Warren Dosanjh

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2011-04-10

Iggy at the Exhibition

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 Generation, London.

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 drool...

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:

Iggy

Iggy
(picture courtesy and © A Fleeting Glimpse)

Libby Gausden and Iggy

Libby and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Paul Drummond), this image may not be published without the permission of its owner.)

John "Hoppy" Hopkins and Iggy

Hoppy and Iggy
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James)

Iggy and Andy Rose

Iggy and Andy Rose
(picture courtesy and © Jimmie James.)

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible

Ian Barrett, Iggy and Captain Sensible
(picture picture courtesy and © Captain Sensible)

Duggie Fields and Iggy

Duggie Fields and Iggy
(picture picture courtesy and © Jenny Spires)

Brian Wernham and Iggy

Brian Wernham and Iggy
(picture courtesy Brian Wernham, photographer unknown)

Iggy having some fun with the paparazzi

Iggy Superstar
(pictures courtesy and © Red Carpet)

Where is Iggy?
and who else can you recognise on this picture?

Flower People
(picture courtesy and © sydbarrettbook)

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 Cambridge."

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.

It was a night of Happy Talk indeed.


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 ♥


2011-08-17

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las Nubes.

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

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

Warren Dosanjh
Warren Dosanjh.

Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager

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

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

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

Where did you meet Syd Barrett for the first time?

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

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

How well did you know him then?

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

Did you play a musical instrument?

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

How did the band Those Without evolve?

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

And the name Those Without?

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

VW Dormobile
Volkswagen Dormobile.

So what was it like being a manager?

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

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

So what sort of music did Those Without play?

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

Syd with Those Without
Syd with Those Without.

How did Syd get in the band?

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

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

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

So what was special about Cambridge in the 60s?

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

Those Without Shadows
Those Without Shadows.

When did you last see Syd?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


2011-09-04

Lee Wood, the man who knows everything

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

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

Raw Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

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

Lee Wood
Lee Wood in 2008.

Lee Wood – the man who knows everything

How long have you been living in Cambridge?

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

Did you ever meet Syd or members of Pink Floyd?

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

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

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

Did you ever see Pink Floyd play live?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you still have the tapes?

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

Syd's Bench
Syd's Bench.

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

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

Can you tell us what is on the DVD?

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

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

Syd's Cambridge DVD1
Syd's Cambridge DVD1.

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

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

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

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

Syd's Cambridge DVD2
Syd's Cambridge DVD2.

Syd's Cambridge Box Set (Lee Wood)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syd's Cambridge Box Set Gallery

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

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


2013-06-28

Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting?

Picture: Eva Wijkniet
Photo: Eva Wijkniet.

We have just all had the BEST time ever in Cambridge - with the best people in the world - we have laughed and hugged and kissed and talked and none of us wanted to come home! (Libby Gausden Chisman)

Undoubtedly the best, friendliest, most lively and most accurate Syd Barrett group on Facebook is Birdie Hop.

It is the equivalent of Eternal Isolation's Late Night forum that, let's not be fussy about that, has suffered a lot from Facebook's ever-groping octopus tentacles. A person (m/f) with a critical mind could add that Facebook is shallow and volatile, that any post older than three days tends to disappear in a bottomless pit never to be found again and that, to the Reverend's mind, there is continuous repetition and proportionally it can get a bit boring.

But Birdie Hop has an audience. And people who have an audience ought to be heard. There is no point in constantly hammering that Betamax is the better recording system when VHS has conquered the world. Now there's a comparison that seems to be fruitless today and quite opaque for the young people among us.

Birdie Hop is a spirited place and like Late Night at its peak period it is the village pub. People come and go, friendships are made (and sometimes lost) and scarcely hidden love affairs happen, with snogging outside in the garden under the cherry tree.

But all this happens in the relatively safe environment of cyberspace. In September of last year the idea was uttered, among Birdie Hop members, to meet and greet in Cambridge. (The Holy Igquisiton has vainly tried to find that post back on Facebook, while on a forum it would take about a minute, perhaps somebody should call the NSA.)

We all have seen this happen before really, people saying 'let's meet', but when push comes to a shove, nothing happens. But Birdie Hop has an excellent set of administrators, not only they are friendly, beautiful and intelligent but they can be bloody effective as well.

Alexander the Great

Alexander made it his mission to make this happen, immediately a date was pinpointed (14 to 16 June 2013) and Mick Brown was kindly asked to act as Birdie's local liaison officer. The bandwagon started rolling and an I Spy Syd in Cambridge tour (with a bus) was organised through the capable hands of Warren 'Bear' Dosanjh. In March of this year Alexander travelled to Cambridge to tie the loose ends (and test the quality of the local beer) and from then on it was a restless wait for the day to come.

Here we go. (Underneath text largely taken from Alexander & Warren's tour program.)

Friday 14 June 2013

An evening at the Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street: a totally real ale pub with the best selection of (Belgian!) ales in Cambridge plus pub grub and a large beer garden.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Alexander.

Saturday 15 June 2013

09.30 Meet at Le Gros Franck for breakfast and to buy a take-away lunch from a fantastic choice of international dishes, 57 Hills Road.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Fernando Lanzilotto, Libby Gausden, Viv Brans, Mick Brown.

10.00 Botanical Gardens, where the actual tour started. Unfortunately they had to chase a bum away who had been sleeping on Syd's bench.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
The incredible Mr. Mick Brown.

10.30 Pick-up by coach at the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens in Bateman Street.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Warren Dosanjh, Alexander, Viv Brans.

Stops at:

183 Hills Road, Syd's house.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Cambridgeshire High School for Boys (now the Hills Road Sixth Form College), where Syd, Roger Waters, Bob 'Rado' Klose and Storm Thorgerson studied.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Morley Primary Junior School where Mary Waters taught her son and Syd.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

The Friends Meeting House on Hartington Grove, where Geoff Mott & The Mottoes played their one and only gig.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

6 St. Margaret's Square, where Syd last lived after moving back to Cambridge.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits where some Birdie Hop members did a bizarre reenactment of the Syd's First Trip movie.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Giulio Bonfissuto, Fernando Lanzilotto, Alexander, Brian Wernham, Viv Brans, Mario von Barrett, Libby Gausden, Neil Chisman, Tio Junior, Mary Cosco, Eva Wijkniet.

Grantchester Meadows: lunch stop with a pint (BYO) from the Blue Ball pub opposite.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Neil Chisman, Peter Gilmour.

Walk on the meadows...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer
Making for the sea.

...and back on the bus at David and Peter Gilmour's house, 109 Grantchester Meadows.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

City walk (Corn Exchange, Union Cellar, King´s College, Market Square etc..)

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

18.30: meet at the Geldart for dinner and drinks.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Mario von Barrett, Giulio Bonfissuto, Mrs & Dave "Dean" Parker, Fernando Lanzilotto.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Informal meet and goodbye greet at the Earl of Derby, 129 Hills Road for a full English breakfast from 8.30 in the morning or lunch from 12.00 for those who couldn't get out of bed. Unfortunately nobody seemed fit enough to take any pictures or wanted their pictures to be taken!

Birdie Hop

Be a part of the legend!

Why don't you join Birdie Hop, not only you'll be able to see all the pictures of this amazing journey, but you'll meet a bunch of friendly, sexy people!

The list of attendees of the 2013 meeting not only had the best Birdies around but also reads like a Cambridge Mafia wet dream: Libby Gausden Chisman, Neil Chisman, Jenny Spires, Viv Brans, Eva Wijkniet, Sven Wijkniet, Dave "Dean" Parker, Mrs. Parker, Vic Singh, Brian Wernham, Mick Brown, Peter Gilmour, Mary Cosco, Antonio (Tio Junior), Mario von Barrett (González), Fernando Lanzilotto, Giulio Bonfissuto, Hazel (Libby´s school-friend), George Marshall (school-friend of Syd and Roger Waters who happened to be drinking in the Blue Ball when the gang arrived), Gary Hill, Stephen Pyle (only Friday afternoon, afterwards he had to run a street fest), Warren Dosanjh (tour guide), Alexander P. Hoffmann (host)...

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
Two of a kind: Alexander & Warren Dosanjh.

Eva Wijkniet: Warren was the best tourguide and took us to the best pubs in Cambridge. Great guy to talk to and we have to thank him massively for the effort he made for us.

Brian Wernham: What a great day in Cambridge doing lots of Syd stuff, meeting some of Syd's old friends, Peter Gilmour and meeting some wonderful Syd fans as well!

Warren Dosanjh: I have guided nearly all Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett tours in Cambridge since 2006. But this was the best and most extraordinary ever.

Libby Gausden Chisman: too exhausted to tell you atm - I have lost my voice due to over talking and over laughing and over kissing and hugging - it was just the best time evah!

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting
A nice pair: photographers extraordinaires Vic Singh & Mick Brown.

A 'many thanks' line to end this article would merely repeat the people who are all cited above, but let's have an exception and thank the most extraordinary person who wrote the most peculiar kind of tunes.

Many thanks to Roger Keith 'Syd' Barrett, for making this all happen and for creating friends for a lifetime.

Birdie Hop 2013 Cambridge meeting

See you in 2015...

Update 03 01 2014: Mick Brown made a video of the event that we forgot all about, so - with over a half year's delay - here it is.
Update 16 06 2014: The copyright gestapo censored Mick Brown's original movie, so a second version was uploaded with an excellent soundtrack by Rich Hall (taken from his Birdie Hop and the Sydiots record).


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

A second Birdie Hop meeting took place in 2015: Iggy Rose in Cambridge.


2014-06-06

Boogie Wonderland

Birdie Hop. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

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

Opel, 2014

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

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

Opel upgrade by Rich Hall

Link: Opel (Rich Hall upgrade)

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

London Cambridge Boogie, 1972

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

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

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

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

I can only hear two guitars.

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

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

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

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

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

© Alexander P. HB., 2014.

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

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


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


2014-06-22

Syd's Last Stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster
Six Hour Technicolour Dream poster.

Boogie Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct link: Six Hours Technicolour Dream.

1. Foreplay

Sea Cruise

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

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

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

Bruce Paine
Bruce Paine.

L.A. To London Boogie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple Pie Motherhood Band
Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

Ice

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

Direct link: Ice - Apple Pie Motherhood Band.

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

Nadine

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

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

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

2. Eargasm

Gideon Daniels
Gideon Daniels.

Drinkin' That Wine

Time to announce a special guest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is good, this is really good.

Number Nine

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

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

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

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

Gotta Be A Reason

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

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

What a weird trip it has been.

3. Afterplay

Feel It!
Elvin Bishop.

Let's Roll

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

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

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

LMPTBB:

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

Elvin Bishop:

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

The refrain, melody and chord progression are almost identical:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Little Angel

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

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

Guitars (3 different ones)

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

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

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

About the tracks with Syd he adds:

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


2014-07-21

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action)

Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band.

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

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

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

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

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock
Carlton Sandercock
Carlton Sandercock.

An innerview with Carlton Sandercock (Easy Action)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave No Star Unturned
Leave No Star Unturned, Hawkwind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Michael Paine (lead singer LMPTBB)
title="Bruce Michael Paine, lead singer LMPTBB.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Birdie Hop


2015-03-27

Step It Up And Go

Church Shrine
Church Shrine.

The following is a 'longread' about the blues musicians who gave Pink Floyd its name.

TL;DR:
Syd Barrett did not have Pink Anderson and/or Floyd Council records, as they were extremely rare.
Those two blues musicians were named on the liner notes of a popular Blind Boy Fuller compilation though.
It wasn't Syd who distilled the name 'Pink Floyd' from that record, but Stephen Pyle, one of his friends.

Personnel: Trotting Sally | Simmie Dooley | Pink Anderson | Samuel Charters | Floyd Council | Bryan Sinclair | Blind Boy Fuller | Warren Dosanjh | Stephen Pyle
Review: Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller

Introduction

Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett fans have a pretty rough idea how the band acquired its name, although the exact story is probably less known and only interests Roger Keith Barrett anoraks anyway. In their enthusiasm, some fans even share pictures of the Pink Floyd name-givers on the dozens of, mostly obsolete and highly repetitive, Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Facebook fan groups, in their continuous race to be bigger than the others.

Here they are: Georgia blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, whose records were in the proud possession of a certain Cambridge boy.

Not Floyd Council
Not Floyd Council, but Blind Boy Fuller.

Only, the person at the right is not Floyd Council, but Blind Boy Fuller (and they are not from Georgia either). We'll explain later how Blind Boy Fuller gets into the picture.

Knowing how a blues singer from the beginning of the past century looked like is one thing, knowing how he sounded often seems even more of a gargantuan task. And even the world's best music magazine wasn't so sure either.

Different tunes

The above YouTube movie allegedly has the Pink Anderson song C.C. and O Blues, followed by the Floyd Council track If You Don't Give Me What I Want. Only what you hear is not always what you get.

C.C. and O Blues

The vocals on C.C. And O Blues are from Simmie Dooley, not Pink Anderson. Dooley was a country blues street singer who lived in Spartanburg, South Carolina and who is mostly remembered as Anderson's musical mentor.

In the beginning of the past century Spartanburg's black district was named the politically incorrect Niggertown, by Negroes and whites alike. The black district was a spirited place, in all possible interpretations of the word, and not always safe to roam. Ira Tucker, lead singer of The Dixie Hummingbirds, remembers:

Anywhere you would go could be risky. Those guys in Spartanburg, they didn't take any tea for the fever. They would fight to the end!

As a black person, living in Spartanburg, one had to face thousands of indignities. The racist police was generally showing disrespect:

Nigger, you have to say 'mister' to me.

The black population of Spartanburg reacted, unsurprisingly, as expected.

The white cops, when they would get ready to arrest a black man, it would take three or four of them. If they came into a neighbourhood to arrest somebody for nothing, black people would fight back.

Not that a lot has changed a century later, with the exception that the n-word is now considered inopportune. USA police still can insult, kick and shoot unarmed black people, but as long as they don't call them niggers it's all passing by without consequences.

Trotting Sally with Rosalie
Trotting Sally with Rosalie (his violin).

Trotting Sally

Niggertown also offered good times and music was always around. Ira Tucker's grandfather 'Uncle Ed' was a musician who played a mean accordion and who sang in the local church choir.

Another character was Trotting Sally, real name: George Mullins. Born a slave in 1856, he was freed at the age of 9 and became a familiar street musician with his fiddle 'Rosalie'. He was known for his wild antics and crazy animal imitations. His behaviour was so eccentric that people doubted his mental stability. He was – literally - the stuff legends are made of. It was rumoured that Millins had superhuman strength, that he could outrun a train, hence the nickname Trotting Sally, and these heroic deeds were the subject of several late 19th-century folk-tales. When he died, in 1931, he was remembered in several newspaper articles. Although he was captured on film, no sound recordings of him exist. Ira Tucker:

He was an excellent violinist. Nothing but strings and his fingers. He had that violin almost sounding like it was talking. If you said “Good Morning”, he would make that violin say, “G-o-o-o-d Mo-o-o-rning”.

Simmie Dooley

Another street musician who not only impressed Ira Tucker, but Blind Gary Davis as well, was an old man who sang and played the guitar: Blind Simmie.

Simmie Dooley (1881-1961) may have played his favourite spot in Spartanburg's 'Short Wolford' when he met young lad Pink Anderson, an entertainer in a travelling medicine show who wanted to learn the guitar. They would go off in the woods to practice, usually with a bottle of corn whiskey 'to help the throats'. Simmie's educational system consisted of hitting Pink's hands with a switch until he got the chords right.

In Search of Syd
In Search of Syd, Mojo compilation.

In search of Simmie

Anderson was not only Dooley's sideman, but also his eyes. It was practically impossible for a blind man to travel but with Pink he could go to the small towns around Spartanburg, like Woodroff and Roebuck, to play on country picnics and parties. They often performed together and in April 1928 they recorded four tracks for Columbia Records in Atlanta. These two 10 inch 78RPM records were issued under the name Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley and have the duo at their finest. The musical bond between both was so strong that Pink Anderson refused to record without his teacher, which could have made his life much easier. (Apparently the record company didn't like Simmie's distinctive voice.)

C.C. & O Blues, referring to the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railway that ran through Spartanburg, is a bit carelessly attributed to Pink Anderson on a Mojo cover disk of October 2007 (issue 167): In Search Of Syd. Simmie Dooley, who is the main performer, is only mentioned in the liner notes, but not on the front nor backside track-listing. It is one of those mysteries why exactly this track was chosen for the compilation. From that same 1928 session Mojo could have, for instance, picked Papa's Bout To Get Mad where Pink Anderson is the lead instead of Simmie Dooley. All in all there are about 3 dozen Pink Anderson songs but Mojo resolutely went for about the only track in his entire career where he can't be heard at all.

If You Don't Give Me What I Want

The second song on the YouTube movie from above is If You Don't Give Me What I Want. It can be found on the same Mojo compilation and there it is somewhat lavishly attributed to Blind Boy Fuller and Floyd Council. It certainly is a Blind Boy Fuller song, taken from a session in February 1937 with accompanying musicians Floyd Council (on guitar) and George Washington (on washboard), using the pseudonyms Dipper Boy Council and Bull City Red.

Mojo stretched the line by adding Floyd Council's name, making us wonder why they forgot the third musician. The YouTube uploader even went a step further by omitting Blind Boy Fuller from his own record, thus giving the title a self-explanatory extra dimension.

Although Floyd Council solo tracks are harder to find than those of Pink Anderson, they do exist and 6 of those have survived into the twenty-first century.

Syd Barrett visits UFO.
Syd Barrett visits UFO. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

Ufonauts

If you are already confused by now, we can only promise it will get worse from now on. Who are these Pink and Floyd character everyone is talking about?

Syd Barrett at first tried to explain that the name Pink Floyd had come to him in a vision or by a passing flying saucer while he was meditating on a leyline, but the truth is somewhat less exotic. In a Swedish interview from September 1967, Barrett explained:

The name Pink Floyd comes from two blues singers from Georgia, USA – Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Basically this story kept repeating itself from article (for instance: Nick Kent, 1974) to article, from year to year, from biography to biography, without much checking of the journalists involved, although some did have the guts to add the odd detail here and there. But all in all it would take more than three decades to get to the truth.

In the Visual Documentary (aka the Pink Floyd bible) by Barry Miles (1980) Anderson and Council are still described as Georgia blues-men who were in Syd's record collection. It may come as blasphemy for vintage Floyd fans but demi-god Syd Barrett actually made an error as these two musicians stayed in the Carolinas for most of their lives. Nicholas Schaffner (1991) managed to add the years of birth and death of these obscure blues musicians, but also Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson in their Crazy Diamond biography state that Syd 'had a couple of records by two grizzled Georgia blues-men'. Same for the lavishly illustrated, but for the rest forgettable, Learning To Fly biography by Chris Welch (1994) and a few other publications...

In 1988 though, in the first release of Days in the Life, Jonathon Green quotes Peter Jenner:

The name came from a sleeve note which one of them had read, which referred to Pink somebody or other, and Floyd somebody or other, two old blues guys, and they just thought that 'The Pink Floyd' was a nice combination, and they called it the Pink Floyd Sound.

Information doesn't always gets transferred through the appropriate channels and the booklet of the Crazy Diamond CD-box, that appeared 8 years later, still alleged that:

Barrett, Waters, Wright, and Mason reconvened as The Pink Floyd Sound, a name Syd had coined from an album by Georgia blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

(Barrett's record company and/or management have a history of making silly mistakes, see Dark Blog or Cut the Cake.)

All it needed to straight things out was to go to a local library (this was pre-WWW-days, remember) and look up these names in a blues encyclopedia, like yours truly did, a very long time ago. Kiloh Smith's adagio that 'Syd Barrett fans are, basically, really, really lazy people unless it comes to fighting amongst themselves on some message board' can also be expanded to rock journalists.

Pink Anderson
Pink Anderson.

Pink Anderson

Although never of the grandeur of B.B. King or Muddy Waters Pink Anderson isn’t really that obscure and the perfect example for someone who likes to brag about his (or her) Piedmont blues knowledge.

Pink Anderson was born in Lawrence, South Carolina, in February 1900, and was raised in Spartanburg where he would stay his entire life. He first went on the road at age fourteen, employed by Dr. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company, singing and dancing medicine show tunes. When the show was not travelling between Virginia and southern Georgia, with occasional trips into Alabama and Tennessee, Pink was working as a handyman in the Spartanburg storehouse where W.R. Kerr kept his trucks and stage equipment. He would stay with the troupe until Dr. Kerr retired in 1945 and never considered himself a blues singer, but a medicine show entertainer.

In 1916 Pink met Simmie Dooley, a blind blues street-singer, living in the same town. When Pink wasn’t out selling magic potions, he and Simmie played at picnics and parties in small towns around Spartanburg. They cut a few singles together in April 1928, but Anderson refused to record without Dooley (until Simmie was too old to perform). In February 1950 he was recorded by singer, folklorist and music-archivist Paul Clayton, but the tapes wouldn't be released for another decade.

Samuel Charters

There was a kind of Pink Anderson revival in the early sixties, when he was tracked down by blues historian Samuel Charters who recorded him and brought out three albums spanning Pink's career as a Carolina blues man (volume 1), a medicine show entertainer (volume 2) and a ballad & folksinger (volume 3), otherwise Pink Anderson would've stayed a mere footnote in blues history, just like his tutor Simmie Dooley. These three albums still sell today, obviously aided by the Floydian connection, and they are of an excellent 'vintage folk & blues' quality. (Samuel Charters passed away in March 2015, aged 85: obituary.)

It is not unimaginable that some people in the Cambridge blues & beatnik circles were aware of these compilations, although they must have been rare. Floyd Council's name, however, can't be found on any of these records. Anderson's repertoire contained several Blind Boy Fuller songs, but they never met. Anderson died in Spartanburg in 1974, perhaps unaware of the fact that one of the greatest shows on earth was named after him.

Pink Anderson albums
Pink Anderson albums.
Floyd Council
Floyd Council.

Floyd Council

Floyd Council is a slightly different matter. Blues scholars and historians know him as a side-man on about a dozen of Blind Boy Fuller records and he only became a kind of celebrity because of the Floyd segment. His solo songs have been included on several blues compilations, because of the Pink Floyd link alone, for instance on the Century of the Blues 4-CD set (see picture above) where he comes up, right after... Pink Anderson.

Floyd Council was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in September 1911 and began working with legendary blues artist Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930’s. Though he is mainly known for backing Fuller, he also worked with Sonny Terry and cut some solo tracks as well. A few sources tell he may have recorded enough tracks for three albums, but only six of those have survived. The well-informed Wirz blues discography only found one lost 1937 two-tracks session.

In a (fruitless) effort to become famous he gigged and recorded as 'Dipper Boy Council', bearing the epitheton ornans 'Blind Boy Fuller's Buddy' (1937). According to the New Dictionary of American Slang, edited by Robert L. Chapman (1986), dipper refers to dippermouth, a person with a large mouth. The term showed up in Dippermouth Blues, recorded by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923 with a 21-years old Louis Armstrong in the band, whose nickname happened to be just that, for obvious reasons.

Carolina Blues
Carolina Blues Compilation.

Devil in disguise

Another stage name for Council was the 'Devil's Daddy-in-Law' (1938), probably to cash in on the popularity of Peetie Wheatstraw who was known as the 'Devil’s Son-in-Law' and whose songs often referred to the hoodoo tradition, root doctor and crossroads legends in blues.

"If black music is the father of rock, voodoo is its grandfather" write Baigent and Leigh in their overview of the occult through the ages. It is not known if Council was a follower of Vodu, but like most Negroes he must have been aware of the pagan undercurrent in his society, that was politically, culturally and socially segregated from the white highbrow class.

Probably his nicknames had been chosen by his white and highbrow class manager J.B. Long, a Maecenas for some and a thief for others, who also had Blind Boy Fuller in his stable and who employed Floyd Council on a farm he owned.

Floyd passed away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 9, 1976. He is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere at White Oak A.M.E. Zion Cemetery of Sanford.

Carolina Blues

The first widely available Floyd Council compilation Carolina Blues (1936-1950) was released in 1987, a tad too late to influence Syd Barrett in his search for a name for his band. Let it be clear that in the early sixties it was close to impossible, for a Cambridge youngster, to find a Floyd Council record in the UK, unless you happened to be a very lucky and rich 78-RPM gramophone collector. We seriously doubt that anyone would lend any of these singles to a bunch of teenagers who would scratch the surfaces on their Dansette portable record players.

So that is why it was impossible for Syd Barrett to have a Floyd Council record in his collection, as some biographers have written.

Philips BBL 7512
Philips BBL 7512

Pre-War Blues

Little by little the Pink Floyd biographies had to alter the story, but it lasted until 2005 before Bryan Sinclair asked the following question to a Yahoo group of pre-war blues collectors:

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 08:58:47 -0500
To: pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.com
From: Bryan Sinclair
Subject: Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
I am interested in some background info on the origin of the band name "Pink Floyd." It is my understanding that Syd Barrett came up with this hybrid by combining the first names of Carolina bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Bastin provides ample info with respect to dates and locales for both, but how did the two names become associated with one another, at least in the mind of Barrett?
Bryan Sinclair
Asheville, NC

It took less than a day before Bryan Sinclair has an answer. David Moore from Bristol remembered the names from a record he had in his collection:

To: <pre-war-blues@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 15:47:51 -0000
From: "Dave Moore"
Subject: Re: [pre-war-blues] Pink Anderson / Floyd Council
From an LP apparently in the possession of Syd Barrett: Blind Boy Fuller, Country Blues 1935-1940, issued on Philips BBL-7512, c. 1962. The sleeve notes were by Paul Oliver, and include the following:
"Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, Georgia-born but more frequently to be found in Kentucky or Tennessee, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council -- these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys."
Dave Moore
Bristol, UK
Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues
Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller compilation.

Enigma

So there we have it. All it took to find the answer was, oddly enough, to ask someone who knew, a thing nobody had ever thought of doing for 35 years. All we needed to do, was to keep on talking.

The rest is history and has been repeated in decent Pink Floyd biographies ever since. So it is a crying shame that Floyd über-geek Glenn Povey, in his encyclopedic study Echoes from 2007 still writes:

It [Pink Floyd] is the amalgamation of the first names of two old Carolina bluesmen whose work was very familiar to him [Syd Barrett].

Not a fucking chance.

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller.

Blind Boy Fuller

Fulton Allen was born in July 1907 in Wadesboro, North-Carolina and learned to play the blues from the people around him. In his mid-teens he started to lose his eyesight from a maltreated disease at birth and not from washing his face with poisoned water, given to him by a jealous woman, as has been put forward by Paul Oliver.

What was a hobby at first, now became his trade, because blind Negroes didn't have many job opportunities in the thirties. Allen started busking in the streets of Durham and playing gigs with Floyd Council (aka Dipper Boy Council), Saunders Terrell (aka Sonny Terry) , George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Reverend Gary Davis.

In 1935 he was discovered by record store owner and music promoter James Baxter Long who became manager of the lot. Re-baptised as Blind Boy Fuller he was paid about 200$ per 12 song session, not a bad deal in those days, unless you would suddenly start selling hundreds of thousands of records. And that was exactly what happened.

In five years time Blind Boy cut 139 sides, in 11 sessions taking approximately 24 days, but there would be no royalties going Fuller's way. Long would later explain that, as a rookie, he didn't understand the concept of copyrights. It is true that before 1938 Fuller's records were not credited to any author, thus (theoretically) flushing a lot of money down the drain. After April 1938 Long started putting his own name on the copyright papers when he noted down Fuller's lyrics, claiming he did this innocently and with no intent to rip Fuller.

Opinions about J.B. Long differ. As a patron of the arts he provided housing and jobs for his artists, but of course that was also a way to have them chained for life to his agency. Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller called him a thief, although Sonny Terry was slightly more diplomatic:

In the beginning he took all the money, but we didn't care because it started our careers.

Brownie McGhee, however, never had a bad thing to say about his manager.

The Decca Tapes

Blind Boy Fuller once tried to moonlight at Decca, but these records were rapidly pulled from the market after a complaint from his manager, who wasn't apparently such an innocent rookie after all when somebody tried to grab his artists.

Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller.

James Baxter maintained he constantly provided Fuller with money, clothes, food, fuel 'and other necessities' but the singer and his wife applied several times for welfare, neglecting to mention that they already had an income from recording sessions.

The blind aid bureaucracy didn't realise that Fulton Allen and Blind Boy Fuller were the same person and they gave him a monthly allowance. Unfortunately Fuller gave his secret away when he complained to social services that his manager was not giving him the royalties he was entitled to, but the only advice they could give him was to wait until the contract ended and not to sign another one.

By 1939, suffering from alcohol related stomach ulcers, kidney troubles and probably a touch of syphilis, Fuller impatiently waited to be released from his contract and from jail, as he had shot his wife in the leg, quite an accomplishment for a blind man and a sign that he had more than money problems alone.

The Last Session

J.B. Long had the last laugh when he told Blind Boy Fuller he was still under contract with the American Recording Company. Ironically it was James Baxter who drove Blind Boy, Sonny Terry, Bull City Red and the Reverend Gary Davis to Memphis for another recording session. This time Fuller only received part of his session money, because he was already greatly in debt with his ex-manager. On top of that the Blind Assistance administration had finally found out that Fulton Allen was the same man as Blind Boy Fuller. From his ex-manager they learned that he earned about three times as much as the average household, which was still ridiculously low given the records he sold. They (logically) terminated the welfare checks.

The problem was that Fulton didn't spread his session money over several months but that it would be invariably gone by the next. James Baxter Long proposed to give Fuller a monthly salary instead of a session lump-sum, and even a house rent-free, but a stubborn Blind Boy refused, perhaps because it would have meant giving his freedom away and signing a new contract with the music promoter.

For reasons that have never been properly disclosed, but it might have been a rough life of sex and drugs and rural blues, Fulton Allen's health rapidly declined and he died in February 1941, at only 33 years of age.

Country Blues (inside cover)
Country Blues (inside cover).

Classic Jazz Masters

In his book 'How Britain Got The Blues', R.F. Schwartz notes that:

...most critics agreed that the great blues of the past would never be reissued [in the fifties, FA], but some collectors were committed to making this repertoire accessible.

For the smart understander: illegally. History repeats itself, ad infinitum.

At first many jazz and blues reissues were bootlegs, made by collectors for collectors and taken from the original 78-RPM records. As the musicians had been paid flat fees anyway, and seldom received royalties, no harm was done, although the record labels obviously had different opinions.

With a growing demand for vintage blues the major labels finally understood that there was a market and that the costs for producing these albums was minimal. Philips began its Classic Jazz Masters Series in 1962 with:
Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 Country Blues (BBL-7512),
Bessie Smith 1923-1924 Bessie's Blues (BBL-7513),
followed by:
Robert Johnson 1936-37 (BBL-7539).

That last one was almost immediately deleted for legal reasons (apparently even record companies have difficulties sorting copyrights out) but so many copies had already been sold to blues-hungry teenagers that a whole generation was inspired to start their own bands. British blues boom was a fact.

On his first trip to England, in November 1962, Bob Dylan bought two albums he brought back to the States. The first one was Blues Fell This Morning, a Southern Blues compilation, that accompanied Paul Oliver's book with the same name. The second was the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album. (A picture of that album, with Bob Dylan's signature, can be found on Recordmecca: Bob Dylan's Muse: Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011.)

Blues was a tidal wave that couldn't be stopped. 1965 saw a British tour of Reverend Gary Davis and his old mates Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry headlined the Cambridge Folk Festival on the 31st of July.

Stephen Pyle suggested Pink Floyd as a new name for The Hollerin Blues.

Blues In Cambridge

That the blues was also popular in Cambridge was proved by bands as The Hollerin' Blues, named after the 1929 Charley Patton song, Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues. Incidentally, Blind Boy Fuller's Piccolo Rag, that is present on the 1962 Country Blues compilation, has the lyrics:

Said, when I'm on the corner hollerin'.
"Whoa! Haw! Gee!"
My gal's uptown hollerin'.
"Who wants me?"

As their only way of communication, slaves or black farm workers would holler to each other across the fields. Sometimes these hollers would be wordless, sometimes they would form sentences and grow into songs that were sung in call and response. Spirituals, work songs and hollers influenced and structured early blues.

The line-up of this 1962/63 rhythm & blues band was Barney Barnes (piano, harmonica and vocals), Alan Sizer (guitar), Pete Glass (harmonica) and Stephen Pyle (drums). Rado 'Bob' Klose and Syd Barrett joined them at least once at the Dolphin Club in Coronation Street, but he was never a band member. According to Gian Palacios Barrett also sat in on several jam sessions, mainly because he showed a certain interest in Juliet Mitchell who lived in the house where the band rehearsed.

Women were the reason why the band cut itself loose from their old management and they reincarnated as Those Without with Warren Dosanjh as their new manager. (See also Antonio Jesús interview: Warren Dosanjh, Syd Barrett's first manager.) Stephen Pyle remembers in The Music Scene Of 1960s Cambridge that he actually suggested Pink Floyd as the band's new name, but this was rejected.

Which one's Pink?

It means that the Philips Blind Boy Fuller Country Blues album was well known by the Hollerin' Blues mob, including Syd Barrett, who joined Those Without for about a dozen of of gigs. It could also mean that the Pink Floyd name, contrary to general belief, was not thought up by Syd and that it might have been an incidental joke. Not that it really matters, but we asked Stephen Pyle anyway:

I am afraid time has taken is toll on my memory.
But Syd and I used to invent band names when Those Without were already in existence, as to who's album it was I think it was mine.
It was Dave Gilmour who claimed that I was the source, and he must have got that from Syd.
Country Blues

Country Blues: a review

The 1962 Philips album Country Blues, Blind Boy Fuller 1935-1940 is a wayward compilation, containing 16 tracks, ranging from the obvious to the less than obvious. It contains tracks from 10 different sessions, recorded over 12 days, starting with the first session that made Fuller a star and ending with the last one he would ever do. Intriguingly - for Pink Floyd anoraks - is that none of the tracks have Floyd Council on them, but George Washington (aka Bull City Red) and Sonny Terry can be found on several songs. So the record that gave the Pink Floyd name away actually doesn't have Pink Anderson, nor Floyd Council on it.

Why don't you listen to the Country Blues album while reading this review?
A Spotify playlist (login needed) for the same album can be found here: Country Blues. Throughout the review many YouTube and Wikipedia links will be given, checking them out will take many hours of your life. A Blind Boy Fuller gallery with hi-res images of the record, its cover and the liner notes has been uploaded: Blind Boy Fuller.
Country Blues
Country Blues.

Country Blues Side One

She's A Truckin' Little Baby

The album starts with She's A Truckin' Little Baby, a country dance tune and a song that has many incarnations. Big Bill Broonzy recorded it as Trucking Little Woman, John Hammond Jr. as Trucking Little Boy and John Jackson as Trucking Little Baby. All have different lyrics, but they're essentially the same song. Led Zeppelin sometimes included the song as Trucking Little Mama in their R&B medley during Whole Lotta Love.

Blind Boy Fuller is generally cited as the originator of the terms 'keep on truckin' (in Truckin' My Blues Away, not on this compilation) and 'get your yas yas out' (not included either). Several of his songs belong to the hokum genre - humoristic blues with double entendres and sexual innuendos – or bawdy blues. His What’s That Smell Like Fish, Mama (not included) as being one of the most risqué ever.

There's a bit of playful innuendo in Truckin' Little Baby with the line:

she got good jelly
but she's stingy with me.

Jelly is a culinary metaphor for female attractiveness and/or sexuality. Imagine this tune with an electric guitar, add some bass and a drum and there you have it: rock'n roll.

Recorded: October 29, 1938, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Lyr Req: Trucking Little Baby / ...Woman / ...Mama

Screaming And Crying Blues

Screaming And Crying Blues can't get more 'default' as it is about a man, waking up in the morning and realising his woman has left him. The term comes back in different songs, one of them Screamin' and Cryin' by Muddy Waters (1949) and one by Morris Pejoe (1956).

I was worried and grieving,
about that girl had done left me behind.

Recorded: October 29, 1938.
Sound & Lyrics

Big Leg Woman Gets My Pay

Big legged women are something of a tradition in blues and, once again, have been cited in a Led Zeppelin song (Black Dog) where it is said that:

a big-legged woman ain't got no soul.

And that might be quite an insurmountable problem for a band that has been flirting with Satanist tendencies. Mississippi John Hurt recorded Big Leg Blues in 1928, Roosevelt Sykes had Big Legs Ida Blues in 1933, Kokomo Arnold Big Leg Mama in 1935, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry covered Bill Gaither's Another Big Leg Woman) as Big-Legged Woman and so on...

A big legged woman is just another way of saying that she is sexually attractive and with 'gets my pay' Fuller is implying he wants to give her more than his monthly salary alone, but you probably already had figured that out.

Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Bull City Red (George Washington) on washboard.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): A big legged woman ain't got no soul

Custard Pie
Custard Pie (sexual metaphor).

I Want Some Of Your Pie

I Want Some Of Your Pie obviously is an example of a risqué blues, without really being too smutty, unless we semantically dig deeper. Officially the song goes like this:

Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie,
I want to eat your custard pie.

But most hear something else:

Says, I'm not jokin' an' I'm gonna tell you no lie,
I want to eat your custy pie.

In a mighty interesting online essay that has unfortunately disappeared from the web at the end of 2014 'The use of food as a sexual metaphor in the blues' (Elise Israd) it is suggested that the use of code words for romantic and sexual activity may have come out of fear and oppression. Plantation owners were not amused that their (male) slaves would discuss sex in public and thus they used innocent synonyms for the yummy things they wanted to describe.

When it came to producing and selling blues records there was as well the matter of censorship. As often in these cases the record companies had a double standard, calling the naughty bits by their proper name was considered obscene and legally forbidden, but they didn't see any harm in selling songs about sugar plums, fish and custy, custard, crusty or cushdy pies.

I Want Some Of Your Pie (1939) is one of those songs that has different incarnations. It can be found as Custard Pie (1947) by Sonny Terry and as Custard Pie Blues (1962) by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Buddy Moss and Pinewood Tom recorded an early version, with slightly other lyrics, as You Got To Give Me Some Of It in 1935, 4 years before Blind Boy Fuller.

It might not come to you as a surprise that Led Zeppelin's 1975 album Physical Graffiti starts with a track called Custard Pie, what made one fan seriously wonder if Sonny Terry covered it retroactively from the dark angel that is Robert Plant.

Recorded: July 12, 1939, with Sonny Terry (harmonica) & Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Custard Pie

Cat Man Blues

The next three songs all have an animal theme and in these cases animals are used as an allegory for a situation man is not really happy with.

Cat Man Blues is the story of a man who returns home, hears a noise in another room and is told by his wife it is nothing but the cat.

Went home last night, heard a noise,
I asked my wife what was that?
Said man don't be so suspicious,
that ain't nothin' but a cat.
Lord I travelled this world all over mama,
takin' all kinds of chance.
But I never come home before,
seein' a cat wearin' a pair of pants!

While the words are funny, the situation isn't and the protagonist surely doesn't appreciate that the cat man is stealing his cream away.

Recorded: April 29, 1936, (recorded twice that day, actually).
Sound (take1), Sound (take 2) and Lyrics

Been Your Dog

Been Your Dog has a man complaining how badly treated he is by his wife. In Untrue Blues, not on this record, Fuller describes it as follows:

Now you doggin' me mama, ain't did a thing to you.
And you keep on doggin' no telling what I'll do.
Now you dog me every morning,
give me the devil late at night.
Just the way you doggin' me,
I ain't goin' treat you right.

Been Your Dog plays with the same subject:

I've been your dog mama
ever since I've been your man...

Fuller complains how he has to work hard all day, only to come and find a drunk wife in bed and ponders if he should leave her and make room for another man.

Recorded: February 10, 1937.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.

jelly roll
Jelly Roll (sexual metaphor).

Hungry Calf Blues

Hungry Calf Blues is much more funny and risqué, although it has again the undertone of a man who is cheated on and who does his best to win his woman back. The song, so tell the experts, is a variation of Milk Cow Blues by Sleepy John Estes (1930) although the lyrics haven't got much in common. In 1934 Kokomo Arnold covered the song, still much the same as the original one.

Fuller's version is closer to Milkcow's Calf Blues, recorded by Robert Johnson on his last session in June 1937 and with a new set of lyrics. Copyright wasn't really an issue in those days, as Lawrence W. Levine explains in his study 'Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom'.

Black singers felt absolutely free to take blues sung by others - friends, professional performers, singers on records - and alter them in any way they liked.

Fuller certainly was no exception to that rule and re-utilises a couple of Johnson's lyrics:

Your calf is hungry mama, I believe he needs a suck.

and

Your milk is turnin' blue, I believe he's out of luck.

, but then he is off into his own miserable territory:

I found out now mama,
the reason why I can't satisfy you... (…)
You've got a new cat,
he's sixteen years old.

There's that trousered cat again! From then on the song turns pseudo-autobiographical and the protagonist promises he will be faithful to his wife from now on and to treat her well:

I'm gonna save my jelly, mama,
gonna bring it right home to you. (...)
You can't find no young cat,
roll jelly like this old one do.

For those thinking that Fuller is keen on sweet desserts, we would like to add that jelly is not what you think it is, except when you have a perverted mind and then it is exactly what you think it is.

A stanza later we learn that the I-person in the song is none other than Fuller himself. He apologises that the flesh is weak and the blues groupies abundant:

Says I got a new way of rollin' mama,
I think it must be best.
Said these here North Carolina women
just won't let Blind Boy Fuller rest.

But just when you think it would be wise to show some discretion male chauvinist ego takes over again and Fuller brags that he is the best lover around:

Said I got the kind of lovin',
yes Lord, I think it must be best.
Said I roll jelly in the mornin'
and I also roll at night.
I said hey hey, I also roll at night.
And I don't stop rollin',
till I know I rolled that jelly just right.

We doubt the lyrics need further explanation, unless perhaps you are confused by the terms jelly and jelly-roll, another example of pastry being used as a sexual metaphor. Harry's Blues gives a neat definition and lists 15 songs that use the same terminology.

Recorded: September 9, 1937.
Sound and Lyrics
Source(s): Milk Cow Blues

Mojo
Mojo (magical charm bag).

Mojo Hidin' Woman

The last song on side A of the album is Mojo Hidin' Woman, and compared to the previous lot a rather solemn and respectful one, although it still blames the wife who brings misery over the man. Blind Boy Fuller refers (literally) to black magic and the woman's habit of concealing a mojo, a magical charm bag, on her body.

Fuller probably means a 'nation sack', a term originating from the Memphis area, which is a red flannel bag containing roots, magical stones and personal objects, worn by a woman, meant to keep her man faithful and make him generous in money matters.

Other sources say it should be 'nature sack'. Harry Middleton Hyatt, a white Anglican minister who studied folklore in the thirties and who documented over 13000 (!) magic spells and beliefs, may have misunderstood the Negro term 'naycha' and wrote it down as 'nation' instead of 'nature'. In hoodoo it was seriously believed that the magical bag controls a man's 'naycha' or virility. No wonder that Blind Boy Fuller didn't laugh at this one.

To make the spell powerful some objects of the love interest were put in the bag, a photograph, his name or signature on a piece of paper, cloth, fingernail clippings, (pubic) hair and other intimate by-products... The bag was worn under the clothes, at the lower waist for obvious magical reasons, and it was strictly forbidden to be touched, or even seen, by a man. Married women would hide it before going to bed:

Yo' know, a man bettah not try tuh put dere han' on dat bag; yo' know, he betta not touch. He goin' have some trouble serious wit dat ole lady if he try tuh touch dat bag, 'cause when she pulls it off at night -- if she sleeps by herself, she sleeps wit it on; but if she got a husban', yo'll see her evah night go an' lock it up in dat trunk. [Taken from Nation Sack @ Lucky Mojo.]

Not that a pious man would ever try to do that, as touching the bag would make him lose, as Austin Powers erroneously put it, 'his mojo'. As the naycha sack was strict taboo for a man it was a safe place for the woman to put her belongings in, money and tobacco, and if the money had been given to her by her husband, that could only act as an extra charm.

Mojo Hidin' Woman is the same song as Stingy Mama, recorded a month earlier, but with a new title. Fuller knows exactly what he sings about:

My girl's got a mojo.
She won't let me see.

In true hokum tradition the song is full of double entendres, starting with the first line:

Stingy mama, don't be so stingy with me.

As the (secret) mojo was often used or hidden inside a purse a 'stingy' woman is one who doesn't like to spend money, but in this context mojo is of course used as an euphemism for sex. Being the sexy motherfucker he is, Fuller knows she will finally give in:

I say, hey-hey, mama, can't keep that mojo hid...
'Cause I got something, mama, just to find that mojo with.

And that's a verse Fuller lends almost literally from Blind Lemon Jefferson's Low Down Mojo Blues (1928).

The song perfectly ends with a play of words, ingeniously hinting at the 'stingy' remark of the beginning:

Mama left me something called that stingaree.
Says, I done stung my little woman
and she can't stay away from me.

Sex has never been described better, even if you don't immediately grasp the concept of a stingaree, but once again Harry's Blues comes to the rescue. This is, if you ask the Reverend, as poetical as:

'Cause we're the fishes and all we do
the move about is all we do
well, oh baby, my hairs on end about you..

Recorded: September 7, 1937 (Stingy Mama: July 12, 1937)
Sound and Lyrics

Dancing not allowed.
Dancing not allowed.

Country Blues Side Two

Piccolo Rag

Side two starts with the Blind Boy Fuller classic Piccolo Rag that can be found on about every compilation of him. It's a joyous and irresistible ragtime guitar dancing tune that is typical of the Piedmont Blues style. It is a fun track with a direct message that doesn't need to be further explained:

Every night I come home
you got your lips painted red.
Said, "Come on Daddy and let's go to bed."

In the first decade of the twentieth century a 'daddy' in African American slang was a pimp, but later the term was generalised to any male lover.

Recorded: April 5, 1938.
Sound and Lyrics

freight train
Freight Train.

Lost Lover Blues

Lost Lover Blues is the sad story of a man who takes a freight train to 'a far distant land', probably to look for work, and who gets a telegram to immediately return home. On his return he finds that his lover has died while he was on his journey. The message is clear and direct with no double entendres, but this is normal as the subject is one of melancholy and sadness.

Then I went back home,
I looked on the bed
And that best old friend I had was dead
Lord, and I ain't got no lovin' baby now

Recorded, June 19, 1940 with Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound & Lyrics

Night Rambling Woman

Fuller's last solo song recorded on the 19th of June 1940, in a 'superstar' session that also had Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Eli Jordan Webb (originally from Nashville) and Bull City Red (credited on some tracks as Oh Red). Thirteen solo tracks were recorded, 8 by Fuller and one by Sonny Terry.

The remaining four tracks are credited to a band called Brother George & His Sanctified Singers, actually an alias for all involved, singing religious inspired gospel and blues, with titles as: 'Must have been my Jesus', 'Jesus is a holy man' or 'Precious Lord'. Fuller did not sing on this gospel session and it may have been George 'Oh Red' Washington who was the main vocalist.

Rambling Woman is not an unique term as it was used in the traditional Ragged But Right that dates from around 1900. Recorded versions exist by the Blue Harmony Boys (Ragged But Right, 1929) and Riley Puckett (Ragged But Right, 1935). As a traditional it had many different lyrics including this very raunchy version:

Just called up to tell you that I'm ragged but right
A gamblin' woman ramblin' woman, drunk every night
I fix a porterhouse steak every night for my boy
That's more than an ordinary whore can afford

Country stars Riley Puckett and George Jones (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) used more innocent lyrics and changed the protagonist to a gambling man, instead of a woman. Covers by Johnny Cash (I'm Ragged but I'm Right) and Jerry Garcia (Ragged but Right) also exist.

Death of Blind Boy Fuller.
Death of Blind Boy Fuller.

Night Rambling Woman was posthumously issued by Brownie McGhee in 1941, partly as a tribute to his friend, but probably as a cunning plan from manager J.B. Long to cash in on Fuller's reputation by covering a previous unreleased track. J.B. Long also put the epithet 'Blind Boy Fuller #2' on early McGhee singles, for instance on the song Death Of Blind Boy Fuller.

Night Rambling Woman is another take on the infidelity of women with one line taken from Victoria Spivey's 1926 song Black Snake Blues, generally regarded as a stab at Fuller's own mortality:

My left side jumps and my flesh begin to crawl.

It has been said that Fuller was a master of eclecticism rather than the originator of a style and there are many recorded examples in which the influence of other popular blues artists can be heard.

Recorded: June 19, 1940.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.
Source(s): Ragged But Right

Step It Up And Go

Step It Up And Go, credited to J.B. Long, was Fuller's biggest hit, although far from an original. Known as Bottle Up And Go it was recorded in 1939 by Tommy McClennan, himself referring to Bottle It Up And Go, written by Charlie Burse for the Picanniny Jug Band in 1932. J.B. Long claimed he heard a song 'You got to touch it up and go' from an old blues man and that he re-wrote the lyrics for Fuller to sing it a couple of days later.

Blues biographer Bruce Bastin found out that just before the Fuller session Charlie Burse had cut a new version of his own song, now titled: 'Oil It Up And Go', in the same studio. That is probably where J.B. Long heard and copied it from.

Many artists recorded this song after that, and all versions are different. It seems as if every artist who performed the song, made up his own lyrics or added a verse or two. Some of the people who recorded the song are: B.B. King, Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, Bob Dylan, Brownie McGhee, Carl Story, Harmonica Frank Floyd, John Lee Hooker, Mac Wiseman, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Mungo Jerry, Sonny Terry and The Everly Brothers.

The song is in the hokum style with casual observations about (again) the terrible treatment men suffer from their women.

Recorded: March 5, 1940, with Bull City Red (washboard).
Sound & Lyrics
Source(s): Bottle Up and Go

Keep Away From My Woman

Keep Away From My Woman, this song actually exists in two different takes, from the same session, with about a minute difference, but the vinyl record doesn't specify what version it is (same for Cat Man Blues, by the way). The title already gives away what the tune is about.

Recorded: April 29, 1936.
Sound (take 1, 2:54), Sound (take 2, 3:14), but no Lyrics found.

Little Woman You're So Sweet

Little Woman You're So Sweet is a love song, a small masterpiece, where Fuller actually mentions himself.

Hey mama, hey gal,
don't you hear Blind Boy Fuller callin' you?
You're so sweet, so sweet, yeah sweet,
my little woman, so sweet...

The song was first recorded as So sweet, so sweet by Josh White in 1932 and Fuller's version is nearly a carbon copy of the original.

“The effects of the phonograph upon black folk-song are not easily summed up.”, writes Lawrence Levine in 'Black Culture and Black Conciousness'. Mamie Smith's second single Crazy Blues (1920), the first vocal blues recording in history, had sold over one million copies despite being exorbitantly priced at one dollar. In the mid twenties five to six million blues records were sold per year, almost exclusively to the black public, who were with about 15 million in the USA. After the blast-off with mostly female singers talent scouts roamed the states to audition regional bluesmen who brought their version of traditional blues to the rest of the land.

It can't be denied that the booming record sales had a disruptive effect on many local folk styles and traditions, but on the other hand, the thousands of 78-RPM records archived songs that would otherwise have been lost for ever. Even if the records had to fit inside the three minutes format, blues had no beginning and no end, as the one performer took up where the other left off and singers were constantly referring to each other. A blues song didn't belong to the singer, it belonged to the people.

Other trivia: Blues band Shakey Vick named their first album, in 1969, after this song.

Recorded: March 6, 1940.
Sound & Lyrics

sugar plum
Sugar Plum (sexual metaphor).

Brownskin Sugar Plum

Brownskin and Sugar Plum are terms that regularly appear in blues songs, although the combination of both might be unique to this one.

It has been a while since we mentioned Led Zeppelin but their Travelling Riverside Blues, itself named after a Robert Johnson tune (Traveling Riverside Blues), ends by mentioning this Fuller song. Another fine example of hokum blues, the lyrics are just damn' horny:

Oh just tell me mama
Where do you get your sugar from
Aw just tell me sugar
where you get your sugar from
I believe I bit down
On your daddy's sugar plum

Recorded: July 26, 1935.
Sound & Lyrics

Evil Hearted Woman

The last song Evil Hearted Woman is one where the female race is again described at its worst. It isn't the only time Fuller sings about an evil hearted woman as the term is also used in his Untrue Blues (not on this compilation).

Recorded: July 25, 1935.
Sound, but no Lyrics found.

Conclusion

Paul Oliver (on the Country Blues liner notes):

In Evil Hearted Woman, My brownskin sugarplum, and Keep away from my woman there is love, there is desire, there is menace, there is jealousy, there is disappointment and there is humour.

We couldn't have said it better. If this record was good enough for Syd Barrett to listen to, it surely is good enough for us as well. Listening to Country Blues may be a challenge if your ears have been used to the electric and electronic sounds of the third millennium, but this is R&B in its embryonical stage. Dig it.

Epilogue

The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit started in 2008, more as a prank than anything else (see: Felix Atagong: an honest man), and has worn out its welcome more than once. Feeling that our expiration date was reached at least a year ago, it is time to say goodbye. And what better opportunity than to do it with the album that named the best band in the word.

Let's give our final words to one of our esteemed colleagues, the Reverend Gary Davis:

One of these days about 12 o'clock
This old world's gonna reel and rock
I belong to the band
Hallelujah
(I Belong to the Band, Hallelujah, 1960)
The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit tombstone

Many thanks to: Bennymix, Cagey, Caitrin, Deanna, Jim Dixon, Dorothea, Brian Hoskin, Elise Israd, Mudcat.org, Parla, Stephen Pyle, Tony Russell, Sorcha, Stagg'O'Lee, Dave T, Winifred, Wordreference.com, Zowieso...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ friends, lovers and fans...

Sources (other than the above mentioned links):
Baigent, Michael & Leigh, Richard: The Elixir and the Stone, Penguin, London, 1998, p. 399.
Bastin, Bruce: Blind Boy Fuller, biography in: Stefan Grossman's early masters of American blues guitar: Blind Boy Fuller, Alfred Music Publishing, 2007.
Bastin, Bruce: Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast, University of Illinois Press, 1995, p. 223-234.
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 43.
Charters, Samuel: Carolina Blues Man, Pink Anderson vol. 1 record liner notes, 1961.
Charters, Samuel: Medicine Show Man, Pink Anderson vol. 2 record liner notes, 1961.
Charters, Samuel: Ballad & Folksinger, Pink Anderson vol. 3 record liner notes, 1961.
Dosanjh, Warren: The music scene of 1960s Cambridge, I Spy In Cambridge, Cambridge, 2013, p. 54.
Green, Jonathon: Days In The Life, Pimlico, London, 1998, p. 104.
Hogg, Brian: What Colour is Sound?, Crazy Diamond CD box booklet, 1993.
Israd, Elise: The use of food as a sexual metaphor in the blues, 2008?, (original page deleted, partially archived page)
Levine, Lawrence W. : Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2007 reprint, p. 225-232.
McInnis, Mike : This one's Pink, Unraveling the mysteries behind the Pink Floyd name, 2006.
Miles, Barry: London Calling: a countercultural history of London since 1945, Atlantic Books, London, 2010, p. 181.
Miles, Barry: Pink Floyd The Early Years, Omnibus Press, London, 2006, p. 46.
Miles, Barry & Mabbett, Andy: Pink Floyd The Visual Documentary, Omnibus Press, London, 1994 edition, unnumbered pages, 1965 section.
Obrecht, Jas: Blind Boy Fuller: His Life, Recording Sessions, and Welfare Records, 2011.
Oliver, Paul: Country Blues 1935-'40, Blind Boy Fuller liner notes, 1962.
Palacios, Julian: Lost In The Woods, Boxtree, London, 1998, p. 40.
Povey, Glenn: Echoes, the complete history of Pink Floyd, 3C Publishing, 2008, p. 18.
Pyle, Stephen: Pink & Floyd, message on 21/03/2015 16:38.
Schaffner, Nicholas: Saucerful of Secrets, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1991, p. 30.
Schwartz, Roberta Freund : How Britain Got the Blues: The Transmission and Reception of American Blues Style in the United Kingdom, Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 91-95.
Stagg'O'Lee: Blind Boy Fuller, Sa Vie, Gazette Greenwood, 2003.
Watkinson, Mike & Anderson, Pete: Crazy Diamond, Omnibus Press, London, 1993, p. 31.
Weck, Lars: Pink Floyd på visit, Dagens Nyheter, 1967-09-11.
Welch, Chris: Learning to Fly, Castle Communications, Chessington, 1994, p. 26.
Zolten, Jerry: Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds : Celebrating the Rise of Soul, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 54-57.

Discography:
Pink Anderson
Floyd Council
Blind Boy Fuller

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


2015-06-14

Iggy Rose in Cambridge

Iggy Rose by Vic Singh
Iggy Rose by the legendary Vic Singh.

The second weekend of June has the second Cambridge biennial Birdie Hop meeting, with special guest stars: Viv Brans, Vic Singh, Peter Gilmour, Men On The Border, Jenny Spires, Warren Dosanjh, Libby Gausden, Dave 'Dean' Parker & Iggy Rose (and some more).

Unfortunately the Facebook group for this event has been closed for prying eyes, but some pictures and videos have already leaked out.

Iggy Rose and Goran Nystrom
Iggy Rose, in great shape, & Göran Nyström from Men on the Border.

Pictures and videos will be regularly uploaded to the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit Tumblr page, as soon as the Holy Igquisiton gets hold of them.

Iggy Rose admiring a record cover
Iggy Rose admiring a record cover. Picture: Mick Brown.

For the latest (public) pictures and videos of the 2015 Birdie Hop event, please check: http://iggyinuit.tumblr.com/tagged/june-2015.
Our review of the first Birdie Hop meeting in 2013: Birdie Hop: wasn't it the most amazing meeting? 


Many thanks to: Sandra Blickem, Mick Brown, Warren Dosanjh, Vanessa Flores, Tim Greenhall, Alex Hoffmann, Antonio Jesus (Solo En Las Nubes), Douglas Milne, Göran Nyström (Men On The Border), Vic Singh, Abigail Thomson-Smith, Eva Wijkniet...
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2015-09-19

Life Is Just...

Sad Syd. Artwork: Felix Atagong.

One: cocks and sydiots

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, are nuts.

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 with.

Pink 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. Photographers Storm 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 rope-dancing exercise.

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?

Exactly.

Life is just...
Life is just..., Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon.

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 smelling.

Cambridge beatnik and après-beatnik life can also be found in a few autobiographies. William 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.

Nigel 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.

Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon
Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon.

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 also: We 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?


Many thanks: Mick Brown, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥


2015-11-14

Men On The Border: Live in Brighton

Live in Brighton
Live in Brighton, Men On The Border.

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, after ShinE! (2012) that consisted of Barrett covers and Jumpstart (2013) that mainly had original songs but with a slightly concealed madcap theme.

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...
Men On The Border. Picture: Vic Singh.
Men On The Border. Picture: Vic Singh.

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 Hendrix)...

So give them a warm hand of applause and make them feel welcome in this mad cat world of random precision.
 

Tracklist:

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.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017WFLEH8/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6MStF6YtxCYNY7FTIoeNzq


Many thanks: Göran Nystrom, Vic Singh.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥