Barrett a few weeks of rest was going to evaporate the demons from his brain must have been tripping himself and on the first of September the agenda was resumed as if nothing had happened. The first 6 days were filled with gigs and recording sessions. Three days later a Scandinavian tour with the legendary Gyllene Cirkeln and Starclub gigs, followed by an Irish Tour and later, in October, the disastrous North American Tour...

Although the previous paragraphs may seem harsh they are not meant to criticise the people nor their actions. It is easy to pinpoint what went wrong 45 years ago, but as it is impossible to predict an alternative past we will never know if any other action would have had a different or better effect. The Reverend is convinced that Syd's friends, band members and management tried to do their best to help him, but unfortunately they were running in the same insane treadmill as he was. Syd wasn't the only one to be exhausted and at the same time the atmosphere was imbibed with the 'summer of love' philosophy of respecting someone's personal freedom, even if it lead to self-destruction...

1968

In 1968 Aubrey 'Po' Powell (Floydian roadie and later Hipgnosis member) visited the Formentera island together with some friends.

I first came here forty-one years ago [interview taken in 2009, FA] with David Gilmour, and then the year afterwards with Syd Barrett. The first year I came to Formentera I stayed about four months living like a hippie, and I just fell in love with it. (…) Also it was kind of difficult to get to. You had to get the plane to Ibiza and then the ferry which at that time was the only ferry that went between Ibiza and Formentera and that took about two hours to get across and it only went twice a day. So it was an effort to get there, you know, it was a rather remote place. But a lot of writers, painters and musicians gravitated there. (Taken from: Aubrey Powell: Life, light and Formentera’s influence on Hipgnosis.)
a smile from a veil
A smile from a veil.

1969

Shortly after Syd Barrett watched the first moon-landing (that had been given a Pink Floyd soundtrack on the BBC) he panicked when he found out that his pal Emo (Iain Moore) and a few others (Po, John Davies) had left Albion for sunny Formentera. He literally grabbed a bag of cash and dirty clothes and headed to Heathrow, driven there by Gala Pinion.

The story goes that Syd tried to stop an aeroplane taxiing on the tarmac. In at least one version the plane actually stopped and took him on board, but other say he had to wait for the next departure. Again it is biographer Rob Chapman who categorises this anecdote as 'unsubstantiated nonsense', on the weird assumption that it failed to make the newspapers, but other biographies have also omitted this story for simply being too unbelievable.

Anyway, somewhere in July or early August 1969 Syd arrived in Ibiza and met Emo who was on his way to San Fernando (Formentera). The biographies Crazy Diamond (Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson), Madcap (Tim Willis) and Dark Globe (Julian Palacios) all add bits and pieces to that particular holiday.

Iain Moore: “He had a carrier bag of clothes that I could smell from where I was standing.”

Emo says Syd's behaviour was pivoting like a see-saw. One moment he could be seen laughing, joking and singing with the gang; the next moment he could snap into an emotional freeze. It was useless to warn him for the blistering sun and in the end his friends 'had to grab him, hold him down, and cover him from head to toe in Nivea'.

At Formentera Syd stayed with Mary Wing, who had left Great Britain in 1965 to live on the island with Marc Dessier. According to them Barrett was a gentle soul but 'like a little brother who needed looking after'. Barrett was in good form and to an audience of European hippies he claimed he was still the leader of Pink Floyd.

Barrett borrowed Dessier's guitar: “Then he sat there, chose a letter of the alphabet and thought of his three favourite words starting with the same letter. He wrote them on three bits of paper, threw them in the air and wrote them again in the order that he picked them up.” This technique was not uncommon for beat poets and Syd may have been inspired by Spike Hawkins who showed Barrett his Instant Poetry Broth book the year before.

One Formantera picture shows Syd with an unknown girl who hides her nudity behind a red veil. The (copyrighted) picture can be found on John Davies MySpace page (image link) and has been published in the Crazy Diamond biography and on A Fleeting Glimpse.

For Pink Floyd buffs the picture shares a resemblance with the red veil picture on the Wish You Were Here liner bag, that actually exists in a few different versions. Storm Thorgerson has used the past from the band and its members for his record covers, backdrop movies and videos on several occasions, like the Barrett vinyl compilation that had a cover with a plum, an orange and a matchbox.

Hipgnosis collaborator 'Po' Powell was with Syd in Formentera in 1969, but what does Storm Thorgerson has to say about it all? He reveals that the idea for the veil came from John Blake, and not from Po:

John Blake suggested using a veil – symbol of absence (departure) in funerals ans also a way of absenting (hiding) the face. This was the last shot (…) which was photographed in Norfolk.

And in Mind Over Matter:

The red muslin veil is an universal item, or symbol, of hiding the face, either culturally as in Araby, or for respect as in funerals. What's behind the veil?
Sarah Sky, Formentera 1969
Sarah Sky, Formentera 1969.

Formentera Lady

According to Nick Mason a female nude can be seen on the Wish You Were Here inside cover but of course this doesn't say anything about the unknown woman on Formentera. Who is she?

Nobody knows. And that secret remained a secret for over 40 years.

Now let's suppose a witness would show up who remembers she has been seen walking near Earl's Court.
And that she was called Sarah Sky although that probably was not her real name.
And that she spoke with a foreign accent and lived in London.
And that Sarah Sky vanished around the late 1970's and has never been heard of since.

Partially solving a problem only makes it bigger. A new quest has begun.

Updates

Iain Moore

Update 2012.05.26: According to Emo (Iain Moore) Sarah Sky may have been one of the girls who went with them to Formentera. The Syd Barrett Archives (Facebook) have the following quote:

Actually, I spoke to Emo last night and he said she was just another person who was staying at the house they rented. It was a nudist beach, lol. At least Syd kept his pants on this time! (…)
Anyway, Emo said they didn't know her and he couldn't remember who she was with. (...)
The girl in this photo is name unknown. She was American and staying in a house in Ibiza. She was visiting Formentera for the day.

Iain has, since then, reconfirmed that the Formentera Girl was an American tourist. He has also posted a new picture of Syd and the girl.

Nigel Gordon

Update August 2012: Author and movie maker Nigel Gordon does not agree with a quote in the above text, taken from Matthew Scurfield:

I just want to respond briefly to your article on Formentera etc where you wrote or quote that Santmat is ‘saccharine mysticism’. I don’t agree with you. Santmat recommends that we meditate for two and a half hours a day. It’s pretty ‘salty’!

Uschi Obermaier

Update February 2015: Some 'sources' on the web pretend the Formentera girl is none other than German photo-model Uschi Obermaier. Obviously this is not true and if you want to know how the Church came to this conclusion you can read everything at Uschi Obermaier: Proletarian Chic.


Many thanks to: Nina, ebronte, Julian Palacios, Jenny Spires.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 90, 131.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 228, 341.
Davis, John: Childhood's End, My Generation Cambridge 1946-1965.
De Groot, Gerard: The Sixties Unplugged, Pan Macmillan, London, 2009, p. 27.
Gordon, Nigel: Santmat, email, 18.08.2012.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 286.
Green, Jonathon: All Dressed Up, Pimlico, London, 1999, p. 255.
Mason, Nick, Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 95-97.
Palacios, Julian: A mile or more in a foreign clime': Syd and Formentera @ Syd Barrett Research Society, 2009 (forum no longer active).
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 265, 353.
Pryor, William: The Survival Of The Coolest, Clear Books, 2003, p. 106.
Scurfield, Matthew: I Could Be Anyone, Monticello Malta 2009, p. 176.
Spires, Jenny: The Syd Barrett Archives, Facebook, 2012.
Thorgerson, Storm: Mind Over Matter, Sanctuary Publishing, London, 2003, p. 80.
Thorgerson, Storm: Walk Away René, Paper Tiger, Limpsfield, 1989, p. 150.
Thorgerson, Storm & Powell, Aubrey: For The Love Of Vinyl, Picturebox, Brooklyn, 2008, p. 104 (essay written by Nick Mason).
Watkinson, Mike & Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 90-91.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 113-114.


2013-11-02

If you're going to Sausalito

Roger Barrett (photoshopped)
Roger & Syd (shopped by Felix Atagong).

Is there really a Barrett revival going on, or are we just seeing more Syd fans because our global village is getting smaller and smaller? I do remember the early seventies when the only guy you could speak to about Barrett was a freakish weirdo who smoked pot in the school toilets and who was generally avoided by everyone, including the school teachers.

The vibrant Birdie Hop Facebook group is sky-rocketing with over 1200 members and a dozen new threads a day, but the traditional forum has come to a standstill and survives on its three posters a day, so the feeling is a bit ambiguous.

Facebook may be here to stay (but that was once said from MySpace as well, remember?) but basically it sucks if you want to find information and you are not employed by the NSA. While traditional forums have this newbie rule to go looking in the archives before asking a question this is virtually impossible on Facebook, because their search system simply doesn't work and links are automatically made redundant after a certain time. The whole 'group' concept of Facebook is a laugh, especially for administrators. Underneath is a screenshot of an actual search on Facebook, trying to locate the thread (Facebook link no longer active) this article is about...

Sausalito Facebook Search
Sausalito Facebook Search Results.

So, by design, Facebook groups are condemned to have a flow of 'continuous repetition' to paraphrase the wise words of Dr. Hans Keller while the one interesting thread is floating down around the icy waters underground. (Wow, this is a good cigarette.)

Waiting for the man

A couple of weeks ago Baron Wolman's picture of Pink Floyd toying around at the Casa Madrona hotel in Sausalito (CA) was posted again and as usual there was that one individual asking if anybody knew who the bloke was standing behind the boys.

Picture by Baron Wolman, 11 November 1967
Picture: Baron Wolman, 11 November 1967."

As a matter of fact nobody remembers, not even Nick Mason, who writes in the coffee-table edition of Inside Out Note:

Tea on the terrace at our hotel in Sausalito on the hillside above San Fransisco Bay (…) I have no idea who our tea-time partner was – the hotel manager, an under assistant West Coast promotion man, or a vendor of Wild West apparel? We eventually acquired enough cowboy hats for the entire population of Dodge City, and Roger commissioned a six-gun holster in which he carried his wallet.

So here was another quest for the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, that splendid non-profit organisation, lead by that fantabulous mastermind Reverend Felix Atagong who has already solved several Barrettian riddles in the past.

Hotel California

The obvious first step was to contact the hotel that doesn't hesitate to put on its website that it is a legend since 1885 and that it drew celebrities such as Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Warren Beatty and the rock band Pink Floyd.

We got a very friendly answer from Stefan Mühle, the general manager, that our guess was logical but that he didn't know either. Since 1967 the hotel changed hands a couple of times and the finer side of these anecdotes, that only seem to bother the Sydiots in the world, got lost in the mist of times.

Concert Poster 1967
Concert Poster 1967.

Before we continue with our quest, let's have a small history lesson.

In the summer of 1967 Syd Barrett suffered from something that was euphemistically referred to as over-fatigue. The band scrapped some gigs and send Barrett over to sunny Formentera under supervision of doctor Sam Hutt, the underground's leading gynaecologist. Unfortunately Smutty, as he was invariably called by his female patients, was the kind of doctor who rather prescribed LSD than aspirin. After some holidays in the sun Syd (and the rest of the boys) returned to England where the endless treadmill of gigging, recording, gigging, recording started all over again. (You can read more about the Floyd's holiday at Formentera Lady.)

In retrospect this was the moment that someone should've grabbed Syd by the balls, whether he wanted it or not, drag him back to Cambridge, cold turkey him and give him some proper therapy, although that was kind of non-existent in those days. William Pryor, a Cambridge beat poet who descended from the underground into a heroine maelström, describes the Cane Hill drug rehabilitation centre as a 'redecorated ward of a huge Victorian lunatic asylum village that had been given a coat of paint and a fancy name' where it was almost easier to score H than in the outside world.

This is not America

Pink Floyd's first American tour was planned between 23 October and 12 November 1967 but because there was a rather Kafkaesque bureaucratic system to get work permits up till 15 possible gigs had to be cancelled (according to Julian Palacios 8 had already been booked, Mark Blake sticks to 6 and Syd Barrett Pink Floyd dot com counts 10).

The trustworthy biographies all have (slightly) different stories but it is safe to say that the Floyd left for America with at least a week delay. Unfortunately they still couldn't enter the country and had to wait in Canada until their permits arrived while the management frantically tried to reschedule the gigs that had already been confirmed.

Concert Poster 1967
Concert Poster 1967.

Pink Floyd had been nicknamed 'The Light Kings of England' by Tower Records, but they had only played in small clubs up till now. When the Floyd had their first gig at San Francisco’s Winterland Auditorium on the 4th of November their light show was ridiculously small and amateurish compared to Big Brother and The Holding Company. But it was not only Janis Joplin's whiskey breath that blew Syd away.

The 1967 American tour was disastrous, to say the least, and quite a few gigs went horribly wrong. Luckily the natives were friendly, so friendly that at least one band member had to visit a venereal disease clinic back in the UK. Syd and Peter Wynne-Willson learned the hard way that American grass was much stronger than at home, leading to another ruined gig as Syd was apparently too stoned to handle his guitar. It is an educated guess that Syd tried some local drug varieties like DMT and STP that were much stronger than their British counterparts. DOM or STP or Serenity, Tranquility and Peace allegedly gave synaesthetic trips that could last for 18 hours and from testimonies by Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and Mick Farren it is known that it could take a week for some (frightening) hallucinatory effects to disappear. Julian Palacios, who dedicates 11 pages to the Floyd's first American tour in Dark Globe, writes:

Associated with the downfall of Haight-Ashbury, on 11 November pink wedge-shaped pills containing 20-micrograms of DOM hit the Haight. Haight-Ashbury Medical Clinic treated eighteen cases of acute toxic psychosis in five hours. When Barrett and Wynne-Willson took STP in San Francisco, this was in all likelihood the same ‘pink wedge’.

Result: if Syd Barrett had been mad before, this tour only made him madder. At the Cheetah club he received an electroshock from his microphone and he reacted by looking around on stage for the next hour and a half, not singing, not playing his guitar. He would be incommunicado to the others for the rest of the tour, who weren't very keen to talk to him anyway. It needs to be said that not all gigs were catastrophic and some reviewers actually found the band interesting, but we wouldn't go that far by calling Syd's erratic behaviour a cleverly performed dadaist statement like Rob Chapman suggests.

Rolling Stone 1
Rolling Stone 1.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

A brand new music magazine, called Rolling Stone, whose first issue had just appeared a couple of days before, wanted to do a feature on the new English underground sensation. They send over photographer Baron Wolman to the Casa Madrona hotel in Sausalito who found the lads in a good mood and joking around. But when the band performed at Winterland that night, the 11th of November, Ralph Gleason of Rolling Stone was so disappointed he decided not to publish the cover article and just reviewed the concert saying that 'Pink Floyd for all its electronic interest is simply dull in a dance hall'. This was also the gig where Syd detuned the strings of his guitar until they fell off, de facto ending his contribution for the rest of the show. The next day, on the last gig of the American tour, the band saw Syd walking off stage and for the first time voices were raised to kick him out.

In retrospect this was another moment that someone should've grabbed Syd by the balls, whether he wanted it or not, and drag him back to Cambridge, but the management insisted to immediately fly to Holland. Thirty-seven years later, Nick Mason more or less apologises:

If proof was needed that we were in denial about Syd's state of mind, this was it. Why we thought a transatlantic flight immediately followed by yet more dates would help is beyond believe.

This is the house

William Barrett Plaque
William Barrett Plaque.

Casa Madrona was build in February 1885 for (isn't it ironic?) William G. Barrett, a wealthy Vermont born lumber baron and Secretary-Treasurer for the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company. He and his family lived high above the town in his beautifully designed Italian Villa country home.

Architecturally, it was a mastery of craftmanship, a tall and stately mansion which stood upon the hill-side. Its three stories, with handsome porticos and verandas, projecting cornice with curved brackets, and hooded windows, received prominent recognition from the community. This resulted in an article in the Sausalito News in 1885, which praised Mr. Barrett's "New Mansion... its fine appearance, magnificent view", and called the Barrett place "one of the finest improved sites in Sausalito." (Taken from the National Register of Historic Places.)

In 1906 the house was sold to attorney John Patrick Gallagher who converted it into a successful hotel. For the next three decades Barrett House (and its four outbuildings) would be a hotel, a bar 'the Gallagher Inn' and a brothel, but that last is something you won't find at the hotel's website.

Barrett House
Barrett House.

During World War II, the property was used as temporary lodging for military families in transit and for the labourers of the nearby (military) shipyard. After the war it fell into disrepair and became known as a crash pad for the city’s burgeoning beatnik population.

In February 1959 Robert and Marie-Louise Deschamps, who had just immigrated from France, responded to an ad to run a 'small hotel'. Their children Marie-France and 24-year old Jean-Marie were there when they opened a nameless bar on the 27th of April 1959:

The building was in ruins. Mattresses on the floor, broken furniture - and very little of that. It was not ‘bohemian’ - it was a flop house!

The Deschamps family had no hotel experience and were rather unpleasantly surprised by the beatniks who rarely paid their bills. The bar was not an immediate success either, they would often find that the door had been smashed in at night and the beer stolen. The logical plan was to close the hotel, evict the hobos and start all over again.

San Mateo Times 1963-06-28
San Mateo Times, 1963-06-28.

When the renewed hotel, in exclusive French style, and an excellent restaurant 'Le Vivoir' were opened about a year later Jean-Marie left the parental home to sail the seven seas, working as a cook on Norwegian and Swedish ships. He returned to the hotel around the mid-sixties and moved into Cottage B. Several guests, from the pre-sixties bohemian days, were still living in the 'attached' cottages, including a Swedish baron who had served in the Waffen SS, an ex-CIA agent who claimed to have been a spy in Vienna, a mostly drunk beatnik writer and adventurer and, last but not least, a continuously depressed crew member of one of the planes that dropped the atom bomb on Japan.

In 1973 Casa Madrona was damaged by a series of mudslides and scheduled for demolition, but it was saved in 1976. Since then it changed owner several times and went even bankrupt in 2009. With the opening of a spa resort the hotel was, hopefully, given a new life and history.

Jean-Marie Deschamps

It is believed that Jean-Marie Deschamps, the owner's son, was living and working at the hotel when the Pink Floyd stayed there in November 1967, 2 months before his 32nd birthday. We contacted Baron Wolman who told us:

While I'm not entirely certain that he was Deschamps himself, for sure he was a principal in the hotel - owner, manager, chef, etc. Given the look, however, I would say your educated guess is probably correct...

Comparing the Floydian picture (1967) with one from 2005 it seems pretty safe to say there is a certain resemblance.
Update January 2014: The Deschamps family have confirmed it is Jean-Marie standing behind Pink Floyd.

JM Deschamps, 1967 and 2005
J.M. Deschamps, 1967 and 2005. Pictures: Baron Wolman & Yves Leclerc.

Jean was born on January 20, 1936 and passed away on Tuesday, December 8, 2009. In a (French) obituary it is written how Jean-Marie was an 'incorrigible globe-trotting vagabond' whose home was always 'elsewhere' and an anarchistic supporter of lost causes, like the rights of native Americans. Later on, despising the Bush administration, he was an ardent critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...

But once a cook, always a cook. The night before he died he asked his (fourth) wife Monica to note down the Christmas menu for his children and grandchildren, probably knowing that he wouldn't be there to attend. January 2010 saw a 'sumptuous feast' at the Barrel Room of the Sebastiani Winery in Sanoma (CA) where 150 guests honoured their friend, husband, father, grandfather. The place was a gathering of artists, writers, businessmen, hosts, globetrotters and vagabonds.

If only someone would have had the guts to find out earlier who was the man standing behind the band. It would've been swell to ask him about his meeting with the Floyd in 1967, but unfortunately now it is too late for that. We are pretty sure that it would have led to a tsunami of anecdotes as Jean-Marie Deschamps had always been a sailor and a vagabond at heart.

And we will never know what Syd thought of staying in Barrett House.

Alan Styles
Alan Styles & Iggy. Picture: Mick Rock.

An Ending In Style (or not)

We need an addendum as the Pink Floyd in Sausalito saga isn't over yet.

When Pink Floyd roadie Alan Styles, who used to be a punter on the river Cam, saw the house boats community in Sausalito he fell in love with the place and decided not to return home after the 1972-1973 Dark Side of the Moon tour. Alan, who was some kind of celebrity in Cambridge before anyone had heard of Pink Floyd, can be seen on the rear cover of the Ummagumma album and makes out the bulk of the 'musique concrète' on Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast (Atom Heart Mother).

In 2000 a short movie was made about Style's life in Sausalito, but it was only released after his death in 2011. It is the story of a man wanting to be free in a world that keeps on abolishing freedom. In a nice gesture to their old friend Pink Floyd Ltd cleared the copyrights for the movie, as told by Viper:

Nick Mason messaged me on FB as I'd been asking on his site about permission to release the video about my uncle. Nick gave me PF's management details and in turn David Gilmour gave us permission to release the video as it contains original PF music.

But when the Reverend visited Jon Felix's YouTube channel this is all he got, apparently EMI (and a lot of other acronyms) don't give a fuck about what Nick Mason or David Gilmour are deciding or what friendship, compassion, remembrance and especially respect is all about:

blocked
Blocked Youtube movie.

In some kind of weird Floydian cosmic joke Alan Styles died on the same day as Jean-Marie Deschamps, but two years later, on the 8th of December 2011.

Somewhere we think we should try to make a point, but we can't think of anything right now.


Note: The memoires of Nick Mason's Inside Out are (90%) identical between the different editions. However, the hardcover 'deluxe' edition contains hundreds of photos that aren't in the cheaper soft-cover versions. These pictures all have funny and informative notes that aren't present in the paperback editions. Back to top.

Many thanks to: the Deschamps family, Jon Felix, Yves Leclerc, Stefan Mühle (Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa), Viper, Baron Wolman, USA National Register off Historic Places.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 95-96.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 198.
Leclerc, Yves: Bum Chromé, Blogspot, 9 décembre 2009, 10 janvier 2010.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 93.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 98-102.
Mühle, Stefan: JM Deschamps on Baron Wolman picture?, email, 21.10.2013.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 289-290, 298.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 45-46, 69.
Pryor, William: The Survival Of The Coolest, Clear Books, 2003, p. 106.
Wolman, Baron: Casa Madrona - Pink Floyd + unknown man, email, 14.10.2013.

Baron Wolman
Baron Wolman Photography
The Rolling Stone Years by Baron Wolman

Casa Madrona & Sausalito
Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
Casa Madrona AKA William G. Barrett House @ National Register of Historic Places in Marin County.
Casa Madrona @ United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service, National Register of Historic Places.
Casa Madrona, 1959 @ Marinscope, an interview with Jean-Marie Deschamps.
Colorful Casa Madrona Tales Keep Spilling Out @ Northbay Biz

Solo En Las Nubes
Curiosidades - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn de Tower Records, an interesting post about the Tower release of Pink Floyd's first album.


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
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.


2014-11-08

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)


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.