::                                                              ::
  ::                     - WHAT'S RATTLIN' ? -                    ::
  ::       The Weekly Digest for Canterbury Music Addicts         ::
  ::                          Issue # 79                          ::
  ::                  Thursday, January 8th, 1998                 ::
  ::                                                              ::


From: rob <RobAyling@compuserve.com>
Subject: Wishes
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 05:59:40 -0500

Dear All at Wots' Rattlin',

Happy New Year.


Rob Ayling and all at Voiceprint.

Keep on Rattlin' in '98


From: Age Rotshuizen <age@xs4all.nl>
Subject: The Muffins/Virgin list
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 13:33:43 +0100 (CET)

Hello Rattlin' friends,

* Does anyone know what The Muffins did before, beside and after this band?
Are there any solo-records, side projects, guest appearances not mentioned
in the Canterbury Discography?

>There *was* a list of the first 100 releases on Virgin, in either Mojo or
>"Q" magazine, less than 2 years ago.  I just had a look and can't find it
>but I remember thinking that it was quite good, but didn't properly cover
>the double album releases.

* Look at: http://www.musictrade.com/label/prog/ there is *some* list of
Virgin records.



From: Michael Bloom <MHB@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Subject: John Greaves
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 97 15:58:52 EST

Hello Aymeric & Rattlers,

Sorry I've been such a bad correspondent this year; it's been a rough one.

Here's what I know about John Greaves. He was a member of Henry Cow,
appearing on bass (and piano on his own compositions) on their first four
albums (the three with the stockings on them and the double live one).
If you're a Canterbury neophyte you might like the record called Unrest,
on which there is a composition of his called "Half Asleep, Half Awake,"
a jazz-tinged instrumental that might be described as a Brecht nocturne.

While with Henry Cow he participated in the Slapp Happy record called
Desperate Straights, on which Henry Cow's musical contributions were so
strong that they got equal billing in the album credits. This was the
first time Greaves collaborated with lyricist Peter Blegvad, but hardly
the last. After he left Henry Cow, Greaves came to New York to write new
material with Blegvad and record it with singer Lisa Herman (later with
Golden Palominos) and Carla Bley and Michael Mantler and friends. (Bley
might be considered an American counterpart of Canterbury for her sense
of humor, although I would say it was more evident in the '70s than now.)
This album, entitled Kew. Rhone., remains for me his finest performance.
It's delightfully intricate work-- keyboard arpeggiations of suspended
chords in odd and changeable time signatures, vocal textures involving
three lead voices individually and in various combinations with others,
great solos and support work from New York players like drummer Andrew
Cyrille and violinist Mike Levine. The year it came out (1977, I think)
it was my favorite album of the year.

After his stint with National Health, he put out a couple solo albums.
Accident had a sort of late night, bohemian, washed-out feeling, as if
it were composed and recorded in a cafe on the rive gauche at 3AM while
fog wafted in from the Seine. (Several of the songs had been performed
by National Health, at least on the American tour with Alan Gowen, but
the recordings sounded nothing like the Healthy energetic jazz fusion.)
Parrot Fashion, on the other hand, sounded frantic, with breathless punk
energy. Blegvad wrote most of the lyrics for both of these albums too,
but doesn't perform. Many of the song texts relate to that numinous-
object notion Blegvad alludes to in "Squarer for Maud."

Then he made his bid for commercial acceptance: he put together a bona
fide rock band, including Peter and Kristoffer Blegvad, guitarist Jakko
Jakszyk (heard on some Dave Stewart sessions, and the group Dizrhythmia),
and drummer Anton Fier (Golden Palominos). They recorded an album called
Smell of a Friend, which sounds like what would happen if Greaves had
joined Procol Harum or Little Feat or some other such elegant noir pop
band. The record got released on a subsidiary of an actual major label,
Island, but seems to have been deleted the next day-- at least, I don't
think I've ever seen a copy that wasn't a promo or a closeout. The band
was supposed to tour to promote the album, but Blegvad didn't want to
play at the high volume rock'n'roll audiences are accustomed to.

Since then Greaves made song form albums including (I hope I get this
next title correct) La Petit Bouteille de la Ligne, which is charming.
I believe he also did an ambient-ish record with Blegvad called Unearthed.
He also plays on Blegvad's records The Naked Shakespeare, Knights Like
This, Downtime, and Just Woke Up. He also played piano and bass for
Michael Mantler, on at least one live album.

Hope this helps.


From: Davidkow <Davidkow@aol.com>
Subject: New Stewart/Gaskin CD?
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 17:48:25 EST

The Stewart/Gaskin website has been saying for as long as I've been reading it
that the new CD is just about ready...anybody know when we can really expect
it (or is it the sort of thing where not even Dave&Barb know)?

Unrelated:  Anyone know of an e-mail newsletter like this dedicated to 70's
Italian ProgRock?


From: Jib Crafno <JibCrafno@aol.com>
Subject: Soft Machine--Robert Wyatt
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 22:51:21 EST

Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting a message here...a few questions:  First, I read
somewhere that Robert Wyatt is not planning to record anymore...is this true?
Also, I'd just like to add that I think that the 'Chloe and the Pirates' track
from Six is one of the best Soft Machine compositions...I'd be interested in
hearing what other people's favourites are...


From: Brett Laniosh <brett@g4nzk.demon.co.uk>
Subject: Mike Ratledge and Gong
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 22:38:39 +0000 (GMT)

> Just found Gong's "Continental Circus" Soundtrack. It's absolutely great
> music.

I agree. For me it's the most extended and 'themed' album of the Byg period. You won't see this 'togetherness' until 'You' a few years later.

Check out Obsolete by Dashiell Hedayat from 1971. Really a Gong album.  

[In WR#78, Giuseppe Rallo <rallog@tin.it> wrote:]
> I'm a new Rattler so, probably, my question is very easy to answer. What's
> happened to Mike Ratledge after the Soft Machine experience ? Did he ever
> appeared on recordings ? Years ago I've read on an Italian magazine it was
> a truck driver ...

The record breaking Adiemus (Songs of Sanctuary) although a Karl Jenkins album it actually features Mike Ratledge though I notice by the much weaker Adeimus II he has gone. I actually like the first album though it does get uncomftably close to MOR at times.

Brett Laniosh


From: Jeff Yerkey <jeff@charette.org>
Subject: Sign me up
Date: Sat, 03 Jan 1998 20:08:33 -0800


I just discovered your wonderful digest. Can you put me on the list? I have been a huge Soft Machine/R Wyatt/Hatfields fan since I first heard "Third."  Back in --I think it was 1975-- a group of us brought the Softs to East Lansing Michigan USA for a show which was great!  

After slipping out of touch with the scene for too long (diversions like the Clash, Johnny Cash and Lou Reed), it's great to discover the Canterbury scene online.  Special thanks to Age!

Jeff Yerkey


From: Henry Potts <henry@bondegezou.demon.co.uk>
Subject: John Greaves
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 17:21:44 +0000

[In WR#78, Ofir Zwebner <ofirz@eng.tau.ac.il> wrote:]
>And perhaps - if I may ask - can anyone recommend other works by

_Songs_ is one of my two favourites from Greaves. The other is _Kew.Rhone._ with Peter Blegvad, some of which is re-made on _Songs_. It's a bit more quirky and jazzy than _Songs_, closer to Henry Cow, through which Blegvad and Greaves met.
Alt.music.yes FAQ: http://www.bondegezou.demon.co.uk/amy_faq.htm


From: Michael Wedgwood <wedgwood@post10.tele.dk>
Subject: Very late reply!
Date: Mon, 05 Jan 1998 19:09:48 +0100

[A late reply from ex-Caravan/Curved Air bass player Mike Wedgwood to an e-mail I sent him a few weeks ago. It's nice to have some fresh news from him, hopefully an interview will follow - suggestions for questions welcome! - AL]


I was going through old email files and found to my dismay that yours was there unread! Great website, congratulations. I'd be glad to help in any way, and will put a link on my own homepage when it's up and running - a couple of weeks I hope.

This, as you can see, is my new email address and you'd be welcome to hand it on to whoever you like. Maybe include it on the page you did on me.

I now live in Denmark, am married (very happily) to a Danish lady called Kirsten and we live out in the country where I'm busy building a studio. It's going very well and I hope to advertise an my website when it's done. I'll be working on a new solo album - much of it is already written - and it should be much more cohesive than the last one. My style of writing has changed in some areas, and I've come across some excellent musicians here in Denmark. So hopefully in a few months I'll be looking for a record company or distributor (or both!).

I play live with just my acoustic guitar in clubs and pubs here, and occasionally with a band called Soul Meeting which is comprised of members or ex-members of some of the better Danish bands. But most of my energy is going into the studio and we hope very soon to buy a collection of old farm buildings and convert them into a home and studio. At the moment we're a bit cramped and the drummer ends up recording in the dining-room! But the equipment is mostly state-of-the art digital and is being improved regularly.

So I'm enjoying life and making music - what more could one ask for?

So sorry I didn't reply when you sent the email. But here I am and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.



From: Other road <Otherroad@aol.com>
Subject: Caravan/Live at the Astoria London
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 17:07:37 EST

Caravan has a new release, a live album, which is on our HTD Records Page
<http://www.artist-shop.com/htd> with cover graphics and soundbite.  It's
called Live at the Astoria London, and features some classic Caravan material
including one of my all time favorites, a full length performance of Nine Feet
Underground.  I hope you'll stop by for a visit.

Bill Bruford is hitting the road in Europe!  He has assembled a new Earthworks band.  The new band members are:

Saxophonist Patrick Clahar: A terrific young improviser, highly thought of in the London scene.  Played with Steve Grossman, Valery Pomarov, Incognito, among others.

Keyboardist Steve Hamilton: Trained at the Berklee School of Music, Boston, U.S.  Played with Van Morrison, Pee Wee Ellis, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Burton, and others.

Bassist Geoff Gascoyne: One of the most in-demand London jazz players.  Has played with Sting, Van Morrison, Georgie Fame, US 3, Tommy Smith, Guy Barker, and others.

The following dates are set up:

8       Utrecht, NL     SJU
9       Amsterdam, NL   Paradiso
10      Bonn, Germany   Jazz Gallery
11      Freiburg        Jazzhaus
12      Kaiserslautern  Kammgarn Cotton Club
13      Ludwigsburg     Scala Theatre
14      Kircheim        Club Bastion
15      Ingolstadt      Burgerstreff
16      Frankfurt       Sinkkasten
17      Tilburg, NL     Noorderligt
24      Bolzano, Italy  Auditorium Roen
25      Ferrara         Circolo Renfe
26      Padova          La Fornace
27      Forli           Naima Club
28      Ascoli Piceno   Cotton Club
1       Todi (Perugia)  Teatro Communale
2       Firenze         Sala Vanni
3       Gorizia         Auditorium Regione


                              Gary Davis
The Artist Shop                              The Other Road
http://www.artist-shop.com       OtherRoad@aol.com


From: "Nicolas Houle" <nickh@videotron.ca>
Subject: Richard Sinclair
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 1998 19:33:34 -0400

It's been a long time that I haven't had any news about Richard Sinclair. I read in your musician's section that he retired from music for a while, I hope he's planning another album. When I last met him in dec. 1994, he was supposed to work on a new project. I kept looking on his webpage in Musart but it's not up to date, I hope that i'll have a chance to keep in touch with his music via Calyx.  Believe me, the progressive music belongs to Canterbury!

[Last I heard about Richard Sinclair - from Jacques van den Oever, whose band Pleegzusters collaborared with in the last couple of years - he was mainly working on plumbery and carpentry, notably for his daughter's home in Canterbury, and his own house in Harlingen, Holland. Jacques told me he'd rehearsed with Richard earlier in the year, but not since June. Any updates, Jacques ? - AL]


From: David Cross <ddcross@us.ibm.com>
Subject: Hugh Hopper Interview
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 12:41:59 -0500

Howdy. I'm a brand new subscriber to WR though I've been a fan through archival postings. I find WR thoughtful, useful and without a lot of the petty in-fighting and empty posts I see in some other news groups. I became a fan of the Canterbury music scene through my high esteem for the music of Soft Machine. Over the past ten years I've been lucky enough to speak with Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers and additionally I've just recently interviewed both Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt (more details on the Wyatt interview next post).

Below are excerpts from my October 1997 interview with Hugh Hopper. The complete interview along with an annotated Soft Machine Discography and a couple great photos (courtesy one Vernon Fitch) will appear in Brain Damage #41. Subscription information can be obtained from the editor, Jeff Jensen at BDMAG@AOL.COM. All the following information is (C) 1998 Brain Damage magazine. Don't even think about copying it.

PS: No I'm not the David Cross who was once a member of King Crimson.

* * * * * * * * * *

An interview with Hugh Hopper
By Dave Cross

For a guy with such a vast, unique and impressive body of work, Hugh is a humble, down to earth guy without any rock star pretensions at all. I called him at his Kent, England residence for this interview in late October 1997. We covered a lot of ground, although there are some obvious gaps in this discussion of his thirty plus years of music making.... my apologies. Too much to cover in such a short period of time!


BD: You did the Hendrix tour...
HH: Yeah, I did the first Soft Machine tour with Hendrix. The first few months
of '68, in the States.

BD: That must have been pretty amazing.
HH: It was very hard work, because it was just two roadies. One for Hendrix, one for Soft Machine. It wasn't like now, where you have a lot of trucks and all that stuff. This tour we had a really old truck, desperately trying to get to the next gig on time. We never actually did, but that's what it was like... driving overnight to the next gig.

BD: You set up the whole rig?
HH: Yeah, of course in those days it was a lot more simple... it was a very basic PA, Hendrix just had a stack on his side and Noel Redding had a stack on his side. I think the drums weren't even mic'ed up in those days. The Soft Machine would use a mic so Robert could sing. It was very much more simple. Consequently, it sounded awful most of the time. I think there was three months gigs and I think there were only a couple of gigs sounding really good by either band - Soft Machine or Hendrix.

BD: Did it become louder when you joined?
HH: The loudest period actually, was with the trio after I joined, when Kevin left. So Robert was still doing quite a few songs, although less than when Kevin was in the band. I think that was the loudest because Mike and I both had, kind of, horrendous stacks of Marshalls and we played on fuzz boxes.  Both of us. It now seems like madness to me, but that's what we did.

BD: You guy's weren't afraid to take existing sounds and jam them through fuzz
HH: That's right. I'm afraid we were terrible at it. We were hooligans with the sound.

DB: Points for that!
HH: Yeah, but my ears are still ringing. I've got tinnitus now. I hate to think what the audience is like. In fact, we were sort of wearing ear plugs at one point.


There were three different lineups for the first three Soft Machine albums. For the first record, a majority of the song writing and singing was largely done by Kevin Ayers (though Wyatt held his own) and the emphasis was on a cracked dadaist vision of pop music. There is reference to the more jazz oriented vision of the later group though it was just largely hinted at. For the second and third record, Wyatt remained as the groups sole vocalist - a role he was more or less squeezed out of as the band continued on a more serious compositional/improvisational direction.

DB: You briefly played on the first Soft Machine record.
HH: Well, I played on one track... a thing called "Box 25/4 Lid". On the Hendrix tour, Mike and I used to get together in hotel rooms and sort of mess
around with stuff. And that was one thing.. it's a very long riff that we worked out together. I played fuzz bass on that and that's the only thing I did play on... although there were some songs of mine on the record.

BD: From Soft Machine Volume Two on, you played bass.
HH: Yeah, I was demoted from roadie.

BD: Can you please tell me a little about the compositional method used on Spaced.
HH: It's different anyway because it wasn't intended to be a record in the first place. It was actually the music soundtrack for a live show with dancers and acrobats and all this weirdness at London's Roundhouse. So they asked us for a backing tape for the action, so we did. What we actually did is recorded some stuff as if we were playing live, and there are sections of it that sound like that. And some of that was just used straight and other things we actually worked on, the three of us, using different techniques. At the time, I was into using loops and stuff like that. Mike was into similar kind of stuff. Robert was into what later became dub... Interrupted rhythms and stuff like that. We worked for about a week recording raw sounds, some of which we used just as they were and other ones which we doctored a lot using tape techniques. I mean, now of course you could do it in a half an hour on the computer but then it was a matter of actually cutting out bits of tape and making loops of them. Running around different lengths, stuff like that.


BD: Did  you guys actually use charts?
HH: Yeah. Pretty well... In fact, learned to read music, kind of, with Soft Machine. I learnt bass like millions of others just by listening to records. It wasn't until later on that I learnt to read on it, that I could read on other instruments... like saxophone, things like that. So yeah... In fact, Mike, Robert and I never used them on stage. Whereas Elton and the other horn players who played with the band used them. Like most horn players, they never bothered to remember memorizing the music - unless they were being paid a lot of money to do so. Elton always used charts... pretty much anyway.

BD: What caused you to leave the Soft Machine?
HH: Well, by the time... after the sixth record. I really wasn't interested in the music the other guys were interested in. And they weren't particularly friends of mine anyway. So the two reasons for being in a band had disappeared. I mean,  you can play great music with people and you can put up with not being friends with them... or not liking someone. Or vice versa. If you're a great friend of someone you can put up with the fact that he and you aren't playing the same way. Or maybe, they aren't the greatest musician or you're not interested in the same music. For me the two reasons had dropped out... I wasn't interested in those people and I wasn't interested in the music they were.


In 1973 Hugh had left Soft Machine and embarked on a solo career. He picked a strange vehicle to begin his solo career with. Largely comprised of loops, noise and a couple of Soft Machine-esque complex fusion numbers, 1984  was certainly not a commercial move by any means. It was a move that was to endear him to a core few. Indeed, Hugh has referred to this record as a "sub Terry Riley cult record". 1984 was reissued by French label Mantra a couple years back but, unfortunately, there were problems with that reissue. Fortunately, Cuneiform Records will reissue this classic recording again later in 1998. It will feature improved sound (pulled from the original masters) with corrected left/right stereo output (somewhere along the line it was reversed) and an additional track never before heard.

BD: That's a great record.
HH: It's certainly a strange record.

BD: The liner notes make mention of Terry Riley's influence.
HH: Terry Riley was very much an influence on the techniques of loops and stuff like that. A lot of 1984 was multi-track loops. Even using a 16 track machine and cutting out a tape loop of that, which is supposed to be impossible because the things aren't supposed to run. But if you don't want it to sound like something really neat and tidy it doesn't really matter... you just get lumps of it. It great because you get all these multiple permutations of different tracks going around.

BD: I had to check my record player to make sure 1984 was playing at the right speed.
HH: None of it's at the right speed. Most of it either double speed or half speed or somewhere in between

BD: Is that on CD?
HH: Yeah, it's on CD now yeah. On a  French label called Mantra. Eventually it will come out in another version on Cuneiform with an extra track that's never been released before.

BD: On the liner notes I have, you say you'd like to cut the album to half it's length...
HH: Yeah, that's right. I would really. It's one of those records that, sometimes I listen to it and I think "Oh God, what a long, long boring tedious record" and other times you think "Wow, this is really floating and nice and weird". So it really depends on your mood at the time.


Along with all the experimentation, Hugh has written a lot of genuinely great pop songs. One of his very early songs has seemed to develop a life of its own.

BD: Let's talk about "Memories". It's been covered by a lot of different people.
HH: That's right. That's about the second song I wrote too... I wrote it about, sort of, the end of '64, I think. When we were just getting Wilde Flowers together, I just really got into writing songs for the first time. Robert's done a couple of versions of it. There's even a version of it by Material where Whitney Houston is singing it. Before she was famous, of course.

BD: Damon and Naomi recently covered it...
HH: That's right, they did a version of it and there's a version by two German women singers called Rainbirds, which is another nice version. There's about three different versions on the Wilde Flowers CD.

BD: It a beautiful song. When Robert sings it sounds painful...
HH: That's right, yeah. It's funny because the  version Material did, Bill Laswell and those guys, Whitney Houston singing. She actually copied Robert's intonation completely. That came about  because Fred Frith, who played on Robert's version, introduced it to Laswell when he was working in New York with those guys. He said "Here's a nice song." So, in fact, Whitney Houston copies Robert's intonation completely if you check it out.

BD: Do you prefer playing live or in a studio? You also improvise in the studio, which is something some artists don't do...
HH: Well they are two different things. You get a great buzz from playing live. If it's a good gig then it something you can't ever get in a studio. But... I like to work in the studio, it's a different thing. I really like putting things together - piecing things together, and planning things beforehand. But on the other hand, I also like the adrenaline of playing live. Improvising in the studio, I think there's no reason why not, except that sometimes it's not so free as maybe, you would be if you were in the middle of a tour somewhere in another country. When your mind has been liberated by being on the road, so it's a different thing but I think it's worth trying. If fact the next record that'll come out will be this thing I've just done with Elton Dean and a keyboard player called Francis Knight and Vince Clark the drummer, which is, in fact just improvising in the studio. Exactly that. Which we did earlier this year. That should be coming out on Voiceprint, fairly soon...

BD: You improvise in song form as well as formless free meter. Do you prefer
improvisation over composition?
HH: Well there again... I like them both. I like them both in exactly the same way I like the two sides of studio or live. I like the idea of not planning something. And of course, sometimes it goes horribly wrong and it's terribly boring. But when it does work, it's great... but also I love the idea of sitting down and actually writing out the notes... working them out and going back over... revising things... planning things. I think, though really, when I listen back to tapes. I mean it's more surprising and more pleasurable if you listen to improvised things on which you've worked because they're a surprise to you as well, Whereas if you've actually been working for several weeks, or whatever, days on a piece of music... then it's no longer a surprise to you. You know how it works and, yeah, it's great to have done it. It's good that it gives pleasure to other people but really, the pleasure is then gone. The pleasure has been in the composing. If I listen to live tapes, maybe hear them a year later and I haven't heard them... I'll think "Wow. That's really great". It's like listening to any other band you admire.


BD: What's your stance on bootlegs?
HH: I don't care. I mean, I'd rather be bootlegged that not bootlegged. If you're not being bootlegged, you're not doing anything worth being bootlegged for. If I was losing vast amounts of money then, yeah. I would be angry. Of course... those people are criminals but then, I can't say I'm not a criminal either.


The sound that Hopper crafted in the late sixties really set the pace for all the top psychedelic bands of that generation and beyond. Beyond the songs, beyond the performances, beyond the clothes and the madness there is THAT SOUND. For all the cerebral artiness that the other members brought to the band, Hopper most certainly brought the visceral as well. High art and pounding fury.

BD: Please briefly explain your rig from 1969.
HH: Basically it was a 100 watt Marshall with two caps. Then we got into, sort of, less brutal amps. I had an Acoustic amp and a Fender Precision. Stuff like that.

BD: What was the fuzzbox?
HH: It was a Duo Fuzz... which was first of all, made by Rose Morris. I've still got one actually. I still use it. It's very hard to use live, it's great to use in the studio. In fact, for live work now I use a digital one. A Yamaha distortion box. It's not such an extreme sound. You can't get the same sound in the studio... you can always get some kind of controllable sound live which you can't with the old analog ones. I mean, sometimes it would sound fantastic and other times all you would hear is white noise.

BD: So you still use the fuzzbox...
HH: Yeah, that's right. I tried to give it up about ten years ago... but I was doing a project with Lindsay Cooper and she wanted some kind of, long sustained lines and to only way you can get that on bass is to use distortion or overdrive. So I went out and bought another one I still love it in parts and other times I feel a bit embarrassed. The funny thing is now there is kind of a retro-mania here in England and everyone says "Wow! Fantastic. Please, please more fuzz."

[Tremendous thanks to Dave for this great interview ! - AL]


                        END OF ISSUE #79

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