Mike Flood

ARTICLE ABOUT ELO FROM SOUNDS, March 1, 1975

A good one from Mr. Page – an early report from the road with ELO. A great read.
Read on.

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After mingling with the men from ELO, MIKE FLOOD PAGE discovers, in no uncertain terms that…

Exploding cello players are hard to get

Backstage in the largest conventional theatre in London, midst a scatter of drum heads, cables, and flats from old plays, a group of casually dressed men surround a curious object on the floor. A cable snakes away from its wooden figure-eight body to a couple of small batteries; inside they connect to a small charge.
In an atmosphere of increasing tension it`s front is replaced. A young man holds it up, and enquires if everyone is ready. The group hurries away from him in alarm. Someone gives the signal: a flash, a bang, and the front of the exploding cello flies off.
ELO`s latest recruit, second cellist Melvin Gayle, looks at the wreckage in his hands with a mixture of surprise and dismay. There is a quick conference: it is agreed the latest weapon in ELO`s armoured assault on classical music is deemed OK for the night.
Jeff Lynne explains: “We were thinking of an exploding cello player but they`re so hard to get.” Ah yes, all those tiresome cleaning bills.
Tonight it`s the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, last night York; a couple of weeks back it was Phoenix or Denver or anywhere they like to hear the world`s first and best punk classic-rock band. They`ve never been able to restrain a good dig those Brummy liggers ELO.
Back in the days when the Idle Race were a cult band in Brummagem there was always that suspicion that they were too down to earth to take all that Tangerine Blancmange stuff too seriously, and the same esprit de piss-take pervades everything they do.
You know where their roots lie when you catch Jeff Lynne doodling away back stage at the middle break on `Runaway`, that classic by his hero Del Shannon. But then as new bassist Kelly Groucutt said in the pub later, “But `e`s yer mate now, Jeff, innee?” And indeed he is, but ELO are still a bunch of bad boys at heart. Unperturbed by the nonsense of the biz and still with their feet on the ground and their heroes in the early Sixties.

Over the same pint, no make that a couple, after the meal and before the show, Bev Bevan was explaining about the cover on their latest opus, `Eldorado` which has just cracked gold in the US where the group are still getting bigger and bigger. “Ere that`s right innit,” mused Kelly, “I mean, there`s seven of us now.” What they didn`t know, was that the cover was a still from the Wizard of Oz, the feet, those of the immortal Judy Garland. But everyone in the States knew right enough. “So they`re all saying how wonderful it is,” explains Bev, “and we`re saying, Oh, you know, we just thought it would be a good idea.”
It`s up for design awards now, but they`re not above getting a laugh out of it. Mind you that`s nothing to what happened to their first album in the States. United Artists, who handle them there, were in a hurry to start promotion on it, so a senior executive had his secretary call London for the title. Finding no-one in London who knew, she left a note on his pad that read `No answer`. So an album entitled `No Answer` is what they got. Still it`s a laff innit?
`Eldorado`. the same deft mix of pop classic strains with classic pop ideas that has seen them so far, overlaid with a real symphonic number, was the product of a few months thought on Jeff`s part, and two days on the lyrics. “I had to sit there for two days all day going `come on, do it, move on the paper!` and it come out alright in the end. Once I got started it was OK. I enjoyed that – working under pressure. It`s just that I fancied doing something with a concept. I thought about doing it with `On The Third Day` but we didn`t have time in the end.”
There must be problems transferring it to stage. “It`s quite difficult, yeah. But now Richard Tandy`s got a mellotron with choir parts an` stuff like that, it`s working out quite good. There`s a few more balls ups than there is on the record.”

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When ELO started, Jeff was quoted as saying that they intended to take-off from the point the Beatles had reached with `I Am The Walrus`. “That was because nobody had used strings and that was the obvious thing to compare it with I suppose. But that`s not the ambition anymore. When we started we didn`t know anything about it, about the instruments we were using or anything, but it`s taken a definite shape now.”
How about that weird high singing style he employs, something reminiscent of the old Move days, a Brummie peculiarity perhaps? “It`s not a conscious thing. I think it`s the way you hold yer leg actually. I just try to make my voice nicer than it really is. I just try and get the rough edges out of it. Maybe it`s the air in Birmingham what does it, all that snot.”
How does he go about writing and making an album like `Eldorado`? “On `Eldorado` I went out of my way to do some pseudo-classical stuff which I enjoy a lot. I have to cheat `cos I can`t play piano very well, so all the fast bits I had to do at half speed. That`s for me to show Richard what it should go like. When we record we do the rhythm tracks first just me Bev, Richard and Kelly.” Then in come the strings: Hugh McDowall, Melvin Gayle, and Mick Kaminsky on violin, and then the fancy parts which were arranged by an old mate Louis Clark.
The mugs were empty so it was back over the road to get into the stage gear in the pint sized dressing room and on to a packed house. The set was the mixture as usual with that peculiar mix of straight rock and rollers including a magnificent work out on `Day Tripper` and a stomping finale of `Great Balls Of Fire` – preceded by the exploding cello, which, lamentably came over as a bit of a damp squib, though Melvin looked relieved when that was over.

The songs have the same simple but effective elements that Lynne brought to his Idle Race classic `Please No More Sad Songs`, but for the most part the strange keening vocals are but a poor second to the histrionics of the music. And the music, it`s so literal-minded, such a rip-off, and so successful. This is genuine classic-rock from the garbage can. A punk idea of art.
If they took it seriously they`d lose out to the Rick Wakeman`s and ELP`s of this world before the match had begun, but they don`t. They know that under the camouflage they have good simple songs, with a melancholy or strident one, and a solid rocking undertow.
Not that they are bad musicians, they are just headed in a different direction from the grandiose pretensions of the serious arty classic rock brigade.
The last number over they`re off for a minute. The crowd noise surges up, Jeff looks around at the gaudy crew scattered behind the curtain “Right lads, let`s get back out there”. And it`s a riotous trip through the most straightforward idea since Chuck Berry wrote it. `Roll Over Beethoven` with a classic intro. Now why didn`t someone think of that before?
Then the last curtain down, it`s back to the dressing room for peace and quiet and to change. Except that you  can`t get to your civvies for a crowd at least three times too big for the room.
The situation was well beyond human control. Champagne corks popping in such a press becoming dangerous ballistic missiles. Your reporter, humming a recherche little number by Verdi, and snapping his fingers to a Bo Diddley rhythm, made his excuses, and left.

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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 Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Joe Cocker, Argent, Paul McCartney, The Troggs, Chaka Khan, Lindisfarne, Rupert Holmes, Black Oak Arkansas, Labelle, Return To Forever, Arthur Lee, Flying Burrito Brothers, Glitter Band, Andy Fraser, The Sound of Philly, Back Door, Ronnie Lane, John Entwistle, Tom Paxton.

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 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Elton John FROM SOUNDS, November 9, 1974

A very entertaining article with Elton John written by Mike Flood Page. Mr. Page was the News Editor for Sounds from 1974 – 1975. His awards include three BAFTAs for interactive work and three from the Royal Television Society  including best TV documentary series. His work nowadays is with something called OurBeeb that runs a site called openDemocracy – for those of you that would like to investigate further, you can go here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/ourbeeb/

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Captain Fantastic

Elton John is well into his current American tour and has been to see the big fight between Ali and Foreman… still quite hoarse he managed to talk to Mike Flood Page.

“You didn`t go to the fight last night did you? We went in Chicago; the atmosphere in the place was incredible. Not one person was shouting for Foreman, the audience was 90 % black and it was all: `Ali! Ali!` I was quite hoarse by the time I came out.”
It is 11 a.m. in Chicago, 5 p.m. in London and instead of telling me the latest Elton John news, all our boy from Pinner can talk about is the big match. With the transatlantic phone rates what they are it`s an expensive time to wax enthusiastic about boxing. Eventually, Captain Fantastic as he appears on the new album, recorded in July, is dragged back to the subject of the current US tour.
E.J. and entourage are around a third of the way through the tour, and have holed up in Chicago for a week using it as a base from which they will fly to gigs. This is the first US tour the band have done where they have sold out every date in advance, often in record time and Elton is understandably happy about it: “We`re playing really well, it`s just tightened everybody up. We have a special stage and I`m really pleased.”

RESPONSES

There was a little aggro at one date they were due to play in New Haven Connecticut, firstly there were forged tickets on sale in large numbers and then there was a riot in which the police for once were worsted, as a result New Haven is off and a day has been added in Boston otherwise things are going fine, and Kiki Dee who is opening the show, is also drawing rave responses despite a little nervousness at first.
The new album, “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy” was recorded at Caribou before the tour began, but is not due for release until next May to allow a year from the release of Caribou, rather than flood the market with Elton John, as happened back in the days of “Madman Across The Water”. The material for the album was written on the crossing to the US on the S.S. France and Elton describes it as: “Just experiences of Bernie and I, how we got together through the advertisement, and all our experience up to the `Empty Sky` album.”
Did this presage the start of a series of albums, along these lines, I enquired? A sort of instant “History Of Elton John” a mythology in the making? “No! God forbid! We just set it around the idea of our disappointments and things. It`s really not a concept album. There`s a few personal songs in there as well. It`s the first time we`ve written an album where Bernie has had the running order for the songs before I wrote the melodies. That was very strange; but it`s worked out well.”
What did he feel about the new album compared with the last one, also recorded at Caribou, in the light of the highly critical comments producer Gus Dudgeon had made about “Caribou” a couple of weeks earlier?
“Well `Caribou` was made in like ten days, whereas this time we really cooled it and had three or four months off, cancelled the English and European tours because we were exhausted. And when we went over to Caribou this time we booked five weeks studio time which we`ve never had the luxury of doing before. Also with `Caribou` there were a few personality problems; everyone was shouting at each other because we were tired. I still like the album, I prefer it to `Don`t Shoot Me`, but there you go.”

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This time there were not the additional musicians that there were for the previous album, although Elton himself plays mellotron and Arp and Ray Cooper is featured more heavily than before. He feels that if anything is added now it will be some Moog synthesiser by David Henshaw, so it seems as if Gus Dudgeon`s hope of a Tom Bell arrangement has fallen through.
There was also the appearance, up at the Caribou ranch, high in the mountains outside Denver of John Lennon, who guests on the new E.J. single, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” due out in mid-November. How had that come about? “I met John last year; and then when I was in New York after getting off S.S. France, I saw him again and he said, `come down to my sessions.` So I did, and ended up doing, `Whatever Gets You Through The Night`, and `Surprise` from the album. And he was going to LA to do a song which he had written for Ringo, and I said:
`On the way back, why don`t you come up to Caribou? `Cos we`re gonna do, `Lucy In The Sky` and he said, `sure`.
And so John Lennon appears on the new Elton John single, while Elton sings with John on his, which looks set for an American number one at this moment. “He had a good time, except he couldn`t get used to the altitude; he had to keep rushing to the oxygen tank. I got on really well with him, `cos he works the same way I do in the studio. We really just had a laugh. I`ve really got a very strong affection for him.”
John Lennon is by no means the only person with whom old Hercules has been collaborating for recording purposes lately. Apart from the well publicised appearance on Rod Stewart`s album, Elton sings with Neil Sedaka on the latter`s new single in the US (where Sedaka is signed to Rocket Records); and plays piano on one of the tracks on Ringo`s next elpee. All a bit of a turnaround for the man who even a year ago, had hardly played with anyone outside his own sessions, since the days when he was a humble pianist doing those sessions which produced the Woolies soundalike records with the likes of David Byron now of U. Heep.

“Well, just now I seem to be the world`s top paid session singer, but no-one ever asked me before! Usually they think: we won`t have him on it, boring old fart! I only appear on people`s records that I know. I`m just beginning to enjoy myself and loosen up a bit.”
The conversation then gracefully wound its way to the subject of the Christmas Show, for the first time this year, Elton`s Christmas party will go out live on TV on Christmas Eve. A spectacular first for Elton and something no other rock artist has achieved. What plans did he have for the show?
“No idea at the moment! We did a gig at the Festival Hall in May when we did a sort of history of Elton John. We played `Empty Sky` and something off every album. We started with a three-piece and added Davey and then Ray, and it went down really well. So I`ve got that sort of concept in mind. I`m not going to do any new songs at all; `cos when the new album comes out we just want to do a special gig where we play the whole of the new album. So at Christmas we`ll be playing numbers from, `Madman` that we don`t play anymore, like `Holiday Inn` and `Levon`.
“I should like to bring the stage over from the States and we`ve got the most incredible new lighting system which it would be nice to use at Hammersmith. It`ll be something special anyway.”
Elton also expressed a keen desire to use a brass section, as he is on the US tour where he is backed up by the Muscle Shoals horns, who are unfortunately not likely to be available come Christmas. He also hopes to encourage Nigel Olsson to come out from behind his drum kit to perform his single, a remake of the Bee Gees classic, “Only One Woman”, which they recorded while up at Caribou working on Elton`s album. Elton`s US tour finishes on December 3 and he will be back the next day “Cos I have to catch the Crystal Palace home game”, and in time to finalise things for the Christmas concerts; and he hopes some dates in the New Year, which are in the planning stages right now.
Ever the discophile, Elton began to go on about the new records he had picked up in the States, such as a song by one Gloria Gaynor which had made number one in the New York soul charts and was nowhere yet in the national stakes. He also anxiously enquired how the Lennon record was performing over here. His last question was direct:
“Is there anybody moving out of England yet?” I passed on what little I knew of those lucky enough to need tax havens. “Well tell everybody that I ain`t moving out. I can`t leave my football team”. And with that he rang off.

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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 Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ken Boothe, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Pete Brown, George Harrison, Roger Glover, David Puttnam, Mott The Hoople, Bad Company, Phil Spector, Thin Lizzy, Janis Ian.

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 20 $ (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 The Who FROM SOUNDS, November 30, 1974

The Who is one of the few bands were all the members of the original band made solo albums. With the exception of drummer Keith Moon, who died too early, all the other members have made several solo albums. While waiting for the other members of The Who finishing their film “Tommy”, Bass player John Entwistle were planning a tour. This is a short interview from that period of time.
Enjoy!

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FIRST NIGHT NERVES, TEN YEARS ON…

or how, in times of beef crisis, SOUNDS/Mike Flood Page Productions offers you a large slice of Ox (cunningly disguised in a mushroom sauce as John Entwistle), co-titled “The Ox Lies Down In Battersea”

Just the day to go see the man who created Cousin Kevin and Uncle Ernie, the Whisky Man and a cast of assorted freaks and casualties. The rain was coming down like it was monsoon season and the streets of Battersea where the Who`s Ramport studios are to be found were awash and uninviting.
Inside the converted ecclesiastical building which houses the studios, Roger Daltrey was picking his way through lunch in front of the TV, Russ Ballard dropped by to see a journalist and the Ox, Mr Entwistle himself was settled into the control booth listening to the playback of some brass tracks he was laying down for the “Tommy” soundtrack.
Unlike my preconceptions he seemed a friendly slightly serious guy. I enquired if he didn`t feel haunted by “Tommy” and keen to see the back of it, but he was unperturbed by its refusal to go away, describing it as “a friendly ghost”.

John has laid down about 95% of the bass work on the album besides the brass, all of which he played except the saxophone parts, and he has a role as, would you believe, a bass player, and one of Tommy`s disciples. But on his mind now is his own project, the Ox.
Originally conceived as a twelve-piece, the group has shrunk to a four-piece augmented by a sax player and two girl singers who will play three British dates before Christmas, around fifteen in January and February before leaving for a twenty city tour of the States where it emerges he has a substantial cult following that has produced sales of around 100,000 a time for his solo albums, and earned him number one bass player title in several polls and even number three in the brass section once.
His most successful albums have been, he admits, the sick ones. “They dribble into the charts for a bit and stagger around for a while.”
His own material on three albums so far and reportedly on the forthcoming Ox album betray a bizarre imagination steeped in a black vision of the world. Did he ever stop to ask himself why he wrote like this. I was keen to know. “I`m gradually getting out of that, I must be getting happier or something.

“That early stuff, I was encouraged by Kit Lambert to write…horrible songs really; songs about people with phobias and hang-ups, about spiders and alcoholics who see imaginary people, and stuff like that.
“My first album was about birth, death, reincarnation, the devil, heaven and hell; and the second solo album was about people with things wrong with them: someone whose wife runs off and commits suicide, and a fellow with a dominant mother, a peeping Tom, someone who finds out his girlfriend is married with three kids to a weight lifter.
“Kit Lambert realised I had an ability…he actually wanted me to write a children`s album…stuff like `Boris The Spider` and `Whisky Man` was appealing to 11 and 12 year old kids.”
He conceded that the “Rigor Mortis” album had marked a move from “Sick subjects to slightly sick things; but the latest album isn`t that black, though it`s still got that black undertone to it.” Some kind of concession to public sensibility I suppose.

“I think the sickest album that could ever be released is the stuff I`ve written with the Who. The `Ox` album released on Bactrack is all my numbers with the Who, and the fellow who actually spliced it together said he felt like jumping out of the window after he finished.”
I asked if that had been his original intention: “It was in those days, but I`m gradually getting out of it now. The Ox album is the most commercial thing I`ve done; it`s quite varied in its music. The whole reason for me forming a band was so that I could get a direction musically, so that I could actually write for that band.
“Our strongest thing at the moment seems to be going into free form stuff – improvising on a riff. Once we start working out our own riffs I shall use them to write new material; in the same way that Pete draws on the Who.”

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In some ways it might seem surprising that someone who is a part of a band as good as the Who should ever want to take his own band out on the road, the Ox thinks otherwise. “There`s a lot of numbers of mine that the Who don`t feature on stage, and also a lot of stuff from my solo albums that have never been performed, four albums worth, that`ve never been performed before an audience.”
The amount of stage equipment, especially keyboards that the Ox will have, means there will be one and a half times the amount of speaker cabinets that the Who use. It doesn`t sound a very economic way to tour. “Oh it won`t be economic. I just want to play to the audiences; I`d only have to pay it in tax if I didn`t use it, so why not. Why should the government get it? The audiences can have it instead.”
Rehearsals have been going on for three weeks now and there are only five days left, but John feels confident about the band. He plans to use tapes like the Who onstage for a couple of the new numbers, one of which involves six percussion tracks, and another based around twelve acoustic guitars, both impossible to do on stage.

But tapes present their own problems: “It`s like a deadly perfect musician who plays exactly the same thing every night.” With the Who they found the solution was to use a tape with cue-in clicks through Keith`s headset and for him to cue the group; with the Ox John will do the cues.
He is looking forward to playing two and three thousand seater halls, something the Who can no longer do. Again there is a problem about the likely response. “Why should they be content with 25 per cent of the Who when they can have 100 per cent? Really, you`ve got to make it not 25 per cent of the Who, but 100 per cent of something else.”
This tour is a project John has been eager to do ever since Rigor Mortis and the tour that never came off, but Who commitments have made this the first practical opportunity to do it, and then when the Ox tour is over and the others return from their separate projects in March or thereabouts he`ll be back on the road with the Who, and a new album which Townshend is due to be writing in January and February, everything is planned six months in advance these days.

The Who schedule seems to be fairly light as regards live performance these days, I asked John why: “The main reason we haven`t been doing so many dates is material. We started doing “Quadrophenia” and we found it didn`t work as a work onstage so we picked the best numbers. Then we found that the stage act was exactly the same as the one we`d been playing except for three or four numbers.
The thing is once the Who get tired of a stage act they just don`t want to play it; so it`s really all down to new material all the time. With “Tommy” we spent two years on the road, with “Quadrophenia” it was two months. With the next album we may spend six months on the road or two years.”
John plans that his own immediate next spell of writing will be directed towards the Who, but he also has another more long term scheme up his sleeve which has been fermenting for a couple of years, in between all his other work.

He is very cagey about saying too much: “I`m writing a sort of a…..I`m not gonna call it an opera, `cos it isn`t. It`s gonna be a single album, and the whole album tells a story, a science fiction story. It`ll be very involved. I`m still rewriting numbers from it, though it`s only half written.”
But the immediate future is the tour, his first heading a band, a responsibility he is not too worried about: “After the first gig I`ll be all right. I`m confident the band`s really incredible, but it`s that first gig…I just want to see people`s reaction.” Must be strange, ten years in a top line world beater band like the Who and getting anxious about your first gig, all over again.

Status Quo on tour with Snafu. Nice ad!

Status Quo on tour with Snafu. Nice ad!

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 Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nico, Steve Gibbons Band, Gentle Giant, Hawkwind, David Essex, Bob Dylan, Sweet, Fanny.

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 around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.