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Those that have been living on planet Magrathea for the past
couple of months may not have been aware that Thursday, 17th of March
2011 was a great day in the life for a Barrett-fan.
The long awaited book 'Barrett',
apparently nobody attempts to use a combination of Madcap or Crazy
Diamond any more, which is a good thing, was launched with a
mega-party and exhibition at Idea
The Church will review the definitive visual companion to the life of
Syd Barrett in the weeks to come so for the moment you have to content
yourself with the message that it is a splendiferous (and heavy... and
pricey) work of art... and love.
Attending the launch were Anthony Stern, Aubrey "Po" Powell, Captain
Sensible, Dark Globe, David Gale, Duggie Fields, Graham Coxon, Ian
Barrett, Irene Winsby, Jenny Spires, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, Libby
Gausden, Mark Blake, Miles, Philip James, Rosemary Breen, Vic Singh,
Warren Dosanjh and many others... enough to make a Pink Floyd aficionado
But for the Church (and not only for the Church) the star of the evening
undoubtedly was a woman of international mystery... and here are some
pictures of her:
Libby Gausden and Iggy
John "Hoppy" Hopkins and Iggy
Iggy and Andy Rose
Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible
Duggie Fields and Iggy
Brian Wernham and Iggy
Iggy having some fun with the paparazzi
Where is Iggy? and who else can you recognise on this picture?
Some answers: Antonio Jesús: "The tall guy in brown is Warren
Dosanjh." Mark Jones: "Duggie Fields." Jenny
Spires: "Nigel Gordon and Jimmie Mickelson, Will Shutes and Viv's
nephew, Kieren and his partner..." Libby Gausden Chisman: "Roe
Barrett and her husband Paul Breen, Buster and his partner who used to
come swimming with Dave Gilmour and me at Jesus Green swimming pool in
One of our brethren told the Reverend afterwards:
I saw Iggy at the launch yesterday. She did very well, considering it
was her first public appearance. She had a legion of female admirers so
she was happy, and people were thrilled to meet her.
The Church wishes to thank: Antonio Jesús, Mark Blake, Libby Gausden
Chisman, Dark Globe, Paul Drummond, Jimmie James, Mark Jones, Jenny
Spires, Brian Wernham and the beautiful people at Late Night and
Facebook. ♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥
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.
If you would like to visit Cambridge this summer, it is too late to book
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.
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.
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
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...
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
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
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.
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)
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
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.
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.)
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
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
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
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
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...
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.
What was the music scene like in Cambridge during the period 1965 to
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Some people have asked me about the box set and what it contains, so
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
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
The city centre tour is conducted by two friends of Syd and at each
location they reveal details of their times with him.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
10.30 Pick-up by coach at the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens in
183 Hills Road, Syd's house.
The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (now the Hills Road Sixth Form
College), where Syd, Roger Waters, Bob 'Rado' Klose and Storm Thorgerson
Morley Primary Junior School where Mary Waters taught her son and Syd.
The Friends Meeting House on Hartington Grove, where Geoff Mott & The
Mottoes played their one and only gig.
6 St. Margaret's Square, where Syd last lived after moving back to
Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits where some Birdie Hop members did a bizarre
reenactment of the Syd's First Trip movie.
Grantchester Meadows: lunch stop with a pint (BYO) from the Blue Ball
Walk on the meadows...
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
City walk (Corn Exchange, Union Cellar, King´s College, Market Square
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!
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.
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!
Dosanjh: I have guided nearly all Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett tours
in Cambridge since 2006. But this was the best and most extraordinary
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!
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.
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).
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
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:
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!
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
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.
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
Dylan Blues, it has - unfortunately - retreated into internet limbo.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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"
Orgone Accumulator: “For all his psychedelic leanings, Syd tapped into
that earlier Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly groove, with an emphasis on
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.
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
While the lyrics of the verses are different in both versions:
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
Kick out the windows bust down the doors We`re drinkin` half
gallons and shoutin` for more Take off your shoes and let yourself
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
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.
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.
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.
Many thanks to: Mohammed Abdullah John 'Twink' Alder, Rick Barnes,
Beechwoods, Birdie Hop, Mick Brown, Cyberspace, Demamo, Chris Farmer,
Late Night, Orgone Accumulator, Syd Wonder, Yeeshkul. ♥ Iggy ♥
Sources (other than the above internet links): Blake, Mark: Pigs
Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2013, p. 171-173. Chapman,
Rob: A Very Irregular Head, Faber and Faber, London, 2010, p.
283-285. Palacios, Julian: Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe,
Plexus, London, 2010, p. 392-400. Six Hour Technicolour Dream
poster scanned in by Mick Brown.
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
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
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 (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
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
Yardbirds, the estates of Marc
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 M-o-o-o-rning”.
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:
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org 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: <email@example.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
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.
Update July 2017:...and yet, official Pink Floyd sources still
don't grasp this. The 2017 catalogue for the Pink Floyd Their Mortal
remains exhibition states at page 82 that the band was - and we quote -
'named after two of Syd Barrett's favourite blues artists'.
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
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
In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it
started our careers.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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: 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
and Lyrics Source(s):
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.
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
(take 2) and Lyrics
Been Your Dog
Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife.
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
Recorded: February 10, 1937. Sound,
but no Lyrics found.
Hungry Calf Blues
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.
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
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
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.
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
Other sources say it should be 'nature
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.
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
Country Blues Side Two
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.
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
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.
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.
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
The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again)
the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.
Away From My Woman, this song actually exists in two different
takes, from the same session, with about 20 seconds 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.
“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily
summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black
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
Other trivia: Blues band Shakey
Vick named their first album,
in 1969, after this song.
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
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.
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.
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:
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,
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. Goodall, Howard: Painters, Pipers, Prisoners. The musical
legacy of Pink Floyd., in: Pink Floyd. Their Mortal Remains, London,
2017, p.82. 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.
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.
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.
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 ♥
Let's cut the crap. Most Sydiots, a perfect term coined by a Syd
Barrett fan-site webmaster who turned out to be an internet charlatan,
A Facebook search gives about twenty Barrett-related groups (not
counting the hidden ones obviously), ranging from 7 to well over 7000
members, but at the moment you read this this may well have varied as
new groups sprout regularly, mostly when ex-members create new groups
out of frustration with another one.
In 2006, due to a sudden emotional storm that swept through my
household, I dived deep into those muddy waters that define Barrettism.
Joining the madcap cult is not unlike the rise into a masonic lodge and
by studying hard and absorbing facts and figures one constantly
progresses onto the Barrett road and closer to the 'secret', the
'mystery', the 'enigma', whatever that may be. It is a slow path, but
one that is rewarding, at least that is what we are fooling ourselves
Floyd carefully cultivated the Barrett myth throughout the years,
gaining millions of pounds in the madcap's slipstream, although they
have never been eager to share a slice of the pie. Rumours go the band
took advantage of Syd's frail mental state in the early seventies
peer-pressuring him into selling his financial share in the Pink Floyd
company. Roger Waters may have written Wish
You Were Here out of remorse, but that was not to be taken too
literally and it certainly didn't apply when Syd kept asking for his
paycheck. This doesn't mean that Barrett was a poor boy though. Dark
Side, Wish You Were Here, The Wall and The Division Bell all made new
fans who would check out The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn or a Floyd
compilation with some of his early tracks.
Selling Barrett by the pound is not a Pink Floyd prerogative.
Thorgerson and Mick
Rock turned it into an industry, publishing virtually the same
books, with different titles to fool the public, every couple of years.
Another grab in the rumour-mill goes that they sued, or threaten to sue,
each-other to decide, once and for all, who got the rights of precisely
what Barrett pictures. It all is the messy consequence of both of them
turning up, on the same day in 1969, for the photo-shoot of Barrett's
now legendary and considered cult album, The
Madcap Laughs, and mixing up the negatives. Apparently they came to
an arrangement that suited both, what cannot be said of the model on the
backside of the album who still has to receive the first penny for her
performance of 45 years ago.
Much lower at the Sydiverse are those people who once knew him,
or those silly tossers (m/f) pretending to have known him, often in the
biblical sense of that phrase, and who are frantically trying to keep
the memory alive and their reputation high, which can be something of a
My eternal admiration goes to the person who remarked rather dispirited:
If it weren't for the fact Syd Barrett stuck his cock in me... who
would really give a fuck about me?
Two: Life is just...
Years ago, I remarked to one of those infallible Syd Barrett-insiders
that there could be a good book in the adventures of the
Cambridge-mafia, beatniks and hipsters who went to London to seek for
fame and fortune, circling (and sometimes dying) like moths around the
Floyd's psychedelic flame.
To my knowledge that book was never written, but some bits and pieces
can be found in various (early) Pink Floyd biographies and other
Swingin' London debris. And there is of course the more than excellent 'The
Music Scene of 1960s Cambridge', now in its 6th edition, researched
and compiled by Warren
Dosanjh, although it tends to look at Pink Floyd as something funny
Cambridge beatnik and après-beatnik life can also be found in a few
Pryor's The Survival Of The Coolest and Matthew
Scurfield's I Could Be Anyone each have Floydian encounters,
mainly because it was impossible to frequent hip places and not meet Syd
Barrett. Nick Sedgwick's
novel Light Blue With Bulges tried to turn the adventures of a
would-be beat poet into a novel, but as far as I can remember it pretty
much sucked, despite the presence of a certain Mr. Roger Waters as an
arrogant bass player.
Lesmoir-Gordon (NLG) was typecasted as 'Andy' in that novel. In the
early sixties he operated the coffee-machine in the trendy coffee-bar El
Patio and organised poetry readings and art events, that put him in the
centre of the avant-garde cultural elite. Although he moved on into
TV/film business he sometimes still performs on art happenings,
accurately described by satirist Mick Brown as 'a load of old toffs
stuck in a lava lamp'.
In his latest novel 'Life Is Just...' NLG describes a typical
British dysfunctional family in the year 1962. Well, typical... The
authoritarian father, a respected and feared dean at the Cambridge
university, is a living example of the rigorous conservatism of the
post-war years, while the children, two sons and a daughter, are
experimenting with the newfound freedom that is modern jazz, beat
literature, pot and premarital sex. Mother Mary, trapped between loyalty
towards her husband and love for her children, tries to hold the house
together, despite the cracks in the cement, speaking words of wisdom, as
the song goes.
When NLG informed the Barrett community that a Syd-like painter and
musician, Richard Bannerman, turns up as one of the main
characters there was no unanimous cheer and this time this was not due
to the fact that the madcap community mainly consists of a lethargic
bunch of wankers. In 2000 NLG directed the docu-fiction Remember
A Day about an imaginary sixties musician, Roger Bannerman.
The film was made with amateurs, some sixties underground celebrities
thinking they could act, had a non-existing script and it resulted into
a vehicle that makes the Jan
& Dean biopic Deadman's
Curve (1978) look like Oscar material.
But of course I would never have read 'Life Is Just...' without the
Barrett connotation. NLG knows how to trigger some buzz with us anoraks,
that is for sure. But after the initial nerdy questions, such as, is
Richard Bannerman a realistic portrait of Roger Barrett and did he
really was a gigolo on a bike, the character takes over as a character
and not as a clone of a once famous musician stroke womaniser. That's
the strength of the author and its story, I guess.
Not that the story is that particular. At a certain point La
vie est un long fleuve tranquille popped into my mind, there is an
old family mystery, some unavoidable traumatic things occur and life
simply goes on after as if nothing has happened...
One of the brothers, Dominic, is probably an alter-ego of the author. He
travels to India, in search for a guru, where he meets Meher
Baba and Swami Satchit Ananda, who takes his preference.
While the trip to and through India is a fine read, there are also
portions where the character tries to explain the reasons to follow the
mystical path, sometimes with excerpts from other books. It comes over a
bit like preaching and ostentatiously is one of the author's darlings.
Several Cantibrigians did go to India, although not as early as here.
Paul Charrier made the trip in 1966 and came back a changed man (see
are all made of stars and Formentera
Lady). He was so enthusiast that he converted others (including NLG)
to follow the path as well, cutting the Cambridge underground scene (and
its London satellites) literally in half. Others did not agree, like
Storm Thorgerson and Matthew Scurfield who called the Indian invasion a
'wave of saccharine mysticism hitting our shores'. Syd Barrett, as we
fans know, was also tempted to follow the path, but was rejected by the
master. He continued his hedonist life, living it fully, what may have
lead to his decline. Isn't it ironic?
At the end not only Dominic's life has dramatically changed, but also
that of his brother, sister and mother. The dark family mystery is known
to the reader but not to them, yet... so I'm pretty curious what the
second instalment of this trilogy will bring, and of course if Richard
Bannerman's band Green Onions will hit the charts or not.
While not earth-shattering Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon has written a pretty
fine book and the Kindle version costs less than a Guinness at The
Anchor, so what you are waiting for, you lazy Barrett faggots?
June had the second (and if rumours are correct: last) Birdie Hop
meeting in Cambridge with Syd Barrett fans having an informal drink with
some of the early-sixties Cambridge beatniks we know and love so dearly:
Jenny Spires, Libby Gausden, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Sandra Blickem,
Vic Singh, Warren Dosanjh and others...
Special guest star was none other than Iggy Rose who left, if we may
believe the natives, an everlasting impression. You can read all about
it at: Iggy
Rose in Cambridge.
Men On The Border came especially over from the northern parts of
Europe, leaving their igloo, so to speak, to gig at the Rathmore
Club where they not only jammed with other Syd-aficionados, but also
with Redcaps frontman Dave Parker. (For the history of those sixties
Cambridge bands check the excellent: The
Music Scene of 1960s Cambridge.)
The night before however, on Friday June 12th, Men On The Border played
the legendary Prince
Albert (that name always make us chuckle) music pub in Brighton.
This gig was recorded and is now the third album of Men On The Border,
(2012) that consisted of Barrett covers and Jumpstart
(2013) that mainly had original songs but with a slightly concealed
This live release shows that Men On The Border is a tight band and that
they can play their material without having to revert to digitally
wizardry. In a previous review we already remarked 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...
This live album certainly proves that. The versions are pretty close to
the recorded versions and singer Göran Nystrom manages once again to
give us goosebumps on Late Night and their own Warm From You
that is a pretty ingenious song if you ask us (with a sly nod to Jimi
So give them a warm hand of applause and make them feel welcome in this
mad cat world of random precision.
01 Terrapin (Jumpstart) 02 No Good Trying (ShinE!)
03 Scream Thy Last Scream (2015 single) 04 Long Gone (ShinE!)
05 Gigolo Aunt (ShinE!) 06 Late Night (ShinE!)
07 Octopus (ShinE!)
08 Warm From You (Jumpstart) 09 Baby Lemonade (ShinE!)
Digital release only, people don't buy plastic any more, unfortunately.