Month: August 2017

ARTICLE ABOUT The Ramones FROM New Musical Express, May 15, 1976

It is a great pleasure to print this review of the first ever album of this band. The reviewer was absolutely right for this band so they came out favourably in his critic. And so they should. Strange to think that these guys, with the exception of one, are all dead now. Thank you for all the fun!

IMG_0627

Sons of Scuzz Hit Home Run in World Punk Series

RAMONES – The Ramones
(Sire – Import)

By Nick Kent

A week back, if you`d asked me nicely, I`d have dogmatically opined that “Ramones” – SASD 7520 was absolutely the most grievous hot rock sideswipe from the Nova Heat-Zone since the halycon grunge of “Raw Power”.
Well Seven days have elapsed and I`m bowing out on that high-minded slant, but that`s not to say that the initial allure has lessened any.
The Ramones – in case you`ve been vacationing in Thailand, or contracted leprosy in the last twelve months – are the punk cause celebre of the moment, the hands-down champ-eens of the New York New Wave “Blank Generation” sweep stakes. One Robert Christgau, N.Y.`s Dean of Rock Critics, has stated that the band make up “the most cleanly conceptualized New York rock show there is to see… the last time I caught them I walked home high,” while Circus magazine goes for the muscle angle by drawing attention to the band`s penchant for “all adrenaline chords at a terrific speed. The Ramones are out to relive the roots of rock by mauling them.”
Our own Charles Shaar Murray has probably got the best over-view of this scam though when he wrote in his “NME” run-down of the CBGB hoe-down: “They`re (the Ramones, natch) simultaneously so funny, such a cartoon vision of rock `n` roll, and so genuinely tight and powerful, that they`re just bound to enchant anyone who fell in love with rock and roll for the right reasons.”
The cartoon schtick is what it all boils down to ultimately, and as such, the Ramones, even more than Kiss, are the real inheritors to the Archies dubious mantle. They`re perverse as hell, see. Their corporate taste for violence – for example “Beat on the brat- /with a baseball bat”… “You`re a loudmouth baby /I`m goin` to beat you up”… not to mention their paeans to ritual murder like “Texas Chain Saw Massacre/Took my baby away from me,” and the portrait of a Vietnam veteran – turned depraved Broadway hustler on “51st and 3rd” – is bonafide sicko fare because it`s always rendered with this bizarre looney-toons cutesy-pie macho attitude, a sort of “Whap! Bop! Take that, you scamp” bluster (not to mention that these guys couldn`t punch their way out of a paper-bag). Which is fun, sure, but then you start thinking just where the hell are these guys coming from.

The musical influences are easy enough to divine. Classic punk is the meal ticket here – early Stooges retard-bop (“1969” and all that), plus a healthy surfeit of commercial Anglo rock-pop – the Sweet of “Little Willie” times, plus Gary U.S. Bonds` crass repetition filtered through the Glitter are called to mind. From these archetypes, the band go on to fashion a sound so monomaniacally insistent, so diamond hard punkish that this record poses a direct threat to any vaguely sensitive woofer and/or tweeter lodged in your hi-fi.
I was around, see, when they were cutting the final mix of this album and actually witnessed the interesting phenomenon of one of Sire Records` house system being literally shot to shit (the tweeters were blown clear across the room after three numbers) due to producer Craig Leon`s attempt to wedge up the guitar sound well over even the red (for danger, dig) zone. How Leon and the band actually succeeded in retaining such a ragged full-throttle sound without further mass-carriage will doubtlessly be rendered instant rock history in the weeks to come.
The coup, though, is quite masterful. I`ve rarely heard a tougher, more invigorating guitar sound on record – it makes Jimmy Page`s sound on “Presence” sound positively weedy by comparison. But there it is, blaring out with such fearsome majesty that it runs most other punk artifacts ragged in terms of sheer “young” belligerence.
My angle on this opus then: simply “Ramones” is an object lesson in how to successfully record neanderthal hardrock.
The band itself is hard, tight and extremely limited – the repertoire calls for a constant re-run of (usually) three chord-changes, no solos, and nothing over two and a half minutes in length. Drums and bass muscle in behind the guitar (which maintains a sound like a sulphuric acid tab zig-zagging across a bucket of pitch), forming a fermenting back-drop for the singer to intone lyrics – every last syllable of which relate to the band`s corporate cartoon cut-out over view of Noo Yawk Scuzz, dumb chicks, romance (spelt “b-u-u-h-v” in these punks` dictionary) and boredom – in a voice possessing an angloid-hyper-thyroid proximity to Rob Tyner`s classic mid-register vocals for MC5 records.

IMG_0630

As a “punk” artifact, it separates the men from the boys. If You love hard-ass retard rock, you`ll bathe in every groove. If you pride yourself on being a sensitive human-being, this record will gag on you like a gatorade and vermouth fireball.
Even punk dillitantes may find the album `in toto` something of an endurance test. There are 14 tracks here, see – averaging out to two minutes each in length – minimal variety natch – and it just seems to get faster and louder until the very end with “Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World”, when some speakers can be heard going through premature squeals just before they crank off and slip the audio-mortal coil for good n` all.
Whether this pertains to the slightly wearing nature of the 14-track bam-balam on show here I wouldn`t know, but right now find the best moments on this record to be lodged on Side One. “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Beat on the Brat”, and “Judy is a Punk”, the opening forays, are true golden moments.
Indeed, basic punk rock hasn`t sounded this good since disco-death-rot music set in and started calling the shots on your gams.
Most rock`n`roll being amped out these days is so damn synthetic anyway – heavy-metal has recently reached an all-time nadir in audio-corrosion, and the real big-timers like the Stones are too far gone on achieving “blacknuss” by vamping on reggae `n` stuff (instant ungodly death to white reggae, by the way. Vinyl should be so designed to instantly disintegrate when it next registers the sound of some L.A. session – drummer trying to maintain an `on beat`).
All of which means – we need the likes of the Ramones to re-acquaint us loser white-kids with our roots more than ever.

Also, I`ve got this feeling, see, that this album`s going to take off. It`s crazy, perverse, and exciting enough to maybe even bridge both A.M. and F.M. airplay in the States, in which case the Ramones really could shut down the horrendous likes of Kiss and their garish ilk. Young girls will doubtless find `em cute, the leathers and plimsolls look is hip n` stripped down enough to be aped by whole battalions of culturally deprived American youths, and the music is aggressively “blank” enough to relate to all disorientated teenage parties.
The “Punk rock” movement of the early `70s was something of a damp squib, in that it never made any real identation on the national rock front as upheld by the likes of “Cashbox” and “Billboard”.
Now, some three years later, after the New York Doll`s pratfall, after the likes of Iggy and Jonathan Richmond have been rejected for being the real rock visionaries they are, the coast may be clear for the new wave punks.
The Ramones don`t say much. They`re pretty vacant. But they rock out with a vengeance. And anyway the Archies were never hip to sniffing glue or making out to the dance of romance.

ramones

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Genesis, Ian Hunter, Erich Von Daniken, Eric Carmen, Elton John, Nils Lofgren, Stanley Clarke.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Nazareth FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MAY 1, 1976

Always nice to read a live review of Nazareth in their prime. What a band they were! Luckily I have seen them live with the original members and they were quite powerful indeed. One of the best.

IMG_0607

Nazareth
__________
Hammersmith

By Angie Errigo

When the seat next to me collapsed and the tampon sailed over my head and into my lap I was tempted to leave. I reckon managing to hang on to my notebook through the encore deserves a medal for services beyond the call of boogie.
Some concert! Some audience! Some fun?
The assembled patrons looked primarily like the little brothers of the Groundhogs audiences from whom one used to flee, and Rory Gallagher crowds before whom one quakes. Their attitude of getting down and getting with it was brought home to me by two customers behind me. They were about 15 and all through the first set from Widowmaker they howled and stomped, kicked the backs of seats in time and gave whoops of ecstacy.
Suddenly one of them turned to the other and said “They`re not too bad, are they?”
“Ahhh, it`s a bunch of crap” the other replied and resumed whooping.

Widowmaker are nothing of they aren`t killingly loud. Steve Ellis has got something, but it`s hard to say what it is, at that volume. Ariel Bender, pinched into the most awfully unbecoming trousers and wearing a Cute Hat, leapt over, under, around and particularly in front of the other members of the band quite a bit. His posing is rather tentative, like he`s pretty convinced he`s a Star but he doesn`t want to get beat up in the dressing room for strutting too much in one go.

The drummer does a lot of groovy grimacing, like a cross between the village idiot and the sulphate strangler, but he`s okay. The second guitarist looks like he escaped from Sweet, but he did quite nicely while Ariel was traipsing around, and the bassist is dandy.

I don`t really like their belligerence but Ellis is a worthy belter and they`ll probably do quite well if they can stomach each other long enough to establish themselves.
I had no idea Nazareth are so popular, or so head splitting. Dan McCafferty has the most alarming set of pipes this side of Ethel Merman, and the marvel is that he can scream so loud and still produce shades and contrasts in his vocals and put over lyrics so well.
The first three numbers – “Telegram”, “Razamanaz” and “Bad Bad Boy” – were beyond criticism. How can you be analytical about being run over by some crazy, out of control, sonic boogie machine? Guitarist Manny Charlton (in competition with Bender for Funny Trousers of the Night in rather extraordinary black leather britches) is big on the breakneck chops, and bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet come on like their barbarian ancestors who freaked out the Romans by screaming and bagpiping like loonies.

IMG_0609

Naz`s version of “Love Hurts”, which was Jim Capaldi`s recent success here, is completely different and surprisingly nice, combining as they do the pretty melody and subtle rhythms with that grotesque volume.

The rest of the performance was more varied. “Loretta” from the new “Close Enough for Rock and Roll” lp and “Changing Time” from “Hair of the Dog” reeked with classically stylized heavy metal riffs. “Honky Tonk Downstairs”, a number from McCafferty`s solo lp, featured a punchy, countryish delivery from Dan, and the folk song “The Long Black Veil” was sung quite prettily and mercifully acapella by McCafferty, Agnew and Sweet.

Most of this was interspersed with the predictably derivative guitar solos, beefy bass breaks and rapid shrieks that put hair on the boys` chests. For “Whiskey Drinking Woman”, “This Flight Tonight” and “Woke Up This Morning” everybody was either on their seat or down front getting their money`s worth.

I`m sure if I`d tanked up a bit beforehand I would have felt more rollicking myself, but older and more sober than most of the audience I found the variety of objects flying through the air, the breaking seats and the mindless, relentless licks curiously unmoving.
After lots of hollering and clapping they came back for “Broken Down Angel” which featured a rather good sing-along from the audience on chorus. I must say I`d prefer an audience like this myself if I was up there. When they want you they really want you, and they sure aren`t embarrassed to act crazy.

IMG_0613

Travel was easy and cheap in the seventies.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Graham Parker, Louis Jordan, Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Jimmy Castor, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Rick Wakeman FROM New Musical Express, May 1, 1976

Wakeman is one of the most creative and talented men in the modern music industry. Beside playing on several albums with Yes, Strawbs and several other artists, touring with a lot of those bands and releasing more than 90 solo albums, he has also found the time to write several books and contributing to the “Grumpy Old Men” comedy series on BBC and also running his own radio show on Planet Rock.
This article shows that he always may have enjoyed a good laugh. Have fun!

IMG_0607

Art with a Capital F

RICK WAKEMAN on the aesthetic of bodily functions, as applied to rock concerts.
Dressing-room confidante: CHRIS SALEWICZ

Rick Wakeman returns from the Hammersmith Odeon backstage bar to his dressing-room: “`Ere. Fluff`s just told me this great joke. It`s alright.
“It`s clean,” he considerately points out to photographer Pennie Smith and Dee, the lady who designs the cloaks that hide the Wakeman paunch from his audience in those onstage moments. “There`s this randy eagle who fancies coming across a female eagle…”
He rambles to the end of the joke.
Then Brian Lane, his manager, walks in the door, which pleases Rick very much indeed, since he can start telling Fluff`s joke again to a new audience.
Brian Lane all the money is
purging,
With the Westminster Bank
he is merging
He says, “Nothing for you”
Like a typical Jew,
He`s as tight as an ant that`s
a virgin.
That`s a little extract from the concert`s programme, which Wakeman wrote in his spare moments.

Here`s another little extract:
“Martin Shields (Fartin` Martin), Brass and Vocals: It has been said that when Martin takes field he goes like the wind. It also smells like the wind. A former baseball player, he was forced to quit because his pitching was so bad, an attribute matched only by his singing. Martin gets scared before the big occasion, his wife tells us, as she has to wash his underpants after concerts.”
This is, in fact, a reference to a gig that the English Rock Ensemble aka ERE. (Couldn`t think what we were going to call the band and everyone`s going round saying “Ere? What we going to call ourselves.”) played in Seattle. During the first number Shields had a slight accident.
Ummm. Why did he… Urrrhhh… Do It, Rick?
“Well, when you`re playing high notes on the trumpet you tend to tense up, and he – how shall we put it? – overtensed.”
Now, gentle reader, there`s absolutely no reason to feel bashful when reading about that little incident. Why, Martin is such a friendly soul that he even doesn`t mind his boss telling it to all the audience after the first number of the set. Doesn`t even mind being made to bend over with a spotlight shining on his bum.
In addition to this, Wakeman, when onstage, is very keen on frequently suggesting that the audience visit the toilets.
Crumbs, Rick, why are you so obsessed with bodily waste matter?
“I don`t know, really. Perhaps because there`s so much shit in the rock`n`roll industry.”
It`s a man`s life in the English Rock Ensemble.

The last couple of years have not really been too good for Rick Wakeman.
The Heart Attack was not much fun. Unlike journalist James Cameron, Wakeman does not look back on his coronary thrombosis and view it as a fascinating experience. There will be no concept album based on it. No, Rick is able to say quite positively, “I don`t want to have another one”. There is apparently not much likelihood of this. “I was lucky. I was young. And as long as I look after myself I`ll be alright.”
(It puts him one up on Steve Emerson, though).
Then there was “Journey” and Rick`s rather dumbly believing that it was economically viable, after the album had already peaked, to tour the States with a full orchestra in tow.
And then, of course, there was “Arthur” on ice bringing the total loss up to somewhere around the quarter of a million mark. Wakeman would probably still do “Arthur” all over again. It would probably be necessary for him to find a new manager, though; Brian Lane candidly assesses it as having been “a total disaster”.
Apart from “Arthur” being a financial disaster, the Wakeman musical reputation was also severely damaged by the whole fiasco. Even though Wakeman defends the album artistically, and by pointing out that it had much higher sales than “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” (“it was huge in Belgium”), the record remains a brainstorming, clumsily produced turkey. The frozen version was a little better, but not much. Ultimately not even pantomime skating horses could prevent “Arthur” from being a downright, boring drag.
A certain sense of guilt and dishonesty, then, runs through this writer`s spirit as he waits for Rick Wakeman to turn up in his dressing-room. The interview will, almost certainly, be thoroughly painless, but there is the possibility, going on past form, that the gig may deserve tearing to shreds.

Could I eat a man`s bag of crisps and then slag off his synthesizer playing? Of course I could.
This Wakeman character that`s put on display for the public is, it must be said, thoroughly bizarre. The boozing Man Of The People – though his guts may well be a miasma of Watney`s Special and “red `ot Ruby Murrays” (curries to you and me) slides his oversized lips round a can of Coke. (It had been whispered that strenuous attempts were being made to keep him off the more potent stuff until after the show) and discusses his persona as rock`n`roll oddity:
“I honestly… I don`t… It`s very difficult to explain, you sod!!!
“I think it`s a big disappointment for lots of people when they see someone onstage, or read what they say in interviews, or see them on the box or meet them and they`re different characters. I hope that I`m not any different when I`m working and when I`m not working. I don`t think I am. Just a stagestruck layabout, I suppose.”
Do you see yourself as part of modern showbiz, or as an important figure in contemporary music?
“It`s very difficult to answer without being egotistical. I`d like to think I was a part of showbusiness, but in the same breath I`d like to think that some of the music might stand up in twenty or thirty years` time. Or even later. I`d really like that.”
You`re concerned for your immortality, ehh?
“If there`s such things as dear little astral plains and ghosts that can have a look down on what`s happening, I`d love to look down in a hundred years` time and hear someone playing a piece of my music.
“It`s an egotistical view, but I think everyone`s got an ego.”
You`ve got to have an ego to be a rock`n`roll musician and go out there onstage surely?
The considered balanced front falls away. “Yeah,” cackles Wakeman, “I`ve got terrible stage ego. I love it. I hate to say it.”

It should go without saying that Rick Wakeman “never” suffers from stage fright.
I put it to him that without the humour that`s found in a Wakeman show – from the onstage clowning to the programmes themselves – much of his audience might well find his lengthy “pieces” a bit heavy going. With them the seriousness is deflated and the music becomes far more accesible.
He agrees: “We like to make them feel part of the concert because then we can feel part of them and really close that gap between the stage and the audience.
“That`s what I enjoy about it. Love it, in fact. Can`t help it.”
Very much in the Music Hall tradition…
“Oh yeah. I wouldn`t disagree with that one iota.
“The one thing that`s lacking in all the rock concerts or shows that I go to – unless they`re pure comedy bands – is that they`re all very serious. There`s easy bits to listen to, and some bits that you have to concentrate quite hard on, there`s often bits of music that are quite sad, but the one thing that`s always lacking is that people never laugh. And people wanna laugh.
“The point that really proves this is when you get the guy who`ll go up onstage and say what to me is a totally unfunny line – something amazingly unfunny – and the audience will howl with laughter. Because they want to. I`m sure you`ve seen it; you know, the guy says (John Denveresque accent): `Oh dear. My string`s broke`. And they`ll go `Aaaaaaarrrgggghhh Haaaaaaarrrrgggghhh.` Howl with laughter.
“And I`ll think `Bloody idiot`. I howl with laughter when I see that.
“So what you try to do is that you take the music very seriously and break it up with a couple of little musical bits which we hope the audience will find amusing. In “Anne Boleyn” we do a big piss-take of virtually every form of music going. From Classical to out and out rock`n`roll. And we tell a few funnies which we hope string the show together.

IMG_0610

“Basically, I`m trying to put on the show that I would like to go and see.
“If I emerge as an absurd idiot – which most probably I am – then I`d like the audience to come and take the music seriously, but also see what this is all about. It`s all very genuine, so I just see it as I would like to see it if I was coming to see Rick Wakeman.”
Maybe the “Daily Express” in his briefcase is a clue. Maybe you should just glance at the titles of Rick Wakeman`s albums – excluding “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth,” of course – there`s more evidence of Englishness in the titles of “The Six Wives Of Henry Eight,” “Arthur” and the Stonehenge cover shot of “No Earthly Connection” than is osmosed by any other British rock musician to the right of the folk scene that I can think of. Excepting Ray Davies of course.
Consider the considerable number of Wakeman extracurricular activities – the upmarket hire-car firm, the flight case firm, the musical instrument company (How many companies do you have, Rick? “Cor. I`ve got a memory like a nun`s sexual diary. A complete blank.”) – and his overlordship of his band (“Billy Fuehrer they call me. It`s very sad.”) and the country house and even the Arthurian cloaks he sports onstage. I`m convinced that whether Wakeman admits it to himself or not he`s revelling in some curious character combination of overgrown schoolkid – the lavatory jokes etc – and feudal baron.
Is Rick Wakeman a nation of shop keepers? Or is he St George?
“It`s subconscious he tells me, with a nervous batting of the constant tic his right cheek suffers. “It`s not conscious because you can`t create things… I mean, you can create a situation like that if you want to. It`s just what I am. It`s why I think the music press either hate me or like me because you either have to take me as I am or forget it, because I can`t change.”

Neither, apparently, can his approach to his work: You never lie awake worrying that you`ve driven up a blind alley with the scale of the compositions you`re working with?
“You can always climb over the wall at the other end. A lot of people said that we`d hit a brick wall at the end of “Arthur” but we climbed over the wall. You don`t turn back or wait for The Relief Of Mafeking.”
Yes, that`s right. Rick Wakeman would not dream of getting down and getting funky and making a rock`n`roll album filled with three minute songs.
And why does he only get involved with “weighty concepts”?
Ummmm… I don`t know. I really don`t know. I just find them good to write for and good to write to. It`s like painting a picture.
“Without dropping myself in a lot of trouble there`s a lot of difference between painting a Van Gogh and painting by numbers.”
Yikes!!! Maybe you could cut your ear off onstage during the encore tonight.
The Man Behind The Music ignores the suggestion: “I`d rather spend a lot of time and do what I believe is a Van Gogh – Which is important to me – than get my Toyland Book For Beginners and do an album.”
The backdrop is suitably ambivalent: castle spires/organ pipes/clusters of swords. Very Charlton Heston. Very Camelot.
A very large part of the Wakeman appeal is certainly attributable to the soulwrenching need for a keyboards hero. A frisson of sheer delight runs through the audience during the first number – an “Arthur” number – the first time he plays two keyboards together. During those fractions of the set when he isn`t holding the reins on the sound with at least one set of keyboards Rick Wakeman dances a sort of constipated – sorry, all this scatological imagery is catching – Twist, accompanied with an insane grin.
He is also completely asexual.

His playing is very good. Wakeman`s favourite composers are Mozart for melodies, Rachmaninov for orchestrations, and Chopin for style. The last is very evident. He also rates the Vanilla Fudge highly, maybe that`s where he gained his sense of histrionics.
This is the first time I – and almost certainly most of the audience – have encountered Wakeman without orchestra. The English Rock Ensemble may cluster about The Star like a set of six portly plastic garden gnomes surrounding the Big Ears model, but they`re no slouches when it comes to the music. Not great musicians, perhaps, but quite able to hold down their instruments` roles as well as the roles that the orchestra had written for it and crawl about the stage with their boss making faces at, say, John Dunsterville during his acoustic guitar solo in “Catherine Howard.” Vocalist Ashley Holt also runs up and down the stage with arms stretched out aeroplane-like when Wakeman goes into a synthesizer solo in “Catherine Parr.”
This concert, though it may have the trappings of a mediaeval pageant, is definitely closer to Music Hall. There is, for example, “The Roadies Lament” – a reworded “Lumberjack Song” – that opens the second half of the show and there is the constant banter from Wakeman: “Sir Lance-A-LOT” (nudge nudge).
Material is played from all four Wakeman albums – five if you include a snatch of Liszt`s Hungarian Rhapsody Number 13 during the encore – and it`s really rather good if not exactly intellectually edifying. Whereas so much of the material featured at the “Arthur” show was weak and insubstantial, now it`s fiery and, yes, at times I can even see why so many of the audience find it raunchy. Not my sort of raunchiness. Indeed, on record not my sort of music whatsoever but as A Good Evening Out… Yes, it works.

To make it work in the way it does, it has been suggested that Wakeman merely picks up his ability and “plays down” to his audience?
“No way. You can`t play down. It`s impossible. Absolutely impossible.
“Rock audiences have a lot more intelligence than classical audiences. If you`re playing a piece of music from an album they`ve got, they`ll know the piece really well. You can`t possibly play down: The kids know exactly what they want to hear, how they want to hear it, and how they want it done!!
Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble leave the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon for the third and final time on this tour.
They probably have a rider in their contract which specifies that ERE`s dressing-room must contain a communal bath into which the seven leap after the gig ends to hold farting contests deep into the night.

IMG_0612

Yes, finally! I think…..?

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Graham Parker, Louis Jordan, Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Jimmy Castor, Nazareth, Bill Bruford.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Bill Bruford (Genesis) FROM New Musical Express, May 1, 1976

The very excellent drummer Bill Bruford gives the impression of being a very down to earth kind of guy in this interesting interview from the time when he kept the rhythm for Genesis.

IMG_0607

Portrait of the drummer as a seeker after truth not wearing a shirt

The shirt has nothing to do with it. The philosophical bit has. You are looking at a man who renounced BIG MONEY (i.e. Yes) for ART… and now shows cavalier disdain for all potential Solid Gold Drum Stool Awards. BILL BRUFORD, currently gigging with GENESIS, tells CHRIS SALEWICZ why.

Are you quite sure that you`re definitely not joining Genesis full-time?
“Yes.”
What if they asked you nicely? Would you join them then?
Bill Bruford shakes his head in a most positively negative way: “No. No, I couldn`t.”
Because it does sometimes happen that a new musician is brought in for a tour – as you have been for the Genesis US and European jaunt – and is then sussed out by the band and if they like him then he stays.
This is rather what those publicity shots of you and Genesis drummer-in-residence Phil Collins smack of to me.
“No. If Genesis asked me to join them full-time, I couldn`t because I would lose my sense of inquiry if I did. And it`s not the place for me. It does, however, get me to America which is what I want to do. It gets me playing on big stages, which I love doing, and so forth.
“But full-time? No.
“Not, incidentally, that they would want me to either. Because they also appreciate, I think, that I`d probably rock the boat too much and scream and shout and generally get in the way of their very concise idea of what they want to do.”
Right, it goes like this: Bill Bruford, top thinking person`s percussionist and the only King Crimson drummer seen to actually smile on stage, gets a call late last autumn from Phil Collins, Genesis drummer and vocalist now that the band is Gabriel-less.

Collins is in possession of Brand X, a weekend blowing band. (“Brand X is really the player`s kind of escape route from the songwriters, I think, in that playing behind the songs doesn`t entirely give Phil everything that he would like. So he forms Brand X which is a very loose group with not a terrific sense of direction about it so he can air his views elsewhere. And thereby feels all right in Genesis presumably.”)
Would Bill like to come out to play? Yes, please. Bill goes and percusses some four or five times whilst Phil Collins drums. Bill probably gets a certain sense of deja entendu when Collins gets underway: the Phil Collins drumming style has almost certainly had its evolution directed by a thorough earful of Bruford`s playing on assorted Yes records.
Surprise, surprise: Bill Bruford is now percussing and drumming with Genesis on their current tour, thus enabling Collins to take the vocal parts up at stage centre.
Did Collins have this planned all along, you may well ask. Did Bruford spot the footprint of a gigantic hound? Will the audiences at the Genesis concerts be able to tell Flora from Stork?
And so Bruford, aware that he is finally actually Doing Something that warrants a re-statement of his existence to the rock populace at large, gets himself interviewed.
Last summer, I`d bumped into him and suggested a quick C120`s worth. No way. Bill was not actually doing much of great copy-value. He felt it would be demeaning to do an interview of the “Well, I`m getting a band together, aren`t I?” nature. An awareness of the need for selling-points at such occasions is a healthy asset for any rock musician.

It must be said, however, that this Bruford-for-Genesis lark does seem to come close to proving that the man has probably driven himself into a corner by having played with first Yes and then King Crimson.
“Oh dear. The double-edged sword of the track record, that.”
And that this Genesis gig is almost too predictable.
“Well, it certainly covers the English branch of rock,” he nods, stretching out on an exceptionally fire-damaged goatskin rug (mine actually), and ruminates on his gigs since Robert Fripp called the cessation of existence of King Crimson in late summer, 1974:
“I mean, if you throw in Gong, the National Health and Roy Harper” – with all of whom Bruford has boardtrodden during the past 18 months – “that`s a reasonable cross-section of what`s happening here. And if I don`t have any great solutions at the end of that lot I don`t have any great solutions.
“Yeah, it`s funny, that. End of a seven-year twitch in a way.
However, I`m sure that the general conception of Genesis – general conception for the non-afficianado, that is – is that the band is very much in the shadow of Yes.
“Let me tell you,” Bruford scolds, as he presumes incorrectly that I`m speaking only of the US market, “as someone who`s been out on the front, that we tend to lump that kind of English thing together. Well, they don`t necessarily do that at all.
“Genesis get the same manic letters that every band gets – that I got in Yes and I got in King Crimson and I`ll doubtless get in Genesis, about `We think you`re the creators of the universe`. And `you`re the heaviest thing that`s ever happened` and all this nonsense.”

So you obviously don`t think that what they`re doing is Yes-ified?
“They don`t. They certainly don`t.
“But I know they use similar techniques in getting the music together. And – when I was in Yes – quite similar discussions went down about how the music should be created. Yeah, for the purpose of this conversation they`re much of a muchness.
“But the consumer doesn`t see it that way at all.”
Pinteresque pause. And then: “Genesis are actually a Song Group. And quite lightweight at that too. They don`t even like to be considered very `heavy` or anything like that, you know. Songwriters. Very much songwriters.”
As is perhaps half the rock world (sic), Bruford is more than a little amazed that Genesis have not only proved with “Trick Of The Tail” that Peter Gabriel is not necessarily regarded by the band`s devotees as having been synonymous with the band`s name but that they actually appear to be more popular now than they were a year ago when Gabriel remained still a member.
It seems, more than anything, that it`s the prospect of clearing his head of this country and its musical creative barrenness that impelled the percussionist to take the Genesis gig.
“It`ll be good to get back to America. Get re-energised and re-vibed,” he says. “There really is nothing here for musicians – apart from that little National Health axis – who want to play. Which is really what I want to do. I don`t really want to fart around with images and stuff, you know – I`d rather play. And I`m not gonna get a lot of very interesting gigs in England.”

IMG_0608

Bruford was “within pissing distance”, as he so quaintly puts it, of forming his own band last year, “but it got bogged down for various reasons – most of which stem from the fact that you`re 2,000 miles apart.”
Jeff Berlin, the bassist he was enlisting into the band, appears to epitomise the kind of musician he`s been so far unable to come across on the British music scene.
Bruford shrugs his shoulders resignedly. “He`s 22. Four years at Berkeley School Of Music. Plays anything standing on his head. Fantastic bass style. Fantastic bass technique. No complications at all. Where`s the amp? Where`s the gig? Plug me in. I`m away. I`m a jazz musician. I`m a rock musician. No problem at all. Doesn`t think about it. Get in and do it.
“But forming the band was a bit of an uphill struggle,” he laughs, “so rather than force it, I`ll stay loose, keep my nose clean and stay out of trouble.
“Watch, wait, observe and absorb.”
In effect, Bruford has opted out of the game of being a Rock Star. Contrary to what I`d somewhat naively assumed, he has not been coming close to the bread-line. There is obviously something amiss when his management company are very happy indeed that he decided not to form a band as that could have entailed a rather severe tightening of the purse strings.
As it is, there`s always a Pavlov`s Dog around who`ll fly him over the Atlantic so they can find a drummer for their second album.

Actually, Pavlovian kennel-minder supreme Sandy Pearlman is waxing orgasmic about Bruford`s abilities in the current issue of ZigZag. But he`d better watch out. Bruford likes to kiss and tell:
“What happens is you tend to do the thing on the idea that you thought it was anonymous. Or that you were just being hired to play. But, of course, you`re not – because you`re also being hired for your track record, because the group can benefit from your track record as well.
“And the next thing you know, there are journalists sitting about all the time and you`re tacked on to some sort of a group.
“And I don`t think it`s really fair that I should be used that way, you know, so I kinda resent that a bit.”
Having been part of it then having made a conscious decision to opt out of it Bruford is very well aware of what is going haywire with rock`n`roll big business – and thereby with rock`n`roll in general.
Rock`n`roll, you see, isn`t too far removed from the corporate non-thinking that infests most of the world`s financial institutions. And, of course, much that falls into the category of corporate thinking is born of paranoia that the individual decision maker – at all levels throughout the institution – may have his position jeopardised by threatening talent emerging below him.
Hence talent does not always out by any means. This is not profound thinking. Any trained sociologist should be able to tell you that.
Trained sociologist will probably neglect to consider, however, that this trait is as prevalent in the rock`n `roll business as in, say, the Houses Of Parliament.
Tell me, Bill, where are all the 19 to 22-year-old talented rock musicians?
“I think that`s been fixed by the wealthy rockers, you know, who`ve cut themselves a slice of the action and want to keep everybody else out of it – even if it`s only buying PA systems that kids can`t afford, you know.

“We`ve got a nice slice of the action and everybody else who didn`t make it before the gates closed… Well, it`s tough shit.
“There was a particularly sunny vibe when everybody was playing instruments in about 1968, 1969. And people were beginning to get rich and everybody had a record contract, you know. And that`s all ended.
“There was a very sunny few years when the Chris Squires of this world got rich. And they can count their chickens that they lived at that time – because in very few other times would they have been so lucky, I think.
“I expect I`ll go on doing the rounds playing on everybody`s records. I mean, yeah, it`s a career, isn`t it really?
“Perhaps when another five or ten years have elapsed we`ll all have a good second-wind of ideas of what to play among the 35 to 40-year olds. Perhaps I`ll do nothing until around my late 30s.
“I`m trying to hover, you see.”
Yet, of course, you created that problem by leaving Yes.
“Yeah. Deliberately so. Well, that was to avoid getting farmed out and believing that you`re great and that you don`t have to do another day`s work in your life.” When did you first become aware that that was a strong possibility?
“Of being farmed out and bought off? And rendered thoroughly inactive?” Bruford laughs.
“Oh, I dunno. After I joined Crimson. When I realised I would have maybe lost any sting I had in the bass players` commuter belt down the A30.
“It`s an old trick that: so much money about that you daren`t say anything against it.
“But I don`t have any solutions, though. I`m just hovering… trying to get around with some of the better musicians around. Like the National Health. And learn something. See if maybe they`ve got an answer because I haven`t really got an answer.”

IMG_0611

A full page ad in NME for Budgie. Nice one.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Graham Parker, Louis Jordan, Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Jimmy Castor, Nazareth, Rick Wakeman.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT ABBA FROM New Musical Express, April 24, 1976

I think Abba deserves a place on my blog. Creators of some of the most melodic music ever and with a production that still holds it own among a lot of albums produced today – this is a music phenomenon you just can`t ignore.
What happens when you send a punk rocker like Mr. Farren to investigate this phenomenon? Well, his research on the band is not quite up to the standard one should expect looking at the names he gives the girls in the band. But otherwise, it is a funny and well-written collection of words on a band that fascinates the world as much now as when they ruled the world 40 years ago.

IMG_0591

What`s squeaky-clean, exquisitely produced, Scandinavian and goes “OOMPAH”? OOMPAH? OOMPAH!

The answer to the riddle is ABBA … and here`s Mick Farren to ask it

They`d told us that Stockholm`s numero uno disco nightclub was a place called Alexandra`s. From the way the muscle on the door looked at you when you told them you had a table booked, you could almost believe it was the city`s most exclusive niterie.
Inside, it`s black glass, mirrors and the kind of Edwardian whorehouse lampshades that they were selling in Biba`s five years ago.
On the miniscule dance floor a young woman who looks like a kind of lumpy, muscular Bibi Anderson is performing something that resembles a cross between the frug and Canadian Air Force Advanced Physical Training Routine. Another equally strapping couple join her on the floor. They start into a soft core porn-by-numbers version of The Bump.
An overweight computer salesman leads an equally overweight young woman out to join the other couples. They press against each other. The salesman rubs his hands over her thighs. They sway, roughly in time to the music. Right at that moment it`s Barry White. Later it evolves to the 1966 Spencer Davis Group.
At nearly three pounds for a drink it`s not even possible to get drunk. The whole image of Sweden as wall-to-wall Britt Eklands falls apart at the seams.
And who sent us into Alexandra`s, this feast of Scandinavian delights? None other than Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of the masterminds behind the group called Abba, the first Scandinavian pop ensemble ever to make a dent in the international entertainment industry.

I guess the only way you could have failed to be exposed to Abba`s particular brand of open-face, Ultra-Brite pop is to have spent the last twelve months in a sealed fallout shelter. Only someone totally insulated from radios, televisions and even pub juke-boxes could have missed them. Since their Eurovision Song Contest win in 1974 with a song called “Waterloo”, their music has poured forth in an unrelenting stream from just about every kind of electronic medium.
They`ve had hits (not one but virtually sequential hits, one after the other) in Britain, the U.S.A., most of Europe, Hong Kong, the Phillipines and Australia. In Australia they beat both Sinatra and Andy Williams in T.V. ratings with their telly special. About the only market in the world that they haven`t solidly dented is Japan, and that seems only to be a matter of time.
Right about now (unless you`ve already given up and turned the page) you`re probably wondering what in hell am I doing going on about Abba? Has Farren lost his marbles, suffered brain damage, been bribed? (Funny you should mention it – Ed).
No, my friends, it is not what you fear. Just bear with me a while longer and all will be made clear.
Anyone who comes so fast and hard out of left field and sells so many millions of records has to qualify as a PHENOMENON. A squeaky clean phenomenon for sure, nowhere in the same bracket as Lou Reed, but a phenomenon just the same.
“Wait a minute,” you cry, “surely if a big corporation hype is being undertaken it`s no great hardship to use a band that`s a novelty in terms of its country of origin? Isn`t it just the Osmonds in a Bergman location? If they did it in Salt Lake City they can do it in Stockholm.”

That would be quite true, except for one thing, Abba are not the product of some faceless corporation mogul in the Hollywood Hills, with I.B.M. time and lots and lots of money. Sure they`re a manufactured product, but the men behind them are Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, who happen to be in the group, and Stig Anderson, who is the boss of the almost one-man Polar Records label that had previously catered solely for the Scandinavian market.
In form and style, their closest antecedents are the early days of Motown – or maybe Philles.
Once again I hear the cries starting – Abba? Motown? Philles??
Okay, I know Abba don`t sound anything like either Motown or Philles. They aren`t funky, they have no soul and they`re bland to the point of making baby food seem raunchy. It`s the structure that produces the music that I`m talking about – and also the fact that a frightening amount of work goes into each one of their records.
Admittedly, to an ear that`s been weaned on rock and roll it`s hard to detect. I`d dismissed Abba as audio pablum and closed my mind whenever I heard “Mamma Mia” in the pub until a couple of my noble colleagues pointed out just how complex the Abba backing tracks were.
They were right, too. It took quite a while to strip away the eager, healthy vocal sound, the cute-to-the-point-of-moronic lyrics and the continually bouncing Nordic boom-boom hereafter referred to as Eurobeat. Once that`s done, you`re actually left with a pop structure in the grand manner of The Beatles or Spector.
So grand, in fact, that it would be more than likely to go clean over the head of the average Abba punter.
The whole thing was sufficiently intriguing that, when the chance to go to Stockholm and look at Abba in their natural habitat came up, I went to investigate.

The natural habitat of Abba varies between a large, rather elegant house near the centre of Stockholm and an island retreat outside the city. The house is where all Abba`s business is transacted; the country house is where they retire to at regular intervals to write, record and produce more songs.
The first part of the Abba story came from Stig Anderson. Anderson has medium-length hair and the craggy features of a Hemingway character. He has been in the music industry since the early `60`s.
In 1971 his partner died and it was suggested that he hire Benny Andersson as a producer. Benny brought Bjorn Ulvaeus and as Benny and Bjorn they created a couple of Swedish hits. Then, teaming up with the two girls they made “Ring Ring” which, although it made no mark on the U.K. market, was a major hit in Northern Europe. From there, world domination was in sight.
While Andersson talks, he is constantly interrupted by calls and secretaries. His office is just what you`d expect of a Swedish record company whose main attraction is Abba. It`s all bright, clean, stripped pine efficiency. The only thing in the entire room that doesn`t fit with the squeaky clean image is a big, almost life size painting. It`s of a schoolgirl in gymslip, crisp white blouse and straw boater. Her blouse is unbuttoned and one breast is exposed. Her discreet and presumably masturbating hand has slipped under her skirt. The style is ultra realism. It`s the only sign of decadence in the whole Abba operation.
Stig Andersson is a very definite part of the team that produces Abba`s records. He writes some of the lyrics and generally lets Benny and Bjorn use him as a kind of sounding board. They try out new songs on him first and depending on his response they decide what`s commercial and what isn`t. Although I can no way go along with his taste there`s no denying that, so far, he has an uncanny feel for public taste, but so, for that matter, has the editor of The Sun.

IMG_0596

We move downstairs to a basement office to meet the group themselves. A photo session is winding up. Abba have been decked out in Daily Mirror Pop Club T-shirts. The two girls, Frieda and Anna, drop into instant posed animation for the camera. In between they seem kind of bored.
Benny and Frieda are engaged. Bjorn and Anna are married.
That`s right, folks, it`s a family act.
Bjorn Ulvaeus is thin and intelligent, he tends to do more of the talking. Benny Andersson is bearded and jovial. Anna and Frieda have the aloofness of the professionally decorative. It quickly becomes clear that they do not play any great role in the creative side of the act. Shortly after the interview they leave the room.
There`s a little initial fencing around. The two men are open and friendly. They are neither idiots or cynical pap-pushers who calculatedly feed the public what they think they want. They obviously like the work they`re doing, take great pains with it and are anxious to extend their creativity as far as possible.
They are both products of the somewhat isolated Scandinavian pop scene. Bjorn played with a folk outfit called the Hootenanny Singers, while Benny was in a band called the Hep Stars who played “Hermans Hermits songs and that kind of thing.” Just the name conjures up pictures of what these groups must have been like. I have visions of earnest Swedes solemnly intoning M.O.R. babble learned off the records.
“You have to realise that, in Sweden, we don`t have the rock and roll background that there is in Britain or America. We listened to Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones of course but we didn`t quite grow up with them in the same way that you did.”

I ask them about Eurobeat. Why are they so obsessed by that jolly, obnoxious boom-boom?
Benny volunteers: “This is the popular traditional music of Nothern Europe. Our folk songs sound like that. The first instrument I ever had was an accordion. My parents bought it for me when I was about ten.”
An accordion! It seems to almost symbolise the problem of Abba. It fits, but it`s hard to explain. Outside of maybe Clifton Chenier, as far as I`ve ever been concerned, the only good accordion is a dead accordion. I think we have maybe defined the culture gap, if not bridged it.
Earlier, in Stig Andersson`s office he had played me a cut called “Intermezzo” from the album “Abba.” It`s obviously the prime example of Benny stretching out beyond the song Song For Europe format. It`s an instrumental from the Wakeman/Emmerson/Moruz bag, except the Eurobeat bounces through it. It is impressively put together. A lot of work and technical skill obviously went into it and it gets right up my nose. It also proves that Eurobeat is so deeply ingrained in the souls of these Swedes that they will probably never lose it.
The time comes when there`s no getting round the central unpleasant question: “How come you take so much trouble with the production of the music on your record and then stick these moronic lyrics over the top?”
I do my best to phrase it more politely, but it still comes out sounding mildly insulting.
To my surprise nobody is actually insulted. Benny shys away slightly. “We don`t want to write political songs. We don`t want to turn our records into speeches.”
I explain I didn`t mean politics, just imagery and content. Love songs can have a hell of a lot more depth than anything Abba have ever attempted. I point at examples like “Yesterday,” “California Dreamin” and “God Only Knows.” Bjorn looks thoughtful.

“I`m glad you brought this up. It is possible that we`ve been concentrating too much on the music and neglecting the lyrics. You have to realise that it is very hard to create images in a foreign language.”
“You always write in English.”
“Yes. So few people speak Swedish.”
“It wouldn`t be possible to do something part English and part Swedish, the way McCartney used French in “Michelle?”
“Anything`s possible. I think we are becoming far more fluent in English. Since we`ve been touring we find it much easier to express ideas.”
The interview changes into a discussion of lyrics. Both Benny and Bjorn seem anxious to learn all they can. It could simply be a case of flatter-the-journalist-so-he-writes-nice-things, but I do get the feeling that these guys who have suddenly started producing world-wide hits from what must be a musical backwater, want to soak up information like sponges.
The conversation moves on to morality.
“Don`t you feel that, with Abba, you could almost be turning out a kind of palliative; jolly songs that create the illusion that things aren`t as bleak as they really are?”
“Bleak?”
“We are in the middle of a depression.”
“We don`t plan in advance what we are going to do. We just go to our island and record whatever`s in our heads.”
Bjorn joins in: “We have not felt the effects of the depression too much in Sweden.”
I think about the people merrily knocking back their £3 drinks. Perhaps he`s right.

There`s one other thing I feel I ought to find out about. Abba are a group who have been promoted to a large extent by the medium of television. What do they do when they play live?
“We don`t play a great many concerts. It`s a problem to reproduce what we do on record live. When we do play we have something like 17 people on the stage.
“We also don`t like to be committed to lengthy tours. It means we can`t go out to our island and record. This is the most important thing.”
“Surely when you go to America to play concerts you`re going to be pushed into the Las Vegas circuit?”
“We don`t want to become a Vegas act.”
That is very firm. I wonder how these earnest Swedes are going to deal with the big league music Mafia.
“You don`t feel the need to play regularly to a live audience?”
“Not at the moment, but things are always changing.”
A bottle of Aquavit comes out and the interview winds down. I don`t really feel I`ve got the whole picture. I`m not sure I`d have it if I spent a whole week with Abba. Finally Bjorn drives us back to the hotel. This, in itself, is pretty unusual for a pop star.
I suppose that brings us back to where we came in: The gymnastic frug in the discotheque. Abba (and young Sweden, for that matter) appear serious, hard working, painstaking and eager.
Unfortunately, they don`t have natural rhythm. And that`s why Abba are Abba, and not The Beach Boys.

IMG_0599

Yes, THAT group would be even more exciting over the years.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mick Ronson, British Country Music Festival, Rolling Stones, J.J. Cale, Magna Carta, Dr. Alimantado, Steve Harley, Osibisa.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.