::                                                              ::
  ::                     - WHAT'S RATTLIN'? -                     ::
  ::     The "Periodical" Digest for Canterbury Music Addicts     ::
  ::                         Issue # 203                          ::
  ::                 Friday, September 12th, 2003                 ::
  ::                                                              ::


Dear fellow Rattlers,

I know, it's been a while... A very long while indeed ! I guess things got a bit busy here, lots of other stuff to do, and - I must say - not a lot of outside input to lure me out of my WR inactivity... Anyway, I will try not to forget anything in the long blurb that follows. Lots of nice things have happened on the Canterbury scene in the last months. I hope nobody missed any interesting gigs near them - one thing I make sure is to keep the Calyx "concerts" page regularly updated, and to a lesser extent the "new releases" and discography sections.

But let's begin with a piece of very sad news indeed. In late August, we mourned the loss of a major writer and journalist in Ian MacDonald. Brother of Bill MacCormick of Matching Mole fame, Ian was the editor and a major contributor to the New Musical Express durings its (perhaps not coincidentally) most Canterbury-friendly phase, ca. 1972-75. His writings on Soft Machine, in particular the January 1975 two-part, multi-page feature, are classic stuff. Of course he went on to write more great stuff, most famously his Beatles book "Revolution In The Head", a true work of genius. His essay on Shostakovitch was also acclaimed in classical circles. A collection of some of his pop writing, "The People's Music", had recently been published. He had other books in the pipeline, including a much awaited study of David Bowie's oeuvre. I am personally very sad that a man of such great talent should leave this world much too soon.

Going back in time somewhat, I would like to say a few words about the Tritonales festival which took place "in" Paris last June. I was asked to help with programming it, which resulted in a number of Canterbury artists and bands being present (although it was the promoter's intention from the outset to feature this musical scene). Although plagued by heavy strikes in the public transportation network (particularly affected by this was Richard Sinclair's show, which was unexpectedly and disappointingly one of the least attended of the festival), on the whole the festival pulled decent crowds. Strangely the most crowded show was Daevid Allen's - I say strangely because the music he chose to play was decidedly un-ear-friendly, yet very few people left during the performance, which can be best described as... I don't know, "glissando-core-noise" ??

The Canterbury section of the festival began with two evenings of Polysoft, celebrating the release of their excellent live album, recorded at the Triton a year ago. The first show was evidently under-rehearsed but, following some serious rehearsing the following day, things got much tighter the second night and Polysoft delivered what was possibly the very best performance I've ever seen by them (and I've seen all but one of their gigs thus far). No new stuff compared to last September (although I'd foolishly suggested to P-O Govin that they try doing "Teeth"...), but there's enough classic stuff there to keep the customer more than satisfied. We'll see what happens next now - apparently the band are keen on doing more shows if the demand is there.

Richard Sinclair was expected to perform in duo format with his longtime pianist David Rees-Williams, but had another ace up his sleeve in the shape of the great Theo Travis, saxophone and flute player from the latest incarnation(s) of Gong. The resulting trio produced very nice sounds indeed. As usual with Richard's performances, the numbers tend to be stretched a little too long sometimes, something than can be said of the show as a whole, although some of us will never get enough of Richard's singing and playing anyway. At one point it seemed to gig would never end, when Richard literally dragged a reluctant Rees-Williams from the bar to have him play a solo piano piece. In addition to the usual mixture of old and "recent" stuff we were treated to a sketch of a new piece, a typical Sinclair melody with lots of beautiful chords. For most of the show Richard played bass, which remains my preferred instrument for him, although he can do some very nice things on acoustic guitar too. Anyway, it was nice to see Richard perform again in Paris after a 9-year gap. As he seems keen on touring again (there are plans for US shows this autumn), let's hope a new album can become a reality sometime in the not-too-distant future.

That the In Cahoots show happened at all was nothing short of a miracle, and the band's plane from London got cancelled, as many were that day. In an heroic gesture Phil & co rushed to Waterloo station, paying outrageously expensive Eurostar tickets to try and make it to Paris at all cost (indeed). Which they fortunately did. This wasn't the end of their problems, as the rented keyboard never arrived, and Peter Lemer was forced to use a genuine Fender Rhodes piano instead of his usual electronic piano-like keyboard, which I personally feel was a plus, being a lover of classic analog keyboards. Pete did use an electronic keyboard, but mostly for Moog-like leads on pieces like "Your Root 2". This was the second time I'd heard the new InCa line-up with Mark Fletcher on drums, and the choice of material was vastly different. This gig was mostly a live presentation of the new album, "All That", three months prior to its release, where the Seattle show had been conceived as a retrospective of the band on the occasion of its first American visit. This said, not all the material was unknown to me, as "All That" includes two pieces that InCa has played regularly on tour for over five years now (Pete Lemer's "Big Dick" and Fred Baker's "Upside") and, somewhat surprisingly (but rather convincingly), a re-make of "Your Root 2", with more developed horn parts and a more faithful interpretation of the piece's tricky riffs. Still, we were treated to four new Phil Miller originals, beginning with what's become a new favourite of mine, the epic "Black Cat", full of tempo changes and great solos from the whole band, each set to a different backing rather than the usual and somewhat worn out jazz habit of people just taking solos in turn until the final re-statement of the theme. Overall, I think "All That" (which I've now heard in its studio avatar many times) will stand as one of the very best InCa records, certainly on a par with "Parallel" and possibly better.

No disrespect to former InCa drummer Pip Pyle, whose own band Bash made quite an impression on the crowd the following evening. They too had an equipment problem, albeit minor - I solved it by lending my own wah-wah pedal to Alex Maguire, who didn't have one for some reason. The quartet played a set (or rather, two sets) largely similar to their debut at Progman Cometh last year, with some exceptions - a further Pyle original, "Sparky", was given its debut, as was Patrice Meyer's funnily-titled "Bashy-Bazooka" which has replaced "Horny Brownie" in the set; another plus was the addition of Elton Dean for the last couple of numbers - Equip'Out's "Cauliflower Ears" and the "Carousel" / "John's Fragment" medley. Bash comprises four excellent players, each a unique voice on their respective instruments, and the material, mostly composed by Pip especially for this project, makes excellent use of their individual and collective talents. I can't wait to hear the album.

John Greaves' gig the next day was recorded for a proposed live album, although I'm not sure this will happen - in any case, John has no shortage of projects and upcoming releases, with his 'JazzSongs' trio album now imminent and a couple of very exciting albums coming in 2004 which I'm forbidden to tell much about right now. The Tritonales show was by John's 'Roxongs' electric trio, with Jef Morin on guitar and Manu Denizet on drums, and summed up the great qualities of this line-up. Jef has come into his own in the few months since joining and is definitely an interesting and original player, if not as immaculately professional as his predecessors Francois Ovide and Patrice Meyer - actually, I suspect John is rather happy with that. Not much in the setlist that was really new - I think the live album is intended as an assessment of the project rather than a showcase for a new material, although there are now a handful of songs not recorded on album yet. I don't know if more gigs are planned in the near future - it seems John will be concentrating on the trio with Sophia Domancich and Vincent Courtois for some time, as John secured a rather prestigious contract with Harmonia Mundi for this project.

I won't say much more about the Daevid Allen "Guru & Zero" show than what I wrote above, except to say that Didier Malherbe was a last-minute addition to the line-up, and did some interesting stuff although he seemed to struggle to find his place in the surrounding electric mayhem. The Acid Mothers Temple people, in various degrees of stonedness (one in particular close to lethal, at least it seemed), made a lot of noise indeed. I think this is the kind of performance you either love or hate. In my case, I alternated between the two and, sometimes, felt a strange mixture of both. Apart from the musical aspect I think it was quite a bold gesture from Daevid to "treat" his audience to such an experimental sound rather than play down to their expectations. I'm not sure about the merits of the music, but the event in itself was certainly food for thought.

There were other great moments during the festival - most notably, for me, Offering (a DVD and live album are under serious consideration), Guapo, Sotos and Mats & Morgan - but I don't want to go on and on. Let's just say that the second edition of the festival is set to take place during the same period next year. Hopefully there'll be more great music to be heard then.

We had the pleasure of seeing some friendly foreign visitors among the attendence - our good Japanese friend Hiroshi Masuda, who has acted as tour promoter for many artists in Japan, including Richard Sinclair last year; Cuneiform Records boss Steve Feigenbaum; and Progman Cometh festival promoter Jerry Cook, who told me then about his plans for the second edition, which has since taken place. Although much less of a Canterbury event this year (headliners were Procol Harum and the Alan Parsons (Live) Project), a really healthy dose of Canterbury music was heard both days, with an all-star line-up assembled around Jerry and friends (Jerry is also a drummer, of 1970s prog trio Glass fame) and featuring many excellent players in all sorts of combinations. I wasn't there to see that, nor is any recording of the event expected to surface, but I am reliably informed that material by In Cahoots, SoftWorks, Hatfield, etc., was played, in addition to original compositions by Jerry's Glass cohorts, brothers Greg and Jeff Sherman. Present at various times, sometimes all together, were Richard Sinclair, Phil Miller, Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Fred Baker and Alex Maguire, alongside the Glass trio and assorted friends. I know that Jerry is concurrently working on a studio project and I assume he took the opportunity to get some of these musicians to contribute to it in the studio, so that there will be an outcome for all of us. In any event, congratulations to Jerry & team for their immense contribution to keeping this scene alive at a time when there's not much support to be expected, it seems, outside such dedicated festivals, and it's harder than ever for Canterbury artists to gig with any regularity.

One - relative - exception to that is SoftWorks, the all-star line-up of Elton Dean, Allan Holdsworth, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall. Although things are moving forward at a slower pace than initially planned, this is still an ongoing concern, and rather successful in its way, thanks to the Herculean efforts of manager Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records in NYC. Leonardo arranged a high-profile Japanese tour for the band last month, which was very well received. I hope we get some feedback from some of our Japanese subscribers. Apparently, "As If" was added to the setlist for the occasion, which I think is a piece well-suited to the style of the band. "Abracadabra", the album, was finally issued in the USA in July, and more American dates are planned, but apparently not before 2004 now.

Also of high profile is Robert Wyatt, who is back in the limelight this autumn with no less than two new releases, one semi-archival and one brand new. "Solar Flares Burn For You", on Cuneiform Records, consists primarily of Robert's 1972 and 1974 radio sessions for the BBC, plus additional material including two instrumental collaborations with Hugh Hopper and a new song in demo form. More info on that below. The new studio album, "Cuckooland", is set for release late this month. If it were a vinyl, you could call it a double-album, clocking in as it does at over 75 minutes. There's a great variety of stuff in there, including a sort of album-inside-the-album in collaboration with (and with words and music by) Karen Mantler, a very successful partnership I think, from recording sessions that took place in the summer of last year. The remainder of the sessions, also at Phil Manzanera's studio near London, is closer to "Shleep", although the sound is sometimes different due to Robert now using modern synthesizers more extensively. Many contributors can be heard, including guitarists David Gilmour and Paul Weller, SoupSongs members Annie Whitehead and Jennifer Maidman, and new faces like Gilad Atzmon (woodwind) and Yaron Stavi (double bass) who both appear on several tracks. Robert's sweetheart Alfie contributes several lyrics once again, including a nice tribute to the Paris jazz scene of the 1950s (dedicated to expatriate journalist and friend Michael Zwerin). All in all, it is quite a big chunk of music to digest, so my final word on the album's merits will have to come later; suffice it to say that there's some excellent stuff in there, and the six years wait was worthwhile. I'm sure there will be a lot of press coverage on Robert in the coming weeks - he spent a whole week in Paris alone to do interviews.

Coinciding with this renewed activity from Robert, Patrice Boyer's tribute to the great man in Charleville-Mezieres will take place in November. There is more information on the event in the concerts section of Calyx, if you'd like to attend. An impressive line-up featuring John Greaves and Karen Mantler alongside various French musicians will perform their own arrangements of some of Robert's songs. John told me he'd chosen "Gloria Gloom". Should be interesting. The concert will be recorded and chances are that a CD of it will appear. We'll see.

Last, but certainly not least, there is much activity lined up for Caravan in the wake of their new album, "The Unauthorised Breakfast Item", which is due for release (at last) soon. In the meantime, arrangements were made for fans to buy a pre-release version of the album direct from the Caravan website, featuring an additional disc of live recordings - four songs off the new CD recorded live in Japan last April, and the orchestral version of "For Richard" played last year at the Quebec International Festival, which would turn out to be David Sinclair's last performance with Caravan. Dave is featured on a couple of the new album's songs, including what I think is by far the best piece on it, "Nowhere To Hide", with Jim Leverton on lead vocals. By the way, Dave is currently working on a solo album with various vocalists, including cousin Richard who has contributed vocals to a couple of songs; apparently, the In Cahoots rhythm section are expected to make an appearance, as is Doug Boyle. Meanwhile, back in Caravan, Jan Schelhaas has once again replaced Dave Sinclair and plays on the remainder of the album. Most of it has been written by Pye Hastings, and although a lot is in the poppier style favoured by him in recent years, an apparent effort has been made to develop the instrumental dimension of the material, with tasty solos from Doug Boyle, Jimmy Hastings and Geoff Richardson. Still some will probably pine for the more 'progressive' direction of older albums, in which case they are strongly advised to attend any of the band's upcoming gigs, which still feature a majority of classic material. Meanwhile, they'll surely find much to enjoy on this album and, also, hopefully it will win new converts. Last thing - in addition to a rather extensive provincial UK tour in October/November, and a few dates in the Benelux in December, a special show will take place at London's Bloomsbury Theatre on November 30th, which should enlist the participation of several former members of the band. Whether this includes any Sinclairs I'm not sure.

In other live news, In Cahoots and Richard Sinclair are both slated to appear at a progrock festival in London, Progeny, alongside more typically neo-proggy outfits such as Arena and Pendragon. Something a strange mixture, but a token of the promoters' open-mindedness. Also of note are Gongzilla's US tour, sadly almost finished already as I write this (I saw them in New York City in July and they were very good), and Camel's farewell tour featuring the return of keyboard player Ton Scherpenzeel. Plus plenty more on the Calyx concert agenda.

I think that's about it for now. I will now get ready to send this out and reassure everything who thought either WR or I had disappeared for good. Rest assured this won't happen in the foreseeable future. Just be reminded that the more contributions I get, the more likely it is that WR will appear on a more regular basis as this is often the impetus for me to get an issue together. By the way, I'd like to thank my friend Ian Chippett who, apparently with that very intention, contributed the following interview with Pip Pyle which I'm sure will delight his many fans among WR's readership. May there be more like that... Thanks Ian, and thanks Pip !

Best regards,

PS: Oops... Almost forgot - the second volume of Soft Machine BBC radio sessions, covering the period of 1971-74, is in the pipeline. Release imminent from the great Hux Records, who are also releasing a superb set of Elton Dean's Ninesense sessions from 1975 & 1978 - the only material from that great ensemble currently available on CD...


From: IChippett@aol.com
Subject: Now it can be asked!
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 13:20:53 EDT

One of the advantages of living in Paris is that the possibilty of running into Canterbury icons is rather stronger than if you live in, well, even Canterbury. Thus it was that I came into contact with Pip Pyle who is probably in the Top Three Canterbury Icons category. He agreed to do this interview by email and I'm sure Rattlers will find it both amusing and instructive. Pip only refused to answer one question (quite rightly as it was a bit cheeky) and proved a perfect interviewee. Thanks, Pip.

Q: This is a silly question but one Robert Wyatt likes. What's your Top Ten, all right, Top Five albums of All Time?

A: I don't think it's a silly question at all. I've always dreamt of doing Desert Island Discs ever since Ronnie Scott cited a Faye Dunaway blow up dolly as his luxury. Actually though, it's a really hard question to answer as my tastes change from day to day and my memory with it. Asking for five is harder than asking for ten, so here's twelve. I'm feeling really jazz this week (I was watching a TV programme I really liked last night so I got up TURNED IT OFF!! I don't care if I live or die) so the selection is predominantly jazz and in no particular order of preference (more chronological):
- The Beatles "Revolver" : A very conservative choice maybe, but honestly, I can't leave them out; they were so influential on what just about anyone did who was born in the fifties. I did prefer them after they got into drugs though.
- Miles Davis/Gil Evans "Sketches of Spain" : I could add plenty of other Miles albums too, at least from the Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter period and from the later "Bitches Brew" Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Johnny Mac era. But this one has some astonishingly beautiful trumpet solos, you can hear every beautiful nuance of that SOUND Miles has. And of course Gil Evans has to be the all time guvnor of jazz arrangers. Just the idea of a Rodriguez' guitar concerto for brass! Brilliant!
- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers "Bluesbreakers" & Jimi Hendrix "Axis Bold As Love" : both these groups I saw when I was about 17 in London. I was (still am) a big rhythm and blues fan. Mayall's band with Eric Clapton was very fine musically, especially with Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Mayall was the "purist" rhythm and blues specialist and Clapton was God. I needn't say much about Jimi, he just nailed me to the wall.
- Eric Dolphy "Out to Lunch" : Not only for Tony Williams but that alone still is terrifying to me today. The rhythms are fresh out of space, mathematical, analytical, clever and cute. And he's only 17 the complete bastard!! But this whole record has a sound helped by the atmospheric sense of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and feeling of Freddy Hubbard and Richard Davis that is totally original and never been got close to by any band since. It's a one off musical environment.
- Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band "The Doughnut In Granny's Greenhouse" : I saw this group at the Marquee once and noticed a really appalling smell as soon as I got inside the club. They had hung really rotten meat all around the stage. If that's not avant-garde I like to know what is. Funniest thing I ever heard, saw or smelt.
- John Coltrane "Crescent" : I could cite just about any one of the recordings of this monster quartet, with Elvin, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner. Everything they did was of a spirituality so beyond anything I'd heard before
- Charlie Haden "Liberation Orchestra" : Just such lovely tunes and playing and you feel that everyone is having such a great time together
 - Mike Gibbs Orchestra "Just Ahead" : I saw this band often in the seventies, and this is one of those concerts recorded live at Ronnie's Mike Gibbs is a prodigious arranger and composer. The band boasts the best in the English jazz scene, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Babbington, Chris Spedding, Henry Lowther Harry Beckett, Malcolm Griffiths, Ray Warleigh, Stan Sulzmann, Dave MacRae, John Marshall, Frank Ricotti, Skidmore etc. I am pleased to see that Mike is touring England again now with a new big band. I recommend everyone to get on the Eurostar immediately.
- Charles Lloyd Quartet "Live In Russia" : This is a little-known record of the quartet live in what sounds a great concert (the vodka must have been flowing). It was the first American jazz group to come to Russia. The Estonians just didn't know what hit them! With J D J on drums and Ron McClure on bass and a very young and exuberant Keith Jarrett hammering shit out of the piano. He didn't used to sing in those days.
- Tony Williams Lifetime "Turn It Over" : I saw this band too in 1969 at the tiny Hampstead Theatre Club. Christ they were LOUD!! But I was completely mesmerized by the sheer brilliance and technique of Messrs Williams, McLaughlin, Bruce and Larry Young. You felt like you'd just got off a big dipper when you got outside.
- Robert Wyatt "Rock Bottom" : 'nuff said on these pages, I think.

...There you go. Already I feel guilty for leaving out Frank Zappa, Harry Parch, Carla Bley, Miroslav Vitous, Weather Report, still there you go.

Q: Over the years you've played with an awful lot of people but it's always been (or so it seems) with like-minded musicians. Does this mean you draw the line at doing session work with less congenial musicians even if they pay serious money? Why? Can't stand the boredom or is it a question of principle? After all, your name probably wouldn't appear on the cover!

A: Absolutely not, I'll do anything for money! I think it's great to be able to earn money playing your instrument and a privilege to be able to do so. The problem is you have to really play well and probably like someone else or how someone else would like you to play and really behave yourself. No noodling or squeeky bonkage. I'm not consistently good at any of those requirements and believe me, to be a sucessful session man you have to be VERY good at them. But in any case I have done plenty of things that I'm not particularly proud of and try to avoid people knowing about, so I'm not going to go into that here!

Q: They were all brilliant but which particular version of National Health did you most enjoy playing with?

A: I enjoyed all of them but I think just after John Greaves joined and we did a quartet tour with Phil and Dave was perhaps the best. He really loosened up things musically, socially and intellectually...
It was also a lot of fun with Alan after he rejoined as the replacement for Dave, although arguably some of the music never reached its full potential before Al got so ill.

Q: Sneaky one here. Who has been the most difficult musician to work with ?

A: Ah! I'm not falling for that one! They're all mad anyway. Some of them get paranoid, some have enormous egos, some have amnesia, some are bread heads, some are inarticule about what they want to do musically. Some of them have feet that smell like Munster cheese in the van. In fact most of them have all of those things! In any case he'd take such terrible umbrage and never want to play with me again. Often musicians that are difficult socially, like Pete Lemer, are great to play with. It's never a prerequisite for me to like a musician as a human being for me to be able to play with them. It's can be a kind of battle on stage and that friction can sometimes produce very good music. Alternatively, playing with someone you love, as I did with Sophia in L'Equip'Out wasn't really the utopia I hoped it might be, because we'd bring too much of ourselves into the music sometimes. So, I'd prefer to avoid answering that and be positive and say who was the easiest musician to work with. Fred Baker. And Elton, too. They just pick up their axes and all this brilliant stuff comes teeming out. (Aside, trivia anoraks Teem Out, did anyone ever get the jeu de mots in L'Equip'Out. I don't think so.)

Q: Any chance we might see Absolute Zero in Europe one day?

A: Well, I certainly hope so. I really enjoy playing with that band for many reasons, both musical and social. I really think they deserve some recognition after all the years of writing and playing and trying to get things happening. Certainly all the signs are good, we've been getting some excellent revues and there is already interest from people in the US and South America to have us play. I think they are very talented musicians and are dealing in an area of music of their own that's hardly been touched by anyone else. Our CD will be coming out any week now with Recommended Records, Chris Cutler's label. He's very keen on the band and excited about the CD and hopes to be able to help us get gigs. Apart from the usual problem of getting promoters to book whacked out bands like ours is that Enrique and Aislinn have literally tons of equipment. It really is essential to their sound. The music and the technology are completely interwoven. If they just rolled up and plugged into a PA system music, some sort of music would come out but it wouldn't be the music they had written. We did a tour in the US a couple of years ago and the air freight costs were nearly as high as our wages.
All I hope is that micro technology will soon make all the effects accessible on laptops in briefcases instead of huge racks in 10-ton trucks and I know that Enrique and Aislinn are looking into minuturizing the group.

Q: You cleverly avoided mentioning the musician you found it most difficult to work with. What has been the music you've found it most difficult to play? And which have you enjoyed playing most?

A: Well actually, certain Absolute Zero's music is right up there in the Clever Bastard stakes. They write a lot of rhythmical things which, apart from the complex time signatures and quintuplets and all that stuff, already not exactly easy to play, also employ the use of overlaying time signatures one on the other, like I'll play in 9 and Aislinn will superimpose a 13 or something over that. I noticed that often we'll be counting the one in the bar in several different places! At first when I got their scores and heard their music I thought, fuck this, it's just too hard. But I took a lot of time looking over the charts and finding ways to make sense of them and now we're really beginning to tear them up and play it more off the wall.
Some of the National Health stuff was pretty tricky too; especially Dave's which has to be played pretty much as written and really in the pocket. Phil Miller's music is challenging too in that he never writes anything at all for the drummer so it's up to you to find something that he likes which, while I enjoy trying to find feels for him, seemingly it often turns out to be just the thing he doesn't want, which is pretty frustrating. Sometimes even the simplest thing in music can be almost the most difficult. I've spent all my life trying to play a really slow laid back rhythm and blues shuffle like Jimmy Reed or something. Adrenaline usually seizes hold and ruins it! Technique, energy and exhilaration can be an obstruction sometimes! You just need to play what you hear in your head. Perhaps sometimes I think too much! Obviously Jimmy Reed's band didn't have much happening up there then, but it sounds just perfect!
As for who I enjoy myself the most... Well that's difficult. Once again, if I say so and so then someone else is going to think I didn't enjoy playing them. Honestly I've enjoyed playing with all the bands I've ever played with at some point or other.It's rare that I don't enjoy playing. You may have a bad gig here or there but otherwise..... There were certainly occasions with In Cahoots that were really enjoyable. We did some monster gigs. I've had so many fantastic jams with Elton Dean and Alex Maguire, too. Perhaps the most consistently enjoyable group I ever played in was Soft Heap with Elton, John Greaves and Mark Hewins, I don't remember a bad gig ever. Perhaps I just don't remember at all!

Q: Do you have any plans for a follow-up to "Seven Year Itch"? What would you put on it?

A: This isn't a particularly good time to answer that question because I'm either trying to get a CD out for my new band Bash! (for which, as you know I have already written all the material) or feeling somewhat in the wilderness musically. At the moment I have so few gigs I'm going stale. If I didn't jam with my mates at home and generally practice my drums I would probably starve to death spiritually. Anyone need a 50+ drummer out there? Or want to manage one? I do however have several songs that I wrote post "Seven Year Itch" lying around plus a couple of ideas for other people's songs like Syd Barrett's "See Emily Play" that might see the light of day eventually. I'd like to get the Bash project underway if I muster up enough energy to confront the general apathy that awaits us in the music business. I doff the bitter cynical muso hat grumpily in their direction.

Q: What are you listening to yourself these days?

A: Well I have to confess that I listen much less to music nowadays than I did when I was young. I used to spend all my time lying around tetanized under the influence of mind altering stimuli such as music and drugs. Blimey! Listen to that major 7 chord! It's like a huge green isosceles triangle! I suppose nowadays I listen far more to the people I'm playing with at the time, like Freddy Baker, Patrice Meyer, Elton Dean and so on. I'm not playing with Phil Miller right now, but I'd always give any of his music a good listen. Otherwise there's my mate John Greaves who's playing with Vincent Courtois, an excellent young cellist. Of relatively new groups I quite like Radiohead, funny though I swear I hear Gong and Robert Wyatt in there! Glissando guitars and men with high voices with no vibrato...Oh yes and a Canadian group called Sisters Euclid that put out a great first album "All Babies Go To War" last year, that's great. It's not because I am no longer curious, but you have to wade through so much dross in the media to find anything interesting nowadays. When I was a kid there was even good stuff on the radio let alone at all the jazz and blues clubs in London. But I think there's enough shelf life in chaps like Coltrane, Elvin Jones and Miles alone to see me out.

Q: What was your reaction when "The Rotters' Club" novel by Jonathon Coe appeared? I suppose you must have been informed beforehand. Personally, I thought it just about summed up the period. Did he choose the title "on purpose"?

A: Well, he called me up out of the blue and said that he'd written this book about the seventies and that Hatfield and The North figured in it and could he quote part of the lyrics to "Share It" and use the title "The Rotters' Club" for his book. There's a character called Trotter in the book, which was the cart and which was the horse, I don't know. I said I was okay about that and he sent me a copy of the book with the inscription "For Pip Pyle, whose music has made the inside of my head a pleasanter place to be, for twenty five years", which was a nice thing to say, plus a bit of money, which was a nice thing to do.
I read the book and thought, yes, that does sum up the period pretty well. It was somehow quite nostalgic, the Miner's Strike, Scarghill, CND and all that. I couldn't quite work out how he could have seen the Hatfield gig in Birmingham that he describes as I worked out he could only have been 14 or 15 years old. Subsequently he got in touch with me when he came to Paris to do a reading of another new book of his and we had dinner together. In fact it was his older brother who had seen Hatfield, although he himself is a great fan and knows almost as much as about Canterbury music as Aymeric (The Bill Frindall of the Canterbury Scene) Leroy does. We have subsequently become good friends. He even lent me his very luxurious flat in Earls Court over Christmas last year.

Q: If you had to cobble together a Best Of Pip Pyle (you're allowed one very long CD), what would you put on it?

A: Do you mean my compositions or any old stuff I've played on?

Q: Let's say five or six things you wrote more or less alone and five or six things you played a large part in.

A: Well that certainly cuts down the options as I am hardly prolific as a composer. Cobble together a load of old cobblers eh? I'm forever optimistic that the next composition I write will be the best and rather scorn what I've done before. This at least keeps you going for it, like a dog straining uselessly on a leash. I think Seven Year Itch is the most sucessful CD I've done in that, apart from the drumming, which never really got a look in, I did manage to record the songs pretty much exactly as I hoped to. I think the best instrumental tunes I've written will hopefully see the light of day on the Bash CD if I manage to get it released. These tunes were different to other instrumentals (with the exception of the Foetal Fandango that I wrote for L'Equip Out) in that the germ of the idea in every case was a rhythmic feel or a drum part and that I was really writing with the individual players in mind instead of just a specific musical idea or a song (that's usually an ode to some girl who has made you temporarily lose your marbles).

Perhaps these are a dozen of my best efforts to date, or The Least Worst of Pip Pyle, if push came to shove:
- "Oh Mother" (with Daevid Allen) - 1971 Gong from "Camembert Electrique" (Virgin V 2012)
- "The Yes/No Interlude" - 1975 - Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club (Virgin 2030.)
- "Fitter Stoke Has A Bath" - 1975 - Hatfield And The North - The Rotters' Club (Virgin 2030)
 - "Share It" (with Richard Sinclair) - 1975 - Hatfield & The North "The Rotters Club" V2030)
 - "Foetal Fandango" - 1987 - Pip Pyle's Equip' Out* (52 Rue Est RE004 original vinyl, release CD Voiceprint)
- "Goodbye to the Old World" (with Alain & Yvon Guillard) - 1989 - Alain et Yvon Guillard - Pazapa (Gimini JCC 014 CD)
 - "Cauliflower Ears" - 1991 - Pip Pyle's L'Equip' Out -" Up !"(Too Much 3 TMR 301)
 - "What's Rattlin'?" (with Richard Sinclair) - 1994 - Richard Sinclair - R.S.V.P. <sinclair.html>* (RSS CD001)
 - "Shipwrecked"  - 1998 - Pip Pyle - "Seven Year Itch" (Voiceprint VP198CD)
 - "L'Etat des Choses" - 1998 - Pip Pyle - "Seven Year Itch" (Voiceprint VP198CD)
 - "Dead Dog God Dingo" (with Peter Blegvad) - 2000 - "The Pig Part" - Pyle/Iung/Greaves (Voiceprint VP225CD)
 - "Further On" - 2003 - "Crashing Icons" CD - Absolute Zero (RER)

Q: I have heard that there's a Live Hatfield CD in the pipeline. Should we hold our breath?

A: There is a strong possibility, I think everyone agrees on the principle, but so far a year has gone by since I chose my selection for it and I'm waiting for the others to either okay that or propose something else.
I chose quite a lot of blowing stuff, this is for several reasons, first of all I like it and secondly the group did a lot of that on stage, yet hardly ever in the studio. I think it gives a perspective of the band never represented on recordings. Other criteria that influenced my choice to try and use pieces that have never been on record before, like a tune of Phil's called "Finesse Is For Fairies", an untitled old tune of Dave Stewart's, and the segment of Dave's that I culled from "Rifferama" that hadn't been recorded before.
I think they will be of interest to fans that have never heard these tunes. I tried to get some of the silliness that went on stage, plate smashing, and stupid tunes like "The Laughing Policeman" etc. Pity we didn't have any recording of the rows we used to have, they would have put the Troggs' tape in the shame and we could have made it a double album. About 35 minutes of it is BBC John Peel stuff. Some tunes have a good live performance feel, like "Let's Eat" and "Fitter Stoke", the latter I almost prefer to the recorded album version.

Q: Does this mean that Hatfield wasn't the idyllic love story we have always fondly imagined? Can it be?

A: Well, it was pretty idyllic at first, like most love stories. But to continue the analogy, (and to exaggerate a little to make the point and as many waves as possible), it later became like being married to 3 egomaniac, tyrannical bitches at once. I think that's probably true of a lot of groups that have spent two years pretty much exclusively in each other's company, socially and musically. Bickering invariably ensues. We had some laughs and good times too, but towards the end they were fewer and further between. Divorce is the only cure !

Q: You've played with a load of great musicians over the years. What would be your ideal band if you could put one together from all these people? And one consisting of people you've never played with?

A: Blimey guvnor. That's an impossible question. I can honestly say that for Bash I got the three musicians that I wanted and knew could play that music right, so I mustn't grumble or fantasize too much. I can't honestly say that I've ever felt a terrible need to go up to musicians I don't know and say "I've just GOT to play with you man!". I suppose that would take a certain amount of bottle to do. Perhaps I should have done! What about Dean Martin with Roger Ruskin Spear, Liberace, Bert Weedon, Fred Frith, Paul Rogers, Lol Coxhill and me? See the problem?


From: CuneiWay@aol.com
Subject: for WR
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 08:40:49 EDT

Robert Wyatt
"Solar Flares Burn For You"
Cuneiform Records   Rune 175
(on September 16th):

1) Alifib
2) Soup Song
3) Sea Song
4) I'm A Believer
5) Blimey O'Riley
6) Solar Flares Burn For You
7) God Song
8) Fol De Rol
9) Little Child
10) We Got An Arts Council Grant
11) Righteous Rhumba
12) 'Twas Brillig
13) The Verb

1)-4) : BBC Top Gear 1974
5) & 12) : Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt, winter 2002/2003
6) :  film soundtrack 1973
7)-11) : BBC Top Gear 1972
13) : RW home demo 2003

the 1973 film "Solar Flares Burn For You" is also included as a quicktime

All except for 1)-4) have not been previously issued.

This album was compiled with Robert's help and includes his artwork, photos,
stories and etc. Liner notes by Aymeric Leroy


Cuneiform Records


From: "Graham Bennett" <bennett@syzygy.nl>
Subject: Soft Machine biography
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 11:40:42 +0200

Hi Aymeric,

Readers of What's Rattlin' may be interested to learn that I'm writing a biography of Soft Machine. (You know all about this Aymeric, of course, from our correspondence over the past few months.) My aim is to make the biography as complete and accurate as possible, so apart from researching the music press I've also conducted lengthy interviews with many of the band members and also some of their associates. The current planning is to finish everything this summer (although Soft Machine were masters at leaving lots of niggly loose ends...), so with a bit of luck the book will be published before the end of the year.

It occurred to me that some readers of What's Rattlin' might have some interesting information, photos, videos, mementos or memories of Soft Machine that would be useful in piecing the story together. If anyone can help, I'd be very pleased if he or she would get in touch with me. Anything used will, of course, be fully credited. I can be contacted at <bennett@syzygy.nl>.

Keep up the good work.

Graham Bennett


From: Rick Chafen <rchafen@yahoo.com>
Subject: Kevin Ayers Remasters
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 09:30:32 -0700 (PDT)

Hello, all . . .

Over the last couple of days, I've received the first four Ayers remasterpieces.  So, once again, Mark Powell has done a fabulous job. Wonderful booklets, replete with bonus photos, and then, of course, the bonus tracks.  

Tracks from Odd Ditties were added to the albums closest to their time frame, so they're all remastered, and then the six previously unreleased gems make them all essential for anyone reading this list.  

Religious Experience with Syd Barrett's quirky guitar (and the story accompanying it) are really fun.  Wow! to think how long those tapes sat somewhere, neglected.  Once again, it shows up how the past keeps getting bigger all the time.

Bedford's full take on the orchestra of Lady Rachel is great to behold. The six-minute free-for-all called Hat on Shooting at the Moon is delightful. A completely different vocal take on Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes, and the wonderful Decadence with very much Steve Hillage!  

What great fun it all is. The biggest surprise for me is actually in the booklet for Bananamour. Incredibly, at no time in the last thirty years did I ever see (or even hear about that I can recall!) the sixteen page booklet reproduced in its entirety here.

This is no time for hesitation. Get all of these right away. Keep Mark Powell busy at EMI, and Kevin, who's out TOURING! could be reinforced as well.  

Hope the Paris festival has been a thrill for all.
Awaiting the Caravans.



From: Steve Dinsdale <Steve.Dinsdale@TEAMtalk.com>
Subject: Softs BBC Sessions CD
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 12:52:43 +0100

What a totally excellent package, comparison of the sound quality with the original Strange Fruit release is a revelation. It also now becomes apparent
that Strange Fruit must have used the edited masters for the `Triple Echo' LP as tape sources for disc one rather than the originals, and that the second disc was a scattershot representation of whatever else was available to them at the time. The azimuth problems with these originals will also suggest that Triple Echo was pressed from an  incorrectly lined-up copy of the session tapes.

Things have moved on in the years since the original compilations, and thanks largely to my good friend Phil Lawton's efforts in the Radio One archive all of the available material has now been succesfully marshalled, documented correctly, and even digitized.

Just one thing though, The Playhouse Theatre in question on some of these early sessions is most certainly the one in Northumberland Avenue in the West End of London, NOT the one in Hulme Manchester suggested by the session details in the CD booklet. This was where the BBC recorded many early sessions including Jimi
Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. The Manchester venue was largely concerned with `Light' music, something no-one could accuse the Soft machine of perpetrating !

Steve Dinsdale

From: "Xavier Xavriano" <xavfab@hotmail.com>
Subject: music of Dave Stewart and National Health
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 04:04:09 +0000

Love your website!  I am a composer/musician from South Bend Indiana, USA, and I would like to know if you have access to any charts or scores of any of the music of Hatfield and the North or National Health and/or if you have any interviews or articles with Dave Stewart sharing insights into his compositions.  Even better however would be some information of how I may contact him.



From: CuneiWay@aol.com
Subject: In Cahoots
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2003 09:38:43 EDT

Cuneiform Records is very pleased to announce that in September, 2003, we
will be releasing the new CD by Phil Miller/In Cahoots "All That"

The lineup of the band is the same as the band that blew everyone away at
their US debut in Seattle late last year:

Phil Miller - guitar
Elton Dean - alto sax, saxello
Jim Dvorak - trumpet
Peter Lemer - keyboards
Fred Baker - bass
Mark Fletcher - drums

The band will be performing all of this new album at their show at "Les
Tritonales" Festival on June 4th.

Cuneiform Records


From: caravansongs.co.uk
Subject: Caravan new studio album.
Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 07:47:57 EDT

Hi Aymeric
Caravan Songs are pleased to announce a pre-release special edition of the new studio album "The Unauthorised Breakfast Item" is now available for pre-order and will be delivered in early July. This is a limited edition press of 2,500, fully signed by all the band and will comprise of a 2CD set. The studio album, plus a bonus CD of tracks live off the album and the orchestrated version of For Richard at Quebec last year. It will be a case of first come, first served and will be a web and gig release. Cost will be £16 and this includes postage to anywhere in the world.
To order please go to http://www.caravansongs.co.uk.
The albums official release will be in late September and this will be widely available.
A reminder as well that the next UK dates will be 1st August at the Astor Theatre - Deal and at Whitchurch Festival on the 2nd August. Whitchurch is a 3 day event but day tickets are available.
Kind Regards
PS: The band had a fantastic time in Japan, many thanks to Smash West for the impeccable organisation.

From: "Kenneth Egbert" <invizzigoth@earthlink.net>
Subject: Hugh Hopper Takes Over My Listening Room (with help)
Date: Sun, 4 May 2003 15:55:21 -0400

Hello, Aymeric:

Since you keep forgetting to forbid me to write for WR I'm taking this opportunity to pass on a few new reviews of recent goodies, all this time from the fearsomely fuzzboxed Mr. Hopper's OUT box. Or OUT fuzzbox, whichever makes the most sense. With assistance, of course.

To wit:

BONE - Uses Wrist Grab
Nick Didkovsky/Hugh Hopper/John Roulat
Cuneiform - USA (CD)
Label Web Site: http://www.cuneiformrecords.com

The Cuneiform label has become, since they released However's CALLING! in the mid 1980s (get that one if you find it in a USED bin somewhere), America's best-known answer to ReR Recommended, Chris Cutler's label: a refuge for intelligent rock/avant/whatever/string cheese. The latter will play a part later on in this review. In a chat with Richard Wolfson of ReR some years back, I thanked him for keeping it up and not trying to go out there in the Industrial Midlands and attempt to find something trendier. His even-handed reply was, "We'll continue until they stop us". Joyce and Steve of Cuneiform would say the same, I'm sure.

Now via Cuneiform comes a virtual power trio (largely because this was a case of multi-MP3/MP4 file swapping), since the members of which have never occupied the same room together. If so, I have yet to find the seams, and I did look. Bone is a stellar exercise in just how far one can push the guitar/bass/drums ethic, and there is to be found here Fred Frith Guitar Quartet skronk, seductive atmospherics, heavy riffing (albeit in strange time signatures), fuzz basses run amok, even an intelligent drum solo. But percussionist John Roulat hails from a fine American trio called Forever Einstein (http://www.forevereinstein.com) and if he can keep up with them, acting as foil for Hopper and Didkovsky should not break too much of a sweat. Not too much. Hopper we all know quite well, and I would not presume to write an introduction for him as a result, while Nick Didkovsky, founder of a crack musical Special Forces unit known as Doctor Nerve, is a guitarist of frenetic technique and viciously mischievous humor. He's also a member of the FFGQ, possibly one of those about whom the semidivine Frith has been heard to sigh, "I tour with these people for months at a time...". Full disclosure department: Nick D. and myself  became friends back in '96 after I interviewed him. He was also kind enough to appropriate a song title for this CD from some stream-of-consciousness Email I sent him ages ago. I beg forgiveness of one and all.

The end result of these three gentlemen Emailing nameless outrages back and forth for several months at a clip is a CD somewhere between the trio cut on Frank Zappa's 1974 solo project APOSTROPHE (the title jam featuring Frankie, Jack Bruce and Jim Gordon) and King Crimson's RED with Eno at the knobs instead of the semidivine Fripp. No pun intended. The chill-out coda, Hopper's "Little End Or Beginning," has some of that edge-of-sense Uncle Brian ambience: there's a whispering of crinkled paper (John R. making out checks to the phone company and power company, putting them in envelopes...?) under repeated multi-tracked Didkovskys essaying gentle flourishes and arpeggios and your classic Hopper slow buzzsaw theme. And now the CD rejects and we get to hear Ditty One. Hit that Play button! "To Laugh Uncleanly At the Nurse" (also in the FFGQ fake book) sounds like it was going to be a flamenco until Arnold Schoenberg got hold of it. Didkovsky's use of fuzz here owes some small debt to Fripp but one thing I've noticed about these two guitarists is that they both have equal command of studio wizardry but Fripp will stick rather closely to what can be duplicated in a live situation with a minimum of cloning. Nick D. sees no ethical problem putting four of himself on the same tune; to his credit, as on the crunching "Foster Wives, Trophy Hair" (don't ask. Please), he refuses to drown out his compatriots; Hopper disconnects the bass afterburner for this one and I can still hear him roaring like a primitive saurian, landing in all the right places between Roulat's precise 5/8 time downbeats.

Hopper favors us hereupon with the Toho Monster lurch "Big Bombay" (analogous with his treatment of "Miniluv" on HOPPER TUNITY BOX many generations ago; basically an immense chord change mowing down all in its path), at the end of which a drone passes through The Riff and disappears going the other way, taking the track with it (nice Roulat working out on the cymbals a la Al Foster); and the tasty "Jungle Rev," a distant view of tonal and atonal snakes in a sort of tonic aspic.  Drifting Didkovsky arcs and swoops, Roulat disassembling a washing machine and making a cyclotron out of the spare parts in the far foreground, and a patented Hugh speeded-up bass theme.  Ethereal. Ah, but we haven't even touched on the rumbling "Overlife Parts 1 and 3" (hopefully they're saving Part 2 for the next release), the "carousel-missing-most-of-its-horses"-like "Green Dansette", or for that matter "Chaos, No Pasties" which might be the STARLESS - era Crimso covering a Claude Vivier mazurka. And more. Hit that Play button again!

Cleverly, Didkovsky mixed this CD's tunes to have a minimum of silence between them so you would have to check the cover to see where you are. Only increases the pleasant sense of being overwhelmed. Assault with a friendly weapon, it might be called. The madness herein is very catching. Avail yourself of it soon. Oh, yes, string cheese is good for you in moderation, but BONE you can have as much of as you like.

HUGH HOPPER Jazzloops - Burning Shed, UK (CD)
HUGH HOPPER/ MIC GIDON Flight And Shade - Burning Shed, UK (CD)
Label Web Site: http://www.burningshed.com

Thanks kindly to London's Burning Shed Records for giving us two new peeks into Hugh H.'s many-faceted creativity. Mic Gidon is a French guitarist and vocalist who dabbles in the many  methods of sampling, and his voice occasionally recalls Charles Aznavour, of all people. But that Europeans have a better sense of history than Americans is well documented!  Gidon actually pushes Hopper in a pop direction, albeit a very odd one; short, punchy tracks with buzzing high-speed bass patterning, R&B guitar whang, cabaret slouch ("On the Watch"), even a bit of snicker now and again ("East West", with some nice piano by Frances Knight, features Gidon occasionally singing through his nose). But everywhere can be heard Hopper's delightfully if purposefully meandering melodies, which will (as could be heard on Hopper's two collaborations with poet/ singer Lisa Klossner) keep this CD nice and far away from any Hit Parade we would prefer not to frequent.  But then, Robert Wyatt's last CD was reviewed favorably in PEOPLE Magazine, so who knows what's pop and what's not any longer? Hoary old Canterbury trainspotters like myself will shed a quiet tear at "For Alan", a reflective midtempo instrumental with a slow-reaction melody like those at which we all recall the late A. Gowen excelling. If Phil Miller helped compose this one, I wouldn't be surprised. So, a very fine go overall, no dearth of pleasant surprises.

JAZZLOOPS may grow out of the avenue of Mr. Hopper's impetus that produced 1984: apparently assembled from existing sources, this CD is a series of eleven different flavored stews of varying source material. One can hear the definite contributions of Elton Dean, Didier Malherbe, Frank van der Kooij, Patrice Meyer, Simon Picard, and Nigel Morris (the credits admit to further assistance from Robert Wyatt, Pierre-Olivier Govin, Steve Franklin, Kim Weemhoff and Christine Janet), and the method used is to blend varying sections of longer jams and unfinished pieces into more focused compositions. Hopper is certainly a master at this, given past efforts like his collaborations with Kramer (especially HUGE), and you can't fault either his always-fresh bass runs or his choice of saxophonists. "1212" is an arid R&B workout with steady drumming, a detailed funk riff and tasty van der Kooij alto, for example, and the first-up"t3" sports a more experimental cast, snaking near-Arabic guitar lines about a detailed lattice of cymbals and liquid-lead bass. But several of these tracks seem to demand a context they can't supply themselves.  Jungle drums and drones lift up "sfrankl" but there is no real lead voice. "calmozart"'s drum patterns are interesting and the horn lines are pretzelly in a "Chloe And The Pirates" kind of way but again it's as if the musicians are waiting for something to happen that never really does. "digwot" has no such problems, though, what with Malherbe's snake-charming tenor undulating above shifting tectonic-plate like sheets of  sustained tone, and the closing "Nigepo" has a very ambiguous but still driving beat, echoed Wyatts enveloping a rhythm track reminiscent of Miles Davis' "Red China Blues." And no, part-way through the recessional, your CD player is not malfunctioning. Crafty Hugh!

This is probably a case of the artist catching the critic off guard (easier than it sounds); one doesn't expect ambient music of Hopper but that was probably the point. Let's not forget "Oyster Perpetual" or "1983", after all.

Merci encore,


                          END OF ISSUE 203

WHAT'S RATTLIN'?     -      WHAT'S RATTLIN'?      -     WHAT'S RATTLIN'?

CALYX - The Canterbury Website

+ search engine : http://musart.co.uk/ssearch.htm

Pour s'abonner: mailto:backwards-subscribe@egroups.fr

* To subscribe, send me an e-mail with 'WR sub' in the subject line.
* To send a message for inclusion in the next issue, send it with 'WR: [subject]' in the subject line.
* If your e-mail address changes, please notify me and mention both your old and new addresses so I can remove the old one and add the new one.
* If you can no longer receive WR or don't want to anymore, don't forget to unsubscribe! (i.e. let me know)
* All contributions are welcome! Please write to: CALYX@club-internet.fr