H ✗ PRINTEDINTHEUK
“It was like living in a wonderland of music!” Jon Anderson
Where were you in
The Solid Time Of Change
It was a pivotal year for progressive music, as the underground crept into the mainstream. Jon Anderson was having the musical time of his life with Yes; other prog stars were experiencing the ebb and flow of a growing scene, as Peter Hammill, Steve Hackett, Dave Stewart, Dave Greenslade, Pye Hastings, John Lees and Annie Haslam reveal.
t was like living in a wonderland of music!” exclaims Jon Anderson. “It was an amazing time.” 1972 was without doubt an extraordinary year. Richard Nixon ordered the start of the space shuttle program and became the first US president to visit China, but then faced the Watergate scandal. Arab terrorists turned the Munich Olympics into a bloodbath. The conflict between the IRA and Ted Heath’s British government worsened. The Godfather and Cabaret won Oscars while A Clockwork Orange didn’t. Or you might not have been watching those and preferred Lift Off With Ayshea or On The Buses. While the best-selling album in the US was Neil Young’s Harvest, in the UK it was 20 Dynamic Hits by Various Artists. (For the previous two years it had been Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water). The biggest single? Amazing Grace by The Royal Scot Dragoon Guards Band. The hot new buzz was glam rock, offering this year Ziggy Stardust, The Slider and Roxy Music.
Words: Chris Roberts and Malcolm Dome Yet against this unlikely, confusing, multi-stranded backdrop, or perhaps growing subversively beneath it, prog rock was getting bigger and bolder than ever before. If 1971 had seen the dawn of the new prog universe, 1972 was the year it confirmed itself as a dominant and influential musical force. Among the albums released that year were Genesis’s thrilling and ambitious Foxtrot, Pink Floyd’s Obscured By Clouds, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick, ELP’s Trilogy and significant offerings from Caravan, Gentle Giant, Barclay James Harvest and Focus. Not forgetting Nektar’s A Tab In The Ocean, Uriah Heep’s Demons And Wizards and 666 by Aphrodite’s Child (a project motivated by Vangelis and kaftan-wearing soonto-be housewife’s fave Demis Roussos). More tangentially, there were important albums by Neu!, Cluster, Popol Vuh and PFM. Even the weirdly parallel explosion of glam shared a willingness to embrace fantasy; Bowie and Bolan arriving on the scene like flamboyant aliens, and Roxy’s debut bearing more than a few prog stylings veiled amid its exotic plumage.
PETER HAMMILL on VDGG’S SPLIT “Well, of course it was the year Van der Graaf Generator first broke up. But it was also the year in which we went to Italy for the first time, and all the great success and stuff that went along with that. I don’t look back at 1972 at all negatively, but I do think it was probably the maddest of my years ever. “For me it, was a year when I was very interested in science fiction, both from a cinematic and literary standpoint. And that was starting to have a big influence on what I was doing. It was the year when I first dipped my toes into the waters of classical music and all that was to mean for me in the coming years. I was also heavily into the images created by the painters Escher and Magritte. So, there was a lot going on for me, and things were inspiring me that were to change the way I thought about myself as an artist. “But I really have no clue as to the way the general progressive scene was developing at the time. I was far too immersed in my own bubble to notice the bigger picture.” MD
“We were all very connected to each other then. So young…”
isTOCKPhOTOs, RETNa/PhOTOshOT, MaGiCTORCh
An almost obscenely young Yes stepped up a gear in 1972 with the release of Close To The Edge.
STEVE HACKETT on SUPPER’S READY “I remember that we actually rehearsed the song in a room above Una Billings School Of Children’s Dancing in West London. It was a little strange, because while we were getting this epic together, there were kids below us who we could hear tap-dancing. So, it was a strange environment in which to build this piece. “We never set out to do a song of such length. It’s 23 minutes long, and just seemed to mushroom to become what it is. There was a lot of atmosphere in there, and also as musicians we certainly stretched ourselves. But in a way, we were doing this to match Peter Gabriel’s growing lyrical ambitions. He was coming out with such inspirational ideas that the challenge for me as a guitarist was to come up with something strong enough to match Peter’s brilliance. “We never thought that Supper’s Ready would become such a huge favourite. It really became the defining song of my time with the band. When we first did it live, I have to admit none of us thought it would be so well received by the fans. But they loved it straight away. And I never did ask Una Billings what she thought of it!” MD 42 progrockmag.com
For many, however, Yes’s holy green giant Close To The Edge remains the crowning glory of prog’s first golden age. Pressed on whether he’d agree that it was the band’s best album, singer Jon Anderson will only go so far as to say: “Well, for me it was the best period, that whole time.” “In 1972 a lot of what happened had to do with the way radio was treating music. FM Radio came along in the US and would play longer pieces of music without intermissions, because they didn’t have to do advertising so much. All those university stations all over America were playing Yes’s longer pieces. In the UK there were one or two stations also playing longer-form music. The business was changing, and it didn’t have to be all three-minuteand-33-second songs to make money. Music was more of a wonderful experience again, and could and should be more of an adventure in life. And we were caught up in that,” he enthuses. “I was right in the middle of it, with the band. And we firmly believed that there could be this new world. Radio enabled musicians to expand their ideas, and that’s what encouraged the band to do first Fragile (in ’71) and then Close To The Edge. There you have one
DAVE STEWART on THE FORMATION OF HATFIELD & THE NORTH “This was the year when Hatfield & The North got together. I used to see Pip Pyle all the time when he was in earlier bands and I was with Egg. We’d pass each other in vans on the motorway, going to gigs. “It was great to be asked to join Hatfield & The North. I wasn’t the first choice on keyboards, but they wanted my approach to playing, which was a little more disciplined than they’d been used to. “We got a deal very quickly with Virgin Records. That was due to a guy there called Simon Draper. He was really the man in the company who understood music and musicians best. Simon was on the lookout for more obscure bands, and he sold us the idea of committing to Virgin, even though they were a very young, unproven company. “I still recall meeting Richard Branson for the first time. He was full on enthusiasm and genuinely nice, but he played me this thing they’d signed by a young unknown musician. I thought it was utter rubbish and told Richard he’d be crazy to release it. Well, it went on to sell millions and make Virgin’s reputation. The unknown musician was Mike Oldfield, and the album was Tubular Bells. Shows what a good judge I was!” MD
“I never let go of that idea that music isn’t initially for making money.” GETTY iMaGEs
ELP: the hair bear brunch.
20-minute work and two 10-minute pieces. And there was an audience out there, able to hear it.” “The music we wrote at the time was fundamentally for stage presentation,” Anderson continues, “with some visual art and energy, like a theatrical experience. So we were always very excited about presenting it onstage. The record was not secondary, but parallel. It wasn’t about: ‘Oh, we gotta have a hit album’. We honestly didn’t think in those terms. We just thought: ‘there are people who like what we’re doing, so we’ll just put this music out because it’ll be great to do onstage.’” Was there a feeling of wonderment among you as it all fell into place? “Oh, yes, there was so much harmony within the band. Well, I know I always say that, and maybe others will say differently. But we were all very connected to each other then. So young, and I guess we were all very in love with making music. We really didn’t have any angst about the business, the record companies, the management. We were just musicians who were thrilled to be able to spend time in the studio and create. We’d sit there every day listening to playbacks and just be so excited! And within a couple of years that had changed. FM radio didn’t work any more, because nobody made any money. By the mid-70s it had all become very money-orientated.” progrockmag.com 43
Gentle Giant were responsible for two of the year’s most under rated releases.
DAVE GREENSLADE on GREENSLADE’S GENESIS “It was in 1972 that the first Greenslade line-up came together. Colosseum had just split up, and Tony Reeves and I worked on this new project, and I was amazed when we were called a progressive rock band. I’d never even heard that term before, and wondered what on earth it meant – and how we fitted in. “But now, we were being lumped in with Yes, Genesis, ELP… all these bands with whom we had nothing in common, except that we were all seen as being progressive. “One of the great things about being signed in 1972 was that labels allowed you to get on with making the music you wanted. Greenslade ended up with Warner Brothers, and we did the debut album in ’72. The record company never once tried to interfere with what we were doing. As far as they were concerned, we’d been signed to do a job and we should just be left alone to do it.
other on? Feeding off each other? Were you nurturing, or competing? “I think it was more a case of everyone being inspired by each other,” says Anderson, positively. “We were on tour around that time with ELP, with the Mahavishnus; we’d been on tour with Jethro Tull. There was a lot of saying to each other: “Can you believe what we’re doing?!?” And it inspired me for the future times. I never let go of that idea that music isn’t initially for making money. Music is to have an
“I believed that our adventures in Yesmusic were more important than what the big corporate companies wanted.”
experience of creation. Then if you can perform it onstage, even better. That’s why Yes lasted so long then, because Yes could perform.” But does the fact that many declare Close To The Edge to be the definitive Yes album gratify you or grate on you? “Look it’s wonderful when I’m on tour and, say, teenagers will come over to me holding a Close To The Edge CD. That’s great. I just think: ‘They get
PYE HASTINGS on CARAVAN’S NEW DIRECTION “It was an important year of ups and downs, and one that made me realise how determined I was to carry on with the Caravan ideal, regardless of any pressures to break it up from within. “We were still recoiling from the departure of Dave Sinclair, and trying to fit Steve Miller into the mould proved somewhat difficult, as Steve played electric piano rather than Dave’s mighty Hammond organ that Caravan had become known for. Unable to replicate Dave’s sound, it became clear that we had to change the approach and work to Steve’s strengths, which was bluesbased piano playing. “In 1972, band touring itineraries were always a joke, in that one night you would be playing in Glasgow, the next in Torquay, the next in Newcastle then back down to London, with a few European dates thrown for good measure to make sure you didn’t know whether you were coming or going. We were convinced that agents did this just to wind us up. “We released Waterloo Lily in ’72, which attracted a mixed reception. Some loved the new approach, others didn’t. “That year, artists like Steely Dan and Frank Zappa were taking prog into a much more musical age, where the importance of being a good craftsman was much more the target.” MD
Slade’s Noddy Holder may have been saying: “The fans are fed up with paying to sit on their hands: they want a party atmosphere”, but not everybody wanted to feel the ‘noize’ just yet. Sure, many kids wanted to stomp and romp, but in the perennially alternative dimension that is prog, music that wanted to stretch and explore was healthier than ever. Does Anderson think of ’72 as a magical, golden phase? “It was perfect, yes. The early 70s saw incredible music. We were listening to Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, bands that were trying to do wonderfully different things. We’d all entered into this new world of modern music. But there was a lot going on in terms of bands stretching their imaginations. And from that great period I could go on to understand world music and all different kinds of music. You make your music and you sit back and listen to it, and you have that feeling inside, telling you: this is really, really special. And you hope somebody else feels the same when they hear it. That’s what it was like for me then and that’s what it’s like for me now.” I remind Jon of some of the landmark prog albums that emerged in ’72. So were you and other bands urging each
“I really couldn’t tell you whether 1972 was a good year for what was called progressive rock, though. I never listened to what my contemporaries were doing. I had enough on my plate just doing my own thing.” MD
Genesis bloomed under the prog umbrella, forging careerdefining album Foxtrot â€“ and the epic Supperâ€™s Ready.
THE BEST PROG ALBUMS OF 1972 I
t was neck-and-neck for a while there, but in the end there could only be one winner. As far as many of you were concerned, 1972 was about two albums. But that’s not to say that there weren’t other great records around too, and enough of you voted to make it clear exactly what you thought they were…
CLOSE TO THE EDGE – Yes [Atlantic] “For me it has to be Close To The Edge. I remember being a bit bemused by the green and black cover until I opened the gatefold to reveal the gloriously surreal Roger Dean landscape inside. Likewise the opening sequence to the title track had me wondering “what’s going on here?” until the main theme kicked in and I knew I was listening to a masterpiece. Three tracks, Close To The Edge, And You And I, Siberian Khatru, each one a classic. This is progressive music perfection.” Mark Daly
FOXTROT – Genesis [Charisma] “The stand-out album of 1972 for me is, by miles, Foxtrot. Not only does it have many people’s favourite track of all-time (let alone by Genesis), in Supper’s Ready, it has many gems that are too often overlooked. Can-Utility & The Coastliners, for instance, tends to be underrated. And while I may whisper it, I have to say that I don’t think the album cut of Supper’s Ready is either the best nor, perhaps, even the definitive version.” Phil Morris
TRILOGY – Emerson, Lake & Palmer [Island] “I was only 12 but I was already in love with rock and pop music thanks to my older brother. And I was in love with the music of Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer! And I am, and always will be, in love with ELP and their fabulous music.” Stefano Galbiati
THICK AS A BRICK – Jethro Tull [Chrysalis] “I absolutely love this album. It means so much to me. I know it’s supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek riposte to prog rock at the time, but the music is so invigorating. I really like the way Ian updated it this year and it all still sounds so fresh and exciting. It’s also sadly overlooked when it comes to prog albums. But it always gets my vote.” Lesley McLeod
OBSCURED BY CLOUDS – Pink Floyd [Harvest] “Massively overlooked in my opinion. Admittedly the film that this served as a soundtrack for, La Vallée, is nothing to write home about, but there’s still some excellent songs on here: Free Four, Wot’s… Uh, The Deal 46 progrockmag.com
THE READERS’ CHOICE!
and The Gold It’s In The… that showed that Pink Floyd were just as adept with short form tunes as well.” Dave Finniestone
WAKA/JAWAKA – Frank Zappa [Reprise] “Absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever, my fave 1972 prog album is Waka/Jawaka. And although a number of years had passed when I discovered it (working my way back from Sheik Yerbouti), for me it is still a standout album in his vast catalogue. I think FZ is still a benchmark when it comes to what progressive means in terms of rock.” Edwin Teizel
THREE FRIENDS – Gentle Giant [Vertigo] “I find it such a pity that Gentle Giant get overlooked. Everyone raves on about Yes and ELP releasing two great albums in 1971. Gentle Giant released both Octopus and Three Friends in 1972 – and they’re both brilliant. But if I had to pick one, it’d be Three Friends.” Sally Nellist
666 – Aphrodite’s Child [Vertigo] “Quite frankly the most bizarre album I ever heard. They started out as a psychedelic pop band with Demis Roussos singing and then they unleashed this concept album about the apocalypse! Still scares the hell out of me today. Vangelis is a genius.” Kerry Lyle
PER UN AMICO – PFM [Numero Uno] “You guys give Italian prog rock a short shrift [Really? Guess you never saw our feature on Italian prog, or interviews with Goblin, PFM or CCLR then – Ed]. PFM were by far and away the best of bunch and Per Un Amico was the album that made everyone take notice of them. Every prog fan should own it.” Luca Ravasse
GRAVE NEW WORLD – The Strawbs [A&M] “The Strawbs’ magnificent Grave New World (not Brave!) is one of my favourites. Another one that has fallen completely off the progmap is Bo Hansson’s Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings. A truly progressive work of art. And barking mad. RIP Bo.” Pete Minihan BUBBLING UNDER: Seven more proggy wonders CAPTAIN BEYOND – Captain Beyond EGE BAMYASI – Can MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band BABY JAMES HARVEST – Barclay James Harvest WATERLOO LILY - Caravan PROLOGUE – Renaissance UOMO DI PEZZA - Le Orme
it!’ But as you go along the way you’ll meet other people and all they think about is Gates Of Delirium from Relayer. Or a few weeks ago I was doing a TV show with Donovan in LA, and this lighting guy came up and said, very politely: ‘Mr Anderson, please may I ask you a question?’ I said: ‘Sure.’ He said: ‘How did you make Tales From Topographic Oceans? It’s my favourite piece of music ever.’ And that just gave me a wonderful feeling. People can understand and enjoy different albums on different levels. I know I was in heaven making Close To The Edge.” “I mean, originally we were just a bunch of guys making interesting music. But then it became a big production, a big operation, a big company – sign this, sign that. So becoming successful had got emotional – hence the title of Fragile: you were never sure if everybody was going to stay together, you didn’t know how long it would keep going.” In 1972 though, things appear to have moved up another level. “Oh, yes. It was a slow progression of energy, as more and more people started to come to the concerts. Yet I was still very convinced that we shouldn’t get lost in the admiration and celebrity. I’d always say: ‘let’s concentrate on the music’. Because we were being given this amazing chance to do what I believe were great things. So you push the envelope of the band’s musicality. That’s why we went into Close To The Edge and And You And I and then onwards. These were
progressions of the potential of a musical ensemble which had never really been tried before.” “The audiences were amazing, and stuck by whatever we tried to do. The business didn’t. Money is all they’re interested in, so eventually the radio ostracised us. But in the best period we were spurred on. I went: ‘Okay, let’s go really, really deep into a newer way of creation where we’re holding an audience for twenty minutes,’ like on Close To The Edge. And even later on we carried on down that road because I believed our music was more important than getting radio play at that time. It may have been crazy, but I believed that our adventures in Yesmusic were more important than what the big corporate companies wanted. I didn’t care about the almighty dollar. I just wanted to make music we could be proud of. Later, they’d say: ‘Stop playing so many chords! Sing about losing your girlfriends!’ I’d say: ‘Why don’t you get out really quickly?’” In the rush of stimuli that was 1972, Yes and others were passionately pioneering and hungrily adventuring, pushing those envelopes until they burst in a delicious, diverse, radical rainbow of sensations and sounds. “We had an explosion of energy in ’72. We’d only been together four years, so, we just kept going. The potential, the creativity, was unbelievable. So many ideas and dreams. And I was – and still am – so thankful for it. That we were able to go there.”
JOHN LEES on THAT DIFFICULT FOURTH ALBUM “In 1972 Barclay James Harvest put out the Baby James Harvest album. I had no recollections of it until I relistened to the album very recently, something I’d not done since shortly after it was finished and released in 1972. “I vaguely remember the idea of a double album with each of us having a side to ourselves, but that was never going to happen, as some of us had more songs than others. And although I was blissfully unaware at the time, in retrospect egos were starting to show their ugly face – definitely a taste of things to come. “I can remember it being difficult to get things done with any unity. I remember it being hard to sell the song Summer Soldier to some group members, and even harder to get it recorded. But what really brought a smile to my face was listening to Moonwater again. I’d completely forgotten the moment Woolly came back with the final multi-track tape, and had to re-record the vocal; when you’ve spent that much time and money a key change is not an option. “For us constant touring was taking its toll in ’72. When I look back at the number of concerts performed in that year I’m amazed we managed to find time to make an album, let alone stay sane and together. It was a constant battle for survival and we were part of, and responsible for, an organisation that a lot of people were depending on. “It was a good year for progressive music, but not for Barclay James Harvest. The album Baby James Harvest is an eclectic mix of songs and production styles at best. Had the fourth album been Everyone Is Everybody Else, the album that followed Baby James Harvest, it might have been a very good year for the Barclays.” MD Pink Floyd’s movie soundtrack, Obscured By Clouds was their most enigmatic offering yet.
ANNIE HASLAM on RENAISSANCE HITTING THE ROAD “I have fond memories of stopping at the Blue Boar services on the M1 and bumping into lots of bands like Van der Graaf, Curved Air and Queen… at all hours of the night. There was a lot of egg and chips, bread and butter and cups of tea consumed. That was the usual for most of us. Also I remember splitting the gig money then having to put back in for hotels and petrol.
“Renaissance at the time was me, John Tout, Jon Camp, Rob Hendry and Terry Sullivan. 1972 was an important year for progressive rock. We all listened to Yes, knew Caravan well and toured with both bands.” MD
“It was a year we toured Germany a lot, if memory serves me well. I remember one gig at the Zoom Club in Frankfurt. It was a small very smokey club, full of people smoking spliffs. I wasn’t into that ever, but sadly for me that night I would certainly experience it. The place was full of it, and fans were blowing it up at me thinking they were doing me a favour. Well, I was wobbly after that in both mind and in body! I have no idea how that show went in the end, because I was so out of it.
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Honing down their mammoth psychedelic live jams, Pink Floyd’s debut album helped lay the foundations for prog rock. But it came at a cost… Words: Mark Blake
THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN
RELEASEDATE CHARTPOSITION BANDMEMBERS TRACKLISTING
sTEVENs/assOCiaTEd NEWsPaPERs/REX fEaTUREs
4/8/67 6 Barrett, Mason, Waters, Wright Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Matilda Mother, Flaming, Pow R. Toc H., Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk, Interstellar Overdrive, The Gnome, Chapter 24, The Scarecrow, Bike Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Interstellar Overdrive, Chapter 24, Bike
Four lively lads out on the town, before chemicals and record cos got in the way.
t’s a great image. What a shame there wasn’t a photographer there to capture it. In the small hours of one Friday night in early 1967, The Who’s Pete Townshend was at London’s hippest club, looking visibly distressed while crouching down and pointing at the band on stage. Every Friday, The Blarney on Tottenham Court Road hosted UFO, an all-night psychedelic extravaganza of live music, poetry readings and performance art. That night, just feet away from Townshend, UFO’s house band Pink Floyd were thundering through their repertoire of freeform jams and warped pop. It was all too much for Townshend. The Who’s songwriter was tripping on LSD – and terrified. The source of his fear: Pink Floyd’s bassist, Roger Waters. “I thought Roger was going to swallow me,” said Townshend in 2004. “Roger was very scary. I was weakened by acid.” But there could have been another underlying reason for Townshend’s paranoia. In 1967, the daringly experimental Pink Floyd presented a challenge to the established pop order. They were a group that Townshend feared might even swallow The Who. Pink Floyd released their first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, in August that year. It showed impeccable timing. LSD had infiltrated the pop community, and The Beatles’ latest, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was clearly inspired by their own lysergic adventures. Psychedelia – sounds and images that reflected an altered mind state – was all the rage, and Pink Floyd’s new paymasters, EMI, saw the band as their entry to this strange new world. In ’67, Roger Waters described Pink Floyd’s sound like so: “It’s pop but very free and full of improvisation.” That description explains why their debut album was so groundbreaking, but also why it helped map the way for progressive rock in the 70s. The songs fused pop, jazz, even Eastern musical influences. But, like Kenneth Grahame’s children’s story The Wind In The Willows, chapter seven of which gave the album its name, Piper… is a very English affair. The poetry, the whimsy and the echoes of old Albion that would later inhabit Caravan’s early work or Genesis’s Nursery Cryme have some of their roots in Floyd’s debut. By the time they signed to EMI, Pink Floyd’s line-up had settled on guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett, his Cambridge school-friend Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboard player Rick Wright. Barrett was a mercurial character; good-looking, artistic, a bit mysterious and much admired around Cambridge. That he was two years younger than Waters didn’t matter: the 23-year-old Roger deferred to Syd, who wrote most of their songs and fronted the band. In February ’67 Pink Floyd arrived at Abbey Road studios to start work. Despite having just recorded their first single Arnold Layne with UFO club co-founder Joe Boyd producing, they were assigned EMI’s in-house producer, a 43-year-old former jazz musician named Norman Smith. But Norman had some reservations. “Pink Floyd’s music did absolutely nothing for me, but I could see they had one hell of a following,” he told me in 2006. “So I put my business head on and figured we could sell some records.” What had first attracted Floyd’s managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King to the band was partly Syd Barrett’s role as an anti-Eric Clapton-style guitar hero, playing “cosmic shit” instead of the usual blues. The managers visualised Pink Floyd as “an avant-garde pop group”, but they understood the need for compromise. “Norman was there to curb their excesses,” explained Jenner. “He was there to discourage the live ramble.” On stage, Floyd’s signature tune Interstellar Overdrive – with Wright’s Farfisa organ chasing Barrett’s dissonant-sounding guitar – could ramble on for more than 20 minutes. It was one of the first songs tackled at Abbey Road, but Smith insisted on a more manageable 9:41 version. “I was trying to develop more melody in the music,” he said. But he would meet with resistance later on. In March, Arnold Layne became a Top 20 hit after being banned by several radio stations who took
Syd Barrett was the life and soul of the early Pink Floyd. But by the time they recorded their first album, the emotional cracks were beginning to show.
“Syd looked very strange, glassy-eyed. He didn’t seem to recognise me.” David Gilmour
against its lyrics about a sex pest who steals women’s underwear. The pressure was on to deliver another 45. Matilda Mother was one of the first songs worked on, and was briefly considered for the follow-up single. But it lacked an Arnold Layne-style pop chorus, and featured Syd pining for the “dolls house and fairy stories” of childhood. There was a pattern emerging. Songs such as The Scarecrow and The Gnome (Mason: “I do cringe at that one now”) suggested Hans Christian Andersen or The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales being given a psychedelic makeover. “I always thought he [Syd] got stuck in some curious sort of protracted childhood,” said the filmmaker Anthony Stern, who grew up with Barrett in Cambridge. “It was always there in the music. Childhood had been an idyllic time, and I think he found the idea of growing up frankly terrifying.” Perhaps Barrett’s desire to regress came from his confused frame of mind. By now, Syd was regularly taking LSD. However much he was taking and how often (some say every day; many dispute this), it was still having an adverse effect. “I wasn’t
MaRC shaRRaTT/REX fEaTUREs
PETER MERCiER/RETNa LTd
Waters and Barrett conspire at one of the Floyd’s early epic jamdowns.
“it’s pop but very free and full of improvisation.” roger Waters
aware of the drugs,” said Norman Smith. “But I had my suspicions because of his attitude.” The happygo-lucky Barrett of a few months earlier had been replaced by an often withdrawn version, albeit one still capable of moments of great creativity and clarity. One of Piper’s… standout tracks was Chapter 24, a beautiful song inspired by the ancient Chinese text, I Ching (The Book Of Changes). “I remember Syd at the desk, operating the faders
Looking meaningful in extravagant shirts. Clockwise from top: Mason, Wright, Barrett, Waters.
“They wereso out on their own theyset standards few others could match.”
Selim Lemouchi, founding member of Dutch occultists The Devil’s Blood, delves into the strange magik of Piper.
“It was my sister who first introduced me to Pink Floyd, through Wish You Were Here. But I didn’t hear The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn until a few years later. By that time, I was into black metal and all sorts of grim sounds, when someone gave me a tape of the album. “What struck me immediately was the way it sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard. There was an insane energy about it all, and the songs were original and inventive. While most of the tracks aren’t exceptionally long, they all come across as if they could be the start of a lengthy jam session. In fact, listening 56 progrockmag.com
to them, they encourage you to think in those terms. Something like Interstellar Overdrive, for example, has the potential to be over 20 minutes long – you can hear it in the way the band constructed it for the album. “I believe Pink Floyd became increasingly mainstream as they went along, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But with The Piper... the band were so individual and out on their own that they set standards few others could ever hope to match. “If you want music to play while smoking a joint, then this is the album to put on. Astronomy Domine is absolutely perfect for that sort of evening!” MD
for the final mix on that one,” recalled Andrew King. “He was totally capable of getting what he wanted.” But Barrett could change just as quickly. “Sometimes it was like talking to a brick wall,” said Smith. “He would go in, do a take, come back into the control room and have a listen. I’d make some suggestion, and he would just nod, go back in, do another take, and it would be exactly the same as the first one. I eventually realised I was wasting my time.” During some of Piper’s recording, The Beatles were at Abbey Road working on Sgt Pepper. Smith, who died in 2008, recalled Paul McCartney visiting a Floyd session, and the Floyd trooping next door to watch The Beatles recording Lovely Rita. Listening to The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn now it’s apparent how much freedom Norman actually gave his young charges, but also how much more experimental and left-field Pink Floyd were than The Beatles. There’s little artistic compromise in the menacing Pow R. Toc H. or Astronomy Domine, where Peter Jenner can be heard reciting astronomical co-ordinates through
voice: Pete Townshend felt the record didn’t capture the powerful Floyd live show that had left him so distraught at UFO. “I thought it was fucking awful,” he protested. Townshend blamed Norman Smith’s production, but Peter Jenner was delighted with the end result: “Norman made a fantastic commercial record, without destroying the quirky nature of Syd’s writing.” Before long, though, Barrett’s quirkiness would lead to cancelled gigs and an infamous performance at the Christmas On Earth Continued
As Floyd’s stock began to rise, Barrett began to become more distant from the rest of the band – and indeed the outside world.
Barrett looking lost and confused at the infamous Olympia performance.
MiChaEL PUTLaNd/GETTY iMaGEs
a megaphone. The Bo Diddleysoundalike riff on Lucifer Sam illustrates Barrett’s flair for taking a blues lick and turning it inside out, while the whole album spotlights Rick Wright’s undervalued role, with his Farfisa organ often the lead instrument over Barrett’s guitar. Barrett and Wright made a perfect musical partnership on the Floyd’s second single See Emily Play, which was included on the US version of the album. It may have had mystical lyrics (“about a hung-up chick,” said Barrett) and featured Syd scraping a Zippo lighter – or possibly a ruler – along the frets of his guitar, but it also had a radio-savvy chorus. “I thought, At last! This is the one!” said Smith. See Emily Play was released in June and went Top 5. But its composer distanced himself from it almost immediately. Mason: “Syd was happy to chip in with catchy music ideas, but hated anything being commercial.” Barrett’s friend David Gilmour dropped by the Emily… sessions and was shocked by what he saw. “Syd looked very strange, glassy-eyed,” said Gilmour. “He didn’t seem to recognise me.” The drugs weren’t helping. When Floyd performed the single on BBC’s chart show Top Of The Pops, Syd deliberately messed up his make-up minutes before showtime. A week later, he turned in a lacklustre performance on the same show. “I told him he was going to destroy our career,” said Smith. “But it just went in one ear and out the other.” It was too late: Barrett was slowly withdrawing from Pink Floyd. On its release Record Mirror applauded The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’s “mind-blowing sound”. The album reached Number 6 in the UK. There was, though, one dissenting
“Syd was happy to chip in with catchy music ideas, but hated anything being commercial.” nick Mason
concert at Kensington’s Olympia in December. That night Syd stood on the stage, unable or unwilling to play. By the end of the year, David Gilmour had been asked to join. For a time, the two co-existed in the line-up, until in early ’68, on their way to a gig, they took the momentous decision not to pick Syd up. Some tracks on Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets included Barrett’s barely audible guitar, while one, Jugband Blues, featured his plaintive sounding lead vocal. Even though, in one of his glibber moments, Roger Waters has said that he now “refuses to take the album seriously”, it’s far better to remember Syd Barrett on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. In May 2007, Waters, Floyd, and devotees including Kevin Ayers, Chrissie Hynde and Damon Albarn, honoured the now late Syd Barrett with a tribute concert at London’s Barbican. As a grand finale, all the performers, apart from Waters, returned for a ramshackle version of Piper’s final track, Bike. Syd’s idiosyncratic ditty about his favoured mode of transport, with its basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good embodies the Floyd debut’s eccentric homegrown charm. It was a fitting send-off. The record may not have the maturity or angst of great albums such as The Wall or The Dark Side Of The Moon, but it has an innocence that Pink Floyd would never display again. progrockmag.com 57
Old turns… GEnTlE GianT
I Lost My Head (The Chrysalis Years 1975-1980) ChRYsaLis The prog giants’ last five albums reissued with extras aplenty.
ost sensible people are well aware that the birth of punk rock in the mid ‘70s had only the faintest of impacts on a progressive rock scene that was, in all fairness, already running out of steam. Gentle Giant’s last five albums – all collated here with a generous helping of bonus material – represent a slowmotion stumble as the band’s creative rug was whipped from beneath their feet. There is nothing wrong with 1975’s Free Hand, of course. The last truly great Giant album, its heady mixture of quirky, intricate arrangements and sublime melodic interplay has aged beautifully, with songs like pulsing opener Just The Same and the elegant His Last Voyage rivalling anything from more obvious career high points Octopus and In A Glass House. Three tracks from a John Peel session are an exhilarating addition here, emphasising what a remarkably intuitive and vibrant ensemble the band were at this point. 1976’s Interview very nearly matches up to its predecessor. The title track and I Lost My Head are the obvious highlights, but there was still some magic fizzing away on the remaining tracks, even though levels of inspiration were audibly diminishing. By the time The Missing Piece touched down, punk rock was in full flow in the UK, and although it would be wildly inaccurate to say that Gentle Giant were trying to hop on board the short-sharp bandwagon, their music was clearly undergoing an enforced and uncomfortable simplification, resulting in songs like Two Weeks In Spain (complete with knowingly daft lyrics sung in a slightly cringeworthy Cockney accent by Derek Shulman) and Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It;
both too slight and snappy to accommodate the band’s trademark inventiveness. Ironically, some of the stylistic alterations on display on the likes of As Old As You’re Young and Winning made Gentle Giant sound like a rather old-fashioned, blues-tinged pop band: one that their formative aliases Simon Dupree And The Big Band Sound might have cheerfully eaten for breakfast. 1978’s Giant For A Day and the final Giant album, 1980’s Civilian, have very little to commend them beyond curiosity value. Still musically adept and executed with slick precision, they expose the paucity of enthusiasm that had infected the band and robbed their songwriting of its all-important idiosyncrasies. Compare the laboured AOR of It’s Only Goodbye (from Giant For A Day) or the workmanlike pop rock of All Through The Night (from Civilian) with anything from gleaming masterworks Acquiring The Taste or The Power And The Glory and the reasons behind their swift decision to call it a day as the ’80s dawned make perfect sense.
Even as their creative well ran dry they remained thoroughly intriguing. Other prog bands managed to negotiate the transition from the ‘anything goes’ joy of the ‘70s to the harsh lights and unforgiving technological advances of the next decade, often by surrendering to the world of pop music, but despite their best efforts Gentle Giant were far better suited to existing on rock’s fidgeting fringes. Significantly, the shiniest gem in this collection is Playing The Fool, the exhilarating live album the Brits released in 1977. Captured during the previous year’s European tour, performances of Just The Same, The Runaway and So Sincere are sonically vivid and often hugely different from their original studio versions, thus highlighting once more what a phenomenal group of musicians Gentle Giant were and how proudly they stood apart from their progressive rock peers. The extended medley of songs from Octopus is particularly thrilling, as seemingly incompatible musical ideas collide and intertwine with breathtaking fluidity and the unity that would shortly begin to drain away from the band was still operating at full strength. There are undoubtedly better ways to remember Gentle Giant than this, but even as their creative well ran dry this most fiercely individual of British prog bands remained thoroughly intriguing. For that reason alone, I Lost My Head more than justifies the asking price. DOM LAWSON
See’s The Light Of Day BLaCK WidOW
Sweet Smell Of Success/Let The Thunder Cry EsOTERiC
Demos, rare tracks and a live show from the Leicester occultists.
As the 80s dawned, the ex-Traffic man dropped the disco...
or those who only know Black Widow through Come To The Sabbat and their controversially occultrelated stage show, this might be something of a revelation. The first of the two CDs here has demo versions of songs from 1970s debut album Sacrifice, and they’re a lot darker and more realised in this form. You can appreciate just how much they were masters of psychedelic craft, in the process providing their own British twist. This is even more obvious on rare bonus tracks included here, like the lengthy, enthralling Daddy Babe, with Kay Garratt’s strident Elkie Brooks-style
vocal style replacing Kip Trevor tones. A previously unavailable acoustic version of Mary Clark proves the Widow could perform with delicacy and intricacy. The second CD is a live show from Milan from May 1971. There are very extensive workouts on songs like In Ancient Days, Legend Of Creation and Sacrifice. But while it comes over as convincing, nonetheless without the atmosphere being there, something is lost. Somehow Black Widow distance themselves from the music by being totally immersed, and to get the full impact you do need the visual experience. MD
hese augmented reissues from 1980 and ’81 are maybe among the slighter entries in Jim Capaldi’s catalogue. They arrived long after the demise of the original Traffic and his brief period of UK chart singles, when the late Englishman was recording for the French label Carrere. But each contains subtle reminders of his exceptional songcraft. At its most lightweight, Sweet Smell... does dabble in Carrere’s European disco-pop sound, but it also contains the delicate Man With No Country and the seemingly autobiographical Every Man Must March To The Beat Of His Own Drum. With
Capaldi back behind the drums, the album (expanded with demos and unreleased tracks) sports a fine version of Traffic’s Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, retooled in an acoustic setting. Let The Thunder Cry’s three bonus tracks include another reinvention of Low Spark, deconstructed with slightly different instrumentation. The album itself inhabits much rockier terrain than its predecessor, but one of the most affecting tracks is also one of the softest: Old Photographs, features buddy Steve Winwood on synthesizer. Both sets shed new light on a lesserknown part of an important career. PS
Crystal Phoenix BLaCK WidOW
Two CD set rounds up the sounds of the stage.
Folk, orchestra and medieval themes collide on the Italian rockers’ debut.
t’s odd to find the Italian band on a label whose reputation was made through their doom metal releases. However this was the very first record Black Widow put out, in 1993. Recorded four years earlier, Crystal Phoenix was the brainchild of singer and instrumentalist Myriam Sagenwells Saglimbeni. A mélange of folk, orchestral and medieval themes, it’s loosely based around ideas of war and love as viewed by a warrior in the middle ages. There are some genuinely haunting and affecting pieces, in particular the instrumental Loth-er Siniell and the combination of Heaven
The Flower (Part I) with Violent Crystal Phoenix (Part II). The way in which organ sounds are complemented by wind instruments and string section takes the overall feel from emotionally intimate and presents it in an epic context. The former approach occasionally hints at Mike Oldfield or Pink Floyd, while the latter has a lot in common with late 80s Iron Maiden. The original album has been fleshed out here with demo versions of three album tracks plus a 2011 reimaging of 474 Anno Domini. Even without these welcome extras, the original album stands proud. MD
Mammoth Special EsOTERiC Underdogs folk with their formula…
nsung heroes of English folk rock during the early 70s, Decameron took a of people by surprise (including their record company bosses) by steering away from the straight and narrow path on their second album. Their debut, Say Hello To The Band, was a robust but perfunctory affair that ticked all the right rootsy boxes, but a year later, Mammoth Special was entirely different. The core of the band’s sound remained intact on the plaintive Just Enough Like Home and Parade, but it was in the finer details that this versatile quintet began to show their true colours. The burst of
skittering, quasi-funk percussion that elbowed their way to the front of Rock And Roll Woman’s delicate arrangement; the strident bass guitar stabs that rose to the top of The Stonehouse’s adventurous mix and the dreamlike strings that underpin melancholy closer The Empty Space (This Side Of Innocence) are just some of the whimsical curveballs hurled into Mammoth Special’s cauldron of inspiration. The band’s sublime vocal harmonies also contributed to the unavoidable sense that Decameron had nearly as much in common with Yes as Fairport Convention. DL
In Spite Of Harry’s Toenail/Lady Lake EsOTERiC Gnidrolog: lousy Scrabble hand, great prog band.
win brothers Stewart and Colin Goldring were precocious stage kids, appearing in various theatre shows and singing in clubs from the mid-60s at the age of 13. By 1972 they’d formed five-piece Gnidrolog (a near-anagram of their surname). From the drawn-out inventive opener Long Live Man Dead (hyperactive bass and guitars in lockstep, rasping flute, dramatic vocal), the debut album In Spite Of Harry’s Toenail blends the more rustic Canterbury tones, the stark invention of Van der Graaf Generator and a dash of Zappa. Peter wafts through on gentle flutes, whereas the restless Snail is all
over the place - threatening oboes and flute, odd Beefheartian guitar lines and abstract vocal too. It all seems aleatory but repeat listens suggest it was in fact very tightly written. Released in December the same year, Lady Lake is even better. I Could Never Be A Soldier is epic and meaningful; John Earl’s avant-garde horn lines on the frisky title track are delicious, and Hoople-like piano ballad Sweet Dreams is dulcet indeed. Just two weeks after the recording they split, releasing a third album, Gnosis, in 2000. Too bad it didn’t work out: 40 years ago they really were something else. GRM
riginally released by the band themselves through their Racket set-up back in November 2011, this twoCD set of material recorded at a number of gigs between 2003 and 2011 has now been accorded the reissue treatment from the Madfish label, elegantly housed in a hardback book-style cover and featuring some excellent photos. Despite the plethora of self-released live material Marillion have released since they set Racket up back in the early noughties, it does paint this collection as the only really official live offering from Steve Hogarth’s now 23-year career fronting the band.
Much will be made of the inclusion of Fishera tracks, a rarity. So it’s just as well that this is such an excellent collection. Much will be made of the inclusion of three Fish era tracks – a rarity in this day and age for the band. Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles and That Time Of The Night (The Short Straw) are all taken from 1986’s Clutching At Straws (still one of the strongest Marillion albums in their impressive canon) and delivered with striking aplomb and handled boldly by Hogarth, remaining a pleasant nod to a different but enjoyable time. The bulk of the two discs, however, is from Hogarth’s time as frontman, and evenly spread out, with only Holidays In Eden and Anoraknophobia being completely ignored. Neither does the selection lean in favour of what might loosely be termed ‘the hits’. Indeed The Release from Hogarth’s own debut with the band, 1989’s Season’s End was, in fact, an additional track that featured on the CD version, while Hard To Love from Brave is an equally enjoyable inclusion. That said, You’re Gone from 2002’s Marbles did actually make the UK Top Ten, reaching Number 7 after an astute marketing campaign. Best are the meandering epics like This Strange Engine and Man Of A Thousand Faces, and a truly colossal Neverland from Marbles, on which the band create the space to open up and stretch themselves. It’s here that the spellbinding combination of Steve Rothery’s wonderfully intricate guitar playing and Mark Kelly’s atmosphere-building keyboard work intertwine, and the true majesty of modern day Marillion shines through. True, they are not the band of yesteryear, which still rankles in some quarters, but with Hogarth having been at the vocal helm for those aforementioned 23 years, Marillion have established their role as a delightful curio that continues to baffle industry movers and shakers while continuing to wow their passionate fans with some of the most intriguing and thought-provoking rock music one can hear today. And Best. Live proves, that at least during the eight-year scope of these recordings, they have remained on particularly fine form! JERRY EWING progrockmag.com 105
arCanE rooTS VENUE BARFLY, LONDON
seems like a struggle Andrew Groves stoops to conquer. but sod it, this is a first outing and they deserve a bit of leniency. The beauty of tonight’s gig is Arcane Roots’ chance to indulge in Left Fire, which is due for imminent release in physical format after a year or so in digital form. While some bands would be looking towards a new album at this point, Roots know that they have a record worth plugging a little bit more, and tonight we’re reminded of the splendid songs that graced that mini-album. Rouen is another standout, again with a chorus of epic proportions that builds and builds and adds some extra for good measure. On loop, Groves passionately sings
MiGUEL saNTaNa da siLVa
he eerie drone belies the bucketful of sonic insanity to shortly follow. Having last seen these Surrey chaps at Sonisphere 2011, where they ripped the stage apart with all the energy of a chimp with an itch he just can’t scratch, I know that in a matter of minutes the introductory hum will be shattered by a barrage of angular riffs, screams and spasmodic stage-moves. And so it begins, first with an a capella vocal harmony where you can hear a fly cough, and then bam! In come the manic screams puncturing their off kilter art-rock rhythm, sticks fly into oblivion, Andrew Groves stoops and arches like a young Johnny Greenwood. It’s hard to keep up with Arcane Roots; granted not in a schizoid, diverse-to-the-max way like Between The Buried And Me, but there are enough shifts from elasticated arrhythmia to soaring choruses that it takes a second to readjust. You Are is a fine example; the quick, jumpy guitar picking harks back to the 70s prog era, but the “You can hear cheers and the visible excitement a fly cough, of the audience tells us there’s a then in come big chorus to come – and indeed the screams there is. Fists aloft, the beaming puncturing onlookers sing along to their their off-kilter hearts content to the passionate refrain that evokes the main stage art-rock grandeur of Biffy Clyro – and one rhythms.” look at this year’s festival line-ups tells us it works for them. Comparatively, new song Resolve (written in one day while in Iceland) is less kinetic, less anthemic, and Groves falters on a high note. It
‘What are you waiting for?’ and we think ‘this massive, fuck-off crescendo’. The only let down tonight is the absence of In This Town of Such Weather, which is omitted to make space for the new stuff. Shame really, as it’s a belter. But, hey… hopefully more to come. HOLLY WRIGHT
Daryl Atkins: playing it like a stadium show in a pokey Camden club.
Adam Burton: the holler man.
JEFF GREEN PROJECT
VENUE CLUB RIGA, SOUTHEND-ON-SEA DATE 16/06/12 SUPPORT THOSE MEN
espite its orange-skinned aesthetics, Southend holds a formidable reputation for playing host to some of the most celebrated rock bands of the 20th century. With acts including Barrett–era Floyd and Jimi Hendrix all having graced this grim metropolis with their presence, this is a town of hidden gems – if you know where to look. Tonight, the homely Club Riga hosts a very special one-off performance by
guitarist/frontman Jeff Green and his prog Project. Sadly, original support Chalice have been forced to pull out, leaving the fairly peculiar Those Men with rather big shoes to fill. Looking like a group of accountants, their pedestrian acoustic riffs and spoken-word rambling are generic at best, but even the screaming of profanities does little to enthral a dubious audience, who respond with little more than polite applause. Despite his solo work being relatively unknown to much of the progressive community, Riga swells to bursting point as the Jeff Green Project squeeze onto the diminutive stage. Boldly opening with the
title track from their as-yet unreleased album Elder Creek, Green and his band receive a heartfelt welcome. There are plenty of Rush and Yes-isms to keep proggers salivating, with edgier classic rock hooks to get heads bobbing. Debut release Jessica, recorded in memory of Green’s tragically stillborn daughter took 11 years to perfect into a wonderful and moving piece of music. Poignant instrumental Woman With Child, Jessie’s Theme and Live Forever fuse raw human emotion and heart-wrenching solos against robust riffs played with mesmerising perfection. Joined onstage by friend and mentor Phil Hilbourne, as
well as the appropriately named Mr Sax (guess what he plays); they tentatively embark on a cover of Money. While covering Floyd would signal the downfall of many bands, Green pulls it off in spectacular style. This is in no small part down to the magnificent stylings of bassist Mark Cunningham, whose rhythmic thumping and notable vocal performance brings unique character to a song that could have been just a cover. Ending the night with the spacey, 20-minute Hawkwind-scented Life’s Been Good the Jeff Green Project establish their place among the best modern progressive rock on offer. SARAH WORSLEY progrockmag.com 125