Stars

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2011-01-30

Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem

Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem

Perhaps that is not entirely true, but at least we've got your attention.

Terrapin 9
Terrapin 9.

Terrapin

Terrapin was a Syd Barrett fanzine appearing from the early till the mid-Seventies. The alternatively wired Bernard White was one of the few who used to run the legendary magazine although it has mainly acquired this status through the amnesic mist of time. The magazine was badly written, badly styled, badly distributed and, to add insult to injury - somewhere in between - the different editors used the scarce pages of their own magazine to fight out some internal editorial wars. Call it a Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit avant la lettre, quoi.

But of course Terrapin occasionally had its peak moments. A young Robert Chapman, whom we all know from his excellent work of fiction A Very Irregular Head, debuted in Terrapin number 2 with his review of the February 1972 Stars gig at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. He had it mainly wrong, so he was already creating a habit there.

A smart trip

The most intriguing piece in Terrapin did not come from Rob Chapman, nor Bernard White, but from the mad bard himself. Issue 9 (July 1974) had a previously unpublished poem, written by Syd Barrett, titled: A Rooftop Song In A Thunderstorm Row Missing The Point. Several weird theories have surfaced about it and one of them goes that the starting letters of its title form the witty anagram 'a smart trip'. Not all Barrett fans believe the poem was written by Syd, but - and otherwise this article would have no reason at all - let's assume he did. The poem, as it appeared in 1974, can be found in our Rooftop gallery. It is in Bernard White's handwriting, as are most pages of Terrapin, because there was no typewriter around when he created the fanzine.

Bonhams

Fast forward to 2010. On the 4th of December Barrett scholars found that the Bonhams auction house was going to sell the following: Sale 17974 - Entertainment Memorabilia, 15 Dec 2010 - Lot No: 148:

A Syd Barrett poem, circa late 60s/early 70s, signed, in black ballpoint on a small piece of paper, entitled 'A Rooftop Song In A Thunderstorm Row Missing The Point', thirteen lines, beginning, 'With yellow red and foomy food, and quivered / crouching on a golden cushion / Undressed himself to dissapear (sic) through an infinity of pleasure...', the reverse with part of a question/answer piece, one side covered in tape, 12.5 x 13cm (5 x 5in) approx. Estimate: £2,000 - 3,000, EUR 2,300 – 3,500.
(Note: a facsimile can be found at our Rooftop gallery.)

But what was most interesting, intriguing and salivating was the footnote at the bottom of the Bonhams page:

This will feature in a book about Syd to be launched in March 2011, with an exhibition at Idea Generation, and the Barrett family have confirmed this is in Syd's hand.
See Emily Play lyrics (Syd Barrett)
See Emily Play lyrics (Syd Barrett).

Almost immediately the allusion that the piece was in Syd's handwriting was questioned by some fans. At the left side there is a snippet of Pink Floyd's See Emily Play and that is how Syd Barrett's handwriting looked like. Late Night member Dark Globe did a fine job by comparing Barrett's and White's handwriting and concluded:

To me, the handwriting on the Bonhams poem itself looks closer to BW's handwriting than to Syd's. (Syd's handwriting tended to slope to the left all throughout his life). I'd guess that the Bonhams item is actually a draft written in a looser hand by Bernard White for the final version which appears in the fanzine. (Taken from: Rooftop for Sale.)

Brettjad at Madcaps Laughing remarked: “I don't get it. If it's Syd's, then why did he write that interview on the reverse?”

A pertinent question indeed. The Anchor took the liberty of taking a closer look at the backside of the document (see gallery). One of the first assumptions the Anchor can make is that the sold snippet was cut out of a larger piece of paper as the top of the backside horizontally slits a sentence in half. But that is not all there is to see.

Giovanni Dadomo

The backside text contains a Syd Barrett interview, taken by Giovanni Dadomo, probably in 1971, but only published three years later in Terrapin. And still that is not all.

The backside transcript is (partly) page 5 of Terrapin 10. In other words: here is the original page, in Bernard White's handwriting, before it was printed and distributed to its subscribers in August 1974. The underneath illustration hopefully proofs that both are identical (first line: Terrapin 10; second line: Bonhams poem - back side).

Terrapin vs. Bonhams
Comparing Terrapin with Bonhams.

Missing the point

Let's digest this for a while, while we have a go at the poem itself. According to Bonhams, Barrett's family has confirmed it is in Syd's hand although they fail to produce a certificate of authenticity or to simply name the family member who has testified this. If they can't it is hearsay, to say the least.

For the sake of argument, let's believe the poem is in Syd's handwriting. Why then did super-fan & collector Bernard White prefer to publish a copy of the poem in his handwriting rather than to publish Syd's original? Surely someone must have been missing a point?

In Terrapin 9 White thanks 'Hypgnosis for the poem and photos'. Still following Bonhams train of thought this means that Po (Aubrey Powell) or Storm (Thorgerson) gave Bernard White an original Syd Barrett document without asking for a receipt. That's not how we know them, especially not in 1974.

Anoraks have of course spotted the mistake in the previous paragraph. Bernard White thanks Hypgnosis, not Hipgnosis. As legendary as his fanzine are his spelling errors (in one issue he jokingly described himself as 'Bernard M White: spelling mistakes and all other errors'). The Rooftop paper has got two: 'your writting' and 'to dissapear'. White's spelling errors are as unique as his handwriting and the 'dissapear' error is repeated in both versions of the poem. Oops!

Bonhams' Barrett vs Terrapin's White

To end the discussion, once and for all, let's have a look at the two known Rooftop copies: blue is Bonhams (Syd Barrett), red is Terrapin (Bernard White). Hmmm...

Terrapin vs. Bonhams
Comparing Terrapin with Bonhams.

It is in a book, ergo it must be true

Not only does Bonhams claim that the poem is in Barrett's handwriting, they also maintain that their version is going to be published 'in a book about Syd to be launched in March 2011, with an exhibition at Idea Generation'.

Who could be better situated to acknowledge this than Russell Beecher, the editor of Barrett, The definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett. Unfortunately he told the Anchor:

We also thought that the poem wasn't written in Syd's hand so we haven't included it in the book. I am not sure about the family authentication but I think, as you and we have worked out, that point is irrelevant as we know it's not Syd's writing. (…) A shame though - would have been a great find!

Indeed, there must still be a third version of the Rooftop poem somewhere, the one - (perhaps) in Syd's handwriting - that Bernard White copied in the Hipgnosis headquarters. But that is not the one that was recently auctioned.

It's a gas!

On the 15th of December of 2010 a collector paid 2,160 £ for this original piece of Bernard White's handwriting, probably believing that it was Syd's. (Some information has now been removed from the Bonhams website but the Anchor has a screenshot.)

It was then when the Anchor decided to contact Bonhams to ask them if, perhaps, an eeny weeny teeny meeny mistake had been made.

An automated reply from Leonora O. learned us that she was out until the 5th of January and that for all queries we should try another mail address, that happened to be exactly the same address than the one we had send our questions to. So we waited, until the year was finally over...

In January we contacted Bonhams a second time. We got a reply from Katherine B. who was so friendly to inform us that Stephanie C. was going to answer us immediately.

Just before this article went into print (or should we say: upload) we informed again if Stephanie C. finally had any comments. Alas, she was too busy waiting for the ink to dry on a recently found Apple iPod that has John Lennon's signature on it and couldn't come to the phone.

Bernard White and Syd Barrett, sharing a Guinness at the great gig in the sky, are probably laughing their arses off.


The Anchor wishes to thank:
Russell Beecher,
Dark Globe who made an excellent comparison of Barrett's and White's handwriting at Late Night. Further analysis shows that the letter d in 'seasoned' (from the Bonhams poem) and the letter d in 'Bernard' (as in White's signature) are coming from the same person (post #9).

The documents, discussed above, can be consulted in our Rooftop gallery.

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.

2011-08-17

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.

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

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

Warren Dosanjh
Warren Dosanjh.

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

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

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

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

Where did you meet Syd Barrett for the first time?

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

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

How well did you know him then?

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

Did you play a musical instrument?

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

How did the band Those Without evolve?

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

And the name Those Without?

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

VW Dormobile
Volkswagen Dormobile.

So what was it like being a manager?

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

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

So what sort of music did Those Without play?

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

Syd with Those Without
Syd with Those Without.

How did Syd get in the band?

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

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

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

So what was special about Cambridge in the 60s?

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

Those Without Shadows
Those Without Shadows.

When did you last see Syd?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2011-09-04

Lee Wood, the man who knows everything

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

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

Raw Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

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

Lee Wood
Lee Wood in 2008.

Lee Wood – the man who knows everything

How long have you been living in Cambridge?

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

Did you ever meet Syd or members of Pink Floyd?

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

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

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

Did you ever see Pink Floyd play live?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you still have the tapes?

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

Syd's Bench
Syd's Bench.

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

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

Can you tell us what is on the DVD?

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

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

Syd's Cambridge DVD1
Syd's Cambridge DVD1.

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

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

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

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

Syd's Cambridge DVD2
Syd's Cambridge DVD2.

Syd's Cambridge Box Set (Lee Wood)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery

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

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

2013-02-01

Hairy Mess

June 1970
1. June 1970.

On the 6th June of 1970 Syd Barrett gave his short Olympia concert together with David Gilmour and Jerry Shirley. We won't get further into the discussion about the set's brevity and about the fact that a certain faction of Barrett fans and musicians, including Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, think that the tape of that gig is in fact a Stars performance of February 1972, but we will use this date as a calibration point for Syd's... length of hair.

The friendly discussion about the exact colour of Syd's floor boards created an existential crisis in Barrett-land (see: The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012)), with people who refuse to talk to each other ever since, and the hair-length discussion promises to be as lively. As a matter of fact Syd's Hair Chronology is not a new topic, we could find a Late Night forum thread from 2007, but like all things Syd this discussion comes up about every 6 months or so.

Stoned Tramp

Barrett, the second solo album, was released on 14 November 1970 and his management found it advisable to have some photo shoots and interviews to promote the album.

November 1970
2. November 1970.

Barrie Wentzell had the following to say about this:

Chris Welch and I went along to do a quick interview with Syd at his managers office. We were a bit apprehensive, as stories of Syd's behavior of late seemed bizarre. When we got there, we were met by a very upset guy who said Syd had locked himself into a room and he wouldn't come out. Oh dear! It seemed the stories were true. Chris and I spoke to him through the door and tried to convince him that we were his friends and that everything was ok. He slowly opened the door and ushered us in quickly shutting and locking the door behind us. He stood there looking very frightened, muttering, Those people out there are aliens, and are after me! We tried to tell him that they were his management and friends and they cared about him, as do we. He seemed unconvinced, and I took this dark side of Syd pictures and managed to persuade him to let Chris and I out and that we'd send help. He took the key from his pocket, unlocked the door. We escaped and Syd locked himself back inside. Taken from: Snapgalleries.

The pictures of Syd Barrett, taken that day by Barrie Wentzell, have been nicknamed the 'stoned tramp' session and show an unshaven Syd Barrett with mid-long hair and a pair of eyes that not always seem to be focusing on something (see: second picture). One of them appeared in Melody Maker of the 31st of January 1971, next to the Chris Welch article that was titled: Confusion and Mr Barrett. (To add further discombobulation Barrie Wentzell dates the picture as 1971 on his own website, but it is – probably – from November 1970.)

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (aka I like tomato)

March 1971
3. March 1971.

In Autumn 1970, Barrett was living semi-permanently in his mother's house in Cambridge, far away from the frantic London beatnik drug scene he had been a member, propagator and victim of. He had deliberately left everything and everybody behind to find some peace of mind. Perhaps he had decided to follow Gala Pinion, who had found a job at Joshua Taylor, a Cambridge department store and who had left London a few months earlier. One of Syd's many dreams was to settle down and start a family. Gala and Syd officially announced their engagement in October after they had found a ring at Antiquarius on King's Road.

To celebrate this event a joint family engagement dinner was organised but that day Syd was not in a very good shape. While Donald, Alan, Ruth, Roe and Gala's father where staring at each other in silence he threw some tomato soup over his fiancé and disappeared for the bathroom when the roast pork arrived... Julian Palacios:

He cut off his long hair to an inch from his skull and returned downstairs. As though the sixties had never happened, he severed links with his past with a pair of scissors. He rejoined the family fold, taking his place at the table in silence. Gala said, ‘No one batted an eyelid. They carried on with the meal as if nothing had happened, didn’t say a word. I thought, “Are they mad or is it me?’”

It is not sure when this dinner took place, but it might have been after the Barrett promo interview(s), so December 1970 seems like a valid candidate. The dinner fiasco was an omen for things to come, Syd would spy on Gala at her work and accused her to have an affair with a sales assistant and with his former drummer, Jerry Shirley. One day Barrett wrote a formal letter to break off the engagement and she returned the ring, but he would still harass her for weeks to come. During a final row, incidentally at Jerry Shirley's place, Barrett finally understood that he had lost. Even Syd must have grasped at one point that showing up at night and scaring the shit out of her was not the proper way to win her back.

Skinhead

May 1971
4. May 1971.

A few months later, that same Barrie Wetzell photographed Barrett to accompany the famous Michael Watts article that appeared in Melody Maker on the 27th of March 1971 (see third picture above).

Barrett has very short hair and looks rather agile:

Syd Barrett came up to London last week and talked in the office of his music publisher, his first press interview for about a year. His hair is cut very short now, almost like a skinhead. Symbolic? Of what, then? He is very aware of what is going on around him, but his conversation is often obscure; it doesn't always progress in linear fashion. Taken from: Syd Barrett interview, Melody Maker, Mar 27 1971, Michael Watts.

The above quote points out that the 'skinhead' pictures date from mid March 1971, although on Wetzell's website they are mislabelled as 1970. Steve Turner of Beat Instrumental met Syd on the 19th of April 1971:

He now has his hair cropped to Love Me Do length but compromises with a purple satin jacket and stack heeled boots. During the interview he relights each cigarette from the remnants of the previous one and pivots his eyeballs at an incredible speed as he speaks. "I've just left a train and had to pay an awful taxi ride" he says slowly tipping his ash into an empty coffee cup. "I've come to look for a guitar. I've got a neck in the other room. Quite an exciting morning for me." Something about him makes you think that this may well be right. Taken from: Syd Barrett, A Psychedelic Veteran (free subscription to read).
Februari 1972
5. Februari 1972.

And in May Barrett had a visit from Mick Rock and his wife Sheila (and not Iggy Rose as has been hinted here and there). Syds' hair already has grown a bit (see fourth picture above).

In early 1972, with the Stars gigs, he will have very long hair and a beard (see fifth picture).

We will never be sure about what Barrett's motivation was for his actions, but we can be sure about one thing, his hair grew at a staggering speed.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 281.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 383, 389.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 121-123.

Pictures:
1: 1970 06: Syd at Olympia, photographer unknown, Rex Features.
2: 1970 11: 'Barrett' 'stoned tramp' promo shot by Barrie Wentzell.
3: 1971 03: 'Barrett' 'skinhead' promo shot by Barrie Wentzell.
4: 1971 05: Syd in his mother's garden, Cambridge, by Mick Rock.
5: 1972 02: Syd performing with Stars by Jenny Spires.


Many thanks to: Psych, Stanislav & the gang at Late Night & Birdie Hop.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

2014-06-06

Boogie Wonderland

Birdie Hop. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

The Birdie Hop Facebook group has also a side project where people with a certain arty je-ne-sais-quoi are trying to get something on the rails. For the moment it is still vague and too preliminary to predict what may come out of it, but there are some ideas floating around and these tend to trigger other ideas, and perhaps one day it will surprise the world.

Opel, 2014

In contradiction to the Reverend, Rich Hall - one of Birdie's administrators and the creator of the amazing tribute album Birdie Hop and the Sydiots - didn't sit on his lazy ass while Alex was frolicking with the girls around the British landscape (see part one of this article: A sunny afternoon with Iggy). He took Syd's Opel track and added several guitar layers to the original version to make it sound a bit more finished. Of course it still has the quirky singing, but Rich's attempt is something of a definitive version and one that could be put on any Syd Barrett compilation album to come.

Update 2016 06 17: Soundcloud deleted this version a while ago, but it can be found on Facebook as well:

Opel upgrade by Rich Hall

Link: Opel (Rich Hall upgrade)

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

London Cambridge Boogie, 1972

In Cambridge Alex had the opportunity to meet some people who already had an advance copy of the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band album that will come out any day now. Another reason to join Birdie Hop is that you read and hear things first, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. And, with Alex's blessing, we publish here what well could be the very first review of this record in the entire world!

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band (© Alexander P. HB., 2014)

A big thanks to my friend and Punjabi brother Warren Dosanjh who sent me the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band CD (I had to look three times on the cover to write that correctly).

Of course, the sound and recording quality is not the best, but not as bad as I feared. It is much better than the 1967 live recordings we have of the early Pink Floyd. The main members Jack Monck and Twink do a great job in all songs, no doubt. The singer, Bruce Michael Paine, makes some of the songs sound like a special performance of Uriah Heep or Steamhammer (obviously). The track listing is a collection of late fifties or early sixties blues / rock 'n' roll / boogie tunes and a little bit of early seventies hard rock as well.

I can only hear two guitars.

I hear the perfection of Fred Frith in the first four songs and again in track 8 and 9, I´m not so sure of #8 though. Frith is nearly a perfect guitarist and can almost play nearly everything, nearly (lol)!

I definitively hear Syd Barrett in tracks 5 to 7. But he is not there for just a little bit, he is almost dominating the songs. He is strong and good and I´m sure he had practised a lot before, probably at home. Syd doesn't has the perfection of Frith but he is full of ideas and he is able to play parts that others can´t play or that others have not the craziness to play these parts. But at other times he plays conventionally and fits in perfectly with the song´s structures.

All in all this is much more than I had expected. I only listened to it once, but I didn't want to withhold you of my opinion.

A last word. How we look at the quality of the performed songs has got a lot to do with our viewpoints of today. Today we are spoiled by good concerts and good audio productions, but I'm sure we would all have been very happy to be there on the 27th of January 1972 in the Cambridge Corn Exchange!

Perhaps my expectations were so low that I sound a little bit too enthusiast now. But I am surprised by Syd´s guitar playing. I never thought that he was in such a good shape as a guitar player. This lets me believe that Twink is right and that the Stars concerts were far better than what was written later by people who weren't there.

© Alexander P. HB., 2014.

A detailed review with a full background story and an interview with Twink will appear later on, simultaneously at the Church and Birdie Hop.

This is part two of Alexander's adventures in the UK, for part one, go here: A sunny afternoon with Iggy 
This is also a prequel of our Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band article series: LMPTBB 


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

2014-06-14

The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story

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

November 2005

November 2005 was a pretty busy month for Floyd aficionados. John Harris' eagerly awaited book 'The Dark Side of the Moon, The Making Of The Pink Floyd Masterpiece' was published, but it failed to fulfil the high expectations of those nerdy Floyd fan who already knew more about the album than any author could ever write (for a short critical review, go here: John Cavanagh, so much to do, so little time). Rick Wright missed the UK Music Hall of Fame ceremony, because he had a cataract operation. However, David Gilmour and Nick Mason were there. Roger Waters gave a small speech on video from Rome, where his Ca Ira opera was premièred, with much acclaim from those who managed to stay awake. The French Rock 'n Folk magazine causing something of a stir by revealing the first dates of a 2006 European David Gilmour tour...

With all these exciting things one would almost forget that Brain Damage had an article called 'Lost Syd Barrett concert recording - found!'.

An incredibly rare recording of Syd Barrett, performing live on 27th January, 1972, with the Last-Minute Put-Together Boogie Band, at a show in Cambridge, has recently been unearthed, and plans are underway for a release!

The article further stated that Alan Barrett (on Syd's behalf) had contacted Pink Floyd Music Publishing to have this tape released. But the full story behind this story was, to say the least, an intriguing one and could be found on the – now defunct – blog of FraKcman and the (since then renewed) website of Spaceward Studios.

Legend

On 27 January 1972 a music festival was organised in Cambridge called Six Hour Technicolour Dream. It was organised at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, was advertised with an almost unreadable poster (orange on brown, yuck!) and had the following bands: Pink Fairies, Hawkwind and the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band (or LMPTBB or Boogie Band, for short), featuring Bruce Paine, Twink, Jack Monck, Fred Frith and a certain Syd Barrett.

The entire festival was taped, then forgotten, then (in 1985) found back, then seized by Pink Floyd Ltd., then forgotten, then (in 2005) found back and then shelved for 9 years with various people and companies trying to resolve copyright issues.

This article (in a LMPTBB series that will culminate in an interview with Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder and perhaps some others) will try to reconstruct these steps. We warn you that it is not always an easy read, where we quote FraKcman and others we have not altered their testimonies, so Sydiots will find some irregularities and mistakes here and there in dates, group names etc..

2005

In September 2005 Mark Graham, aka FraKcman, works on a 'recently rescued tape archive' from the Cambridge Spaceward Studios, trying to reconstitute their discography, set up a database and eventually re-release some of their hidden gems. What he finds is interesting indeed, to say the least:

Spent yesterday in the studio with Gary Lucas making a 96kHz, 24 bit digital transfer of Spaceward's first recording which I found in Gary's attic recently. It's a recording of a concert held at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 27/1/72. The bands were Hawkwind, Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band (featuring Syd Barrett) and Pink Fairies. Much to our amazement the tape sounded just as good (or bad) as it did when last played 33 years ago - and no gunk left on the tape heads!

Gary Lucas tells about this discovery on the Syd Barrett Under Review DVD:

FraKcman is aware that the Barrett Boogie Band recording is an important one and wants to include at least one track on a compilation album. On 17 October 2005 he notes, not without irony:

I just got a phone call from Le Grand Fromage at Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd in response to the message I had left 3 weeks ago. I pitched my idea of releasing an improv from the Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band's set at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27/1/72 on a putative Spaceward Studios retrospective album on Gott Discs. I'd been expecting him to say "Cease & Desist" but... he bought it! He said he'd sanction it on behalf of Syd provided the other musicians accept equal terms :) Yippee!!!

It is in November, and after the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett communities have digested the news and bombard him with questions, that FraKcman tells the full story.

On the 27th January 1972, Mike Kemp, Secretary of the Cambridge University Tape Recording Society, received a telephone call from Gary Lucas, CUTRS member and undergraduate at Pembroke College, requesting microphones. He'd been seen earlier in the day unloading a Revox tape recorder from his car into his lodgings (it happened to be the start of term) and had been asked if it could be used to record a concert that was taking place later in the Corn Exchange.
 
Mike agreed to help, went along to the concert and thus met Gary Lucas for the first time. Their collaboration that night was the start of what would become Spaceward and, fifteen years later, a business with a turnover of £5m, a staff of over 100, and offices in 6 countries. (...)
 
The line-up (in order) for the concert was Hawkwind, Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band (featuring Syd Barrett) and Pink Fairies. Hawkwind played first - 7 or 8 songs including "Silver Machine".
 
Next on was LMPTBB. It should be noted that this was NOT a "Stars" or "Syd Barrett All-Stars" gig - the line-up is different. There were several gigs by Stars at around this time including (I think) one at the Cambridge Corn Exchange with Eddie "Guitar" Burns. (...) The line-up was: Bruce Paine (vocals & guitar), Jack Monck (bass), Twink (drums), Fred Frith (guitar) and Syd Barrett (guitar). The set lasts an hour. Syd is introduced on stage after 30 minutes. He plays on 5 songs, 4 of which are blues numbers and there is one 9 minute jam (improvisation) which is fairly loose and free-form.
 
Pink Fairies played last and perhaps benefit from the best sound.
 
At one point there was a fight and, more than once, one mic or another became disconnected from the mixer.
 

Note: a Syd Barrett All Stars group never existed, although this name will be used several times by FraKcman. The Eddy "Guitar" Burns gig (that had Syd Barrett jam on stage with Twink and Jack Monck) was held on the previous day, the 26th of January 1972. This was not a Stars gig, but a LMPTBB one who were also Eddy "Guitar" Burns' backing band. Some info posted here could already be found in a 2010 Syd Barrett Pink Floyd (aka Laughing Madcaps) article: Syd Barrett Stars - Everything (So Far).

The tape is found back... and disappears

Mark Graham, aka FraKcman, continues:

After the gig, copies of the 'master' were made and distributed. Mike and Gary each retained a copy for personal use. I did not know this - I wasn't even at the gig. I don't come into the story until 1985 when (what turns out to be) Mike's copy is found. Here's what I wrote (in 2003) about the finding of it.
 
"I think it was during the Summer of 1985 when we were clearing out the space above the Control Room roof that I came across the Syd Barrett All Stars tape. It was just one among hundreds that were languishing there, pretty much forgotten that Owen Morris and I were sorting through - our task was to phone the bands or record labels concerned and get them either to collect their tapes or allow us to wipe them.
 
I admit that it was with a trembling hand that I descended the ladder clutching the tape and then threaded it on the Revox. We listened to it once, all the way through, and, though it pains me to say so, it was an absolute load of old shite.
 
It was awful. Truly. The sound itself was poor and the onstage tuning was non-existent. It was painful to listen to. Stoned, out-of-key noodlings - remarkable only for how dreadful it was. If I remember correctly parts of the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind sets were also on the tape.
 
What my response would have been had the recording been brilliant, or even good, of course we'll never know (might I have stolen a copy?) but it was clear to me that this could only ever be of historical (or forensic) interest - you'd NEVER want to actually listen to it - so, not having Syd's phone number to hand, I rang EMI.
 
The very next day a big car swished into the yard and out stepped a suit. I don't remember the gentleman's name - only his suit. He was from EMI and he'd come to listen to the Syd Barrett tape. I explained the history to him, made him coffee and then played him the tape.
 
He said nothing until the end.
 
"This recording can add nothing to Syd's legend - it can only detract from it. It must never be made public".
 
He took the tape away in his big car and, as far as I know, no copies exist." 

Regrets, we have a few

But was the 1985 really that bad, FraKcman reconsiders:

By 2003 I was thinking that I'd been somewhat dumb in 1985. For example, take my description: "Stoned, out-of-key noodlings" I realise now that, in 1985, I simply did not 'get' what Fred Frith was doing. Today, with perhaps greater insight and, setting aside vested interest, I might perhaps better describe Fred's playing as "extemporising atonally" - in other words, free improvisation. I didn't understand it and I didn't like the sound of it at all. Also, and please forgive me, It wasn't exactly in my best interest, looking back in 2003, that the tape might or could have been of any interest or quality since I'd voluntarily surrendered it to the MIB. I didn't want to go down in history as someone who'd dumped a treasure. But, in truth, I bitterly regretted having given it away.

The tape is found back (reprise)

Anyway, let's move the story on to 2005...
 
On the 8th September, as is told in my blog for that date below, I climbed into Gary Lucas' loft/attic and recovered around 50 tapes, including the one in question, though I didn't know this at the time. Later, when I did discover it, I immediately booked a studio session to make a 96khz, 24bit digital transfer.
 
Mick, the studio engineer for the digital transfer, judged the audio quality to be variable but better than most bootlegs. He thought that with time spent on restoration and sweetening he could certainly produce something 'release-able technically' if not of ideal quality. Gary Lucas, also present, agreed. I was beginning to think my judgement of 1985 may have been coloured by the fact that, at that time, the engineers at (and clients of) Spaceward were all dedicated perfectionists and audiophiles (E.G. Ted Hayton, Owen Morris, Dave Stewart etc etc). Nowadays things like "The King Crimson Collectors' Club" have shown what it is possible to achieve with old recordings. Technology changes everything.
 
My own aim was to tell the Spaceward Story - it's a good story and deserves to be told (as the discography attests) I could imagine this as part of a series of releases on Gott Discs - all compilations of various artists - Psyche Folk, Punk etc etc. Gary and Mick preferred the idea of the presenting the whole gig - as an event with all 3 bands' sets (or as much of) - and Gott Discs were of the same opinion.

Permission found and granted

We decided that I should set about trying to contact everyone involved and at least ask them nicely for permissions. What was there to lose? After a week of diligent searching and a lot of help from person or persons unmentionable, I managed to acquire the contact details for all the relevant parties, except Syd. So I wrote to them all, explaining who I was, what I'd got and what I wanted - I.E. to release it (or parts of it) as "The Spaceward Story - Volume 1- the Corn Exchange, Cambridge - 27/01/72". To my surprise and delight, no-one objected outright though all wanted to hear it first and agree terms before granting permission. It is fortunate that at least one song/number is an improvisation as this means that, in addition to a fee, all performers are entitled to a fair share of composers' royalties as administered by PRS/MCPS Alliance licencing in the UK. I also spoke with Twink (for the Pink Fairies) and Dave Brock (for Hawkwind) and it was the same story for them - no immediate objections but they want to hear it first.

Note: asking John 'Twink' Alder was actually not the right move. In 1972 he was no longer a member of the Fairies (but of LMPTBB).

In search of Syd

So now it was time to contact Syd's people. The first thing I did was to ask my friends for help - who should I call? I was given a number and a name: Alan Barrett, Syd's brother. So, rather nervously, I rang Alan and I pitched my story in a open and (I hope) courteous way that seemed to get his approval - anyway he told me to leave it for a few days and then call Pink Floyd Music Publishing Ltd and ask them. When I rang them and explained myself again, I was told that the project had already been green-lighted - provided only that the other musicians agree "equal terms".
 
So that's where we are now. I must go back into the studio and produce something that I can send to all the performers (along with a contract) that sounds good enough to persuade them all to grant permissions for a release.

The tape

the tape
The tape of the Cambridge Technicolour Dream gig.

The two tapes

Interesting in FraKcmans' story is that two Barrett tapes were unearthed at Spaceward. The first in 1985, now safely in the hands of EMI (or perhaps Pink Floyd, his story will change underneath) and one in 2005. It is not certain if the content of the two tapes are different, but FraKcman certainly thinks so (20 August 2006):

It seems obvious now, but it's taken me a long time to get to the point when I feel absolutely sure that there were two Syd Barrett live recordings made by Spaceward in early 1972.
 
Recording One was the Last Minute put-Together Boogie Band featuring Syd Barrett, Fred Frith and Eddie Guitar Burns at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 27/1/72.
 
Recording Two was Starz at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on either 24/2/72 or 26/4/72. [Note from FA: should be 26/2/72, probably a typo] This I believe was the tape that I handed to Pink Floyd Management in 1986.

There are some serious memory holes and contradictions in the blogpost above, what is understandable after all these years. On top of that it needs a certain amount of Sydiocy to immediately recognise these.

First: Eddie Guitar Burns did NOT play on the Six Hour Technicolour dream, he played the day before (but also with Syd Barrett on stage, hence the cockup).
Second: if the 1985 tape was a Stars (not Starz) one, why then did FraKcman note before that it contained 'parts of the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind sets'?
Third: if the 1985 tape was a Stars one why then did FraKcman note that he did not 'get' what Fred Frith was doing on it. Fred Frith never played with Stars, although he rehearsed with them, was asked to join even, but declined.

'Rehearsals were difficult, because Syd had pretty much lost any capacity to focus,’ says Frith. ‘Everyone was in awe of him, and we wanted him to lead us in a way, but he couldn’t. Jack kind of took charge and we did the best we could, but at the only concert that I did with them, Syd played “Smokestack Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really sing at all. To say I was hugely disappointed is maybe the wrong way of putting it. I was shocked, angry, devastated, that it had come to that. I didn’t know what to do or how to be in that situation. I always had a lot of difficulty being around “famous” people and especially famous people who I really looked up to, and this was even by my own standards of social ineptitude, a painful experience, and overwhelmingly sad.' (Fred Frith as quoted in Rob Chapman's A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 284.)

In a previous post FraKcman writes he contacted EMI about the tape, but here he says someone of Pink Floyd confiscated it, although this could not be contradictory if EMI contacted the band. But this whole story is a bit dodgy, to say the least, it smells. Handing over a tape (that, by the way, also contained a Hawkwind and Pink Fairies concert) to a competitor, without even asking for a receipt? It seems that not only Syd Barrett fried his brain on drugs.

The recording

Back to the Six Hour Technicolour Dream recording. Mike Kemp is the man who engineered it (Spaceward Studios):

The recording of the concert was organised at the last minute and the equipment was poor as all that was available was a rather poor mixer so we just stuck a stereo mic pair across the stage for drums/backline and mixed in some PA mix for front. We were positioned on the top of a sort of cloakroom arrangement in a corner near the stage (in about an inch of thick dust) but had a bad view of the stage from the equipment area due to columns in the building. I spent most of my time with headphones at the troublesome mixer so saw little.
 
The whole affair was a shambles with a fight breaking out around the stage at one point destroying at least one of the mics. I was pretty naive at the time and can not say I saw Syd Barrett but everyone was saying he was there. There were a number of rambling untogether acts and I am pretty convinced that the Syd Barrett All Stars was mentioned at the time, as well as "The last minute put together boogie band".

There we have that Syd Barrett All Stars band again! Jim Gillespie was present at the two Boogie Band gigs with Barrett (July 24, 2005):

The Cellar at King's College was always a venue for jamming and always had lots of people there from the Town and not just University. I played there myself lots of times between November 1969 and June 1971.
 
I was present at Kings Cellar on 26th January 1972. Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band played a first set with Twink on drums, Syd Barrett on guitar and Jack Monck on bass. Then Eddie "Guitar" Burns played and at end there was a jam with Eddie, Twink, Jack Monck and a guy called Bruce on guitar (sorry I have no other information on who this is apart from his first name but I wrote this down the next day so I figure it is correct).
 
I also went to what was billed as "Six Hour Technicolor Dream" at Corn Exchange in Cambridge the next day 27th January 1972. Hawkwind definitely played as did Pink Fairies and also I can confirm, as I wrote it down, that Fred Frith did indeed play guitar alongside Syd and Twink as part of Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band at that gig.
 
I also saw an outdoor gig in streets of Cambridge with Twink and Syd and this took place on 12th February 1972.

The mysterious Bruce is probably Bruce Paine who had to gig with LMPTBB the next day anyway. So the jam might have been some kind of an on stage rehearsal.

The sound of silence

Then it became silent around the tape. We suppose that clearing the copyrights wasn't as easy as expected and that the project was continuously postponed until the owner got enough of it. In June 2010 the reel was up for auction at Bonhams but the minimum bid (of 5000£, so was rumoured) was not reached and the auction was withdrawn.

We may only be happy that Pink Floyd, nor EMI bought it, as they were of the opinion they already had it (and probably they were right). This is just a theory but they were pretty certain they could delay this release forever. On top of that they were so parsimonious they didn't find it necessary to buy the second copy and have the opportunity to bury it, once and for all.

Anyway, good news for us, the fans!

Easy Action

In January 2011 there was again some hope when it was found out that Easy Action had bought the Six Hour Technicolour festival tape. They are are a (small) record company, specializing in rare and alternative recordings, demos, live versions and anything that falls in between the chairs of the big music publishers, but that can still be legally published. Looking at their catalogue you will find releases that seem to be destined for completists alone, like Marc Bolan home recordings or interview discs.

For a while they put up the following cryptic message on their website:

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

That Easy Action wanted to have a return on their purchase was proven in August 2011 when the Hawkwind concert was published as Leave No Star Unturned.

On 27th January 1972, Hawkwind, their comrades in Notting Hill / Ladbroke Grove psychedelic proto-punk agitprop The Pink Fairies, and what would be labelled as The Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band featuring the elusive Syd Barrett were brought together at The Cambridge Corn Exchange under the title The Six Hour Technicolor Dream by local music promoter and ‘Head Shop’ proprietor Steve Brink.
 
If we’d had the technology of today way back then, then for such a line-up we’d most certainly have on our shelves the DVD with its 5.1 stereo soundtrack, the CD box set, and the Blu-ray package.
 
Instead, what we have is something previously shrouded in mystery and rumour; quarter-inch ReVox open reel sourced recordings that have been whispered of in the circles of those who know.
 
One of only two known copies of this show surfaced in the mid-80s, promptly to vanish into the vaults unheard and unreleased. Thankfully, the other finally emerged from a forgotten loft space in 2005 and made its way into the hands of Easy Action Records via a circuitous route which included an appearance at the famous Bonham’s auction house in London’s affluent Knightsbridge - what a contrast to the anarchic ‘peace and love’ characters decrying the evil tentacles of ‘The Man’ who play on these recordings.

Did you notice that Easy Action also thinks that there is only one recording, but two tapes? They have probably contacted EMI and/or Pink Floyd Ltd and did the comparison.

Slow & easy

However, releasing the Boogie Band album seemed much more difficult than the Hawkwind gig (but easier than the Pink Fairies one, apparently). The album was announced a couple of times, first for 2013, then for 2014. Here is what a music industry insider once told us:

Carlton (from Easy Action) has been burned before by putting things out prior to getting all the clearence needed to do such a project. He has learned a very "valuable lesson" in that.

Green light or not, it would take until 2014 to get things settled, and finally, here it is... the Syd Barrett recording everyone has been hoping for since nearly a decade.

(End of part one of our LMPTBB series, part two will have more of the same: Syd's Last Stand. You have been warned.)


Many thanks to: Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Rick Barnes, Easy Action, FraKcman (Mark Graham), Jim Gillespie, Alexander P. HB, Mike Kemp, Gary Lucas, Spaceward Studios and the Wayback machine.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

2014-06-22

Syd's Last Stand

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

It is a small miracle that you can listen to the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Six Hours Technicolour Dream CD, issued by Easy Action.

In a previous article, The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story, you could read how the reel came into place, how a first copy was found back in 1985 and immediately seized, in about the most moronic way ever, by Pink Floyd Ltd (or EMI), who put it into one of their secret locker rooms.

The second (and last) copy was found back 20 years later and when it was put on sale, EMI nor Pink Floyd reacted, which could have been their ultimate chance to bury this release forever and ever... They were so full of themselves they thought they could delay this release even with another copy floating around.

Easy Action purchased it and after an immense struggle, behind the scenes, to get the copyrights (partially?) settled it was finally released, in June 2014. Of course this isn't an audiophile release, it is nothing more than an audience recording (but one of the slightly better ones) and the band that plays is rough and sloppy at times, but they seem to enjoy the gig. The Number Nine jam is, for Barrett fanoraks, as essential as the Rhamadan download, that – if our information is correct – has disappeared from the official sydbarrett.com servers, but can still be downloaded on iTunes.

The Syd Barrett website is run by One Fifteen that, like a good dog chained to Pink Floyd Ltd, has to lick its master's orifices for a living. Is that why you won't find a trace of LMPTBB on the official Syd Barrett news overview? And now that we are on to it, stop that irritating jukebox, will you.

But perhaps we, members of the Sydiot league, are just a bit over-sensitive and too unrealistic to acknowledge that Syd Barrett was just a very small sardine in a fishbowl of sharks? Isn't the Reverend getting too geriatric for this kind of goody good bullshit? Anyway, here is our second article in our Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band series, because nobody seems to care if we don't.

Update 2016: in January 2016 the official Syd Barrett website changed hands. It is now maintained by the Barrett family. After a good start with some out of the ordinary articles about Octopus and Bob Dylan Blues, it has - unfortunately - retreated into internet limbo.

Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster
Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster.

Boogie Nights

After Barrett's second solo album failed to impress the charts Syd retreated to Cambridge where it became clear that not all was well (see also: Hairy Mess). Trying to find his way back in music, at his own pace, he met Jenny Spires, who had returned to Cambridge as well and was now married to bass player Jack Monck whom Syd jammed with at least once. On the 26th of January 1972 Jenny took Syd to an Eddie ‘Guitar’ Burns gig that had Jack Monck and John 'Twink' Alder as backing musicians. Of course Twink was not unknown to Syd, they once had managed to gatecrash the launch party of King Crimson's first album, high on a dangerous cocktail of Champagne (from Steve Peregrin Took) and mandrax (accidentally misplaced in Iggy Rose's handbag who would otherwise never carry such a thing with her).

Somehow Jenny and Jack persuaded Syd to bring his guitar and when the Burns gig ended Syd joined the backing band for an impromptu jam. In Terrapin 3 from February 1973 this gig was reviewed by Mervyn Hughes:

Eddie (Burns) does a solo spot, then announces his “Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band” which consisted of Twink on Drums and Jack Monck on Bass. This band was given a set on their own and Syd was roped in to play too. (…) Although he stood at the back (just jamming as he obviously didn't know the numbers) play he did.

Our previous article in the LMPTBB series has a testimony of Jim Gillespie who noted that the jam with Syd Barrett took place as a supporting act, before the Eddie 'Guitar' Burns gig. He claims the LMPTBB played two short sets, one before (with Syd) and one after (with Bruce Paine). This is just another example of how memories can differ between persons, especially after a four decades interval.

In the extremely well written and definitive Stars (and LMPTBB) article: Twilight of an Idol, Mark Sturdy quotes another witness, Steve Brink:

There was a real natural musical empathy between the three of them. In any improvisational band, the musicians have to be interested in what each other are doing, and Syd was genuinely interested. It was just a free-form jam for about half an hour – more improvisatory than 12-bar blues, and I’m sure it changed key on any number of occasions. But there’s always that moment, that dynamic thing when three musicians make something that works.

Steve Brink was the man who organised the Six Hour Technicolour Dream festival the next day and perhaps he was secretly hoping for Barrett to show up again. We can't be sure of what Syd Barrett thought of it all, but Jenny Spires, Jack Monck and Twink convinced him to rehearse the next afternoon. The band tried to have Syd sing at least one of his own songs, but that plan was abandoned as Syd was still too fragile. Fred Frith, from Henry Cow fame, was quite disillusioned and would still be after the gig:

Syd played “Smokestack Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really sing at all.

Well let's find out if he spoke the truth, shall we?

Why don't you listen to the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band album on Spotify while reading this interview? (A Spotify membership is probably needed, but this is free. There is no need to download and install the Spotify player, the music will (hopefully) play in your browser.)

Direct link: Six Hours Technicolour Dream.

1. Foreplay

Sea Cruise

The record starts immediately with a cover of Huey "Piano" Smith's Sea Cruise (better known in Frankie Ford's version), so no band's introduction or greeting.

It is clear that this is not a soundboard, but an on stage recording and already after 41 seconds there seems to be a microphone falling out. Actually this is good news because it accentuates Fred Frith's guitar playing that surely is inventive and most of the time right to the point. Don't worry, sound quality will get better after a while, or perhaps it is just our ears getting used to the recording. The first number undoubtedly is just a warming up for better things to come.

The band introduces itself after the first track. Tape completists like to have the full recording of a concert, including guitar tunings and chatter in between numbers, and these seem to be left in. Of course every commercial release might be edited and snipped here and there, but if it is done it is pretty well done. However there are some places where we think some cuts have been made.

Bruce Paine
Bruce Paine.

L.A. To London Boogie

Singer Bruce Paine announces the second number as one he wrote himself.

Bruce Michael Paine, who sadly passed away in 2009, started as a folk singer in Greenwich Village (NYC) in the 60's. Like Dylan, his music became “electrified" by the middle of the decade, and he signed with Atlantic Records. He joined the Apple Pie Motherhood Band after their eponymous first album (1968) and sang on their second and last (Apple Pie, 1969). Both records can be found on the web and don't really impress, call it contemporary psychedelic oddities of the average kind.

After Apple Pie (without the crust, as Nick Mason would say) Bruce Paine stars in the San Francisco production of the musical Hair, then he moves to London where he meets drummer Twink and bass player John 'Honk' Lodge, from Junior's Eyes and later Quiver. They form a power blues trio, the 'Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band' (luckily they didn't pick Honk, Twink & Paine for a band's name). After some demo sessions at Polydor the band is denied a recording contract and a disillusioned Honk leaves the band. With Jack Monk as replacement the band mysteriously ends up in Cambridge, but after about ten gigs the claim for fame is over.

In May 1972 Bruce Paine briefly joins Steamhammer for their European and UK tour, but then he calls his European adventure quits and returns to the States to star in another musical, this time Jesus Christ Superstar.

Later on he will do session and acting work, with (small) roles in Married with Children and Quantum Leap. According to his self-penned bio he appeared in numerous films and television series and kept on gigging with his own band.

L.A. to London Boogie is a straightforward seventies rock song and the good thing is that about one minute into the tune Paine's micro switches back on. Remarkable is that Fred Frith keeps throwing arpeggios around as if they come thirteen in a dozen. All in all the band plays pretty tight, but the song itself is nothing more than a good average and leaves no lasting impression.

Apple Pie Motherhood Band
Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

Ice

The third song is called Ice. It is a cover from the first Apple Pie Motherhood Band album, the one Bruce Paine didn't sing on, and written by Apple Pie member Ted Demos and session singer Marilyn Lundquist. On the album Ice is a trippy psychedelic blues that seems to go nowhere in the end but how does the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band deals with it?

Direct link: Ice - Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

One thing you can say that it is longer, almost the triple longer than the original. Frith adds guitar lines that don't always seem to be coherent in the beginning but that get better later on. At the three minutes mark Twink and Frith start an experimental cacophony and this makes us wonder if this is what Spaceward Studios archivist Mark 'FraKcman' Graham described as dreadful, stoned, out-of-key noodlings (see: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story). It sure is a weird fusion between blues, hard rock and the avant-garde prog sound of Henry Cow, the band Frith started in 1968. The prog-rock stoners in the public must have loved it. Of course this is a cheap reflection afterwards but in this track Paine really shows he is the right person to star in those hideous Andrew Lloyd Webber rock operas, that man has a throat and he knows how to use it.

Nadine

A heckler in the audience shouts for some some rock'n roll and we get the classic Nadine. Also known as "Nadine (Is It You?)" it is a song written by Chuck Berry who released it as a single in February 1964. A straightforward and simple rendition this is, nothing less, nothing more, these guys know their business.

We haven't said a lot about Twink and Jack Monck yet, but the band certainly is inspired and well-trained. In the liner notes Twink reveals that they recorded several demos for Polydor, including L.A. To London Boogie and one that isn't on this live set, called Smoke. The band did about 10 gigs in total and as this could well have been their last gig they were a well oiled machine by now and it shows.

From now on the gig can only get better and better.

2. Eargasm

Gideon Daniels
Gideon Daniels.

Drinkin' That Wine

Time to announce a special guest:

We'd like to bring Syd Barrett up to the bandstand. Will you come on and (???) how about a hand for Syd Barrett?

We hear some polite applause and a guitar that is plugged in. Bruce Paine tells the public that the last group he toured with in the States was Gideon Daniels' gospel band and that he picked the next song from their set. There isn't much about him on the net, but one comment on a YouTube video tells this:

I saw Gideon & Power numerous times, and to this day (…) they were the best live act I've ever seen -- and that includes Jimi Hendrix. I remember when Mickey [Thomas] joined. Prior to that, there was Bobby Castro, Bruce Payne [sic], and Charlie Hickox on piano and vocal.

According to Bruce on the Six Hour Technicolour Dream record the song is about a funky dude who gets drunk by stealing the mass wine but in fact this is a traditional communion song that has been described in several anthologies and studies, like The Negro And His Songs from 1925 (page 136) and Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands from 1942 (page 249-251):

The swinging rhythm of the communion song, “Drinkin' of the Wine”, made it a favorite with the chain-gang for cutting weeds along the highway.

American minstrel Bascom Lamar Lunsford learned the song around 1900 in Wilkes County, North Carolina and you can hear him singing it at the beginning of this video. The history of the Drinkin' That Wine traditional is fascinating (the Reverend lost nearly three hours reading about it) but it would bring us too far. What matters for us, Syd fans, is that Syd Barrett plays on it and that it is a mighty earworm and the catchiest song on the album. Once you've got in into your head it is difficult to get it out again.

The track turns into a power blues that pushes Syd's guitar to the background at points, but his playing can be well distinguished if you take attention. His playing is in a different style from Frith's, muddier, sloppier perhaps... He does not spit out the notes at 120 beats per minute but this is about having a good time and not about a finger speed race.

This is good, this is really good.

Number Nine

As if a gospel wasn't weird enough, in a Floydian context, the gig turns even weirder. Number Nine is a bluesy jam that starts pretty traditional and then develops further into space. This could well be the highlight of the album for vintage Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett freaks. It catapults this reviewer back to the Abdab days when the proto-Floyd struggled with psychedelic versions of Louie Louie and other R&B standards. This may well sound like early Pink Floyd may have sounded in their experimental days. In the Barrett biographies to come this track will be described as being as essential as the Whitehead Interstellar Overdrive and the recently (and reluctantly) released Rhamadan. We took the liberty of grabbing some comments on Yeeshkul:

Demamo: “The guitar playing and sound is very "Lanky" and "Gigo Aunt" ish.”
Orgone Accumulator: “For all his psychedelic leanings, Syd tapped into that earlier Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly groove, with an emphasis on percussive rhythm.”
Beechwoods: “I must admit that musically I like it and there is an interesting progression between Interstellar and his '74 guitar pieces ('Chugga Chugga Chug Chug' etc) that is worth hearing.”

Like Rhamadan this isn't easy listening, but just like Rhamadan it isn't the disaster everyone feared for either. Listen to it, concentrate, feel the groove. It will grow on you.

Just before the eight minutes mark a micro falls out again for a couple of seconds, resulting in - weird enough – a better sound quality because the sound isn't distorted any more.

Gotta Be A Reason

At ten minutes the track segues into Gotta Be A Reason, probably the second LMPTBB original on this record. This track is only mentioned as a separate number for copyright (read: financial) reasons because after the strophe and refrain it further develops into Number Nine territory. As a matter of fact, early track listings just mentioned it as Number Nine (Gotta Be A Reason) and not as two separate numbers.

The jam ends somewhat sloppy with Twink, who has been in excellent shape throughout the record, in an obvious death struggle on drums. Perhaps it is just a clumsy way to have Syd unplug his guitar and leave the stage.

What a weird trip it has been.

3. Afterplay

Feel It!
Elvin Bishop.

Let's Roll

The eighth track is named Let's Roll on the CD, and this can be open to some controversy.

Actually this fun piece is a close cover of Elvin Bishop's Party Till the Cows Come Home that is equally irresistible (watch this 2013 version and try not to tap your feet), co-written with S. Colby Miller and recorded on the Elvin Bishop Group's second album Feel It! (1970).

While the lyrics of the verses are different in both versions:

LMPTBB:

Everybody out for a have a good time
I say wiggle baby and I'll be mine
You gotta shake your legs and wiggle with your hip

Elvin Bishop:

Kick out the windows bust down the doors
We`re drinkin` half gallons and shoutin` for more
Take off your shoes and let yourself go

The refrain, melody and chord progression are almost identical:

We're gonna boogie till the rooster crows
We're gonna party till the cows come home
Let's roll. Let's roll. (Let it roll in the Elvin Bishop original).

Bruce Paine toured with Gideon Daniel's gospel band in the USA, before he went to the UK, and that musician worked, on different occasions, with Elvin Bishop, so perhaps a link can be found there. Perhaps both tracks are based on a communal forefather or traditional, who knows?

When the Reverend remarked on Birdie Hop that he found it weird that none of the Boogie Band song credits mentions copyright owners, nor lyricists and composers, although the two owners had nine years to sort this out, the answer - from a music insider - was laconic as ever:

It is gray area and not as uncommon as you think, especially in the world of music. (…) The usual reason is that it's a sorted affair, meaning multi copywriters on the same tune. The composers also have to agree with how it is going to be submitted to ASCAP or BMI. So rather than hold it up, the material gets released.

In other words, by not sorting out the copyrights beforehand, the hot potato is pushed forward until the record has been released. If the copyright holders eventually find out they can ask for a slice of the pie (or in this case: potato) and if they don't: tough luck. And just yesterday morning the Church was informed that the reason why this release still isn't widely available in the shops is there still is 'a small issue with agreements...'

Let's Roll aka Party Till the Cows Come Home gets a great round of applause, but alas it is time to say goodbye with a last tune, originally from B.B King.

Sweet Little Angel

Shivers down the spine, although the song is given a somewhat shady treatment, but that adds to its integrity.

Not only a great band was lost with the Last Minute Out Together Boogie Band, but lead singer Bruce Paine surely deserved a better musical career than he actually had. If you don't want to buy this record for Barrett's involvement, do it to remember Bruce Paine. We certainly hope he is drinkin' that wine with Syd, up there in nirvana.

Guitars (3 different ones)

The Reverend is so tone-deaf that if you play him a trumpet and tell him it is a guitar, he will believe you. So all we hear, thanks to god's unequal distribution of the aural senses, is a mud-pool of guitar noise. Luckily some people can distinct instruments, like Syd Wonder does on Late Night.

There are three guitarists on this set... Two of them play on tracks without Syd. Barrett's announced when he joins the group in mid-show, while Frith isn't. I think Frith plays the entire show, with Bruce Paine on guitar as well.
I also appreciated Alexander's review (and most of the time, I do hear two guitars).

This could be correct as Bruce Paine joined LMPTBB the day before, on the Eddie Burns gig, with his guitar to have a jam.

About the tracks with Syd he adds:

"Drinkin' That Wine" - vocals were recorded very loud; I hear three guitars. Instrumental sections are from 1:50-3:03 (Syd heavily distorted, playing rhythm, searching, finding a groove - when he starts to solo, Paine starts to sing again), and 3:41-4:49 (Syd plays some solid leads).
"Number Nine" - highlight of the set, it begins with a repeated riff from Barrett. The band doesn't react, so he stops and they all start again. Some worthy improvisations emerge, as it continues. Frith's guitar work is more trebly and rather busy, Barrett's comparatively relaxed and textural. At times I hear three guitars. I really like what Syd plays in the last couple of minutes.
"Gotta Be A Reason" - it segues out of Number Nine, in a continuous performance. Syd solos for about 30 seconds near the beginning. Paine sings a bit, ceases at 2:05. Three guitars again... Frith becomes very busy... Barrett responds with strong counter-melodies, seems to vanish sometime after the 5-minute mark.
Signed by Twink (not ours)
Signed by Twink (not our copy).

Conclusion

Sound quality: slightly above bootleg quality, with tape damage here and there and mikes that fall out (and are plugged in again). Towards the middle of the gig the sound gets rather distorted due to the higher volume levels and there is a lot of resonance. At Yeeshkul, where sound fanatics reside, questions have already been raised that the cleaning and denoising was clumsily done, but this can't be verified without a raw tape leaking out.

Performance: sloppy and muddy at times, but great fun that still can be felt 4 decades later. The band is a typical seventies power blues construction, think : Led Zep, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple. Syd is not in super form, but he isn't that bad either.

Packaging: it looks great, with a 12 page booklet and an exclusive Twink interview, but lacking song copyright information.

Accuracy: grumpy as we are, we need to get the following of our chest. The back cover correctly places three asterisks next to the three tracks that feature Syd Barrett. However, both Fred Frith (who is on all tracks) and Syd Barrett (who is only on three) get an asterisk next to their name. Blimey, Easy Action record cover people, you have had 5 fucking years to get that cover right. As mentioned above, there are 3 guitar players present, something that is overlooked as well on the sleeve.

Trivia: the poster, used for the front cover, was meticulously scanned in by Warren Dosanjh of I Spy in Cambridge fame and a honorary member of the Birdie Hop Facebook group. Eternal thanks to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, not only for a magnificent performance but also for rolling, pushing and squeezing the ball.

(End of part two of our LMPTBB series, part one can be found here: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story. Part three will have more of the same. You have been warned.)


Many thanks to: Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Rick Barnes, Beechwoods, Birdie Hop, Mick Brown, Cyberspace, Demamo, Chris Farmer, Late Night, Orgone Accumulator, Syd Wonder, Yeeshkul.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 171-173.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 283-285.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 392-400.
Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster scanned in by Mick Brown.

2014-07-21

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action)

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

It is now about a month ago that the 1972 Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band gig was released by Easy Action records. LMPTBB was a power rock'n blues trio with the practically unknown, but excellent, American singer Bruce Paine on vocals and guitar, Twink on drums and Jack Monck on bass, replacing Honk who left the band after a Polydor record deal was cancelled.

The Six Hour Technicolour Dream concert may well have been their last, and on top of that it had two surprise guests: Fred Frith (from Henry Cow fame) who probably plays on all tracks, and a local boy who had once been a rather influential musician, Syd Barrett.

Not only is Syd Barrett dead, he also is neglected, except for the few who have reappropriated the term Sydiot and gather at the Birdie Hop group. From the three important Pink Floyd fan-based websites only one has published the news about the LMPTBB record. The others don't know, or don't care, and are still hop-frogging around the Pink Floyd table, mouths open, hoping for some Division Bell crumbles to fall off. The official Syd Barrett website, although run by the people who allowed the LMPTBB record in the first place, still remains a place that only comes in handy if you want to buy some (we admit, pretty) t-shirts.

So the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is about the only Floydian (and Barrettian) place where you can read about this release. Either we are pioneers, or raving lunatics, so we guess it's up for you to decide. In our fourth article of the LMPTBB series we interview Carlton Sandercock of Easy Action records, who have released this fine record.

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock
Carlton Sandercock
Carlton Sandercock.

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action)

BH: How would you describe Easy Action? We see a few (live) releases on your catalogue that are pretty rare and that could be considered non-official.

CS: Easy Action started out 10 years ago as, predominantly, an archive rock label, specialising in rare and unreleased recordings. We had the support of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, The Yardbirds, the estates of Marc Bolan, Steve Marriott & the surviving members of the MC5, initially to create box sets for fans that had been audio restored and lavishly packaged and annotated by good writers and journalists with as much factual information as is possible.

In that 10 years Easy Action has blossomed and grown in all directions, we have 10 labels doing material from singer-songwriter Linda Lewis to punk-metal behemoths Amebix, but all done with class and passion.

We are also working with new artists, we oversee the estate of the late Nikki Sudden and his brother Epic Soundtracks, we manage the affairs of The Damned / Lords of the New Church songwriter guitarist Brian James.

We have worked with one studio all the time in London ‘PSB Music’ who restore and re-master all our releases. Plus we have some very talented graphic designers on board. Basically a happy creative family.

BH: In 2005, the Six Hour Technicolour Dream reel was rediscovered while browsing through the tape archives at Spaceward Studios. Initially, they were going to issue the concert themselves on Gott discs, and they even got the approval of Pink Floyd and the Syd Barrett family. Do you know why they decided to sell it to Easy Action?

CS: To be honest I don't know why they decided to sell the tapes, as you know they didn't manage to succeed at the auction. My business partner Steve Pittis is a huge fan of Pink Floyd, the Fairies and Hawkwind and contacted the seller directly and offered him some cash. Although we didn't originally think there were more than a couple of songs by Hawkwind on the reel. Our initial thoughts were to release the Pink Fairies set as we know them and recoup the cost of buying the tapes. We weren't sure if we would be allowed to issue the Boogie band stuff .

Leave No Star Unturned
Leave No Star Unturned, Hawkwind.

BH: Hawkwind's Six Hour Technicolour Dream gig was already released in August 2011 as Leave No Star Unturned (first announced as: The Self Police Parade), licensed from EMI records. However, the band in its 2011 incarnation was opposed to EMI being involved, and told the fans more than once that they considered this a bootleg. Although historically of great importance, legally these old tapes seem really to be a pain in the ass, aren't they?

CS: Ha ha, yeah. I contacted Mrs. Brock initially, who informed me that the recording date of 1972 was EMI territory and they couldn't give us a licence . So I went to EMI and asked them for a licence and they gave us a contract, we paid them what we were asked for and went ahead and put it out.

The band, I appreciate, try and control all their releases and I guess didn't think we would have any luck whatsoever at EMI... They were wrong. This is the only time I think in our 10 years where we have licensed from a major label over the artist. We had absolutely no ‘legal troubles‘ whatsoever. It's not a bootleg as it has been released properly and above-board. Royalties have been paid to the contractee.

BH: Were the Hawkwind (legal) troubles the main reason why we had to wait until 2014 for the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band to appear? If we are correct, the record was announced a few times over the years and then delayed again...

CS: As I said we had no ‘legal troubles’ at all and I wanted to put the Pink Fairies set out next but life gets in the way and we had more work to deal with tons of other releases.. Also I initially wasn't sure who else was in the band besides Twink and Jack.

BH: Is it true that Twink (Mohammed Abdullah John Alder) gave the release a renewed push, somewhere in 2012 or early 2013?

CS: Yes, absolutely true. Twink has been a major driving force in getting me to put it on the schedule... However we simply didn't have any thing to use for artwork... There is absolutely nothing from that time / gig at all. Until we were introduced to Warren Dosanjh by Slim at Shindig magazine. Warren had the original poster (possibly the only one in existence) and lots of encouragement to boot, so NOW we had the basics of a foundation to try and put something together .

BH: Did you encounter initial resistance to release this material? Did you find the Floyd to be approving of more Syd material being released or did they initially try to block it?

CS: None whatsoever, we have been dealing with the company that looks after Syd's affairs ‘One Fifteen’ and have a contract for his performance and they are helping us with marketing it. To be honest Syd is guest for three songs, this is NOT Interstellar Overdrive live!! This is a boogie band so it's really not going to worry Pink Floyd. Dave Gilmour's a nice bloke and is rightly protective of Syd's legacy, but because we have handled it in the correct manner and not adorned the album with stickers saying SYD in big letters or anything crass like that it's ok... It is what it is, an extraordinary document.

BH: We understand that the Pink Fairies gig is still in the vaults. Will that gig ever be released as well?

CS: Bloody hope so, although we are hoping to add to that show and try and do a bigger, better Pink Fairies package... That reminds me, I must give Sandy (Duncan Sanderson) a call to get the ball rolling.

Bruce Michael Paine (lead singer LMPTBB)
Bruce Michael Paine, lead singer LMPTBB.

BH: The story of the Six Hours Technicolour Dream reel is spectacular, to say the least. One copy was found in 1985 and immediately confiscated, in Chuck Norris style, by an EMI suit. A second copy was unearthed in 2005 and ended up at Easy Action. But at one point FraKcman (aka Mark Graham from Spaceward Studios) contradicted his own story by saying that the first tape contained a Stars gig and the second a LMPTBB gig. Did Easy Action find out, during the negotiations with EMI and the bands, if both reels are identical, or not?

CS: Mmm, the men in black... sounds great doesn't it? I was told an original copy was indeed made of the boogie band years ago, but before the audio restoration that we did. It was very rough indeed and was ignored... I'm not sure it was Stars. I think it was an unrestored version of this show. Just my opinion though.

BH: How are sales figures so far? Is there any interest from the fans? Are they better or worse than the Hawkwind gig?

CS: Well, it hasn't flown out the door at all. We thought pre-orders would be huge and that it would then die down to a trickle once it's been copied and shared free of charge online... I'd say cult interest only and not as big as the Hawkwind album... As I said before it is not Syd performing any of his songs... It IS perhaps the last ever recorded performance of Syd Barrett... maybe Floyd fans don't see it as important.

BH: Did you, in your struggle to release this gig, hear about other tapes that still exist, for instance Stars, or early demos from Barrett with Cantabrigian bands?

CS: Ha ha ha. I fuckin' wish! Not a bleedin' sausage and yes, I did ask... I do think, seeing as we have released this show legally with the Barrett estate fully on board and we haven't tried to sell this as a Syd album or anything tacky like that, should anything crop up, I think we would get a call...

BH: We, Birdie Hoppers, hope it for you, Carlton, many thanks for this interview.

© Birdie Hop & The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.

End of part three of our LMPTBB series. If you don't stop us, there will probably be a part four. You have been warned.


Many thanks to Rich Hall, Peter Jansens, Carlton Sandercock.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop

2014-07-26

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink

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

We first had the idea of Birdie Hop members asking some questions to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, also known as Twink, but most of those had already been asked in previous interviews that lay scattered all over the web (see our list underneath). Then the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band record came out and Twink's exclusive interview in the Six Hour Technicolour Dream booklet only triggered more questions from us.

The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band Six Hour Technicolour Dream gig, on January the 27th 1972, was not, as you probably know, Syd's last gig, nor was it his last recording. Actually, Syd never joined LMPTBB but gigged with them twice as a surprise guest. How the tape survived into the twenty-first century and was finally published by Easy Action records is a story you can read here: The Last Minute Put Together Reel Story.

Bruce Michael Paine
Bruce Michael Paine, LMPTBB lead singer.

Apparently the vibes were so good that two out of three LMPTBB members started dreaming of a post-Floyd Barrett band, not very much to the amusement of singer Bruce Paine if we may believe Joly MacFie (Twink's business partner in the Cambridge music club Juniper Blossom and Stars roadie annex sound-man):

I was sharing a house with Twink and Paine. Paine was a somewhat vain and career oriented American who went on to join Steamhammer. He wasn't compatible with Syd. When Twink showed more interest in Syd, Bruce got pissed off and moved out and that was the end of the band. (Taken from So what's with 1972 Stars reel? @ SBRS (forum no longer active.))

Stars was formed shortly later and would gig about five times, dates and venues can be found at the Pink Floyd Archives:

Date Venue City Band
1972 01 26    King's College Cellars    Cambridge    LMPTBB
1972 01 27    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    LMPTBB
1972 02 05    The Dandelion Coffee Bar    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 12    Petty Cury, Market Square    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 12    The Dandelion Coffee Bar    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 24    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    Stars
1972 02 26    The Corn Exchange    Cambridge    Stars

Pink Floyd biographer Mark Blake tried to find out more about the mythical Stars tapes, that have been rumoured to exist, and posted his finding on the Late Night and Syd Barrett Research Society forums (here edited a bit):

Rehearsal tapes - Twink has mentioned on more than one occasion that Syd recorded the early practices. It goes without saying that these tapes must be long lost.
Dandelion Cafe - lots of people (Twink, Jack and possibly Joly [MacFie]) remember Victor Kraft sitting there with his Nagra tape machine at the Dandelion, and possibly the Corn Exchange as well.
Market Square - recorded, supposedly, by a friend of someone who mentioned it on the Laughing Madcaps list. The tape, supposedly, is at the taper's parents' house in Oxford. [Note from FA: this is probably the tape mentioned at Fortean Zoology. All efforts to make the blogger move his lazy ass have been effortless: Beatles: Off topic but not really.]
Final Corn Exchange show (with Nektar) - according to Joly MacFie, his co-roadie Nigel Smith had a friend called Chris who taped this show.

Although some YouTube videos claim to contain Stars tapes these are believed to be either fakes or mislabelled Barrett solo concerts, so it is still waiting for the real deal, if they not have been buried in the vaults of Pink Floyd Ltd.

But the good news is that the Six Hour Technicolour Dream tape has been released by Easy Action, that Syd Barrett stars (sorry, we couldn't resist the joke) on three of its tracks and although the sound quality is only slightly more than average, the fun is dripping out of our stereo boxes. Mythical drummer Twink, who is currently recording a follow-up of his legendary Think Pink album (1968), lend us some of his time to tell us the following...

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink
Twink (2013)
Twink (2013).

An innerview with Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, better known as Twink

BH: Of course we all know this record is interesting for Syd Barrett's performance, but the real discovery on the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band is that amazing singer, Bruce Paine. How did you and John Lodge (Honk) meet up with him and how did the band come into place?

MAJA: I first met Bruce Paine in the autumn of 1971 at Steve Brink's boutique "What's In A Name" in Union Rd just before he rented a room in Steve's cottage which was situated next to the shop. We talked very briefly about putting a band together because at that time I was just helping Hawkwind out from time to time. Once Bruce had moved into the cottage the band came together quite quickly. I recruited John "Honk" Lodge as our bass player who was living in London but that didn't seem to get in the way of the band project. Other members included Dane Stevens (The Fairies & The Cops And Robbers) on vocals & Adam Wildi on congas but both only lasted one show. We called the band The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

BH: Who came up with the idea of naming it the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band? Is there any explanation for the band's name?

MAJA: Bruce came up with the name and I think it was simply that the band came together quite quickly once show offers began to come in.

BH: After a record deal with Polydor had failed, Honk left the band and was replaced by Jack Monck.

MAJA: Yes, "Honk" left immediately the Polydor deal fell through. I think he was disheartened because Polydor's A&R department made it clear that after the demos we did for them, we were in. The whole thing fell down at the contract stage because the contracts manager there was having a bad day. He refused to raise the contracts and kept playing Led Zeppelin at full volume which drove us out of his office. He apologised to me about a month later just after he had been fired from his job. But the damage was done and there would be no record deal for The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

BH: Did you meet Syd in Cambridge before the Eddie Guitar Burns gig? Did you know that Syd was going to jam with LMPTBB on the 26th of January 1972 or were you as surprised as the audience?

MAJA: I was surprised and happy to see Syd arrive at the Eddie "Guitar" Burns gig with Jenny and carrying his guitar case. He arrived while we were sound checking, came to the back of the stage area, took his guitar out of its case and started to tune up. We had been friends since 1967 but we had lost touch in '68. It was wonderful to see him again. The following day Syd came to The Six Hour Technicolour Dream where The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band was supporting Hawkwind & The Pink Fairies. Again I was surprised to see him there with his guitar case. Syd was keen to play so we invited him to join us on stage along with Fred Frith from the band Henry Cow who was guesting with us that night.

BH: It must not be easy trying to remember a gig from 40 years ago, but there are two different testimonies about the Kings Cellar's concert. One witness says that LMPTBB played twice on that concert. According to him, the opening support gig had Syd, Monck and you. After the Eddie Guitar Burns gig, LMPTBB returned, this time with Bruce Paine. According to Terrapin magazine Syd jammed with LMPTBB after the Eddie Guitar Burns show. Not that it really matters, this only shows how anoraky we are.

MAJA: The Terrapin report is correct however it is possible the Syd, Jack & I tuned up together but that was not part of the show.

BH: Now to the Six Hour Technicolour Dream concert of the following day. How did Fred Frith come on board? Did he know Syd Barrett was going to be there as well? What was his reaction? What was your opinion after the gig had ended?

Twink (2014) with Marco Conti, Dane Stevens, Jon Povey. Photo by Carinthia West.
Twink (2014).

MAJA: We had a lot of contact with Fred Frith & Henry Cow who frequently played at The 10p Boogie Club which was run by Joly MacFie & myself at Fisher Hall in Cambridge having taken over the venue from Jenny Spires & Jack Monck and renamed it Juniper Blossom.

The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band often played there and so did Henry Cow. Fred Frith guested with The Last Minute Boogie Band there too. Fred guesting with us at The Six Hour Technicolour was more formal and when it was decided that Syd would guest too he was welcomed by all concerned with open arms. Our performance was well received and with Syd's enthusiastic participation at both the Eddie "Guitar" Burn gig & The Six Hour Technicolour Dream our creative wheels began to turn resulting in the formation of STARS with Syd Barrett, Jack Monck & myself a few days later.

BH: Was this the LMPTBB's last gig? Did anyone say, this is it, last gig, finished?

MAJA: The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band continued after Jack & I left for STARS with replacement musicians.

BH: Did you, at one point or another, think of asking Syd to join LMPTBB?

MAJA: It was Jack & Jenny that thought about forming a band with Syd.

BH: If our information is correct you have been pulling some strings to make this release possible.

MAJA: The only things that needed sorting out were group members and song details as well as contract details to include both Bruce Paine & Roger Barrett's Estates. Then there was restoring, mastering and the cover to achieve as well. Everyone was very helpful.

BH: As you probably know, Pink Floyd (or EMI) have another copy of the LMPTBB tape, however at one point there were rumours this tape actually contains a Stars concert rather. know what they really have?

MAJA: I have no idea what EMI have. It's possible they have a STARS tape.

BH: Any chance that the LMPTBB Polydor tapes will ever see the light of day? Does anyone know where these demos are?

MAJA: It is possible The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band demos will be released as they are probably sitting in Polydor's archives. I think Honk may well have a copy tape.

BH: In retrospect, what was the band you were happiest with? If you could go back to these days what would you have changed to make it better?

MAJA: Playing with The Pretty Things made me happy and I wouldn't want to change a thing.

BH: Many thanks, Mohammed, and good luck with Think Pink 2!

End of part four of our LMPTBB series. If you don't stop us, there will probably be a part five. You have been warned.

© Birdie Hop & The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.


Many thanks to Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, Rich Hall, Peter Jansens. Inspired by questions from: Mike Baess, Rick Barnes, Andre Borgdorff, Anita Buckett, Rich Hall, Jane Harris, Alexander P.H., Peter Felix Jansens, Raymond John Nebbitt, Lisa Newman, Göran Nystrom, Anni Paisley, Cheesecake Joe Perry, Paul Piper, Michael Ramshaw, James Vandervest.

Some Twink interviews over the years (back to text):
Ivor Trueman, Opel Magazine, 1985 (mirror)
It's Psychedelic Baby, 2012
Laughing Madcaps, 2013
Sophia On Film, 2014
Punk News, 2014
Hit Channel, 2014

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop

2014-08-02

An innerview with Fred Frith

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

While posting Facebook Barrett fan-art has become a booming niche-market with no immediate end in sight and self-proclaimed visionary Syd professionals have to devise fraudulent telemarketing schemes to cover for their rising costs it was pointed to the Church, by someone we know and admire for years, that Syd Barrett is not, like we wrote in a previous article, neglected. Ebronte:

Syd is not neglected. Syd is sinking into oblivion, precisely where it seems his family (and friends?) want him to go. This is thanks to their continued simplistic insistence that he was a brief spark, who became "ordinary", and a drug addled loser, and thanks to the dreary Chapman biography. It didn't sell well, and probably anyone who did read it was left depressed and utterly disinterested in ever reading or hearing another word about Syd. Too bad that gloomy book came out the same time as Julian's revised and wonderful book, most likely obscuring it. (Taken from: An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action), Late Night forum.)

Of course our world has changed as well (“I'm Syd Barrett's biggest fan, I've watched all his YouTube videos.”) and it is apparently easier nowadays to sell a Barrett mug than a Barrett record.

Recently the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band's Six Hour Technicolour Dream record was released that has a Cambridge Corn Exchange gig from the 27th of January, 1972. The Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band were a power blues trio with singer and lead guitarist Bruce Paine, bass player Jack Monck and drummer Twink.

Bruce Paine
Bruce Paine, lead singer LMPTBB.

Through Jenny Spires, who was married to Monck, Syd Barrett got hold of the band and on that particular night he arrived with his guitar case and agreed to jam with them for a couple of numbers. Monck and Twink were thrilled and started Stars a couple of days later, not to the amusement of Bruce Paine who saw his band going up in smoke. Unfortunately Stars would only survive for a month as Barrett was still to frail to cope with the stress of gigging, especially when things got bad on a concert where Stars was the head-liner, after the sonic bulldozer that was MC5, and with buses of fans coming over from London, eager to watch the return of the flamboyant piper. Mark Sturdy:

In reality, Stars simply wasn’t cut out to be a high-profile project: while the initial shows had not been without their virtues, the band had existed for less than a month and, as such, was understandably under-rehearsed. New material was non-existent beyond a couple of loose 12-bar jams, so in effect Stars was little more than a loose covers band. (Taken from: Twilight of an Idol.)

We read somewhere that giving Syd Barrett the top position on a much advertised gig was like throwing him before the lions and it was, understandably, the end of Stars, and, less understandable, the end of his musical career, with the exception of the disastrous 1974 sessions.

While Syd Barrett was an unexpected guest on the Six Hour Technicolour Dream gig, Fred Frith was not. He had been invited by the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band to join them for the show.

Fred Frith was in Cambridge in 1968 when he met with some fellow students and started the avant-garde band Henry Cow. Actually the Cow's first concert was supporting Pink Floyd at the Architects' Ball at Homerton College, Cambridge on 12 June 1968. Eternal student Frith would also frequent (and jam at) the Juniper Blossom club that was first run by Jack Monck and Jenny Spires, and later by Twink and Jolie MacFie.

Since his Henry Cow day's Frith has played in a myriad of bands and his musical input can be found on over 400 records. So it is a bit awkward to ask him about that one one concert he played on over 40 years ago, but we tried anyway.

An innerview with Fred Frith
Fred Frith
Fred Frith.

An innerview with Fred Frith

BH: Are you happy with the Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band release and your own input on it? Your guitar is pretty much in front of the mix most of the time.

FF: I haven’t heard it. I didn’t know about it prior to release and I don’t have a copy I’m afraid.

BH: At the Six Hour Technicolour Dream, Syd Barrett more or less was a surprise guest, while your presence had already been agreed on with Paine, Twink & Monck for that night. At the time, did you find it significant that Syd Barrett had decided to make a public appearance?

FF: There was a rumour beforehand that Syd might join us. This was of course exciting for me, given that Syd was one of my heroes.

BH: You have said in an interview:

At the only concert that I did with them, Syd played “Smokestack Lightning” or variations thereof in every song, and didn’t really sing at all. To say I was hugely disappointed is maybe the wrong way of putting it. I was shocked, angry, devastated, that it had come to that.

Now that we finally have the chance to listen to the concert is your opinion still the same (I need to add that most Barrett anoraks don't think his playing is that bad at all, but that is why we are sometimes called Sydiots anyway).

FF: Like I said, I haven’t heard it, but the event I was referring to wasn’t this concert anyway. After the Corn Exchange gig we rehearsed together with a view to creating a group for Syd to play his songs. At the only rehearsal I attended, my memory has him playing variations of Smokestack Lightning (which, after all, was the prototype for Candy and the Currant Bun) throughout the session, which was mercifully not recorded. And please note, I was “shocked, angry and devastated” BECAUSE of my deep love of Syd’s playing, composing and legacy, not for any other reason. He was clearly not himself, and that was really sad.

BH: How was Syd's state of mind during the said Boogie Band session? Was he into the music, enjoying himself?

FF: He appeared to be mentally completely absent.

BH: What were rehearsals like? Were any numbers written by Syd considered?

FF: As far as I was concerned we were only there in order to try and play Syd’s songs and give him a vehicle where it might seem possible to perform again. We did it because of our love and respect for him. I don’t remember any other material.

Fred Frith
Fred Frith.

BH: Did you ever discuss musical theory with Syd Barrett? If so, what were his ideas on composition?

FF: Syd was in no state to discuss anything during the very brief period when our paths crossed. It would have been nice. But his compositional ideas tend to shine through his compositions, which is the way it should be.

BH: Did you have contact with Syd outside of the jam environment? He was not unknown in Cambridge and he did know (and visited) Jenny Spires, Monck and Twink.

FF: No. We had mutual friends, but we didn’t hang out. I was young (19) and in awe and would probably have been too shy anyway. I did talk to Nick Mason about it a few years later when we were working together. But there wasn’t anything anyone could really do.

BH: Do you know of any other recordings in existence? Rumours go that Stars rehearsals and gigs have been recorded. You don't have one of these in your archive, by accident?

FF: I don’t know of anything, no. Certainly not in my possession.

BH: Looking back on the situation, do you find the Boogie Band to be significant for your career?

FF: It was significant in providing me with some sobering food for thought. Musically I have no recollection of anything beyond the fact of having done it. Maybe if I hear the record it’ll stimulate some memories.

BH: Many thanks for the interview and we'll hope that a copy of that LMPTBB record arrives with you soon...

End of part five of our LMPTBB series. We know that there will be cries of grief from our many fans, but this is probably the last article in this series, unless the third Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band member suddenly decides to answer our calls for another Birdie Hop innerview.

© Birdie Hop & The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 2014.


Many thanks to Ebronte, Fred Frith, Rich Hall, Peter Jansens.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop