Syd Barrett

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2008-08-08

Iggy

The Church's first logo, anno 2008.
The Church's first logo, anno 2008.

Iggy was part Inuit (or Eskimo to use the vernacular of the day). According to Duggie Fields she wasn't considered a girlfriend of Syd (Barrett) although he says she probably slept with Syd on more than one occasion. He goes on to say 'We didn't want her living with us at the time but she was so beguiling that it was a difficult situation'. She was a former girlfriend of Anthony Stern (Movie Director, writer and cinematographer who was a friend of Syd in the 60's (he lived on Eden Street in Cambridge in the 60's) and he was a flatmate of and film asssistant to Peter Whitehead [Tonite Let's All Make Love In London]). Apparently she was destitute when she arrived at Wetherby Mansions had no money, no job and few possessions. According to Duggie Fields she never wore underwear (when she was wearing anything at all!) and he recalls her getting off a bus wearing a scarf as a skirt!

Iggy apparently 'vanished as quickly as she had come' and a hippie couple Rusty and Greta (two casual friends of Syd) decided to move in and lived in the hallway for a while. Later there was Gilly Staples (who Syd apparently threw across the room on one occasion) and a girl called Lesley (who sometimes Syd would see and other times would leave her outside banging on his door to come in). After that Gayla Pinion moved in around late '69 and subsequently became engaged to Syd on October 1 1970 but they never married.

According to Duggie Fields after Iggy left Syd she apparently went off with some 'rich guy from Chelsea and lived a very straight life'.

Written by acidmandala at The Syd Barrett Archives.

Note: this was the Church's first blog post, basically to test how things would look in good old, and now depreciated, html 3.2.
Update January 2017: as of January 2017, the website has been refurbished and upgraded towards html5.


2008-11-05

The Other Room

The Other Room catalogue
The Other Room catalogue.

The Other Room: Syd Barrett's Art And Life was a Cambridge exhibition that ended a couple of days ago. More details about it could be found in a previous post: Pictures at an exhibition.

A lucky wind (thanks SgB!) brought me a copy from the catalogue, an 18 pages booklet. The following can be found inside:

Page 2 & 3: introductions by Stephen Pyle and Anji Jackson-Main, curators of the exhibition.

Pages 3 to 9 are dedicated to the paintings of Syd Barrett. This is far the most interesting part of the catalogue as many unseen works of Syd Barrett are represented here, albeit in a rather small thumbnail format. I’m pretty sure those pictures will find their way to the specialised Syd Barrett websites and blogs so I’m not going to put them here.

Pages 10 to 12: photographs by Mick Rock. This reminds me that the Church still hasn’t dedicated some of its holy space to Mick Rock’s excellent Psychedelic Renegades book. This will be done during the long winter days when a lonely hungry wolf howls at the suburbs of Atagong Mansion.

Page 11: some family snapshots taken by Syd's relatives. I don’t want to sound too snotty, but I’ve seen these before.

Pages 14 & 15: artwork by Storm Thorgerson (Syd Barrett album cover, Barrett album cover, The City Wakes green doors poster.)

page 17: colofon.

But The Church is of course most interested in pages 12 and 13 that contain some pictures from the collection of Anthony Stern (see also: Anthony Stern Photoshoot).

© Anthony Stern © Anthony Stern
© Anthony Stern.

Antony Stern’s Iggy pictures can be seen on The City Wakes website, a link to that particular gallery can be found at the Galleries section of their blog. And if you have a quick peek you might find something more... (Update: The City Wakes website no longer exists.)

I want to thank all the members of the Late Night forum, who visited The City Wakes, for their impressions, their pictures, their testimonies and the goodies they have been distributing amongst the other members who couldn’t attend the festival.

The Other Room's catalogue can be visualised at the gallery.


2008-12-07

Love in the Woods (Pt. 1)

Langley Iddens
Langley Iddens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knebworth '90 Special Edition (DVD]

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

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

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

White Label [VHS]

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

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

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

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

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


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


2008-12-29

Love In The Woods (Pt. 2)

A mysterious brunette...
A mysterious brunette.

The so-called Lost in the Woods movie, that was part of the Knebworth pre show documentary, is a mix coming from different people, at different places, on different occasions. The Church quotes archbishop Dark Globe, who has scrutinized the movie before:

There's footage of Syd larking around in a garden with friends in 67, the 'lilac shirt' footage of Syd (late 67/68?) in which Lyndsay Corner also appears, and the blue suit/yellow ruffled shirt footage of Syd in the woods with two girls (Iggy and a mystery brunette) from 69.
The home movie footage is multilayered and you can catch glimpses of different footage superimposed on top of the main footage.
During the bit of Syd in the woods with Iggy, there's some footage of Syd with an acoustic guitar (at least that's what I can see). The flashbacks movie only shows tantalising glimpses of the Syd home movie footage. (taken from Late Night.)

The home movie snippets are used twice in the Knebworth documentary.

The documentary starts with Pink (Langley Iddens) pouring a glass of wine. For the next 39 seconds several vintage clips, taking no longer than a couple of frames, will be intercepted with shots from the actor. The first home movie scenes have already ended when the documentary is just one minute old. The main bunch seems to be filmed at a garden party.

The second home movie scenes arrive about 10 minutes later and will go on for 42 seconds. The main footage has Syd walking in a park with Iggy and a mysterious brunette, Syd and Iggy climbing trees, the two woman running hand in hand, Syd acting funny with a stick in his hand… The park footage is intercepted a few times by other home movies from other occasions…

Part 1: Garden fun – blowing bubbles

Several garden shots have been used in this compilation. There is a scene with a girl on a swing, people blowing soap bubbles and generally having fun, Syd eating a - very hard to spot - banana…

The Church tried to identify the people in the movie with the help of the worldwide web, posting screenshots at several anorak fora, and Dark Globe took it upon him to show these pictures to David Gale and Matthew Scurfield after a reading at the City Wakes festival this year.

Hester Page Hester Page Hester Page. It could be that screenshots 1 and 2 depict the same person. She remained unidentified until Dark Globe showed the pics to David Gale who recognised picture 2 as ‘Hester’. Barrett fan julianindica could narrow this down to Hester Page. Hester Page gets mentioned in the Syd Barrett biography by Julian Palacios, aptly called Lost In The Woods, as part of the 101 Cromwell Rd incrowd. That two-storey flat in Kensington was the place for many Cantabrigians to sleep, meet and greet. Syd Barrett and Lindsay Corner lived there for a while and Pink Floyd used the place to rehearse (much to the annoyance of painter Duggie Fields). It was also somewhat of an LSD epicentre and a ‘critical nexus for Underground activities of every shade and stripe’.
David Gale David Gale. This man is David Gale. To quote his own words at the City Wakes – it’s the hooter that gives me away. Gale was a schoolmate of David Gilmour and a friend of Syd. In 1965 David’s parents went to Australia for a 6-month period leaving the house and its garden in the safe hands of their son. It didn’t take long before the Cambridge jeunesse would meet there and there is a chance that the first part of the Syd Barrett Home Movie has indeed been shot in the garden of David Gale’s parents. Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and Storm Thorgerson had film cameras so one of them may have shot the footage (NLG made the iniquitous Syd’s First Trip movie where David Gale can be seen). It was also at David Gale’s place that Syd Barrett had a cosmically encounter wit a plum, an orange and a matchbox, as witnessed by Storm Thorgerson who would later use this for a record sleeve and for a concert movie.
Lyndsay Corner Lyndsay Corner. David Gale and Matthew Scurfield identify the girl on a swing as Lyndsay Corner.

Part 2: the Lost In The Woods footage
 

Mick Rock Mick Rock. When Syd and Iggy are walking in the woods a face is superimposed. It is Mick Rock who has (probably) shot the movie. Iggy is wearing the same necklace as on the Madcap Laughs photo sessions and (perhaps) the same clothes. Syd however has another shirt than in the Psychedelic Renegades book. The Lost In The Woods scenes have been edited on the Knebworth documentary and carry parts from at least 3 other home movies.
Lost In The Woods footage
Unknown. Syd and another man walking & talking in a garden in front of a house. Identity Unknown.
Lost In The Woods footage Unknown. Syd and a girl blowing bubbles in a park. Identity unknown.
Lindsay Corner Lyndsay Corner. Close-up of Lyndsay Corner (in a park).
Lost In The Woods footage Lost In The Woods footage
Mysterious brunette. 3 people can be identified on the Lost In The Woods movie: Syd, Iggy and Mick Rock. In several shots with Iggy and Syd we see a second woman, the mysterious brunette, whose identity we don’t know yet.
Update: on second thought, she could be Hester Page (see first picture above), although it is a wild guess.
JenS, however concludes that the girl is not Hester Page. Gretta Barclay does not recognise her either: "I do not recognise the brunette – the name Jennie Gordon came to mind, but in truth, I simply have no idea of who she is."

Radiocarbon dating

Pop-art painter Duggie Fields, who still lives in the same apartment, and Mick Rock have testified that Iggy only stayed at Syd’s place for a couple of weeks. When Mick Rock showed Syd the pictures of the photo sessions for the cover of The Madcap Laughs she was already long gone…. According to Duggie Fields, a homeless and drug-addicted couple, Greta and Rusty, took the vacant place, much to the aggravation of the painter who had to bring Greta to the hospital after an overdose.

Update 2010: in an exclusive interview to the Church Margaretta Barclay absolutely denies the above. Please consult: Gretta Speaks and Gretta Speaks (Pt. 2) 

Neither Mick Rock nor Storm Thorgerson give the exact date when The Madcap Laughs photo shoot was made: the closest thing they can come up with is Autumn 1969. Syd Barrett and David Gilmour met at the studio on the 6th of October to sort out the running order of the album. Other studio work, that didn’t need Syd’s presence, was done the same month: banding the LP master (9 October) and cutting the LP (16 October). After hearing the master Malcolm Jones ordered a recut early in November. The record was officially released on the second of January 1970.

Malcolm Jones recounts:

One day in October or November I had cause to drop in at Syd's flat on my way home to leave him a tape of the album, and what I saw gave me quite a start. In anticipation of the photographic session for the sleeve, Syd had painted the bare floorboards of his room orange and purple. Up until then the floor was bare, with Syd's few possessions mostly on the floor; hi-fi, guitar, cushions, books and paintings. In fact the room was much as appears on the original 'Madcap' sleeve. Syd was well pleased with his days work and I must say it made a fine setting for the session due to take place.

Based on this information most anoraks radiocarbon the photo shoot date in the second half of October, although November is also a possibility. The Lost In The Woods home move with Syd, Mick, Iggy and the mysterious brunette should thus be pinpointed to that period (this was written in December 2008).

Update: But... as the Holy Church would find out the next year (January 2009) the above photo shoot date appears to be wrong. It is pretty sure that Iggy left Syd in April 1969. Further analysis of the Madcap pictures show that several details point to spring 1969, rather than autumn. For a complete report please consult: Anoraks and Pontiacs.

(This is the second part of the Love In The Woods post. Part 1 can be found here: Love in the Woods (Pt. 1))

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


Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 141.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 13.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 241.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 154-158.


2009-01-24

When Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1)

Iggy by Mick Rock
Iggy by Mick Rock.
Hello, I would like to try and clarify a couple of things about Ig.
She was a girlfriend of mine.

The above message reached the Reverend a couple of weeks ago. It was written by JenS, a Cambridge friend of Roger Keith Barrett. She is the one who introduced Iggy to the Pink Floyd founder exactly 40 years ago.

What follows is her rendition, as told exclusively to The Church of Iggy the Inuit, and now published for the first time. Her rememberings are only slightly edited here and there and re-arranged a bit per subject. Some explanatory notes have been added.

Meeting Iggy

I first met Ig in the summer of 1966. I saw her again in spring 1967 at Biba. She admired a dress I was wearing and invited me to a party that night. From then on we used to go clubbing. She was a lovely, sweet, funny girl and was always on the scene at gigs and events.

Biba, where Iggy first met JenS, was without doubt the single most important boutique of London. The shop features in the IN Gear documentary that also has Iggy.

The first really important customer to favour Biba was Cathy McGowan, the Ready Steady Go! presenter who (…) quickly made a new Biba dress a staple of her weekly wardrobe for the show.

This meant that every Saturday morning ‘teenage girls from all over the London area would race over to Abingdon Road and the piles of new, inexpensive clothes that awaited them’.

Ig was not known as Iggy the Eskimo.
She was simply Ig or Iggy and probably picked up the nickname along the way at school or something. I think she was a Londoner.
She was quite a lot older than us and had been around a while on the London Club scene. She invited me once to a party with Dusty Springfield and crew. Later she started hanging out at Granny’s (Granny Takes A Trip, FA) and turning up at UFO.
Update 2011: It was revealed in March 2011 that Iggy is born in December 1947, making her a bit younger than Syd Barrett. See The Mighty Queen.

One important player in Dusty Springfield’s crew was Vicki Heather Wickman, who managed Dusty and co-wrote You don’t have to say you love me that became a number one hit in 1966. Vicky had been a booker-writer-editor-producer of the weekly Ready Steady Go! shows for many years. Dusty Springfield herself had been a (part-time) presenter of the RSG!-show and that is probably where she met her future manager (Update: not quite true - they knew each other from 1962 and even shared a flat together, see also From Dusty till Dawn).

Wickham and her team ‘scoured the trendiest clubs looking for good dancers and stylish dressers to showcase’. The Church has a hunch feeling that Iggy may have been – during a certain period at least – a regular at the RSG! Show, especially as she was spotted, in November 1966, at an RSG!-party by New Musical Express (cfr. article: Bend It!).

It will be a ginormous work but the Church is planning to scrutinise several Ready Steady Go! tapes from that period to see if Iggy can be found in the public or amongst the dancers.

Iggy’s Parents

After our hypothesis that Iggy was probably not Inuit (cfr. article: Eskimono), the Church received several mails trying to string Iggy’s features to a certain culture. One of the countries that keep on popping up is Singapore that was a British colony between 1824 and 1959. Here is what JenS has to say about Iggy's heritage:

I have no idea about who her parents were. She was a war baby and may have been Chinese. There was a large Chinese community in London at the time. Of course Ig the Eskimo is an easy assumption to make. Anyway, I don't think I can help any further as I never discussed it with her.

Meeting Syd

Iggy became a Floydian icon when she posed on Syd Barrett's first solo album The Madcap Laughs, but most witnesses only describe her as one of Syd's two-week-girlfriends. JenS acknowledges this:

I took Ig to Wetherby Mansions in January or February 1969 where she met Syd Barrett. He was 22 and she must have been about 24, 25 years old.
The point is she was never Syd's girlfriend as in a ‘relationship’ with him. She was only at Wetherby Mansons very briefly, a matter of two or three weeks max.
I've not seen her since but often wondered where she is.

Syd’s Appartement

Syd painted the floor of his flat in blue and orange before The Madcap Laughs photo shoot, but did he do that especially for the photo shoot?

I was staying with Syd between the New Year and March '69. I hadn’t seen much of him since the summer of 1968 'til then.
Anyway, at that time, the floor was already painted blue and orange and I remember thinking how good it looked on the Madcap album cover later on when the album was released. I didn’t see Syd again though until 1971, so it stands to reason the floor was already done when I left.

Mick Rock wrote: "Soon after Syd moved in he painted alternating floor boards orange and turquoise." This doesn’t imply that it was especially done for the photo session.

In an interview for the BBC Omnibus documentary Crazy Diamond (November 2001) painter Duggie Fields said that Syd painted the floor soon after he occupied the flat, not that it was done on purpose for the photo shoot.


MP3 link: Duggie Fields.

The Madcap Laughs Photo Shoot

It has been assumed by Mick Rock that The Madcap Laughs photo shoot was held in the autumn of 1969 (cfr. article:Love In The Woods)

The floor (of Syd’s flat) was not painted prior to, or especially for, the Madcap photo shoot, which took place in March or April of 1969 and not October as has been suggested.
I left for the States in March 1969 and Iggy stayed on at the flat with Syd and Duggie (Fields) and there seemed to be other dropouts around from time to time.
Ig happened to be there still when the shoot came about, which was great because we have such a good record of her.

and:

I introduced Iggy to Syd shortly before I left, and she was around when I left. She wasn’t there for long and generally moved around a lot to different friends. It’s very doubtful she was still there in October or November 1969. She just happened to be there for Mick’s photo shoot, which is great because she was lovely girl.

This is apparently in contradiction with Malcolm Jones who wrote in The Making Of The Madcap Laughs:

One day in October or November I had cause to drop in at Syd's flat on my way home to leave him a tape of the album, and what I saw gave me quite a start. In anticipation of the photographic session for the sleeve, Syd had painted the bare floorboards of his room orange and purple.

JenS further comments:

I remember reading this once before and being puzzled. It would seem he’s talking about 1969. But which tape was he leaving? The 1968 sessions or the recuts (from 1969, FA)? It would seem he’s talking about the recut. It’s a bit confusing especially to me as the floor was painted, definitely before Christmas 1968.
The Madcap Laughs photo session had to be in the spring of 1969, probably it occurred the first week in March. Storm and Mick say they can only come up with the dates of August, or even October, November. This may have been when they came together to look at the shots for the cover, in other words when it was known the album would definitely be released and decisions on the cover had to be made.

Part 2 of JenS's chronicle will further delve into the legendary Madcap Laughs photo sessions, pinpointing the date somewhere in April 1969.


Sources (other than above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 141.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 13.
Levy, Shawn: Ready Steady Go!, Broadway Books, New York, 2003, p. 112, p.194-195.
Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 23, p. 58.

Our thanks go to Barrett alumni Stumbling... (aka Beate S.) and Lost In The Woods (aka Julian Palacios) from the Syd Barrett Research Society who made this encounter possible... and to JenS for her invaluable testimony about what really happened in those early days of 1969.


2009-01-30

When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 2)

Daffodils
Daffodils.
Hello, I would like to try and clarify a couple of things about Ig.
She was a girlfriend of mine.

In January or early February 1969, a mutual friend introduced Iggy to Syd Barrett, the rock star who had left Pink Floyd. To celebrate the fortieth birthday of this event The Holy Church of Inuit brings you an exclusive rendition of what happened, as told by JenS, who knew Barrett in his Cambridge and London days.

In the first part of this article When Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1), JenS recollected how she met Iggy and how she introduced the girl to Syd. In the second part she reconstructs the photo shoot from The Madcap Laughs, Barrett’s first solo album.

Introduction

1. It is generally believed that The Madcap Laughs photo sessions, by Storm Thorgerson and Mick Rock, took place in the autumn of 1969, a couple of weeks after the album was cut and a short time before it hit the shelves of the record stores (see Stormy Pictures).

2. It is generally believed that Iggy has only been living in Syd’s apartment for two or three weeks maximum, during which the famous photo sessions took place, before disappearing completely from the scene. In our previous article JenS situates this in February or March 1969.

The problem is that there is at least a six months gap between both dates. JenS however has some strong points favouring her theory.

Daffodils and Pontiacs

Storm Thorgerson probably shot the cover of The Madcap Laughs early in the year because, according to JenS:

If you look at the vase of flowers next to Syd, they are daffodils. We get those in March.

Although a valid argument it is not really tight-fitting, but JenS continues:

The car shots (in Mick Rock’s book Psychedelic Renegades, FA) show there are no leaves on the trees.
If this were London, October or November, there would be leaves on the ground.

Mick Rock’s photo book has got quite a lot of pictures with Syd (and Iggy) leaning against a neglected Pontiac, property of Syd.

The car was there at New Year, (Syd didn’t drive it) and it was there when I left in March, with a borough sticker on it, the remains of which show on the windscreen in the photo. If Storm and Mick are saying October or November, was the car there all that time? I don’t know who would know that.

The previous comment may be completely understandable for Syd Barrett anoraks, but needs some extra explanation for the casual visitor of the Church who doesn’t know the fabulous story of Syd’s car.

Pink Pontiac?
Pink Pontiac?

Tic tac Pontiac

Painter Duggie Fields recalls:

The car too has it’s own mythology. Later on I identified it as the car used in the film of Joe Orton’s Loot (not exact, FA), but I first saw it at Alice Pollock and Ossie Clark’s New Year’s Eve party at the Albert Hall ­ a memorable event itself where both Amanda Lear and Yes (separately) took to the stage for the first time. (Taken from: Duggie Fields)

Ossie Clark, once described as an ‘enigmatic, bisexual gadabout’, textile designer (and wife) Celia Birtwell and Alice Pollock had a boutique called Quorum. It was a haute couture heaven for the Swinging Elite, dressing people like Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Patti Boyd, Marian Faithfull, Jimi Hendrix, the Jaggers and The Pink Floyd. His clothes were a reflection of the past but with the advantages of the new (one of his creations had discreet pockets ‘to put joints in’). In 1965 Clark was the pioneer of the flower power look and two years later nearly all of the 2000 boutiques in London would be copying his style. Clark’s haute couture empire crashed in the seventies; in 1996 he was murdered by his partner.

Mickey Finn, from T. Rex fame, won the Pontiac Parisienne at the Royal Albert Hall raffle (New Year 1969). He took possession of it but became paranoid at the unwanted attention it attracted to himself and his fellow passengers. One day he met Syd and they simply swapped cars (Syd had a mini).

But Syd never drove it, so it stayed parked outside the house for a couple of months. A wheel soon went missing and the car accumulated dust, parking tickets and legal notices. In Mick Rock’s photo book one can see that a neighbour wrote a plea in the dust of the trunk to have the car removed. Syd's solution was simple as bonjour: he gave the car away to a stranger. It was seen being driven around South Kensington soon after.

A couple of months after Syd (and before him, Mickey Finn) got the car it was used in the 1970 British movie Entertaining Mr Sloane (not Loot). The car, with its cream red and silver interior, is featured prominently throughout the movie. The flick is not great but the pink Pontiac gives a shiny performance.
Update December 2009: the above paragraph has been corrected as Syd gave the car away before the movie was made and not, as is generally believed, the other way round. For more details: please check Anoraks and Pontiacs.

This leaves us with another enigma. The car in the movie is pink, but was midnight blue when Mick Rock photographed Syd with it. Although Mick Rock seems to remember: "Syd’s car was a conspicuously bright pink Pontiac Parisienne convertible" several colour pictures, probably taken by Storm Thorgerson on the same day, testify against this. JenS adds:

Syd's Pontiac was blue, midnight blue as you say. I have no idea if it was pink before that. I've only heard it was Mickey's and pink from things I've read. I cannot imagine Syd having it resprayed or painting it.

It remains a mystery when and why the kameleon car changed its colours (twice), but if one looks very close at the picture above, there appears to be a trace of 'brownish' paint under the right front light. Could this have been its original colour?

Car Sticker

Mick Rock has taken a picture of Syd sitting on the hood of his car. A police label can be seen glued to the windshield. JenS:

Look at the date of the police sticker on Syd’s car. It seems to be April 1969. It occurred to me that the little twigs on the ground would come with the March winds, as this was the time of clear-cut seasons. They are very distinctive.
Label on Syd Barrett car
Police label on Syd Barrett's car.

Unfortunately not all can be read, part of the sticker disappears in the inner fold of the book and the smaller letters dissolve with the background. The following is easily distinguishable:

DANGER KEEP OFF
(unreadable)
THIS IS
DANGEROUS LITTER
AND WILL BE REMOVED & DISPOSED OF
SEVEN DAYS HENCE
Dated the ___ day of ___ 196_
Registration No. ___
(if any) ___ F.H. CLINCH,
BOROUGH (unreadable) AND SURVEYOR

The date is more difficult to decipher, but after some tweaking it appears to be the 14th of April 1969. If the British police was as effective in 1969 as it is now it definitely pins The Madcap Laughs photo shoot date between the 14th and 21st of April 1969 and not autumn as has been said before.

The legend goes that Syd Barrett gave the car way to an admirer who happened to like it. It is improbable to assume that the wreck stayed on the street for six months without any police intervention.

Next week will have the final instalment of our series of JenS's memoirs.


Sources (other than internet links mentioned above)
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 141.
Green, Jonathon: All Dressed Up, Pimlico, London, 1999, p. 79-80.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 13.
Levy, Shawn: Ready Steady Go!, Broadway Books, New York, 2003, p. 112, p.193-195.
Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 23, p. 58.

The Church wishes to thank:
Dark Globe, Sean Beaver (who watched Loot just to make sure if the Pontiac figured in it or not), Bea Day, Julianindica and all the others who contributed to the discussion at Late Night: The tale of Syd's car - the movie star...
JenS for her invaluable testimony about what really happened in those early days of 1969.


2009-02-08

When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3)

Syd scratching Iggy
Syd scratching Iggy.
Hello, I would like to try and clarify a couple of things about Ig.
She was a girlfriend of mine.

In January or early February 1969, a mutual friend introduced Iggy to Syd Barrett, the successful rock star who had left his band Pink Floyd. To celebrate the fortieth birthday of this event The Holy Church of Inuit brings you an exclusive rendition of what happened, as told by JenS, who knew Barrett from his Cambridge and London days.

In the first part of this article When Syd met Iggy (Pt. 1), JenS recollected how she met Iggy and how she introduced the girl to Syd.
In the second part When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 2) the photo shoot from The Madcap Laughs, Barrett’s first solo album, was reconstructed.

The story so far

In December 1968 Syd moved in at Wetherby Mansions, a 3 bedroom apartment located at the Earls Court Square, with Duggie Fields and another dropout called Jules, who left the apartment as fast as he had get in, if he did get in at all.

Syd’s hectic LSD days at 101, Cromwell Rd. were over and his close friends thought that this was the ideal situation for him to calm down and to organise the rest of his life. Some money was still coming in from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, there was no immediate hurry to get on the road or in the studio again and there were a couple of months left to sort things out and to start a brilliant solo career, based on the abandoned, and rather catastrophic, recording sessions from the past year. (David Parker lists Syd’s last recording session on 20 July 1968, the session before that dates from 27 June 1968.)

Syd was now involved with ‘silly’ Gilly Staples, a model from Quorum, the boutique that had given a Pontiac away at New Year 1969, won by Mickey Finn who, on his turn, had given it to Syd. (Side note: it is the Church’s first quintessential credo that all things Iggy are related.) Also Gala Pinion, who had taken the third (empty) bedroom, was a steady girlfriend and for a couple of weeks, so was Iggy. On top of these affairs and according to Duggie Fields there were dozens of groupies around, all the time, all over the place.

Although Syd had, in the eyes of several friends and colleagues, relaxed a bit, others described him as a typical apathetic acid casualty. And already a new (legally obtained) drug would replace his LSD intake: Mandrax.

JenS’s story, as has been depicted on the Church for the past few weeks, has re-thrown the dices somewhat. Up till now it was believed that Iggy stayed with Syd during the autumn of 1969, at the end or after he had finished most of The Madcap Laughs sessions.

But as Iggy was apparently around in April 1969, she may have witnessed the fresh start of the sessions of Syd’s first solo album. Malcolm Jones, who happened to be A&R of EMI’s brand new progressive rock label Harvest, wrote it down as follows:

One day, late in March, 1969, I received a message that Syd Barrett had phoned EMI's studio booking office to ask if he could go back into the studios and start recording again.

As nobody was apparently very hot to work with Syd Barrett, Malcolm Jones was more or less forced to produce the record himself but the songs that were presented to him by Syd at his apartment were good enough to start with the project. The first session in studio 3 at Abbey Road took place on Thursday, 10 April 1969 at 7 in the evening. But recording really started the next day when Syd recorded 3 classic tracks in two hours time. When they stopped the session at half past midnight 6 tracks had been worked on.

This was Syd at full tilt! At this session Syd was in great form, and very happy. No matter what people may say to the contrary, Syd was very together, and this was his first session with the new songs.

From the last article we know that the sleeve pictures were probably taken between the 14th and 21st of April. Shortly after that Iggy disappeared. Did this have an effect on Syd’s recording output?

Malcolm Jones recalls how Syd wrote a ditty love song ‘Here I Go’ during the 17 April sessions in a matter of minutes. That song happens to be the Reverend’s favourite for many decades now and it makes the Church wonder if it has been written with Iggy in mind.

Dark Globe

When friend and would-be photographer Mick Rock showed his pictures to Syd, Iggy was long gone. The rock star grabbed one of the pictures and started scratching it (although the Church wants to stress the fact, for Freud’s sake, that he scratched around her - cf. top left picture of this post).

Long Gone was one of the songs that were premiered on the 12th of June 1969 with David Gilmour as producer. David Gilmour and Syd Barrett were back on speaking terms (after David had taken Syd’s place in the band there had been some frictions). Syd and Malcolm, who lived at Earls Court Square as well (but not in Syd's house), had been a few times to David Gilmour’s place, just around the corner, to lend an amplifier for The Madcap Laughs sessions and David had inquired a few times how the sessions had been going.

Syd had been signalled backstage at a Pink Floyd show to chit chat with the old gang and after a while David Gilmour proposed to Malcolm Jones to produce the rest of the album with Roger Waters. Malcolm Jones did not protest, he had enough on his plate being the boss of Harvest and probably, although this is not mentioned in his memoirs, it would be a nice commercial add-on as well to have two members of Syd’s original band on the record.

Jones’s last session with Syd had been in early May and Syd had been pissed that the next session, with David Gilmour, would only take place a month later. But right now David and the rest of the band were busy mixing Ummagumma.

Next to Long Gone, a haunting track about a lost love, Barrett also premiered another song about the same theme of absence: Dark Globe. The track has some enigmatic lines that go as follows:

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

Now that we know that this song was probably written just after Iggy's disappearance out of Syd’s life, is there a possible correlation between both facts?

Gre(t)ta and Rusty

When Iggy left the mansion Greta and Rusty, a couple of ‘speed freaks’, took the vacant spot for a bed. All biographies, up till now, spell Gretta’s name wrong, according to JenS:

It should be Gretta. Double T.

Duggie Fields remembers Gretta as follows: “I didn’t want them around. Greta did a lot of speed and was quite manic.” But JenS, who knew the couple as well, has a different story to tell:

Rusty and Gretta were not drug-addicted. They never were. They were two art school kids who drank too much and at a later date, probably goofed out on Mandrax. Duggie Fields was always very together and a real gentleman. Their chaos probably fazed him - well, waking to that every morning would.
Rusty was a pretty good guitarist and Syd enjoyed playing with him. Rusty and Gretta were both pretty talented in their way. Just goofing.

That more or less sums it up and is all we known from the couple, although Duggie Fields recalls that Gretta went to the USA soon after and was promptly put away in a Texas nuthouse. According to JenS this didn’t happen:

Gretta didn't go to the States. Her sister Trina and I were friends and she went. I'm not sure if Rusty and Gretta continued to visit Syd at Wetherby Mansions or not. The two of them probably moved on and may have visited him at a later date, during the summer… I think I read an interview with Duggie once that said they had been at the flat at some point, but I don't know when that was.
Update: in an exclusive interview to the Church Margaretta Barclay absolutely denies the drug stories surrounding Rusty and her. Please consult: Gretta Speaks and Gretta Speaks (Pt. 2).

It would be nice if someone could write the definitive account on the so-called Cambridge mafia seeking fame and fortune in London, all those people that have crossed Syd’s path at a certain time and disappeared again, often without a trace…

The Church wants to apologise for the fact that this third instalment in the JenS series is not the last as was promised last week. So there will be no excuse not to come back next week to read further on.


Sources (other than internet links mentioned above):

Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p.129.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 241.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 134-158.
Jones, Malcolm: The Making Of The Madcap Laughs, Brain Damage, 2003, p. 3, p. 6.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 105.

The Church wishes to thank JenS for her invaluable testimony about what really happened in those early days of 1969.


2009-03-14

Cheap Tricks

St. Margarets Square, Cambridge
St. Margarets Square, Cambridge.

Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs...

The best Pink Floyd book I've read in years is of course Mark Blake's Pigs Might Fly. Don't tell this to his friends and relatives but I know from a reliable source that he prays at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit from time to time.

The funniest book about the Floyd are the memoirs, not of Nick gentleman drummer boy Mason, although they are good for a chuckle or two, crusty apple pie indeed, but those of Guy Pratt. About a third of My Bass and Other Animals colours pink as Guy joined the diet Floyd, although diet was not exactly the right word to describe the intake of Mr. Gilmour at that time, on their A Momentary Lapse of Reason world tour. Pratt has a very weird kind of humour and one of his pranks was an attempt to crash the Pink Floyd tour plane by frantically running up and down the corridor, in mid-flight! Normal bands have a tour bus; Pink Floyd has a tour plane and the drummer was flying it. If you don’t want to read the book, you can watch an interview where Guy tells about his Floydian encounters.

The best, best as in anoraky, Syd Barrett biography is Julian Palacios' Lost in the Woods, he is a silly bugger if you ask me as he invited the Church on the SBRS forum. Around this time a second (more condensed, I’m afraid) version of his book should finally appear. So far for this commercial break-up.

Speaking about Barretthings, the amount of Syd related books is slowly overhauling the man’s solo output and recently two new ones (in French) have made it onto my desk. Written by Jean-Michel Espitallier, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs, looked the most promising. It doesn't claim to be a biography but a personal rendition, part essay, of a French Barrett connoisseur.

In my opinion France and rock go together like Germany and humour, Italy and efficiency, Belgium and world soccer finales but this one, I hoped, could be an exception as Mr. Jean-Michel Espitallier is not only is a devoted Barrett fan, but also the translator of the French edition of Tim Willis' Madcap biography, a renowned minor poet (dixit Francis Xavier Enderby) and drummer of the French rock band Prexley? (although that last is not exactly a reference, see above).

The title is a nice pun, un jeu de mots, as it can be interpreted as rock and other stuff but also as rock and other tricks. That is why I preferred to start with this tome instead of the other French Barrett book lying on my desk, called The First Pink Floyd, already deserving the price for lamest title of the year.

Stuff & tricks

It is 30 November 2004 and Jean-Michel Espitallier is nervously strolling around St. Margaret’s Square hoping to get a glimpse of the man who was once known as Syd but now prefers to be called Roger. When Syd-Roger drives by (in his sister's car) and the vehicle has to stop at the crossroads - I deliberately use this term here - where Jean-Michel is sitting on a bench, both men meet in the eye and both pretend, for a couple of minutes, not to see the other one. This anecdote sets the tone of the book, marvellously described by the drummer who can't hide his poetic roots. Strong stuff. Nice trick.

I once remarked at the, now defunct, Astral Piper forum that I couldn’t understand the romantic feelings some female Barrett fans had for Syd. I mean, this guy was a slightly disturbed diabetic elderly and if I should have asked them to have a fling with my grandfather they would’ve been insulted… Espitallier is aware of this dichotomy and compares Syd Barrett to Peter Pan. Syd was a Cambridge youngster who refused to grow up and died in the early Seventies when he, like Icarus, reached for the sky too soon. After all these years, fans were still hoping to find a glimpse of Syd, although only Roger had survived.

From old aged Roger it goes to old aged rock. Espitallier makes the point that we have forgotten about the My Lai massacre but only remember its soundtrack. Good Morning Vietnam has turned into an infomercialised cd-compilation (I have a Tour Of Duty TV-Shop-six-pack myself). Television documentaries use The Mamas and The Papas to comment napalm warfare. We look at a vintage take of an American soldier who has just placed a bullet through a women’s head but all we discuss is Suzy Q by the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Although the above is not really new, innovative or original, it is good to see it in print from time to time.

Le rock et autres trucs
Le rock et autres trucs.

Infotainment

Jean-Michel Espitallier is not always well informed. I can forgive him that he mistakes the Dutch designer duo Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger for a couple of Germans but when it comes to Syd some facts should better have been checked before putting it into print. That Mick Rock did not shoot the cover of The Madcap Laughs is perhaps stuff for anoraks (Mick Rock himself has more or less hinted he was behind it anyway, a fact that Storm Thorgerson denies) but the story that, shortly before his death, Syd Barrett found a guitar from his brother-in-law and started strumming it can be found in the Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson Crazy Diamond biography, that appeared 15 years before Syd Barrett passed away. And that particular anecdote probably dated already from a few years before it went into print. There are so many myths about Syd Barrett that one doesn’t need to create new ones.

It is perhaps understandable, the man is a poet and not a biographer. His book is about the Barrett phenomenon and not about the historical Barrett.

Lost in translation

Jean-Michel Espitallier writes : Il y a la musique qui nous rentre dans le cerveau musical et il y a la musique qui passe directement dans la poitrine…

Espitallier not only has been hit in the stomach by Syd’s music but received some hits on the head as well, resulting in some serious brain damage. He heard his first Syd song in 1973 and remembers it as Babe Lemonade; actually it is Baby Lemonade. And Jean-Michel’s lethargic song title memories keep on going on. Barrett’s James Joyce adaptation is baptized Golden Air (not Hair) and Syd’s final Pink Floyd statement Jugband Blues is changed to Jugband Blue. A couple of decades ago I started reading a promising French novel but quit after a dozen pages because the author kept on insisting on a Beatles’ song called Eleanor Rugby. Things like that make me grind my teeth. It makes me even wonder if Jean-Miche Espitallier is a real Barrett fan or a mere fraud trying to cash in, like a few others, on the Barrett legacy. For Ig’s sake, it just takes a 10 seconds look on a record sleeve to see if a title has been noted down without mistakes.

Arthur Rambo

The book ends with a list of creative geniuses who stopped being creative at a certain point in their lives. One of these persons is the 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud, who stopped writing at 21 and proclaimed: Merde à la poésie! I would like to end this review with: Merde au poète! But let’s have a look at the pros and cons of his Syd-hiking first (bad pun, I know)…

Pros: instead of the umpteenth biography this book is a personal journey from the author through music, art and literature, using the Barrett legend as a guide. Interesting viewpoints about music, fandom, culture and politics are intertwined with nice wordplays such as ‘Bob Dylan had a Plan Baez’.

Cons: actually Jean-Michel Espitallier gets more Barrett song titles wrong than he gets them right. At a certain moment I even thought he did it on purpose, the man is a poet after all.

I used to have this philosophy teacher who subtracted points from our exam results if we made spelling mistakes. Although we were angry with the man in those days I can now see he had a point (our points, actually). So out of 10, Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs gets an 8 for its content, but I feel obliged to subtract at least 5 points for its many mistakes.

Suddenly...

...it is silent in here. Did a poet pass or did someone fart?

(This book is further trashed in another Church post: Tattoo You.)

Espitallier, Jean-Michel: Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs, Editions Philippe Rey, Paris, 2009, 192 pages, 17 €.


Note: This book grew out of an essai radiophonique Jean-Michel Espitallier gave on radiostation France Culture on 4 November 2007. Called Syd Barrett Quand Même it can be found on the (interesting) French Floyd fansite Seedfloyd. Webbrowser version: http://www.seedfloyd.fr/article/syd-barrett-quand-meme. Direct downloads in MP3 or WMA format can be found on the same page.


If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Si les cochons pourraient voler…  
This post has been previously published at Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects.


2009-04-10

Barrett: first in space!

Image by Synofsound
Image by Synofsound.

The first Floyd

I was pretending to be very busy at Atagong mansion and so the review for the most recent French Syd Barrett biography, Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret vegetated in that small Bermuda triangle called 'My Documents' for a while.

Right after I had read the book my opinion about French authors was as follows. I give you an unpublished exclusive excerpt from my first draft:

As long as French biographers keep on insisting that les Pink Floyd is part of their national treasury just because David Gilmour had a fling with BB once they will need to be hunted down by a mob of critics armed with boiling tar and blood stained feathers.

According to the credits on the back cover Emmanuel Le Bret is not only a Sixties collector and connoisseur but also a well known lecturer, although in French this is described as a conférencier what is not exactly the same. Anyway and this is a cheap blow under the belt, I apologize beforehand, a search on the world wide web doesn’t reveal any of his performing qualities to me but perhaps he only reads on private parties.

Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd, is not Emmanuel Le Bret's first book so tells me Google . He debuted with an esoteric study about Uranus, a subject he knows more about than you dare to imagine. I could add in a joke or two here, but I won't. Uranus is not something one makes jokes about, unless you're from Klingon territory.

The biographical planet orbits between two opposing points. At the sinister side all attention goes to meticulously verified, double verified and triple verified facts. This does not always lead to readable books, I'm afraid. Spiralling at the other side are those who will not hesitate to add a good, albeit probably untrue, anecdote because it goes down so well. They probably think they're writing telenovelas instead.

Le premier Pink Floyd
Le premier Pink Floyd.

Legendary nonsense

Emmanuel Le Bret certainly admires the second biographical viewpoint. Several times he warns us, the innocent reader, not to give too many attention to the many legends around Syd Barrett and continues then by giving us a page and a half of the wildest rumours circling around about the madcap. Some of these were even unknown to me but this could be due to the French and their legendary lust for the baroque and the bizarre. It took them until the mid nineties to finally understand that Pink Floyd wasn't a bird so one juicy Syd rumour more or less can't hurt Emmanuel must have thought. Le Bret is as passionate about the rock star as he is passionate about Uranus and this shows in the many sentences that end with an exclamation mark!
Like this!!
And that!!!
And then just another one when you least expect it!!!!
French love this kind of stuff as you can see in their many movie comedies filled with screaming people who keep on smashing doors.

If you want to know what the general tone of the book is, I invite you to read the following post that I found at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. The author of that blog is a complete nutter, ready for the strap jacket, but I can follow the Reverend in what he has to say about Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd: Tattoo You. (Note: this review was originally posted at Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects.)

I am now also pretty sure that the French lack the proper DNA string that give other nationalities the magic force to copy and paste English words. For fuck's sake how moronic do you need to be to keep on insisting throughout the entire book that Syd's one time girlfriend is named Libby Gausdeen or that David Gilmour's early band is called Jocker's Wild?

There must be a zillion Internet joints, from Albania to Zambia, where they do manage to spell these names right, except in France. I made a list of the dozens of spelling mistakes in the book, and boys and the one single Nordic girl reading this blog, you are lucky that it has disappeared mysteriously from my harddisk, and I am too fed up to look for them again. Spoken about a narrow escape!

One could say that Emmanuel Le Bret writes English like officer Crabtree (from Allo Allo fame) speaks French (I know that this blog is not spotless either but we Belgians are semi-French anyway).

One time I really had to laugh out loud and that was when le brat re-baptises the hippy couple Jock and Sue, you know those hipsters that according to popular believe and certainly to our brave Uranus spotter spiked the drinking water and the cat food with LSD, as Mad Max and Mad Sue.

In real life Mad Jock was Alistair Findlay and Mad Sue was Susan Kingsford, and they both deny that they have ever mixed LSD in Barrett’s tea. Alistair Findlay even stated in Tim Willis’ Madcap biography that ‘spiking was a heinous crime’. Although these testimonies date from 2002 (and were repeated in Mark Blake’s biography from 2007) Emmanuel Le Bret still describes this as a proven fact and categorizes the couple as:

…un couple infernal (le mot n’est pas trop fort) [qui] biberonne le genie, rêvant sans doute de l’accompagner dans son voyage, à défaut de partager son talent…
…a devilish couple (that depiction is not too harsh) boozing the genius, without doubt dreaming to accompany him in his voyage and to share his talent… (translated by FA, original found on p. 138)

Pure bollocks, if you ask me, and further proof that the French are at least 7 years behind compared to the rest of the world.

What is there more to say? Le premier Pink Floyd has no pictures, although some French photo material does exist, and no index, what is a pity, especially for a biography. Basically the book reads like a train but flies like a brick...

To end this misery, a positive note. Here is a proposal to all French would-be authors who want to write the next Floydian biography, if one more is still needed: send me a copy before it goes to the publisher and I will check it for copy and paste errors. It will cost you nothing except a free copy once it does gets out, promised!

Le Bret, Emmanuel : Syd Barrett. Le premier Pink Floyd., Editions du Moment, Paris, 2008


Notes (other than the above internet links)
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 75, repeated in:
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p.83.

Illustration (top left) by synofsound - thanks syn!

Seedfloyd has (had?) some articles and an audiolink concerning this book at the following pages:
http://www.seedfloyd.fr/livre/syd-barrett-le-premier-pink-floyd
http://www.seedfloyd.fr/forum/index.php?topic=1120.0
http://www.seedfloyd.fr/forum/index.php?topic=1199.0
Radio Canada interview.


Other Pink Floyd related books that were trashed by the Reverend can be found here:
Fasten Your Anoraks
Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Cheap Tricks 
The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd 

This post has been previously published at Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects, some updates have been added only here.


2009-06-01

Rock around the Blog

Syd Barrett and Sheila Rock
Syd B. & Sheila Rock, by Mick Rock.

One of the lesser profane tasks of The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is to check the amount of iggybility on the World Wide Web and to act (or react) accordingly. As the one and only keeper of the true faith this means that in very grave situations the Holy Igquisition has to intervene.

Here is such a case.

It came to the attention of the Church that the popular website whodatedwho.com has got a webpage devoted to Iggy. That is no problem as such, but a closer look on the page in question reveals that it contains some errors and some unaccredited links.

The Iggy picture gallery contains a lot of video-screenshots that have been taken from The Holy Church, but without referencing it. The Igquisition does not need any divine intervention to make this assumption as several screenshots have been taken from an alternative copy of the Syd Barrett home video that isn’t widely available on the web but that belongs to the Church’s archives.

The Holy Church does not pretend to be the one and only gospel and anyone is entitled to add his (or her) own interpretations on the web. On the other hand the Holy Church has the ambition to become the one and only godspell, god spell as in collection of (good) news, the one a bit more canonical than the other.

After long consideration the Holy Igquisition has decided that the true believer will find the Church anyway, so every Iggy webpage, even considered heretic by The Church, will be beneficiary at the end. But there is another matter with graver consequences the Igquisition has to look into...

The Who Dates Iggy page has some limited space to add links to other websites. The most prominent one links to a forum thread located at pinkfloydfan.net. The Who is Iggy?-thread, dating from 2004, starts with the following remark ‘these are some links to pictures with her (meaning Iggy) and Mr. Barrett’ and point to 5 pictures located at the pink-floyd.org website.

Syd Barrett and Sheila Rock
Syd Barrett and Sheila Rock, by Mick Rock.
 

The pictures present at this location have been described here and there as Iggy with Syd, sitting in the back of his garden in Cambridge in 1971. To avoid any rumours of a Syd and Iggy reunion in the Seventies the Church vehemently wants to contradict this mystification. The woman present on the picture is not Ig, but Sheila Rock, Mick Rock’s first wife:

I met my first wife Sheila in 1969 and within about six months we were married. (…) The images were taken in Syd’s mother’s house to accompany a small article that I did for Rolling Stone magazine in 1971. (…) By that time Syd had moved back to Cambridge. The pictures were shot in the garden. Sheila took the pictures of me and Syd together…

Although all trace of Sheila has been carefully removed from the pictures in the Psychedelic Renegades book, with the exception of her hand on Syd’s sleeve on page 132, some uncensored pictures made it to the fans, probably through Bernard White who issued the Terrapin magazine in the Seventies. But to settle this matter once and for all: she is not Ig; she is Sheila Rock.

The pictures of Sheila Rock and Syd Barrett, taken by Mick Rock, can be found on the heretic Madcap page of pink-floyd.org. Please note that the description of the pictures is wrong and that the woman on the picture is not Iggy.
Syd Barrett & Iggy #1 NOT!
Syd Barrett & Iggy #2 NOT!
Syd Barrett & Iggy #3 NOT!
Syd Barrett & Iggy #4 NOT!
Syd Barrett & Iggy #5 NOT!


Notes (other than internet links mentioned above):

Rock, Mick: Psychedelic Renegades, Plexus, London, 2007, p. 98.

The Reverend wants to apologise for the - sometimes harsh - tone of the above text. It has been written by the Holy Igquisition, and nobody expected the Holy Igquisition, not even the Reverend...


2009-11-01

A Bay of Hope

Syd Barrett flat pictures
Syd Barrett flat.

To all our sistren and brethren, hail! Might you wonder if the Church is dead the answer is clear and simple: no! The Church is contemplating its path and went into an early hibernation to, as the French say, reculer pour mieux sauter.

One of the main occupations of any holy man is to study the scriptures and that is what we have been doing so far. The next post is very academic and thus, by definition, boring, although it starts rather user-friendly.

Last week a professional rock memorabilia seller put some pictures for sale that he described as:

SYD BARRETT FOUNDING MEMBER OF PINK FLOYD
4 X ORIGINAL MICK ROCK PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN AND PRINTED IN 1974 SHOWING SYD IN HIS FLAT WITH PAINTED BOARDS,
EARLY MICK ROCK PHOTOS ARE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AND NOW HE PRINTS PHOTOS AT 1000 POUNDS PER PHOTO.
THESE ARE ORIGINAL 6 X 4 INCHES PRINTED BEFORE MICK ROCK BECAME FAMOUS, LONG AFTER SYD WHO WAS ALREADY FAMOUS.

The 4 prints show Syd Barrett in his apartment and date from The Madcap Laughs photo sessions where both Mick Rock and Storm Thorgerson showed up.

The Church has created some controversy concerning the date of the photo shoot. It has been published in most biographies that the pictures were taken in the autumn of 1969, but JenS, who was a Cantabrigian friend of Syd Barrett and knew Ig as well, pointed out that the pictures were probably taken in spring. The Church further narrowed the date of the photo shoot to the week between the 14th and the 21st of April 1969, and certainly not 1974 as the seller wrote.

The account of the photo shoot also differs from the point of view of who is telling the story. Storm Thorgerson claims that he shot the sleeve of The Madcap Laughs, but - in the past - Mick Rock hinted that he was behind it all.

An unconfirmed story goes that Mick Rock was taking pictures on behalf of Hipgnosis and gave (some of) his film rolls to Storm Thorgerson who developed and used some of the pictures for The Madcap Laughs record sleeve.

It takes a rascal to recognise another one. Mick Rock kept some negatives in his back pocket and forgot these until he could show off with his own little private project called Psychedelic Renegades. (In retrospect this wasn’t a bad thing as Storm Thorgerson has apparently lost all the negatives he had in his possession.)

When, a couple of years ago, probably at The Other Room exhibition, a fan asked Mick Rock to autograph the sleeve picture of The Madcap Laughs he mysteriously grinned and said something like ‘I can’t sign pictures that weren’t taken by me, can I?’ and it still isn’t sure if his comment was ironic or not.

The Church looks at its flock in awe and admiration, which is in shrill contrast with those other religions that take their believers for total nincompoops, and the Reverend will let you decide for yourself after only a tiny amount of brainwashing.

On the Madcap Laughs shooting day several photo series were made. The series of Mick Rock may have taken two consecutive days instead of one, but nobody, not even Rock himself, remembers it very well.

THE MICK ROCK COLLECTION

Outside pictures (B&W)

¤ Syd on and around his car, sometimes with Iggy.
¤ Syd & Iggy on the pavement.
¤ Syd with guitar case and guitar.

These black and white pictures show Syd and Iggy in front of the house. Syd is sitting on, standing next, leaning against the car, claimed by Mick Rock to be a pink Pontiac, while it was naturalmente blue. On some pictures Syd wears a necklace, on others apparently not. Some cut-outs of these pictures can be found in our Street Life gallery.

Inside pictures (colour)

¤ Syd with (naked) Iggy.

Syd wears a brown jacket, a yellow shirt, and reddish trousers. These are about the same clothes as on the outside session (the shirt may be different). Some cut-outs of these pictures can be found in our gallery: Bare Flat.

¤ Syd without Iggy.

Syd with blue tie-dyed t-shirt, red trousers, necklace and daffodils. No shoes. Other pictures have him sitting on the mattress, drinking coffee.

¤ Syd kneeling shirtless on the floor.
¤ Syd and his record player.

Barrett is shirtless, wears his red trousers, has the necklace (at least in one picture). Should you care to know, the record player in his room is a Garrard SP25 MK2 (thanks mrlimbo!) and the record on the player is from the soul label Direction, a subsidiary of CBS (thanks infantair!). (Information grabbed from Late Night.).

A few of these pictures appear on the inner sleeve of the double album Syd Barrett, but none have been directly credited to Mick Rock (the credits go to Blackhill, Lupus, SKR and Hipgnosis).

Update 27 December 2012: It took some time but Göran Nyström (from Men On The Border) and Giulio Bonfissuto have found enough evidence to conclude that the record on Syd's turntable is Taj Mahal's The Natch'l Blues. They did this by comparing the tracks that are visible on Mick Rock's pictures with the track listing of the record: "4 rather equally short tracks first and then one that is longer. This should be the album". (Source: Göran Nyström at Laughing Madcaps.)

Inside pictures (B&W)

¤ Syd with record player and trimphone.
¤ Syd sitting on mattress.

Syd is wearing a tie or a scarf, a tie-dyed t-shirt and a different pair of trousers (dark with rows of lighter spots). A newspaper and a trimphone are lying next to the mattress. The record player has got a different record (the one with the Direction label is lying (unprotected) underneath another one). There is no sign of Iggy in this series.

¤ Iggy nude study.

The (in)famous series of Ig. No sign of Syd here. This series can be found in our gallery: Rock Bottom.

(The Lost in the Woods home movie, probably made by Mick Rock, has Syd walking around in a yellow shirt and blue jacket and trousers. For completists: the yellow shirt is not the same as the one he is wearing on some of the pictures mentioned above.)

Syd Barrett compilation
Syd Barrett compilation.

THE HIPGNOSIS COLLECTION

The only way to consult the Hipgnosis archives is to wade through record sleeves and the books from Storm Thorgerson, as most of the negatives have been misplaced through the years.

The best overview of Storm’s pictures on that day can be found on the inner sleeve of the compilation album Syd Barrett that appeared in 1974. Thorgerson has the following to say about its cover: "I made up the design from photos already taken at The Madcap Laughs session and added special insignia."

Outside pictures (colour)

¤ Syd leaning against car (with guitar case).
¤ Syd sitting on car.

Storm Thorgerson took a few colour pictures during the outside sessions. One of these pictures was used for the cover of A Nice Pair (Pink Floyd compilation album, that has had different editions with slightly different covers). Another picture can be found on the following Church page: When Syd met Iggy...
Update 2001 02 19: Iggy has confirmed to the Church that she took the Polaroid picture of Syd Barrett sitting next to the car: Give birth to a smile... 

Inside (B&W)

¤ The yoga session.

Syd sitting shirtless and shoeless on the floor and showing his gymnastic skills. Update October 2010: the Church is now of the opinion that the yoga pictures may have been the 'real' autumn Madcap Laughs cover shoot, commissioned by Harvest director Malcolm Jones, when the album was in its final stages: The Case of the Painted Floorboards 

Inside (colour)

Until now we only knew the pictures that were used for The Madcap Laughs and for the Crazy Diamond CD compilation.

¤ The Madcap Laughs front.

Syd, shoeless, in blue shirt and pink trousers crouching (daffodils in front of him). A bigger version of this photograph can be found on Crazy Diamond. (See also: Stormy Pictures.)

¤ The Madcap Laughs back.

Syd with yellow shirt and necklace (in red trousers) with Ig leaning artistically on the chair. A bigger version of this photograph can be found on Crazy Diamond (Syd Barrett CD box, 1993).

¤ Syd in brown jacket, sitting on the floor. Ig walking towards the chimney.
¤ Syd with a toy aeroplane (and daffodils) in front of him.

This last picture can also be found on A Nice Pair, but not on the edition that has the Syd Barrett car picture (several version of the Nice Pair sleeve do exist, as you have figured out by now).

According to the above information the four pictures that were sold on eBay belong to the Hipgnosis collection and not to Mick Rock.

1. Picture one is the famous Madcap Laughs front-sleeve but in its entirety.
2. The second picture, with Syd and a toy aeroplane, has also been published before, but this version is not cropped and shows more of the surrounding room.
3 & 4. Pictures 3 and 4 have been unknown until now and have never been published before.

The four pictures were sold for a mere 127.00 £. The Church duly hopes that the buyer is an authentic fan who will share hi-res scans with the Barrett community.

Syd Barrett Pontiac
Syd Barrett's Pontica.

The seller of the pictures has previously sold one other Syd Barrett photo from the same session. It was un unknown picture of Syd sitting on his Pontiac, taking away, once and for all, the rumours that his car was bright pink. The Reverend wonders if claytonpriory still has other pictures to sell, perhaps with Ig on the background, although it is of course regrettable that the collection is divided and sold in separate pieces.

Did this post confuse you?

It confused the Reverend as well, especially when he found out that one picture, entitled to Mick Rock, actually needs to be credited to Hipgnosis. Or is it the other way round? That will be discussed in a later post: A Bay of Hope (update).

Until then, my brethren and sistren, live long and prosper and don’t do anything what Ig wouldn’t have done.


Sources (other than the above internet links):

Thorgerson, Storm: Mind Over Matter, Sanctuary Publishing, London, 2003, p. 204.

A new gallery, called StormWatch has been made and contains the Madcap pictures, made by Storm Thorgerson and discussed in this entry. Play the Storm Thorgerson or Mick Rock Iggy picture quiz!

The second part of this article can be found at: A Bay of Hope (update).


2009-11-14

A Bay of Hope (update)

Iggy Rose and Syd Barrett
Iggy Rose and Syd Barrett.

In a previous post at the Church the Reverend tried to catalogue the different pictures that were made in Syd Barrett’s flat for the so-called Madcap Laughs sessions.

It is believed that the (first) session took place in April 1969. Two photographers arrived at the same day at Barrett’s apartment. They both took pictures while Barrett was posing, sitting on the floor of his flat, and with Iggy, a friend, a groupie or a temporary muse walking around in the nude. None of the boys seemed to be distracted by that. The Sixties were strange days indeed.

That is why there is a certain similarity between the pictures from Storm Thorgerson (Hipgnosis) and Mick Rock. It has also been hinted that Mick Rock gave some of his film rolls to Storm Thorgerson for further use as he apparently thought he had been hired for the job. The stuff they were smoking was still good in those days.

Dixit Rock one of his pictures appeared (uncredited) on the Barrett (solo) album and also the inner sleeve from the Syd Barrett compilation shows several Mick Rock pictures. Mick Rock would later occasionally work for Hipgnosis and if the Reverend remembers it well the portraits of Pink Floyd that can be found on Meddle are his work (although you won’t find that story in Thorgerson’s Mind Over Matter compendium).

Storm signature
Storm Thorgerson autograph.

Dark Globe spoke to Storm Thorgerson about the cover of The Madcap Laughs (probably at Borders, Cambridge):

I once had a chat with Storm at one of his exhibitions, where I mentioned that many people thought that Mick Rock photographed the Madcap cover. He expressed a mild annoyance that anyone would think so.
He then jokingly signed my copy of his book 'NOT Mick Rock, but Storm Thorgerson'.
When I asked if he would consider publishing a book of his Syd photos, he told me the originals were all lost. It was clearly a subject he didn't want to discuss so I didn't ask any more about it. I've since read interviews with him where he says he doesn't like talking about Syd. Which is fair enough. (Taken from: ‘New’ Mick Rock Syd photos?)
Mick Rock signature
Mick Rock autograph.

Beate S. had a similar experience, but with Mick Rock, when she wanted him to sign the cover of The Madcap Laughs album at Borders, Cambridge (also on the 1st of November 2008):

[Mick Rock] said something like "Can't very well sign something I didn't do, can I", grinned a bit shy and flipped through the little booklet and signed. I can't remember the words exactly… but he was not ironic at all, just telling the truth.

Later that same evening Beate had a chance to talk again to the photographer:

He was indeed serious about the cover not being his, no doubt about that. Later that evening at the party when we found out he was a really nice bloke, I admit I did not of course inquire any further as that would have been very rude in the setting. (Bea S., Mick Rock signing, email, 2 November, 2009.)

It is also possible that some of the photo sessions by Rock or Thorgerson were made on a later date. Mick seems to remember that he might have come back another day to do some extra shots, and there is also the Lost in the Woods home video, shot by Mick Rock, with Syd, Ig and a mysterious brunette. When the photographer came back a few weeks later to show Syd the pictures Iggy was gone and Syd’s mind was far further away than ever.

Storm Thorgerson was also a close friend of Syd, a friendship dating from their Cambridge days, and he may have visited him on other occasions as well. Storm took some photos later in the year (the so-called yoga pictures) and maybe this is how the legend came into place that The Madcap Laughs photo session was made after summer.

But this is of course all speculation and memories have become quite blurry through the mist of time.

The Church regards the Thorgerson versus Rock controversy as settled and until no further images miraculously appear this subject is considered closed. The Storm Watch gallery on this blog has been updated with some new pictures and one Thorgerson picture that had sneaked into the Mick Rock Bare Flat gallery has been identified as such (that same gallery also has been updated with another hi-res scan).

Sistren, brethren, we don't need the Reverend's groove thing

And now make place for some important theological matters. In the past the Reverend has addressed the believers on this blog with brethren, using this term for all believers whether they were male, female or all things in between.

At a recent congress of our arctic coven (and beyond) it was uttered that brethren is an archaic form destined for men only and that our female followers should be addressed accordingly. The arctic coven unanimously voted to use the term sistren (up against brothress) and the highest level of our church authority has now approved their plea.

Most of the texts on this blog have now been updated and the believers will be alternately addressed as sistren and brethren (or brethren and sistren). These archaic plural forms will also be used to designate one single member, as in the next example: Iggy was our first skyclad sistren after all, wearing her uniform with pride.

Further projects

The Church has got quite a few new projects in the pipeline as people from all over the Globe are suggesting subjects and people to talk to. The next article will probably delve deeper into the Cromwellian days. The Church managed to trace back one of the people who worked at the club and some memories might be published here shortly.

So until the Reverend has got something new to summon he blesses you, sistren and brethren, and don’t do anything that Ig wouldn’t have done.


Update 18 December 2011: added Mick Rock's signature from the collection of Beate S. A high-res scan can be found at our Storm Watch gallery.


2010-04-02

Little old lady from London-by-the-Sea

This is not Iggy.
This is not Iggy.

Tranquillity is slowly descending upon the Holy Church of Inuit like smog upon Victorian London. Several brethren and sistren of the Church, and one-time visitors who entered through the front gate to study its baroque interior, have passed some valid information to the Reverend and these will be further investigated in the future. The Reverend also wants to apologise to the people that have been contacted (and interviewed) last year, especially those associated with The Cromwellian club. The articles about The Crom have been postponed due to the unexpected result the Mojo Syd Barrett article created, but they will - one day - hopefully appear.

To all our readers: please keep on going on giving the Church information, how futile it may be, but remember that the Reverend will not break its own rules that stay unchanged even now that Iggy (Evelyn) has been found. Especially now that Iggy (Evelyn) has been found.

The Reverend is not a souvenir collector who will ring at her bell like all those so-called (and in the Reverend's eyes: messed up) true fans used to do at Syd Barrett’s door. Evelyn's wish to be left in peace is and will be unconditionally granted. The same goes for other witnesses of the Barrett era, the Church will send them a nice note from time to time, as a reminder of its presence, but will not break their privacy. Some will call this bad journalism but the Church is not dependent from sold issues and follows a strict deontological code.

Croydon Guardian

On the thirteenth of February of this year The Croydon Guardian published a short, hastily noted down, interview with (a quite reluctant) Iggy, titled: Croydon Guardian tracks down elusive rock star muse. Here it is in full (with some comments from the Reverend):

Croydon Guardian tracks down elusive rock star muse
By Kirsty Whalley
An iconic model who stole Syd Barrett’s heart in the 1960s has been found after three decades of anonymity. Known only as Iggy, the enigmatic woman was immortalised posing naked for the Pink Floyd star’s solo album, Madcap Laughs. She disappeared in the late 1970s and has been living in West Sussex, oblivious to her iconic status. In September 2008, the Croydon Guardian appealed for information about the model and, more than a year later, we managed to track her down.

The story of how the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit convinced The Croydon Guardian to assign some place in its columns for the Iggy enigma can be found at Where did she go? and (I've got my) Mojo (working...).

She inspired artist Anthony Stern, who filmed her dancing in Battersea Park and also took striking photographs of her on a houseboat in Chelsea. They were released at the City Wakes festival – a tribute to Syd Barrett – in October 2008, in Cambridge.

The above has of course been extendedly covered by the Church as well: Anthony Stern.

Mr Stern said: “Iggy was my muse. I met her at a Hendrix gig at the Speakeasy. She entirely captures the spirit of the Sixties, living for the moment, carefree.”

Jimi Hendrix gigged quite a few times at The Speakeasy and was spotted there on other occasions as well, for instance on the 22nd of February when he attended a press conference for The Soft Machine.

Jimi Hendrix

The club has been described in the (excellent) London Live book from Tony Bacon as follows (most information about the club has been taken from that book).

When The Speakeasy was opened by Roy Flynn around the end of 1966 in Margaret Street, just north of Soho, the rock elite soon discovered a handy new watering hole, a prime early-hours jamming post, and an altogether useful hanging-out kind of place.

By May 1967 the club was part of the London spot-the-celebrity circle next to - amongst others - the Scotch (of St. James) and of course the Crom. On a good night you could having a drink next to The Bee Gees, Jeff Beck or The Who, although, keeping up his avant-garde experimental jazz appearance, Robert Wyatt from The Soft Machine couldn't care less: "Rock groups meeting in expensive clubs that are difficult to get into? What's all that crap?"

On the 19th of January 1967 Jimi Hendrix gave the first of 3 concerts at The Speak. On top of that he would also jam a few times with other people on stage, including Jose Feliciano and Georgie Fame. That night in January he tried to get into Marianne Faithfull's pants with the seductive remark: "What are you doing with this jerk, anyway?" The jerk in question was of course Mick Jagger who wanted to check out the new kid in town.

Yes-fans will know the club for its owner Roy Flynn. When, on the 13th of December 1968, Sly And The Family Stone didn't show up for their gig an impromptu band was found to take their place. When Roy Flynn saw Yes's performance he was so thrilled that he became their manager for a while. The band eagerly agreed, not because he had some managerial skills but because the restaurant at The Speak had an excellent reputation:

Roy had never managed a band before and he kind of took us on and then the whole world of the Speakeasy opened up (laugh). It was a great club, I mean, it was a wonderful club, it used to close at 4 AM and we would not only rehearse there, we would play there some nights, and of course after a gig if we were playing within, let's say 150 miles from London, we would rush and go to the Speakeasy and eat there, and most of the meals were completely free. So for about a year I ate pretty good. Most of the evenings I ate there. Because that was the life style, we would be in the Speakeasy after 3 AM and the kitchen still would be opened and the food was not fantastic but thanks to Roy Flynn we would get free food and quite a lot of few drinks as well. (Peter Banks, who invented the band's name and left the group in 1970)

The extensive Jimi Hendrix gig database located at Rich Dickinson only mentions 3 genuine Jimi Hendrix performances in 1967: the aforementioned gig on the 19th of January 1967 and two more in March: 8th March 1967 and 21st March 1967. So Iggy (and Anthony Stern) must have attended one of these. For the completists amongst us the Church gives now the complete list of Hendrix sightings at the Speakeasy (1967):
67-01-19: Gig.
67-02-22: Press reception for the Soft Machine.
67-03-08: Gig.
67-03-16: Launching party for Track records (Jimi gives three interviews).
67-03-21: Gig.
67-04-17: Jam (on bass) with Georgie Fame (on organ) and Ben E. King (drums).
67-05-08: Brian Auger Trinity Concert.
67-06-04: Jose Feliciano concert and onstage jam.
67-12-06: Party for The Foundations.
67-12-22: Musicians from Christmas on Earth and Hendrix jam until the morning hours.
67-12-31: New Year's Eve Party where Jimi plays a thirty minute 'Auld Lang Syne'.

London Live

There is quite an intriguing picture on page 103 of the London Live book, showing co-managers Roy Flynn and Mike Carey, sitting at the Speakeasy bar, accompanied by two ladies. According to CowleyMod one of the women undoubtedly is Ig. Although most of the members of the Church do not think it is her the Church wants to give Cowleymod the benefit of the doubt and the visitors of the Church the chance to make up their own mind (click here to see the full picture).
Update (November 2010): it has been confirmed to the Church that the person on the picture is NOT Iggy / Evelyn.

Iggy said: “I cannot believe there is a film of me, that there are photos of me.”
 
Iggy spent a brief part of the 60s living in Croydon with DJ Jeff Dexter, who used to play at the Orchid Ballroom. She said: “The Orchid Ballroom was the place to be, the atmosphere was fantastic. I loved going there, I loved to dance. Jeff wanted to turn me and two other lovely girls into the English version of the Supremes, but that never happened.”
 
She does not like to talk much about Syd Barrett, but admits she lived with him in Chelsea in the late 1960s. She said: “Syd was so beautiful looking. We had a relationship, I lived with him for a while.”

Although the Reverend is aware of at least four witnesses who have confirmed in different biographies (and directly to the Church) that Iggy and Syd weren't an item this is now contradicted by Evelyn herself.

It was at that time she became known as Iggy the Eskimo. She said: “In part I made up the nickname. The rest was the photographer Mick Rock, who asked where I was from. I said ‘my mother is from the Himalayas’ and he said ‘we will call you Iggy the Eskimo’.”
NME, 25th of November 1966
NME, 25th of November 1966.

The Church will not deny that Mick Rock may have thrown around the 'Iggy the Eskimo' nickname to describe the mysterious girl on his pictures but the epithet dates from much earlier. It was first spotted in the NME magazine from the 25th of November 1966 (more than 2 years earlier) where Evelyn was described as 'Another Bender - model IGGY, who is half-Eskimo': Bend It! 

Mick Rock took the pictures for Madcap Laughs. Iggy said: “When Mick turned up to take the photos I helped paint the floor boards for the shoot, I was covered in paint, I still remember the smell of it. In the pictures my hair looks quite funny, I remember hiding my face behind it because I did not want my mum and dad to see it."

Again other witnesses tell other stories. They claim that Syd (with a little help from Iggy) painted the floor boards early in the year, certainly before April 1969. As Syd only started recording mid-April it is a bit weird that he painted the boards especially for the album cover, unless - of course - he (and with him Mick Rock) already had the cover in mind before the recording sessions started. A theory that is not implausible.

She broke up with Syd Barrett shortly after the photo shoot and moved to Brighton. She said: “I have just been living very quietly, I left London in the 70s and I got married in 1978. I met so many people in the 60s – the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart. I was a free spirit. I have left that life behind me now.”

The Church would gladly accept to publish her memoires though. But until that happens, my dear sistren and brethren, don't do anything that Iggy wouldn't have done…

A new gallery has been uploaded containing the complete Come with NME for a pic-visit to THE CROMWELLIAN article and pictures from New Musical Express 1037, 25 November 1966. Photographs by Napier Russel & Barry Peake. Words by Norrie Drummond. (Just another world exclusive from the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.)


Sources (other than the above internet links):
Bacon, Tony: London Live, Balafon Books, London, 1999, p. 101-104.


2010-06-10

Meic meets Syd

Solva Blues, Meic Stevens
Solva Blues, Meic Stevens.

In a previous post it was told how Margaretta Barclay and Rusty Burnhill took Syd Barrett to acid-folk singer Meic Stevens in Wales, trying to raise Syd's appetite to play some music again. None of the Barrett biographies, including the most recent one from Rob Chapman, have mentioned this, although it was not exactly a secret as Stevens recalls the visits in his autobiography that appeared in... 2003.

The Church is much obliged to Prydwyn who guided us towards Meic Stevens's autobiography and who was so friendly to translate the texts from Welsh to English. This article has mainly been written by him.

Meic meets Syd (© Prydwyn)

Meic Stevens is as huge and influential a name in the Welsh-language folk, rock, and pop scene as Bob Dylan is (was) in the English-speaking world. Meic has been recording since 1965 (mostly in Welsh, although for those not willing to take him on in the language of Heaven, his outstanding 1970 psychedelic masterpiece Outlander has recently been reissued on CD).

For the most part he has performed under his own name, although in the late 60s he was a member of Gary Farr’s backing group in London (playing with Farr at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969, the festival Syd went to with Margaretta Barclay [note from FA]). Meanwhile in Wales (and in Welsh) he, Heather Jones, and Geraint Jarman performed as ‘Y Bara Menyn’ as well (late 60s).

Meic Stevens:

I got a contract in 1965 for a record I’d written myself called Did I Dream. Decca were going to try to market me as another Donovan or Bob Dylan. But it all got too much for me, I had a nervous breakdown and ended up back at Solva.

Meic returned to his home village of Solva, Pembrokeshire, to recover, a time he details in his first autobiography, Solva Blues, and he soon became a feature of the Welsh-language folk and blues scene. In 1969 he was signed by Warner Brothers but after his first album Outlander, the contract was abandoned by mutual consent. (Taken from: Wales Online, interview by Robin Turner.)

The following extracts are from Meic Stevens's first biography, Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini (2nd edition 2009, originally from 2003), with translations following. An English version of this autobiography has also been issued, although I haven’t read it and so am not 100% sure it contains the same information. Update: There is one significant difference between the English and Welsh version, see: Syd meets... a lot of people.

Meic Stevens
Meic Stevens.

Syd Barrett and Meic Stevens in a lost BBC documentary

The first piece refers to 1969. It must have been spring or summer, as the next section in Stevens's autobiography is about the Isle of Wight Festival. Meic Stevens, his partner and children were living in a farmhouse (called Caerforiog) near Solva in rural southwest Wales.

Ro’n i’n dal i wneud peth gwaith i’r BBC yng Nghaerdydd pan gwrddes i â chyfarwyddwr ifanc, Gareth Wyn Jones, oedd am ffilmio rhaglen ddogfen amdana i a ’mywyd. Cymeradwyodd y pennaeth rhaglenni y syniad o gael y cywaith ’ma yn rhan o bump o raglenni dogfen am Gymry cyfoes. Roedd un ohonyn nhw am waith gwneuthurwr drymie o Gasnewydd.

Daeth criw ffilmio i lawr am wthnos a ffilmio yng Nghaerforiog, Solfach, a Thyddewi. Wedyn wthnos arall lan yng Nghaerdydd a Llunden. Y cwbwl wnaeth Gareth oedd ffilmio ein bywyd arferol ni o ddydd i ddydd...

Ymhlith y rhai eraill a ymddangosodd yn y ffilm roedd Heather a Geraint, Gary Farr a Mighty Baby yn Llunden, a Syd Barrett o Pink Floyd fydde’n dod i’n gweld ni yng Nghaerforiog.

Yn nes ymlaen, ffraeodd Gareth ’da’r BBC a mynd i weithio yn Singapore, gan adael y ffilm heb ei golygu. Beth amser wedyn, rhoddodd y BBC ganiatâd i gyfarwyddwr arall olygu portread pum munud ohona i mas o gesys ffilm Gareth, a chafodd beth oedd yn weddill ei daflu mas. Wyth rîl o ffilm un milimedr ar bymtheg oedd yn gyfnod o’n bywyde ni yn 1969! Bachan drwg, Rhydderch Jones!

English translation (© Prydwyn):

I was still doing a bit of work for the BBC in Cardiff when I met a young director, Gareth Wyn Jones, who wanted to film a documentary about me and my life. The chief programming approved the idea of getting this joint effort as a part of five documentary programs about contemporary Wales. One of the other ones was about a drum-maker from Casnewydd.

The film crew came down for a week and filmed in Caerforiog, Solva, and St. Davids. Then another week in Cardiff and London. All Gareth did was to film our normal day-to-day life…

Among the others who appeared in the film were Heather [Jones] and Geraint [Jarman], Gary Farr and Mighty Baby in London, and Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd, who came to see us in Caerforiog.

Later on, Gareth quarrelled with the BBC and went to work in Singapore, leaving the film unedited. Some time later, the BBC gave permission to another director to edit a five-minutes portrait of me out of the cases of Gareth’s film, and what was left over got thrown out. Eight reels of 16mm film that were a record of our lives in 1969! Shame on you, Rhydderch Jones!

Rhydderch Jones was a producer/director for the BBC’s Welsh-language service at the time. This excerpt doesn’t make it fully clear if Syd appeared in the London or Wales parts of the shooting, although it is hinted that it was made while Syd visited Meic in Wales (note from FA). Neither do we know if any of Syd's footage survived at all in the five-minute segment that was eventually broadcast. But it does confirm the year (1969) and the place (Caerforiog near Solva) where Syd visited Meic.

Meic Stevens and Syd Barrett
Meic Stevens & Syd Barrett.

Update 2011 07 08: The Church found this picture on the Laughing Madcaps Facebook Group depicting Meic Stevens and his shortlived band (Y) Bara Menyn. This folk trio also included Geraint Jarman and Heather Jones who made an album in March 1969. The Dylanesque man at the back is Meic Stevens, the man with the hat and the guitar at the front appears to be Syd Barrett. Standing behind Syd could be his friend Rusty Burnhill, sitting behind Syd could be Gretta Barclay. Unfortunately nobody (not even Barrett photo archivist Mark Jones) seems to know where this picture comes from, nor if it is authentic or not.

A message from the Church: We leave it up to other Syd scholars to contact the Welsh branch of the BBC in order to locate the missing reels of the original documentary. Some of the people mentioned above are still around and can be contacted through the BBC or are present on social network websites. And if you do find something, please let us know! (Note: written in 2010 and 6 years later not a single soul has attempted this.)

Ghost Town, Meic Stevens
Ghost Town, Meic Stevens.

Outlander sessions

The next bit is part of the description of the recording sessions for Meic’s 1970 (mostly) English LP, Outlander. As the album was recorded in 1969 it fixes the date of this anecdote also in that year.

Y dyddie hynny, fe fydden ni’n recordio gefen nos fel arfer. Bydde rhai o’r sesiyne’n para tan orie mân y bore – neu drwy’r nos ambell waith – ac wedyn bydden ni’n cael brecwast mewn caffi yn Soho tua saith neu wyth o’r gloch... Allwn i ddim ymdopi ag Olympic, oedd yn hen sgubor fawr o le ’da pentyrre Marshall ar hyd y lle ym mhobman, gwifre spaghetti, a blyche llwch gorlawn.

Daeth Syd Barrett lawr yno un noson pan o’n i ar fy mhen fy hun yno ’da gitâr acwstig, ac ro’n i’n falch pan gyrhaeddodd Syd y tresmaswr ’da’i gariad, mynd â’r gitâr, iste ar lawr, a dechre chware iddo fe’i hun. Ro’n i wedi recordio trac y noson honno, o’r enw ‘One Night Wonder’, ac mae e ar Ghost Town, Tenth Planet Records. Ar lawr y bydde Syd wastad yn iste; doedd dim celfi yn ei stafell, dim ond estyll pren moel neu rai wedi’u peintio’n oren neu’n las, ffôn gwyn, a Fender Telecaster.

Fi oedd un o’r ychydig oedd yn cael mynd yno; dwi’n credu ’i fod e’n hoffi bod ar ei ben ei hun lawer o’r adeg. Ambell waith, fe fydde’n chware’i Telecaster heb ei chwyddo. Dro arall, syllu trwy’r ffenest neu i’r gwagle fydde fe. Doedd Syd ddim fel ’se fe moyn llawer mewn bywyd, dim ond bod ar ei ben ei hun ’da’i feddylie. Roedd e’n foi golygus iawn, wastad ’da merch hardd ar ei fraich pan oedd e mas neu’n gyrru’i Mini Cooper, yn dene fel styllen, ac yn gwisgo dillad ecsotig few siwtie satin croendynn, cryse sidan ffriliog, sgarffie hirlaes, a bŵts croen neidr!

English translation (© Prydwyn):

Those days, we usually recorded in the middle of the night. Some of the sessions would continue until the wee hours of the morning – or right through the night sometimes – and afterwards we’d have breakfast in a café in Soho around seven or eight o’clock… I couldn’t cope with Olympic [Studios], which was an old barn of a place with Marshall stacks everywhere throughout the place, wires like spaghetti, and overflowing ashtrays.

Syd Barrett came down there one night when I was on my own with an acoustic guitar, and I was glad when Syd trespassed his way in with his girlfriend, took the guitar, sat on the floor, and started playing to himself. I had been recording a track that night called One Night Wonder, which is on Ghost Town, Tenth Planet Records. Syd would always sit on the floor; there was no furniture in his room, just bare wooden planks or ones painted orange or blue, a white phone, and a Fender Telecaster.

I was one of the few who got to go there; I believe he liked being on his own most of the time. Sometimes, he would play his Telecaster unamplified. Other times, he would stare through the window or into empty space. Syd didn’t seem to want much in life, just being on his own with his thoughts. He was a very good-looking boy, always with a beautiful girl on his arm when he was out or driving his Mini Cooper. He was as thin as a rail, and wore exotic clothes like skin-tight satin suits, frilly silk shirts, long scarves, and snakeskin boots.
Sackloth, Meic Stevens
Sackloth, Meic Stevens.

Probably NOT Syd

Finally, there is mention of a Syd somewhere in 1964 or 1965, although I don’t think the man in question is Syd Barrett. Still, just in case.

Ro’n i’n iste ar y stâr yn Chalk Farm un noswaith yn trial chware fel Big Bill Broonzy, pan ddaeth Syd, y boi oedd yn byw drws nesaf, mas a sefyll yno’n edrych arna i. Ymhen dipyn, medde fe, “Can you play what you’re thinking?” Wedyn, yn ôl â fe at ei deipiadur a chau’r drws. Do’n i rioed wedi meddwl am chware beth o’n i’n feddwl; ro’n i wastad yn trial copïo cerddoriaeth pobol eraill. Ar chwap fel ’ny, fe wnaeth e i fi feddwl yn wahanol am gerddoriaeth, a dwi’n fwy gofalus byth ers hynny.

English translation (© Prydwyn):

I was sitting on the stair in Chalk Farm one evening trying to play like Big Bill Broonzy, when Syd, the boy who lived next door, came out and stood there looking at me. After a while, he said, “Can you play what you’re thinking?” Then, back he went to his typewriter and closed the door. I’d never thought about playing what I was thinking; I was always trying to copy other people’s music. Just like that, he made me think differently about music, and I’ve been more careful ever since then.

Chalk Farm is an area lying in the London borough of Camden. In 1964 Syd Barrett was living in Mike Leonard's house in Stanhope Gardens, Highgate. The next year he moved to the West End, renting rooms at 12, Tottenham Street. As none of these addresses are next door to Chalk Farm it probably was another 'Syd' Meic Stevens is talking about. Also if Meic had met Syd Barrett (who was still an amateur musician at that point) in 1964 or 1965 he would certainly have stressed this a bit more...

An update on this article has been published at: Syd meets... a lot of people 


Many thanks to Prydwyn for his writing and translating skills.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 81.
Stevens, Meic: Hunangofiant y Brawd Houdini, Y Lolfa, Talybont, 2009, p. 138, p. 190-191, p. 202 .

An excellent article on Meic Stevens: Welsh wizard at work (2011).


2010-06-26

The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory

A Very Irregular Head, Rob Chapman
A Very Irregular Head, Rob Chapman.

Syd Barrett: A very irregular head - Rob Chapman

There are now more Syd Barrett biographies around (in the English language alone) than Syd Barrett records and several Pink Floyd biographies consecrate the same amount of pages for the first three years of the Floyd than for the next 30. So obviously there must be something mysterious going on with this Syd character.

The last in line to open Pandora's box is Rob Chapman. He was actually one of the few people (around 30 to 50) who saw Syd's mythical band Stars at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge (24 February 1972) and is still relatively sane enough to recall it. Young chap Robert Chapman even wrote a review for Terrapin magazine, that would disappear a few years later for 'lack of Syd' but also because no three Syd Barrett fans can come together without having a tremendous fight. Try running an Internet joint for that lot nowadays and you'll see what I mean.

Writing a biography is a difficult job and I once remarked in a (quite pompous) review that biographers are situated on a scale, ranging from those who meticulously verify, double verify and triple verify tiny facts to those that will not hesitate to add a good, albeit probably untrue, anecdote just because it goes down so well.

Rob Chapman is, and often quite rightly so, annoyed with the many legends around Barrett and wants to set the record straight. I kind of like this way of working. But he doesn't indulge us either in an ongoing shopping list of facts and figures. The art of writing biographies is not in adding details, that is the easy bit, but in weeding out the superfluous so that a readable book (rather than a shopping list) remains.

But sometimes I have the feeling that he weeded a bit too much. The trouvaille of the name Pink Floyd (p. 53) is literally dealt with in a single line. Of course ardent Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fans alike already know the story about Philips BBL-7512 and its liner notes by heart, but the occasional reader might as well benefit from an extra wee bit of information. And quite frankly it is about time that David (Dave) Moore gets the credits for the mail he sent to Bryan Sinclair on the 14th of March 2005 entitled: “RE: [pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council.”

From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Phillips BBL-7512, c. 1962. The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following:
"Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys." (Source: Pink Anderson / Floyd Council @ pre-war-blues Yahoo, membership probably needed)

Update 2015: The complete story of the Blind Boy Fuller album that gave Pink Floyd its name can be found at: Step It Up And Go.

Chapman, the fearless vampire killer

You might say, that piece of information is too anoraky and Rob Chapman was right not to include it, but why then, when he can lash out at previous Syd Barrett biographers, doesn't he apply his own rules anymore? Every new biography should have its new findings, otherwise there would be no necessity to write it, and I do understand that you can point out a flagrant mistake that has been made in a previous biography, but Chapman acts repeatedly as a vindictive (and verbally abusive) Von Helsing, wooden stake in his hand, ready to stick it through the heart of a vampire on the loose. Only, in my book, a fellow biographer should not be treated as a vampire but rather as a colleague, perhaps an erring colleague, but still a colleague... Writing that some biographies should have a government health warning on their cover is not nice and is better left to amateur blog authors like yours truly and journalists of The Sun.

We have established by now that Rob Chapman does not like false and superfluous information, but on top of that he also has some theories of his own. David Gilmour recalls how he was invited at the See Emily Play recording session (officially the 21st of May 1967, but, according to David Parker, a first session could have taken place on the 18th) and how he found that 'the golden boy had lost the light in his eyes'. Somewhere around that date Syd turned 'crazy' so we have been lead to believe for the past 40 years…

Inside Out

Chapman is of the opinion that Barrett didn't turn mad, but rather that he was alternatively wired and that, what other people have described as mad behaviour, was really Syd playing cosmic jokes on the rest of the world or setting up dadaist and misinterpreted avant-garde performances.

Just like the proverbial fish in a fisherman's story gets bigger and bigger so have Syd legends accumulated weight over the years. Rob Chapman doesn't like these apocryphal stories and wants to debunk these once and for all. He does a good job at that, but - once again - weeds to much. It is not because you can correct a couple of false rumours that - by definition - all memories from all witnesses have to be categorised untrue. And that is what Chapman implies. Even more, in order to prove his theory, he deliberately skips several events that have happened but that he can't immediately minimise or contradict.

It is good to counterbalance the Syd Barrett articles and biographies that have thriven upon sensationalism (Le premier Pink Floyd from Emmanuel Le Bret comes to mind, luckily that 2008 biography was written in French and completely ignored by the Anglo-Saxon world) but that is not a reason to indulge into a fairytale world of Barrett the mystic, but misinterpreted, genius. That is unethical and close to historical revisionism and it turns the middle part of the biography (covering the Piper and Madcap years) into a somewhat misplaced hagiography.

You will probably not believe me when I tell I didn't do it on purpose, but when Chapman quotes Nick Mason's autobiography Inside Out on page 198, saying that Nick writes that 'Syd went mad' during the American tour of 1967, I grabbed my copy (actually, I carefully took and opened it, as it is quite heavy) and read pages 87 till 97 over again. I did this three times. I can't find it. I will not conclude that Nick may never have written (or said during an interview) that 'Syd went mad' but it isn't there where Chapman claims it is. It makes Chapman a sloppy researcher, to say the least.

Update October 2010: By accident I stumbled upon the Syd is crazy quote (or one of the Syd is crazy quotes) from Nick Mason in Barry Miles' The Early Years book:
"You can't believe that someone's deliberately trying to screw it up and yet the other half of you is saying 'This man's crazy - he's trying to destroy me!'"

Nick however does write that on two different occasions on the American tour Syd detuned his guitar, one time even 'until the strings fell off'. This apparently made Roger Waters so angry that he 'gashed his hand in a furious attack on his bass guitar', smashing the (lend) instrument to pieces at the end of the show.

Rob Chapman doesn't see where the problem is and remarks joyfully that Syd had been deliberately detuning his guitar in the past (during the Floyd's early free-form jams) and that it was tolerated and even encouraged then. He seems not to realise that there might have been a time and place to detune a guitar and a time and place NOT to detune a guitar. When I visit my doctor, who is looking gorgeous by the way, and unbutton my trousers in front of her she will not be offended, but if I catch her at the local supermarket, choosing a deep-freeze pizza (the living proof that deep-freeze pizzas are healthy, by the way) and dangle my ding-a-ling in front of her, I will be in hell of a trouble. Not that I have done that, those rumours are incredibly exaggerated and I am again allowed to enter the supermarket anyway.

The Big Barrett Conspiracy

Chapman more or less suggests that, over the years, there has been a Big Barrett Conspiracy going on, claiming that Syd went mad while he was just being artistically misunderstood. It is obvious that Waters, Mason and Wright, and to a lesser extent Gilmour, were behind the conspiracy. They quit their studies and promising architectural career to follow the narrow path of psychedelic pop music and when money was finally starting to come in a whimsical Barrett wanted to turn the clock back (probably through a washing machine) and concentrate on experiment again (proto-Floyd members Bob Klose and Chris Dennis had left the band in the past just because their profession stood in the way). Chapman doesn't even try to hide his disgust for post-Syd Floyd, but more about that later.

What is less understandable is that Peter Jenner and Andrew King are part of the conspiracy as well, because when Syd and Pink Floyd went separate ways, they choose to manage Syd instead of following the goose with the golden eggs. Jenner assisted Barrett during his first batch of sessions for The Madcap Laughs (1968) but commented later that these were 'chaos'. The sessions had been going on from May till July and Jenner reported that they weren't getting anywhere.

Chapman disagrees, he states that during the 6 studio sessions in 1968 Barrett recorded half a dozen of rough tracks dispelling the myth of a 'muse run dry'. I count 9 sessions, by the way, making Barrett's tracks per sessions ratio one third less performing as Chapman wants us to believe, but that is not the issue here. The main problem is not that Barrett was out of songs. Six of them still doesn't make an album, unless you would add the 18 minutes of the avant-garde (read: tedious) Rhamadan. The main problem with Barrett was that the songs never outgrew the rehearsal or demo stadium. Simply said: Barrett wasted a lot of studio time. And these were still the days that a record company expected an artist to cut an entire album in three or four sessions, the only exception perhaps being The Beatles.

Update October 2010: after 40 years Rhamadan has been issued as a free download with the An Introduction to Syd Barrett compilation. The track isn't half as bad as everyone - especially those who never heard it - claimed it to be, but it needs some serious weeding to be presentable as a 'real' album track. More info: Gravy Train To Cambridge.

Juggling the Octopus

I see in Rob Chapman a man with a passion and he is at his best when he analyses Syd's songs. It takes him 7 pages to scrutinise Clowns & Jugglers (re-titled later as Octopus), making it clear to the outside world that Syd wasn't just a young innocent bloke whose lyrics came to him in a psychedelic, LSD-induced, dream. Chapman traces back references (and quotes) from:
Huff the Talbot and our Cat Tib (Mother Goose rhyme),
Thomas Nashe's Summer's Last Will and Testament (an Elizabethan masque play),
Shakespeare's King Henry VI Pt. 1,
Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows
and poems from
Anonymous (Mr Nobody),
John Clare (Fairy Things),
Sir Henry Newbolt (Rilloby-Rill) and
William Howitt (The Wind in a Frolic).

Unfortunately I have in my small collection of Barrett related works a 12-page essay, written in 2005 by Paul Belbin, published at the Madcapslaughing and Vegetable Friends mailing groups, titled: Untangling the Octopus. It describes in detail, almost verse per verse, where Syd Barrett sampled the lines from Octopus from. Although Chapman nearly literally copies the information for 7 pages long, he neglects to mention the source of his findings.

Update October 2010: Paul Belbin has authorised the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit to host the 2006 version of his essay: Untangling the Octopus v2 (PDF file).

In 2009 a revised and updated version of Untangling The Octopus was published by Julian Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer who doesn't even appear in Chapman's bibliography, but as Chapman spifflicates the biographies he does mention that probably is a compliment.

Mandrax and Brylcreem
Mandrax & Brylcreem

Demythologising Syd

Chapman can get downright cynical when he wants to take the myth out of Barrett and this is where the biography as a biography goes astray. Although a biographer may be unconditionally in love with his subject he (she) must at the same time keep a certain distance, be unprejudiced and should approach the subject with at least a glimpse of unbiased neutrality.

Debunking the brylcreem and mandrax anecdote is not bad, but it is not directly original either. Chapman isn't the first one to have done this as shows this forum post by Julian Palacios and also Mark Blake has put some question marks concerning the event.

Apart from some anecdotes that happened at family parties or random encounters on the street with old friends and (past) lovers, we don't know a lot about Syd Barrett's life in Cambridge. So if a witness does turns up it would perhaps be a chance to check him (or her) out. But in a Q&A that was published on the official Syd Barrett website Chapman tells why he didn't contact the Barrett neighbour who has not always been positive about the rockstar next door:

My thoughts, clearly and unambiguously are that I didn’t want to give this individual a scintilla of publicity. (…) I did check him out, quite extensively as it happens, and my enquiries lead, among other places, to a website where he gives his enlightened views on capital punishment and who should receive it – most of us, by the look of it.

It is not because someone has a dubious opinion about capital punishment that his memories about Barrett are - by definition - untrue or unreliable. However Chapman is not that reluctant when a witness turns up who has got some positive things to say about Barrett.

On pages 365 and following, Chapman recites the charming anecdote of a young child who ran into Barrett's garden to ask him a pertinent question about a make-believe horse. Not only did Barrett patiently listen to her dilemma, he also took the time to explain her that in fairy tales everything is possible, even flying horses.

It is in anecdotes such as this that Chapman shows his unconditional love for Barrett, and I confess that it made my grumpy heart mellow as well. Here is the man, who invariably smashed the door to any fan approaching his house, earnestly discussing fairy tales figures with a neighbourhood's kid.

Update September 2013: some more information about this girl, Radharani Krishna, can be found at the following article: Making it clear... 
Amplex ad, ca. 1958
Amplex ad, ca. 1958.

Wish You Were... but where exactly?

One of the greatest legends about Syd Barrett is how he showed up at the Wish You Were Here recording settings on the fifth of June 1975. A Very Irregular Head merely repeats the story as it has been told in other biographies, articles and documentaries, including Rick Wright's testimony that Barrett kept brushing his teeth with a brush that was hidden in a plastic bag. Roger Waters however claims that Barrett only took sweets out of the bag. As usual different witnesses tell different stories.

The toothbrush myth is one Chapman doesn't know how to demystify but recently Mark Blake may have found a plausible explanation.

The 'toothbrush' and 'bag of candies' may have come out of the story I heard from somebody else that was at Abbey Road that day. They claimed Syd Barrett had a bag filled with packets of Amplex. For those that don't know or remember, Amplex was a breath-freshener sweet that was popular in the 70s. This eyewitness claims that Syd Barrett was nervously stuffing Amplex sweets into his mouth... another story to add to the pile... but you can see how the story of 'breath-freshener sweets' could turn into a 'toothbrush' and/or 'a bag of candies'. (Taken from May 5, 2010 Roger Waters TV interview at Late Night.)

Update August 2011: according to Mark Blake in Mojo 215 the Amplex story comes from journalist Nick Sedgwick, who was writing an (unreleased) Pink Floyd related book at that time and author of the novel Light Blue With Bulges, that describes his beatnik adventures in Cambridge in the early sixties. More info: The Case of the Painted Floorboards (v 2.012).

The Madcap Laughs

Another mystery Chapman can't solve is the exact time frame of the shooting of The Madcap Laughs album cover. He still situates this between August and November 1969 although there is a slightly obscure website on this world that maintains that the pictures date from the beginning of that year.

Chapman does a good, what do I say, a great job by describing Syd's later years. He still can't say a lot about Syd's lost weekend between the mid-Seventies and the early Eighties, although there must be people around who knew or even visited him. Perhaps that insane Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit should try to locate some of them.

In 1982, in the midst of Wall-mania, Barrett left his Syd-character behind by walking the distance between London and Cambridge. For the remainder of his life he would prefer to be known as Rog or Roger.

Chapman managed to talk to Rosemary Breen, Syd's sister, and it is through her that we know a great deal of Barrett's later life. It is a sad story, but one with many laughs, as Rosemary remembers mainly her brother's latter-day sense of humour. That and the story of Syd's life as an adolescent, thanks to the many letters that Libby Gausden has kept for all these years, are the strongholds of this, his, biography.

Pink Fraud

Just when you thought this review was finally going to end it is time to get personal.

I started reading this biography and was genuinely intrigued by the author's style, his wit, his knowledge, but also his unhealthy habit of demeaning anyone who doesn't share his ideas. But I could live with it, despite the odd tsk-tsk that would leave my mouth once in a while.

The passage that made me loose my marbles can be found halfway the book on page 213. It describes how Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd legally split up. Peter Jenner and Andrew King stayed with Barrett, the rest of the band had to choose a new agency, a new manager and a new recording contract. The rest of the band's history, so writes Rob Chapman, is accountancy.

The Early 70 Tours with the Embryo suite: accountancy?
Meddle (with Echoes): accountancy?
Dark Side Of The Moon: accountancy?
Wish You Where Here: accountancy?
Animals: accountancy?
The Wall: accountancy?

Update October 2010: When Barrett and Pink Floyd split up there was the small matter of a 17,000 British Pounds debt that the band had. The Abdab accountants didn't burden Syd Barrett, nor Peter Jenner and Andrew King with that.

On page 317 Chapman infuriates me a little bit more by writing that Waters, Mason, Wright and Gilmour sound like a firm of chartered surveyors. I find this remark as insulting as deliberately mistaking Rob Chapman for Mark David Chapman.

His opinion that, on Wish You Were here, Pink Floyd uses sixth-form imagery to describe their former bandsman (and friend) didn't hurt me anymore. By then Rob Chapman had already become something I usually pick out of my nose.

In Chapman's opinion an entire generation of musicians (in the Seventies) began to make music 'more appropriate to the rocking chair than to the rocket ship'. The man has a way with words, that I have to admit.

I had heard of these Pink Floyd haters before, people who really think that the band died when Barrett left the gang. The problem is that most of these people are aware of Syd Barrett thanks to the fame and glory of a dinosaur called Pink Floyd.

Without Syd Barrett no Pink Floyd, I agree (although it was Roger Waters who invited Barrett to join the band, not the other way round). But without Pink Floyd most of us, myself included, would never have heard of Syd Barrett either.

Thanks to the success of the classic Pink Floyd concepts EMI kept the Barrett solo records in their catalogue. The 1974 vinyl compilation Syd Barrett was a direct result of the interest for early Floyd, after A Nice Pair (1973) had proven successful. Poor Barrett earned 'two and a half million quid' in one year thanks to the Echoes compilation alone.

The backside is that due to Dark Side, Wish You Were Here and The Wall fans from all over the globe started to look for Barrett, hoping he would explain them the meaning of life. Probably Syd would have preferred to be left alone even if it meant not to have all those millions on the bank. But if there is one thing we can't do, it is to change past history, although Chapman tries, more than once, to do so.

Conclusion

Until finally Julian Palacios comes up with a revised edition of Lost in the Woods, Rob Chapman deserves my sincere felicitations for writing one of the most readable Barrett biographies ever. But for constantly exposing himself as an infallible Barrett-prophet, pooh-poohing all those who don't think like him and deliberately ignoring facts that don't fit in his gospel, he deserves nothing more than a good kick on the nose.

Update: some of the anoraky points mentioned in the above article (Octopus lyrics, 1968 sessions) have been further examined in Mad Cat Love (2011).


This (quite controversial) review has been previously published at Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects. Some amendments and updates have been made.

Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):
Belbin, Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit with Paul Belbin's permission.
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press, London, 2007, p. 95, p. 231.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, p. 94-95.
Miles, Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006, p.111.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 136, p. 138.

Mandrax & Brylcreem drawing taken from thepiperatthegatesofdawn.co.uk (site no longer available).

A quite nice (promotional) interview with Rob Chapman can be found at Youtube.

Previous Pink Floyd related books that were trashed by the Reverend:
Pigs Might Fly by Mark Blake: Si les cochons pourraient voler…
Pink Floyd by Jean-Marie Leduc: Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret: Barrett: first in space!
Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs
by Jean-Michel Espitallier: Cheap Tricks 
The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd by Toby Manning: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd 


2010-10-16

Gravy Train To Cambridge

Storm Thorgerson cover.
Cover: Storm Thorgerson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storm Damage

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

Tracks Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R(h)amadan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhamadan MP3 properties.
Rhamadan MP3 properties.

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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


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

2010-11-26

Dark Blog

Sad Barrett
Sad Barrett, by Felix Atagong.

Dark Globe by Julian Palacios.

A while ago it was announced at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit that Julian Palacios' long awaited Syd Barrett biography Dark Globe (Full title: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe) had finally appeared in web shops all over the world. Palacios' previous work Lost In The Woods already dates from 1998 but is (was) still a classic work about Barrett.

Dark Globe 2010 is not an amended or appended Lost In The Woods, Palacios didn't use the easy trick Mike Watkinson & Pete Anderson fell for when they re-issued their Crazy Diamond biography, leaving the (many) errors uncorrected and just adding an extra chapter about Syd Barrett's passing. But I wouldn't go as far as the one critic who claimed that Crazy Diamond is full of 'unsubstantiated nonsense' and that it should come 'with a government health warning on the dust jacket'. Crazy Diamond still takes a soft spot in my heart as it was the first attempt at a serious Barrett biography.

Mojo January 2011 review
Mojo January 2011 review.

But back to Julian Palacios. For those who want to immediately know if Dark Globe is worth the investment, rather than meandering through this review, I will quote Kiloh Smith from Laughing Madcaps:

Just finished Dark Globe and... it's the best book about Syd Barrett that was ever written. I'd say that Dark Globe is my favourite, followed by Crazy Diamond, with A Very Irregular Head taking up a distant third. (Full review at: sydbarrettpinkfloyd.com)

Probably this is the first time in history that Kiloh and I share the same opinion, but he is not the only one praising Palacios. Fleeting Glimpse gives the biography a perfect 10 and quite rightly so. And Mark Paytress from Mojo also has some nice things to say (see left side image).

I once noted down that the art of writing biographies is not in adding details, but in weeding out the superfluous. Palacios is not entirely of the same opinion and that is why my review took so long to appear here. Dark Globe is packed with details, quite an anorak's dream, and it does need some concentration. In my case I found it better to savour the different paragraphs, one at a time, sometimes even going back a bit, than to read the book in one big afternoon chunk.

Palacios has unearthed details that no one has ever found or published before and, this has to be said as well, not all of those are relevant to the average Barrett fan.

Dark Globe, Julian Palacios.
Dark Globe, Julian Palacios.

Postman Syd

Did you know that Syd Barrett had a job as a postman in his teenager years, delivering Christmas cards during the holidays? I didn't. Not only does Palacios reveal that but he also points out that the underwear fetishist who was immortalised in Pink Floyd's first single Arnold Layne could have been a Royal Mail post van driver.

Those familiar with the Pink Floyd's early history remember that the band lived, 64-65-ish, in Mike Leonard's house, an architect who introduced the amateurish R&B gang to light-shows and avant-garde music. Leonard also played a mean piano and replaced Rick Wright for a while, what made him think he was a member of what was ironically called Leonard's Lodgers.

Every student who has been living in a community knows that, sooner or later, food will start disappearing. Stanhope Gardens was no exception to that and Rick Wright used to keep his morning cornflakes inside a locked cupboard, fearing that Roger Waters would otherwise steal his beloved morning cereals. The mystery has lingered on for over 4 decades but Julian Palacios has finally discovered who really nicked Wright's breakfast: not Roger Waters but a boarder named Peter Kuttner. Utterly irrelevant but fun to read. The only fear I have now is that Roger Waters will probably write a concept album about it once he finds out.

Not all of this biography reads like a biography. At certain points Palacios can't hide any-more he is a writer at heart, with poetical streaks, obviously regretting that he wasn't around in those underground days. What to say about this:

The face came out from under the murky swell of psychedelic oil lights, like a frame around a picture. A pale, handsome face with thick silky hair and a white satin shirt. Something bright and small seemed to twinkle in his eyes, vanished, then winkled once more like a tiny star. (p .118)

Palacios adds many song descriptions and can get quite lyrical about chord progressions. Personally I can't be bothered as I don't hear the difference between an A and an F anyway. These parts read like a Korean DVD recording manual to me but I suppose that any amateur musician will enjoy them. Julian has been doing more than his homework and for many early Pink Floyd songs he traces back musical or textual references (today we would call that sampling), but he isn't too snotty to give due credits to where they belong.

Palacios has an encyclopaedic musical knowledge and halfway the book I regretted I didn't note down all songtitles he cites. Songs Barrett liked, songs Barrett played and rehearsed in his youth, songs that influenced some of his later work. Adding these would make a nice cd-box, not unlike the cover disks Mojo magazine sometimes issues.

Arnold Rainey

Julian's observations can sometimes be a bit über-detailed. Arnold Layne, the famous song about the cross-dressing knicker-thief, contains a slight musical nod to the 1928 Ma Rainey song Prove It On Me Blues, not coincidentally another song about cross-dressing. As I am tone-deaf - a condition I share with Roger Waters, so it mustn't be all bad as he made a fortune with it - I don't hear any familiarity between both musical pieces but blues scholar John Olivar says there is and Julian Palacios acknowledges it. I simply believe them.

Other links are easier to grasp for a simple man like me, like the fact that Jennifer Gentle (the protagonist from the Lucifer Sam song) can be traced back to a medieval ballad where it goes:

Jennifer Gentle Christmas Carol
Jennifer Gentle Christmas Carol.
There were three sisters fair and bright,
Jennifer, Gentle and Rosemary...
And they three loved one valiant knight—
As the dow [dove] flies over the mulberry-tree.
1974 Session Log
1974 Session Log.

There is one single remark in Palacios book that would create a small storm if its subject happened to be Lennon or Hendrix. In August 1974 Barrett recorded some demos for a third album that never saw the light of day. Barrett had no new songs and he just tried out some blues variations like he used to do more than a decade before in his mother's living room. Initially the 1974 demos were noted down as 'various untitled oddments' and the individual titles these tracks have now were given by producer Pete Jenner to distinguish the different parts. In Boogie #1 (there is also #2 and #3) traces of Bo Diddley's Pretty Thing can be found back. In January 2010 Palacios found out that the track nicknamed John Lee Hooker is in fact a rendition of Mojo Hand from Lighting' Hopkins. That particular titbit didn't even provoke a ripple in the usual stormy Barrett pond.

Palacios adds layers on layers of information. If you happen to be amongst the dozen or so readers who remember the 1989 Nick Sedgwick novel Light Blue With Bulges you might have wondered who was the beatnik behind the espresso machine (and with his hands in the till) of a famous Cambridge coffee bar. Don't look any further, Palacios will tell you exactly who operated the espresso machine, how the coffee bar was called and even more... reveal the brand of the Italian espresso machine... only... I would like to pass this information to you but I can't find it back right now as... and here is my biggest dissatisfaction with this book... Dark Globe contains no index.

Rollodex

In the past I have written some harsh words about biographies and reference books that omit an index:

Unfortunately the book [Pink Floyd FAQ] has got no index, what duly pisses me off, so if you want to know something about, let's say: You Gotta Be Crazy, there is no other way to find it than to start reading the bloody thing all over again. So called biographies (…) and reference books without an index (or an alphabetical or chronological filing system) are immediately put aside by me and won't be touched again. Ever.

I know for sure that Prince Stanisla(u)s Klossowski de Rola, better known as Stash, is cited in Dark Globe. But if I urgently need this information for a post at the Holy Church, to answer a question on the Late Night Syd Barrett forum or just to ease my mind, I will only be able to consult Palacios' (now defunct) 1998 biography Lost In the Woods (pages 186-93), Mark Blakes' 2007 Pigs Might Fly (pages 81 & 99) or Rob Chapman's 2010 A Very Irregular Head (p. 278) although that last insists to call the dandy prince de Rollo.

Dark Globe is by near and by far the best Syd Barrett biography ever, but not having an index is (in my awkward opinion) unforgivable as it diminishes its traceability near to factor zero. And that's a shame... I do know that indexes are but a geeks' dream and that most people don't bother with those, but my ultimate wet dream consists of reading bibliographies that have half a dozen footnotes per page. Maybe I am the problem?

Alternative timeline
Alternative timeline, by Felix Atagong.

No 4 Yes

With hindsight it is easy to call Syd Barrett a genius, but not everybody was of that opinion in 1966. Here is what Peter Banks, from Syn (a precursor of progressive rock-band Yes) had to say: “Whatever night they played was the worst night of the week. (…) A bunch of guys making noise and wearing make-up.” Perhaps that is why Nick Mason quipped, years later, that Johnny Rotten would have looked quite ridicule in a 'I hate Yes' t-shirt.

Pink Floyd was probably not the best band of the psychedelic bunch, but they surely were the loudest, even outdoing The Who in volume at the Psychedelicamania happening on the last day of 1966. A reporter of the Daily Mail, armed with a sound meter, reported on 'pop above the danger level' and warned for permanent damage to the ears.

In just a couple of months Barrett had not only shifted from quiet blues to avant-garde 120 decibel hard rock, he also traded his daily cup of earl green tea for LSD, mandrax and generally everything that could be easily swallowed or smoked.

The previous reads kind of funny but it is an infinite sad story that has been underrated by witnesses, fans and biographers alike. All kind of excuses have been used not to turn Barrett into a hopeless drug case: his father's death, the pressure of his band-mates, managers and record company, even the stroboscopic effect of the liquid light shows... (although of course all these things may have weakened his self-defence). In my opinion, Julian Palacios manages to get the tone right and he consecrates some poignantly written paragraphs to the darker side of the psychedelic summer.

Dysfunction

In April of this year the Church of Iggy the Inuit published the We are all made of stars post. The article tried to remember two people of the early Floydian era: Ian Pip Carter, a long-time friend of Gilmour and a Floyd-roadie who had to fight an heroine addiction for most of his life and; John Paul Ponji Robinson who tried, in vain, to find inner piece in eastern mysticism.

Palacios adds another Cantabrigian: Johnny Johnson, who in a paranoid, probably drug-infected, streak jumped from a six-storey window, survived the fall, but would eventually commit suicide a few years later.

Hendrix, Morrison, Jones and Joplin: 'each victim to the Dionysian excess they embodied'. Alice Ormsby-Gore: overdose (her friend Eric Clapton had more luck). Julian Ormsby-Gore: suicide. Paul Getty: heroine paralysed him for life. Talitha Dina Pol, his wife: overdose. The list is long and those who survived were not always the lucky ones...

Although there are still people who think that Syd Barrett turned avant-garde during the Floyd's first tour in America, Nick Mason, in his typical no-nonsense style, put it otherwise:

Syd went mad on that first American tour. He didn't know where he was most of the time. He detuned his guitar on stage. He just stood there rattling strings, a bit weird even for us. (Cited in Dark Globe, but originally taken from a May 1994 Mojo interview.)

Barrett's situation reminds me of an Alice Flaherty quote I encountered in a recent Douglas Coupland novel:

De-romanticizing Dysfunction:
All the theories linking creativity to mental illness are really implying mild disease. People may be reassured by the fact that almost without exception no one is severely ill and still creative. Severe mental illness tends to bring bizarre preoccupation and inflexible thought.
As the poet Sylvia Plath said, 'When you're insane , you're busy being insane – all the time when I was crazy , that's all I was.
Barrett's Psychiatry Textbook
Barrett's Psychiatry Textbook.

Trip to Sanity

There is the somewhat romantic viewpoint of Duggie Fields, but basically it tells just the same:

He (Syd) could lie in bed thinking he could do anything in the world he wanted. But when he made a decision that limited his possibilities.

The problem, for those who follow the hypothesis Syd had a problem, was that for Barrett there weren't any possibilities left, although record company, colleagues and friends mildly tried to lure him into the studio or invite him for an impromptu jam. But to paraphrase Sylvia Plath: Syd was too busy being insane, and all the time he was crazy that was all he was able doing.

While at different forums people are arguing, even today, that hallucinogenic drugs are harmless Palacios retaliates by simply listing musicians who had to fight drug-related-burn-outs:
Peter Green,
Roky Erikson,
Chris Kefford,
Shelagh McDonald,
Skip Spence,
Brian Wilson...
It took these people literally decades to crawl back to normal life after years of misery. Also Barrett hoped to overcome his condition one day as was proven by a handwritten note in his copy of The Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry. Syd bloody well understood what was wrong with him and we – the fans – don't fucking know how hard it was for him.

A dark spot that even Palacios can't clarify is 'Syd's lost weekend' that roughly went from 1975 to the early Eighties. The first 400 pages describe Barrett's public life from the mid-Sixties until the pivotal event in 1975 when Syd entered the Wish You Were Here recording sessions. The 30 remaining years of his life are dealt with in a mere 40 pages. Even for Palacios there is nothing to dig. (Rob Chapman managed to add some anecdotes from Barrett's Cambridge life – although some are disputed while you read this - but he didn't unearth anything new about Syd's Chelsea Cloister days either.)

Spot the 1 difference
Spot the 1 difference.

Atagong Strikes Again

The following paragraph will probably not add any points to my Barrett reputation scale, already at ground zero level, but who cares. Just before publishing this text I checked the official Syd Barrett website to see if Dark Globe, the biography, is mentioned there. It isn't.

It comes as no surprise as its main function apparently is to sell t-shirts, even on the discography page you'll look in vain for the latest Barrett compilation 'An Introduction to...' (review at: Gravy Train To Cambridge). I am pretty sure its web master knows everything about Flash ActionScript but is unable to recognise a Barrett-tune even if whistled through his arse. When the site started in December 2008 (a temporary page had already been present a few weeks before) it managed to get the release dates wrong from all known Syd Barrett solo albums. Yes, both of them. It is not that Barrett has been as prolific as Frank Zappa who released records for breakfast.

Fan art was mistakenly published as genuine Syd Barrett art and the bibliography contained a non existent book that had been designed as a joke by former Late Night member Stanislav. Even today slightly photoshopped pictures can be found on its pictures page. Apparently the official Syd Barrett website moguls have got no problems that their main source of income swallowed pills by the gallon and fornicated everything female within a 3 miles radius but depicting Syd Barrett with a cigarette in his mouth obviously is a bridge too far.

Clearly I am getting too old for this hobby of mine but I hope I got the message through that Syd Barrett is a bit more than a cheap shirt. Dark Globe by Julian Palacios more than proves this and contrary to my threatening promise of above I'm immediately going to read it again.

Conclusion

A certain Felix Atagong calls himself laughingly the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. But now he realises: Julian Palacios is our prophet. And Dark Globe is our holy book, but I wouldn't mind an index though.

Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010.
443 pages, 24 photo pages.
ISBN10: 85965 431 1
ISBN13: 978 0 85965 431 9.
Amazon (UK) link. (The Church is not affiliated with or endorsed by this company.)

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 143.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 336.
Coupland, Douglas: Player One, William Heinemann, London, 2010, p. 223. Coupland himself cites from a Alice Flaherty book called The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain.
Music score taken from: Riddles Wisely Expounded (pdf document).

Thanks: Göran Nyström.


Other Pink Floyd related books that were trashed by the Reverend can be found here:
Pigs Might Fly by Mark Blake: Si les cochons pourraient voler…
Pink Floyd by Jean-Marie Leduc: Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Syd Barrett, le premier Pink Floyd by Emmanuel Le Bret: Barrett: first in space!
Syd Barrett, le rock et autres trucs
by Jean-Michel Espitallier: Cheap Tricks 
A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory 
On Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects:
The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd by Toby Manning: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd 
Pink Floyd FAQ by Stuart Shea: Pink Floyd FAQ

2011-01-21

EXCLUSIVE: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for Part 2


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


2011-04-25

Barrett: come on you painter!

Barrett, the book
Barrett, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes.

Barrett, the definitive visual companion to the life of Syd Barrett, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes arrived at Atagong Mansion on the second day of its release, Friday the 18th of March, but I have to admit, I didn't really look at it, apart from some glancing through its pages.

The reason is simple, the book is a visual biography collecting many (unseen) photographs of Syd Barrett and his band The Pink Floyd, facsimiles from letters to Libby Gausden and Jenny Spires and the very first detailed catalogue of Syd's paintings, and I am more a man of words, too many words some people say (and perhaps there is a a yet undiscovered trail of prudence in me, as I am a bit reluctant to read Syd's letters written to Libby and Jenny).

I care for Syd the musician but I don't get overexcited when a new Barrett (or vintage Pink Floyd) picture appears on the web. First: this has been happening on a regular basis since Barrett's death when people suddenly remember that they have got an exclusive picture lying on their attic. Second: these pictures will arrive, in due time, on the more than excellent Have You Got It Yet? v2.0 Vol 11 Photo/Info DVD-Rom from Mark Jones that can be freely downloaded at several places on the web, but I prefer Yeeshkul as it is the 'official' home for Floydian audio & video collectors.

Although not entirely legal this picture DVD was asked for by the Pink Floyd management who gave Mark Jones a copy of Oh By The Way, the Pink Floyd 14 CD compilation, in return. I am quite convinced that the pictures of the Barrett visual companion will, one day, mysteriously appear on a new release.

Photographs (editor: Russell Beecher)

Barrett is roughly divided into three unequal parts. Part one #1 shows many unseen and previously unpublished pictures of vintage Pink Floyd, #2 has pictures from the Syd Barrett solo era, about 110 pages in total. They are printed in big format (one photo per page or double page, many pictures have been spliced), in high quality and 'digitally' restored. Most of the pages have a description of the picture, the date it was taken and an appropriate quote or anecdote from the Cambridge mafia or the photographer in question.

A so-called signature or limited edition has got a third, separate, photo series by Irene Winsby, but to acquire these additional 72 pages you have to cough up an extra 235 £ (282 €). Unfortunately for me the signature issue is bound in leather and as a strict vegetarian it is against my conscience to skin a cow to watch a Barrett picture. If you find this silly just try to imagine what the master of Sant Mat would have said to Syd Barrett about that.

(A short description of the picture section can be consulted at: Rockadolly.)

Barrett doodle
Barrett doodle.

Letters (editor: Russell Beecher)

Part two, the shortest one with 25 pages, is destined to letters from Syd to Libby Gausden, Jenny Spires and ends with the famous little twig poem to Viv Brans. Tim Willis already described some of these letters in his Madcap biography, but didn't actually put these in print (with one exception and about 4 times smaller in size).

Anoraks know that Syd decorated his letters with funny doodles and this section is obviously more interested in the drawings than in the actual letters. Libby and Jenny give cute explanations in what probably was a very weird menage-à-trois (our quatre or quarante, if we may believe the rumours about Syd's omnivorous female appetite).

Art (editor: Will Shutes)

Section three (over 90 pages) is what everybody has been waiting for, for all these years. At least that is why I have bought the book for.

For ages fans have been drooling over Syd, the painter, but I never really bothered. I did not put Syd Barrett in the same category as Ron Wood and Grace Slick who also smear paint on canvas (and that's about all that can be said about them), but I adhered the theory that was written down by Annie Marie Roulin in The Case of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett (Fish Out Of Water, 1996).

The symmetries among the geometrical shapes painted by Barrett show an embarrassing absence of 'concept', of hidden flaming which makes doubtful the real artistic value of these works. As to the technique they can compete only with works by low talented students of low secondary school.
Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print
Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print.

In other words, paintings of Barrett may have been slightly therapeutic (and this can be debated: art sessions can also have the uncanny feature of sliding a mentally unstable person further into regression) but - if one can fully grasp Anne Marie Roulin's Italo-English - they could certainly not be considered as art with a capital A. A daring theory and certainly not liked by many Barrett fans, nor by his family, and that is why journalist Luca Ferrari invented a female alter ego to publish this controversial thesis (Luca's confession in Italian, and an English translation on Late Night.)

In the past, biographies have tried to convince the reader that Barrett was an art-painter pur sang, but none of these could win me over, basically because writing about paintings without seeing the actual work (or only two or three foggy examples) is like talking about music without listening to it. For the first time in history a book publishes Syd's whole oeuvre or what is left of it, about 100 of his paintings; and Will Shutes has written an impressive 25 pages long essay about Barrett's canvas outings throughout the years. While reading the excellent essay one is obliged to constantly switch from text to illustration and luckily the book has two ribbon-markers to facilitate this multi-tasking.

Shutes admits that Barrett's work lacks 'consistency', a remark originally made by Duggie Fields and cited in Rob Chapman's A Very Irregular Head, but he immediately turns this into a plus factor. Will concludes:

"The variety this implies is at the core of his originality."

, but one could use exactly the same reasoning to deduce that Barrett's artwork isn't original at all.

Just like Julian Palacios in Dark Globe has tracked down musical influences in Syd Barrett's discography, Shutes cites several examples for Barrett's graphical work. If there is one work of Barrett that stands out (in my opinion, FA) it is the 1964-ish Untitled 15 (Cat. 20) lino print with its evaporating crosses, but Barry Miles (also in A Very Irregular Head) explains it has been clearly influenced by Nicolas Staël, although Shutes reveals that there must have been some secret Paul Klee ingredient at work as well.

Rosemary Breen told Luca Ferrari that Barrett could make ten paintings a day, and even if this was exaggerated the one hundred in the Barrett book only represent a small percentage of his output. Although nobody actually witnessed Barrett destroying his work, it is assumed he burned them or threw them in the rubbish bin. Some have said that Barrett destroyed only those paintings that weren't perfect to him, but actually he destroyed them all although some seem to have survived for a couple of months before disappearing. The few exceptions are those he gave away to family or visiting friends. Beecher & Shutes could trace 49 surviving artworks by Syd Barrett and were lucky that Rosemary found some photo albums of Syd's art. For most of his life Roger Barrett had the weird habit of photographing his work before destroying it, as if he wanted the destruction to be a bit less final. Opinions differ as well why Barrett did this, and range from a mental disorder to an artistic concept. Will Shutes:

Like Rauschenberg's erasure of a drawing by de Kooning in 1953, Barrett's act of destruction is not a negation – it achieves something new. Barrett is doing something when he destroys what he has done, not merely erasing it.
Arnold Layne Ad NOT By Syd
Arnold Layne Ad not by Syd."

Even a Barrett scholar can have it wrong sometimes, the author describes an Arnold Layne flyer, allegedly dating from March 1967, as designed by Syd Barrett, unaware of the fact that it is fan-art, dating from the late seventies, early eighties, and published in a Barrett fanzine. A quick glance on Mark Jones' HYGIY picture DVD would have settled that once and for all (remarked by Mark Jones at Late Night: Barrett Book).

What intrigues me is that Roger Barrett continued to make abstract and realistic paintings, as if he was afraid to make an irrevocable choice. Personally I find his water-coloured landscapes or florals uninteresting, although they do show some métier, especially compared with the abstract works of the seventies or eighties that are visually more compelling but technically mediocre. I'm quite fond of Untitled 67 (2005) that represents a pie chart of the summer and winter solstices, although some will of course recognise it as a pastiche of the Wish You Were Here cover art. That's the main deviation of the maniacal Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fan, seeing links that (perhaps) aren't really there.

Untitled 67
Untitled 67.

This book contains the best descriptions and illustrations of Syd's artwork, it is a collector's dream, but in the end Will Shutes can not convince me that Barrett was a graphical artist in the true sense of the word. It's a matter of personal opinion and I'm not sure if Barrett knew it himself or if he even cared.

Conclusion

I hope the authors will not hold it against me if I tell that this book is not destined for the average Floyd or Barrett fan. It contains no juicy stories of feeding Syd biscuits through a closed locker door. Its sole purpose is to ease the hunger of the Barrett community that is easily recognised by its general daftness and its deep pockets.

Despite the blurb that states the opposite Barrett is not essential for the music loving fan, but the book is no waste of time for those that want to acquire it either. Barrett has been made with love, caring and respect for its subject, is a work of art and quality and has been authorised by the Estate of Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett. But at 90 £ (108 €) for the classic edition (including delivery) it is also pretty expensive, perhaps not overpriced, but still a lot of money.

Introduction

In his witty introduction Russell Beecher writes that over the years there was "a need for a well-researched, intelligent, and well-thought-through account of Syd's life and work". I completely agree. He then continues by stating that this was fulfilled with the publication of "Rob Chapman's excellent An Irregular Head in 2010".

Thank you, Russell Beecher, but I prefer to make up my own mind. In my humble opinion Chapman's biography fails against at least one of the qualities you have mentioned above. Those in need for an independent opinion can consult Christopher Hughes's Irregular Head review at Brain Damage, by and large the best Pink Floyd fan-site in the world.

Russell Beecher proceeds:

An Irregular Head is the definitive textual work on Syd.
What you now hold is the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life.
The two books compliment one another.

Did I just pay 90 £ for a vaguely concealed commercial, wished for by the Barrett Estate? The Barrett book is quite exceptional and possibly 'the definitive visual work on Syd's artistic life' indeed, but linking its destiny to An Irregular Head, way off definitive if I am still allowed to express my opinion, undermines its own qualities. This feels like reserving a table at Noma in Copenhagen to hear René Redzepi announce that the food will reach the level of the local McDonald's. Can I have some ketchup on my white truffles, please?

Some will find me overreacting again, but I had to get this off my chest. Although a bit superfluous, and destined for the capitalist über-Syd-geek alone, Barrett is far too luxurious and well-researched to have its image tramped down.

The Church wishes to thank: Dan5482, Mark Jones, PoC (Party of Clowns) and the beautiful people at Late Night.


Mark Jones posted a 13 minutes video review of opening the book for the very first time (after having disinfected his hands first). It is more than worthwhile watching: First look at 'Barrett', the book, by Russell Beecher & Will Shutes.

Sources (other than internet links mentioned above):
Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p. 10, 11, 145, 162, 163, 170, 175.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 49, 232.
Ferrari, Luca & Roulin, Annie Marie: A Fish Out Of Water, Stampa Alternativai, Rome, 1996, p. 31, 95, 97.


2011-06-11

Mad Cat Love

The Madcat Laughs (original from The Kitten Covers)
The Madcat Laughs (Felix Atagong variation from The Kitten Covers).

Yesterday, on Friday the 11th of June 2011, the Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit was waiting on a bench at the central bus station when a man addressed him in French, but he soon switched over to Dutch.

"I see you are reading a nice book about Pink Floyd. I used to be a Pink Floyd fan myself. Syd Barrett, the madcap loves."

At least it sounded like 'the madcap loves' in my ears and not 'the madcap laughs', but perhaps the man had just a small problem with English pronunciation. Never have made that link myself, I can only smilingly agree that the madcap loves is one of the better Floydian slips ever.

The madcap loves, I love it.

But perhaps I just misheard the thing, my ears aren't any more what they used to be, after having been mistreated by Iron Maiden on my iPod for the last lustrum.

Mad cat's something you can't explain

A trademark rhyme in Barrett's Octopus song is the line that named the album:

The madcap laughed at the man on the border
Heigh-ho, Huff the Talbot.

But Rob Chapman, in an interesting YouTube interview about his biography A Very Irregular Head, is of the opinion that Barrett did not sing mad-cap but mad cat. In that case the title of Barrett's first solo album is based upon a misunderstanding from producer David Gilmour.

The mad cat laughed at the man on the border
Heigh-ho, Huff the Talbot.

Since Paul Belbin's excellent cyber-essay 'Untangling the Octopus' (2005), hosted at the Church with the author's permission, we know that the Octopus song (also titled Clowns and Jugglers in an earlier stage) is packed with obscure literary references, disclaiming the rumour that Barrett wrote his songs in a drug influenced frenzy. One of the characters ripped by Syd Barrett comes from an anonymous nursery rhyme called 'Huff the Talbot and our cat Tib':

Huff the talbot and our cat Tib
They took up sword and shield,
Tib for the red rose, Huff for the white,
To fight upon Bosworth field.

For the adherers of the mad cat theory it is perhaps of importance here that the dog's adversary in the battle of Bosworth just above is not a mad-cap but a cat called Tib.

Rob Chapman also mentions nonsense poet Edward Lear as a further influence on Barrett but he didn't catch the following poem:

There was an old man on the Border,
Who lived in the utmost disorder;
He danced with the cat,
And made tea in his hat,
Which vexed all the folks on the Border.

You don't need to be a genius to reconstruct how the dancing cat from Lear's man on the border and Tib, the warrior cat at Bosworth field, amalgamated into the mad cat character in Octopus.

But, as with all things Syd, things aren't always that simple. The madcap believers have a point as well as a madcap galloping chase does appear in an early incarnation of Clowns and Jugglers:

Sit up, touching hips
to a madcap galloping chase
"Cheat" he cried shouting “Kangaroo!”

This contains a quote from The Wind In A Frolic by William Howitt:

The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap, galloping chase!
I’ll make a commotion in every place!”

In that case David Gilmour mistook one line for the other and the album's title may have been taken from a quote that didn't make it on the album.

Salvation Came Lately

But the above has got absolutely nothing to do with today's article and the Reverend duly apologises for the confusion.

Sitting on a bench at the bus station he was addressed by a man who had found a common point of interest: Pink Floyd. To prove that the traveller wasn't talking bollocks, the sharp-dressed man suddenly sang the following lines from Jugband Blues.

I don't care if the sun don't shine
and I don't care if nothing is mine
and I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the winter...

Asked to sing a favourite line from a Floyd tune (luckily that never happens) I would never quote an early song, so the choice of this man was quite interesting, to say the least. Unfortunately, the strophe was followed by the announcement that he didn't listen to the Floyd any more, only to religious music.

To my shame I have to admit that the Reverend didn't see it coming that another Reverend was trying to lure him into the tentacles of another Church... Coincidentally we had to take the same bus and we talked like close friends until it was time for the ambassador of god to leave the ambassador of Iggy.

Vibrations
Vibrations.

Good Vibrations

The 'book' I was reading wasn't a book but a special 82 pages issue from the French rock magazine Vibrations, entirely dedicated to Pink Floyd (7,90 €). Printed on luxurious glossy paper it assembles articles (translated in French) from well known Q, Mojo and NME journalists, such as Martin Aston, the Church's partner in crime Mark Blake, Pat Gilbert, Chris Salewicz and the French Aymeric Leroy, who apparently has written an acclaimed biography on the band: 'Pink Floyd: Plongée dans l'oeuvre d'un groupe paradoxal'.

The times are long gone when I bought everything that was from far or nearby Pink Floyd related, I even resisted buying Pink Floyd coffee mugs a couple of week ago, something that would have been impossible for me in the past millennium, so here is a biography I wasn't aware of. Not that I am planning to buy it. There isn't one single French Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett biography that doesn't clash with my personal beliefs of what a good biography should be.

Just try the following reviews of French Pink Floyd or Syd Barrett books on this blog and you'll know what I mean:
Si les cochons pourraient voler… 
Cheap Tricks 
Barrett: first in space! 

Update 2011 06 20: Unfortunately the Internet isn't the safe place any more where you can insult someone without being noticed. Aymeric Leroy got hold of this post and wanted to set a few things straight.

Thanks for mentioning my book on your blog. I'd just like to point out that it isn't a "biography", more like a critical assessment of the band's entire discography, which does include background info of a biographical nature, but primarily an analysis of the music and lyrics.
The stuff I wrote for the special issue of "Vibrations" is expanded from the more biographical passages of the book, but the book isn't an "expanded" version of those. There are other people who did a great job telling the band's history, and I relied on their work, but my reason for adding yet another book to the impressive PF bibliography was to try and do something different - write about the actual music for at least 75% of the book.

Duly noted, Aymeric, and perhaps the Church will have a go at your book then, one of these days...

The Ultimate Music Guide
The Ultimate Music Guide.

Uncut and uncombed

It promises to be a hot Pink Floyd year, this year, and the makers of Uncut magazine have issued a 146 pages Pink Floyd special in their The Ultimate Music Guide series. It isn't such a classy edition as the French Vibrations, but of course the good news is that it contains at least twice as much information. With at least one article or interview per Pink Floyd record this obviously is the 'better buy' of the two, although the initial set-up is more or less the same. The Uncut special assembles old articles and a few new ones and promises to be an enjoyable read.

That an enjoyable read isn't always the same as an accurate read proves Allan Jones' The Madcap Laughs & Barrett article on pages 32 till 35. He starts with mentioning that Syd Barrett entered Studio 3 on the 6th of May 1968, for the first of six sessions that would follow. I don't know what it is with this 6-sessions-myth but Rob Chapman claims exactly the same in his biography. As I always seem to have recalled 9 sessions instead of 6 (but according to the Holy Pope of Rome my brain has been irrecoverably damaged by years of masturbation) it is time for yet another anoraky investigation.

So not for the first time in my career as Reverend of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit I have counted the 1968 Madcap recording dates, as noted down in David Parker's excellent sessionagraphy Random Precision. It all starts in the beginning of May.

1968 05 06 – In the morning EMI engineers had been transferring two Pink Floyd tracks 'In the Beechwood' (aka 'Down in the Beechwoods') and 'Vegetable Man' for Syd Barrett to work on, but when Barrett finally arrived he decided to record two new songs instead: 'Silace Lang' (aka 'Silas Lang') and 'Late Night'. Session One.

According to the Allan Jones article Barrett recorded the rambling 'Rhamadan' the day after. Wrong. The next day would have been the seventh of May, but Barrett only re-entered the studio one week later.

1968 05 13 – 'Silas Lang' (take 1) and 'Late Night' (take 6), were worked on / transferred by Peter Jenner. It is not clear if Syd Barrett was present in the studio or if this was merely a technical session. Of course this could have been one of those 'chaotic' sessions where Barrett simply didn't show up, with Peter Jenner trying to salvage the furniture by using the spare time for some producer’s work. Session Two.

1968 05 14 – 'Rhamadan', 'Lanky' (Pt. 1&2), 'Golden Hair'. Obviously Barrett and three session musicians were in the studio, although nobody seems to remember who the backing band members really were. Session Three.

1968 05 21 – 'Late Night', 'Silace Lang'. This was the day when Syd Barrett forgot to bring his guitar to the studio and Peter Jenner had to rent one for £10.50. Always a kind of a joker, our Syd. Session Four.

1968 05 28 – 'Golden Hair', 'Swan Lee' (aka 'Silace Lang'), 'Rhamadan'. This session also included (the same?) three session musicians. Session Five.

1968 06 08 – Superimposition of titles recorded on 6th, 14th, 21st & 29th [wrong date, FA] of May, 1968, so read the red form notes. Peter Jenner made a provisional tracklist for what could have been Barrett's first album:

Silas Lang
Late Nights (sic)
Golden Hair
Beechwoods (originally recorded with Pink Floyd)
Vegetable man (originally recorded with Pink Floyd)
Scream Your Last Scream (sic, originally recorded with Pink Floyd)
Lanky Pt 1
Lanky Pt 2

Looking like a Barrett's fan wet dream the above track listing debunks the story - still popular at certain disturbed Barrett circles - that the band Pink Floyd and its members deliberately boycotted their former colleague.

Barrett was apparently present at this session as some guitar overdubs were recorded for 'Swan Lee' (the right title of that track still wasn't decided). Session Six.

1968 06 14 – cancelled session

1968 06 20 – tape transfers and overdubs on 'Late Night' (noted down as 'Light Nights'), 'Golden Hair', 'Swanlee' (again another way of naming this track). Syd Barrett probably did some vocal overdubs. Session Seven.

1968 06 27 – 'Swanlee', 'Late Night', 'Golden Hair'. Tape transfers and possible (vocal) overdubs. This is a bit of a mystery session as the archives of EMI aren't clear what really happened. Session Eight.

1968 08 20 – 'Swan Lee', 'Late Nights', 'Golden Hair', 'Clowns & Jugglers'. First appearance of the track that would later be named Octopus. Session Nine.

Session nine is where Peter Jenner decided to pull the plug, and unless you believe in the conspiracy theory that Jenner was a spy for the Pink Floyd camp, there must have been a valid reason for it.

So there we have it, the nine chaotic Madcap sessions of the year 1968. Of course it is clear where the six sessions explanation comes from, if one omits the second session where Barrett probably never cared to show up and some tape transfer and overdub sessions you have successfully diminished nine sessions into six.

It all is a matter of interpretation: at one side you have those who argue that Barrett recorded a nice collection of great dance songs in only six sessions, at the other side you have those (including producer, manager and personal friend Peter Jenner) who claim that nine sessions weren't enough to produce three decent demos. As always the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

So the six session myth, as noted down by Allan Jones in the Uncut Pink Floyd 'Ultimate Music Guide' might not be so far off the truth.

Storm shot by Mick during the TML photo shoot.
Storm shot by Mick during the TML photo shoot.

Camera Kids

Another misty myth hangs around the cover shoot of the album. Allan Jones bluntly states, more out of ignorance, I presume, than of knowledge, that Mick Rock was responsible for the cover. The official version goes that the pictures, used for the cover, were taken by Storm Thorgerson, who happened to be at the same place at the same time (as the picture at the left side proves). The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has already spilled lots of bits and bytes about The Madcap Laughs photo sessions (in plural), so we won't go further into that.

Iggy 'Eskimo' Rose revealed to Mark Blake that other shots were taken as well:

I don't think Storm and Mick were very impressed by them. If you've ever seen the cover of the Rod Stewart album, Blondes Have More Fun, they were a bit like that... Of me and Syd. There were others of me and Syd, as well, which remind me of the picture of John and Yoko [on Two Virgins] which came out later. I'd love to see those pictures now. (Taken from: The Strange Tale Of Iggy The Eskimo Pt. 2)

Nowadays it is not that certain any more if these shots were taken by Storm Thorgerson or by Mick Rock. There might even have been a third photographer at play. It seems that the flat of Syd Barrett was crowded with people that day and that they all brought a camera. Unfortunately the naughty Syd & Iggy pictures seem to have disappeared...

Maybe it was because there was too much frontal. Poor Syd, I remember getting carried away, pulling and pushing him about, getting astride him. He was in fits of laughter....which of course is not what they [the photographers] where after. (Iggy Rose, 30 May 2011.)

Riding the Octopus

Allan Jones is of course not a Barrett anorak like yours truly (and most of the readers of this blog) and thus he has to confide upon other anoraky people. So he probably doesn't see any harm in the following quote:

Rob Chapman's close reading of the remarkable 'Octopus', for example, revealed the craft of which Syd was still capable. The song's cleverly accumulated lyrics drew on diverse literary sources, folklore, nursery rhymes, and the hallucinatory vernacular of dream states to create a wholly realised, enraptured universe, halcyon and unique. (p. 35)

This is all true and very beautifully written, but only – and this brings us back to the starting point of this article – it was Paul Belbin's essay (compiled with the help of a dozen of contributors) that revealed the Octopus' hidden lyrics to begin with and that roughly five years before Chapman's Irregular Head biography. No wonder that Julian Palacios, a Syd Barrett biographer in his own right, calls it the Rosetta stone for decoding the writing inspirations for one of Syd Barrett's most beloved songs.

But all in all Uncut's 'The Ultimate Music Guide' to Pink Floyd seems to be an essential (and rather cheap, only £5.99) overview of the band and its records and I like all the articles that I've read so far. I think it's a gem and a keeper.

The Church wishes to thank: Paul Belbin, Mark Blake, Julian Palacios and the wandering anonymous Pink Floyd lover from the Embassy of God. Top picture: variation on a theme from The Kitten Covers.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above)
Belbin, Paul: Untangling the Octopus v2, 2006. PDF version, hosted at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
Belbin, Paul & Palacios, Julian: Untangling the Octopus v3, 2009, hosted at the Syd Barrett Research Society (forum no longer active).
Update April 2015: same article hosted at Late Night.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 126-138.


2011-07-02

AnthropoLSD

Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais
Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais, Alain Pire.

Let me start this review with a quote at the end of 'Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais', a title that is so universal that I don't have to translate it into English, unless for some Americans, I guess. Alain Pire quotes Simon Frith who wrote in 1978:

The rock audience is not a passive mass, consuming records like cornflakes, but an active community, making music into a symbol of solidarity and an inspiration for action.

Obviously this quote should be branded on the bodies of record company executives all over the world, especially those that gave us the music of Britney Spears and other singing cattle, and who think that pop music is something repetitive, uninspired and slick (but alas not Slick as Surrealistic Pillow Grace once was). But this post seems to be turning psychedelic before it has even started, so I'll wait a bit until that sugar cube wears off a bit.

Jenny Spires.
Jenny Spires.

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock

Alain Pire is a Belgian musician whom I may have caught about 30 years ago when he was a member of the Jo Lemaire & Flouze band, although he won't probably remember that gig in the Stella Artois Feestzaal in Louvain anymore. Neither do I, by the way, I only have a slight recollection that I may have watched that band through a beer enhanced haze.

It was Jenny Spires who pointed me to him, noting that I would perhaps be interested in his (French) study of English psychedelic rock. It is weird that a member of the Sixties underground Cambridge mafia, a term coined by David Gilmour if my memory is correct, had to point me to a book written by a compatriot. The gap between the Belgian French and Dutch community is so deep and our internal relations are so troubled that we don't know any more what the other community is up to, even on a cultural level.

In the Sixties we would have called this divine intervention but I thank social networking services for bringing this study into my attention.

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is based upon Alain Pire's doctoral dissertation for the University of Liège in 2009, counts roughly 800 pages and is divided into 4 parts:

English psychedelic music
Analysis of British psychedelic songs
British counter-culture
Psychedelic drugs

Functional psychedelic nude.
Functional psychedelic nude.

English psychedelic music

Paradoxically the subject of the book is its biggest weakness. Defining psychedelic music is like describing a butterfly's flight. We all know instinctively how psychedelic music sounds, but it is nearly impossible to write down its genetic formula on a piece of paper.

It is extremely complex to give a definition of a musical genre that is so protean as psychedelic rock. (p. 92)

Basically Alain Pire, or Dr. Alain Pire for you, doesn't get any further than stating that psychedelic music is music that simulates or evokes psychedelic sensations. It's a bit like saying that the girl above is nude because she has no clothes on.

As vague as the above definition is, psychedelic music does have some common points. It uses technical novelties that had only recently been introduced in the record studios and that in some cases were invented on the spot by sound engineers at the demand of the musicians.

One of these psychedelic sound effects is the so-called phasing (or flanging) that was already invented in 1941 by Les Paul but was largely ignored for nearly 25 years until it reappeared briefly on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The first 'full' utilisation of this effect can be witnessed on the Small Faces' Itchycoo Park (1967).

Another psychedelic brand mark is the reverse tape effect or backmasking. The legend goes that John Lennon, under the influence of cannabis, 'invented' the effect by listening to a tape that had not be rewound, but sound modifications and (reverse) tape loops had already been used in avant-garde music circles since the early fifties. Those same avant-garde musicians had also experimented with musique concrète, using acousmatic sound as a compositional resource, and with tape speed effects but, once again, these techniques were made popular by psychedelic rock bands in the Sixties, notably The Beatles who seemed to be one step ahead of all the others.

It is due to George Harrison that Indian instruments invaded psychedelia as well, first used in Norwegian Wood and later picked up and copied by The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Pretty Things, Donovan and others. I won't give the other characteristic instruments of psychedelic music here, otherwise there would be no reason to buy the book, but I'll gladly make an exception for the psychedelic instrumental gimmick par excellence: the mellotron.

The basics of this instrument was already around since the late forties, but once again, and I'm starting to sound like a stuck vinyl record here, it was re-discovered by English psychedelia. Graham Bond may have been the first to record it on Baby Can It Be True (1965), but its full potential was used by The Beatles and The Moody Blues who made it their signature instrument. For a while it was even nicknamed a Pindertron, after the keyboards player of that band.

Love, peace, understanding and lots of pot
Love, peace, understanding and lots of pot.

Music Analysis

It took me a couple of months to finish Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock and that is due to the second part where the author analyses 109 psychedelic songs. I had the chance to listen to the songs on my iPod while reading the book and that is of course the ideal way to benefit of the detailed descriptions.

Starting with Shapes of Things (Yardbirds, 1965) and ending with Cream's I'm so glad (1969) it describes the four heyday years of psychedelia. Influental bands and their albums get extra attention and a short biography: The Beatles (obviously), but also The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Pretty Things, The Soft Machine and Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd.

It struck me, quite pleasantly, that Pire quotes Julian Palacios' Lost In The Woods on page 251, intriguingly not in the Pink Floyd, but in the Sergeant Pepper section, an album that – according to both Pire and Palacios - started the end of the psychedelic era.

This strange psychedelic movement, blossoming quickly in an explosive flash of colour, already seemed to be withering slightly. Its momentum was to be felt everywhere in the world, but the original Big Bang, so to speak, was nearing an end.

Of course Pire can't write detailed biographies about every band, that isn't the purpose of his work, but the anoraky nitpicker in me came across some mistakes that could have been weeded out by a better editor or proofreader. Some examples:

The influence of science fiction stories will be found later in the lyrics of 'Interstellar overdrive' or 'Astronomy Domine'. (p. 289)

I agree with Astronomy, but I have some difficulties believing that the lyrics of Interstellar Overdrive find their origins in a science fiction story as it is... an instrumental. Alain Pire knows bloody well that the track contains no lyrics as he gets quite lyrical about the piece later on:

This track is more than a piece of music: it is the testimony of an era, a musical spokesman for a generation. When the band was in a good shape its open structure symbolised, on its own merits, the term Psychedelic Music. (p. 369)

Another mistake that slipped through is this one:

Duggie Fields, painter and friend of Syd Barrett at that time, still lives at 101 Cromwell Road (p. 293).

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has dedicated enough space to Syd's (and Duggie's) apartment, located at Wetherby Mansions, Earls Court Square. Of course Duggie lived at 101 Cromwell Road before and that is probably were the error comes from.

During the year 1968, Barrett recorded his first solo album: The Madcap Laughs, with the help from David Gilmour and Waters... (p. 340)

Also this is only part of the truth, Syd Barrett recorded some demos in 1968, but the sessions were abandoned after Peter Jenner agreed they were 'chaos'. In April 1969, perhaps thanks to the the good influence of Iggy, Syd found himself fit enough to start with the real recordings for his first album.

But like I said, nitpicking is unfortunately enough the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's core business and the few mistakes certainly don't take away the merits of this study. (But I would have a stiff talk with Gérard Nguyen 'secrétariat de rédaction et mise en page' if I were you, Alain, there are still too many printing errors in this release.)

Alain Pire doesn't only describe the psychedelic big shots but also dedicates some space to bands like Tintern Abbey, who only issued one single in their entire career or the almost forgotten band Blossom Toes. Butterfly flights indeed.

Anthem of the sun
Anthem of the sun.

Echoes

Throughout the book Alain Pire has the funny habit of first fully explaining a quote that he has found in an extensive bibliography or from interviews taken by himself, then followed by the quote itself and thus merely repeating the previous.

I can understand that a doctoral thesis must be large and that some professors at the University of Liège may be a bit slow to understand but printed in a book this makes you feel like you are standing on top of echo mountain. (Of course it could be that he uses this gimmick as the written equivalent of the psychedelic tape loop trick.)

Even then, by deleting these double entries Alain Pire could at least have saved 20 pages, handy for an index that is now missing.

It must be a second millennium thing that scholars don't put indexes any more in their books. Alain Pire's study literally cites hundreds of people, but the reader is unable to find these back once you have closed the book. That's a pity. Especially as I like to borrow these things myself for my various web doodles. Perhaps it is another way of saying, look it up yourself, buddy.

(I suddenly realise that if I ever publish a Pink Floyd inspired book the people that I have duly pissed of in my blog reviews will jump on my back as a horde of hungry dogs.)

Meditating hippie
Meditating hippie.

Counter Culture

The third part of the study, a description of the London Counter Culture, is a book in its own right.

Of course there isn't much new you can tell about the underground. Jonathon Green wrote perhaps the ultimate counter culture bible with Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71 and its alter ego All Dressed Up: The Sixties and the Counterculture and recently Barry Miles has added a sequel to his In the Sixties book, London Calling: A Countercultural History of London Since 1945.

But Alain Pire puts down some cleverly made points here and there, such as the following remark about the decline of the traditional British values in the Sixties:

Family, religion, marriage, faithfulness get beaten in the face and other values like sexual liberation, hedonism and alternative spiritualism emerge. These new values embrace individualism like the growing importance of one's appearance, but also, and paradoxically, new forms of group participation like the ritual passing of a joint, the sharing of sexual partners and living in communes. (p. 538)

Of course the Sixties counter culture could only thrive under the favourable economical and cultural circumstances of that period.

Counter culture can only live a parasitic life, meaning that it carries, right from its start, the seeds of its own failure. (p. 563)

Basically the classless society of Swinging London was a (very small) mixture of (rock) stars, young aristocrats and middle class youth who had the financial means (or their parent's support) to live outside the square world.

Sundancing
Sundancing.

Psychedelic drugs

One of the many instruments that helped creating psychedelic music was a wonder drug called LSD. Alain Pire tries hard to give an unbiased, albeit slightly favourable, opinion about the drug that was, almost from one day till the other, reviled by the American and British governments.

LSD has been tested as a medicine or therapy by several scientific investigators but these experiments had to be stopped, despite the fact that most clinical test gave positive results, especially with proper professional accompaniment.

Of course LSD also had its negative sides, even more when people started to use it as a leisure drug, Pire notes about Barrett:

If LSD helped Syd in the beginning to reveal his genius as a composer, it became a real brake for his creativity and progressively sucked away his writing potential. (p. 324)

Not that the dangers of LSD were not known. Michael Hollingshead, one of the early LSD researchers, accidentally administered himself a massive dose of the drug. After that event he got the constant impression of living in a no man's land, partially in reality and partially in the twilight world and at one point he asked Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary for help.

While LSD seems to be the ideal method to open certain doors of perception it can turn into a living nightmare if these doors refuse to shut again, leaving its victim behind like a character from an Arthur Machen story. I may not think if this is what really happened to Syd Barrett.

Mudbaths: good for the skin!
Mudbaths: natural skin care.

Conclusion

The psychedelic era and its music is still greatly remembered and loved. It mainly arrived because several puzzle pieces, randomly thrown in the air, landed in such a way that they formed a nice picture.

Alain Pire divides these puzzle pieces into two parts: the pedestal and the components.

The pedestal of the psychedelic era was a thriving economic situation and a socio-cultural context that was open for change. George Harrison called the Sixties a period of 'mini renaissance'. Alain Pire rightfully mentions the art schools that were a pool of inspiration and experiment. The list of those who attended art school is long: Chris Dreja, Dick Taylor, Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, Iggy Rose, Jimmy Page, John Lennon, John Whitney, Keith Relf, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Phil May, Ray Davies, Robert Wyatt, Roger Chapman, Roy Wood and Syd Barrett.

Three extra components were the psychedelic icing on the cake:
First: extremely talented musicians suddenly came out in the open;
Second: psychedelic drugs opened doors of (musical) imagination and experiment;
Third: technical wizardry made it possible to find new ways to deal with sound.

But all this couldn't have happened without the support of a fifth pillar: the public. Without a public open for change and experiment the psychedelic movement would have stayed a small avant-garde movement unknown to the outside world.

Let me end with a quote taken from the introduction by Barry Miles:

Anthropology of English Psychedelic Rock is the most complete history of that period's music that I have ever read. The author has to be complimented for his erudition and I heartily recommend his book to anybody who wants a profound explication of what really happened during the Swinging Sixties. (p. 9)

I couldn't say it better. Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais is a damn well read and urgently needs to be translated into English.

Pire Alain, Anthropologie du Rock Psychédelique Anglais, Camion Blanc, Rosières en Haye, 2011. 815 pages, foreword by Barry Miles. 38 Euros. (Link)

The Church wishes to thank: Alain Pire, Jenny Spires.


Sources: (other than internet links mentioned above):
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 153.
Image 2: © Jenny Spires. Special effect by Felix Atagong.
Images 3 to 8: © Glastonbury Fayre (1972). Special effects by Felix Atagong.
All excerpts from the Anthropology book have been translated from French into English by Felix Atagong, who is the only person to blame if they sound dodgy.


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.


2011-08-28

Immersion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Sedgwick's manuscript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


2011-09-04

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.


2012-03-02

The Sixties Unplugged

The Sixties Unplugged
The Sixties Unplugged by Gerard De Groot.

What a wonderful decade the sixties were. A small group of students at both sides of the Atlantic changed the world forever, by making weird music, weird posters and even weirder sex, and since then we live in continuous paradise. Of course this is utterly bollocks but for the bulk of I Remember the Sixties-books this is the general atmosphere they exhale. For the business hippies, who have made successful careers out of the sixties by rehashing pink coloured memories in their coffee table books, the legend has become reality, but they are probably just a minority. The sixties had a silent majority, in- and outside the Underground, that will never be heard.

In 1988 Jonathon Green compiled an oral history of the sixties titled: Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground 1961-71. In it a constellation of Underground self-proclaimed heroes repeated the clockwork adagio that the sixties were fantastic, but this book was the first, for me at least, that contained some less triumphant testimonies as well. Nicola Lane, who by her own account 'did little other than sit in a corner, roll joints and nod when required' had a stab at the sexual morals of the period in general. Susan Crane (better known as Sue Miles) confirmed that the Beat movement was very sexist towards women, invariably called chicks, and when her husband Barry Miles had those very important International Times meetings her job was 'to make the tea and the sandwiches' and to leave the room 'whenever they were going to actually take decisions'. Which she did.

Another International Times-founder Jim Haynes, by definition a messiah of the Underground, was described by Cheryll Park, then a 19-year old coming from the North of England, as a sexual pervert who wanted her to end up in his bed with six other women. “I'd love to meet Haynes again, now that he's a shrivelled-up old man, and humiliate him in the way he humiliated me.”, she snapped. Be it Jim Haynes, Julian Assange or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, some men will never ever change.

In The Sixties Unplugged, Gerard De Groot repeats the above testimonies of Nicola Lane, Sue Miles and Cheryll Park. The book already appeared in 2008, but I was unaware of it until now. A few copies ended up in the sales bin of a local bookshop and that is how I got hold of it. I hesitated first as the book, at first glance, seemed to be a mere recollection of the counter-culture in America, but browsing through the contents I saw that the author also had things to add about Biafra, China, Congo, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Holland, Indonesia, Vietnam and even our closest extra-terrestrial neighbour, the Moon.

Free Speech movement at Berkeley
Free Speech movement at Berkeley.

Ronnie takes a trip

The Sixties Unplugged is a decade's compendium in 67 short essays and rather than repeating what good things came out of it, it attempts to describe where we went wrong. The book is sceptical, ironical and cynical but also utterly readable, vivid and funny at places. What could have been lying on your stomach as a gloomy brick becomes the proverbial box of chocolates, especially thanks to the many unexpected anecdotes that lighten it up. De Groot constantly dips his pen in a vitriolic inkpot (does anybody in the 21st century understand this?) and like a pigeon flying over an open air statue exhibition he has plenty of choice where to launch his droppings.

I do have the impression that De Groot has more fun in ridiculing the liberal caste than the conservative one, but I could be wrong as we have been taught that the sixties were generally progressive anyway. It is true that lots of noise was coming out of progressive circles... in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris or London... but De Groot also notes that 20 miles outside the city or university centres life went on its usual conservative way. As a matter of fact, while the progressive thinkers were believing that they were going to change the world by smoking pot and listening to Hendrix guitar solos the conservative movement was silently preparing its coup with repercussions that are still visible today.

But some changes even the conservatives didn't see coming. A bit like Rick Santorum now, a certain Ronald Reagan was first laughed away by his fellow republicans and called 'a flagrant example of miscasting'. The man didn't know anything about politics, they quipped and this was probably true, but that was precisely Reagan's strength. He started his career by saying that he wasn't a politician but a simple citizen who understood the needs of the common Californian. While his opponents, republicans and democrats alike, were sneering at him from their élite business millionaire clubs, smoking expensive cigars and showing general disdain for their voters, Reagan proved that the time was ripe for popular conservatism, based on easy to digest one-liners (“One of the great problems of economics is unemployment.”).

To get elected in 1966 Reagan needed to convince over a million of democrat voters to cross over to his side and paradoxically enough one of the issues that helped him to achieve that were... the hippies. Berkeley had a history of tumultuous student uprisings (free speech movement, Vietnam war protest & People's Park) that had infested other Californian universities as well. Reagan only needed a one-liner to describe those radicals: “His hair was cut like Tarzan, and he acted like Jane, and he smelled like Cheetah.”

Those beatniks at Berkeley University thought they were changing the world, and they did indeed, but not as they intended. Ronald Reagan got elected in California... This was the start of a brilliant political career and may have been the pivotal point turning the world into an arena of conservative capitalism...

Lumumba arrested
Patrice Lumumba arrested.

There's a killer on the road

Did anybody notice dead bankers hanging on trees, lynched by an angry mob lately? I don't think so. But we did see poor, unemployed and homeless people, frozen to death this winter, because this crisis – created out of greed – has hit them hard. Jean-Luc Dehaene, ex-prime minister of Belgium and representative of the Christian Labourers Union, will receive a tax-free bonus of 3.26 million Euro (4.35 million dollars) this year. He is the man who led the Dexia bank to its bankruptcy, well knowing that the Belgian government would be obliged to intervene. The Belgian caution for the Dexia 'bad bank' is 15% of our BNP, so if the holding goes into liquidation, a scenario that is not improbable, all Belgians will face a general tax increase and cutbacks on all social programs...

Speaking about Belgium, my little country gets a mention in Gerard De Groot's book as well. Congo, once the sadistic playground of a Belgian king who thought that cutting off hands was a pleasant pastime, got independent in 1960. When its first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, had the guts to insult the Belgian king on Congo's independence day this was nothing less than an invitation to murder.

Not that the Belgians were playing solo, on a White House meeting in August 1960 president Dwight D. Eisenhower vaguely proposed to assassinate Lumumba and CIA director Allen Dulles, who described Lumumba as a mad dog who needed to be put down, immediately gave orders to his secret agents to come up with a cunning plan.

While the CIA was thinking of an all-american-superhero sophisticated way to get a poisoned toothbrush over to Congo and hand it over to the prime minister the Belgians had a much simpler idea. Under mild Belgian pressure Lumumba was arrested, ceremonially and perpetually beaten and tortured and finally shot through the head while four Belgian officials were looking, mildly amused, from a few yards distance. Incidentally, the prime minister of Belgium who was aware of this all, Gaston Eyskens, belonged to the same Christian party as Jean-Luc Dehaene now, but this is of course just a silly coincidence.

Although Gerard De Groot obviously agrees that this was an act of 'cynical criminality' he refuses to believe in the Lumumba myth, that is as big in Africa now as the Che Guevara-myth in the sixties. De Groot quips Lumumba would have been assassinated anyway and if not, he dryly adds, the Prime Minister would probably have grown into a typical African corrupt dictator just like his spiritual heroes Nkrumah, Nyerere or Kenyatta.

Forgive me Chairman Mao.
Forgive me, Chairman Mao.

Love, peace & happiness

And these are just two of the 67 essays in this book. The general rule is that De Groot shows almost no respect for anybody (with some notable exceptions here and there) although there is of course not always reason for respect in his stories.

Biafra had an outburst of ethnic and political violence from 1966 to 1970 causing one to two million deaths, most of starvation. This happened while the 'civilised' world was dutifully monitoring the situation and organising UN congresses.

China had a few uprisings in the mid sixties. In 1968 communist government troops killed 200 thousand rebels in the Guanxi province, although the term rebel could mean women, children, babies or someone wearing glasses or the wrong clothes. One of the weirder, perhaps tribe related, rituals in Guanxi was to eat the enemy and over 3000 cannibalistic acts in the name of communism have been documented. Called an orgy of violence by Gerard De Groot the Cultural Revolution would make 2.8 million victims, although these numbers greatly vary from source to source. The amount of people persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, tortured or raped out of love for the Great Helmsman is estimated to at least a tenfold of the previous number.

That not all political violence had a communist signature was proven in Indonesia. In September 1965 and the months to follow between 500 thousand and one million 'communist' sympathisers were killed in Indonesia, with just a little help of the intelligence services of Great Britain and the USA. Joseph Lazarsky, deputy station CIA chief in Jakarta, revealed that the CIA had made a top 5000 hit-list to help the government troops. The list was crossed off as enemies were liquidated and as an extra bonus president Suharto received lucrative contracts with American Express, British American Tobacco, British Leyland, General Motors, Goodyear, ICI, Siemens and US Steel...

The shameful lesson of this book is that in 30 or 40 years time, absolutely nothing has changed in this world, except perhaps for the fact that in Syria people now have smartphones and can put music in their ears to stop hearing the falling bombs.

Free love, acid not
Free love, acid not.

Parallel lines

One review of the book I found on the net says that Sixties Unplugged often follows very familiar lines.

Although he claims that his work is 'more global than any book previously produced', it is dominated by American characters and events, most of which have been written about dozens of times before. His selection policy is nothing if not orthodox, so his opening sections cover such well-worn topics as the origins of the transistor, the invention of the Pill and the poetry of the Beats. Later, we read about the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the expansion of the Vietnam War, the development of the hippy movement and the Civil Rights marches. The supporting cast is the usual mixture of hairy protesters and senior politicians, above all Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

There is some truth in that, and when Gerard De Groot hits the ground I am a bit familiar with, namely the British psychedelic scene, all he can come up with are testimonies from a book that appeared twenty years ago. Sometimes he even tries too hard to make a point. I don't think that using British Underground quotes to add value to an American situation is really deontological. And there is a certain shock-jock aspect present as well, as the chapter 'Summer Of Rape', amongst others, shows:

Rape was popular in the Summer of love. Rape was easy because there were so many naïve young girls separated from parental protection.

or, quoting some juicy sixties newspaper article...

A young long-haired girl stripped and danced in the warm rain... (…) Her friends stood by while a dozen young men raped her in an animal frenzy.

But it needs to be said that the sensational stories and its many anecdotes make this book a real page-turner. Gerard De Groot likes to divulge that every important man has his smaller side. Martin Luther King, for instance, not only had a dream but also a busload of extramarital affairs and probably that is one of the few things he had in common with JFK. If sex oozes from the pages, it is because the sixties had a sexual revolution and revolutions not only tend to liberate but often lead to an aftermath of violence as well. One hippie leader literally said that women needed breaking like a horse before entering his commune (I wonder how he could get any female followers) and the average discours érotique of the Black Panthers Party then wasn't really different from gangsta-rap today.

Rupert Bear, exposed
Rupert Bear, exposed (Oz magazine).

The Hole in the Ozone Layer

There aren't a lot of women in the book, and when there are they don't always like to be reminded of the sixties. Bernardine Dohrn's 1969 eulogy to Charles Manson, for instance, can't be found on her CV at the Northwestern University School of Law and neither is the fact that she once was one of the most wanted terrorists of the United States. But of course that is nothing to be proud of, The Weathermen only succeeded in blowing their own members to pieces rather than turning America into a communist republic.

In September 1967 hundreds of New York Radical Women assembled before the Miss America contest in Atlantic City. They massively removed their bras, much to the enjoyment of the watching crowd, threw those in a dustbin and set the contents on fire. Unfortunately, this is one of the sixties feminist myths that is just that, a myth. The truth was slightly different. About twenty protesters threw some symbolic girlie stuff in a trashcan: girdles, bras, makeup, curlers, mascara, shoes... and apparently they also crowned a sheep as Miss America, but that was all that happened.

A reporter however called it bra-burning and from then on the legend mushroomed until the point was reached that feminists really started to believe in burning bras or protesting topless, a tradition that happily lingers on till today, but now you will call me a male chauvinist pig probably.

According to The Sixties Unplugged the decade ended in 1971 with the obscenity trial of Oz. One of the questions was if a bawdy cartoon of Rupert Bear (made by a fifteen years old) was obscene or not. The judges decided it was but nobody really cared any more. The world had changed, only the judges didn't know it yet.

Despite some flaws this is a very interesting book indeed. Even with 67 chapters and almost as many topics it gives you something to chew on and makes you start thinking. Lucky we have Wikipedia nowadays, to further dig into those subjects one really digs... but what did the sixties bring into our world then, other than perpetual paradise... Gerard De Groot:

The decade brought flowers, music, love and good times. It also brought hatred, murder, greed, dangerous drugs, needless deaths, ethnic cleansing, neocolonialist exploitation, soundbite politics, sensationalism, a warped sense of equality, a bizarre notion of freedom, the decline of liberalism, and the end of innocence.

Groovy man, really groovy...


Sources (other than the above internet links):
De Groot, Gerard: The Sixties Unplugged, Pan Macmillan, London, 2009.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 60, 119, 418-419, 448 (first edition: 1988).


2012-03-26

Formentera Lady

Formentera Magical Mystery Tour
Formentera Magical Mystery Tour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1963

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

1965

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

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

1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1968

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

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

1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And in Mind Over Matter:

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

Formentera Lady

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

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

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

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

Updates

Iain Moore

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

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

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

Nigel Gordon

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

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

Uschi Obermaier

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


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

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


2012-05-11

RIP Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives

Clive Welham
Clive Welham.

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

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

Perse pigs and County cunts (note)

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

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

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

Clive Welham (to Mark Blake):

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

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

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

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

The Ramblers
The Ramblers.

1962: The Ramblers

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

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

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

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

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

1963: The Four Posters

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

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

1964: Jokers Wild

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

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

1965: Walk Like A Man

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

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

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

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

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

Jokers Wild
Jokers Wild.

1965: the Decca tapes

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

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

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

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

1966: Bullit & The Flowers

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

2012: Nobody Knows Where You Are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afterword (Updated: 2012 07 01)

Perse pigs etc...

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

Syd Barrett in Jokers Wild?

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

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

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

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

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

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


2012-06-29

Men On The Border: full of guitars and no dust...

alien coaster from DSOTM
Alien coaster, from The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion set.

Summer time has come and this means it is time to take the plastic chairs and table into the garden and have an afternoon drink. The main problem always is: where are the coasters to put the glasses on? Surely you didn't pay 120 Euros for a Dark Side of the Moon Immersion box set to ruin its cheap (but expensive) content by putting a glass of Mojito on top of those exclusive carton collector's coasters, did you?

Thank god there is Mojo's Return to the Dark Side of The Moon - Wish You Were Here Again from a couple of months ago. I you have ever listened to it then you certainly would wish you were over there, praising that nobody can hear crap in a vacuum. My Wall Re-Built albums are still shrink-wrapped and will probably stay like that until eternity or till I finally have the nerve to make the final cut.

The Madcap Laughs Again treatment from 2010 was slightly better, probably because nobody tried to make too much of a fool out of the mad cat, but nevertheless I only gave the album a 4 out of 10 score. It does contain some interesting versions though, like Marc Almond's Late Night that has grown on me like a wart on a witches nose.

But for most of those covermount disks the only slightly ecological way to give them a purpose in life is to recycle them as beverage coasters. By the way, Mojo should realize that these CDs can be counter-productive as well. A while ago I saw the issue with Pet Sounds Revisited and because I didn't want to spoil my good mood I simply turned my back, deciding not to buy it. No way I was going to listen to the massacre of one of the finest albums in the world.

This just to say I am slightly grumpy when it comes to these tribute albums. But sometimes there are exceptions, like...

Men On The Border
Men On The Border.

Men On The Border

Swedish Men On The Border, so learns us the blurb, started as a project inspired by the music and art of Roger Keith ”Syd” Barrett. The power duo consists of Göran Nyström and Phil Etheridge and the result is Shine!, a CD of interpretations of songs by Syd Barrett.

And what interpretations they are, rather than dumbfoundedly mimicking Roger Keith they flavour their interpretations with power chords, contemporary sounds, odd humour and slightly hidden musical references.

I have a soft spot for track number 5 that starts as a Joy Division, Gary Numan or Blur inspired rendition of No Man's Land, seamlessly sliding into Golden Hair and retreating to No Man's Land again. The track is dark, a bit industrial with screaming guitars and probably a signature track for what Men On The Border really stand for. Göran Nyström:

(I'm) quite happy with it. As black as it should be. And yet with a little golden shimmer deep inside.
Shine!, art by Kajsa-Tuva Henriksson
Shine! cover by Kajsa-Tuva Henriksson.

The cool thing is that MOTB give an odd, unexpected, turn to the classics we know so well. Wined And Dined makes you think that the song will dive into Irish jig territory but the guitar that follows (not that far from Gilmour’s Raise My Rent, if you ask me) brings back happy memories from the music I liked in the seventies (those heavenly oohs and aaahs), ending with a Beatlesque streak. Göran Nyström:

I want to do this with great respect, yet not ending up imitating Syd and his weaknesses at the time. I always felt uncomfortable with cover artists trying to be the sick and poor Syd. I think his songs should shine.

Listening to Gigolo Aunt, that I have always found a bit simple as a song, it comes to me that some of the influences of MOTB lay in the pub-rock from Graham Parker & The Rumour, Rockpile (with Nick Lowe & Dave Edmunds) and the cruelly under-appreciated The Motors (their Airport still is in my all times Top-20).

Opel, here renamed as Opal which is probably more correct, has an intro reminding me of a hungry Jaws swimming towards some EMI sales representatives who immediately devour the poor animal. First its intro made me think of an Emerson, Lake and Palmer thing... but at second thought some classic Deep Purple may be a bit closer to it. Anyway it is classic stuff. The song has glimpses of an all female string quartet, playing in the nude, but probably my imagination is having a go at me now.

Long Gone starts – literally - with an interstellar joke before jumping into Mark Bolan or David Bowie cockney territory , it's a totally loony, but irresistible version (and it has a fine moog-a-like outro as well).

Gigolo Aunt by JenniFire
Gigolo Aunt by JenniFire.

What did I forget so far:
Octopus, not as erratic as the original and larded with slight psychedelic effects...
Dark Globe, loving the crack in Göran's voice at the 'wouldn't you miss me at all' bit...,
No Good Trying, a straight forward rocky rendition with lots of reverb, oohs, aahs and nananananas...
Feel, well over seven minutes it starts with a slightly Floydian ambient intro and it further meanders into a pastoral Grantchester Meadows classic but at the four minutes mark a slightly brilliant Narrow Way guitar solo takes over...

Late Night must be one of the most beautiful songs that Syd Barrett ever wrote and Men On The Border also get this one right. Love, peace and understanding are omnipresent (not only on this track, but on the whole album) and, frankly, this is a quite moving version.

You may have deducted by now that the album is excellent and then we haven't said a word about the art department yet, one of the extra reasons you should buy this album for.

The cover art has been made by Kajsa-Tuva Henriksson and the booklet illustrates every song with a painting from Jennifer D'Andrea's (aka JenniFire) I.N.Spired series. Buying the CD will also financially help the Cambridge based Squeaky Gate organisation.

Men On The Border haven't set up a web-shop for their album yet, but you would be more than obliged to mail them at info@menontheborder.com and ask for a copy.

And if the above review didn't convince you, you can listen and watch their songs on the Men On The Border Sound & Vision pages (have a go at Feel with more intriguing art work from JenniFire).

Those Swedish surely have something I can't explain.


Many thanks to: Göran Nyström, Phil Etheridge & JenniFire.


2012-07-07


2012-07-14

The Rape of Emily (three different ones)

Groovy Hits for Dancing, the Okey Pokey Band & singers.
Groovy Hits for Dancing, the Okey Pokey Band & Singers.

In 1967 Pink Floyd suddenly had a hit with See Emily Play and their name was all over the music press in England. As such they were spotted across the ocean by the Canadian record company Arc that specialised in so-called low-budget sound-alike greatest hits albums.

Sound-Alike

Before we start making fun of the sound-alike phenomenon we would like to point out that there was still a great musical rift between America and Great Britain and that covers were often the only way for an English audience to hear an American record, and vice versa. In 1965 the proto-Pink Floyd combo Jokers Wild, with David Gilmour, tried to cash in on the Sam & Dave classic You Don’t Know Like I Know, but not fast enough as the original hit the English market before Decca could issue the Jokers Wild version. The rise and fall of David Gilmour's first band had been decided on by bad timing and a stroke of bad luck.

Next to the 'cover' market, where local record companies tried to be the first to issue their cover of an overseas hit, there was the 'sound-alike' market, with a slightly different sense of timing. Once a hit record entered the charts, sound-alike singles were rapidly recorded by session musicians and put in the stores to sell their rip-off versions in the slipstream of the original hit.

While some of these sound-alike versions were deliberately made to confuse the customer ('I Walk The Line' by 'Jonny Cass' comes to mind) most of them ended on low-budget hit or party albums, EPs and singles. Nobody would notice the difference anyway, especially on warm barbecue days with lots of booze and a Dansette portable record player screeching in the garden.

There is a thin line between sixties 'covers' and 'sound-alikes', because the cover bands often did their best to sound as close to the original as was humanly possible, while the sound-alike bands often did their best to sound as close to the original as was humanly possible. Sound-alike labels from different countries and continents traded tracks and identical tracks would often appear under different band names.

Warning: if you are already confused by now, you will even get more confused by what follows next, this will not be easy reading. Most has been pinched from collector's blogs and newsgroups and we will do our best to give credit to the original authors and websites.

Arc Records
Arc Records.

Arc Records

One record collector describes Arc records as follows:

Arc Records was Canada's most notorious low-budget label, in the same league as labels like Crown or Alshire in the States. They were famous for taking famous pop songs by one artist and getting some schmo to cover them and giving him a phoney name similar to that of the original artist. (Listener Klip at WMFU blog.)

A slightly more academic description of the label can be found on the Canadian Encyclopedia (page no longer active):

Arc Records, subsidiary of Arc Sound Co Ltd, which was established in Toronto in 1958 by Philip G. Anderson and William R. Gilliland. At first a record distributor, Arc Sound began releasing recordings under its own Arc label in 1959 and purchased the Precision Pressing Co in 1961. Arc Records released a series of pop singles albums under the name "Hit Parade" (1963-64). Arc Sound and its subsidiaries came under the control of a Canadian-owned holding company, the Ahed Music Corp Ltd, Toronto, in 1969 and ceased operations in 1986.

Arc Records in Canada were doing a lot of sound-alike records in the sixties. They had the Hit Parade series and at least two of them are carbon copies of Current Hits albums that appeared on the American Hit Records label.

Arc also apparently got tied in with Embassy Records (Great Britain), the label of the English Woolworth stores. It churned out top hits as well, usually with two different artists on one 45. All of the Embassy recording was done by Oriole Records, with mostly in-house musicians and groups. One of the cover bands on Embassy were The Jaybirds who became famous after Alvin Lee renamed the band to Ten Years After.

Embassy quit the sound-alike business in the late sixties and Oriole was bought by Columbia about the same time. Some of the Embassy/Oriole stuff showed up on American Top Hits albums from Columbia Record Club as well.

Arc Records had at least five LP's of Mersey Beat out in the mid sixties. Some of those list the individual Embassy performers, but most credit the group sounds to The Mersey Beats Of England. Unfortunately there is only a partial list of Arc releases available on the web. (Above text almost literally copied from KenB/Rockin' Bee.)

Three To One (re-issue)
Three To One (re-issue).

Three To One

In 1967 the Vancouver band Three To One issued a mono single considered to be the very first cover of a Pink Floyd song: See Emily Play / Give My Love (Arc 1186, most pictures and sound-bits on the web are from a 2008 collector's edition replica of that single, except - perhaps - the picture underneath that could be an original.)

Let's switch over to Kiloh Smith who describes this little gem in his weird enthusiast style...

Check out this rare Canadian psych 45 by Three To One - See Emily Play b/w Give Me Love on the Arc Label. This one’s got two monster tracks from Three To One, including what must to be the very 1st Pink Floyd cover in history. You might’ve heard their creepy cover of See Emily Play on a comp or two before - it’s pretty faithful to the original, at least up until the second chorus, when a little girl suddenly pops her head into the studio to ask “Everyone know how to play?” while someone in the sound effects library drops in a bunch of outer space phaser effects from the albino gorilla episode of the original Star Trek series.

This would have been an interesting titbit for all the Sydiots among us, but there is more going on. Arc was a rather dodgy label to say the least and also with this release they lived up to their expectancies.

Three To One (original)
Three To One (original).

See Emily Play was Three to One's only claim for fame. The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia describes them as follows:

Three To One

John Renton, Derek Norris (bass), Brian Russell (guitar), Claudette Skrypnyk

After leaving The Classics, Brian Russell formed Three To One in Vancouver in 1966. The band soon relocated to Yorkville in Toronto to try and catch a break. They soon got signed to Arc Records for one single - a cover of Pink Floyd's See Emily Play.

They also performed on CTV's 'After Four' TV show and appeared on Yorkville's tie-in compilation album to the show. They would later change their name to Raja before calling it quits.
After Four Compilation
After Four (compilation).

After Four

The After Four (dead link) TV-show compilation album was issued in 1968 on Yorkville, a sub-label of Arc. It has covers from well-known tracks such as You Keep Me Hangin’ On (Teak Wood, dead link) or Winchester Cathedral (The Chain Rattlers Orchestra). Several things are wrongly stated on its cover: Four In The Morning (dead link) from The Scarlet Ribbon is actually a track in disguise from a Canadian band called The Quiet Jungle (more about them later), Changin' Time (dead link) from Patrician-Anne is a cover from Janis Ian's I'll Give You a Stone If You'll Throw It (Changing Tymes) and the second track on the B-side is not I'm A Bad Boy by Bob Francis, but See Emily Play by Three To One. Nobody knows why there is a different track listed on the sleeve notes than there is pressed on vinyl. (Listen to the complete album on Grooveshark.)

So far so good, but here is where things get a bit more complicated. We did warn you.

Flower Power
Flower Power, the Okey Pokey Band & Singers.

Flower Power

At about the same time, 1967-1968-ish, another Arc compilation album sees the light of day, featuring the Okey Pokey Band & Singers. The album with number A-735 is called Flower Power and has sound-alike versions of several 1967 hits, including See Emily Play. Here is what the liner notes have to say:

On this recording the zany, irrepressible Okey Pokey band & Singers focus on Flower Power. Resultant is a boss album highlighting the best sounds to blitz your transistor over the past months.

See Emily Play from Okey Pokey uses the same bed track (or background music, if you like) as the Three To One version but has different vocals. Some of the wacky sci-fi sound effects are missing, but the good thing is the track is in magnificent stereo hi-fidelity. The 'everyone know how to play' sample at 1:29 has mysteriously disappeared from this version as well.

In short: we have two versions of the same track, slightly remixed and with different vocalists, as if this had been recorded in a karaoke bar.

Okey Pokey Logo
The Okey Pokey Band & Singers (logo).

The Okey Pokey Band & Singers

The Okey Pokey Band & Singers released two full albums but were obviously a studio project. According to the liner notes the band and singers:
'have played San Francisco, capital of the hippy world',
'have blown their minds at Fillmore' and
'loved-in at Ashbury Heights',
but the credits show that the tracks were originally 'recorded in England' and not in Canada.

This could make sense as we have already stated that low-budget record companies from different continents used to trade tracks, just to keep the costs low.

The Okey Pokey version has a certain British feel and when Arc got a copy of the master tape they may have removed the British vocals, replacing them with the Canadian singer of One To Three. Of course there is always the possibility that the English tape only contained an instrumental track and that both singing parts were recorded in Canada. A lot of sound-alike songs do exist that share the same bed track, but have different vocalists.

The Quiet Jungle

In 2007 Garage Hangover suspected that members of The Quiet Jungle could have been part of the deal.

Toronto based The Quiet Jungle started originally as The Secrets. The band was signed by Arc Records and, next to releases in their own name, some of them hit records, they were used as (anonymous) session musicians on a Monkees sound-alike album and on a children's album called The Story of Snoopy's Christmas. Vocalist Doug Rankine, however, denies any involvement on the Okey Pokey Flower Power album:

We had nothing to do with the "Flower Power" album. There were a couple of TV shows at that time called After Four and High Time that were on CTV. We were on those shows verily often. There was an album produced at the time called "After Four". (…) At the time of the album we recorded a song entitled "Four In the Morning". Without going into a lot of detail, we recorded it under the name of the Scarlet Ribbon.
John Smith
John Smith & The New Sound.

John Smith

Anton from Freqazoidiac adheres the theory that the Okey Pokey version, including its vocals, is entirely British.

The missing link could be John Smith, who - as John Smith and the New Sound - had several big hits, notably in France and Germany, with Manchester Cathedral, Snoopy vs the Red Baron, Just A Looser and Judy In Disguise.

It has been rumoured that Manchester Cathedral by The Chain Rattlers Orchestra (see the After Four album above) was in fact done by John Smith. You Keep Me Hangin' On from Teak Wood on that same compilation is definitely John Smith's work. He has acknowledged this himself on Garage Hangover.

The only problem is that John Smith (that is his real name, by the way) denies having ever recorded See Emily Play:

In answer to your first question "See Emily Play", I didn't record that song. If my name and my band was used, this is new to me, but I don't think there's much I can do about that is there!

The real John Smith left after the first album but the band continued to record, with different lead-singers as John Smith and the New Sound. None of their three official albums (and singles) have See Emily Play. John Smith and the New Sound (and their alter-ego band The Beat Kings) took a joyride on the wave of British and Canadian pop, but they can't be linked to the Okey Pokey / Three To One See Emily Play versions. This means we are back to square one.

Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons
Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons.

Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons

Probably the John Smith rumour can be traced back to a typo on, where else?, the Internet. In a comment on the Red Telephone 66 (dead link) blog Jancy claims that John Smith and The New Sound recorded See Emily Play for a German compilation (that appeared in 1972).

However, on the record itself, England's Top 14 of Pop (20. Folge) (private link) from Deutsche Vogue, See Emily Play is credited to Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons, and not to John Smith, nor The Beat Kings.

And yes, might you wonder, this third 'German' cover version is exactly the same as the Okey Pokey one. It could be interesting to compare the Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons cover from My Generation with the Arc release (if any) but this would bring us too far in this messy labyrinth.

David Byron
David Byron.

David Byron

There is an unconfirmed rumour that Ben Cash was none other than David Byron (real name: David Garrick) from Uriah Heep fame. The (more than excellent) David Byron fansite claims that the singer could be present on at least 140 low-budget covers on Avenue Records. They have - so far - identified (and re-issued) 40 tracks sung by Byron, but they don't include See Emily Play on this list.

Multiple versions were recorded of many of the Avenue tracks and sometimes included as many as five different lead vocalists. These tracks were released on various vinyl records under titles such as Top Six, Top Six From England, 12 Top Hits, England’s Top 12 Hits, Chartbusters, Studio 33; and compilations such as Groovin’, The Rock Star Parade, Super Soul Sounds and multiple other titles. David participated on multiple releases under these names but its apparent some of the releases listed false artist names but not the actual participants. David sang under listings such as Dave’s Soul Group, The Beat Kings and the rehashed name John Smith and The New Sound. Multiple other names are known and they overlap by other artists as well but again this can't be listed with accurate results. (Taken from Travellers In Time.)

Update 21 07 2012: Ron Mann from David Byron Net confirmed us that: "David Byron wasn’t part of that [See Emily Play] session", but he doesn't know who the singer is. He was so kind to lead us to some people who do know a lot more about these low budget sessions, so fingers crossed and keep on checking the Church. (February 2012: it needs to be said that we didn't find new information about this release, but we still keep on searching.)

Amongst the other lead singers that have participated on the hundreds of Avenue sound-alike recordings are: Reginald Dwight who was a bit more successful later in his career as Elton John, Tony Steven, Peter Lee Stirling (aka Daniel Boone) and Danny Street.

Ben Cash, My Generation
Ben Cash, My Generation.

John Smith (reprise)

The David Byron website continues with the following information.

At one point there was a real John Smith and a real New Sound backing band. In the 60s he signed a solo deal with Parlophone and released singles under the name of Bobby Dean. Being managed by Bill Wellings he ended up at EMI's Top Six label doing discount records cover songs.

These recordings were released in the UK and Germany and had some success. The Vogue record label released these songs under the original band name but also as The Four Kings. By late 1967 John Smith himself had lost interest in the group and moved on.

This left Bill Wellings with a band but no lead-singer but nevertheless he decided to continue the band, without the consent or knowledge of the real John Smith. As Wellings was deep in the discount records business and was interchanging vocalists with Avenue Records at PYE Studios in London he had several people to choose from.

Several tracks were done by the lead vocalist of The Excheckers, Phil Blackman, but also David Byron did vocals on some tracks for the two John Smith and the New Sound albums that followed.

The Golden Ring EP
The Golden Ring EP.

The Golden Ring

But the confusion isn't over yet, because the See Emily Play cover will appear once again under another name. So far we are aware of four releases of this cover:
1. Three To One (1967, Canadian single)
2. Three To One (1968, Canadian album, same as 1)
3. Okey Pokey Band & Singers (1968, Canadian album, same backing track, but other vocalist)
4. Ben Cash & The Cash-Tons (1972, German album, same as 3)

All these versions take about 2 minutes and 50 seconds, but Cicodelico came across a version on an Arc EP that is about a minute shorter: See Emily Play. The EP in question (TS 10) has All You Need Is Love, See Emily Play and With A Little Help From My Friends and is recorded by The Golden Ring. It is just a shortened version of the Okey Pokey original and probably this was done to fit on the seven-inch record with the other songs.

The Golden Ring are another one of these tribute bands on Arc who issued several albums, EPs and singles: A Man Without Love, A Tribute To Johnny Cash, Love Me Tonight, The Little Drummer Boy, Tribute To Glen Campbell and others...

Epilogue

If the original See Emily Play sound-alike has been recorded in England, with or without vocals, then the (Canadian) Three To One version is not the first cover of a Pink Floyd song. Unfortunately, we don't know where, when and by who this took place. Okey Pokey, The Golden Ring and The Cash-Tons are all fictitious bands that never existed as such. Three To One, however, did exist as a band and they were probably glad to add their voices to an already existing bed track, coming from the UK. It is pretty weird that nobody has located a British release, but perhaps the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett were already considered too weird to fit in the low-budget marketing scheme.

Links & Stuff

We apologise for this post that is probably the most confusing ever at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. We have tried contacting a few people and as such there may still be updates to be published. And if someone of you happen to know who really recorded the (probably English) low-budget-version of See Emily Play, let us know!

See Emily Play flowchart

See Emily Play flowchart.
See Emily Play flowchart, by Felix Atagong.

See Emily Play versions @ YouTube

Okey Pokey tracklist (side A)
Okey Pokey tracklist (side A).

Three To One single version (1967, 2008 re-issue)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpSfgRxz704
(The 1967 version was also re-issued on Pebbles, Volume 14 in 1984.)

Three To One - Give me Love (flip-side)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS8vo34UamU

CTV’s After Four - album version (1968)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq0pKQzaU94

The Okey Pokey Band & Singers - Flower Power (album version, 1968)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4M_qBw2q40

The Golden Ring - All You Need Is Love (EP version, 1968)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJYgzSbb1rw

Ben Cash And The Cash Tones - England's Top 14 of Pop (20. Folge) (album, 1972)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlKubn-hTqs

Links

CTV’s After Four - album (1968)
http://freqazoidiac.blogspot.be/2007/06/ctv-after-four-1967-canada-yorkville.html

John Smith & The New Sound
http://www.myspace.com/johnsmithsound
http://www.garagehangover.com/?q=johnsmith
http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/SMITHjohn.htm

The Quiet Jungle
http://www.garagehangover.com/?q=QuietJungle


Updated version, December 2016, some rewriting and weeding of dead links. Many thanks to: Anton (Freqazoidiac), Cicodelico, Greeneyedbetsy, Jancy, KenB / Rockin' Bee, Kiloh Smith, Listener Klip, Ron Mann...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


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 ♥


2013-04-19

RIP Storm Thorgerson: caught in a triangle...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Palacios in Dark Globe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


2013-06-28

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

Picture: Eva Wijkniet
Photo: Eva Wijkniet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexander the Great

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

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

Friday 14 June 2013

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

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

Saturday 15 June 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stops at:

183 Hills Road, Syd's house.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

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

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Neil Chisman, Peter Gilmour.

Walk on the meadows...

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

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

18.30: meet at the Geldart for dinner and drinks.

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

Sunday 16 June 2013

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

Birdie Hop

Be a part of the legend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

See you in 2015...

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


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

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


2013-07-07


2013-08-08

Reverends and Sydiots

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

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

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

An official statement by the Reverend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's party!

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

Rich Hall
Rich Hall.

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots

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

Birdies and Barretts

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

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

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

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

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

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

And for those who prefer a somewhat lighter YouTube version:

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

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

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

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

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

Blow Syd
Blow Syd.

Madcap Laughter & Hammerings

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

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

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

A Cry From The Outside

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

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

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

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

Birdie Hop and the Sydiots @ Bandcamp

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

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


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

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

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

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


2013-09-27

Making it clear...

I am him
I am him?

Did Roger Keith Barrett send a Canadian fan a handwritten message, somewhere in 2003? It might be true, or not, depending from your point of view.

Food and drink

The story of Syd turning into an involuntarily hermit may be correct to a certain extent, but this doesn't mean the man didn't interact with the world around him.

Now and then some anecdotes sip through, almost accidentally, like MvB who told the Church that Syd Barrett had dinner at her parent's home one day, probably in 1970. These were strange psychedelic days and her parents, journalists who must have been groovy folk, allowed her to go on her own to Syd's apartment afterwards. She wasn't really impressed with what was happening there, which is slightly understandable, as she was still more or less into Barbie dolls.

It's also weird how this Earth has changed for the past 40 years, because sending a young girl into something that has been described by others as a notorious free drugs & free sex den isn't something we would approve of nowadays, unless that description was an exaggeration as well. But like we said, these were different times.

We all know that Syd Barrett liked a good beer or two. So from time to time he would jump on the tube from Earl's Court, pass Gloucester Road and get off at South Kensington, where he would walk to a pub nearby. All highly irrelevant stuff that Sydiots like to collect, like Panini trading cards.

It is because there is this Barrett's lost weekend which, in his case, took three decades. That is why we cling to every little detail we can get hold of and extrapolate it as being emblematic for his entire life.

Sometimes an anecdote gets to lead its own life like the story that Barrett was writing The History Of Art, a titbit that has been reheated by fans and books and articles for nearly two decades, that can be traced back to a quote from his sister and that was nothing more than a chronological list of painters.

Radharani Krishna (blurred)
Radharani Krishna (intentionally blurred).

Radharani Krishna

Often we are simply willing to believe an unconfirmed anecdote because it is the only thing we can relate to. Rob Chapman in his Irregular Head biography vehemently wanted to debunk the false rumours and 'unsubstantiated nonsense' about the man but quite a few readers feared he might have created one himself.

On pages 365 and following, Chapman recites the charming anecdote of a young child who ran into Barrett's garden to ask him a pertinent question about a make-believe horse. Not only did Barrett patiently listen to her dilemma, he also took the time to explain her that in fairy tales everything is possible, even flying horses. (Taken from: The Big Barrett Conspiracy Theory.)

Chapman didn't materialise this witness from his high hat though as she was originally a Laughing Madcaps group member. Kiloh Smith wittingly observes that this is another proof that Rob Chapman was 'skimming off original material' from forums and mailing groups for his biography. Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as you give a friendly nod here and there. Radha's first message appeared on the 13th of March 2007:

My name is Radha, and I wanted to say a personal "hello" to everyone in this group as I've just joined today. (Radharani, Laughing Madcaps, 13 March 2007)

Soon Radha (short for Radharani Krishna) added some pretty innocent anecdotes:

I remember he used to walk to the shops in town and sometimes stopped to tell us little kids some silly nonsense rhyme or listen to ours and laugh with us. I never knew he was anybody other than a sweet older fellow who lived up the road and never went to work! (Radharani, Laughing Madcaps, 16 March 2007)

It's a pity really that Radharani's comments, about 40 in total, can only be consulted by accessing the Yahoo Laughing Madcaps group, that for one reason or another has been declared a no tress-passing area for the Church. In 1998 she left Cambridge for London to be 'rich and famous' and that is when she said goodbye to Roger:

He said Cambridge'd be dull without me (…) and we had a long talk that, knowing what I know now, really gives me the old throat-lump. I didn't realise it at the time, but he was really giving me a lot of himself. I think he must have done this with some of the other kids I grew up with who left home the way he had done, with big dreams and not much experience. I think it was his chance to be a dad. (Radharani, Laughing Madcaps, 20 March 2007)

It was at this point when Radha was first accused, in the group's typical cynical style, of being a fraud, she published less and less and finally disappeared in 2008.

I think the myth of RKB as a mean-spirited old curmudgeon or some sort of vacant-eyed schizo burnout is dreadfully one-dimensional and out of touch with the reality and intricacies of human nature. I cannot speak for his interaction with people who came in from the outside, but he was always polite to people in town. Some days he had more time to give than others, but he always waved or smiled as he passed our gate. (Radharani, Laughing Madcaps, 21 March 2007)

When Rob Chapman was researching for his book Radha's existence was confirmed to him by Ian Barrett, who may have met her and who confirmed she had lived two doors away from Roger.

As in all good stories this isn't all. A nice overview of the Radha controversy can be found on the Syd Barrett Pink Floyd blog and if you really want to delve into the sore details you can always check the Neptune Pink Floyd forum.

It's awfully considerate

But people who are accustomed to the Church's customs probably know that the previous was just a lengthy introduction to today’s sermon.

Did Roger Keith Barrett send a Canadian fan a handwritten message, somewhere in 2003? Here is the story that is so unbelievable it could be true.

10 years ago, at 15, Jonathan Charles was a bit Syd Barrett obsessed. He would sit at the computer after school and do tons of research on Syd & early Pink Floyd. Collecting photos, reading articles and interviews, looking for items on eBay. Like the rest of the world he also tried to find out where Syd lived, but Barrett's address was impossible to find. But from time to time he would look for it again and one day a certain Roger Barrett in Cambridge turned up.

I really can't remember exactly where I found it though it was not a typical yellow pages or similar site. I searched the address on a map online to check it out further. I'm pretty sure these were the days before Google street view so I wasn't sure if it really was his place. I decided to send a letter even though I thought I probably wouldn't get a response. I did feel I should leave him alone but my curiosity got the best of me I guess... (Taken from: I sent a letter to Syd in 2003 - was returned with a note.)

In his letter Jon asked a number of things but he mostly wanted to know details about Roger's current life and of course there was the obligatory 'I'm a big fan' stuff. One day an envelope from the UK arrived but with no return address on it. Inside was Jon's original letter with a note added at the bottom. It read:

note at bottom of letter
Note at the bottom of the letter.
DEAR JONATHAN,
NOT ME – I AM NOT THIS MAN – I AM
AN OLD AGE PENSIONER – AND NOT HIM.
SORRY TO DISSAPPOINT YOU.

The note, written in capitals and with several words underlined, stressed several times that the man who had received the letter was not Syd Barrett, all in all a strange way to react. At 15 Jon thought nothing more of it and the letter landed in a drawer until it was rediscovered a few weeks ago.

Jon decided to compare the handwriting of the note (also from the address on the envelope) with that of Syd at a later age and concluded there are some similarities, especially in the M's, N's and T's.

Jon's comparison
Jon's comparison.

As usual in these kind of matters there are opposite views. Alexander, who has some originals from Barrett in his collection, remarked that the capital 'D' is not at all the capital 'D' we know from Syd, but Younglight, at the other hand, also discovered that, in this note, Barrett uses a lowercase-type 'U', just like he had done in the sausage-thief letter from 1963.

sausage thief
Barrett's sausage thief.

A quick check by the Church confirms indeed that Barrett often wrote a lowercase 'U' in uppercase sentences. Examples can be found on a letter to Libby from 1963 or on the 'deddly dumpty' part of the Fart Enjoy booklet.

Although short, a lot can be told by analysing the message. Wolfpack did this at the Late Night forum and returned with a couple of observations.

1. For someone just getting a wrongly addressed letter, this answer is quite long.

The return note is indeed not logical. A normal response would have been: “Sorry Jon, you've send this letter to the wrong address so I am returning it.” There are several stories of how Roger Barrett told visitors that Syd wasn't there and this note surely reflects the same style.

2. The word 'NOT' is used 3 times: two times underscored, the 3rd time double underscored. The writer seems to put a lot of emotion in not being this man.

The note is almost a distress call, all in capitals and stressing several times he is not the man Jonathan thinks he is. But by denying it once too many the author unwillingly admits the opposite.

3. The old age pensioner might hint at being an old retired rock star.

Probably Jon mentioned Syd the rock star in his letter and a logical answer would have been: “Sorry mate, but I have been a bus driver all my life.” Or a teacher, a farmer, an undertaker. But none of that in the answer, an answer that seems to imply: I am an old age pensioner now and not the young music god you take me for but who I once was.

4. The spelling of 'dissappoint' matches with another unverified text, which is certainly in a fan's handwriting.

Wolfpack hints at the Rooftop In A Thunderstorm Row Missing The Point poem where 'dissapear' is written with a double 'S'. Unfortunately an original in Syd's handwriting didn't survive (or went missing) and we only have two (handwritten) copies made by Bernard White, that can be consulted in our Rooftop gallery: Rooftop 1, Rooftop 2.

It leaves us with the puzzling question: did Syd Barrett really write 'dissapear' or did the copier made an error? We will never know until the original shows up that might still be in Storm Thorgerson's psychedelic ordered archives.

Bonhams once tried to sell this copy as a genuine Syd Barrett piece and when the Church revealed this (with the help of many Late Night members) they didn't even thank us for pointing this out to them, read all about that in Bonhams Sells Fake Barrett Poem.

5. The writing style is poetic. The writing style is melodic. The visual composition (text layout) is aesthetic.

This is entirely Wolfpack's point of view and you can check his ideas and theories on the Late Night forum, if you want.

Jon, I'm only dancing...
Jonathan Charles .

I'm not here

The Holy Church asked Jon to get a closer look on the envelope, but all we have obtained so far is that it had two 2 stamps, one of 1£ and one of 5 pence. Jon further explains:

I ended up looking very closely at the post office ink stamp on the envelope and found a date. It should be correct because there is another stamp on the other side that says AU10P. The one on the front is 030810. August 10th, 2003.

So is this note the real deal, or not?

A look at the handwriting seems to point to that direction and the message itself is in accordance with the anecdotes of the mad bard as we know him.

On the other hand this could all be an intelligent and very elaborate hoax, done by someone who admits he was (and still is) somewhat of a Barrett obsessed fan. The comparison of the letters (see image above) could have been made as a 'visual aid' to imitate Syd's handwriting, rather than to prove the opposite.

Adding the deliberate spelling error 'dissapoint' (thus repeating the mistake on the Rooftop poem) could be an indication that the forger thought this spelling error was Barrett's and not Bernard White's.

And then there is still a third possibility, as proposed by Alexander:

...there were not many Roger Barretts in Cambridge which is a small city. And (it is) quite possible that Syd has asked somebody to write something and send it back.
It´s a male longhand, I´m sure. So, not Rosemary, but a brother or the postman or a shop owner etc... etc...

What exactly is a joke

But at then end, does it really matter? If enough people believe this is real, it is real, even if it isn't.

Did Roger Keith Barrett send a Canadian fan a handwritten message, somewhere in 2003? It might be true, or not, but it makes a nice story and adds to the kaleidoscopic viewpoint we have of the man who once was Syd.


Notes:
Radha went to America where she attempted a brief modelling career. She has published some well written slash fiction about the early days of Pink Floyd. Since 2008 she has completely disappeared from the Barrett spectrum.
Jonathan also send a copy of the 'Barrett' note to Mojo where it was (apparently) published in Issue 240, November 2013. Many thanks to Michael Rawding for finding this. This seems to indicate, in our opinion, that a hoax can be ruled out.

The Church wishes to thank: Alexander, Jonathan Charles, Late Night, Laughing Madcaps, MvB, Psych62, Radharani Krishna, Michael Rawding, Wolfpack, Younglight. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Barrett, Ian: personal message on 11 March 2011.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 365-366.


2013-11-02

If you're going to Sausalito

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

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

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

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

Sausalito Facebook Search
Sausalito Facebook Search Results.

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

Waiting for the man

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel California

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

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

Concert Poster 1967
Concert Poster 1967.

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

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

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

This is not America

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

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

Concert Poster 1967
Concert Poster 1967.

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

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

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

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

Rolling Stone 1
Rolling Stone 1.

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

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

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

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

This is the house

William Barrett Plaque
William Barrett Plaque.

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

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

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

Barrett House
Barrett House.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean-Marie Deschamps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Ending In Style (or not)

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

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

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

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

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

blocked
Blocked Youtube movie.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


2014-03-07

Smart Enjoy

Andrew Rawlinson
Andrew Rawlinson.

Warning: this article contains pictures of naked boobs which may result in temporary blindness for minors.

On the 5th of March 2009 the Syd Barrett Trust received Fart Enjoy, a one-off book, created and illustrated by Syd Barrett, believed to be made late 1964 or during 1965. It was donated by Syd's school friend Andrew Rawlinson who had kept it all these years. The day after it was put for auction on eBay. On Monday the 23rd March the highest bid reached £27,323 but this was rejected and brought back to £12,100. Eventually the book sold for £12,600.

Black Holes

The Trust published all the pages of the (f)art-book and a moving essay of Andrew Rawlinson about his friend. Unfortunately this has all disappeared. The trust was constructed around Barrett's heritage, estimated at about one million seven hundred-thousand pounds. Barrett's household articles and furniture made £119,890 for charity, the Two Warriors mosaic went for £10,700 and three (big) Mick Rock prints were auctioned as well, half of the proceedings going to the Fund. And yet, 12 pounds a year to keep their website running was too much to ask, http://www.syd-barrett-trust.org.uk now points to a Japanese website trying to find nurses in Saitama city.

All related websites (and organisations) seem to have vanished: Syd Barrett Trust, Syd Barrett Fund (the change of name took place at the request of the Barrett family), Interstellar, The City Wakes, Escape Artists,... We came across the rumour that Escape Artists was, and we quote: 'a financially incompetent group'. The Syd Barrett Fund was probably conned by 'useless PR men and bullshitters', but as we can't verify this we'll leave it like that. Eventually Escape Artists dissolved and Rosemary Breen, Syd's sister, teamed up with Squeaky Gate that seems to be a more reliable charity.

Update 8 April 2014: The metaphorical ink on this page wasn't dry yet or we were informed, on 30 March 2014, that Squeaky Gate may need to close the books. While chief executive Simon Gunton told the Cambridge News (on the 7th of April) that the fundings, coming from the government, were running dry, the rumour pit in Cambridge has a slightly more salient story of several ten thousands of pounds disappearing from its bank account. Syd Barrett & charity: it's no good trying.
Update 9 April 2014: We have had confirmation that Squeaky Gate is now history.

Fart Enjoy, missing page
The Fart Enjoy missing page.

Piper Gates

Luckily Fart Enjoy was reprinted in its entirety for the 40th anniversary edition of The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn CD-box (2007).

In its entirety?

Well not exactly. Page 13 was missing and replaced by the following cryptic text:

This particular page has been left blank for legal reasons
For further details see www.pinkfloyd.com

For many fans the abundance of the 'fuck' word (9 times) and the presence of a pin-up might have had something to do with that. Especially in America big chains do not like to sell records that may potentially besmirch the frail American psyche with swear words and naked boobs. Going to the official Pink Floyd website obviously didn't explain anything at all, so Keith Jordan of Neptune Pink Floyd contacted the band's management:

Pink Floyd's manager told me earlier that the page is missing from the album booklet because of copyright issues. EMI are not willing to face unlimited litigation against them for including it! So it's not about censorship at all!

Which is weird as the missing page had been published in Tim Willis's Madcap book before and it can be still found on the NPF website (and numerous others) as well.

Fart Enjoy Pin-Up
Fart Enjoy Pin-Up.

Scribbled Lines

Should you not know what all this hassle is about, at the left is the picture in question. It surely gives the impression that Roger Keith Barrett, like most pimpled adolescents, had a rather debatable sense of humour and was overtly sexist, putting raunchy graffiti (FUK, SUK, LIK, TIT, NIPL and a hard to find CUNT), including a stylised penis, all over the picture. Rob Chapman describes it as:

a porn-mag photo of a topless woman encrypted with toilet-wall graffiti daubs.

And Julian Palacios adds that the page reveals Barrett's:

misogynistic adolescent fear and a fascination with naked women.

In Will Shutes' excellent Barrett essay, that like all art essays meanders between the sublime and the slightly ridiculous, he cleverly remarks that the BOYS FUCK GIRL word permutations - on the same page - form 'two tip-to-toe penises'.

  BOYS      FUCK      GIRL
  BOY   FS   UCK      GIRL
  BO   FYUS   CK      GIRL
  B   FOUYCS   K      GIRL
  F   BUOCYK   S      GIRL
  FU   BCOK   YS      GIRL 
  FUC   BK   OYS      GIRL
  FUCK      BOYS      GIRL
  FUCK      BOY   GS   IRL
  FUCK      BO   GYIS   RL
  FUCK      B   GOIYRS   L
  FUCK      G   BIORYL   L
  FUCK      GI   BROL   YS
  FUCK      GIR   BL   OYS
  FUCK      GIRL      BOYS

As if two penises isn't serious enough he has also the following to say about the pin-up:

The voyeuristic theme evident in Fart Enjoy relates to the omnipresence of the sexualized image, and is humorous in its deliberate childishness. In Barrett's most prominent foray into Pop Art, he illustrates the anatomy of an anonymous topless model with tears and glasses, snot, spiders, a cyclist ascending her left breast, and some sort of discharge from her 'NIPL'.

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

For another observer the snot under her nose could also be a moustache, the nipple discharge could be some sort of surrealistic fart (enjoyed or not) and the anonymous topless model could be someone who ran for miss Great Britain in 1955 and who played roles in the cult-horror movie Peeping Tom (1960) and in the ultimate sixties sex comedy Alfie (1966).

In 1963 Playboy called this actress a sex siren who was:

for years exploited as English grist for run-of-the-mill pin-up roles, until her portrayal of Sir Laurence Olivier's mistress in The Entertainer proved she could deliver lines as well as show them.

She must have left an everlasting impression because in the March 1966 issue this 'perky, pretty Lancashire lass' was portrayed by none other than the British photographer of the stars, David Bailey. One of these pictures is the one that was massacred by Syd Barrett for his Fart Enjoy booklet.

As a movie star Shirley Anne Field disappeared in the mid seventies but eventually she returned in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), stayed for 42 episodes in the Santa Barbara soap (1987) and was last seen on the silver screen in the 2011 comedy The Power Of Three. IMDB lists her impressive career, Shirley Anne Field starred in 70 different movie and TV productions (not counting individual episodes) in nearly 6 decades.

Time Lord Syd
Time Lord Syd. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

Time Lord

Andrew Rawlinson writes the Fart Enjoy booklet is probably from 1965.

I’m not sure about the exact date. I know where I was living, so that places it between the end of 1964 and the summer of 1965. He was in London (Tottenham Street I think, not Earlham Street) and I was in Cambridge.

But unless somebody unequivocally proves that Syd Barrett really was a Time Lord (now here's a daring subject for our satiric The Anchor division, we might say) we seem to have a problem as the David Bailey pictures of Shirley Anne Field date from March 1966 and not from the year before.

How on Earth did Syd Barrett happen to insert a picture from a March 1966 Playboy into a 1965 (f)artwork?

All seems to turn around the exact moment in time when Syd Barrett moved from Tottenham Street to Earlham Street. Mark Blake and others put this in 1965 but Rob Chapman in A Very Irregular Head writes:

During the summer of 1966 Syd moved out of Tottenham Street and with his new girlfriend, fashion model Lindsay Corner, took up residence in the top-floor flat at 2 Earlham Street, just off Shaftesbury Avenue.

One chirping biographer doesn't make spring, especially not this one, so isn't there another way to date Fart Enjoy?

Actually there is.

Dear Roge, Fart Enjoy
"Dear Roge" letter, Fart Enjoy.

Rogue Roger

Page 10 in the booklet has a transcript from a letter (postcard?) from Syd's mother to her son. Some biographers call it a spoof although this, nor the authenticity, can be proven. But made up or not, it contains three interesting sentences.

I hope you are having a nice weekend.
How did the group get on at Essex?
Shall we reckon to set off – Devon-wards – on Sat. 26th?

Let's start with the last line, the one that carries a date. Browsing through calendars from nearly 50 years ago we can see there have only been a few Saturdays the 26th between 1964 and 1966: two in 1964 (September and December), one in 1965 (June) and three in 1966 (February, March and November).

1964
Syd Barrett, as a member of The Hollerin' Blues, didn't have that many gigs in 1964, and these were all around Cambridge. In the autumn of that year he joined the proto-Floyd, who where probably still called The Spectrum Five, but they only had about 3 concerts in London.

1965
Pink Floyd and/or The Tea Set had a slightly busier schedule in 1965, but all in all there were only a dozen of gigs. None of these were in Essex or happened around the only Saturday the 26th of that year.

Playboy March 1966
Playboy March 1966.

1966
"By early 1966 Pink Floyd's fortunes were taking a dramatic turn for the better", writes Glenn Povey in Echoes, but frankly their career only started to mushroom end of September. The Tea Set's first claim for fame was when they were billed, thanks to Nick Sedgwick, for three sets on a two-days festival on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th of March 1966, next to real FAMOUS people and bands. Nick Mason remembers:

The only gig that might have brought us to wider attention had been at Essex University. At their rag ball, we shared the bill with the Swinging Blue Jeans, who did appear, and Marianne Faithfull who was billed as appearing – if she managed to return from Holland in time. It didn’t sound hopeful. We were still called Tea Set at the time although we must have given the impression of being in transition to psychedelia, since in spite of having ‘Long Tall Texan’ in our repertoire, where we all sang to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars, somebody had arranged oil slides and a film projection.

Roger Waters (as quoted in Palacios' Dark Globe):

‘We’d already become interested in mixed media,’ recalled Roger Waters. ‘Some bright spark there had given this paraplegic a film camera and wheeled him round London filming his view. Now they showed it up on screen as we played.’

The avant-garde movie lovers at the Church sometimes wonder if this cinematographer wasn't an American who had recently moved to England. Later he would play an important part in the London's Film-Makers' Co-op, that grew out of film screenings at Better Books. But looking into that would take us too far, actually.

The Essex University Rag Ball was the Floyd's first event to be proud of and something Syd would have been bragging about to his mother and friends. Not only was this their only Essex gig in the 1964 – 1966 period, but it also perfectly matches the 'spoof' letter in Fart Enjoy.

I hope you are having a nice weekend.

Refers to the week after the Essex gig when Syd hypothetically received the letter (around 19 March 1966).

How did the group get on at Essex?

Syd's mum asks about the concert of the week before, when The Tea Set had their first breakthrough (12 March 1966).

Shall we reckon to set off – Devon-wards – on Sat. 26th?

Points to a date in the immediate future, Saturday the 26th of March 1966.

Bob Dylan in Playboy, March 1966
Bob Dylan in Playboy, March 1966.

Bob Dylan Schmooze

It's a shame EMI couldn't track down the owner of the copyright of the woman with her boobies out which Barrett cut from a magazine. EMI chose not to include it in the reproduced Fart Enjoy book in PATGOD.

So writes Neptune Pink Floyd on their Facebook page, about a year ago. Well, now that the Holy Igquisition has settled this matter, once and for all, EMI will have no excuse any more not to include the complete Fart Enjoy booklet in - let's say - a 50 years anniversary Immersion set of Pink Floyd's first album.

We think we have gathered enough evidence to bring back the creation date of the Fart Enjoy booklet from a two-years period to roughly one week in 1966. The Church managed to identify the pin-up Syd Barrett drew Kilroy on, as well as the photographer and the magazine it appeared in.

The only question that stays unanswered is: Why did Syd Barrett have this particular Playboy?

Easy.

The Playboy of March 1966 not only had topless pictures of Shirley Anne Field. Pages 41 to 44 and 138 to 142 make room for a 'candid conversation with the iconoclastic idol of the folk-rock set'. Syd Barrett, like all Cantabrigian beatniks, admired Bob Dylan and discussed his records, he had written a parodic song about him, and took Libby Gausden to the Royal Festival Hall on 17 May 1964 to see him.

If we can be sure of one thing, it is that Syd Barrett really bought this Playboy for the interview.


Many thanks to: Anonymous, Giulio Bonfissuto, Mick Brown, Warren Dosanjh, Rich Hall, Alexander Hoffmann, Keith Jordan, Göran Nyström, Neptune Pink Floyd Forum, Vintage Erotica Forum.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Sources (other than the above links):
Atagong, Felix: Fasten Your Anoraks , The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, 8 September 2007.
Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p. 165. (This book has the complete Fart Enjoy.)
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 62, 111.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 35.
Palacios, Julian: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 92, 98.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 32, 48.
Rawlinson, Andrew: Syd Barrett - His Book @ Syd Barrett Rresearch Society, 15 March 2009 (forum no longer active).
Rawlinson, Andrew: Syd Barrett - His Book, 20 March 2009 (mirror).
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 53-55. (This book has a few pages of Fart Enjoy.)

Neptune Pink Floyd forum:
Piper Re-Release - The Missing Page from Fart Enjoy!, started August 31, 2007.
Syd Barrett "Fart Enjoy" work on eBay, started March 16, 2009.
Page missing from the "piper" deluxe edition, started April 13, 2010.

NSFW sources (Warning: porn banners and/or pop-ups!):
Playboy, Europe's New Sex Sirens, September 1963, p. 136.
Playboy, Trio Con Brio, Playboy, March 1966, p. 112-113.
Vintage Erotica Forum: Shirley Anne Field, May 2007 - December 2013.


2014-04-05

Magnets & Miracles

Sydge @ Atagong Mansion
Anthony Stern's Sydge (Syd magnet).

You might or might not know that Iggy Rose was once Anthony Stern's muse, she posed before his camera and featured in one of his avant-garde movies, that – unforgivably – has only been shown about a dozen of times for the past 47 years. The situation didn't really sky-rocket when Chimera Arts took over the publishing rights, they were sitting harder on it than the CIA does on a torture report. Nothing new, as a matter of fact, as we already wrote this a couple of years ago (2009) in one of our magnificent articles. It is rumoured that the last festival Eskimo Girl was billed on was held in a staircase closet somewhere in the Philippines, but we might be slightly exaggerating.

But all this is soon to change. Anthony Stern started a brand new blog Anthony Stern Films that is promising us a book and a DVD.

Update 2016: in October 2016 the movie was premiered during the Cambridge Syd Barrett movie festival. A couple of weeks earlier a shortened version was shown at the BBC. No news from a book or DVD though. More information:
Lost Weekends 
Memory Marbles (2016): new Iggy pictures found! 

Iggy in the green
Iggy the Eskimo (still from Anthony Stern movie).

Auntie Stern

Get all from that ant? (as the movie will be named, it appears) will be an 80 minutes portrait of London 1963-1970, in still pictures, film and video, by Anthony Stern who lived, loved and worked at the core of the pop culture genesis. Countless reels of 16mm film and thousands of photographic negatives from his archives have been viewed and digitalised. Sophia Satchell-Baeza had a look at an early cut:

Although at the moment unfinished, it’s an incredible, semi-autobiographical portrait of Cambridge / London / San Francisco in the 1960s, shot by the artist and film-maker who was there to see it all unfold. Some major highlights include lost (and recently found) archive footage of Syd Barrett performing with Pink Floyd, and unseen footage of Eric Clapton, but the film is full of beautiful moments. (Taken from: A subterranean afterworld of future dreams.)

There will be footage from Syd Barrett with Pink Floyd, the UFO club and their liquid light projections, footage of The Rolling Stones, the voice of John Lennon. But something that makes the Reverend infinitely happy is that the picture highlighting this release depicts none other than Iggy, dancing in a park. So there might be a pretty cool chance that her movie, or at least a part of it, will be on the DVD as well.

Magnetism

The project consists of a DVD and a book that will not only show the past. Anthony Stern had the idea to 'unite all Barrett heads'. He took a movie still of Syd playing at UFO and turned it into a magnet, the Sydge. You can get one or free, as long as there are copies left and provided you sent him back a picture of your fridge door (or wherever you have stuck the magnet):

The fridge door can be a platform and a message board for images of yourself, family, your favourite icons, pin-ups, newspaper cuttings, poems, memoranda, shopping lists, favourite witticisms, jokes, puns, tickets and the detritus of day-to-day life, and of course any form of homage to Syd Barrett. (Taken from: The Sydge magnet, well he was a very magnetic chap.)
Sydge
Anthony Stern's Sydge (Syd magnet).

Some of the results that have been sent in can already be seen here and here. One Birdie Hop member made it her vocation to distribute several of these magnets over the States, turning the Sydge into a symbol that will unite fans all over the globe.

And who knows, if enough people put some imagination and madcappery into the photos it may grow into a completely different project than it was intended for, so someone has whispered in our ears. Of course the Church has already send in its pictures and you can watch these at the Church's presence on Facebook.

Iggy by Anthony Stern
Iggy the Eskimo (still from Anthony Stern movie).
Iggy & Syd Lookalike Audition

Anthony's book will also have a chapter called: Syd & Iggy: A Psychedelic Love Story, yes there is our girl again!, and for this purpose he is looking for Syd and Iggy lookalikes who can send in their pictures... Those who want to face fame and glory can have a look at Audition.

To immortalise this demand the blog adds something that can be considered as being the purest, clearest and biggest movie still we have seen from the Iggy, the Eskimo Girl movie ever. Here she is, holding that weird device that inconspicuously looks like a smartphone, but only... the picture dates from 1968. Was Iggy really a time traveller? Click to see the picture in full resolution: Iggy.

Antony Qui?

In June 2008 Anthony Stern gave an introduction to several of his movies at the Cinemathèque Française in Paris. A video was shot of the event by Lionel Soukaz. We took the liberty of removing the French translations and to upload it again. Antony does mention Syd Barrett and Iggy Rose, but not to spoil the fun we don't tell you where exactly.

And for those who don't know what Iggy, the Eskimo Girl is all about. Here is the only known 'free-floating' version on the web, an audience recording taken from that same lecture in Paris.

We just can't wait for that DVD to appear, but for the moment we (and you) have to be content with our image gallery that has some (old) stills of the movie. It will be (silently) updated when new pictures will appear on the Anthony Stern Film blog, so be sure to check it out once and a while.

For our other articles about Stern's magic, please check: Anthony Stern's (Moving) Pictures. Now if only that Storm Thorgerson movie would see the light of day.


Many thanks to: Lisa Newman, Anthony Stern.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop


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, 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.


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)
title="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.
title=Twink (2014) with Marco Conti, Dane Stevens, Jon Povey. Photo; Carinthia West.

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


2014-10-24

Hurricane over London

Who is Who in Rock Music
Who is Who in Rock Music, William York.

Contents

Norman Smith: John Lennon Called Me Normal
Joe Beard: Taking The Purple
Pink Floyd: Jugband Blues

Introduction

One of the Reverend's great advantages of his Pink Floyd adoration, somewhere in the mid-seventies, was the start of a music collection. Barry Miles' excellent Visual Documentary (first edition: 1980) had a separate discography with Floydian collaborations and once the Reverend had a job, in the early eighties, he also had the dough to buy Floyd - and later: Hipgnosis and Harvest - related records at the local second-hand record shops thus creating a musical spiderweb with Pink Floyd at its centre.

After the Reverend had joined an illegal local university radio station his weekly excursions to the record shop resulted in an even bigger appetite for vinyl. At Saturday afternoon he would arrive home with the catch of the day, open his Who's Who in Rock Music, look for the records he had just bought and underline all personnel (band members and session players) he found in the alphabetical listing. The book came in very handy for making the playlist for a weekly rock, blues, jazz and folk show he co-produced, trying to find connections from one record to the other. The world-wide web, dear children, didn't exist yet in those days and links weren't just one click away as they are now.

(The Reverend's heavily damaged record collection can be admired at the Record My Cat Destroyed Tumblr blog.)

Mr. Smith goes to London

This last remark is one Norman Hurricane Smith could have made (actually, does make) in his autobiography John Lennon Called Me Normal. The book was first issued as a limited edition at a 2007 Beatles Fan Fest but, as we found out this year to our amazement, it can also be found at Lulu where it is sold for a healthy 25$ a piece. If you don't know for sure who Norman Smith is you can read this excellent obituary, written by Syd Barrett biographer Gian Palacios, hosted at the Church: John Lennon called him 'Normal'....  

Norman Smith.
Norman Smith.

Invasion Force Venice

Smith was a pilot during world war II but he never saw any real war action, making the chance of being killed nearly zero. He was part of a secret missions squadron, so secret that military bureaucracy didn't give them any. When the European side of the war was over, and most soldiers were sent home, Smith and his colleagues were stationed in Venice of all places to await further secret invasion plans, but apparently they were forgotten after Japan's surrender as there were no more enemy countries to secretly invade.

While England was on ration books, Norman sunbathed on Venice beach, dining on espresso, grappa, Parma ham and stuffed mushrooms, longing for the woman he had married in May 1945. In the evening he would go to the Excelsior hotel for a Cinzano soda where he sat in with the twelve-piece jazz band. It took British headquarters two full years to locate (and dismiss) the secret squadron, probably by following the trail of limoncello and sambucca bills, and back home - in 1947! - Smith decided for a weird career change and became a refrigerator repair man.

The Beat is on

But his heart had always been with music and Norman's second lucky strike came when he managed to bluff himself in at EMI where he became an apprentice sound engineer in 1959. No two without three and Smith's third chance of a lifetime came when some Liverpudlian lads auditioned for a record deal, supervised by his boss George Martin.

And here is where Smith's autobiography, that was in fact ghost-written by Neil Jefferies who is called 'Research' throughout the book, becomes foggy. The audition, so remembers Smith, did not take place as George Martin professes, repeated in every Beatles biography since. Norman hints that something smelly was going on from the beginning and that shady deals were taking place in the dark corners of the studio, something to do with song-rights. Each individual Beatle earned only one thousand of a pound per single while others had their greasy hands in the till. He repeats this several times in the book, but he never actually directs his accusations at someone, although George Martin, coincidentally, always seems to blend in the background.

You can read between the lines that Norman Smith and George Martin weren't best pals, especially since the one didn't find it necessary to mention the other in his memoirs despite the fact that Smith had engineered and produced about a hundred Beatles songs. When George, who has acquired something of an infallible status, got hold of the news that Norman was writing his side of the story, Smith was summoned to an informal meeting in the EMI gardens that is a bit described like Galileo Galilei having to explain heliocentrism before Pope Paul V and the Roman Inquisition.

Pink: the Colour of Money

But this blog is not about the true story of The Beatles but about (early) Pink Floyd. George Martin may have done a Don Corleone on Norman Smith, but when it comes to his own financial matters the Hurricane is overtly discreet as well. So you will find only one flimsy reference in the 501 pages book that Smith once had a solid financial share in Pink Floyd (12,5% as was leaked out by Neil Jefferies in a Record Collector article). About his financial share in the Beatles catalogue (and all the other bands he recorded and produced): not a word.

Most of the time Norman Smith is pretty down to Earth. When he finds out what Roger Waters says about the third single Apples And Oranges in Toby Manning's The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd:

It was destroyed by the production. It is a fucking good song.

his reaction is likewise:

There might be no L's in Waters, but there are two in 'Bollocks'.

Smith is too much of a realist and doesn't adhere the romantic or conspiracy viewpoints many fans have of the downfall of Barrett:

Syd wasn't anybody else's fault. Syd was Syd's bloody fault.

At one point Norman Smith, Parlophone head suit after George Martin had left EMI with doors smashing, got a phone call from Bryan Morrison bragging about a new fantastic band he wanted to promote. They met at UFO:

I found myself having a pint with him in the filthiest, foulest-smelling, shittiest dive that I'd ever been to in my life so far. (…) I thought: Maybe I should just go home?

But there, deep in the bowels of the Tottenham Court Road, in the overpowering pong of Patchouli oil, dope, and incense and sour ale that would have a tramp gagging but maybe not your average music-biz exec, I suddenly found myself listening to some great sounds and also being propositioned by some starry-eyed chicks.

Of course Norman also met the Pink Floyd managers:

Andrew King and his friend Peter Jenner were not hippies and certainly not mohair-suited wide-boys out on the make. (…) They were about as middle-class as you could get. They both attended Westminster School (…) and both their fathers were clergymen! - Yes! (…) Two vicar's sons managed Pink Floyd!!!
Norman Hurricane Smith
Norman 'Hurricane' Smith.

Unfortunately that's about all there is to find in the 500 pages book and while every fan was eager to read some revealing stories about Smith's involvement with The Beatles and Pink Floyd the biography never goes further than occasional cocktail party small talk. Some anecdotes are literally repeated five time throughout the book and it would have benefited to be two-thirds shorter. To add insult to injury most anecdotes seem to be about... Elvis Presley, a man Norman Smith never met, nor recorded, but thoroughly admires.

Fish Report with a Beat

The DVD Pink Floyd: Meddle - A Classic Album Under Review is one of those rather redundant, take the money and run, documentaries where people – who have nothing to do with Pink Floyd whatsoever – claim to make an in-depth analysis of the band or one of its albums, but it has an interesting ten minutes Syd Barrett featurette with Peter Banks (Syn, Yes) and Norman Smith. (Direct link: Syd Barrett - The Early Days Of Pink Floyd.)

In the interview Norman Smith tells Syd didn't come over as the 'musical director' of the Floyd:

He spoke through his songs.

Instant Salvation

The featurette tells more about how Jugband Blues came into place (and we will not try to find out what this has got to do with Meddle). It was actually Norman Smith's idea to add 'some kind of a brass band' at the end of the song and Barrett suggested to ask the Salvation Army for that.

Through his many contacts Norman managed to hire several International Staff Band musicians, 12 to 14, he recalls, but it was probably closer to 8. Random Precision author David Parker assumes these musicians were 'moonlighting' as the International Staff Band itself has no trace of this session in its archives, besides that the complete troupe had over 30 members.

Syd Barrett showed up in the studio an hour too late, that 19th of October 1967, and Norman asked him what he had in mind. As legend goes Barrett didn't have any ideas and suggested that they could play anything they liked. Then he left the studio. Smith adds somewhat wryly:

He not only left the studio, he left the building.

We can imagine this was not the kind of behaviour Norman Smith liked, for several reasons.

First he was perhaps too much of a musician and so he did fully understand that classical trained performers need a score in front of their noses before they blow their horns. Pink Floyd would have about the same problem, a couple of years later, with Atom Heart Mother, when the orchestra refused to play the score the way Ron Geesin had written it. The composer had to be removed from the studio seconds before he wanted to punch one of the musicians in the face.

Second, Norman Smith also had a financial responsibility towards EMI, and the bookkeepers wouldn't have liked the idea to pay an eight man brass band to sit on their chairs for tea and biscuits.

So he played the tape in front of the session players and when they couldn't come up with an improvisation, these guys were not rock musicians who can fabricate a lick in seconds, Norman wrote a score he was rather embarrassed with, but it ended up on the record anyway.

You have those hardcore Sydiots, with the emphasis on the last part, who find the idea to have a brass band play anything they like one of those genial flashes half-god Barrett had. Hagiographer Rob Chapman is one of them:

Once again Syd’s wilfully anarchic approach was in direct conflict with the regimented working methods of an unsympathetic producer.

Actually Smith's testimonial shows it was exactly the contrary. Syd was the one who acted unprofessional by first arriving too late and then by leaving the studio when he was asked to direct the session. Smith was obliged, back against the wall, to deal with the problem, which he did splendidly in the short time that was left to him. One thing is for sure, Normal really earned his 12,5% on this one...

The Purple Gang in satanic outfit
The 'satanic' Purple Gang.

Gangsters

It is generally believed that Jugband Blues is one of the songs Barrett wrote in the second half of 1967, together with Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream. This trilogy is regarded by some as being highly introspective songs where Syd, in an exceptional state of clarity, describes his own vulnerable and frail psyche.

However, in a recent autobiography from Chris Joe Beard, Taking The Purple, a remarkable (and until now untold) story has been put forward.

Chris Joe Beard is lyricist / songwriter from the band The Purple Gang who had an underground novelty hit in 1967. They started as a traditional jug band and changed their name from The Young Contemporaries to The Purple Gang, forced by their manager, a roaring 1920’s aficionado, who thought a clean-cut Chicago gangster style would be cool. Looking for a scene to make some promo pictures they stumbled upon a shop in Kings Road, where they accidentally met Paul McCartney.

The shop's name Granny Takes A Trip inspired Joe Beard to write an innocent and funny song about a rich old lady wanting to meet movie-star Rudy Vallée in Hollywood, adding it to a catchy melody that had been composed by piano player Geoff Bowyer. The song was a cross-over between traditional jug and pop and as such producer Joe Boyd preferred it to their more traditional repertoire à la Bootleg Whiskey (that has John 'Hoppy' Hopkins on piano, by the way).

Boon Blues

Incidentally The Purple Gang wasn't the only band Joe Boyd was producing that week in January 1967. On Sunday, the 29th, a band called Pink Floyd, then still without a contract, had recorded Arnold Layne at Sound Techniques studios. Syd Barrett had listened to Granny Takes A Trip and had humorously remarked it would become #2 after the Floyd's soon to be number one. But Joe Boyd had other important news as well:

There’s a tape of some of his [Syd Barrett, note from FA] songs and we think a good, quick follow-up to Granny is on there. Syd thinks Boon Tune is the one for you. There are several. There’s one called Jugband Blues but he’s still working on that.

Unfortunately Nathan Joseph from Transatlantic Records objected, saying that they didn't want to pay out any royalties to someone from outside the band. Boon Tune was shelved, although it would surface as Here I Go on a Barrett solo album. Joe Beard took the reel-to-reel demo home where it was promptly forgotten and it has never been found back since.

While the UFO crowd accepted The Purple Gang in their midst, the BBC did otherwise, and for exactly the same reasons.

Granny's Satanic Trip

The title of The Purple Gang's first single Granny Takes A Trip was tongue in cheek and ambiguous enough to please the psychedelic crowd. By then the band did not like the gangster outfits they had to wear from their manager and opted for a more alternative look. Singer Pete Walker, nicknamed Lucifer, was a member of a coven, an actual warlock, and used to wear a red robe with a big upside down cross while gigging. During the Wizard song he would do the odd pagan routine on stage, much appreciated by the psychedelic crowd (see also: Arthur Brown). However, for the BBC, the word 'trip' in the lyrics and the satanic outing of the singer was enough reason to ban the song. The BBC boycott dwindled the chances for The Purple Gang to get into the charts, to get their (only) record sold, to find gigs and they eventually disbanded. If this proves one thing, dear sistren and brethren, it is that selling your soul to the devil will not automatically guarantee you chart successes.

The first half of the biography, from the start to the psychedelic years of the band, is interesting, funny, packed with anecdotes and deserves a 5 star rating. The fact that the BBC banned Joe Beard's only chance to have a million-seller has left its marks though and unfortunately the author feels the need to repeat that every few pages. The later years, with Chris Beard as a solo-artist and struggling to get The Purple Gang back on the road are a bit tedious. But the Kindle edition is only 5$, cheaper than the latest Pink Floyd interview in Q, Mojo or Uncut, so it is money well spent. For the first half, the book is a real treat to read.

Two Of A Kind

Eventually, in 2006, Joe Beard and a reincarnated Purple Gang covered Boon Tune in a jug band way.

At a book signing / reading in 2007, Joe Boyd talked about the lost demo tape Syd Barrett gave him in early 1967... He said Syd described the tape's contents as 'songs the band didn't want to do' (Source: timeline of songs). According to Julian Palacios that tape had 6 tracks and Boyd and Jenner even discussed the possibility of Syd Barrett doing a solo record, next to the Pink Floyd's first, with skiffle or music-hall style songs. (By the way, did you know we have a Peter Jenner interview on this blog? An innerview with Peter Jenner)

It is not sure if there have been one or two Barrett demo tapes floating around as both men claim they took a tape home and lost it. Joe Boyd received his from Syd Barrett and remembers it had six whimsical tunes. Joe Beard, who got his from Boyd, only remembers two songs: Boon Tune and Jugband Blues.

Jugband Blues turned up, heavily re-arranged, on [A] Saucerful of Secrets – still with the kazoos.

Jugband Blues was recorded by Pink Floyd in October 1967 and as also Vegetable Man was made during the same session it has always been assumed these songs are somewhat related. In Nick Kent's 1974 article The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett Peter Jenner is quoted:

Y'see, even at that point, Syd actually knew what was happening to him. (...) I mean 'Jug Band Blues' is the ultimate self-diagnosis on a state of schizophrenia. (Source: The Cracked Ballad of Syd Barrett)

But if the song had already been written earlier than January that year, this comment doesn't make much sense, does it? What if Jugband Blues is just one of those songs where Barrett copies and juxtaposes 'sampled' messages from other sources, like he did in Octopus (See also: Mad Cat Love).

Jug Band Blues (1924)
Jug Band Blues, Sara Martin (1924).

Still got the Blues for You

Sara Martin began her career in 1915 as a vaudeville singer and in the twenties she became one of the popular female blues singers, next to Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. In September 1924 she recorded some tracks with jug player Earl McDonald and fiddler Clifford Hayes and one of those was called Jug Band Blues.

At first sight that song has nothing in common with Barrett's version. Sara Martin's song is a variation on the popular blues theme of the person who wakes up in the morning and sees that her daddy (lover) is gone. In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy' in African American slang was still a pimp, but later on the term was generalised to a male lover.

Did you ever wake up, find your daddy gone?
Turn over on your side, sing this lonesome song
I woke up this morning between midnight and day
You oughta see me grab the pillow where my daddy used to lay
(Source: Jug Band Blues Sept. 16, 1924.)

One riddle is how Barrett came up with the title 'Jugband Blues'. The chance is small he could find it (mentioned) on a compilation album like he did with Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. (The origins of the Pink Floyd name is extensively discussed at Step It Up And Go.) Sara Martin's Jug Band Blues was only issued as a B-side on two different 78-RPM records from 1924, perhaps in two different versions: Don't You Quit Me Daddy (Okeh 8166) and Blue Devil Blues (Okeh 8188, not to be confounded with the Walter Page track from a few years later). Her 'complete recorded works' (1996, Document) do not include the 'Jug Band' track and probably there weren't any compilations around in the sixties including that track.

Jug Band Blues can (now) be found on a 1994 Clifford Hayes compilation. He had several bands in the twenties, with Earl McDonald on jug, and issued several songs under different names for copyright reasons. Earl McDonalds also had several bands in the twenties, with Clifford Hayes on fiddle, which doesn't make it simpler to find any accurate information. The jug band / skiffle revival resulted in at least three compilations, between 1962 and 1967, but none of these have Sara Martin's Jug Band Blues. We checked.

Skiffle had been very popular in the UK and was not unknown by the Pink Floyd members. Rick Wright had a brief flirtation with skiffle, before converting himself to to trad jazz and Syd Barrett's brother Alan played sax in a skiffle group in Cambridge.

Cambridge had its own deal of skiffle bands, or groups that had started as skiffle units but moved to R&B or rock'n roll later on. The Scramblers, who turned into The Phantoms, The (Swinging) Hi-Fi's, The Black Diamonds, who evolved into The Redcaps, with Tony Sainty on bass (see: RIP Clive Welham: a biscuit tin with knives). Tony Sainty was also in The Chequers, as was Ricky Wills who would later appear on David Gilmour's first solo album. Willie Wilson, who played with Quiver and on the first Gilmour album as well, had been a (replacement) drummer for The Zodiacs, whose roots had also been in skiffle. You can read all about them in the excellent, awarded (and free) I Spy In Cambridge book The music scene of 1960s Cambridge.

Blue Devil Blues by Sara Martin and her Jug Band (with its flip side: Jug Band Blues) has been nominated to be the very first recorded jug band number in human history and that fact may well have been known in Cambridge jug band and skiffle circles. Syd Barrett may have been well aware of this as well.

A Dream within a Dream

Deconstructing Syd's Jugband Blues.

1

It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
and I'm most obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here
Through the looking glass
Detail from 'An Introduction to Syd Barrett'. Picture: Storm Thorgerson. Slightly amended by: Felix Atagong.

Rob Chapman is right when he describes the opening lines from Jugband Blues as 'cultivated sarcasm' and refuses to see this as a declaration of schizophrenia like Peter Jenner does or did. David Gilmour, and others with him, see Jugband Blues as a transitional song, between his earlier work with Pink Floyd and his later solo songs, that are more mature and experimental in their lyrics.

Actually this opening is just an (awkward) introduction like in so many skiffle songs, including Here I Go.

This is a story about a girl that I knew
She didn't like my songs and that made me feel blue.

Of course Here I Go is pretty conservative and lends its intro from trademark skiffle à la Lonnie Donegan:

Well, this here's the story about the Battle of New Orleans.
(Battle of New Orleans)
Now here's a little story. To tell it is a must.
(My Old Man's A Dustman)
Now, this here's the story about the Rock Island line.
(Rock Island Line)

Syd Barrett transforms the traditional skiffle opening line into a dark and mysterious setting.

2

After the introduction the anecdote is usually explained or elaborated on, although the enigma in Jugband Blues only gets bigger.

and I never knew the moon could be so big
and I never knew the moon could be so blue

A big moon, or super-moon (a popular term dating from 1979), happens when the full moon and the earth are at its closest distance, sometimes resulting in a so-called perigean spring tide. We had one at the 9th of September 2014 and they happen about every 412 days. So it is an event that only happens once in a while.

An astronomical blue moon, or the second full moon in the same month, happens about once every two or three years. Blue Moon is also a standard, from 1934, that has been performed by countless bands and singers, and that has a romantic connotation.

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

The title of that song (and Syd's lyric) is taken from the saying 'once in a blue moon', meaning a rather rare occasion and Wikipedia learns us that the term 'blues' may have come from 'blue devils', meaning melancholy and sadness.

3

and I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes
and brought me here instead dressed in red
Louder Than Words
Louder Than Words. Artwork: Hipgnosis (2014).

Just like the 'head / down / ground' symbolism is used several times in Syd songs (see: Tattoo You) so does 'shoes / blues'. Apples and Oranges has a dedicated follower of fashion who alliteratively goes

shopping in sharp shoes

, while Vegetable Man walks the street

in yellow shoes I get the blues.

Earlier in his songwriting career, Barrett was much influenced by an American folkie:

got the Bob Dylan blues,
and the Bob Dylan shoes.

Of course shoes and blues has always been something of a nice pair as was already proved by Robert Johnson in Walking Blues (1936):

Woke up this morning I looked 'round for my shoes
You know I had those mean old walking blues

Incidentally the Pink Floyd latest (and last?) song Louder Than Words, with its (horrible) lyrics written by Polly Samson, reflects the same:

an old pair of shoes
your favorite blues
gonna tap out the rhythm

In the ballad 'Blue Moon' (see point 2) the protagonist who was lost / alone has been helped / cared for by someone. In Jugband Blues we seem to have the same situation. At this part of the song a second actor is introduced who tries to assist the first one.

4

and I'm wondering who could be writing this song

Barrett almost describes an out-of-body experience in the first part of the song. Pete Townshend claimed he had one once using STP, a drug that also Barrett was familiar with. This is another variation on a theme of absence as the narrator is present and absent at the same time. Make your name like a ghost, suddenly seems more autobiographical than ever.

5

I don't care if the sun don't shine
and I don't care if nothing is mine
and I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the winter
Patti Page single
I don't care if the sun don't shine, Patti Page (1950).

This apparently happy refrain is a pastiche on Patti Page's 1950 hit I don't care if the sun don't shine, directly paraphrasing two of its lines. Elvis Presley and Dean Martin also covered this song (and all three of them also did Blue Moon, by the way):

So I don't care if the sun don't shine
I'll get my lovin' in the evening time
When I'm with my baby

Syd's 'I'll do my loving in the winter' makes the refrain fairly darker than in the original though. It is as if Barrett is indefinitely postponing the happiness that could be waiting for him.

6

During the refrain some kazoos make the point that this is a jug band song after all, and then a psychedelic Salvation Army band (perhaps Syd did see the contradiction before everybody else) jumps in. Then it is the time for one of the weirdest codas ever:

And the sea isn't green
and I love the queen

At first sight this is just a nonsense verse. There was a song called The Sea Is Green, written by The Easy Riders, an American calypso and folk-song trio and used in the 1958 Windjammer travelogue documentary, but this is a long shot. In the song a sailor expresses his hope to find his family back when he returns home. By implying that the sea isn't green, Barrett loses all hope to see his loved ones back.

6.1 A possible Beatles connection (Update: 1st of November 2014)

At the Late Night forum, Wolfpack came with another explanation, that seems far more plausible than ours, he remembered that The Beatles' Yellow Submarine has 'a sea of green' in its lyrics. Actually the term is used twice in that song. It comes up at the first strophe where the story is told about a man who travels in a yellow submarine:

So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found a sea of green

The term shows up again in the third strophe where it is told that the sailors live a life of ease:

Sky of blue and sea of green.
Revolver-Piper mash-up?
Revolver - Piper cover mash-up. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

The song is not originally from the 1968 animated movie, but from the 1966 Revolver album, where it was the obligatory Ringo Starr track. Paul McCartney wrote it with Ringo in mind, hence the simplicity of the melody and the nonsensical subject. McCartney had a little help from his friends John Lennon and Donovan, who actually came up with the green sea lines.

Barrett, in a much darker mood than McCartney, who had a children's song in mind, declares there is no such thing as a sea of green. The sailors' unburdened life has been based on a dream.

There is a second similarity between Yellow Submarine and Jugband Blues. Although Norman Smith was not involved in the recording it has a (short) interruption by a brass band, just after the line 'and the band begins to play'. Engineer Geoff Emerick, who is on backing vocals with George Martin, Neil Aspinall, Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull, Brian Jones and Brian Epstein, used a 1906 record of a military march, altering it a bit to avoid copyrights. Several sound effects were used for the song, including the cash register sound that would later be used by Pink Floyd on Money. There is another Floydian connection, although bit stretched, Echoes (1970) has the Roger Waters line 'and everything is green and submarine', but that last is used as an adjective, not as a noun.

Unfortunately we will never know if Norman Smith thought of Yellow Submarine when he proposed Syd Barrett to add a brass band in between the strophes.

7

and what exactly is a dream
and what exactly is a joke
Dreamcatcher, courtesy LoveThisPic
Dreamcatcher, courtesy LoveThisPic.

The 'Carrollesque quality of the closing couplet', to quote Rob Chapman again, is omnipresent. In Lewis Carroll's 'Through The Looking Glass', on a cold winter evening, Alice climbs through a mirror where chess pieces are alive. Alice meets the White and Red Queen and the 'joke' subject is briefly spoken about:

Even a joke should have some meaning—and a child's more important than a joke, I hope.

Dreams are discussed more often in the book, even the surreal possibility that Alice is nothing but a 'thing' in the Red King's - so somebody else's - dream:

If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out — bang! — just like a candle!' (…)
When you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.

At the end, with Alice back in her house, she still isn't sure what really happened and in whose dream she had landed.

Let's consider who it was that dreamed it all. (…)
You see, (…), it MUST have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course — but then I was part of his dream, too!

As we now know that Jugband Blues might have been written before Barrett had his apparent breakdown, all speculation about this being an intense self-description could be wrong, unless of course Syd altered the lyrics between January and October 1967.

We'll never know for sure.

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

THE END


Many thanks to: Baby Lemonade, Syd Wonder, Wolfpack and all participants from the Jugband Blues thread (started in 2008) at the Late Night Forum.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

The Purple Gang

Joe Beard, The Forgotten Flower Power Band From The London Underground, A Fleeting Glimpse.
The Purple Gang, The Purple Gang Strikes (1968), YouTube, including Bootleg Whisky, The Wizard & Granny Takes A Trip.
The Purple Gang, Boon Tune (2006), MySpace.

Jugband Blues

Sara Martin's Jug Band, Jug Band Blues (1924), YouTube.

I don't care if the sun don't shine

Patti Page (1950)
Elvis Presley (1954)
Dean Martin (1953)

Windjammer

The Sea is Green (1958) - movie version, YouTube
The Sea is Green (1958) - soundtrack version, Spotify

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Beard, Chris Joe: Taking The Purple. The extraordinary story of The Purple Gang – Granny Takes a Trip . . . and all that!, Granville Sellars (Kindle edition), 2014, location 858, 1372, 1392.
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013 reissue, p. 18.
Carroll, Lewis: Through the Looking Glass, Project Gutenberg.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 191.
Dosanjh, Warren: The music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013, p. 32, 40, 44, 50.
Jefferies, Neil, Dartford's Finest Band, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p. 54-55.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 21.
Manning, Toby: The Rough Guide To Pink Floyd, Rough Guides, London, 2006, p. 34.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 25, 298, 314.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 99.
Smith, Norman 'Hurricane', John Lennon Called Me Normal, Lulu (self-published), 2008, p. 218, 373, 397. Unnumbered section: #8.


2015-02-22

Uschi Obermaier: Proletarian Chic

Uschi Obermaier? Not!
Not Uschi Obermaier.

Do a combined Syd Barrett Uschi Obermaier search on Google and you get approximate 4600 results tying both celebrities together, the first results being 'who's dating who' (now called Famousfix) related finds. On the fifth place, although this result will change from computer to computer is an entry from the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, but not the regular one.

Iggy's church can be found on various places on the interweb, most of the time just to gather some dust. One branch office though, is alive and kicking, and operates more or less independently from its headquarters. It is on the microblogging Tumblr platform, is aptly called The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit and can be found at the following address: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com.

The first image that is presented, also on the Famousfix platform, is the one of Syd Barrett on a Formentera beach, standing behind a woman who hides her nudity behind a red veil. That picture is actually copyrighted and belongs to John Davies who took the picture when he went to the island in summer 1969.

Update 2015 02 25: John Davies contacted us to get some facts right.

The photo of the naked girl behind the red scarf was taken by Imo (Ian Moore) and not by me although I used it in an article I wrote about Cambridge, and credited Imo. Secondly, I went to Formentera first in 1963, with some friends from Cambridge, including Richard Eyre. We raved about the island so much that other friends started going there in the mid-sixties, including dear Syd. I still spend a lot of time there and one or two of those Cambridge "hipsters" still live there.

The article from John Davies can be found at A Fleeting Glimpse: The John Davies Collection. In another Church post (from 2012, time flies!) we have highlighted the yearly trek from the Cambridge hipsters to the island of Formentera: Formentera Lady.

John Davies

John Davies was one of those Cambridge hipsters who, between 1963 and 1965:

...made the transformation from schoolboys to aspiring beatniks’, swapping school uniforms for black polo necks and leather jackets, listening to Miles Davis, riding Vespas and smoking dope purchased from American GIs on the neighbouring airforce bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall.

He was, with Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, one of the people who mastered the Gaggia espresso machine in the coffee-house El Patio and who (probably) had his hand in the till when the boss wasn't around, as noted down by Nick Sedgwick in his roman à clef Light Blue with Bulges:

Lunch times, just keep the till open, ring up only half of the orders, keep a check on the rest, then pocket the difference.

Nick Sedgwick

Nick Sedgwick, who sadly passed away in 2011, wrote a Pink Floyd 'on tour' biography in the mid-seventies, but this was never published because none of the characters came out very well, with the exception of Roger Waters, who had commissioned the book. In August 2011 Waters promised to respect his friend's dying wish and release the manuscript as 'a simple PDF, a hardback version, and a super de-luxe illustrated limited edition' (see: Immersion). Transferring a typoscript to PDF literally takes a few minutes, but nothing has moved three and a half years later and the Church fears that this is just another case of the ongoing Waters vs Gilmour feud still lurking behind their smiling faces and fat wallets.

The Church has dedicated some space to the above picture before on the post Formentera Lady throwing the hypothesis around that the woman was one of Syd Barrett's girlfriends nicknamed Sarah Sky. This explanation was given to the Church by a Barrett fan who quoted her grandmother, but communication was interrupted before we could get more into details.

According to Emo (Iain Moore) however, the girl was an American tourist who was visiting Formentera for a day and had arrived at the house they all rented, close to a nude beach.

Famous Groupies

In December 2013 The Groupie Blog claimed the woman on the picture is German photo-model Uschi Obermaier. This was followed by another post in January 2014 where the author pretends Syd Barrett used to hit Obermaier when he had hysteria attacks.

Obviously the Church wanted to get further into this as none of the biographies mention any kind of romantic (nor aggressive) involvement between the two of them. As the (anonymous) author of the groupies blog was not contactable Uschi's autobiography High Times / Mein Wildes Leben was bought and searched for any Syd Barrett entries.

Mein Wildes Leben - Uschi Obermaier
Mein Wildes Leben, Uschi Obermaier.

Wild Thing

First things first: Obermaier's autobiography is a fine read, a three to three and a half star rating out of five.

Born in 1946 Uschi escapes the German conservative square society in the mid-sixties by clubbing at the Big Apple and PN in Munich where she is rapidly adopted by the in-crowd because of:
a) her good looks,
b) her dancing abilities and
c) her free spirit attitude.

She meets with Reinhard 'Dicky' Tarrach from The Rattles, who will have an international hit with The Witch, and soon promotes to international bands like The Kinks, whose Dave Davies is such an arrogant male chauvinist pig he deserves a separate entry. She is discovered by a photographer and a career as photo-model is launched.

Around 1967 Neil Landon from the hastily assembled The Flower Pot Men has a more than casual interest and he invites her to swinging London but she leaves as soon as she finds out about his jealous streaks. Back in Germany she doesn't fit in everyday society any more. She joins the alternative Amon Düül commune, following drummer Peter Leopold, and she makes it on a few of their jam-session albums as a maracas player.

Commune Love
Rainer Langhans & Uschi Obermaier, November 1969.

Through Amon Düül she falls in love with Rainer Langhans from Kommune 1 (K1). The Berlin communards live by a strict Marxism-Leninism doctrine where everything belongs to the group and everyday family life is forbidden. Individualism is totally annihilated at a point that even the toilet has its doors removed and telephone conversations need to be done with the speaker on. Good-looking Rainer and cover-girl Uschi become a media-hyped alternative couple, the German John and Yoko avant la lettre. She is by then Germany's most wanted, and some say: best paid, photo-model and as such not accepted by the community hardliners. Drinking cola or smoking menthol cigarettes is considered counter-revolutionary.

In January 1969 Uschi hears that Jimi Hendrix is in town and they meet for some quality time (short clip on YouTube). He visits the commune which gives it another popularity boost. Despite its utopian rules the communards have their intrigues, jealousies and hidden agendas, it becomes a heroin den and when one of the more extremist inhabitants hides a bomb in the house the place is raided by the police. Later that year the commune disbands. (It was also found out that the bomb was planted by an infiltrator, spying for the police.)

The couple moves for a while into the Munich Frauenkommune (women's commune), where their bourgeois manners and star allures aren't appreciated either, but you won't read that in Obermaier's memories. Movie director Katrin Seybold:

Do you remember when Uschi Meier and Rainer Langhans stayed with us? They really moved in at our place, like residents. And while the person who happened to have money normally bought twenty yoghurts for all of us, they bought the double for themselves and hid it in their room. They were a narrow-minded philistine couple within our community. They were not a bit generous. (Katrin Seybold and Mona Winter in Frauenkommune: Angstlust der Männer. Translation by FA.)

Leaving the all-women group in 1970 the couple starts the High-Fish (a pun on German Haifisch, or shark) commune, this time not a communist but a hedonistic group where sex, drugs and rock'n roll are combined into art happenings and/or sold as porn movies. The mansion may well have been the German equivalent of London's 101 Cromwell Road, which was some kind of LSD temple and the place where Syd Barrett used to live with some 'heavy, loony, messianic acid freaks', to quote Pete Jenner. (See also: An innerview with Peter Jenner )

Picture taken at the day of the Munich Incident.
Rainer Langhans & Uschi Obermaier on the Munich Incident day.

The Munich Incident

In March 1970 the High-Fish commune was the centre of a rock'n roll tragedy if we may believe some accounts. In vintage Fleetwood Mac circles the event is better known as the Munich Incident. Ultimate Classic Rock:

“It was a hippie commune sort of thing,” said Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer. “We arrived there, and [road manager] Dennis Keane comes up to me shaking and says, “It’s so weird, don’t go down there. Pete [Green] is weirding out big time and the vibes are just horrible.” Green was already set to leave the band, but this was, as [Mick] Fleetwood put it, “the final nail in the coffin.” Friends say Green was never the same after the Munich incident. (Taken from: 38 Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Founder Peter Green Arrested for Pulling Shotgun on His Accountant.)

Jeremy Spencer, at Fleetwood Mac community The Ledge, continues:

It's true that we, or more accurately, Pete [Green] was met at Munich airport by a very beautiful girl [Uschi Obermaier] and a strange guy in a black cape [Rainer Langhans]. Their focus was definitely Pete for some reason. The rest of us didn't get it, but we discussed the weird vibes. We were invited to their mansion in the Munich forest that night. Pete was already jamming down in the basement (…) when I arrived with Mick [Fleetwood]. Dennis Keane [road manager] met us in the driveway, ashen faced and freaking out over the bad vibes and how weird Pete was going. I don't think Dennis was stoned, he just wanted to get out. (…) Anyway the house (more like a mansion) was a rich hippy crash pad. And it was spooky. There was some weird stuff going on in the different rooms. (Taken from: The Munich accident.)

Road manager Dennis Keane maintains they were spiked:

When we went inside there was a party of about 20 people sat around, we were offered a glass of wine, and the next thing I knew all hell broke loose in my head - we'd been drugged. Nobody had offered us any tablets; they just went and spiked us. (Taken from: Celmins, Martin: Peter Green: The Authorised Biography, Sanctuary, 2003)
Miss Kommune
Uschi Obermaier, "Miss Kommune".

Over the years the Munich Incident may have been exaggerated and Rainer Langhans, in his (free) autobiography, tries to bring the incident back to its true proportions:

After the performance of Fleetwood Mac in Munich, at the Deutsche Museum, the band went to the hotel. Peter Green came along with us, with the High-Fish people. (...) I quickly befriended him but he did not talk much. We were both, in a way, soul mates. A soft, vulnerable and loving man. Uschi had no special connection with him. She did not find him physically attractive. He was too hairy, she said, and also the music of Fleetwood Mac was too soft and not 'rocky' enough, while I found it very beautiful. We spent the night together with him, tripping, jamming and floating through the rooms on LSD. (...)
  
We met him twice in London in the next couple of weeks. It was him who brought us in contact with the Stones and Uschi was able to fulfill her dream of finally starting an affair with Jagger. With Fleetwood Mac everything seemed to be fine, but then Peter Green suddenly dropped out of the band. We heard he was so disgusted with the music business that he no longer wanted to be there. Much later the band put the responsibility on the night he was with us in Munich and claimed his trip with us had completely changed him. (Translated from German to English by FA.)

Peter Green's decline and retreat from the music industry is often compared to Syd Barrett's 1967 breakdown and although his descend into madness can't be linked to one single event, just as in the Barrett case, the gargantuan trip at the High-Fish community may have pushed him closer to the edge.

Conveniently Uschi Obermaier's excellent memory suddenly fails her when it comes to the Munich Incident. There is not a single word about it in her autobiography, but the Frauenkommune testimony from above already shows she can be rather discrete if she wants to.

Uschi Obermaier on the road.
Uschi Obermaier & Dieter Bockhorn.

Reeperbahn Prince

With their days of Marxist collectivism gone, she and Langhans are thinking of organising a German Woodstock festival. Peter Green does what is asked of him and a few days later the couple is standing in a London studio where Mick Jagger is working on Sticky Fingers. It is satisfaction at first sight and a treat for the paparazzi.

But German Woodstock never happens, the relation with Rainer Langhans comes to an end and Uschi, now an international photo-model, jumps back into the Munich nightlife, replacing the diet of Champagne and Quaaludes with the trendier heroin. In Hamburg she meets Dieter Bockhorn, who is officially an eccentric Reeperbahn strip-club owner and they start a turbulent relationship. When the Rolling Stones are in Germany for some recordings she gradually replaces Mick Jagger for Keith Richards, following them on a European tour and joining them in the USA. Bockhorn is not amused.

From then on she will have a bizarre love triangle: everyday life with Dieter and meeting Keith whenever his touring schedule allows him. She will always have a soft spot for Richards: “The most honourable bad boy I knew – and I knew some.”

In the mid-seventies Obermaier and Bockhorn, who has made the move to heroin as well, follow the hippie trail to Asia in a converted bus. It will be a trip through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India that takes 622 days, 55141 kilometres with many weird, unbelievable adventures and a few narrow escapes. German press, as always, is interested in the adventures of Germany's baddest Kultpaar (cult couple) and they are regularly interviewed and photographed 'on the road'.

Back in Hamburg Uschi obviously returns to modelling but the couple fails to adapt to the western world and their relationship suffers gravely. She remarks that the hippie days are over and that punks have taken over the street. Bockhorn's business has suffered from the 20 months they were abroad and he struggles with monetary, legal and not quite so legal problems. They make plans to leave for America as soon as they can afford to leave.

In November 1980 they arrive in the USA where they will do a Kerouac, heroine free after an obliged detox boat journey. In summer they roam the continent and for three consecutive winters they stay in an alternative hippies and bikers camp in Baja California (Mexico). It is in Cabo San Lucas that Keith Richards arrives one day, carrying a guitar under the arm and giving a one man campfire gig on the beach, much to the amazement of the stoned onlookers. In the third year money has run out and the dharma bum life, with loads of alcohol, 'grass' and promiscuity, weighs heavily on both of them. On the last day of 1983 a drunk Dieter Bockhorn crashes his motorcycle on a truck ending his wild life.

Das Wilde Leben (movie)
Das Wilde Leben (movie). Natalia Avelon as Uschi.

Biography

For a while a depressed Uschi Obermaier feels that she has achieved nothing in her life and that she only got there through her pretty face. One of her pastimes is scrimshaw and she starts designing jewellery that she sells through the exclusive Maxfield store in Los Angeles, where Madonna and Jack Nicholson buy their trinkets. While she is certainly not an airhead and may have talent as an artist it can't be denied that her career is a case of, what the Germans amusingly describe as, Hurenglück.

On top of that the Krauts simply can't have enough of her. The story of her life as a groupie, a junkie, a starlet, her relations with a communist rebel, some Rolling Stones and a Reeperbahn crook who thought he was the Hamburg equivalent of Ronnie Kray make her autobiography Mein Wildes Leben (literally: my wild life) a page-turning bestseller.

It is followed by a biopic Das Wilde Leben, a home-country hit, but not abroad where it is baptised Eight Miles High. Reviews vary, but in our opinion it is a pretty average movie, with uneven and often caricatural scenes (check the Mick vs Keith scene for a ROTFL) and frankly Natalia Avelon's gorgeous cleavage has more depth than the script.

Uschi Obermaier.
Uschi Obermaier in a see-through dress, for comparison purposes only.

Back To Barrett

But to finally get back to the initial subject of this post, because in fine Church tradition we seem to have gone astray for a while.

Did Uschi Obermaier have a love-interest in Syd Barrett?
Did they meet at Formentera?
Did he hit her when he had hysteria attacks?

No.
No.
No.

We're afraid the answer is a triple no.

Doesn't Mein Wildes Lebens mention Syd Barrett at all?

Yes, his name is dropped once. He is mentioned in a comparison between Swinging London and 'its psychedelic music scene from early Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett' and the grey, conservative atmosphere in Germany where girls in miniskirts were insulted on the street.

Could Uschi have met Syd Barrett in Germany?

No. Vintage Pink Floyd, with Barrett in the band, never played Germany. A gig for the TV show Music For Young People in Hamburg, on the first and second of August 1967 was cancelled.

How about Syd hitting her?

The Barrett - Obermaier hysteria attack rumour is probably a mix-up from Syd's alleged violence towards his girlfriends and the tumultuous relationship between Obermaier and Bockhorn, who once pointed a gun at her and pulled the trigger (luckily the weapon jammed).

So how about Uschi Obermaier hiding her precious body behind a red veil on Formentera in the summer of 1969?

She writes that she visited Ibiza (the island next to Formentera) on the day Mick Jagger married Bianca, so that places the event in May 1971, nearly two years after Syd's Formentera picture. When Barrett was strolling on the beach Uschi was either at K1 in Berlin or at the Frauenkommune in Munich.

Well, I'm still not convinced until Uschi Obermaier herself tells us it never happened.

Why didn't you ask before, because we did. We managed to pass Uschi Obermaier the question through a mutual contact and we even got an answer back. Uschi Obermaier on the first of February 2015:

They are right, this is NOT me, they researched right. I was at this time either in Berlin or back in Munich.

Case closed then. Unless Sarah Sky wants to come forward, obviously.


Many thanks to: Bianca Corrodi, John Davies, Little Queenies, Nina, Uschi Obermaier, Jenny Spires.
This is, more or less, an update of a previous article that can be found here: Formentera Lady.

Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 28, 83.
Langhans, Rainer: Ich Bin's, pdf version, 2008, p 39.
Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe, Plexus, London, 2010, p. 38.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 67.
Sedgwick, Nick: Light Blue With Bulges, Fourth estate, London, 1989, p. 37.

Videos:
Coffee Bar - YouTube - 8:19, a 1959 Look At Life documentary about the British 'coffee bar boom' in London.
The Munich LSD Party Incident - YouTube - 7:41 (interviews with Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer, John McVie, Dennis Keane, Peter Green, Clifford Davis).
Von wegen Liebe: Das schoenste Paar der APO - YouTube - 43:50, German documentary from Christa Ritter about Rainer Langhans, Uschi Obermaier and Kommune 1.
Jimi Hendrix with Uschi Obermaier in Berlin, January 1969 - YouTube - 0:35.


2015-03-27

Step It Up And Go

Church Shrine
Church Shrine.

The following is a 'longread' about the blues musicians who gave Pink Floyd its name.

TL;DR:
Syd Barrett did not have Pink Anderson and/or Floyd Council records, as they were extremely rare.
Those two blues musicians were named on the liner notes of a popular Blind Boy Fuller compilation though.
It wasn't Syd who distilled the name 'Pink Floyd' from that record, but Stephen Pyle, one of his friends.

Personnel: Trotting Sally | Simmie Dooley | Pink Anderson | Samuel Charters | Floyd Council | Bryan Sinclair | Blind Boy Fuller | Warren Dosanjh | Stephen Pyle
Review: Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller

Introduction

Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fans have a pretty rough idea how the band acquired its name, although the exact story is probably less known and only interests Roger Keith Barrett anoraks anyway. In their enthusiasm, some fans even share pictures of the Pink Floyd name-givers on the dozens of, mostly obsolete and highly repetitive, Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Facebook fan groups, in their continuous race to be bigger than the others.

Here they are: Georgia blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, whose records were in the proud possession of a certain Cambridge boy.

Not Floyd Council
Not Floyd Council, but Blind Boy Fuller.

Only, the person at the right is not Floyd Council, but Blind Boy Fuller (and they are not from Georgia either). We'll explain later how Blind Boy Fuller gets into the picture.

Knowing how a blues singer from the beginning of the past century looked like is one thing, knowing how he sounded often seems even more of a gargantuan task. And even the world's best music magazine wasn't so sure either.

Different tunes

The above YouTube movie allegedly has the Pink Anderson song C.C. and O Blues, followed by the Floyd Council track If You Don't Give Me What I Want. Only what you hear is not always what you get.

C.C. and O Blues

The vocals on C.C. And O Blues are from Simmie Dooley, not Pink Anderson. Dooley was a country blues street singer who lived in Spartanburg, South Carolina and who is mostly remembered as Anderson's musical mentor.

In the beginning of the past century Spartanburg's black district was named the politically incorrect Niggertown, by Negroes and whites alike. The black district was a spirited place, in all possible interpretations of the word, and not always safe to roam. Ira Tucker, lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds, remembers:

Anywhere you would go could be risky. Those guys in Spartanburg, they didn't take any tea for the fever. They would fight to the end!

As a black person, living in Spartanburg, one had to face thousands of indignities. The racist police was generally showing disrespect:

Nigger, you have to say 'mister' to me.

The black population of Spartanburg reacted, unsurprisingly, as expected.

The white cops, when they would get ready to arrest a black man, it would take three or four of them. If they came into a neighbourhood to arrest somebody for nothing, black people would fight back.

Not that a lot has changed a century later, with the exception that the n-word is now considered inopportune. USA police still can insult, kick and shoot unarmed black people, but as long as they don't call them niggers it's all passing by without consequences.

Trotting Sally with Rosalie
Trotting Sally with Rosalie (his violin).

Trotting Sally

Niggertown also offered good times and music was always around. Ira Tucker's grandfather 'Uncle Ed' was a musician who played a mean accordion and who sang in the local church choir.

Another character was Trotting Sally, real name: George Mullins. Born a slave in 1856, he was freed at the age of 9 and became a familiar street musician with his fiddle 'Rosalie'. He was known for his wild antics and crazy animal imitations. His behaviour was so eccentric that people doubted his mental stability. He was – literally - the stuff legends are made of. It was rumoured that Millins had superhuman strength, that he could outrun a train, hence the nickname Trotting Sally, and these heroic deeds were the subject of several late 19th-century folk-tales. When he died, in 1931, he was remembered in several newspaper articles. Although he was captured on film, no sound recordings of him exist. Ira Tucker:

He was an excellent violinist. Nothing but strings and his fingers. He had that violin almost sounding like it was talking. If you said “Good Morning”, he would make that violin say, “G-o-o-o-d Mo-o-o-rning”.

Simmie Dooley

Another street musician who not only impressed Ira Tucker, but Blind Gary Davis as well, was an old man who sang and played the guitar: Blind Simmie.

Simmie Dooley (1881-1961) may have played his favourite spot in Spartanburg's 'Short Wolford' when he met young lad Pink Anderson, an entertainer in a travelling medicine show who wanted to learn the guitar. They would go off in the woods to practice, usually with a bottle of corn whiskey 'to help the throats'. Simmie's educational system consisted of hitting Pink's hands with a switch until he got the chords right.

In Search of Syd
In Search of Syd, Mojo compilation.

In search of Simmie

Anderson was not only Dooley's sideman, but also his eyes. It was practically impossible for a blind man to travel but with Pink he could go to the small towns around Spartanburg, like Woodroff and Roebuck, to play on country picnics and parties. They often performed together and in April 1928 they recorded four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta. These two 10 inch 78RPM records were issued under the name Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley and have the duo at their finest. The musical bond between both was so strong that Pink Anderson refused to record without his teacher, which could have made his life much easier. (Apparently the record company didn't like Simmie's distinctive voice.)

C.C. & O Blues, referring to the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway that ran through Spartanburg, is a bit carelessly attributed to Pink Anderson on a Mojo cover disk of October 2007 (issue 167): In Search Of Syd. Simmie Dooley, who is the main performer, is only mentioned in the liner notes, but not on the front nor backside track-listing. It is one of those mysteries why exactly this track was chosen for the compilation. From that same 1928 session Mojo could have, for instance, picked Papa's Bout To Get Mad where Pink Anderson is the lead instead of Simmie Dooley. All in all there are about 3 dozen Pink Anderson songs but Mojo resolutely went for about the only track in his entire career where he can't be heard at all.

If You Don't Give Me What I Want

The second song on the YouTube movie from above is If You Don't Give Me What I Want. It can be found on the same Mojo compilation and there it is somewhat lavishly attributed to Blind Boy Fuller and Floyd Council. It certainly is a Blind Boy Fuller song, taken from a session in February 1937 with accompanying musicians Floyd Council (on guitar) and George Washington (on washboard), using the pseudonyms Dipper Boy Council and Bull City Red.

Mojo stretched the line by adding Floyd Council's name, making us wonder why they forgot the third musician. The YouTube uploader even went a step further by omitting Blind Boy Fuller from his own record, thus giving the title a self-explanatory extra dimension.

Although Floyd Council solo tracks are harder to find than those of Pink Anderson, they do exist and 6 of those have survived into the twenty-first century.

Syd Barrett visits UFO.
Syd Barrett visits UFO. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

Ufonauts

If you are already confused by now, we can only promise it will get worse from now on. Who are these Pink and Floyd character everyone is talking about?

Syd Barrett at first tried to explain that the name Pink Floyd had come to him in a vision or by a passing flying saucer while he was meditating on a leyline, but the truth is somewhat less exotic. In a Swedish interview from September 1967, Barrett explained:

The name Pink Floyd comes from two blues singers from Georgia, USA – Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Basically this story kept repeating itself from article (for instance: Nick Kent, 1974) to article, from year to year, from biography to biography, without much checking of the journalists involved, although some did have the guts to add the odd detail here and there. But all in all it would take more than three decades to get to the truth.

In the Visual Documentary (aka the Pink Floyd bible) by Barry Miles (1980) Anderson and Council are still described as Georgia blues-men who were in Syd's record collection. It may come as blasphemy for vintage Floyd fans but demi-god Syd Barrett actually made an error as these two musicians stayed in the Carolinas for most of their lives. Nicholas Schaffner (1991) managed to add the years of birth and death of these obscure blues musicians, but also Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson in their Crazy Diamond biography state that Syd 'had a couple of records by two grizzled Georgia blues-men'. Same for the lavishly illustrated, but for the rest forgettable, Learning To Fly biography by Chris Welch (1994) and a few other publications...

In 1988 though, in the first release of Days in the Life, Jonathon Green quotes Peter Jenner:

The name came from a sleeve note which one of them had read, which referred to Pink somebody or other, and Floyd somebody or other, two old blues guys, and they just thought that 'The Pink Floyd' was a nice combination, and they called it the Pink Floyd Sound.

Information doesn't always gets transferred through the appropriate channels and the booklet of the Crazy Diamond CD-box, that appeared 8 years later, still alleged that:

Barrett, Waters, Wright, and Mason reconvened as The Pink Floyd Sound, a name Syd had coined from an album by Georgia blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

(Barrett's record company and/or management have a history of making silly mistakes, see Dark Blog or Cut the Cake.)

All it needed to straight things out was to go to a local library (this was pre-WWW-days, remember) and look up these names in a blues encyclopedia, like yours truly did, a very long time ago. Kiloh Smith's adagio that 'Syd Barrett fans are, basically, really, really lazy people unless it comes to fighting amongst themselves on some message board' can also be expanded to rock journalists.

Pink Anderson
Pink Anderson.

Pink Anderson

Although never of the grandeur of B.B. King or Muddy Waters Pink Anderson isn’t really that obscure and the perfect example for someone who likes to brag about his (or her) Piedmont blues knowledge.

Pink Anderson was born in Lawrence, South Carolina, in February 1900, and was raised in Spartanburg where he would stay his entire life. He first went on the road at age fourteen, employed by Dr. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company, singing and dancing medicine show tunes. When the show was not travelling between Virginia and southern Georgia, with occasional trips into Alabama and Tennessee, Pink was working as a handyman in the Spartanburg storehouse where W.R. Kerr kept his trucks and stage equipment. He would stay with the troupe until Dr. Kerr retired in 1945 and never considered himself a blues singer, but a medicine show entertainer.

In 1916 Pink met Simmie Dooley, a blind blues street-singer, living in the same town. When Pink wasn’t out selling magic potions, he and Simmie played at picnics and parties in small towns around Spartanburg. They cut a few singles together in April 1928, but Anderson refused to record without Dooley (until Simmie was too old to perform). In February 1950 he was recorded by singer, folklorist and music-archivist Paul Clayton, but the tapes wouldn't be released for another decade.

Samuel Charters

There was a kind of Pink Anderson revival in the early sixties, when he was tracked down by blues historian Samuel Charters who recorded him and brought out three albums spanning Pink's career as a Carolina blues man (volume 1), a medicine show entertainer (volume 2) and a ballad & folksinger (volume 3), otherwise Pink Anderson would've stayed a mere footnote in blues history, just like his tutor Simmie Dooley. These three albums still sell today, obviously aided by the Floydian connection, and they are of an excellent 'vintage folk & blues' quality. (Samuel Charters passed away in March 2015, aged 85: obituary.)

It is not unimaginable that some people in the Cambridge blues & beatnik circles were aware of these compilations, although they must have been rare. Floyd Council's name, however, can't be found on any of these records. Anderson's repertoire contained several Blind Boy Fuller songs, but they never met. Anderson died in Spartanburg in 1974, perhaps unaware of the fact that one of the greatest shows on earth was named after him.

Pink Anderson albums
Pink Anderson albums.
Floyd Council
Floyd Council.

Floyd Council

Floyd Council is a slightly different matter. Blues scholars and historians know him as a side-man on about a dozen of Blind Boy Fuller records and he only became a kind of celebrity because of the Floyd segment. His solo songs have been included on several blues compilations, because of the Pink Floyd link alone, for instance on the Century of the Blues 4-CD set (see picture above) where he comes up, right after... Pink Anderson.

Floyd Council was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in September 1911 and began working with legendary blues artist Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930’s. Though he is mainly known for backing Fuller, he also worked with Sonny Terry and cut some solo tracks as well. A few sources tell he may have recorded enough tracks for three albums, but only six of those have survived. The well-informed Wirz blues discography only found one lost 1937 two-tracks session.

In a (fruitless) effort to become famous he gigged and recorded as 'Dipper Boy Council', bearing the epitheton ornans 'Blind Boy Fuller's Buddy' (1937). According to the New Dictionary of American Slang, edited by Robert L. Chapman (1986), dipper refers to dippermouth, a person with a large mouth. The term showed up in Dippermouth Blues, recorded by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923 with a 21-years old Louis Armstrong in the band, whose nickname happened to be just that, for obvious reasons.

Carolina Blues
Carolina Blues Compilation.

Devil in disguise

Another stage name for Council was the 'Devil's Daddy-in-Law' (1938), probably to cash in on the popularity of Peetie Wheatstraw who was known as the 'Devil’s Son-in-Law' and whose songs often referred to the hoodoo tradition, root doctor and crossroads legends in blues.

"If black music is the father of rock, voodoo is its grandfather" write Baigent and Leigh in their overview of the occult through the ages. It is not known if Council was a follower of Vodu, but like most Negroes he must have been aware of the pagan undercurrent in his society, that was politically, culturally and socially segregated from the white highbrow class.

Probably his nicknames had been chosen by his white and highbrow class manager J.B. Long, a Maecenas for some and a thief for others, who also had Blind Boy Fuller in his stable and who employed Floyd Council on a farm he owned.

Floyd passed away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 9, 1976. He is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere at White Oak A.M.E. Zion Cemetery of Sanford.

Carolina Blues

The first widely available Floyd Council compilation Carolina Blues (1936-1950) was released in 1987, a tad too late to influence Syd Barrett in his search for a name for his band. Let it be clear that in the early sixties it was close to impossible, for a Cambridge youngster, to find a Floyd Council record in the UK, unless you happened to be a very lucky and rich 78-RPM gramophone collector. We seriously doubt that anyone would lend any of these singles to a bunch of teenagers who would scratch the surfaces on their Dansette portable record players.

So that is why it was impossible for Syd Barrett to have a Floyd Council record in his collection, as some biographers have written.

Philips BBL 7512
Philips BBL 7512

Pre-War Blues

Little by little the Pink Floyd biographies had to alter the story, but it lasted until 2005 before Bryan Sinclair asked the following question to a Yahoo group of pre-war blues collectors:

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 08:58:47 -0500
To: pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.com
From: Bryan Sinclair
Subject: Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
I am interested in some background info on the origin of the band name "Pink Floyd." It is my understanding that Syd Barrett came up with this hybrid by combining the first names of Carolina bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Bastin provides ample info with respect to dates and locales for both, but how did the two names become associated with one another, at least in the mind of Barrett?
Bryan Sinclair
Asheville, NC

It took less than a day before Bryan Sinclair has an answer. David Moore from Bristol remembered the names from a record he had in his collection:

To: <pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 15:47:51 -0000
From: "Dave Moore"
Subject: Re: [pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Philips BBL-7512, c. 1962. The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following:
"Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys."
Dave Moore
Bristol, UK
Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues
Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller compilation.

Enigma

So there we have it. All it took to find the answer was, oddly enough, to ask someone who knew, a thing nobody had ever thought of doing for 35 years. All we needed to do, was to keep on talking.

The rest is history and has been repeated in decent Pink Floyd biographies ever since. So it is a crying shame that Floyd über-geek Glenn Povey, in his encyclopedic study Echoes from 2007 still writes:

It [Pink Floyd] is the amalgamation of the first names of two old Carolina bluesmen whose work was very familiar to him [Syd Barrett].

Not a fucking chance.

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller.

Blind Boy Fuller

Fulton Allen was born in July 1907 in Wadesboro, North-Carolina and learned to play the blues from the people around him. In his mid-teens he started to lose his eyesight from a maltreated disease at birth and not from washing his face with poisoned water, given to him by a jealous woman, as has been put forward by Paul Oliver.

What was a hobby at first, now became his trade, because blind Negroes didn't have many job opportunities in the thirties. Allen started busking in the streets of Durham and playing gigs with Floyd Council (aka Dipper Boy Council), Saunders Terrell (aka Sonny Terry) , George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Reverend Gary Davis.

In 1935 he was discovered by record store owner and music promoter James Baxter Long who became manager of the lot. Re-baptised as Blind Boy Fuller he was paid about 200$ per 12 song session, not a bad deal in those days, unless you would suddenly start selling hundreds of thousands of records. And that was exactly what happened.

In five years time Blind Boy cut 139 sides, in 11 sessions taking approximately 24 days, but there would be no royalties going Fuller's way. Long would later explain that, as a rookie, he didn't understand the concept of copyrights. It is true that before 1938 Fuller's records were not credited to any author, thus (theoretically) flushing a lot of money down the drain. After April 1938 Long started putting his own name on the copyright papers when he noted down Fuller's lyrics, claiming he did this innocently and with no intent to rip Fuller.

Opinions about J.B. Long differ. As a patron of the arts he provided housing and jobs for his artists, but of course that was also a way to have them chained for life to his agency. Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller called him a thief, although Sonny Terry was slightly more diplomatic:

In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it started our careers.

Brownie McGhee, however, never had a bad thing to say about his manager.

The Decca Tapes

Blind Boy Fuller once tried to moonlight at Decca, but these records were rapidly pulled from the market after a complaint from his manager, who wasn't apparently such an innocent rookie after all when somebody tried to grab his artists.

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller.

James Baxter maintained he constantly provided Fuller with money, clothes, food, fuel 'and other necessities' but the singer and his wife applied several times for welfare, neglecting to mention that they already had an income from recording sessions.

The blind aid bureaucracy didn't realise that Fulton Allen and Blind Boy Fuller were the same person and they gave him a monthly allowance. Unfortunately Fuller gave his secret away when he complained to social services that his manager was not giving him the royalties he was entitled to, but the only advice they could give him was to wait until the contract ended and not to sign another one.

By 1939, suffering from alcohol related stomach ulcers, kidney troubles and probably a touch of syphilis, Fuller impatiently waited to be released from his contract and from jail, as he had shot his wife in the leg, quite an accomplishment for a blind man and a sign that he had more than money problems alone.

The Last Session

J.B. Long had the last laugh when he told Blind Boy Fuller he was still under contract with the American Recording Company. Ironically it was James Baxter who drove Blind Boy, Sonny Terry, Bull City Red and the Reverend Gary Davis to Memphis for another recording session. This time Fuller only received part of his session money, because he was already greatly in debt with his ex-manager. On top of that the Blind Assistance administration had finally found out that Fulton Allen was the same man as Blind Boy Fuller. From his ex-manager they learned that he earned about three times as much as the average household, which was still ridiculously low given the records he sold. They (logically) terminated the welfare checks.

The problem was that Fulton didn't spread his session money over several months but that it would be invariably gone by the next. James Baxter Long proposed to give Fuller a monthly salary instead of a session lump-sum, and even a house rent-free, but a stubborn Blind Boy refused, perhaps because it would have meant giving his freedom away and signing a new contract with the music promoter.

For reasons that have never been properly disclosed, but it might have been a rough life of sex and drugs and rural blues, Fulton Allen's health rapidly declined and he died in February 1941, at only 33 years of age.

Country Blues (inside cover)
Country Blues (inside cover).

Classic Jazz Masters

In his book 'How Britain Got The Blues', R.F. Schwartz notes that:

...most critics agreed that the great blues of the past would never be reissued [in the fifties, FA], but some collectors were committed to making this repertoire accessible.

For the smart understander: illegally. History repeats itself, ad infinitum.

At first many jazz and blues reissues were bootlegs, made by collectors for collectors and taken from the original 78-RPM records. As the musicians had been paid flat fees anyway, and seldom received royalties, no harm was done, although the record labels obviously had different opinions.

With a growing demand for vintage blues the major labels finally understood that there was a market and that the costs for producing these albums was minimal. Philips began its Classic Jazz Masters Series in 1962 with:
Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 Country Blues (BBL-7512),
Bessie Smith 1923-1924 Bessie's Blues (BBL-7513),
followed by:
Robert Johnson 1936-37 (BBL-7539).

That last one was almost immediately deleted for legal reasons (apparently even record companies have difficulties sorting copyrights out) but so many copies had already been sold to blues-hungry teenagers that a whole generation was inspired to start their own bands. British blues boom was a fact.

On his first trip to England, in November 1962, Bob Dylan bought two albums he brought back to the States. The first one was Blues Fell This Morning, a Southern Blues compilation, that accompanied Paul Oliver's book with the same name. The second was the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album. (A picture of that album, with Bob Dylan's signature, can be found on Recordmecca: Bob Dylan's Muse: Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011.)

Blues was a tidal wave that couldn't be stopped. 1965 saw a British tour of Reverend Gary Davis and his old mates Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry headlined the Cambridge Folk Festival on the 31st of July.

Stephen Pyle suggested Pink Floyd as a new name for The Hollerin Blues.

Blues In Cambridge

That the blues was also popular in Cambridge was proved by bands as The Hollerin' Blues, named after the 1929 Charley Patton song, Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues. Incidentally, Blind Boy Fuller's Piccolo Rag, that is present on the 1962 Country Blues compilation, has the lyrics:

Said, when I'm on the corner hollerin'.
"Whoa! Haw! Gee!"
My gal's uptown hollerin'.
"Who wants me?"

As their only way of communication, slaves or black farm workers would holler to each other across the fields. Sometimes these hollers would be wordless, sometimes they would form sentences and grow into songs that were sung in call and response. Spirituals, work songs and hollers influenced and structured early blues.

The line-up of this 1962/63 rhythm & blues band was Barney Barnes (piano, harmonica and vocals), Alan Sizer (guitar), Pete Glass (harmonica) and Stephen Pyle (drums). Rado 'Bob' Klose and Syd Barrett joined them at least once at the Dolphin Club in Coronation Street, but he was never a band member. According to Gian Palacios Barrett also sat in on several jam sessions, mainly because he showed a certain interest in Juliet Mitchell who lived in the house where the band rehearsed.

Women were the reason why the band cut itself loose from their old management and they reincarnated as Those Without with Warren Dosanjh as their new manager. (See also Antonio Jesús interview: Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager.) Stephen Pyle remembers in The Music Scene Of 1960s Cambridge that he actually suggested Pink Floyd as the band's new name, but this was rejected.

Which one's Pink?

It means that the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album was well known by the Hollerin' Blues mob, including Syd Barrett, who joined Those Without for about a dozen of of gigs. It could also mean that the Pink Floyd name, contrary to general belief, was not thought up by Syd and that it might have been an incidental joke. Not that it really matters, but we asked Stephen Pyle anyway:

I am afraid time has taken is toll on my memory.
But Syd and I used to invent band names when Those Without were already in existence, as to who's album it was I think it was mine.
It was Dave Gilmour who claimed that I was the source, and he must have got that from Syd.
Country Blues

Country Blues: a review

The 1962 Philips album Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 is a wayward compilation, containing 16 tracks, ranging from the obvious to the less than obvious. It contains tracks from 10 different sessions, recorded over 12 days, starting with the first session that made Fuller a star and ending with the last one he would ever do. Intriguingly - for Pink Floyd anoraks - is that none of the tracks have Floyd Council on them, but George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Sonny Terry can be found on several songs. So the record that gave the Pink Floyd name away actually doesn't have Pink Anderson, nor Floyd Council on it.

Why don't you listen to the Country Blues album while reading this review?
A Spotify playlist (login needed) for the same album can be found here: Country Blues. Throughout the review many YouTube and Wikipedia links will be given, checking them out will take many hours of your life. A Blind Boy Fuller gallery with hi-res images of the record, its cover and the liner notes has been uploaded: Blind Boy Fuller.
Country Blues
Country Blues.

Country Blues Side One

She's A Truckin' Little Baby

The album starts with She's A Truckin' Little Baby, a country dance tune and a song that has many incarnations. Big Bill Broonzy recorded it as Trucking Little Woman, John Hammond Jr. as Trucking Little Boy and John Jackson as Trucking Little Baby. All have different lyrics, but they're essentially the same song. Led Zeppelin sometimes included the song as Trucking Little Mama in their R&B medley during Whole Lotta Love.

Blind Boy Fuller is generally cited as the originator of the terms 'keep on truckin' (in Truckin' My Blues Away, not on this compilation) and 'get your yas yas out' (not included either). Several of his songs belong to the hokum genre - humoristic blues with double entendres and sexual innuendos – or bawdy blues. His What’s That Smell Like Fish, Mama (not included) as being one of the most risqué ever.

There's a bit of playful innuendo in Truckin' Little Baby with the line:

she got good jelly
but she's stingy with me.

Jelly is a culinary metaphor for female attractiveness and/or sexuality. Imagine this tune with an electric guitar, add some bass and a drum and there you have it: rock'n roll.

Recorded: October 29, 1938, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Lyr Req: Trucking Little Baby / ...Woman / ...Mama

Screaming And Crying Blues

Screaming And Crying Blues can't get more 'default' as it is about a man, waking up in the morning and realising his woman has left him. The term comes back in different songs, one of them Screamin' and Cryin' by Muddy Waters (1949) and one by Morris Pejoe (1956).

I was worried and grieving,
about that girl had done left me behind.

Recorded: October 29, 1938.
Sound & Lyrics

Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay

Big legged women are something of a tradition in blues and, once again, have been cited in a Led Zeppelin song (Black Dog) where it is said that:

a big-legged woman ain't got no soul.

And that might be quite an insurmountable problem for a band that has been flirting with Satanist tendencies. Mississippi John Hurt recorded Big Leg Blues in 1928, Roosevelt Sykes had Big Legs Ida Blues in 1933, Kokomo Arnold Big Leg Mama in 1935, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry covered Bill Gaither's Another Big Leg Woman) as Big-Legged Woman and so on...

A big legged woman is just another way of saying that she is sexually attractive and with 'gets my pay' Fuller is implying he wants to give her more than his monthly salary alone, but you probably already had figured that out.

Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): A big legged woman ain't got no soul

Custard Pie
Custard Pie (sexual metaphor).

I Want Some Of Your Pie

I Want Some Of Your Pie obviously is an example of a risqué blues, without really being too smutty, unless we semantically dig deeper. Officially the song goes like this:

Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie,
I want to eat your custard pie.

But most hear something else:

Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie,
I want to eat your custy pie.

In a mighty interesting online essay that has unfortunately disappeared from the web at the end of 2014 'The use of food as a sexual metaphor in the blues' (Elise Israd) it is suggested that the use of code words for romantic and sexual activity may have come out of fear and oppression. Plantation owners were not amused that their (male) slaves would discuss sex in public and thus they used innocent synonyms for the yummy things they wanted to describe.

When it came to producing and selling blues records there was as well the matter of censorship. As often in these cases the record companies had a double standard, calling the naughty bits by their proper name was considered obscene and legally forbidden, but they didn't see any harm in selling songs about sugar plums, fish and custy, custard, crusty or cushdy pies.

I Want Some Of Your Pie (1939) is one of those songs that has different incarnations. It can be found as Custard Pie (1947) by Sonny Terry and as Custard Pie Blues (1962) by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Buddy Moss and Pinewood Tom recorded an early version, with slightly other lyrics, as You Got To Give Me Some Of It in 1935, 4 years before Blind Boy Fuller.

It might not come to you as a surprise that Led Zeppelin's 1975 album Physical Graffiti starts with a track called Custard Pie, what made one fan seriously wonder if Sonny Terry covered it retroactively from the dark angel that is Robert Plant.

Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Sonny Terry (harmonica) & Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Custard Pie

Cat Man Blues

The next three songs all have an animal theme and in these cases animals are used as an allegory for a situation man is not really happy with.

Cat Man Blues is the story of a man who returns home, hears a noise in another room and is told by his wife it is nothing but the cat.

Went home last night, heard a noise,
I asked my wife what was that?
Said man don't be so suspicious,
that ain't nothin' but a cat.
Lord I travelled this world all over mama,
takin' all kinds of chance.
But I never come home before,
seein' a cat wearin' a pair of pants!

While the words are funny, the situation isn't and the protagonist surely doesn't appreciate that the cat man is stealing his cream away.

Recorded: April 29, 1936, (recorded twice that day, actually).
Sound (take1), Sound (take 2) and Lyrics

Been Your Dog

Been Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife. In Untrue Blues, not on this record, Fuller describes it as follows:

Now you doggin' me mama, ain't did a thing to you.
And you keep on doggin' no telling what I'll do.
Now you dog me every morning,
give me the devil late at night.
Just the way you doggin' me,
I ain't goin' treat you right.

Been Your Dog plays with the same subject:

I've been your dog mama
ever since I've been your man...

Fuller complains how he has to work hard all day, only to come and find a drunk wife in bed and ponders if he should leave her and make room for another man.

Recorded: February 10, 1937.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.

jelly roll
Jelly Roll (sexual metaphor).

Hungry Calf Blues

Hungry Calf Blues is much more funny and risqué, although it has again the undertone of a man who is cheated on and who does his best to win his woman back. The song, so tell the experts, is a variation of Milk Cow Blues by Sleepy John Estes (1930) although the lyrics haven't got much in common. In 1934 Kokomo Arnold covered the song, still much the same as the original one.

Fuller's version is closer to Milkcow's Calf Blues, recorded by Robert Johnson on his last session in June 1937 and with a new set of lyrics. Copyright wasn't really an issue in those days, as Lawrence W. Levine explains in his study 'Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom'.

Black singers felt absolutely free to take blues sung by others - friends, professional performers, singers on records - and alter them in any way they liked.

Fuller certainly was no exception to that rule and re-utilises a couple of Johnson's lyrics:

Your calf is hungry mama, I believe he needs a suck.

and

Your milk is turnin' blue, I believe he's out of luck.

, but then he is off into his own miserable territory:

I found out now mama,
the reason why I can't satisfy you... (…)
You've got a new cat,
he's sixteen years old.

There's that trousered cat again! From then on the song turns pseudo-autobiographical and the protagonist promises he will be faithful to his wife from now on and to treat her well:

I'm gonna save my jelly, mama,
gonna bring it right home to you. (...)
You can't find no young cat,
roll jelly like this old one do.

For those thinking that Fuller is keen on sweet desserts, we would like to add that jelly is not what you think it is, except when you have a perverted mind and then it is exactly what you think it is.

A stanza later we learn that the I-person in the song is none other than Fuller himself. He apologises that the flesh is weak and the blues groupies abundant:

Says I got a new way of rollin' mama,
I think it must be best.
Said these here North Carolina women
just won't let Blind Boy Fuller rest.

But just when you think it would be wise to show some discretion male chauvinist ego takes over again and Fuller brags that he is the best lover around:

Said I got the kind of lovin',
yes Lord, I think it must be best.
Said I roll jelly in the mornin'
and I also roll at night.
I said hey hey, I also roll at night.
And I don't stop rollin',
till I know I rolled that jelly just right.

We doubt the lyrics need further explanation, unless perhaps you are confused by the terms jelly and jelly-roll, another example of pastry being used as a sexual metaphor. Harry's Blues gives a neat definition and lists 15 songs that use the same terminology.

Recorded: September 9, 1937.
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Milk Cow Blues

Mojo
Mojo (magical charm bag).

Mojo Hidin' Woman

The last song on side A of the album is Mojo Hidin' Woman, and compared to the previous lot a rather solemn and respectful one, although it still blames the wife who brings misery over the man. Blind Boy Fuller refers (literally) to black magic and the woman's habit of concealing a mojo, a magical charm bag, on her body.

Fuller probably means a 'nation sack', a term originating from the Memphis area, which is a red flannel bag containing roots, magical stones and personal objects, worn by a woman, meant to keep her man faithful and make him generous in money matters.

Other sources say it should be 'nature sack'. Harry Middleton Hyatt, a white Anglican minister who studied folklore in the thirties and who documented over 13000 (!) magic spells and beliefs, may have misunderstood the Negro term 'naycha' and wrote it down as 'nation' instead of 'nature'. In hoodoo it was seriously believed that the magical bag controls a man's 'naycha' or virility. No wonder that Blind Boy Fuller didn't laugh at this one.

To make the spell powerful some objects of the love interest were put in the bag, a photograph, his name or signature on a piece of paper, cloth, fingernail clippings, (pubic) hair and other intimate by-products... The bag was worn under the clothes, at the lower waist for obvious magical reasons, and it was strictly forbidden to be touched, or even seen, by a man. Married women would hide it before going to bed:

Yo' know, a man bettah not try tuh put dere han' on dat bag; yo' know, he betta not touch. He goin' have some trouble serious wit dat ole lady if he try tuh touch dat bag, 'cause when she pulls it off at night -- if she sleeps by herself, she sleeps wit it on; but if she got a husban', yo'll see her evah night go an' lock it up in dat trunk. [Taken from Nation Sack @ Lucky Mojo.]

Not that a pious man would ever try to do that, as touching the bag would make him lose, as Austin Powers erroneously put it, 'his mojo'. As the naycha sack was strict taboo for a man it was a safe place for the woman to put her belongings in, money and tobacco, and if the money had been given to her by her husband, that could only act as an extra charm.

Mojo Hidin' Woman is the same song as Stingy Mama, recorded a month earlier, but with a new title. Fuller knows exactly what he sings about:

My girl's got a mojo.
She won't let me see.

In true hokum tradition the song is full of double entendres, starting with the first line:

Stingy mama, don't be so stingy with me.

As the (secret) mojo was often used or hidden inside a purse a 'stingy' woman is one who doesn't like to spend money, but in this context mojo is of course used as an euphemism for sex. Being the sexy motherfucker he is, Fuller knows she will finally give in:

I say, hey-hey, mama, can't keep that mojo hid...
'Cause I got something, mama, just to find that mojo with.

And that's a verse Fuller lends almost literally from Blind Lemon Jefferson's Low Down Mojo Blues (1928).

The song perfectly ends with a play of words, ingeniously hinting at the 'stingy' remark of the beginning:

Mama left me something called that stingaree.
Says, I done stung my little woman
and she can't stay away from me.

Sex has never been described better, even if you don't immediately grasp the concept of a stingaree, but once again Harry's Blues comes to the rescue. This is, if you ask the Reverend, as poetical as:

'Cause we're the fishes and all we do
the move about is all we do
well, oh baby, my hairs on end about you..

Recorded: September 7, 1937 (Stingy Mama: July 12, 1937)
Sound and Lyrics

Dancing not allowed.
Dancing not allowed.

Country Blues Side Two

Piccolo Rag

Side two starts with the Blind Boy Fuller classic Piccolo Rag that can be found on about every compilation of him. It's a joyous and irresistible ragtime guitar dancing tune that is typical of the Piedmont Blues style. It is a fun track with a direct message that doesn't need to be further explained:

Every night I come home
you got your lips painted red.
Said, "Come on Daddy and let's go to bed."

In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy' in African American slang was a pimp, but later the term was generalised to any male lover.

Recorded: April 5, 1938.
Sound and Lyrics

freight train
Freight Train.

Lost Lover Blues

Lost Lover Blues is the sad story of a man who takes a freight train to 'a far distant land', probably to look for work, and who gets a telegram to immediately return home. On his return he finds that his lover has died while he was on his journey. The message is clear and direct with no double entendres, but this is normal as the subject is one of melancholy and sadness.

Then I went back home,
I looked on the bed
And that best old friend I had was dead
Lord, and I ain't got no lovin' baby now

Recorded, June 19, 1940 with Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound & Lyrics

Night Rambling Woman

Fuller's last solo song recorded on the 19th of June 1940, in a 'superstar' session that also had Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Eli Jordan Webb (originally from Nashville) and Bull City Red (credited on some tracks as Oh Red). Thirteen solo tracks were recorded, 8 by Fuller and one by Sonny Terry.

The remaining four tracks are credited to a band called Brother George & His Sanctified Singers, actually an alias for all involved, singing religious inspired gospel and blues, with titles as: 'Must have been my Jesus', 'Jesus is a holy man' or 'Precious Lord'. Fuller did not sing on this gospel session and it may have been George 'Oh Red' Washington who was the main vocalist.

Rambling Woman is not an unique term as it was used in the traditional Ragged But Right that dates from around 1900. Recorded versions exist by the Blue Harmony Boys (Ragged But Right, 1929) and Riley Puckett (Ragged But Right, 1935). As a traditional it had many different lyrics including this very raunchy version:

Just called up to tell you that I'm ragged but right
A gamblin' woman ramblin' woman, drunk every night
I fix a porterhouse steak every night for my boy
That's more than an ordinary whore can afford

Country stars Riley Puckett and George Jones (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) used more innocent lyrics and changed the protagonist to a gambling man, instead of a woman. Covers by Johnny Cash (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) and Jerry Garcia (Ragged but Right) also exist.

Death of Blind Boy Fuller.
Death of Blind Boy Fuller.

Night Rambling Woman was posthumously issued by Brownie McGhee in 1941, partly as a tribute to his friend, but probably as a cunning plan from manager J.B. Long to cash in on Fuller's reputation by covering a previous unreleased track. J.B. Long also put the epithet 'Blind Boy Fuller #2' on early McGhee singles, for instance on the song Death Of Blind Boy Fuller.

Night Rambling Woman is another take on the infidelity of women with one line taken from Victoria Spivey's 1926 song Black Snake Blues, generally regarded as a stab at Fuller's own mortality:

My left side jumps and my flesh begin to crawl.

It has been said that Fuller was a master of eclecticism rather than the originator of a style and there are many recorded examples in which the influence of other popular blues artists can be heard.

Recorded: June 19, 1940.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): Ragged But Right

Step It Up And Go

Step It Up And Go, credited to J.B. Long, was Fuller's biggest hit, although far from an original. Known as Bottle Up And Go it was recorded in 1939 by Tommy McClennan, himself referring to Bottle It Up And Go, written by Charlie Burse for the Picanniny Jug Band in 1932. J.B. Long claimed he heard a song 'You got to touch it up and go' from an old blues man and that he re-wrote the lyrics for Fuller to sing it a couple of days later.

Blues biographer Bruce Bastin found out that just before the Fuller session Charlie Burse had cut a new version of his own song, now titled: 'Oil It Up And Go', in the same studio. That is probably where J.B. Long heard and copied it from.

Many artists recorded this song after that, and all versions are different. It seems as if every artist who performed the song, made up his own lyrics or added a verse or two. Some of the people who recorded the song are: B.B. King, Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, Bob Dylan, Brownie McGhee, Carl Story, Harmonica Frank Floyd, John Lee Hooker, Mac Wiseman, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Mungo Jerry, Sonny Terry and The Everly Brothers.

The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again) the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.

Recorded: March 5, 1940, with Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Bottle Up and Go

Keep Away From My Woman

Keep Away From My Woman, this song actually exists in two different takes, from the same session, with about a minute difference, but the vinyl record doesn't specify what version it is (same for Cat Man Blues, by the way). The title already gives away what the tune is about.

Recorded: April 29, 1936.
Sound (take 1, 2:54), Sound (take 2, 3:14), but no Lyrics found.

Little Woman You're So Sweet

Little Woman You're So Sweet is a love song, a small masterpiece, where Fuller actually mentions himself.

Hey mama, hey gal,
don't you hear Blind Boy Fuller callin' you?
You're so sweet, so sweet, yeah sweet,
my little woman, so sweet...

The song was first recorded as So sweet, so sweet by Josh White in 1932 and Fuller's version is nearly a carbon copy of the original.

“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black Conciousness'. Mamie Smith's second single Crazy Blues (1920), the first vocal blues recording in history, had sold over one million copies despite being exorbitantly priced at one dollar. In the mid twenties five to six million blues records were sold per year, almost exclusively to the black public, who were with about 15 million in the USA. After the blast-off with mostly female singers talent scouts roamed the states to audition regional bluesmen who brought their version of traditional blues to the rest of the land.

It can't be denied that the booming record sales had a disruptive effect on many local folk styles and traditions, but on the other hand, the thousands of 78-RPM records archived songs that would otherwise have been lost for ever. Even if the records had to fit inside the three minutes format, blues had no beginning and no end, as the one performer took up where the other left off and singers were constantly referring to each other. A blues song didn't belong to the singer, it belonged to the people.

Other trivia: Blues band Shakey Vick named their first album, in 1969, after this song.

Recorded: March 6, 1940.
Sound & Lyrics

sugar plum
Sugar Plum (sexual metaphor).

Brownskin Sugar Plum

Brownskin and Sugar Plum are terms that regularly appear in blues songs, although the combination of both might be unique to this one.

It has been a while since we mentioned Led Zeppelin but their Travelling Riverside Blues, itself named after a Robert Johnson tune (Traveling Riverside Blues), ends by mentioning this Fuller song. Another fine example of hokum blues, the lyrics are just damn' horny:

Oh just tell me mama
Where do you get your sugar from
Aw just tell me sugar
where you get your sugar from
I believe I bit down
On your daddy's sugar plum

Recorded: July 26, 1935.
Sound & Lyrics

Evil Hearted Woman

The last song Evil Hearted Woman is one where the female race is again described at its worst. It isn't the only time Fuller sings about an evil hearted woman as the term is also used in his Untrue Blues (not on this compilation).

Recorded: July 25, 1935.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.

Conclusion

Paul Oliver (on the Country Blues liner notes):

In Evil Hearted Woman, My brownskin sugarplum, and Keep away from my woman there is love, there is desire, there is menace, there is jealousy, there is disappointment and there is humour.

We couldn't have said it better. If this record was good enough for Syd Barrett to listen to, it surely is good enough for us as well. Listening to Country Blues may be a challenge if your ears have been used to the electric and electronic sounds of the third millennium, but this is R&B in its embryonical stage. Dig it.

Epilogue

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started in 2008, more as a prank than anything else (see: Felix Atagong: an honest man), and has worn out its welcome more than once. Feeling that our expiration date was reached at least a year ago, it is time to say goodbye. And what better opportunity than to do it with the album that named the best band in the word.

Let's give our final words to one of our esteemed colleagues, the Reverend Gary Davis:

One of these days about 12 o'clock
This old world's gonna reel and rock
I belong to the band
Hallelujah
(I Belong to the Band, Hallelujah, 1960)
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit tombstone

Many thanks to: Bennymix, Cagey, Caitrin, Deanna, Jim Dixon, Dorothea, Brian Hoskin, Elise Israd, Mudcat.org, Parla, Stephen Pyle, Tony Russell, Sorcha, Stagg'O'Lee, Dave T, Winifred, Wordreference.com, Zowieso...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ friends, lovers and fans...

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Baigent, Michael & Leigh, Richard: The Elixir and the Stone, Penguin, London, 1998, p. 399.
Bastin, Bruce: Blind Boy Fuller, biography in: Stefan Grossman's early masters of American blues guitar: Blind Boy Fuller, Alfred Music Publishing, 2007.
Bastin, Bruce: Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast, University of Illinois Press, 1995, p. 223-234.
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 43.
Charters, Samuel: Carolina Blues Man, Pink Anderson vol. 1 record liner notes, 1961.
Charters, Samuel: Medicine Show Man, Pink Anderson vol. 2 record liner notes, 1961.
Charters, Samuel: Ballad & Folksinger, Pink Anderson vol. 3 record liner notes, 1961.
Dosanjh, Warren: The music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013, p. 54.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 104.
Hogg, Brian: What Colour is Sound?, Crazy Diamond CD box booklet, 1993.
Israd, Elise: The use of food as a sexual metaphor in the blues, 2008?, (original page deleted, partially archived page)
Levine, Lawrence W. : Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2007 reprint, p. 225-232.
McInnis, Mike : This one's Pink, Unraveling the mysteries behind the Pink Floyd name, 2006.
Miles, Barry: London Calling: a countercultural history of London since 1945, Atlantic Books, London, 2010, p. 181.
Miles, Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006, p. 46.
Miles, Barry & Mabbett, Andy: Pink Floyd The Visual Documentary, Omnibus Press, London, 1994 edition, unnumbered pages, 1965 section.
Obrecht, Jas: Blind Boy Fuller: His Life, Recording Sessions, and Welfare Records, 2011.
Oliver, Paul: Country Blues 1935-'40, Blind Boy Fuller liner notes, 1962.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 40.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 18.
Pyle, Stephen: Pink & Floyd, message on 21/03/2015 16:38.
Schaffner, Nicholas: Saucerful of Secrets, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1991, p. 30.
Schwartz, Roberta Freund : How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American Blues Style in the United Kingdom, Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 91-95.
Stagg'O'Lee: Blind Boy Fuller, Sa Vie, Gazette Greenwood, 2003.
Watkinson, Mike & Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 31.
Weck, Lars: Pink Floyd på visit, Dagens Nyheter, 1967-09-11.
Welch, Chris: Learning to Fly, Castle Communications, Chessington, 1994, p. 26.
Zolten, Jerry: Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds : Celebrating the Rise of Soul, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 54-57.

Discography:
Pink Anderson
Floyd Council
Blind Boy Fuller

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


2015-06-14

Iggy Rose in Cambridge

Iggy Rose by Vic Singh
Iggy Rose by the legendary Vic Singh.

The second weekend of June has the second Cambridge biennial Birdie Hop meeting, with special guest stars: Viv Brans, Vic Singh, Peter Gilmour, Men On The Border, Jenny Spires, Warren Dosanjh, Libby Gausden, Dave 'Dean' Parker & Iggy Rose (and some more).

Unfortunately the Facebook group for this event has been closed for prying eyes, but some pictures and videos have already leaked out.

Iggy Rose and Goran Nystrom
Iggy Rose, in great shape, & Göran Nyström from Men on the Border.

Pictures and videos will be regularly uploaded to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr page, as soon as the Holy Igquisiton gets hold of them.

Iggy Rose admiring a record cover
Iggy Rose admiring a record cover. Picture: Mick Brown.

For the latest (public) pictures and videos of the 2015 Birdie Hop event, please check: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com/tagged/june-2015.
Our review of the first Birdie Hop meeting in 2013: Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting? 


Many thanks to: Sandra Blickem, Mick Brown, Warren Dosanjh, Vanessa Flores, Tim Greenhall, Alex Hoffmann, Antonio Jesus (Solo En Las Nubes), Douglas Milne, Göran Nyström (Men On The Border), Vic Singh, Abigail Thomson-Smith, Eva Wijkniet...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2015-12-05

Skeletons from the Kloset

Roger Waters.
Roger Waters.

Pink Floyd, dear sistren and brethren of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit, will never stop to amaze us, for better and for worse.

Riff-raff in the room

Two weeks ago saw the umpteenth incarnation of The Wall concept. Let's try to count how many times this important work of musical art more or less exists. We'll only take count of official and 'complete' versions as individual songs from the Wall can be found on compilations, live albums and concert movies from the band and its members going solo.

First there was The Wall album by Pink Floyd (1979), followed by the 1982 movie with the same name. In 1990 Roger Waters staged his rock opera in Berlin, with guest performances by other artists, and this was immortalised with an album and a concert movie.

The twenty year anniversary of the album was celebrated at the turn of the millennium by Is There Anybody Out There, a live album taken from the eighties tour by the classic Floyd, although Rick Wright technically was no longer a member of the band.

2011 saw the Why Pink Floyd? re-release campaign and three epic albums were issued in an Experience and Immersion series, each with added content. The Wall Immersion has 7 discs and four of these are the regular album and its live clone. A third double-CD-set has the so-called Wall demos and WIP-tapes that had already been largely around for a decade in collector's circles. A bonus DVD contains some clips and documentaries, but not the concert movie that is known to exist. For collectors The Wall Immersion was the most disappointing of the series and the presence of a scarf, some marbles and a few coasters only helped to augment that feeling.

Am I too old, is it too late?

In 2010 Roger Waters started a three years spanning tour with a live Wall that promised to be bigger and better. It was certainly more theatrical and if we may believe the Reverend, who watched the show as interested as Mr. Bean on a rollercoaster, boring as fuck. But with 4,129,863 sold tickets it set a new record for being the highest grossing tour for a solo musician, surpassing Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.

So it is no wonder that the show would be turned into a movie. It needs to be said that Roger Waters should be thanked for stepping outside the concert movie concept, adding a deep personal touch to the product. Those people who already saw the Blu-ray praise its sound quality that is conform to what we expect from a Floydian release, despite Waters' obvious lip-synching on about half of the tracks.

And that is why the CD-version of The Wall live is such a disaster. There are serious indications that some sound studio jerk took the superior Blu-ray surround mix and simply downgraded it to stereo without reworking the parts that make no sense when you only have got the audio to rely on. Apparently making 459 million $ with The Wall tour didn’t give Roger Waters enough pocket money to make a proper CD mix for this release.

Riding the gravy train, or as the Sex Pistols named it: doing a rock 'n' roll swindle, is something we are already familiar with in Pink Floyd (and former EMI) circles. The Anchor wrote in the past about scratched and faulty discs that were put in those expensive deluxe sets (Fuck all that, Pink Floyd Ltd. – 2011 12 02) and how the band and its record company pretended to sell remastered albums while the music on the CD was just goody good bullshit taken from an old tape (What the fuck is your problem, Pink Floyd? – 2014 11 08). It makes us a bit sad for all those fans who have bought the super deluxe set of The Wall at 500 dollars a piece. The show must go on, n'est-ce pas?

But anyone familiar with the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit knows lengthy introductions are our trademark and it will not come as a surprise that this article isn't about The Wall at all.

1965: their first recordings
Pink Floyd 1965: their first recordings.

Buzz all night long

On Black Friday, the 27th of November 2015, sightings were published on the social media of an unannounced Pink Floyd 7-inch-vinyl-double-set that had hit records shops in the UK. It was named 1965: Their First Recordings and claimed to have the following tracks.

Record 1A:
Lucy Leave

Record 1B:
Double O Bo
Remember Me

Record 2A:
Walk with me Sydney

Record 2B:
Butterfly
I’m a King Bee

Composers:
1, 2, 3, 5: Syd Barrett
4: Roger Waters
6: Slim Harpo

Personnel:
Syd Barrett: Vocals, Guitar.
Bob ‘Rado’ Klose: Guitar.
Nick Mason: Drums.
Roger Waters: Bass, Vocals.
Richard Wright: Keyboards.
Juliette Gale: vocals on Walk with me Sydney.
(Some pictures of the 'first' five man Floyd can be seen here: Pink Floyd 1965.)

It was soon confirmed that the records were official, contrary to the many bootlegs that already exist of the first and last track of the set, and that it was a so-called 'copyright extension release'. According to European law, sound recordings have a seventy years copyright, provided that they are released within five decades. If the recording fails to be published within 50 years it automatically becomes public domain, the 'use it or loose it'-clause, and that is something that The Floyd didn't want to happen, especially not as there seems to be an Early Years Immersion set on its way, predicted for the end of 2016.

That six tracks were released from the Floyd's first session(s) was something of a surprise. Up till now, every biography only spoke of four tracks put on tape. Let's see what Nick Mason had to say about it:

Around Christmas 1964, we went into a studio for the first time. We wangled this through a friend of Rick’s who worked at the studio in West Hampstead, and who let us use some down time for free. The session included one version of an old R&B classic ‘I’m A King Bee’, and three songs written by Syd: ‘Double O Bo’ (Bo Diddley meets the 007 theme), ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Lucy Leave’.

This was repeated in an August 2013 interview for Record Collector.

Nick Mason in Record Collector
Nick Mason in Record Collector, August 2013.

In Latin in a frame

However, in a letter to Jenny Spires, presumably from late January, early February 1965, Syd Barrett speaks about five tracks:

[We] recorded five numbers more or less straight off; but only the guitars and drums. We're going to add all the singing and piano etc. next Wednesday. The tracks sound terrific so far, especially King Bee.

At the bottom of this letter Barrett also drew the studio setup with Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Robert 'Rado' Klose and himself ("Me. I can't draw me.").

The early sessions also appear in an (unpublished) letter to Libby Gausden:

Tomorrow I get my new amp- Hooray! - and soon it's Christmas. (…) We're going to record 'Walk With Me Sydney' and one I've just written ' Remember Me?', but don't think I'm one of those people who say they'll be rich and famous one day, Lib.

In another letter he writes:

We just had a practice at Highgate which was OK. We're doing three of my numbers – 'Butterfly', 'Remember Me?' and 'Let's roll another one', and Roger's 'Walk with me Sydney', so it could be good but Emo says why don't I give up cos it sounds horrible and he's right and I would, but I can't get Fred [David Gilmour, note from FA] to join because he's got his group (p'raps you knew!). So I still have to sing.

Tim Willis concludes in his Madcap biography that:

Sydologists will be astounded to learn that by '64, Barrett had already written 'Let's Roll Another One', as well as two songs 'Butterfly' and 'Remember Me'.

This is slagged by Rob Chapman in A Very Irregular Head. According to Chapman the letters date from December 1965, and not 1964, for reasons that are actually pretty plausible.

Bob Klose told Random Precision author David Parker that he only remembers doing one recording session with the Floyd late Spring 1965 and that he left the band in the summer of that year.

In other words, dating these tracks is still something of a mess. At the Steve Hoffman forum the tracks were analysed by Rnranimal and he concluded that the 6 tracks do not origin from the same source either, so they could originate from different recording sessions. According to him; tracks 1, 2 and 6 sound like tape and 3, 4 & 5 like acetate.

Legally all songs need to be from 1965, and not from December 1964, as Mason claims in his biography, because... that would make these 1964 songs public domain and free to share for all of us. Perhaps the band started recording in December 1964 but added vocals and keyboards a couple of weeks later, in 1965. Surely an army of lawyers must have examined all possibilities to keep the copyrights sound and safe.

1965 (silly front sleeve)
Pink Floyd 1965 (silly front sleeve).

Good as gold to you

1965: Their First Recordings is exactly what the title says. Never mind the cover with its psychedelic theme as it is obviously misleading. In 1965 The Pink Floyd were still a British Rhythm & Blues outfit and not in the least interested in psychedelic light shows. Barrett tries hard to impersonate Jagger and even uses an American accent on the songs. And not all songs are that original either. We skip Lucy Leave and I'm a King Bee for the following short review as they have been around for the past few decades.

Double O Bo is a pastiche of Bo Diddley's signature song, but has a weird chord change that is inimitably Syd Barrett. Baby Driver:

It's a straight forward enough tip of the hat to Bo Diddley musically, but then he throws in those two chords: F, G# which is something Bo Diddley NEVER would have done. Syd was a genius. what would otherwise be throwaway songs from a band in its infancy, make for compelling listening due to his voice and his unique lyrics.

In Remember Me, the weakest song of the set, Syd strains his voice so hard that it nearly sounds that someone else is singing (some people claim it is Bob Klose and not Barrett). As Marigoldilemma remarks:

To me this one sounds like Syd trying to sound like Eric Burdon of the Animals.

Walk with me Sydney, from Roger Waters and with Juliette Gale on vocals, is a spoof of Roll with me, Henry aka The Wallflower, written in 1955 by Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard and Etta James. As it is not sure yet when Walk With Me Sydney was exactly recorded this could – perhaps – even be a track without Bob Klose. It is also the first time that we have a Roger Waters lyrical list, a trick that he will repeat for the fifty years to come:

Flat feet,
fallen arches,
baggy knees and a broken frame,
meningitis,
peritonitis,
DT's and a washed out brain.

Medical Product Safety Information: Don't listen to this song if you don't want it continually on repeat in your brain.

Butterfly is the surprise song of the set. This track shows the potential Barrett had in him and could have been included, in a slightly more mature version, on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The lyrics are pretty dark as well and typical Syd:

I won't squeeze you dead.
Pin things through your head.
I just want your love.
Bob Klose by Syd Barrett
Bob Klose. Drawing: Syd Barrett.

Catch you soon

Not only was Parlophone pretty vague about the recording dates, the record was also released without any publicity and in very limited quantities, only 1050 copies for worldwide distribution, including 350 for the UK. Not one of the serious Pink Floyd fansites knew about the release and they were pretty late diffusing the news, further proof these websites only publish what Pink Floyd Ltd allows them to publish.

Pretty remarkable is that the Floydian fan-forums didn't really go into overdrive about this set either and that the best comments and information could be found on Steve Hoffman's Music Corner. Yeeshkul had a pretty interesting thread as well, but this was removed when people started discussing alternative ways of requiring these tracks. It just makes one wonder how tight the grip is of the Pink Floyd Gestapo Legal Council around Yeeshkuls' neck.

When it became clear that this edition was
a) genuine and
b) rare,
prices sky-rocketed. Hundreds of dollars were offered for a set and there have been cases of record shop owners raising the prices for the copies they still had in their racks. It needs to be said that a thousand copies for a new Pink Floyd product is ridiculously low, even if it only interests a small part of the Floydian fanbase.

Luckily for all those who didn't get a copy this is the age of the internet and needle-drops can be found in harbours in silent waters around us. Mind you, this is not psychedelic, nor classic dreamy Floyd, but an R'n'B band in full progress, still looking for its own sound. Vinyl collector Rick Barnes:

What I heard earlier was amazing ! Like the stones but sharper and more original. They were a lot more together than I ever gave them credit. I'm surprised they were not discovered in '65. Had they met Giorgio Gomelsky or someone similar things might have been very different...

 We end this post with an opinion from Mastaflatch at Neptune Pink Floyd:

With many bands such as Pink Floyd, who had been there for very long, some people tend to forget the real crucial points when the band was struck by genius and only find comfort in the familiar songs or familiar patterns or familiar guitar solos. Between 1965 and 1967, something major happened to PF and it's plain as day here. If not for Syd, it's pretty likely that NOTHING of what we know and love from this band would have reached our ears.
But, if you listen closely, the weirdness was already there in Syd's chord changes and lyrics. (...) To get a band going though, especially in the 60s when you had The Beatles leading the pack, you couldn't only rely on blobs and gimmicks and Syd had what it took in spades: great songs, fierce originality and a tendency to NOT rest on his laurels and go forward.
I think that Pink Floyd, somewhere in the 70s ended up lacking at least one of those attributes - mostly the latter and it only got worse as time went on. I'm not saying that their later stuff wasn't good but at some point, Pink Floyd ceased to invent its sound and became content to play within its previously defined boundaries. Good music but far less exciting.

In 1965 these boys were hungry, literally sometimes, and that is what you hear. Their main preoccupation wasn't how to earn some 459 million $ turnover on a pre-recorded jukebox show from some 30 years before and it shows.


Many thanks to: A Fleeting Glimpse Forum, Baby Driver, Rick Barnes, Goldenband, Steve Hoffman Music Corner, Late Night Forum, Marigoldilemma, Mastaflash, Göran Nyström, Neptune Pink Floyd Forum, Rnranimal.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Links and things:
Steve Hoffman Musical Corner: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/pink-floyd-1965-double-7.481968/
A Fleeting Glimpse: http://s7.zetaboards.com/Pink_Floyd/topic/9263411/1/
Neptune Pink Floyd: http://www.neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=24366
Yeeshkul (second thread): http://yeeshkul.com/forum/showthread.php?36451-What-Official-1965-recordings-released

Pink Floyd 1965 at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr page.

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Beecher, Russell & Shutes, Will: Barrett, Essential Works Ltd, London, 2011, p. 152-153.
Chapman, Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p. 56-57.
Gausden Libby: Syd Barrett Letters. Photographed by Mark Jones and published at Laughing Madcaps (Facebook).
Geesin, Joe: Acid Tates, Record Collector 417, August 2013, p 79-80.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out: A personal history of Pink Floyd, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 29.
Parker, David: Random Precision, Cherry Red Books, London, 2001, p. 1.
Willis, Tim, Madcap, Short Books, London, 2002, p. 43-44.


2016-01-10

New Syd Barrett Website Launched!

Barrett (1967)
Syd Barrett (1967).

(Warning: this blogpost contains gratuitous nudity.)

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

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

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

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

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

Caturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Octopus (compilation)
Octopus (compilation).

Rocktopus

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy (f)Art

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


2016-08-29

Miraculous Magnets

Sydge
Sydge, by Anthony Stern.

Get All From That Ant

About two years after the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit came with the news of an Anthony Stern anthology, showing an overview of his work, including unseen Pink Floyd footage and our own Iggy the Eskimo, it might finally get a release to the general public. Well, sort of. (See: Magnets & Miracles)

Get All From That Ant will be shown at a Syd Barrett (mini) festival that will be held in October in Cambridge when also a Syd Barrett memorial artwork will be unveiled. Men On The Border will interpret the mad cat’s wacko music with the Sandviken symphony orchestra, some mystery guests and a groovy lightshow from Peter Wynne Wilson.

Have You Got It Yet

Although not confirmed (yet) the Barrett movie festival may also feature Storm Thorgerson’s legendary Have You Got It Yet. This movie is being finalised by Roddy Bogawa, whom you might know from the excellent documentary Taken By Storm, that any Hipgnosis fan needs to have in his / her collection. We had a chat earlier this year with the movie maker and here is what he had to say.

I can answer some of the rumours! Yes, we are hoping the film will be released this year - it is in the editing stage - and yes, Lindsay [Corner] and Gayla [Pinion] are interviewed in it as well as Jenny Spires and Libby Gausden... I think it is ok to make that public...
Also Roger, David and Nick appear in new interviews which I think are quite different than most of the ones they've done before because Storm was present and he grew up with Syd, David and Roger.
So...it's exciting and once the film gets closer to completion, we'll talk it up more!
(Source: Facebook Chat, 2016 06 03)

Surely a release to be yearning for, even when Iggy wasn't interviewed, due to unforeseen circumstances.

Sydge and Iggnet

It is not certain if Stern’s anthology will get the DVD release as promised a couple of years ago. Our efforts to ask Anthony stayed unanswered. Artists, huh…

In 2014 some extremely lucky people received a Syd magnet, aka Sydge, for a Stern project that had to culminate in a book. Unfortunately all the relevant pages on the Anthony Stern Films blog have been removed, so we fear it has been shelved.

In December 2014 an Iggy the Eskimo magnet was announced (see: Iggy on your fridge!), but although the Holy Church ordered about a dozen that project was indefinitely postponed as well. Until now…

Iggnet by Anthony Stern
Iggnet by Anthony Stern.

Syd Barrett and Iggy Photo Art Collectable Fridge Magnets.

2 Magnets in total.
Taken from original photos by Anthony Stern are these fantastic, practical and groovy fridge magnets featuring both Syd Barrret playing live and Iggy during a creative photoshoot with Anthony.
Both images can also be found in the new and upcoming GATA? Get ALL That Ant? .....biographical film of Anthony Stern's youth when he was friends with the infamous couple at the start of the Pink Floyd band creation.
An original piece of Uk Rock History documentation and a great gift idea for the Syd Barrett and Iggy fans.

The Syd and Iggy magnets are now for sale at Anthony Stern’s Etsy page. Get them while you still can…
(The Church is not affiliated with or endorsed by Mr. Stern's company.)


Many thanks to: Roddy Bogawa, Anthony Stern.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥

Tumblr pages:

Anthony Stern:
Iggnet
Sydge

Roddy Bogawa:
Taken By Storm

Felix Atagong:
Sydge (Atagong Mansion)


2016-10-21

Memory Marbles (2016): new Iggy pictures found!

Anthony Stern
Anthony Stern.

In our previous post (Lost Weekends) we told how Keith Richards (with some help from Julian Temple) took over the BBC4 broadcasting schedule on the weekend from the 23rd to the 25th September 2016.

One of the documentaries shown was called Lost and Found: The Memory Marbles of Anthony Stern. Unfortunately it was the only original piece that couldn't be re-watched on the BBC4 iPlayer, probably due to copyright restrictions.

The Birdie Hop group, that has a soft spot for Iggy Rose, looked for people who had a copy, but could only find some pictures and snippets, taken with mobile phones, from TV screens. Quality wasn't excellent, but it was all we had.

Then professional Syd Barrett movie collector Hallucalation chimed in. This man has already unearthed 'lost' Pink Floyd reels earlier and again he did the impossible and traced back a digital copy of the Anthony Stern BBC4 documentary. (A 2012 self-Interview with this remarkable man, taken from Solo En Las Nubes, can be found at Wondering and Dreaming (a self-interview with Ewgeni Reingold).)

Even if your heart isn't necessary with Pink Floyd, nor with Iggy the Eskimo, it is an excellent documentary, not only of the swinging sixties, but of life in that decade in general. If the documentary was a shortened version of Take All That From Ant, that has its premiere today in Cambridge, by the way, then that movie is going to be a killer.

Iggy the Eskimo, by Anthony Stern.
Iggy the Eskimo. Pictures: Anthony Stern.

Several entirely new pictures of Iggy have been unearthed, several 'better' screenshots of the Iggy, the Eskimo movie have been grabbed and these can be seen on our Tumblr Memory Marbles page. For your amusement we have of course also added some Pink Floyd at UFO shots.

Enjoy.


This article is an update from Lost Weekends. Many thanks to: Hallucalation, Antonio Jesús, Lisa Newman, Anthony Stern, Yeeshkul.

The Iggy the Eskimo Memory Marbles photo series on Tumblr.
Yeeshkul: Film and Photography by Anthony Stern.

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2016-11-26

RIP Rusty Burnhill

Rusty Burnhill
Rusty Burnhill. Picture: Gretta Barclay.

The Church was informed, a couple of days ago, that Rusty Burnhill died at the age of 70.

Rusty, and his girlfriend (and later wife) Gretta Barclay, were a 'hippie couple' who were in Syd Barrett's inner circle and who visited him in his apartment at Wetherby Mansions. It is there that they met Iggy and helped painting the floorboards in blue and red (or any colour variation you like).

Unfortunately the other tenant of the apartment wasn't really amused with the constant stream of visitors around the has-been pop-star and, in several interviews, many years later, he still uttered his frustration about this, naming the couple as one of the heavier nutcases.

This unfavourable account found its way in at least three renowned Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett biographies and as such the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit repeated that testimony as well. (Source: Love In The Woods (Pt. 2)).

However, another friend of Syd Barrett, who we may only address under the pseudonym JenS, for reasons too much complicated to explain here, vehemently disagreed and called the couple 'art school kids' who probably goofed out on booze and mandrax, like everyone else did in those days (Source: When Syd met Iggy... (Pt. 3)).

Gretta Barclay denied the accusations in her interview with the Church:

Syd was a very dear friend of ours and we did a considerable amount together in the 60's. Contrary to what I have read, we did not provide Syd with drugs. (Source: Gretta Speaks.)

JenS had met Gretta and her sister Trina during the mid sixties in a London grooming school and she introduced them to Syd when he was still living at 101 Cromwell Road. JenS, Gretta, Trina and the French Dominique (who apparently had a huge crush on Syd) lived together in Chelsea for a while. Then Gretta met Rusty.

In late 1969 or early 1970 the couple, who had never been part of the underground, left hectic London for Suffolk mainly because Gretta was pregnant from her first child. Later in 1970 they moved to Devon.

Barrett still was a close friend and they did visit him, but obviously not to indulge in drugs and booze. Rusty was a pretty good guitarist and he jammed with Syd on tracks as Terrapin, Octopus and the blues standards they both loved. The couple tried to upkeep Syd's interest for (his own) music and Rusty silently hoped to do something together.

Although Gretta, in her first and only interview she ever gave, is pretty vague about Syd's condition the couple must have sensed there was something terribly wrong with the Cambridge wonderboy. They actively tried to reactivate his musical interest by introducing him to the Welsh folk-maverick Meic Stevens.

Meic Stevens with Syd Barrett
Meic Stevens & Syd Barrett.

They all visited the Welsh singer-songwriter in his house in Solva, where Syd and Rusty jammed with Meic's band Bara Menyn. A pretty bad photo exists of the encounter, perhaps with Gretta and Rusty sitting around the table with Syd, Meic, Heather Jones and Geraint Jarman. (Syd and Meic would meet several times and they were the subject of a BBC documentary that has probably been lost. See Meic meets Syd for the story.)

After a while Rusty and Margaretta went separate ways. Rusty lived for a few months with Jenny Spires and Jack Monck in Cambridge. Jack and Rusty even started a band, in 1972, right after the Stars debacle. Rocksoff (or Rocks Off) had Rusty Burnhill (gtr/voc), Jack Monck (bass/voc), George Bacon (gtr/voc), Dan Kelleher (gtr/pno/voc) and a succession of drummers, including Chris Cutler and Laurie Allan. (Source: http://calyx.perso.neuf.fr/mus/monck_jack.html.)

Rusty apparently travelled a lot before settling down on the North Frisian island Amrum (Germany) from 1978 till 1993. After a brief stay in Worpswede, a village in the North of Germany, where he participated in a few art exhibitions, he moved in 1995 to Barmstedt, a Hamburg suburb.

In March 2010, after some holistic detective agency proceedings, the Church could find Rusty's address. We knew he wasn't using mail and that he was very reluctant to speak about the past, so we wrote him a letter to ask for an interview.

It took quite a while, and actually we had forgotten all about it, but one day he called us out of the blue. Unfortunately the conversation wasn't going into the direction we had hoped for. After a tirade that took a few minutes Mr. Burnhill asked us:

Isn't it time this all ends?
This has been going on for 40 years now.
Can't you just let the music speak for itself?

Wise words. There are more important things in life than chasing shadows of dead men.

We really hope, Rusty, that you can finally form that band, you've always dreamt about.


Many thanks: Gretta Barclay, Thomas Hartlage, JenS, Gus Mark Peters, Rebecca Poole, anonymous. Picture of Rusty Burnhill: courtesy of Gretta Barclay.

The Gretta Barclay Files: Gretta Speaks 
The Meic Stevens Files: Meic 'Welsh Syd' Stevens 
The JenS Files: JenS Remembers 


2017-01-04

Happy New Year 2017 (and Happy Birthday Syd)

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

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

A short and sweet 2016 Tumblr overview

Barrett Celebration at The Geldart, Cambridge.
January 2016: (Private) Barrett Tribute and sing-along at The Geldart, Cambridge.
Barrett Celebration announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
February 2016: Barrett Celebration announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
Barrett bike wheel tribute artwork announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
March 2016: Barrett 'bike wheel' tribute artwork announced at Corn Exchange, Cambridge.
Mojo Syd Barrett special
April 2016: Mojo Syd Barrett special.