::                                                              ::
  ::                     - WHAT'S RATTLIN' ? -                    ::
  ::       The Weekly Digest for Canterbury Music Addicts         ::
  ::                          Issue # 98                          ::
  ::                     Sunday, July 5th, 1998                   ::
  ::                                                              ::


An unusual delay between the latest issue and this one, which I apologise for. I hope the length of this one will make up for the wait. I'll start with a few newsbits - a review of the Steve Miller Benefit gig, which I attended, and a review of Pip Pyle's solo album "7 Year Itch", finally completed after... well, seven years of hard work!


When Pip Pyle told me that a benefit gig for Steve Miller would take place on June 28th at London's Vortex Jazz Bar, I promised myself I would be there. This was surely an event not to be missed, although it's sad that it sometimes takes such circumstances to bring old friends back together. Ex-Caravan member later moving to a jazz career, Steve Miller has been ill with cancer for some months, but the sad news was broken only recently. A positive point is that, contrary to early diagnoses, it was recently discovered that there is still a chance for Steve to recover, given appropriate treatment. Of course, that is expensive, and this was the reason for setting up this one-off benefit gig.

I've been at the Vortex a few times over the last few years, to see people like Keith Tippett, John Etheridge or Evan Parker perform. It is a relatively small and friendly venue located at Stoke Newington in the North of London. That night it was packed to capacity (approx 60-70 people). When I arrived it was still not quite sure if Steve himself would appear at the gig, but that uncertainty was cleared when he arrived, just a couple of minutes later. I'd never seen Steve before, but he surely looked thin and tired. Yet that night he proved that music wins over everything, playing superbly for about two hours with various combinations of musicians.

Among the musicians mentioned in the Vortex programme, only two didn't make it : Roy Babbington was on a tour, and Peter Lemer was on holiday with his family. The former was replaced by the great Freddy Baker, while the latter needed no replacement with Steve sitting behind the grand piano that took up almost half of the tiny stage.

The first combination to perform was a sort of re-vamped Steve Miller Quartet, with Eddie Prevost, Lol Coxhill and Fred Baker, plus Phil Miller. It was great to hear the latter in an improvised setting, an aspect of his talent which is not yet documented on record. The music played was surprisingly melodic and lyrical given the line-up and the spontaneous approach. A typically British form of jazz for sure.

The most expected moment came after a first intermission : the reformation of Delivery, almost three decades after its inception. Carol Grimes, although herself a regular performer at the Vortex with her group, admitted to not having shared the stage with any of her old colleagues since 1970... With the exception of Babbington, the line-up featured on the album "Fool's Meeting" was reunited - Phil Miller, Lol Coxhill, Steve Miller, Pip Pyle. Aided by the ever-helpful Fred Baker, the group played a couple of long numbers in a bluesy vein. Again, it was a joy hearing these musicians play in a style they're not associated with. Pip Pyle, in particular, seemed to have a very nice time, and apparently held no bad feelings towards Carol who had once fired him from the band ! Grimes is an incredibly powerful vocalist, making full use of her voice's range and dynamics. The group on the whole was very tight, although Pip told me there'd been absolutely no prior rehearsal. I wasn't familiar with the music, although the second song was obviously the title track from "Fool's Meeting".

The third set began with Steve being joined on stage by Elton Dean on alto saxophone (not his usual saxello) and Mark Hewins on... err, I hesitate to call that guitar, although he certainly used one, but not in a conventional way. I don't know if he has a way of calling this technique, but he didn't hit the strings at all, just caressed the board, producing atmospheric sounds... Another moment of lyrical and melodic improvisation. Mark then took his midi guitar and the Baker/Pyle rhythm section was back for more. I don't recall exactly who else apart from Steve Miller was playing at that point. Phil Miller had possibly returned too, and Coxhill replaced Dean but I'm not sure. Anyway, more improvised music, with Mark playing layers of what sounded like an organ.

If I remember well, the last set was performed by a quartet of Phil and Steve Miller, Fred Baker and Pip Pyle. But maybe Elton Dean was playing too, as I recall that part to have been somewhat "InCahoots-y". Again, some great playing from all, a very tight band. I asked Pip how long it had been since he'd played with Steve, and I was surprised to learn that the last time they'd ever played together was when Delivery briefly reformed in the Summer of 1972 !

All in all, a great night. The performance was recorded, by Phil Miller told me there were no plans, a priori, to put it out on CD. (Why not launch a petition?); and Yvonne Hewins videotaped the gig for posterity. Also in attendance were "Canterbury Nachrichten" editor Manfred Bress, Phil Miller's old friend from Holland Henk Weltevreden, and "Facelift" reviewer Nick Loebner... I'll finish off by thanking Mark and Yvonne Hewins for the ride home !


Well, bad news first - you won't hear this until sometime this Autumn. Pip's solo CD is being manufactured by Voiceprint as I write, but Pip has decided to wait a bit until it's officially available to attempt a bit of promotion. Last month he was busy setting up a French tour for In Cahoots in October (a handful of dates, but this time by the sextet version... hopefully), now he's going to work at it. As regards dates, more bad news : there was a good offer from a Japanese promoter for a little series of gigs there, but because of the current recession in the Far East this has been cancelled for the time being. But Pip is still hopeful that some gigs will happen late in the year or early in 1999. Just the thought of seeing Dave Stewart and Pip together on stage almost makes me faint with anticipation...

Now, the music. I've had the chance to listen to "7 Year Itch" quite a few times, so I can give a few impressions on the contents. First, this is a very varied album, not just a collection of songs in the verse-chorus-verse mode. Secondly, it is a delight to hear such a combination of highly talented musicians all on one album. Of all the Canterbury veterans still in activity, no-one's missing, except Robert Wyatt who declined to sing on "Shipwrecked"... and, where's Mark Hewins ?! With these few exceptions, however, everyone's there : Phil Miller, Dave Stewart, Richard Sinclair, Elton Dean, John Greaves, Didier Malherbe, Hugh Hopper, Fred Baker, Barbara Gaskin, Jakko Jakszyk, Paul Rogers and more.

The album starts with "Seven Sisters" (8:35), a delightful showcase for Richard Sinclair's vocal talents that makes one hopeful that he will soon be back from him Dutch retirement. The track, originally written as an instrumental piece for National Health, also benefits from a piano solo by Dave Stewart, and a guitar solo by Phil Miller. Pip mistakenly mentions in the liner notes that it's the first Hatfield reunion on record since 1975 - what about "Black Hat" on National Health's "D.S. Al Coda", not to mention the 1977 gigs and BBC sessions with Richard ? The track eventually changes from a melodic song to some equally tasty brass cacophony.

"Chinese Whispers" (4:07) is a more popsong affair, with Jakko on vocals, and has lyrics dealing with Pip's move from England to France in 1985. It has a middle part sung in French (with excellent accent), but in spite of that it's one of the least interesting songs for me, having little to offer in the way of instrumental work.

A cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (4:48) follows, with the mellotron introduction perfectly recreated by Dave Stewart. With Barbara Gaskin singing lead you'd think you're hearing the new Stewart-Gaskin album (when will it finally be out, btw?), and the approach in the arrangement is actually similar : the melody line from the Beatles original is intact, but the chord structure is completely perveted, resulting in a very peculiar effect... The second half is more madness, with everything from brass to samples of National Health's "Phlakaton" mixed together onto hypnotic electronic rhythms.

"Seven Year Itch" (3:29), the title track, will be known to some of you as it is featured on the recently released "Gong Family Jewels" compilation. Pip describes it as a song of pure hatred (against what or whom is unclear), and indeed it's aggressive and dark, with John Greaves screaming rather than singing and playing some adequately noisy fuzz bass. Difficult to really judge this one.

"I'm Really Okay" (5:02) is a delightful ballad, with lyrics by Faton Cahen's wife Jacqueline, and sung by Barbara Gaskin in her usual charming voice. This superbly melodic song is graced with an equally lyrical synth solo from Dave Stewart.

"Once Around The Shelves" (4:06) is an instrumental piece featuring Jakko on both guitar and flute, that was originally written using the Cubase software but with real instruments having finally replaced most of the original tracks. Nice tune.

"Long On (7:08)" is sung once again by Jakko, and was written in 1984 to impress a lady (Sophia Domancich I assume - her sister Lydia is incidentally featured on a couple of tracks on the album) "with what a great artist and songwriter I was... although I hadn't counted on a nearly fourteen year interval before finally getting it released!". Well, this one hasn't left a very striking memory in my mind so I can't say much about it right now...

"Shipwrecked" (7:34) is for my money the best track on the album. Although I miss Richard Sinclair's vocals from the Hatfield version performed on the Central TV reformation gig in 1990, I think the instrumental work is much better. Jakko sings again, in a style initially very similar to Richard's, although it becomes a bit poppier towards the end. The middle part is pure Hatfield/National Health progressive rock, with Dave Stewart and Phil Miller playing fantastic solos to Fred and Pip's solid and imaginative rhythm work.

"L'Etat Des Choses" (7:40), originally inspired by Wim Wenders movie of the same name ("Der Stand Der Dinge" or "The State Of Things"), is an experimental collage that was started over ten years ago, using keyboards given or loaned to Pip by Peter Lemer, Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen, but recently completed, with in particular Hugh Hopper offering some 1984-style fuzz bass inverted loops.

The album closes with a funny fanfare arrangement of "Foetal Fandango" (2:48), originally found on Equip'Out's debut album from 1987, but dating back to National Health's 1979 US tour and heard on live tapes from that era. Didier Malherbe and Elton Dean lead the brass section, with Pip providing military drums.

All in all, a very varied effort which is very interesting, not only for its own artistic merits, but for bringing together our favourite musicians in unusual combinations and musical contexts.



From: "Kent F. Smith" <kfsmith@jps.net>
Subject: Cafe Jaques
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 06:55:54 -0700

[In WR#97, Reed A. Callais <mirage@cajunnet.com> wrote:]
>Anyone know where I may find cd'c of Cafe Jaques. Have a couple of
>albums in poor shape. Any help on finding these great albums from the
>past would be deeplu appreciated. REED

"Round The Back" is available (recently) from CDNOW, and sounds soooo goooood. No word on "International". Rupert Hine is getting his official web site together and more info about releases may be available then. You can find a link to Round The Back from my 'Essential 100 Recordings' page (http://www.jps.net/kfsmith/music.htm).



From: Michael Rae <raejonnymac@yahoo.com>
Subject: Present
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 10:08:15 -0700 (PDT)

Hello Aymeric,

Just wanted to mention that I was fortunate enough to see PRESENT at Club Toast in Burlington, Vermont earlier this month. This was an incredible show; the group performed complex,intricate arrangements without the aid of any charts. The leader, Roger Trigaux, sings with a dark, foreboding approach; the interlocking dual guitar interplay between he & his son Reginald was intense. Everyone else in the group was equally intense in their respective supporting roles; of considerable note was the monster drumming of Dave Kerman, and it is no surprise that he is an in-demand drummer amongst various progressive groups today (5UU's, M.T.G, Blast). Worth mentioning is that Roger was kind enough to permit us to videotape the concert; while not of  professional quality, still it is a nice souvenir of one incredible show! Until next time, keep up the great work and thanks once again for keeping us "Canterburians" linked.

Mike Rae

From: chris.topham@virgin.net (Chris Topham)
Subject: Cafe Jacques
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 08:02:33 GMT

Well, at least _Round the Back_ is available in America -

EPIC 487236-2

Is the Catalogue number and it is a part of the Sony rewind series; I
don't remember how much I paid for it but it was mid-price!

Yours, Chris


From: "Steven M. Hill" <smh@easynet.co.uk>
Subject: Dave Stewart on TV (UK)
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 08:27:05 +0000

Has anyone else spotted Dave Stewart's theme music to the Friday night comedy program called "Offal TV" - the music is very DS. I can make a Layer 3 mpeg audio file of the theme if anyone is interested.

Steve Hill


From: "Ballentyne" <Ballentyne@btinternet.com>
Subject: Brainville in Leicester (again!)
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 00:02:51 +0100

Saw Brainville play the "Physio and Firkin", Leicester, Friday 19th. First, a little word about the venue... this had to be the worst venue for a gig that I have ever attended! Upstairs in a rather dingy pub, a really dingy function room, L-shaped, with hardly any space to stand or sit (we ended up sitting against the bar, perched on the foot rail, or backs vibrated out of alignment every time Hugh Hopper hit bottom E, which seemed to correspond with the natural frequency of the bar itself)... the sound was the worst I've ever heard, so that you just could not hear what Daevid Allen was singing, unless it was a quiet passage, and in those quiet passages, the chatter from the back of the bar was louder than the band. Squeezed on to a tiny stage, I was half expecting Daevid to fall out of the open window behind him every time he took a step backward.

And this was the second time inside six weeks or so that Daevid had played this venue! Must have something going for it, but I'll be blowed if I could say what...

Less than 50 people were there, and of that, a dozen or so walked out during the first number. There seemed no more than a handful aware of who these guys were!

But, all that aside, it was a blissful experience! There was mixed expectation of what they were likely to play, and certainly, there were some moments unknown to me, but in their 95-minute set, you could recognise several pieces from Daevid's 1992 album, "Who's Afraid?", including the title track, "Thinking Thoughts" and "Shadow", and towards the end of the show, unexpectedly and wonderfully, "Hope for Happiness" (the very opening track on that very first Soft Machine album ... *s*) throw in a few monologues about those ubiquitous g'nomes and a bizarre story about Bloomdido packed with impenetrable in-joke references, and some intense wall of sound stuff with the old glissando (no doubt helped along by the muddy mix), and it was just great.

My big blank spot was the fourth man, Graham Clark (oh, forgive me if I got that name wrong, but he was the only one playing not from my personal music hall of fame), on guitar and violin. Daevid said that it was ten years the two of them have been playing together, so you can guess how long it has been since I last saw him live.

Almost a quarter of a century, actually, at the Glasgow City Halls, when the big band were touring to promote the "You" album. After the show, chatting at the bar, I mentioned to Daevid how long it had been since I last saw him play, and that threw him into wistful mood (er ... is he ever in anything else?) and he looked me in the eye and said, "Ah the changes for us all since then ..." (or words to that effect ... my ears were still ringing). He was good enough to sign my cover of "You" and drew a pot head pixie on "Who's Afraid?" Pip signed my Hatfields covers, and Hugh seemed genuinely surprised that anyone wanted his autograph at all -- but then did a little caricature of himself on the cover of my copy of "Meccano Pelorus"!

Considering I had no idea what was going to be played, went along with my girlfriend who had no idea who any of the musos were (though she enjoyed it), the direness of the venue and the utterly attrocious mix, it has to be said that Brainville overcame all the odds and really delivered an enjoyable and memorable set. I think this was the last date on their mini-tour, but if you get another chance, don't miss!

George M. Ballentyne


From: "Bill Duhigg" <duhigg@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Wyatt interview
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998 20:44:53 -0400

>From U.S. Rocker Magazine - Vol. 9, #6, June 1998

USR, 4758 Ridge Rd. #279, Cleveland Ohio 44144
Published monthly; distributed in the Cleveland area.
Subs: $20/yr (11 issues)
Back issues: $2, first copy; $1 ea additional

Singer/instrumentalist (& ex-Soft Machine drummer) Robert Wyatt reveals the secret world of dreams with Shleep

By Sean Carney (publisher/editor)

Robert Wyatt? Who the hell is Robert Wyatt!? Well, unless you buy a lot of out-of-print vinyl, you might not have heard of the man before. But now with a new record, Shleep, available domestically from Thirsty Ear and a reissue of his entire back catalog planned for summer release, it's time to catch up.

Robert Wyatt was a founding member of the '60s art rock band Soft Machine from Canterbury UK. Although Soft Machine debuted in the middle of the decade-long British rock explosion, the band was quite different from its contemporaries. First off, Soft Machine -- in its classic configuration -- had no guitarist. Instead, the musical focus was on the hyperactive interplay between Hugh Hopper's fuzz bass, Mike Ratledge's even fuzzier organ, and the drumming and singing of Robert Wyatt. The band careened recklessly from cabaret-sounding jazz to completely frazzed-out rock, bypassing the flaky psychedelic affectations of many like-minded, progressive bands during the scene's nascent era. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of their idiosyncratic approach and took Soft Machine along on the Experience's first U.S. tour in 1968.

Wyatt's percussion style was unusual in its fluidity and ratty energy -- a mid-point between Keith Moon's manic approach and the precision, 'pro' sound of Bill Bruford. Even more remarkable than his drumming was Wyatt's unbroken, high-pitched voice that sounded more like it belonged to a teenage boy than a man. His phrasing on the first three Soft Machine albums is amazing. He breaks the words at unusual points and often indulges in "word-less vocal guitar solos", scatting along in an eerie register, tripping and trilling along with the melody. His words were exceptional, too, and had nothing in common with the insipid "let's boogie" come-ons of other English bands of the time. He employed whimsical surrealist imagery that was also wise and subtly political. "Virgins are boring," Wyatt sang on "Pig" (from Soft Machine ii). "They should be
grateful for the things they're ignoring."

Wyatt left Soft Machine after three albums to form Matching Mole, an even more spontaneous and jazzy ensemble. Then, in 1973, Wyatt fell from a window at a party and was paralyzed from the waist down. Although this ended his career as a kit drummer, Wyatt was soon back at work, singing, arranging and playing a variety of instruments on classic albums by luminaries like Brian Eno (Wyatt contributed to Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Music for Airports -- some pretty cool credentials). Wyatt also began what is now a twenty-five year long solo career that de-emphasized rhythm for vocal and harmonic exploration.  On albums such as 1974's Rock Bottom and 1975's Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, Wyatt plumbed his emotional depths, extracting some of the most heart-rending personal music of all time. His newest record, Shleep, is a bit more light-hearted than his '80s work (which saw him delve into Marxist politics) and features guest musicians like Eno, Phil Manzanera (from Roxy Music), Paul Weller (from the Jam), and avant garde saxophonist Evan Parker.

USR was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some time chatting with Robert Wyatt on the phone early in May. He doesn't do many interviews, but he spoke candidly with us about what it means to live as an artist in the late 20th century, and his joyful lust to create infected us all month long.

USR: It's been a few years since you've released any material. How did you decide it was time for a new record?
RW: Well, I spend months on end working on piano ideas and cymbal ideas and
trumpet ideas at my home. I'm always writing bits and pieces of songs but only at certain times do they come together into a coherent piece. I can't force it -- I can't turn the tap on and POOF! a song comes out. Things have to come together naturally, organically. And when they do, I get into the studio as quick as I can.

USR: Do you have other collaborators in mind when you're crafting the
song ideas?
RW: Ever since the early '70s, I've found that the safest way to record is to
take responsibility for everything. It's as if you were the captain of a ship: it's a good idea to be able to do everything you're gonna ask everyone else to do in case they get washed overboard. I really try to be prepared to play every instrument myself and only when I need another voice do I invite someone who I think is appropriate to join me. That way, I'm not dependent on them but they can enhance what I do -- sometimes beyond recognition. When I'm mixing, I take that into account and change what I already planned.

USR: So the contributions sometimes surprise you?
RW: Yes, though over the years I've learned a bit better who is most happy in each particular context. I don't always get it right but I really try. I attempt to take into account each musician's harmonic palette and the pace they like to work at beforehand so I don't throw them into an uncomfortable situation. If I'm working on something that is rhythmically or harmonically obscure, there are certain jazz musicians that would be more comfortable with that than rock musicians. Rock musicians possess other important qualities, having mostly to do with dynamics. They can really bear down on a tune if they're harmonically comfortable. I was very lucky this time because there was a such a helpful and friendly bunch of people that came by the studio. I got more and more happy because I realized I wasn't going to have to rely on myself for everything.

USR: Do you think that's a strength of jazz and rock music -- the collaborative spirit?
RW: Yes, that's an advantage those musics have. When I was young, my initial tendencies were towards "purist" artforms like painting and poetry because a person does it entirely themselves, straight from their imagination onto the paper. The trouble is "pure forms" don't reflect what real life is: a constant process of interaction and adjustment to the things going on around you. And I've really understood that listening to jazz. I'm so grateful to jazz because it established the idea of an inter-relationship between the composers and the performers, constantly flowing, constantly shifting. Despite the fact that we're not playing what anyone would think of as jazz, those of us working in the more improvised and extended areas of rock should be thankful for everyone from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane for having opened up the whole range of collaborative creativity.

USR: Miles Davis used to arrange music simply by choosing the players and then letting their personalities shape the sound.
RW: That's right, yeah. I was just listening to Miles Ahead and on one track Miles Davis makes a humorous reference to "When the Saints Go Marching In." To do that, Miles is depending on the other musicians to know what reference he's making -- they don't automatically lock into "When the Saints," but they accommodate him for a few bars. They all faintly echo the '20s record he's referring to and then they zip back into the '50s, which was when Miles Ahead was recorded. To accomplish that depends entirely on knowing who you're with and that you can trust them. I suppose it's like what some socialite might say about how you invite people for a party: a good party depends on who you've got sitting next to whom. But it doesn't mean you can control what they say! If you've chosen well you can't go wrong, however.

USR: It's been suggested that the ultimate anarchist art grouping is a party.
RW: Oh, that's a very good idea! Of course, there's always someone who throws the party and there's always someone who has to say "Fuck off, I want to go to bed!"

USR: And someone who has to do the dishes the next day...
RW: That's absolutely right. As Noam Chomsky said, "Anarchy is not a state that can be achieved but it's a useful tendency that should be applied at all times."

USR: As far as the lyrical imagery of Shleep is concerned, were you going for an overall concept or unity?
RW: My initial collaboration for the record was with Alfie, to whom I'm married.  I turned to her words, the notes she made, and her poems because, although I had a lot of musical ideas, I had very few lyrics in mind.  Her words seemed to be based around the imagery of birds: birds in flight and birds not able to fly, etc.  This coincided very well with the almost permanent dream state I've been in the last few years, a narcotic state without narcotics which is an ideal state to be in if you can manage it!  Hahaha!  It's what you'd call state of grace or luck.  Real life doesn't let you live that way too often, but I aim for it and Alfie's lyrics aim for that as well.
I also think that as you get older and heavier, the lightness of birds becomes more and more romantic. At least it seems romantic to me -. I always eat too much. So I combined Alfie's vicarious bird fantasies with my yearning to recapture the wonderful world of dreams. I know that sounds like a cliche, but I just _love_ dreams. The more I look back on my life I'm just so glad for those dreaming moments. Everything is good about dreams. Even the worst nightmares are great -- you wake up thinking, Wow, thank God that wasn't true! But if it's a good dream then all the better, and that's the theme of the album.

USR: Do you have waking dreams?
RW: Yes, crepuscular dreams -- dawn/dusk dreams. They're dreams that emerge right as you wake up and creep in on you as you start to go to sleep. There are other dreams that happen while you're fully asleep, but they're hard to recall and pin down. Crepuscular dreams - those moments between being asleep and being awake -- are the maddest. The closest parallel we all know, even if we can't remember our dreams, is when we get drunk or stoned. And maybe that's why we get drunk and stoned -- to recapture that magical half-world. It can be a nightmare or it can be magical. And there's no one, even people who are really boring and dull, who doesn't have those moments where the most amazing, fantastical thoughts go through their head. We all have them -- it's just a question of harnessing them, which is one of the jobs an artist takes on.

USR: Have you always dreamt so vividly or have you used special techniques to enhance the experience?
RW: I absolutely have. I've always been involved in listening to music and looking at paintings and I realized fairly early on that what made art so extraordinary was that it took me back into the world of dreams. That's what I liked about art long before I ever made my own.

USR: What kind of paintings do you like to look at?
RW: Well, basically those from the first half of the 20th century in Europe when people got together around Paris. Not necessarily just French painters -- although I love Matisse and Bonnard. But also the ones who arrived in France, like Chagall from Russia or Picasso from Spain. That whole period is superb, right up to the American abstract expressionists in the middle of the century like Jackson Pollock. Those paintings are still my reference points, even more than anything that has happened since in any other artform.

USR: In the '80s, you became deeply involved with the communist cause and
your art took on a more political slant. How did that happen?
RW: When things are on my mind, that's what comes out. In the '80s, for example, I was deeply troubled by the nasty end of the cold war. It wasn't that I was trying to be political or that I lived in fear of atomic bombs, it's just that the times were so disturbing they got deep inside. It was an intellectual horror at the banalization of ideas by our Prime Minister at the time, with her moronic cliches and the fact that she was going down so well in the world. It seemed nightmarish to me. I have some pride in English people and I was happier when we were represented in the world's eye by John Lennon, quite frankly!

USR: Have you left that state now?
RW: No, I would say that state has left me. We now have governments that have mastered the art of not representing anything in particular. It's turned into a kind of ideological soup. They don't say anything that could offend anyone. Intellectually, I still feel a certain distance but how can you fight soup? I mean there's nothing there -- it's all too cloudy and nebulous. It's impossible to tell what you're up against. So to that extent, my revulsion seems kind of diffused. All I can do is stick to what I know is right and defend it at such moments when it's clear to me. And, God help me, keep quiet when I don't know what I'm talking about.

USR: Don't you think that just making art is a political statement? Don't you think that now more than ever, people are looking for things that are imaginative?
RW: Ugh, I have no idea what people are looking for. I'm certainly looking for the imaginative but I'm not sure what use it is. There's a danger in thinking that great works of art and imagination can really profoundly alter _anything_ for the better. For example, my father was a very idealistic man, a Christian socialist of a very English type. He believed what he was fighting for -- he was a soldier in WWII -- and he really loved classical music. But the people who had created the most majestic classical music in the world at that time were from Germany and Austria and were themselves the seedbed of the most cruel and heartless phenomenon the world has ever known: Nazism and Fascism. It left my father totally confused... and me, too.
I don't know what people want or what they're gonna do with it, and that's the truth. All I know is that an artist should always try to be authentic and be true to himself and hope that that's good enough. If that doesn't work, then there are forces at work too powerful for anyone --let alone me -- to know what to do about.  It's not a soundbite, I'm sorry. After years of thinking about it, it's gotten harder and harder to work those things out.

USR: One of the things that makes Shleep sound so unusual is the way you
extend the melody lines over many bars of the music. Do you sing along
with the riffs as you're creating them?
RW: Yeah. I was talking about my dad -- he was a big influence on me in terms of music. He got me interested in classical music. I remember when he played me my first LP, a piece called "Antarctica" by an English composer named Vaughn Williams. It went on and on -- I had never heard anything quite like it. I was very impressed because up until then I had only heard 78s and just the very existence of LPs meant that ideas could flow like oceans, not just go round and round and disappear down the plug-hole like water in a sink.
As much as I love pop music, which I absolutely do, it seems to me that the length of the early 78s still govern pop. Everything is forced into a two or three minute soundbite song, and I've always felt constricted by those restraints. I love pop, and God bless the people who do it well, but it gives me claustrophobia. I like the idea of things flowing and twisting and turning and going where they will.

USR: It's funny how mechanical considerations have often determined
artistic standards in music.
RW: That's right -- the three minute single is a result of technical considerations. It's very useful in a way. On those old jazz records they kept those solos short and sweet and didn't ramble on too much. It was a good discipline. But in the end, there's just so much more to be done than that.

USR: Sure - those same players were really cutting it up live.
RW: That's why it's so wonderful to hear live concerts by people like Charlie Parker, extending chorus after chorus, unraveling the whole song. And we would never have known this if we'd only heard 78s.

USR: Yep, live is where It's at. What about you, do you still perform out?
RW: No, I figured if Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly can get away with not doing any live gigs, so can I.

USR: That's not the same thing at all, Robert!
RW: I suppose it's not. Playing live is difficult because of the way I make my records. I put all the layers on myself in the studio. It would be hard to re-create that live. Also, I've found that I've got stage fright. I've lost my nerve. Being in a wheelchair has sort of removed me from access to the world of getting on and off airplanes and cars and buses. The everyday world of the touring musician seemed to recede into the distance after a year or two of being in a wheelchair. I get invited to do gigs, but if I said yes to one, they'd be offended if I turned down other ones. Plus, when I'm singing a song my technique is very often shit and it takes me four goes to get it in tune whereas live, the first go is all you get. I'm not Aretha Franklin, I can't hit it on the note every time! I'm much more competent as a drummer than I am as a singer.

USR: But you used to sing and play drums at the same time...
RW: Yeah, but the fewer takes anybody has of that period, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

USR: Would you ever have imagined as a child creating music as you are
creating now?
RW: No, I assumed that music was completely outside my reach. I was interested in painting and Dadaist art at the time. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got older. I imagined I would be a comic or a comedy writer because I've always enjoyed word games. It would never have never occurred to me that I would be a musician or a singer, it just sort of happened in the '60s. I was crap at school and I couldn't handle any of the careers I was being trained for. So, like a lot of people of my generation, I went into something where you need no qualifications whatsoever -- rock music.

USR: It's interesting that you bring up Dada and comedy. My friend Peter has always said that while Dada destroyed modern art, it was a boon for comics.
RW: Absolutely! Comedy is such an underestimated artform.  The ability to be funny is as great as the ability to play violin. The best comedians are as good as the best artists in any other idiom. Maybe- it's because of my early introduction to Dada that I feel so confident in saying that.

USR: A lot of your lyrics and even your melodic ideas tend to be whimsical and comedic. But I'm impressed by the deeper sense of feeling that's also there. And I think that's what was so great about the Dadaists, too. A lot of people who came along after them in the artworld missed the humanity of it.
RW: Well, I usually have to have two reasons for doing something. I do things that are amusing to me because I try to avoid boring myself. That's number one. But secondly, "interesting to me" isn't enough because I know from having a record collection that albums that are just novel or interesting only get played while they're new and then, after I get used to them, I don't want to play them anymore because I've gotten the point. I've found what I really like about the music and art that I love the most is that even when I know it by heart, I still want to hear it again. And that seems to me to be a whole other level beyond being surprising or witty. So I try to think about records I like and what keeps me going back to them twenty or thirty years later. It's very hard to me to say what that is it's beyond words really When I really think about things like that, I'm in the land of music.

USR: Ah, but that's the great thing about music, which is a totally abstract artform. Like with classical music, the person off the street can appreciate it for the pretty melodies but there are far deeper complexities to ponder, too.
RW: Absolutely right. Words fail me when I try to describe how important music is to me. I have fanciful ideas about that. Perhaps because our animal ancestors were originally underseas animals, we need the viscous connection that music provides -- we want to re-create a swimming environment now that we're on dry land. Music connects us ear to mouth, mouth to ear in an invisible physical link through the air. We all know about that.  When a baby is born the first thing it does is cry to its mother. Only when it gets a tit in its mouth does it shut up. The noise is for a _reason_. There's something pretty serious going on the whole business of making a noise at all. Our lives have depended on it since the moment we were born.

Robert Wyatt's new album, Shleep, is available from Thirsty Ear (274 Madison Ave. #804, NYC 10076).


From: "Yarwood, Stephen, YARWOOS" <stephen.yarwood@bt.com>
Subject: Mixing It
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 14:20:00 +0100

In his communication regarding the latest edition of Facelift Phil Howitt referred to an up and coming interview with Robert Wyatt on a BBC radio programme called Mixing It. This programme can be found on BBC Radio 3 every Monday evening from 2245-2330 and is well worth a listen. For people such as myself with eclectic tastes it represents a potential Aladdin's Cave of musical discovery. The whole spectrum is covered, from modern classical to drum 'n bass, from world music to free jazz, from total electronic weirdness to Balinese Gamelan, a complete A-Z. Many of these artists would have no chance of ever being heard on the radio unless this programme existed, musically speaking for me it is the most crucial 45 minutes of the week. I have compiled many wonderful tapes from recorded highlights. More people ought to be aware of its existence, but be warned it is not for the faint hearted, it is not easy listening, and you can't dance to it!! Presenters Mark Russell (musicologist/composer) and  Robert Sandall (rock journalist) make a good team, Russell's more cerebral approach often contrasting with Sandall's gut feelings, and they frequently agree to differ. From time to time they have studio guests or sessions, some of which are totally bizarre, but never dull, I'm sure Robert Wyatt will be make interesting listening, I think he is scheduled for the 29th June edition, but check your Radio Times for details. Sounds like a BBC commercial doesn't it!!

Stephen Yarwood


From: "Relentless Pursuit" <relentls@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: THANK YOU!!
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 06:38:36 -0700

Dear Calyx:

As a life long SOFT MACHINE and Caravan fan, finding your site has been a godsend! I have my own small record label as well as being a web author and internet host. I am versed in the many flavors of HTML coding as well as having much experience in relational database programming. If there is anything I can ever do to help you in your wonderful efforts to help educate and expose the world to the wonders of Canterbury music, you need but ask.


Jeff Sherman
Relentless Pursuit Records
Arcadia Web Service

p.s. Check out my labels site at: http://www.iuma.com/relentless_pursuit we are in the middle of completely redoing the site so it's a little thin but it's going to be very cool when it's brought up to date. Again, thank you so much for your site... now I know where all my old heroes are and what they're up to!

From: "alan j bolton" <alan.joseph.bolton@telewest.co.uk>
Subject: mike ratledge
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 21:24:15 +0100

Was he reponsible for soundtracks for Levi's ads?


From: GHenry1480@aol.com
Subject: Gongzilla
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 11:04:26 EDT

Yellow all.

Just to let anyone who is over in the USA, on the East coast that Gongzilla is doing a tour of some clubs here. Bon Lozaga, Hansford Rowe, Vic Stevens & Benoit Moerlen. Also only at certain shows Mike Fiuczynski will join in on guitar.

They will be playing the Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Opening will be Geno White. I've seen him b4. He can really swing that axe, fusion hard rock type. They will also be at the Bottom Line in New York. I do not know the dates for any of the other shows. Well maybe see you at the Saint on July 6.

Next we need Pierre Moerlen to come over to the USA and tour the east. Whatever band he brings, I just want to see him play the drums again. Well get the word out about Gongzilla if you can, last time Bon played here drew small crowd. Adios you all...

The Jersey Gypsy


From: Rob Illingworth <ri001@netgates.co.uk>
Subject: Ca Va
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 17:39:21 +0100 ()

Just thought I'd exhort everybody to buy the new Slapp Happy album it has had STELLAR reviews and, for once, the critics ain't lying it certainly follows on from the '70s albums stylistically but it has a satisfyingly contemporary sound
the music is beguiling, the lyrics are witty, the vocals are  beautiful- in a nutshell, it's ACE! how mnay albums have you bought recently that you just have to  play every day? well that's what i have to do with ca va spin and spin again mes copains

love, Rob


From: Mark Hewins <mail@musart.co.uk>
Subject: WR posting
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 18:05:28 +0100

Hi A

here's some info for the USA WR readers, sent to our hello box

On Wednesday, July 1, 1998 at 02:58:52,
the following data was submitted from http://musart.co.uk/form1.htm

Name---------------------Paul Sears
Email Address------------Eventsjj@aol.com
My Comments--------------
    The Muffins Reunion Show!  July 16 1998
    Chief Ik'es Mambo Room, Washington DC
    1725 Coulmbia Road NW --  



From: sister.ray@iname.com
Subject: gong & soft machine album ?
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 15:07:09 -0400 (EDT)


Like your work, and I'm just writing to suggest a few things related to your GONG info.
There's one earlier recording (I recently got hold of one copy, and it surprised me very much) credited to Gong and members of Soft Machine. It's called 'Soft Machine'. A very strange record: the first side is similar to the first side of Daevid Allen's 'Banana Moon', and the other side contains songs from the b-side of 'Magick Brother..'

It's issued(?) on BYG. It has a hand-made sleeve, and that is Daevid Allen's drawings & handwriting so I suppose that it was not made by someone else.

But here comes the interesting part: on the back side of the cover it says that it's issued in 1969 (!). Hm.
That's it, I hope it's of some interest to you. I'd like to scan the cover and send it to you, but i don't know how to do it, hehe, i'm not all into this computer stuff, sorry.

All the best, bye
Marko Caklovic, Croatia

From: Earl Rapp <donnamx@waterw.com>
Subject: Virtually
Date: Sat, 4 Jul 1998 11:12:03 -0400 (EDT)

Hello Rattlers:

I finally got Soft Machine's "Virtually" and it is fantastic. I agree with all of you, who said:  that Hugh and Elton really shine here.

BTW I was wondering if anyone of this list made it to the Steve Miller benefit gig .. feauring: [Phil Miller-Pip Pyle-Lol Coxhill-Roy Babbington-Mark Hewins etc.] Jun 28 - London, Vortex Jazz Bar

I would really enjoy some feed back on this event. [well- read above!-AL]

Best Wishes:
Earl Rapp


From: Steve Taaffe <classic@feist.com>
Subject: new prog website http://www.tafcommedia.net
Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 12:15:20 -0500

All Canterbury music fans are invited to check out the following website (http:// www.tafcommedia.net). We feature various Canterbury groups(Gong etc) in with progressive and psychedelic groups thru Real Audio programming. Over 15 hours recorded so far. Our official grand opening was July 4, 1998. Future programs will include National Health, Caravan, Egg, Gilgamesh, Phil Miller.


Steve Taaffe


From: Simon Foster <sfoster@netcomuk.co.uk>
Subject: Tim Blake, New Jerusalem
Date: Sun, 05 Jul 1998 01:41:58 +0100

Hello Aymeric,

I've just found your page on Tim Blake. This has a special significance for me, about eight years ago a friend (who sadly died 4 years ago) mentioned an album called "New Jerusalem". He though it would appeal to me as I have an interest in electronic/synth music (among other styles).  I was heavily into Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, etc. He wasn't sure of  the artist's name, I did try to obtain this recording at the time, but hit a brick wall, no-one had heard of it. Time had since eroded my memory (it happens to most of us !), all I could remember was 'Tim' somebody, so I did a search and found your page, when it all came back to me.

I must confess I know nothing about the man or his music, I really have no idea if it would appeal to me or not, but I am curious. Firstly, thank you for enlightening me, I had begun to think that either my friend or myself had imagined it. Secondly, now that I know a little about it, I would really like to listen to this, for various reasons. I know the album is now rather old, but is it available on CD ?, I just thought it might have been re-released in the intervening years. Alternatively, can you suggest some other recordings by Tim, in the same style, which are currently still available and which I might be able to get hold of, to sample the flavour.  What has he done recently, how does it compare to "New Jerusalem" and is any of it still available ? (so many questions !).

Thank you for your time,

A potential convert (!),
Simon Foster,
Stockport, UK

[Not being very knowledgeable on Tim Blake, I thought some of you may be able to help Simon with his query. I know "New Jerusalem" was reissued by Mantra some years ago but I'm unsure whether it's still available - AL]


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*               FORTHCOMING CANTERBURY-RELATED CONCERTS                 *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[for more info : check out the 'Concerts' page of CALYX - see URL below]

Jul 19 - Burg Herzberg (Germany), festival appearance [headliner]

Jul 05 - Los Angeles (USA)

Sep  3 - Paris (France), Petit Journal Montparnasse
Sep 11 - Paris (France), Le Glaz' Art
Sep 18 - Paris (France), Studio des Islettes
Sep 19 - Paris (France), Studio des Islettes
Oct 09 - Paris (France), Peniche 'Le 6/8'

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                        END OF ISSUE 98

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

CALYX - The Canterbury Website


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

Send all correspondence regarding 'CALYX' and 'WHAT'S RATTLIN' ?' to :