::                                                              ::
  ::                     - WHAT'S RATTLIN' ? -                    ::
  ::       The Weekly Digest for Canterbury Music Addicts         ::
  ::                          Issue # 57                          ::
  ::                   Tuesday, June 17th, 1997                   ::
  ::                                                              ::


From: bigbang@alpes-net.fr
Subject: various
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 15:58:35 +0000

Just back from ten days in Paris... Some interesting news :

- saw the CD reissues of Hugh Hopper's "Hoppertunity Box", which has probably been available for a few weeks (months?) already but anyway, now I'm sure every Hugh Hopper album is now (or has been) available on CD.

- saw the Sophia Domancich trio, with special guest Paul Dunmall during the second set. The resulting quartet was thus the Elton Dean Quintet without Elton Dean... After the gig (poorly attended, unfortunately, although the audience included longtime Sophia enthusiast Francis Marmande, jazz critic of "Le Monde" daily newspaper, resulting in a review where Marmande bitterly complained that the SD trio would again not be part of any major jazz festival this summer, with the exception of a spot at La Villette Jazz Festival in Paris on July 3rd. On a more positive note, Sophia mentioned that the quartet had been in the studio earlier in the day and would record again the following day, with trio sessions to follow later this month. Also in attendance was Sophia's sister Lydia and Gerard Lhomme of the Gimini label.

- met Patrick Forgas' band for a rehearsal and photo session for the booklet of the forthcoming CD "Roue Libre" (to be released in September). Mireille Bauer mentioned that she has rejoined Art Zoyd (she had already toured with them in 1990 in Eastern Europe), although this time she replaces Thierry Zaboitzeff rather than Gerard Hourbette. Art Zoyd is still a quartet, with Hourbette, Patricia Dallio and Daniel Denis. The new line-up will start touring soon in support of the new album "Haxan". Forgas' guitarist and keyboardist, Mathias Desmier and Stephane Jaoui (the latter ex of Zeuhl band Xaal) are playing together in a fusion quartet, KaiRah, which will be touring the French Riviera between late June and mid-August, playing covers of material by Billy Cobham, Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield etc. I attended KaiRah's debut club performance in Paris last Saturday and they cooked. Watch out for them if you're spending time on the "cote d'azur" this summer...

- saw the legendary/infamous Jean Karakos on TV... on a programme about the current trend of TV channels-funded 'summer hit singles'.  It appears that the trend was actually launched by Karakos himself with "La Lambada" in the early 90's which was supported by TF1, the biggest French TV channel. No reference was made to Karakos' early days with Gong and apart from seeing what the guy looks like (apparently well in his 60's) and knowing he's still in the business, I didn't learn much...


From: CuneiWay@aol.com
Subject: re: Leg End.
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 16:27:16 -0400 (EDT)

[In WR#56, Biffyshrew@aol.com wrote:]
>That begs this question: did the title _Leg End_ (or _Legend_, as I always
>saw it written in discographies in the '70s) actually appear on the cover
>of the original British version of the album?   The U.S. Virgin pressing
>was simply titled _Henry Cow_.>>

The English & Japanese copies that I own say the following ON THE SPINE only:

English - The Henry Cow Legend
Japanese - Henry Cow      Legend

Steve F.


From: Rcarlberg@aol.com
Subject: Global Village Trucking Company
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 22:01:36 -0400 (EDT)

[In WR#56, Steve Sunnerss wrote:]
>Have you any information on the lead singer, I did have the Greasy
>Truckers's Live at Dingwall's Album but it seems to have been been lost.

I still have mine!

Global Village Trucking Company:
Jon Owen (vocals, 12 string guitar)
John Mackenzie (bass)
Mike Medora (guitar)
Jimmy Lascelles (organ, piano, occasional vocals)
Simon Stewart (drums)

How in the world did this band get on the album with Camel, Gong & Cow?
They're a little out of their league.


From: bienvenu@epi.roazhon.inra.fr (ensa2)
Subject: Answer to Pat (Wyatt and everything but the girl)
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 13:04:24 +0200

Robert Wyatt appears (backing vocals & piano) on Ben Watt's record : "summer into winter", released in 1982. I've just bought it on LP (maxi 45-5 tracks), but I've seen it also on CD. It's a very good record, and not only because of Robert Wyatt participation. Each of the  five tracks is as good as the others, even when Ben Watt is playing alone...The cover is light blue with a B&W photo of a young boy (Ben Watt) laying on the grass ,olding a black cat.
If Robert Wyatt released an other record with the the second member of the group "everything but the girl", I'm very interested. But don't miss the one with Ben Watt.

Regards from France.

Manuel Bienvenu


From: "petit sebastien" <ptitseb@hotmail.com>
Subject: Fwd: Yamashta
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 02:08:18 PDT

Hello Rattlers,

I received this mail; supposed to be for here, and especially to answer
Romain Rioboo:

>The Red Buddha period was really the 'genesis' of Brand X (w/ Jones, Pert &
>Robinson, from where they went to form Suntreader and then team up with
>Goodsall & Collins for Peter & the Wolf and then form Brand X); Yamashta's
>forray into 'space jazz' with Go 1, 2 and the live LP was a critical
>success at the time.  I find the first Go ('76) to be a mixed success- the
>'bad' jazz you referred to was probably Al Di Meola's playing, which was
>his standard for e-guitar, judging from from his solos.  It was Winwood's
>first post-traffic critical success, from where he went solo. Schulze's
>contributions were among his best for the time, especially the first 5
>minutes of side 2.  The live LP sounds very lame, and the 2nd LP suffers
>from the departure of Winwood, so the first LP is the best 'pop' Yamashta
>fare available.

[The story of Yamash'ta's band being the nucleus of Brand X is a surprise for me. I hope the new Brand X mailing list will set the record straight. I have doubts whether this is accurate as Pert and Robinson were only involved from 1977 onwards, and were not founding members. I would definitely be interested by any background information on Goodsall, Lumley and Jones. And also by the full credits of the "Red Buddha" LP. And last, was "Peter And The Wolf" recorded *before* "Unorthodox Behaviour" ? My CD has no recording or release date. And neither Pert or Robinson play on the album - AL]


From: Julian Christou <christou@as.arizona.edu>
Subject: Wyatt & Thorn
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 07:10:27 -0700

[In WR#56, Julian Belanger wrote:]
>I heard a tune on Detroit Public Radio-WDET about 2 years ago that was
>really cool. Apparently there was UK pop super-underground-group that >had
>an album come out in the late '80s. Two of the members mentioned after >they
>played this tune were ROBERT WYATT & Tracy Thorn(Everything But The >Girl).
>Does anyone know what album this might be???

The song is from the band Working Week. It is one of their early singles called "Venceremos - We Will Win" which is a completely different version than the one on the firts album. It later appeared on a complilation CD called "Paycheck" I think which was available in the US. Both Wyatt & Thorn were guest vocalists. The core of the band are Larry Stabbins and Simon Booth. There's also a side-band called Weekend. Keith Tippett has also guested with them as has Julie Tippett. - check out the single "Storm Of Light" which has some of the best JT vocals in a long while. That's also on the "Paycheck" compilation album. On the 12" single is an instrumental version with organ by Mike Carr who is Ian Carr's brother I believe. There's definitely connections between WW and Weekend and the older guard of British Jazz.

Hope this helps



From: neato@pipeline.com
Subject: gong spotting
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 23:29:53 -0400 (EDT)

was watching a film titled "buddah of suburbia"(a bbc production)...story
takes place in the mid 70's...there's a scene where the two teenged
protaganists are up in an attic bedroom going to get stoned while listening
to some music...one says the new rolling stones is good..the other replies
"this should be a lot better" and pulls the gong -you- lp out of the pile
and gives it a spin! you hear about 30 seconds worth of gong...

                           all my mistakes were once acts of genius
                                             neato@pipeline com


From: Gérald Purnelle <Gerald.Purnelle@ulg.ac.be>
Subject: Wyatt/Thorn
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 09:00:59 +0200

[In WR56 Pat wrote:]
>I heard a tune on Detroit Public Radio-WDET about 2 years ago that was
>really cool. Apparently there was UK pop super-underground-group that had
>an album come out in the late '80s. Two of the members mentioned after they
>played this tune were ROBERT WYATT & Tracy Thorn(Everything But The Girl).
>Does anyone know what album this might be???

The group is called Working Week. The leaders were Simon Booth (g) and Larry Stabbins (s), with a singer girl called Roberts (I currently missed the first name - I'm at work, not at home). For me it can be called neo-jazz (you know, Style Council, Sade, and that kin of things). But there is a little connection with Canterbury: Stabbins has played with Keith Tippett.
The tune you're talking about is "Venceremos". It was a 12" (UK Virgin VS 684-12) and a 7" (UK Virgin VS 684). The date: feb. 84. Recorded in autumn 83. It has been republished on a double LP called Payday (UK Venture VE19 / on CD : CDVE19). There is three singers in the tune : Wyatt, Thorn, and Claudia Figueroa. All these informations come from the book of Mike King about Wyatt (Wrong Movements).
The tune is excellent, and right in the line of Wyatt's attitude (south american revolution songs). There is a shorter version on a compilation CD called Working Nights, on which Claudia Figueroa is the only singer. I just can recommand you to listen to Working Week. It's one of the best jazzy groups of the eighties.

Gerald Purnelle


From: Strong Comet <cometail@netvision.net.il>
Subject: Robert Wyatt New Album ?
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 20:29:10 +0300

Hi Aymeric,

I'm working as a label manager in a Record Company in Israel called BNE. One of our represented labels is All Saints, where Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Kate St. John and others reside. Brian Eno is about to release a long awaited album on June 30, called "The Drop".

In the Record Company's promo sheets they say amongst other points that : "Brian recently collaborated on Robert Wyatt's new album, "Schleep". Is this for real ? Wyatt and Eno collaboration ? this is unreal... Please advise if you have any information on this. I naturally did not address All Saints regarding information on an artist not on their roster (or is he now ?)

Best Regards,

Strong Comet

[Don't know if I'm supposed to forward this to the WR list, but the information included seemed interesting enough... I think I'll write RW a little postcard to know more... Eno's participation would not seem totally unlikely knowing the album has been recorded at Phil Manzanera's studio... So, to summarize : Robert's new album "Schleep" is expected in September ! - AL]


From: d-wayne@lanl.gov (Dave Wayne)
Subject: Stomu Yamash'ta
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 09:29:41 -0600

Hello Aymeric!
This is for WR in reference to the work of Stomu Yamash'ta:
Dave Wayne

* * *

Hi... I've been a fan - off & on - of Stomu Yamash'ta for years. He's a real
giant in the field of modern composed music for percussion. His other pop/prog stuff runs very hot & very cold though...
>About Yamasht'a: I've got "Raindog" and East wind's "frightenning". The
>musicians are not specified but Hugh Hopper is supposed to be in East Wind.
>These two albums are really in the same vein as Canterbury jazz rock style,
>with some more string arrangements or funky singing.

"Freedom is Frightening" is a pretty worthwhile LP, with Gary Boyle, Hugh Hopper, keyboarist Brian Gascoigne, Stomu (on drums, percussion, etc.) and Stomu's wife (Hisako? ... i probably have this wrong, but i'm doing this from memory!) on violin & voice. It's only vaguely Canterbury-like, but there are some really nice adventurous fusion-y / jazzy things going on. "Raindog" is MUCH more commercial & sorta foreshadows the sound of Yamash'ta's later work with the all-star group "Go". Music-wise, it kinda reminded me of Santana, more than anything else... I seem to recall that Hopper isn't on "Raindog", but Boyle & Gascoigne are. Another drummer is also present & Stomu plays mostly mallets, synths & hand percussion. The vocals are more prominent & are done by a fellow named Murray Head (... I believe he became famous for his role in the UK production of "Jesus Christ Superstar").

>About his first
>period, I've only a single of "Red Buddha": experimental oriental music
>made with vibes, marimba and other percussions...

Some of this stuff is VERY impressive, especially if you're into music for solo percussion (...which I am!). Some of it is Western in origin. I may be wrong, but Yamash'ta was an early interpreter/protege of the great Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. He performs several Takemitsu pieces on the 2 or 3 solo perc. LPs I own.

>And the Go period (another
>band with Steve Winwood, Al Dimeola and...Klaus Schulze !!!) is totally
>funky -I mean BAD funky music. Perhaps their live album is a bit more
>interesting (?).

Unfortunately, all of the "Go" stuff is pretty poppy & commercial despite the presence of many great musicians. A classic case of  the whole being less than the sum of its parts! Similarly, I found his later "New Age" stuff to be quite lacking in interest & musical fire. Yamash'ta also composed & performed the soundtrack for Paul Mazursky's film version of Shakespeare's "Tempest". The movie is great, but the music does not stand up on its own. Oddly, several themes from "Raindog" are revisited in instrumental form on the "Tempest" soundtrack.

Now, Yamash'ta's BEST group recordings are his early 70s efforts. I had an LP of his called "Come to the Edge" which i am STILL kicking myself for swapping  away many years ago. His backing band on this LP was the group "Suntreader" (Alyn Ross - bass, Peter Robinson - keys & Morris Pert - perc.) who later recorded an excellent LP of their own titled "Zin Zin" (...of course you all know that Pert & Robinson both later joined Brand X). "Come to the Edge" blended Japanese folk music,  modern classical & progressive jazz influences in a very interesting way. There are a few other LPs from around the same time period, but I haven't heard these & i don't know who is on them. One is called "Man From the East" and i believe the other is simply entitled "East Wind". Both got remarkably good press in "Melody Maker", but I could never find either LP. Check the Canterbury discoraphy at the Calyx home page for more accurate info on these LPs...

...hope this entertained you all as much as it did me!

Dave Wayne


From: Anthony Shaw <tonyshaw@clinet.fi>
Subject: Canterbury scene
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 12:54:09 -0700

Just read your report from Harlingeen 96 - any news of the 97 show? Also I was very interested to hear of such activity from such ancient musico's as Hastings Sinclair etc. Any news of Kevin Ayers or Gong
Keep up the good work,
Tony in Helsinki

[Jacques ? Teatse ?... Richard ?!? Please send us news from Harligen ! - AL]


From: timeline@interlog.com
Subject: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 22:11:15 -0400 (EDT)

Hello Fellow Rattlers,

This is a post I received from the Mike Oldfield maillist 'Amarok'.  
I guess this would qualify for Canterbury content.
At least it's good for a chuckle.




Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 20:18:37 +0000
From: Svend Aage Petersen <saap@datashopper.dk>
Subject: [Amarok] Progressive chickens

Hi all,

Here's a little something I found on the Usenet today. I know, it's
completely irrelevant but quite funny IMHO.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------
This old dumb joke:

Q. "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
A. "To get to the other side!"

- - as applied to various "progressive rock group" chickens....

- -------------------------------------
- -------------------------------------
Gong chicken - Using Radio Gnome Invisible, this holisticly
     conscious chicken asked a Pot Head Pixie for a lift across the
     road in a flying teapot and quite by chance met Zero the Hero.

Steve Hillage chicken - crossed the road and was enlightened to the
     insight that there is an infinite number of roads to cross, each
     a lesson in the Universal knowledge of existence and the unwavering
     and limitless power of unconditional love as expressed through the
     magickal medium of musick.

Yes chicken - Steadfastedly refused to cross the road. Period.

Pink Floyd chicken - This half-machine, half-animal chicken, instead of
     crossing the road, would flag down cars and peck the drivers to

Mike Oldfield chicken - shyly crossed the road when it was sure no one was
     looking. Incidently, it made the road it crossed. Also, it
     manufactured the asphalt used to make the road, as well as chip the
     rock used in the production of the asphalt, as well as invent the
     use of pavement for roadways to begin with.


From: ALEXCARY@aol.com
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 22:36:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ben Watt

The EP Aymeric mentions is Summer into Winter on Cherry Red Records Ltd, 53 Kensington Gardens Square, London W2 4BA (distributed by Pinnacle Records, Orpington, Kent). I don't think Tracy was involved with this though. The only other semi related I can come up with is Ultramarine, which has Robert Wyatt on a few tracks- One with his voice on one of their songs. The other with a remake of at least the lyrics (and his voice) from a Soft Machine volume I cut. If you find out that it's something else, I'd be glad to hear of it.

[See above - AL]


From: Mike Howlett
Subject: Being T
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 22:35:25 +0100

Hi Aymeric!

Here at last some answers to your questions.

There is a lot to say about the "You" remix album, but it will have to wait - maybe next week.



* * *

Q : According to the information I have, you were born in Lautoko, Fiji, on
April 27th, year unknown. Your earliest musical experiences was playing ukulele and xylophone, until you took up guitar at age 13. In 1968, you
settled in Britain while touring there with a band. In early 1973, you were
spotted playing bass in a Kings Road music club by Daevid Allen and offered
the job of bass player in Gong. Could you correct what's wrong, fill the
blanks and add a little substance to that account of your beginnings in
music ?
PS : An alternative story of how you joined Gong seems to involve the
participation of Mike Oldfield and Maggie Nichols. Is this entirely wrong ?

A : Yes, I was born in *Lautoka*, Fiji on April 27th, year still unknown.  My first instrument was the xylophone at 9 years, then the ukelele at 10, but only because I knew my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a guitar and the ukelele is tuned the same as the top four strings of a guitar.  I was 11 years old when I borrowed a guitar from a school friend - I kept it for six months, by which time I had saved enough for a guitar of my own.  I came to the UK in 1970 with a group from Australia called The Affair - we won a free trip to England in a national band competition - all the professional groups went in this competition because the fares to England were huge at this time.  This group played a mixture of soul and Aretha Franklin songs plus some jazz covers like Lambert, Hendrix and Ross songs and “jazz-rock” adaptations of Mel Tormé stuff - quite advanced really.

The true story about my joining Gong is this:  an ex-girlfriend called Maggie Thomas was staying with Gong in the hunting lodge near Sens, when the line-up which recorded “The Flying Teapot” dissolved.  She was very knowledgeable in astrology, and noticed that the new line-up of Pierre Moerlen, Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe and Tim Blake comprised the signs of Scorpio, Leo and Aquarius (twice) respectively - these are the ‘fixed’ signs of Water, Fire and Air.  Knowing me to be a Taurus, and also a bass player, she suggested that I join as that would complete the four elements and create the Fixed Cross - reputed to have significance. When she called me in London and said to come out immediately, I thought that perhaps they might like to hear me to see if I could play.  Daevid Allen was coming to London en route to Majorca where he and Gilli were taking a break, and I invited him to hear me jamming at a club in the King’s Road.  Maggie Thomas later became Mike Oldfield’s girlfriend for a short time - she is a remarkable woman who also knows more about the true history of alchemy than most living souls - Maggie also tried to help Stevie Winwood at a later date.

Q : In Gong, you were nicknamed "Mister T. Being", and the name was created
especially for you (whereas Steve Hillage inherited the nickname "Submarine
Captain" from Christian Tritsch, for instance). What is this supposed to
mean, and did you have any part in creating it ?

A : With regard to the name ‘Mr T. Being’, I wish only to say that to be is to be subject to the laws that define the nature of life in a multi-dimensional universe - the alternative is to not be.

Q : While in Gong, you worked with a succession of drummers, mainly Pierre Moerlen but also Bill Bruford, Laurie Allan, Brian Davison and maybe others
(Chris Cutler ?). Could you say a few words about working with each of them, especially since apart from Moerlen their stint is not documented on record. BTW, do you know what became of Laurie Allan ?
In general, was it a big problem for you, these changes of drummers ? And personnel changes in general ?

A : My first jam with Pierre was frustrating - I came from a background of funk, soul and rock, whereas Pierre’s schooling was still heavily influenced by his classical education.  I remember playing The Band to him and telling him I thought Robbie Robertson was one of the greatest drummers ever.  Pierre definitely thought I was a bit crazy, but I think we grew to respect each other’s position and moved towards a mutually satisfying balance of heart and mind - emotion and technique.

Laurie Allen replaced Pierre when he left after Angel’s Egg, grumbling about “silly lyric's” and sloppy musicianship.  I found Laurie too light and jazzy for me to really get off playing with - he got on much better musically with Didier, and played more top kit than bass drum - an great drummer, but not really compatible.  Laurie had a hard time getting back into France for a long time after his trouble with customs, which of course affected the range of musicians he could work with - I don’t know what he is doing now.

Bill Bruford stepped in the middle of a long European tour after Laurie was unable to return to France, and did a fantastic job of getting up to speed with our rather intricate and convoluted arrangements.  He was very solid and reliable, if a little earthbound.

Brian Davison was more of a ‘top kit’ player -  Didier’s choice again, but on a good night could inject a lot of energy into the music - I feel he had seen his demon though, and lost the innocence you need to believe in the worth of your music.

Chris Cutler I think of as a friend and with great kindness - he was a totally insane drummer who defies description.  I think someone once described his drumming as “like someone walking through a pile of dustbins”.  Truly a ‘deconstructionist’ of drumming!  I’m afraid I am really just a sensualist, and ultimately like my rhythm physical and fleshy, but I always enjoyed Chris’ excursions into anarchy.

(I hope this isn’t too detailed for you, but you did ask for it!)

Q : What was your part in the evolution process that led Gong from "Angel's Egg" to "You", then "Shamal" ? Were you, if you'll excuse the pun, instrumental in the move to a more instrumental music ?
I have always assumed you were behind most of the great bass riffs on
"You", like "Master Builder" and "Isle Of Everywhere". Is this true ?

A : The evolution from “Angel’s Egg” to “Shamal” was the result of our internal spiritual odyssey  - this is, of course, my subjective interpretation, others may have their own view.  For me, the trilogy (including “Flying Teapot”) is a profound work, inspired by Daevid, and given power by the musicians involved.  It is really a re-statement, in modern terms, of the ancient mystery school lesson -  a journey of self-discovery which, like all good fairy stories, goes as far as the reader is capable of following. Nevertheless, I am guilty of conspiring to minimise the amount of vocal on it, if only by not resisting those pressures more. In retrospect I believe that “You” got it right in the balance of vocal versus non-vocal sections. But that balance was achievable only in the context of the preceding two albums.  Certainly, it was an album for unspoken communications.  As regards compositional credits, I was initially responsible for the bass riffs on “Isle of Everywhere” and “A Sprinkling of Clouds”, but I would credit Steve for the “Master Builder” riff in its essence.  However, the writing situation for this album was unique, and once an idea surfaced, it would be swept around in the collective mind-pool and evolve into the more fixed shape that ended up on the recordings.

Q : On "Shamal" you handled both bass and lead vocals. I must admit the latter "dimension" of "Shamal" has always been my least favourite, as I find that Gong was never better than when let free of the constraints related to the song form. I tend to think that vocals were included essentially to make the music more "accessible", rather than for a purely artistic reason. Do you agree ?

A : OK - I don’t like my voice that much either!  The vocal element on “Shamal” was largely the result of my efforts to keep some lyrical content in the plot.  I also felt a responsibility to those listeners who had stayed with the story so far to leave them with a few clues as to where Zero had disappeared to.  There was certainly no attempt to be more “accessible” - remember that my roots are firmly based in the songs of soul and rock/pop, and I am a believer in the power of words to communicate concepts and emotions, the more so when coupled well with music.

Q : Do you have any striking memories of the touring that followed "Shamal", with Jorge Pinchevsky "replacing" Steve Hillage? I guess this was a "hot" band... Yet apparently, it wasn't satisfying for everyone, including yourself. Under which circumstances did the split happen, with yourself, Patrice Lemoine and Jorge Pinchevsky leaving ?

A : The group which toured “Shamal” was always fairly tense in my memory, as the ancient Gong divide about lyrics versus instruments had never been resolved - as I said in my last answer, I held the banner for lyrics after Steve fell in the line of duty - I hope you follow the metaphor.  Perhaps inevitably, I was next to come under attack from the anti-lyrics camp.  Jorge wasn’t allowed back into Britain after the European gigs of Spring 76 - coincidentally, the same reason that Daevid left Soft Machine and subsequently formed Gong.  The group was split between me and Patrice Lemoine on the lyric side, and Pierre and Mireille Bauer in the instrumental camp, with Didier as ever not really ready to decide either way.  It was at this time that we tried out David Cross - ex-King Crimson - to replace Jorge.  He must have found it very uncomfortable as the internal state of the band was tense.  Before any further progress was made on the future line-up,  things came to a head and Virgin was given the choice - my version or Pierre’s.  Simon Draper - the true creative head of Virgin from the beginning, and the man who found and signed Mike Oldfield - chose Pierre’s way.  I negotiated a few hundred pounds out of Richard Branson and left to set up a 4-track studio in my girlfriend’s attic.

Q : It is well-known that, after leaving Gong, you formed Strontium 90 with the future members of the Police, yet apart from the "rock trivia" aspect I never came upon any information as to what that band sounded like, whether it was really *your* band, playing *your* songs? Was it in any way the "shape of things to come" for Police, musically speaking, or still in the vein of Gong ?

A : You will be pleased to hear that I have finally persuaded Miles Copeland - manager of The Police and now Sting - to let me release the recordings of Strontium 90!  These consist of 5 songs recorded in an 8-track studio in London in 1977,  of which 4 were written by me and 1 by Sting, as well as 3 songs recorded live at the Hippodrome gig in Paris in May 1977 - the first Gong reunion, plus 1 bonus track which, strictly speaking, is not a Strontium 90 track - this is a recording made in my 4-track attic studio of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” - the first ever demo, which really is magic.  The studio session was the first time that Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland ever played together, and the live gig was the first time they ever played together on stage.  Apart from the ‘historic’ value, I am pleased to have these songs aired because it shows to some extent where I was hoping to lead the Gong story.  Most of the material was mine, with one other Sting song and one Stewart Copeland song.  We did two more gigs in London clubs - not recorded - but no-one wanted to sign us up.  I know why - Punk was exploding all over the place at the time and we must have looked like a bunch of ex-hippy musos  with an ex-nobody on vocals.  I saw Simon Draper a couple of years ago and he said he still can’t believe he passed on that band.  But I know it was not right for me - the energy was very hard and uncomfortable, and producing was beckoning.  I do remember a defining moment about a year later - I was sitting in Sting’s apartment in Westbourne Grove one day, when Stewart arrived carrying a pile of Bob Marley records - “I’m going to turn you on to this guy,” he said to Sting.  You have to give him credit - he had a vision and that’s how Regatta de Blanc was born.

Anyway, the album is coming out on Sting’s own label called Pangaea Records on July 21st.  If you want, we could do a separate thing on that - I have told the full story in the sleeve notes which I wrote.

Q : Between 1977-94, you never played on stage again (according to your liner notes on the "Gong 25" CD). Did you however keep playing a bit of bass ? Just at home or on records ? Did you ever think of doing a solo album, which seemed your intention around the time of Strontium 90 ?

A : I really was very slack with my bass-playing during those producer years.  I rarely played at all, and only played bass on a couple of my productions, though I always had a strong voice in the bass parts going down.  I am now practising every day again and enjoying it so much I just want to be able to play all the time.  This Strontium 90 album was effectively my ‘solo’ album, but I have several other dimensions, and have co-written 2 albums of ‘library’ music and incidental sound-track music with Ben Hoffnung, a friend who plays timpani with the London Symphony Orchestra, and several quasi-classical pieces which we hope to have recorded some day.  

Q : Great though it's been to see Gong again playing their best material from the past in concert since 1994, I think a lot of people would expect that "rebirth" to go a bit further, possibly with an album of new material. Is this something that has been discussed ?
A couple of months ago, you were rumoured to be working on stuff with Steffi Sharpstrings and Pierre Moerlen. Is this true ? Or was it just a trial rehearsal for a forthcoming Gong tour featuring Pierre ?
Apart from Gong, what are you currently doing, as a producer and musician ?

A : The question of where Gong will go now is one that we are all curious about. Steffi and I are very excited to be working with Pierre - he has just been staying at my house in London during the Brand X tour and is in very good shape mentally, spiritually and musically - for now watch this space!  The re-mixed “You” album has turned out extremely well - again, a whole other story which I will talk about in more detail at another time but this offers some possible directions too - we are open and eagerly awaiting instructions...

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I will cut off now because otherwise this won’t get sent for another month - thank you for your interest.

Love to all,

Mike Howlett


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*               FORTHCOMING CANTERBURY-RELATED CONCERTS                 *
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[for more info : check out the 'Concerts' page of CALYX - see URL below]

Jul 5-8 - Santo Tirso (Portugal) [details tbc]

HADOUK - BELGIAN DATE [Didier Malherbe/Loy Ehrlich]
Aug 02 - Dranouter, Folk Festival (Ypres) (Belgium)

[Peter Bardens-Steve Adams-Desha Dunnahoe-Dave Cohen]
Sep 18 - Alkmaar (Holland), Atlantis
Sep 19 - Breda (Holland), Para
Sep 20 - Oberhausen (Holland), The Star Club
Sep 21 - Uden (Holland), De Nieuwe Pul
Sep 24 - Paris (France), Passage du Nord-Ouest
Sep 25 - Norwich (UK), The Waterfront
Sep 26 - Ashton-Upon-Lyne (UK), The Witchwood
Sep 27 - Rotherham (UK), Herringthorpe Leisure Centre
Sep 28 - London (UK), Astoria 2

Sep 19 - London (UK), Astoria

[Phil Miller-Didier Malherbe-Hugh Hopper-Pip Pyle]
Sep 19 - Boulogne-sur-Mer (62), Cabaret Sam [Tel. 03 21 87 32 69]
Sep 20 - Bethune (62), Le Poche

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                        END OF ISSUE #57

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