Chris Salewicz

ARTICLE ABOUT YES from New Musical Express, June 7, 1975

Here is one more for the Yes crowd. I hope you enjoy this one. Have a good read.

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Warning by H.M. Government

There is no mention of brown rice on this page

Persian rugs and health food in general?
Well, OK …yeah, but not in any harmful quantity. There is, however, CHRIS SQUIRE talking about the interminable Topographical Oceans and a delicately coloured pen-picture of the Yes men on the road.

By Chris Salewicz

I`m hunting through the cartridges in the glove compartment of Chris Squire`s `63 Rolls Royce as we head out of Liverpool towards the M62 and Manchester, next town on the Yes datesheet.
There`s one cartridge in there with “Ocean Boulevard” stickered across it.
“Only trouble is,” observes Squire, speaking in that mode generally defined as the laconic, “it`s not on there – actually, it`s one half of `Tales From Topographic Oceans`.”
You droll fellow.
As a matter of fact, having now listened to that album a considerable number of times, I`ve come to terms with it to the extent of firmly believing “Requiem” (Side Four) to be the most dauntingly stimulating “live” piece Yes have yet performed.
What do you think Mr. Squire? (Bearing in mind that Patrick Moraz, who hadn`t joined the band when the album was recorded, holds this composition in the highest esteem – though his qualification, “Has the listener these days the time to listen to a piece of music that long and that complex?” probably pinpoints the critical dilemma).

“What do I think of it?…Well, it`s 80 minutes worth of music, right? Now, of that 80 I`m not saying it`s all perfect – but there`s some good bits… Overall I think it`s quite a project for any band to undertake….
“Like, if we`d spent another year on it, it could have been better, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
“`Topographic Oceans` had a lot of space in it. Which most popular records haven`t. Most popular records are action-packed to the last semi-quaver… between the heavy, important themes there were those areas that were possibly a little cloudy. Possibly people mistook that for being indefinite, as opposed to merely relaxing.
“And possibly it bored some people listening to those things.”
And of course that album was just about set-and-match for those who would damn Yes as the ultimate in Pomposity Rock. A lot of their detractors seem to find some rather suspect Great Tradition attempting to assert itself in the band`s work.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Squire nods as “Free Man In Paris” gets under way on the “Court And Spark” eight-track. “I can understand that annoying some people.”
…and which tends to interlink with the way the Yes health food etc `life- style` has been played up.

“Played up? Yeah. Overplayed…
“But you have to make an effort to find an alternative,” he decides, as we hit the motorway.
I`m thinking of the lack of monosodium glutamate in the band`s collective bloodstream, actually.
“It was Steve and I on the third States tour. We were in this hotel in New York and ordered a steak and they brought us the most tasteless piece of shit you`ve ever had in your life. And so we said for the rest of the tour – it was summer – we said that we`d just eat salads.
“And it kind of developed from there.”
It is perhaps unfortunate that Steve Howe`s father is a master chef.
“It`s so ridiculous because it`s just a personal food taste, and for some reason an `anti`s` developed in the press. Doesn`t really matter, though… As long as they keep on mentioning the name of the band.”
Talking of which there are those constant Press bracketings with ELP -rivals in technological ostentation.
“We don`t really have any need for Persian rugs… You know, what with having all the Rembrandts to trample about on.

“I don`t know if you`ve ever looked at Yes`s equipment, but it`s really smaller than most bands. I mean, ELP have od`d on their state gear. In fact, we`re using less equipment than we were three or four years ago.
“There`s a certain style of doing things which I think was injected into the original thing of Yes and I think the thread is still there actually.”
He eases up on the accelerator, having spotted a police XJ6 in the rear-view mirror.
“Wanting a good vocal thing and a very good rhythm section. Wanting it, in fact, so that everybody was good on their instruments.
“A democratic band, though, is what was always wanted from every member. You know, like Patrick is as important as Jon to me because with his knowledge Patrick can obviously contribute things that Jon can`t and vice-versa.”
Patrick Moraz…
One day last summer he received a suitably euphemistic phone call from manager Brian Lane requesting him to “assist on keyboards” during some Yes rehearsals. Subsequently, he removed himself from his Refugee cohorts, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison, to take care of the keyboards control-module vacated by Rick Wakeman`s fleeing paunch.

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Offstage, Moraz appears to wander through his existence in a bemused Gallic (all right, Swiss-Gallic) haze, visibly troubled by the lack of females in the band`s British audiences. However – when he leaves the Liverpool Empire via the stage door to find not a waiting car but a few hundred Scouse fans, of both sexes, who burble “Paddy!” and pin the Swiss gnome of rock against the theatre wall – the unease merely intensifies.
Indeed, it`s only during the sound-check for the first Manchester gig that Moraz appears totally contended.
As the 12-man road-crew go through their perfectionist motions (“The blue`s off there. The green`s a bit out of line…
Yeah, projector`s coming 41 and 42… What humming? WHAT`S THAT BUZZING!?”), he methodically works round his 16 keyboards and slides into a slow jam with Squire`s bass rumble.
Alan White, Jon Anderson and Steve Howe all arrive, check their instruments and split from the theatre. The unlit fibreglass giant crabs and toadstools meanwhile lend the impression of a fairground in the process of construction for a Doctor Who set.
“Originally I wanted Yes to be just The Nice with Vanilla Fudge harmonies,” Jon Anderson mentions after the gig.
I`d have seriously bitched with him over that during the Wakeman era, but the introduction of Patrick Moraz has trampled underfoot the concept of Yes as pre-packaged, Just-Add-Voltage Muzak.

Moraz has obviously injected Yes with a stylised sense of the absurd that has been the catalyst in reasserting the band as one of the foremost rock outfits this country has produced.
And that`s “rock” as in “rock `n` roll”.
At eleven the next morning in his identikit automated hotel room, an unshaven Moraz is listening to a cassette of Miles Davis` “Live Evil” on his portable Sanyo stereo. His musical tasts are apparently pretty catholic -Led Zeppelin could have been put on just as readily as Miles.
He also claims that Yes were the first rock band he ever saw perform on stage. As if in some confused need for identity-confirmation, he has slipped on a Yes T-shirt with the battered denims and Japanese printed boots (by Andy`s Of Shepherd`s Bush), lending him the appearance of some surreally butch Genet matelot.
“Yes are a very influential band,” he pronounces before dealing with an unpleasant coagulation of early morning phlegm.
But maybe a shade sterile?
“Sterile in what sense?”
Clinical.

“I tell you what: in a band like this with musicians playing the way they play… if it`s not organised it could get lost every minute. And that`s why every night after the show we talk about what happened in that number and why this didn`t happen in this number.
“It used to be like this, but I don`t think it is now – because…I mean, they had to search their way…they had to organise their music highly. Now it`s probably even more organised, but there`s more room for solos.
“Every number is played like a giant jam session really.
“Maybe Rick didn`t move much onstage,” he free-associated, pensively contemplating the Manchester rooftops, “but I move a lot because I feel it – I feel it rock – and I go with the music.
“It`s like when you make love to a chick, you know. When you find a rhythm and you can go on for hours.
“Sorry about this. This little non-musical bracket. Do you want some more tea? Do you want some toast?”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own  webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Billy Connolly, Sailor, Rick Wakeman, Elton John, Henry Cow, Robert Wyatt, Report on New bands in New York, John Cipollina, Herb Rooney (Exciters), Status Quo, Cecil Taylor, Patti Smith and Television.

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 (Yes) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, December 21, 1974

This may well be the article that gets my blog 10.000 views, knowing how interested Yes-fans are of reading about past and present members of the band. I will celebrate with something a little stronger than beer. Kind of a strange article this, and I never knew that Mr. Wakeman was so fond of beer. Is he still?
Have fun!

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We could have talked about his latest epic “The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare”…we were even ready to discuss his Keyboard Technique…but he preferred to talk about drinking. Accordingly, we preshent-

The RICK WAKEMAN Consumer`s Guide to Beers of the World

The management reserved rights to refuse admission to Chris Salewicz (words) and Joe Stevens (pics)…but they came in anyway

“On our rider for the tour of America – for the seven of us – we had twelve six-packs of Budweiser, two bottles of tequila, two bottles of scotch, two bottles of brandy, a bottle of grenadine and a bottle of orange juice to mix Tequila Sunrises. This is apart from all the ordinary lagers and other beers you get.
“And on the very first gig we had to send out for more at half time.”
Yes, Rick Wakeman likes the old tipple. In fact, one could go as far as to say that he regards himself as something of a connoisseur when it comes to booze. And I`m not just thinking of anything as crass as the fact that there was invariably a pint pot within reach whenever Wakeman was on stage with the Topographic Travellers – or “what Yes eat is what I bring up in the morning after a heavy night`s drinking”. No, that`s all become somewhat unnecessarily over-emphasised.

Because right now we`re going to talk about BEER – A Man`s Drink. So snuggle up close, you big butch creatures, and come on down to the Anglesea Arms, 15 Selwood Terrace, London SW7, which has been specially selected for the Rick Wakeman`s Consumers Guide to this liquid – for the quite basic reason that it`s a Free House (i.e., it`s not owned by an particular brewery) and stocks twenty-seven different brands.
Oh, then, to the first pint: Young`s Special. Wakeman dips his face into the glass and consumes roughly half of it. He seems satisfied: “Very difficult. First of the day, you see. I`ve deliberately been starving myself of liquid refreshments.
“And that first pint always does tend to taste just that little bit watery. It`s a very good bitter, although.”
It`s decided that the various beers to be tasted should be awarded star ratings with a possible maximum of ten.
The artist who is currently transforming the sensitive Arthurian legends into a musical form glugs down the final half of yet another aspect of his heritage.

Froth from the beer delicately mats together the hair of his freshly trimmed moustache.
“It`s a nine,” he declares. “Definitely a nine star out of ten rating.” And he lets forth a quaint belch before telling us that he`d cancelled studio time so that he could keep his appointment. Obviously a man who has his priorities right, is Rick Wakeman, as his reaction shows when it`s mentioned that the pub is rather absurdly crowded and that we could, if it were felt necessary, move on to somewhere with a little more room to breathe.
A look of extreme concern appears on his face: “Yeah, but the thing is they all close at eleven and the more walking about that we do the less alcoholic beverage time.
“One finds this problem a lot,” he adds, before lumbering up to the bar to personally inspect what is available. He returns with a pint of Watney`s Special!
“This, of course, though,” says Wakeman apologetically, “is the kind of beer that I was actually weaned on. Watneys provided me with my very first pint when I was thirteen years old – I can remember drinking it but I can`t remember the aftermath.
“Chemical beer does, of course, lay more heavily on the stomach.

“Now one beer which you can`t actually get there – Ind Coope…”
Ah, but one can, however, purchase Ind Coope`s Double Diamond.
This satisfies our guinea-pig: “While Double Diamond has the sweetness and the glorioso of wandering through a forest on a spring day with the sight of those first leaves and the gentle tweeting of birds…it does make you fart,” states Wakeman, almost with anguish. “Most of the band drink Double Diamond…I do find that if you drink a lot of it you tend to pebble-dash the toilet in the morning. Which can be a bit awkward especially if you`ve got a busy day ahead of you.
“I really do quite like this (Watney`s) actually,” he says a little defensively. “Because you know how you get accustomed to a taste.”
A certain gassiness about it, though.
“That doesn`t worry me because I normally drink light and bitters. I used to drink bitter all the time but I found that going from pub to pub the bitters would vary and I`d find bitters I really liked like…Well, for example I was one of the people who really liked Charringtons Bitter – I think it`s quite a pokey little beer, actually. Quite like Young`s bitter, in fact.

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“But then you might go somewhere and have Truman`s Bitter which is really….Anyway I used to play in a little dance band and one of the guys said to me `You`re mad to drink bitter all the time because you can never be assured of a good one. The way you want to make sure that you`ll always have a good pint is if you have a light and bitter because if the beer`s horrible and flat a light ale will always buck it up a bit`.
“So when I was travelling around in bands that`s what I always used to drink because it assured that the pint tasted relatively the same wherever I was.”
There is however, another answer to this admittedly perennial problem: what is known in parts of the North as a pint touch. Now this involves the slightest amount of lemonade being poured on top of the beer. Wakeman`s eyes light up: “Down where I`ve got a place in the West Country they call that a bitter dash.”

At this point, though, the arrival of a pint of every draught beer sold in the Anglesea brings an end to the discussion of the more esoteric aspects of the brew.
“Lowenbrau…,” gurgles Wakeman through a Teutonic mouthwash, “I don`t like lagers…I really don`t like lagers. I always wake up with a headache. It just spoils a good night`s drinking.
“On a star rating…Actually we haven`t graded Watney`s Special yet. On a star rating I`ll have to give an eight to the Watney`s.
“Because I do like Watney`s, you know,” he adds, perhaps noticing my displeasure. “It`s always consistent.
“Now this lager…Extremely disappointing, I`m afraid. The Lowenbrau only gets five stars.”
A pint of Double Diamond (Works Wonders) slides down Wakeman`s Deep Throat: “Always tastes to me – Double Diamond – as it… do you remember the early days at the dentists when they used to give you gas? Actually, it wasn`t so much the gas as the rubbery smell of the mask….But it always reminds me of that. So because of that I can only give it a six star rating, I`m afraid. What`s next?

“Skol!?!
“Oh, I`m afraid I`ll have to link this with the Lowenbrau,” bellows Wakeman irritably, spilling at least a third of the pint over my jeans. “Once again you get a horrendous headache. It does make you pebble-dash the toilet seat…”
Back to the ale. So the Lowenbrau and the Skol both got no more than a miserable five stars each. So much for internationalism. But what about the Ruddles County? How dedicated drinkers have been known to come from all over London to the Anglesea Arms simply for a mere taste of this rare non-chemical beer. Many would argue that Ruddles County is the very finest beer currently being brewed within these shores.
Rick Wakeman gazes at the full pint for a full five seconds before taking that precious, first swallow: “It`s bloody `orrible,” he screams, turning faintly green. “That is awful.
“That is one of the worst things I have ever tasted in my whole life.”
But it`s renowned for its quality, Rick.

“It`s like an off barley wine.
“I`ll give that a two star. And the only reason I`ll give it that is because there`s a pint of it and I might have to drink it before the night`s out.”
Try the Worthington E.
“Flat. It`s normally quite bubbly. Bit tasteless, that.”
Plainly in a tantrum after his disappointment with the Ruddles County, Wakeman awards the Worthington E the staggeringly low rating of minus three stars, though the Watney`s Red Barrel (“it`s one asset is that it`s the same wherever you go”) fares better with six stars. His comments on the Rigers weren`t exactly flattering and he refused to even attempt an assessment of its worth.
Grabbing at another pint of Young`s Special, Wakeman rinses out his mouth and departs with a crazed look on his face -loudly demanding to know the direction of the nearest Star Of India restaurant.

From the touring adverts

From the touring adverts

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bryan Ferry, Sparks, Gong, Rolling Stones, Big Jim Sullivan, Dizzy Gillespie, Otis Redding.

Sold!

ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, June 8, 1974

What a strange article this is. The journalist strikes me as a pompous, arrogant, self-righteous guy that the other kids probably beat up when he went to school! I am really impressed with Hensley`s self-control in this interview as even I, the reader, 40 years in the future, wants to slap this interviewer around.
Have a good read!

 

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So tell me, Ken, why is it Uriah Heep drive rock critics to suicide?

Chris Salewicz fearfully puts the question, remembering adverse album reviews and also the murderous bottle-throwing devotion of Heep`s fanatical supporters.

“It gets on my tit when people start talking when I`m listening to music, so when I`m at `ome I always turn the sound right up loud so that it`s impossible for anyone to try and hold a conversation.”
And the entourage grins sycophantically at the chortling Ken Hensley, and I begin to wonder what I`ve let myself in for.

The point is that hardly anyone I know exactly gets off on Uriah Heep`s music. Yet all over Europe, North America and the Far East the band helps maintain the scarcity rates of precious metals by picking up silver and gold albums each time they clear passport control.
And then, of course, there`s the blind allegiance of their followers – loyal, dedicated, murderous (remember their maniac Lord Of The Flies bottle throwing at Alex Harvey at Alexandra Palace last year?).
So this has become something of a voyage of discovery – an attempt to discover the answer to “Why Uriah Heep?”

Already, though, I`m beginning to fear the worst. The setting – the King Henry VIII hotel in Bayswater – epitomises that kitsch opulence that often seems associated with the band: plexiglass habitatty chairs, portraits of the Tudor ruler and his various ladies, and the obligatory swimming pool with green and blue surround.
This obviously ain`t no place for any rock`n`roll confessional. So the Uriah Heep keyboards player and myself are ushered through the hotel to one of the bedrooms where we can sprawl on burnt ochre bedspreads (what else?) with nothing to disturb us but the distant rumble of the Circle line.
In my experience, heavy musicians tend to be somewhat lightweight mentally – I once spent the most awkward hour of my life attempting to discuss the philosophical and sociological ramifications of their music with a member of a very popular and very heavy band – and so I take my time letting Ken get comfortable. There comes a point, however, when small talk can be carried beyond the bounds of decency, and, from the way he`s shuffling about inside his denims, it quickly becomes apparent that he knows I`m procrastinating.

Alright, then. No point in holding back any longer. Why is it, Ken, that rock writers seem, shall we say, not too keen on Uriah Heep? After all, when Melissa Mills reviewed your first album in Rolling Stone she wrote that if the band ever made it she would commit suicide.
“You asking me this on tape?” he mutters quizzically.
Well, yes, I am actually genuinely interested in this loathing or, at best, total apathy that mention of Uriah Heep tends to generate. I mean, how do you react to it all?
He considers this for a second or two, and then: “I think it was because we dropped a bit of a cobbler when we first got going.
“See, what we did was to try and advertise our product before we took it on the road and it was just about the time people were getting tired of hypes.

“But I didn`t regard it as a hype because I was too busy. Mind you, we were very, very rough when we first got going and I think that some of the criticism was right. But it didn`t just apply to the critics, y`know – it applied to the public as well.
“The only criticism I didn`t like was the stuff that just rejected it out of hand and that didn`t attempt to make any constructive remarks but was just totally destructive.”
And he cites that initial Rolling Stone review.
“We`re still waiting for her to do it.”
Am I to take it, therefore, in the light of what you`re saying about having been very rough, that you`re not exactly satisfied with some of your records?
“If you`re ever totally satisfied with any of your records then you might as well give up.

“But on those first three albums – well, we were just thrashing about trying to find a direction. You should just listen to a couple of cuts of any of them and it`ll indicate just how much out of our depths we really were.
“Our feet were right off the ground!
“In some ways, though, it seemed to help us. We were good and aggressive in our early days and not very much else. And when we went out to Germany they seemed to like that and went out and bought a lot of copies of our first album.”
Okay, you`ve said some of what you think about Uriah Heep and its problems. Now let me say that I tried to understand your music by playing “Sweet Freedom” several times, but I just felt that it churned on and on and on.
In fact, the only moments that I faintly enjoy were when the structuring reminded me of the early Vanilla Fudge.

For once I seem to have got Spot The Influence right on target.
“Being totally honest I think that Vanilla Fudge is the strongest influence on the band – that first album they did was such a totally original heavy album.”
But what of my feelings that “Sweet Freedom” does just churn on?
“Oh. I felt that too.”
What?
“In fact, I felt the same about all of them – this sense of emptiness. There`s a lack of achievement. But after I`d heard `Wonderworld` (Uriah Heep`s new album) I thought that we had actually achieved something at last, because we seem to have got so much more dynamics on it.”

Ken Hensley

Ken Hensley

Now I`ve already been told that Ken Hensley drew the majority of his inspirations for the lyrics on “Wonderworld” from dreams. Which gives me a chance to make the point that his lyrics often seem at odds with the relatively violent sounds of the music.
His reply surprises me, to say the least.
A thoughtful swig on his scotch and coke and: “I think this comes as a result of the inevitable – but hopefully minute – interpretation loss that comes from presenting something to four people who then have to listen and present something in their own way and then present it as a group.
“But for the most part the music and lyrics are sympathetic with each other.”
Hmmm.
Well, how do you see your lyrics? Do you see them as short poems or just as lyrics – because I really can`t see they stand up without the context of the songs?

“Sometimes I write lyrics first, but the songs I`m happiest with are the ones where the music and the lyrics all come together at the same time. I was talking to this bloke in Norway who`d listened to my solo album and he`d interpreted it as being space rock because the first line goes:
`I`d travelled across the universe on wings of space and light.`
“And I said `No. You`ve got it completely wrong. All that that is is just a poetic way of saying I`ve been all round the world and I like coming home again`.”
Thank Christ someone else has suggested it.
Ahem. Er, actually, Ken, that guy was saying what I feel, that your lyrics are rather Ladbroke Grove spaced-out. But you`d claim they`re not?
“I`m only learning to write songs. While I`ve been given this licence to write songs, then hopefully people will accept that my songs will improve.

“But I happen to be the proud owner of a very, very dangerous piano – a very large Steinway. And when I`m writing I can sit there and play it for hours and hours, y`know.
“And I just vanish into some place where I can`t be contacted at all. The phone can ring for hours and people can bang me on the shoulder but I`m just lost in this kind of…wonder world.”
(N.B. Plug for album).
This is all going a whole lot better than I expected. No moodies or incoherent mumblings when I criticise the music or his lyrics.

However, Uriah Heep suddenly made it in America about eighteen months ago. What happened? “The American thing was a freak thing of very, very good luck. We happened to do our first tour with Three Dog Night, which meant that in one month we got to thousands and thousands of people – they liked us and we`ve just gone from strength to strength.”
But wasn`t there a tale or two of strange gentlemen latching on to the band in the States?
A long and thorough mouthwash with the remnants of his drink and Ken Hensley wryly rubs his face with his hands. He shakes his head.
“People really got the wrong end of the stick about the `Demons And Wizard`s` album. And we followed it up with `Magicians Birthday` – that`s when we got the diagrams for space ships and all the weirdos decided to come and visit us in the hotels. Probably didn`t do us any harm though. It`s nice to get away from life for a moment and get into your imagination. I like it. I like going off into fantasies and things. I enjoy it…I find it stimulating. Then when I come down to the real world I`m ready for it.
“Bit like going to a football match really.”

Well, considering all that, what is Uriah Heep`s music really all about?
“Our music now is just about five people who`ve taken rock`n`roll and tried really hard over the five years we`ve been together to make it our kind of rock`n`roll – to establish our own kind of identity and make it in some way original.
“We work very, very hard at it, y`know, and it`s honest music – that`s one thing I can say for sure – because it`s music that`s intended to try and entertain people and take them away from everyday life just for the period they`re listening to it, whether it be an album or a show.”
And can you truthfully promise me that if I`d come up to you after your third album and said that I just couldn`t understand or appreciate your music that you would have maintained your cool and not have given me any misunderstood artist bullshit? That you would have been as up front with your replies as you have been today?
No hesitations whatsoever?
“Look, if you`d said that to me then i`d have probably said okay and gone away and thought about it.
“The trouble is that now it sometimes seems to happen the other way round and we get a good review of something that we know has been lousy.
“When that happens it`s really the end, it`s rockbottom. It was better the way it was before.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: David Cassidy, Deep Purple, Slade, Slapp Happy, Russell Harty, PFM, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Showaddywaddy, Lou Reed, Marilyn Monroe, Tim Buckley, Donald Byrd, Duke Ellington, Inez Foxx, Warhorse.

This edition is sold!