To someone who didn`t know better at the time it would seem as Mr. Gillan was a Christian. First he starred in a very central role in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” and then he produced the band “Jerusalem”. Funny business for a man who later composed a song called “No Laughing In Heaven”.
Oh, well, this is a treasure from those golden days at the start of the 70s and I`m off to a concert tonight with some other fans of Gillan`s main band Deep Purple, namely the incredible musos of Dream Theater.
Svengali Ian Gillan tells of his first Purple Production
CAPTURING THE BIRTH
James Craig chronicles the progress of Jerusalem
POP MUSIC as someone once remarked is well left in the hands of youth and as some of our super stars totter towards the thirty plus signs it might be as well to offer some encouragement and help to those on the starting line.
Certainly that is the thinking behind Deep Purple`s vocalist Ian Gillan`s helping hand to four young men from Salisbury in a band with the unlikely name of `Jerusalem` with an even more unlikely titled single `Kamakazi Moth` (Decca) and an album just released.
Ian has just formed a new production company ‘Pussy Music’ and ‘Pussy Enterprises’ to which Jerusalem have become the first signings and last week he introduced me to half the group in the forms of Bob Cooke (lead guitar) and Paul Dean (bass) over a flagon of ale while he explained his involvement.
“My interest has been in an advisory capacity,” said Ian. “I didn’t so much produce the album as simply advise on a few technical problems and make some suggestions. I came across the band at a time when they were trying to get a record deal together and were in a state of confusion.
“In some ways its a nostalgic thing for me because I see them going through the same kind of problems and transitions that I did in the early days, before Episode Six even, when I was playing with little local bands in Hayes, Middlesex. I’ve always regretted that I never had any record of those early efforts because there was something about the brash enthusiasm of an early musical birth that you never recapture.
“I don’t want to give the impression that these boys are novices because they are not. They started playing almost as infants at school five years ago when Paul met up with Ray Sparrow and got a band together and later at college they met Bill Hinde and Bob Cooke.
“More recently they`ve brought in a new singer, Lynden Williams, and he has just the right kind of dramatics and vocal ability that convinced me that he had what it takes.”
Originally they started out as a `mean dirty blues band’ and moved through a phase they like to forget which was vaguely progressive which means everyone who came to see them sat on the floor like in-animate blobs and soaked up the vibes.
“Young people have just naturally got more energy than that and we want to see them moving about and enjoying themselves,” says Paul.
“Personally I feel that the ‘flashier’ a band is when they come on stage the better they look.
“I think people like Bolan have got it right – young audiences want to see something a bit exotic on stage. We are a flash band in that sense — a bit vicious and a bit sensual. We use a lot of volume but not as a cheap way to generate excitement.”
I think it was Paul who mentioned that the band had got a recent touch of ‘the support band blues’ playing second string to such formidable talents as Curved Air and Manfred Mann.
“Manfred has really got a very good little band together now,” said Paul. “He’s gone back to a basically pop format and it seems to be working. ” He was most impressed to witness the star playing chess in his dressing room prior to his appearance.
“The problem with playing in support of big name bands is that you know that they have come to see the headliners and you’ve really got to play your arse off to get any attention.”
Ian interjected to blow their own trumpet for them.
“Mind you,” he said. “I don’t care what anyone says it is the sole aim of any support band to blow the top of the bill off the stage and if anyone had got a ‘clapometer’ together I think ‘Jerusalem’ would have taken a few points off some of the bands they’ve worked with recently like Medicine Head.
“I don’t think we should give the impression that we go in with that attitude though,” said Paul guardedly. “I mean we found a group billed below us on a recent bill and I felt just a little embarrassed. It’s competitive without being cut-throat.”
Jerusalem have already suffered at the hands of word-slinging record reviewers who like to discourage new rock bands before they have managed to make their first tentative steps but overall they are winning recognition for their musical exuberance and crowd pleasing performance.
Ian hit out at some of those critics who do not seem to care about anything formative or cannot necessarily compare to the technical proficiency of more experienced and qualified musicians.
“I really feel some of these critics who cannot accept the fact that so called ‘heavy music’ has now become pop music by virtue of the fact that it is popular are writing with their heads in the sand,” he said.
“Why is it that some writers seem to adopt this postion that nothing can ever be any good if it is widely accepted and why is it that some bands like Black Sabbath seem so anxious to put down the young people who come to their concerts and refer to them disragingly as `teenyboppers’.
“How would you like to be called a ‘teenybopper’ just because you happened to be young and like bands that retained some essence of vitality. That’s just something else I can’t understand.
A band is hungry so it becomes good out of that hunger. It gets recognised and successful then throws the acceptance back in the faces of the people who made them. It just doesn’t make sense.
“Critics who are not prepared to encourage new talent and make some kind of allowance that no band becomes as good as those who are on top immediately are doing no good to themselves or the business that feeds them. They slam a show which maybe 5,000 people dug and the unfortunate thing is that maybe a quarter of a million people read the review!”
All bands like ‘Jerusalem’ want is a chance to prove themselves and Gillan is doing his bit to lend a hand. More established artists with his attitude would be no bad thing.