Nick Kent

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!

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Bad Company FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 17, 1976

As always, when you read an article written by Nick Kent, the writing is impeccable, but maybe he should have let his interview objects be even more central to proceedings? Anyway, it is a wonder that Mr. Kent could express himself as eloquently as he does, considering he was a herion addict throughout most of the 70s. It sometimes amazes me what people of great talent is able to achieve using hard drugs. But, in the end, everyone will have to pay the price if they don`t stop before it is too late. Thankfully, Mr. Kent was one of those that survived. Read this quite interesting article by one of the most talented music journalists of the 70s.

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…Well, come on then, Rodgers, act mean and nasty for the kids!

NO way. Paul Rodgers fails to live up to the horrendous tales of on-the-road booze and belligerence. He`s being a nice guy. And the rest of Bad Company? They`re being nice guys as well. Nick Kent does not even get insulted, never mind get his face smashed in. Oh well, that`s life.

The things we rock writers come up with! For my sins I recall to this day a ridiculously pompous conversation that took place between yours truly and one American scribe – now a fully paid-up member of the Rolling Stone editorial higher echelon but at this point a budding `punk terrible` working out of Detroit – where we came to the conclusion that the only valid dialectic situation left to the rock star-rock critic was to get into highly elaborate fist fights.
Whether this concept was inspired by the much-publicised fisticuffs between Bob Dylan and venerable rock eccentric A. J. Weberman or whether it was just a kind of dumb cool thing to think up at the time doesn`t really matter. Nor did, at the time anyway, the fact that both of us were yer archetypal nine-stone weakling far more adept at hiding under tables when even the vaguest whiff of violence was mooted in the air than `piling in` so to speak.
Surprisingly enough, I`ve never really found myself in a situation where I`ve been forced to declare arms against some irate musician following some less than complimentary review. The nearest, in fact, I ever came to an out-right confrontation of any sort was at an L.A. club where a drunk and offensive John Bonham (Led Zep drummer to the unitiated) poured a jug of cream and a couple of brandies over my coat, this being presumably his idea of a good `wheeze`.
I in turn found the escapade to be thoroughly unpleasant – any retaliation on my part was scarcely the order of the day seeing that Mr. Bonham is built like the proverbial shit-house door and was constantly flanked by two even more muscular than he.
All in all though, the incident did leave a rather sour complexion on my comrade`s idea of the fist-fight as viable rock dialectic, at least in my view and I quickly forgot about the whole thing.

Until, that is, the assignment. Pretty routine stuff on the surface, it was. Fly out to Jersey, land of the ageing gout-booted British tax exile thirsting for some vague replica of the Olde Country wherein to while away his retirement savings, and interview Swansong Artistes Bad Company, themselves tax exiles but in this daunting position through their mercurial ascendancy onto the pedestal of top-flight rock superstars.
All very straight-forward, but then again, Bad Company do have this reputation preceding them for a belligerent boozed-out boisterousness. Legend has it that even my oppressor M. Bonham was so shocked by their behaviour at one Atlantic Records function that he took it upon himself as co-chairman of Swansong to chastise them gravely for their hedonistic philanderings. (Now that little episode I would have liked to have witnessed).
And then again, how can I forget that touching scenario played out by Paul Rodgers, Bad Co`s leading protagonist, just one year ago. The Faces` Christmas Party it was – a civilised enough occasion, and there was I waiting to savour the sheperds pie and mixed veg laid out on this large table when who but Mr. Rodgers should appear, muttering dark curses at everyone in his booze-tinted view, and promptly lay waste the entire table in question, tossing food-stuffs here and there with nary a thought for present company.
Quite put me off my appetite, it did.

As it happens, almost all my colleagues in the business have their own P. Rodgers anecdote. One party, I recall, voted him the single most unpleasant man in rock, while Charles Shaar Murray recalls the time he witnessed our hero almost set about a Hungarian waitress for merely asking him to take his feet off a chair in the hotel restaurant.
More to the point, further reports lead one to believe that Bad Co.`s corporate ascendancy had worsened the Rodgers temperament considerably. A prominent Swansong musician/co-chairman who had freewheeled it over to the States to see his company`s band slaying `em on the East Coast last year mentioned to me a few months ago that the lead vocalist`s unwillingness to swamp his ego in with his three cohorts and become more flexible musically could cause great dissent with the Bad Co ranks.
And finally there was a Rolling Stone (what else?) piece which vividly documented the band on the tour in question seemingly immersed in a never-ending morose bacchanalia with Rodgers particularly obstreperous.
Ruminating over what I`d gleaned from reports on the Bad Co. temperament in regard to this Jersey venture, I envisaged at least some quotient of `aggro` emanating in my direction – principally from Rodgers, I presumed, who might well not like the cut of my clothes, shape of my legs etc. and would probably bottle me if I asked a question perhaps not to his liking.

Well, to remove what possible suspense which can be drawn from the writing of a piece on Bad Company, nothing like that happened at all. Photographer Pennie Smith and I arrived at the hotel to be greeted by two plates of slightly stale sandwiches and a nice-guy Welsh roadie who agreeably set about farming out members of the band for the interview. The inevitable naturally occurred – I was faced with all four members at once for most of the actual interview, a gnarling situation which totally denied any facility for the more intimate one-to-one heart-to-heart patter which usually reveals something interesting.
Instead the band palled it up and quite agreeably joked around, cooing forth platitudes about the new direction their music was taking and how their new album, “Run With The Pack” was by far their most advanced and satisfying recording.

Facing the band in toto so to speak, you really can`t help but be struck by the visual incongruities of the members. Drummer Simon Kirke, a genuinely entertaining and likable raconteur of `witty stories`, must possess the most oppressively bulging biceps in all rock history, both muscle-packed arms just crying out for a plethora of tattoos with motifs like an anchor just above the elbow and “mother” scrawled just below.
Kirke`s whole persona reminded me of Robert Plant`s whole `likely lad` style; their slightly North of the Border accents are almost identical, in fact. In total contrast, guitarist Mick Ralphs seems to have the physique of a post-adolescent teenager even though he bows to holding down an age “politely known as late 20`s.” For the years spent paying all those proverbial dues in Mott the Hoople, he still possesses the incredibly healthy wide-eyed pallor of a youth making his debut with a band at some local Hereford youth club.
Seated next to him, bass-player Boz Burrell presents even further visual incongruities. Decked out in full cow-poke regalia – the frayed denim shirt, unostentatious boots and lean black stetson, his “jazzer`s” beard makes him resemble the unlikely outcome of Acker Bilk signing on with the Eagles.
And finally there`s Paul Rodgers, short and stocky, moving from his seat to the bar like a Jersey bullock swathed in a bizarre-looking sheep-skin lined suedette bum-freezer which made his contours look all the more bizarre. His face looked remarkably haggard and a presumed lack of vitamins and hot sun made his hair look unhealthy and matted as if he`d just donned a rather shaggy doormat in lieu of a crown topper. I do recall stepping back a few paces in agitated reverence as he stomped into proceedings.

So what do we talk about, boys?
After a few obvious `ice-breaking` questions, I decided to divine the band`s opinion of the Rolling Stone piece referred to earlier.
“Well you`re a journalist, what did you think about it?” Kirke retorts amiably enough.
So I mention that – well, reading between the lines it appeared the writer felt a touch disorientated by the surroundings, didn`t seem to be enjoying himself too much and consequently wrote the article from a rather jaundiced aspect.
“The thing is” – Rodgers has just sat down – “he didn`t once mention anything about the music. There was nothing said about the music.”
Ah yes, the music. I mean, it`s more than fair that Rodgers should bring up the whole “music is the message” schtick – after all, that is his and Bad Co.`s only real claim to fame – they`re musicians, not philosophers or crusading emissaries for some worthy cause.
It`s just that talking and writing about music, particularly of the groinal variety, is basically such a prime pain in the ass, ringing forth all the same old platitudes and cliches as it does in these situations.
As it is, Bad Company have had their talents farmed into the computer-critique from more or less the first note they ever played. The definition always tends to read, “Good hard-rock band… sturdy but unambitious”, with special mention of Rodger`s very impressive vocal style and a possible merit star for Kirke`s excellent trashing abilities.

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Boz Burrell – Gone, but not forgotten.

The definition wasn`t embellished further by the release of “Straight Shooter,” the second album, and one wonders if the adjectival “unambitious” won`t be underlined a little heavier with the soon-to-appear “Run With The Pack”.
After the interview formalities have been dispensed with, Burrell and Ralphs play me a cassette tape of the Olympia gig showcasing at least five new songs which in turn showcase the patented formulas that have kept the band buoyant through two albums worth of toons thus far.
The first formula is Ralphs` personal adapton of the Keith Richard-Chuck Berry block chord rocker, only this time the full-blooded thrust of “Can`t Get Enough” through to the excellent “Good Lovin` Gone Bad” is made manifest in “Sweet Little Sister”. Obvious chord changes, obvious rock-swagger rhyming lyrics – Sweet Little Sister/You know you can`t resist her/She`s got it made in the shade, borrowing not a little from the Stones` phrase-book but that doesn`t mean it doesn`t rock like a bitch.
It`s just that one can only go so far with such limited concepts, no matter how full-blooded the performance and what with everyone from Kiss and Aerosmith down to your-local-punk-band-in-Stretford or Dayton, Ohio, scraping at the bones of `70s rock`s killer riffs – the “Brown Sugar” patent, the “Sweet Jane” chord changes, “Honky Tonk Women”, you end up needing more than even Paul Rodgers` supple vocalese to supply the edge.

Rodgers, for his part, appears still overly fond of his old Free stylisation if a song like the new “Simple Man” is anything to go by. That same loping, melancholic beat, same dour brooding chords (Rodgers in `soulful mood` always sound like he`s kicking himself because he never got to write Traffic`s “40,000 Headmen” before Winwood conceived the tune), the same earnest but bland utterances.
This time we`re faced with Rodgers waxing philosophical after a fashion with these gem-like utterances for company –  “I am just a simple man/Freedom is the only word that means a thing to me.”
Well at least it`s not pretentious and for that I`d gladly take an outfit like Bad Company over the infinitely more ambitious but ultimately ill-postured Queen. It`s just that full-blooded unoriginality and jaded pretence are pretty lean pickings when your expectations settle on that high and mighty echelon both bands are poised on at present.
Bad Company, for their part, tap their feet and nod agreeably at each other. They also mention that the more `advanced` stuff on “Pack” hasn`t been fully mastered yet for stage-performance. Still, one feels just a touch cynical when Ralphs sets about defending his statement recorded in Teazers a couple of weeks back that his band reminds him of The Beatles “in a very distinct way”.
“Yeah, I read that too,” he laughs for a second and then suddenly turns serious. “No, you see what I was trying to say… by drawing that parallel is that just like The Beatles we`re able to cover all the bases. By that I mean you`ve got Paul on one side and me and there`s melody and the rockers and…. Like Lennon and McCartney had that down. They covered the whole spectrum.
“That`s what we`re aiming for and now with this new album…”

And so it goes. As it happens, Ralphs is an extremely likeable bloke. I`d interviewed him several years ago when he was floundering with Mott (this was just before the DeFries union) and I was an idealistic cub reporter and the interview quickly broke down to become an energetic chat about favourite bands and music in general.
Looking back on his Mott days, I ask him whatever happened to the “budding Neil Young” image that Ian Hunter seemed so adamant about laying on the guitarist?
Ralphs fields off the `Young` schtick by simply retorting, “Well, with me it wasn`t as bad as Hunter who was desperate to be Bob Dylan (pause). Nah, Mott was a bizarre group in that we got into this whole thing of appealing to the loon-pants head-shaking audience. Yeah, a bit like Status Quo I suppose, only…”‘
Ralphs seems adamant about disowning the whole glitter-rock trip that the Bowie association set Mott up with. Indeed, Bad Company were conceived by Ralphs and Rodgers in terms of an earthy, anti-glitter backlash.
A question concerning the managerial merits of Tony DeFries draws forth inevitable comparisons with Bowie`s own Col. Tom and Swansong svengali Peter Grant.
“Well, DeFries knew all the stuff about law side of things. But I don`t think he really had any feeling, though, for the human or… uh, artistic side of the business. With Peter, well, it`s like he`s one of the lads really.”

Burrell defines Grant`s attributes as a manager further:
“He really acts as a cushion (sic) between the band and all the politics that are bound to surround one. That is, he lets you get on with the music totally while he fields off all the lawyers, record company guys etc. that are more than ready to hold back your actual output.”
Kirke: “We hardly ever sit down and do business with him. It`s usually always a social thing when we meet.”
Bad Company and Grant set their alliance rolling with just a handshake, by the way. A gentleman`s agreement.
Events following directly in the wake of Bad Co.`s association with Swansong show a more than dramatic change in fortunes.
Kirke dismisses his earnings from Free as “a pittance… I suppose that`s what you`d call it.” He prefers not to muse over any potential “sour grapes”.
Ralphs, upon leaving Mott, was faced with departing with a debt (Mott the Hoople were in debt to upwards of £100,000 at one point, so the story goes) or breaking free, thus nixing any personal hold on royalties arising from the subsequently successful “Mott” album. He chose the latter.
And Burrell? Well, his former escapades provide the best copy of the day. A former King Crimson employee (Fripp taught him bass “parrot-fashion”) his reminiscences are scurrilous if nothing else.

“That whole period of my life was ridiculous. I mean, if I`ve done anything in my life purely for the money, that was it. I mean, I`d be singing these lyrics and suddenly I`d stop and think, `Christ, what does that mean`. I reckon Sinfield used to dig out his Roget`s Thesaurus, find the most impressive-looking words and just throw `em all in.
“And Fripp! (laughs). He`d be sitting on his stool just scowling at us. So every night for an encore we`d rush out… see, the only thing Fripp can`t play is a straight-forward blues, so for the encore the rest of the band would charge onstage and before he`d got a chance to plug in his guitar, we`d kick off with a 12-bar! (laughs).
“On the very last night, Mel (Collins) demolished a mellotron as part of the solo. He just very methodically took it to pieces, right, and Fripp turned round… it was during `Schizoid Man` … he was on his stool (collapses laughing).
“The thing is, though, it`s ridiculous when people murmur that we`re all in Bad Co. for the money. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, I mean, that Crimson gig – that was a pure pay-check thing.
“It`s a shame really. People just don`t get it straight.”

So finally to Rodgers, who, far from the mooted belligerence of yore, was amiable enough. He even talked with mild candour about his drinking binges, saying that he and the band had cut down drastically in a tone which, to the impartial observer, appeared to mean business.
Later I overhear a phone conversation where Rodgers reverently mentions that he`s soon to become a father for the second time, which could well account for this new-found serenity.
Oh, and that tax-exile schtick. It appears to be not all champagne and roses even if alcohol and cigarettes are almost half the price. Kirke at least had picked up on some nookie. He had a date, he said. Taking her to the pictures, he was. To see The Jungle Book for the second time in three days.

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A really strange ad….

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. 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: Gary Holton, Ronnie Lane, Warne Marsh, Keith Moon, Kid Strange.

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 Alice Cooper FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, March 15, 1975

This is an really interesting article in a lot of ways. If you are a Cooper fan and haven`t read it before – then I will highly recommend you to read through this one. This was written in the period between Alice`s “old” band and his new solo career. I think Dick Wagner`s prophesy is quite spot-on about the chances of the old band getting together again. All in all, one of the most interesting reads published on these pages about Alice, his band and associated characters.

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Hey man, you with a gwoop?

Speech impediments are the thing in Los Angeles this year. There are quite a lot of naked men jumping out of bushes – whereas more sedate professional types prefer to plunge from the Continental Hyatt House Hotel roof. NICK KENT is also in evidence, pursuing the unfortunate ALICE COOPER, so read on and thrill to the extraordinary adventures of…

A Limey in LA

It`s still pretty cool to be a Limey in Los Angeles. Barely pubescent girls still ooh and aah around one, waitresses smile sweetly as nationality is established (they even goose around after hours if you have one of those arch-P. G. Wodehouse effete nodal jobs and tell them you`re a personal friend of Jimmy Page).
Usually, though, the common-or-garden L.A. Limey obsessionist will approach you thus: after ascertaining said nationality she will exclaim, “Wow, you English people are so-o far-out!” prefacing said comment with a giggly “Fantastic!” It also appears to be to the predator`s advantage to suffer from a speech defect of some sort when stating the latter; stuttering and sinal complaints are very popular out here. Hair-lips are truly “outre”.
Connie had the good fortune to be suffering from a severe lisp problem when she addressed yours truly with the aforestated magical expletives. Connie is a waitress at the Continental Hyatt House Coffee Shop (“where all the English `gwoops` go – y`know?”), about 35 and genned up to the gills with the current happenings on Sunset Boulevard.
“It`s a crazy area here, ya know that? Perverts and stuff. Like my girlfriend…only the other day…this guy jumped out of the bushes around La Cienega. He was stark naked and screaming out `Screw me! Screw me!` She screamed back `Screw you!`”…

Today, though, is special.
“This guy…a really nice man he was…respectable, a lawyer, I think. He was staying here, see – and one minute he`s in here having breakfast…very quiet…he disappears and the next thing, my friend Janis is running in to tell me he`s just jumped off the roof. He was pretty mushed up when he hit the ground”…A pause and then, matter-of-factly, “The policeman said he`s cut his wrists, too, so he must`ve wanted to die really bad, I guess.”
Another pause – too short though to nurture an actual reaction to complement the latter statement.
“Hey! You with the rock band?”
And before I could answer “yea” or “nay”, her finger pointed to a table in the corner around which were placed a couple of roadie-look-alikes, two bored-looking groupies and one moose-jawed vision of bovine denim overall that turned out to be Alvin Lee.
I shook my head vigorously.
“A writer, huh? Who you writing about then?”
Oh, Alice Cooper, I reply, nonchalantly, expecting at least another “Oh wow! Far-out!” routine to grace the answer.
Instead she turned almost sullen.
“Alice Cooper!! Whaddya writing about him for? He`s gotten fat and boring. All that horrific stuff is gonna be nowhere this year.”
Yeah, I say, but he`s got a new album out, a new band. Things are happening.

Still, I secretly had to admit she was right. I mean, here I was in a town where a guy nicknamed the “Slasher” is currently roaming around hacking up hoboes and derelicts, and now he`s just graduated to “decent folk” (according to the latest news bulletin) in apartments – a town where the L.A. Free Press openly advertises the services of pre-pubescent girls for acts of sexual deviancy in your own home” (right next to the ad. which has some rouged-up garter-belt “trick” with her legs entwined around a globe with the caption “I will hug my thighs around the universe to make you come. Phone Dee Dee…”); where there is purportedly a brothel consisting of deformed women “for your pleasure” just down the road – and I`ve been assigned to zero in on the activities of one Alice Cooper, professional teen bogie man-commodity who rips up his stage costumes with his golf clubs, stupifies himself with lethal O.D.s of T.V. and canned Budweiser, almost turned rock`n`roll at one point into a brainlessly obvious mangled boogabooga vaudeville hepped up with a bastardised brand of Dee-troit hard-rock, as wretchedly watered down from its parent form as the beer he drinks…

O.K., O.K., maybe I`m exaggerating here but, see, I was pissed off. That very morning, at probably around the same time that the guy jumped off the roof of the Hyatt House, I was straggling around the roads of “natural, organic” Laurel Canyon to find one “Horseshoe Canyon” where Cooper was supposed to currently be in residence (“in the house right next to where Mickey Dolenz lives” as everybody placed great pride in telling me). It was one of those smoulderingly warm L.A. mornings and once located in the Canyon itself I had to stagger up one of the most gruellingly steep slopes to the presumed Cooper abode.
Having made the climb, I was faced with an all-wood building which looked at first like some bloatedly de luxe sauna hut.
Stumbling finally into what turned out to be the living room, I was faced by two females in pyjamas – one being Cindy Laing, Cooper`s girlfriend, the other a co-inhabitant – a male who looked at first like a telegraph pole repairman and a bald Polak look-alike.
The latter was Cooper`s bodyguard and all of them found my sudden appearance a touch incongruous. After a couple of phone calls it was all worked out – “We`re awfully sorry, Mr. Kent, about all this. We misdirected you. Alice unfortunately is booked up with his dancing lessons all day today.” So I sat around like a dummy for maybe 20 minutes, sizing up the place – very neat and precise, gold records on the wall, copies of Vogue, Oui, Playboy “displayed” on the table in the style of a dentist`s waiting-room.

All the while Ms. Laing and her friend were sipping coffee and gabbing on ever-so-effetely as though their whole conversation was destined to appear in Andy Warhol`s Interview. Pleasantries and platitudes were tossed my way when there was a pause in said conversation which was promptly resumed again with the line – “Well shall we go riding on Sunday or not?”
Finally, a taxi came just as Ms. Laing was receiving a call from Barbie Benton, Hugh Hefner`s human kewpie doll. As I motioned to leave, I noticed that one of the house dogs – one of those heinously-small animals that tend to resemble Truman Capote in canine drag – had mounted my ankle and was masturbating against my foot.
So any way I was back at the Coffee Shop and Connie was pointing out some other guy who, she said, was one of the Cooper band. “They`re all staying here, you know. Rehearsals or something.” The guy actually looked totally unlike a rock musician. He had one of those hang-dog bruiser faces that found great difficulty in breaking into anything like a smile and I immediately took him for a roadie.
This band though – there were stories a-plenty; not so much about this new congregate but the old bunch, the five-piece who had started off in godforsaken Phoenix, Arizona in a high school band Beatles rip off called the Earwigs, changed to the Nazz and ultimately came to share (five-ways) the name “Alice Cooper” – which also just happened to be the lead singer, one Vince Furnier`s adopted stage persona.

A book has recently appeared, entitled “Billion Dollar Baby” and, written by one Bob Greene, a Chicago-based columnist/reporter, it documents the last real dates played by the original Cooper band – the Christmas 1973 American tour which both terminated the “Billion Dollar Babies” presentation as well as showcasing the material to be found on the then -just-released “Muscle Of Love” album.
The book itself is adequately written, often fairly boring but occasionally flashing insights onto rock road-life in general – and the Cooper co-operate in particular – that make it worth wading through. In heavily precised terms it spotlights: Cooper the only true professional, utterly fed up with his songs and dumb ghoulish image; Michael Bruce, adequately talented but reportedly jealous of Cooper`s spotlight; Neal Smith, callow and affected; Dennis Dunaway, an amiable but minor talent and lastly Glenn Buxton wasted to a fine degree by the time of the band`s demise.
The real stars turn out to be road manager Dave Libert and above all, Shep Gordon, Cooper`s manager – whose talents as a strategist are shown to be nothing short of phenomenal.
The book`s vivid conclusions in fact, only echo positively what folk like Bob Ezrin, Cooper producer and the third vital figure in the set-up, had stated in interviews. “Alice is the only true professional. The rest are only interested in their own egoes.” (Aside, perhaps from Bruce who had at least produced a couple of decent riffs in his time, the rest of the band had outlived their usefulness).

There was a long, fairly ominous silence after the tour. A “Greatest Hits” album released by Warners was one pointer to the situation prevelant and now the book and Cooper`s sudden solo deal and tour spelt it all out. Still, there is a determination amongst the Cooper entourage to play down the old band`s incompatibilities even though it`s been reported in rock periodicals that Alice has firmly stated he “will never play in a band with those guys again.”
Shep Gordon and Alice/Black Widow Inc. P.R. Bob Brown claim that the band will get back together, if only to see through their Warners contract. Cooper`s solo Atlantic in the States/Anchor in Europe shot is a straight-ahead once only album deal, see – purportedly the most costly deal ever for one solo album, so costly in fact that Atlantic are more than a little cagey about naming figures.
The album itself, “Welcome to my Nightmare”, has everyone in said entourage raving and drooling in its wake. Even Cindy Laing (who usually hates her boyfriend`s music) thinks it`s well, “the best thing he`s done”. What it really boils down to, though, is a plusher, more-textured, more hyper-professional Alice Cooper album. Bob Ezrin, fully recovered after a nervous breakdown caused through overwork during the making of Lou Reed`s “Berlin” album, has turned in a production job which, oddly enough, parallels his dubious triumph on “Berlin” in Alice Cooper terms.

From a single hearing though, I found the album oddly boring, it`s plush textured feel constricting most of the avenues through which Cooper and the band could have grabbed the listener with their hard rock potential.
Most of the riffs sound tardy and uninspired, bereft now as they are of the metallic garage-band veneer that the old band`s guitar sound (viz “Killer”) used to possess. The songs zip stealthily from style to style – the title track is almost cool jazz, the musicians going through their paces like primed musclemen rippling their biceps. “Devil`s Food” is plush heavy metal, “Only Women Bleed” is an extraordinary hybrid of pure Helen Reddy darkish quasi-women`s lib angst and a string-laden “Lay Lady Lay”, “Dept. Of Youth” is cute, commercial and utterly calculating in the whole “School`s Out” tradition, and “Steven” is pure Tubular Bells watery impressionism with Ezrin`s Berlin-honed appendages.
Only the final track, “Escape”, rings out with the old Cooper sound – that stalking brash mutation of a Stones type riff – and that song was actually written by Kim Fowley and the now defunct Hollywood Stars (they`re credited).
But talk about calculating! Gordon and Cooper are now in the final stages of an all-out coup that will probably take the great rock consumer masses straight to the cleaners and back. Every area is being catered to and only the best is being considered. The best dancers, the best props.
And of course the best musicians.

The best here can only mean the likes of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter on guitars, Whitey Glan on drums, Prakash John on bass and one Jozef Chirowski on keyboards, all of whom are establishing credentials that after this tour will probably parallel the likes of Willy Weeks and Andy Newmark in white hard rock terms.
This was the band that, minus Chirowski, some genius brought in to save Lou Reed`s ass when the latter was in a state of virtual creative/physical paralysis – but, ludicrously enough, was becoming mighty popular audience-wise.
And they weren`t even billed as the Lou Reed Band! The guys, specifically Wagner and Hunter – who in particular honed out most of the arrangements that graced “Rock`n`Roll Animal” Parts 1 and 2 (“Part 2” is being released by RCA in March), who actually compounded Lou Reed-as-saleable-commodity through sheer sturdy musicianship were put on a “modest” wage and moreover treated ill by the man himself most of the time.
“He wouldn`t talk to me at all,” says Hunter. “Dick got along with him a little better but it was…well, hard, y`know.” Steve Hunter is now a highly successful session rock guitarist, a position which affords him well tailored velvet suits, neat cowboy shirts – a touch of elegance even though his buck-toothed hayloft visage gives away his origins. At the age of 19, he left a minute hill-jack community in the heart of the Midwest`s kick suburbs to go and sleep on floors in Detroit and play guitar professionally. After doing gigs with the likes of the then-ailing Chambers Brothers, he joined up with Mitch Ryder`s Detroit, a potentially remarkable band that never got anywhere – mainly due to the loser mojo tied to Detroit acts in general and the unfortunate Mitch Ryder in particular.

Bob Ezrin, then a young classically-oriented producer in Toronto, who had produced Ryder`s ill-fated band, picked up on Hunter and called him up for Alice Cooper sessions when Glen Buxton too sick to be allowed in a studio. Since then, he has worked on numerous sessions, got spot-lighted with Reed`s band, and was star-guitarist for Jack Bruce`s “Out Of The Storm” sessions (Bruce asked him to join a band that, had he taken the gig, would have prevented Mick Taylor from teaming up with Bruce. Hunter politely turned the offer down.
It was during a Cooper session that Hunter and Dick Wagner actually met. Wagner was in fact the guy I described earlier as possessing the hang-dog bruiser face. Now minus beard and with greased-back long hair, he looks more like a calloused garage owner than a rock star. He looks downright old, in fact, which could just as easily be a sign of his fatiguing mucho-dues-paying activities in rock since he led a Detroit band called The Bossmen (featuring one Mark Farner on rhythm guitar) way back when, graduating to a typical Motor City unit called The Frost whom he led and produced to fruitless avail.
Wagner is indeed calloused and bitter – bitter about the lack of attention meted to Frost while the likes of the Stooges and the MC5 were getting big write-ups in Rolling Stone and “those underground papers that wouldn`t touch us `cos we weren`t political,” slightly bitter about Grand Funk`s success.

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Strangely enough, for such an obvious purist, he always dug Alice Cooper though – “First time I saw him, I knew he`d be monstrous. The band sucked as musicians but he had it”. “That`s weird,” Hunter retorts, “`cos when I saw `em, I thought `these guys`ll never make it.` I hated `em, I thought they stunk so bad. Of course now…”
Of course, now, both Wagner and Hunter are elated. This whole Cooper thing means big money, for Wagner in particular who almost smiles when he reflects upon the royalty cheques that will arrive in the wake of “Nightmare`s” release. The composing credits, see, go mostly three ways, reading “Cooper Ezrin Wagner.” Wagner likes that fine, as does Hunter. The real guitar pros. here – Hunter at least had a fighting chance of becoming a potential guitar hero but he`s not so keen on that idea. “Too limiting” he says earnestly. “I mean, look at Eric Clapton! One of the best, for sure, but he got in that position and had to turn to drugs.”
Wagner nods sagely. Both Wagner and Hunter have pat anti-drug raps which is understandable, seeing as they`re two of the 1% of musicians who`ve left drug-crazed Detroit fully intact and not rolling in the greenbacks.
So what`s life like with Cooper? “You`ve got to be realistic, see,” mutters Wagner. “I mean, you ask us why we`re doing this tour. Well, first Alice is a pleasure to work with. He`s a real pro., see. He understands what audiences want and you`ve got to respect that. You`ve got pander to `em if you want to make it big. It`s one thing being artistic and `the leader` and all, but when you take it to the people, you`ve got to be…”
Realistic?
“Yeah, exactly.”

Hunter nods away. Oh and by the way, that old band of Alice`s.
Wagner gets candid: “They`ll never work together again, man. Believe me.”
“It`d be like the Beatles reforming,” Hunter adds.
They`ve got their own projects. I think Michael (Bruce) might do something good. The others? Well,…”
So here is Hunter, still young and highly naive in an almost attractive way. “I just want to be a better guitarist, man. That`s all that matters” – and Wagner, bruised and ready for those cheques. They`re just thankful they`re working with a pro. Not like that Lou Reed. It was Wagner who gave Lou that arrangement…”that macabre…ah, majestic sound” for “Heroin.”
No credit, of course. “He wanted to do it the old way, originally.” And the only reason Hunter had taken the job was because he`d admired Reed so much in the Velvet Underground.
“Yeah,” adds Wagner, “but, see, Lou is another one with a problem. He`d start shooting up and just get…uh, illogical, I guess.”
So why`d you guys actually bother to work with him?
Hunter just shrugs. Wagner though looks straight at me: “It`s a living,” he says.

So eventually of course I get to see Alice. Bob Brown, his P.R., a small weasel of a guy, keeps screwing up until I get to talk to Shep Gordon who apologises profusely and some twenty minutes later comes round to drive me down to a filming rehearsal. Conversation is thoroughly genial, nothing too heavy here. The European album deal is touched upon. “Isn`t that great?” remarks Gordon. “I like Ian” (Ralfini, head of Anchor Records). “He makes such nice, tidy…clean deals.” I nod and smile cordially. Everybody is being so damn nice here. When we arrive at the rehearsal hall, the whole crew – faggot floor assistants, dumb make-up artists et al, are glowing like mothers who have just successfully given birth.
Alice Cooper is, of course, the object of said pride and concern. Cooper, despite one year of health, sport, exercise, L.A. sun and “generally getting human again…I love getting human again. It`s my greatest hobby,” looks uglier than ever, despite the tan. His chin is fairly non-existent, a beer-gut is strongly in evidence and his hair is rattier than ever.
Nothing has changed. Not even the image. The stage is set up like a graveyard with an open coffin as the centre-piece and Cooper is staggering around in red leotard and red thigh boots. Outside the main area of activity there is a mock-up black bed with fake skulls embellishing the posts.
“That`s for the opening scene,” states Gordon proudly.

The filming here today is to be used for the very opening sequence which involves a magic screen, a recent innovation-(used “only in Vegas” according to Cooper), from whence performers can materialise from the celluloid. Or something like that. Anyway this is some bloated spectacular. There`s giant black widow spiders, four dancers dressed in camp space age garb which looks at first like it was part of Mainman job-lot sale. The dancers go through a run-through and Cooper does an earnest routine, leaping from the opened coffin in such a ludicrous way, he looks like some horrific drag-queen doing a Pan`s People vamp. Anyway the make-up room is vacated and Cooper and I sit down to talk. Cooper is not overtly inspired by the idea of an interview and acts in such a way. Questions are fielded curtly. The “Billion Dollar Baby” book was “kinda accurate in a way but a lot of it was out of context really. The guy…uh, Bob, was only on the road for 15 days and those 15 days were very trying, coming as they did at the end of a whole year of touring. Nerves were frayed.”
So what`s your policy over the book?
“I don`t have any policy whatsoever.” Shep Gordon nods in agreement. Bob Brown is also in the room and it`s starting to look like open season.
So to the old group.
“That`s all been blown up – due, I`m sure, to the book. I still keep in contact with those guys. We`re still friends.”

Michael Bruce is apparently finishing off his solo album which features Jackie Lomax, Cooper session musicians Bob Dolin and Mick Mashbir, Joe Walsh and his rhythm section and Alice Cooper – on one track. “Mike phoned me up and asked me down. The track sounded good so I sang on it. That`s all. Neal Smith`s doing his album too, and if he wants any help, I`ll come through.” (Even though Cooper is quoted in “B.D.B.” at one point saying “Neal tried to write a song. He thinks it`s going to be on the album. I don`t know how we`re going to break it to him. God! It`s awful!…We`re going to keep letting him write songs for us, and not use them, and let him put out a solo album called `The Weak Link In The Super Race`.” Oh well!).
But hey, what about Glenn Buxton? How`s his health?
Cooper doesn`t find this too funny.
“I don`t know what he`s doing. I spoke to him on the phone a couple of times. I think…uh…I think he`s redecorating his house.” He shrugs.
I mention an incident that occured almost three years ago at London`s Speakeasy when a drunk Mike Bruce starting complaining about the fact that he wrote most of the riffs and melodies even when other members of the band were given credit.
“Yeah, that was true. It`s like…we started off as a high school band and we went on to keep that share-and-share-alike attitude which was ultimately…well let`s say it`s good that we`re doing our solo projects.”

Cooper meant this to be the termination of the questions about the old band and I drowsily bucked up at the mention of the new band.
“I`ve known Dick from back since the old Frost days and Whitey (Glan, the drummer) – man, I knew him when he was in The Mandala and we were backing them up as The Nazz. I`ll tell ya, I could go out onstage and do a whole set in blue jeans with the band and it`d be great because that band can stand up to any other band anywhere.”
Why don`t you then?
“Why should I? I`ve got nothing to prove. I don`t feel the need to do it, that`s why.”
Yeah but hey this theatrical stuff is getting a touch passe, no? Bowie`s dropped it and gone “superfly”.
“I admire David as a performer and I`m always intrigued by the changes he goes through. He`s into a nice Damon Runyon thing right now, I think. He looks like Damon Runyon and everything…”
Yeah, yeah but this theatre thing…
“I`m an entertainer and that`s how I entertain. Rock`n`roll is entertainment, after all. Don`t you agree?”
Well yes – but then again – and here is where I take issue on the whole Cooper “That`s Entertainment” schtick – it`s something more. Like Jagger or Jim Morrison, who were charismatic figures, not just straw hat-and-cane acts. Morrison did more than just an act…

“Yeah but Jim Morrison was unique. He was this whole Lord Byron figure or something.”
And so were you at one time. Unique, I mean. I remember seeing the back photo of “Pretties For You” and being really shocked and sort of excited. You were an original and I think in a very distinct way, you blew it. You copped out on this whole “entertainment” number.
“Hey but listen: rock`n`roll is basically entertainment. You can`t deny it. I mean, even Lenny Bruce…Lenny Bruce was just a great entertainer who said `shit` on stage first”.
That`s understating it too much. I mean, in your position, you could have changed…consciousness (by now I was listening to my own cliches and cringing even though I forged onwards). Bruce did. He didn`t just cop out and play it safe and spectacular for the bucks. I mean, all these senile old showbiz guys you hang around with the only difference between them and a bunch of old geezers hanging around a spittoon all day is that your old fellas do talk shows and probably have shares in massage parlours.
“Hey! Those guys are really sharp! And they actually respect me!! Like Jack Benny, for example, actually said to me – “Alice (he does quite an agreeable Jack Benny impersonation at this point) – I don`t know what you`ve got but everytime I open Variety I see your name everywhere”…
Hey, but did you go to his funeral, though?
“No I wouldn`t go to anybody`s funeral. Not even my mother`s”.

So why are you always creeping around mock-up graveyards howling piss `n` vinegar, you old ham?
Unfortunately I forgot to say that. Instead I started on some rap about Bob Hope being a fascist.
“Listen, Bob Hope is a really nice guy. I was doing the comedy awards with Don Ricles – know him? – and I met Bob and he was so courteous. I don`t care about his politics. I think entertainment and politics are totally different things and are dangerous when mixed up.
“Like I could be on TV and say I`d vote for so-and-so and maybe a lot of people would say – “Yeah, he`s cool, let`s vote for his choice”.
That sounds facile, Alice. Also this whole entertainment rap is too “pat”. I mean, one minute you`re drooling over Jack Benny (bless his departed soul), the next you`re talking about killer Dee-troit rock`n`roll.
“Yeah because that`s what I do. That`s the music I sound best doing. I`d do Burt Baccharach stuff but I`d never carry it off”.
So what music do you listen to, nowadays?
“I don`t listen to any music”.
Don`t you like music?
“Right. I don`t like music”.
Everybody in the room laughs at this and then stops short realising what Cooper has just said. Shep Gordon even stops playing with the hair growing out from the nape of his neck to ponder the statement. Cooper, however, stands his ground.

“Really. I don`t like music. I never come home and put on a record.
“I just watch T.V.”
In fact, throughout the whole interview, Cooper only gets animated when he talks about this 4` x 4` T.V. set he`s just bought. “Irresistible” he says, opening another can of beer.
Later that evening I found myself at the Rainbow Bar and Grill and happened to run into Cindy Laing, this time dressed in predatory black and looking like spiderwoman.
“Hey I saw your husband today” I mumble, in a failed attempt to be off-the-wall suave. She gives me a look like daggers.
“Have you ever heard the phrase “a ring in his nose and ring on my hand?”
Yeah, I reply, averting my eyes. Didn`t Savoy Brown do a song called that?
“Alice is her boyfriend” a friend corrects me.
At this embarrassing juncture I thought it might as well be worth making a complete fool of myself and maybe getting a scoop on the deal. O.K., so what`s the deal with your boyfriend and his old band then?
“Listen that is a secret. If I was blind drunk I`d probably tell you in full detail but I`m not and anyway, revealing such information would be tantamount to me being sent to a labour camp in Detroit. (Pause).

“Just write they`re the best of friends or something. That they attend each other`s Thanksgiving.”
Fired by the rebuttal, I even phoned up Bob Ezrin up there in Toronto for information. Ezrin was cynical and generally ballsy enough to come though, but he was tied up in a seven-way recording session or thereabout. “He`s recording the Johnson Family” his secretary said.
The radio back at the Hyatt House coffee shop was saying something about a blond Caucasian being released after police had suspected him of being the “Slasher” when I wandered in a couple of days after I`d concluded all my Cooper and entourage interviews. Connie the waitress came over and I just shrugged “I was right, see. I told you there`s better things to write about here.”
“Sure” I said “but it`s a living”.
It took me about five minutes before I remembered where that line came from.

A great double page spread  by Zeppelin in this paper.

A great double page spread by Zeppelin in this paper.

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: Lol Creme, Pilot, Ramases, David Bowie, Pub Rock Special, Charlie Parker, Genesis.

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.

ARTICLE ABOUT Led Zeppelin FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, December 7, 1974

This interview with Jimmy Page was conducted some three months before the release of “Physical Graffiti”, a double album that went to No. 1 on the charts in the UK, USA and Canada. Led Zeppelin didn`t release any studio albums in 1974, so this release was heavily anticipated by their extremely large fan-base all over the world. And they were not disappointed – the famous song “Kashmir” was by itself worth the money anyone paid for this album.

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The Graffiti of the Physical…
…and the Exploration of the Metaphysical.

A candid interview with Led Zep.
Words: Nick Kent Pics: Pennie Smith

The barley has been harvested. The heifers too have been put out to pasture, the Scalectrix sets have been pieced together and stored away for the time being…
Led Zeppelin are once again fully operative, girding their collective loins for another gargantuan American tour and celebrating a reunion after what has indisputably been their longest period of musical inactivity with a amiably sturdy set of rehearsals which started last week.
The rehearsals themselves will carry them pretty much up to the beginning of January when the group fly to Europe to showcase the new act to Dutch and Belgian audiences before letting themselves be swept away once again in a magic flurry of the Jet Lag-intended brand of “Road Fever” (the formal Zeppelin term) that constitutes the American Tour.

November 26 – a Tuesday as it happens – marked the formal return to arms, so to speak, down at Liveware, a converted theatre in an anonymous hinterland of equally anonymous Ealing. The band arrived at approximately 3.0 p.m., re-acquainted themselves with a cut-down P.A. system and in a subsequent seven-hour period commenced manfully sifting through a hefty volume of songs marked off as the new material to appear on the next Swansong Atlantic release – the first of the New Year. This is to be a double Zeppelin set titled (for no apparent reason except that it sounds good and does tie in with the consequent sleeve design – “a mechanical construction” also described by Jimmy Page with characteristic sly grin as a “peeping tom`s delight”), “Physical Graffiti”.
By 6.0 p.m. one number, “Tramped Underfoot” has been both mustered and mastered to be followed by a sprightly reacquaintance with “In My Time Of Dying”, the old gospel traditional Bob Dylan performed with such youthful fervour on his very first album.

Only this time Messrs Page and Plant have turned the harrowing old chestnut into an even more invigorating workout for electric bottle-neck, banshee vocalese and sudden dapper swerves in the 12-bar framework courtesy of a single off-the wall chord occasionally tossed into the affair like a musical handgrenade – or a sudden Bonham thrash that sets the hairs on the back of the neck a-quivering.
This after all is Led Zeppelin, the true Princes of the Heavy Metal Zone, back after what appears to have been an extrasomnabulant sojourn; while it seems the likes of such callow pretenders as Queen, teethed on self-same power chords and pulp athletics, have been edging in on the action with such success that it must have put the wind up their spiritual forefathers.
Still, the spirit is strong enough on this first rehearsal to motivate the band into a spontaneous version of “When The Levee Breaks”, the track that blitzed off the fourth album and a number the band have never actually performed outside a studio. Until now that is. Jimmy Page is thinking very seriously of renovating it for the new tour as, after all, with its bottleneck mainvein it fits like a dove-tail joint directly against the grain of “Dying”.

Subsequent valiant stabs are made at two more new numbers – “Sick Again”, which even in its skeletal form shows distinct signs of bristling out as a Zep masterwork, while there is always “Custard Pies”, a prime Zep knock-about which displays a conscious bent towards Page`s Eel Pie Island beginning.
Finally, at 9.0 p.m., regular as clockwork, Robert dusts out his best Presley grunt and the band obligingly fall into place for “Don`t Be Cruel” encoring with “Hound Dog”. Plant, right in the spirit by this time, is pushing for a third time around – “You daw-w-n`t- / ahk…uh cray-zz-uh-music. You don`t…uh…”
“Persistent isn`t he,” mutters Bonham, now more than ever resembling an amiable barrel draped in a donkey-jacket, who`s not having any of it.
So Plant makes do behind the drum-kit, banging out rimshots and the cow-bell introduction to “Honky Tonk Women”, moving his arms like a man throwing darts in a pub.
John Paul Jones counters by doing his party-piece Ramsey Lewis impersonation, ear-to-ear grin like one of those mechanical puppet organists you pay 5p to see perform sea-side medleys via a slot-machine in a sea-front amusement arcade.
The rigours of the day now make him resemble a third-year law student holding down a holiday job sorting the Christmas mail.

Only Plant and Page appear to preserve that necessary look of pop-star…”ambiance”, the former unchanged down to the last wisp of the luxurious lion`s mane of blond hair, while the latter`s guitar hero veneer is omnipresent as ever.
Page, in fact, always tends to look quite diminutive in size whenever he moves onstage – much smaller in fact than he really is, though this must have something to do with Plant`s stockier “boyo” physique paralleling his own; and then there`s always the low-slung Gibson guitar, hung almost as low as Steve Marriot`s knee-length drapery back in the Small Faces days.
Yes, so anyway there we all were in this Ealing rehearsal studio, like, and well, mind you, it has been quite a time since the name “Zeppelin” has resounded imperiously throughout the Media.
The occasional interview, that reception at the Chislehurst Caves, but otherwise it`s been pretty much relegated to the backwaters of Rolling Stone “Random Notes” and the tattle columns of those other…uh, music periodicals. And even then it`s been pretty much lean pickings.
Of course there`s always the odd morsel or so like those two that appeared recently.

I mean, Jimmy, did you see that one about Keith Richard located out in Switzerland adding organ and backing vocals to the track “Scarlet” that you, Ric Grech and Keith himself recorded down at Island`s Basing Street studios a couple of months ago, and which was supposed to be the B-side to a cut-down “Ain`t Too Proud to Beg” and here Keith was muttering something about it being donated to “a Jimmy Page album.”
“Oh dear (laughs). I think that must have been Keith putting someone on actually. I`ve certainly no plans whatsoever to record a solo album or anything like that.”
Page and Richard are old acquaintances from way back, by the way, starting when Page was brought in to help out on the first Rolling Stones album. And while we`re back in the past for a moment, there`s this piece in the current Rolling Stone that has John Entwhistle beefing about how the name “Led Zeppelin” was his invention and how he even designed the prototype for your first album cover.
“Well, I don`t know about that at all…Um-m, to start with the thing about the cover is completely wrong. We did that quite separately. The other – well, Keith Moon gave us the name. We`ve always credited him for that.

“I mean, originally there was going to be a band formed from the session for `Beck`s Bolero` – Jeff, myself, Nicky Hopkins, Aynsley Dunbar and…yes, John Paul Jones was in by that time. Maybe John Entwhistle did think of the name and told it to Keith Moon in which case I suppose he might have cause to be a bit angry. The rest of that – I don`t know about.” Page`s native paranoia at critical harassment seeps through the tone of this voice, as the legendary Zep/Rolling Stone feud, and his words momentarily take on a kind of bruised quality. This after all, has been something of an Achilles` Heel for Zeppelin and particularly Page – more probably so than ever because here they are about to release an album, a double set at that, laden with the fruits of two previous years`-worth of labour, even if the album itself took some six weeks to record. And Page himself more omnipresent than ever.
From the daring double 12-string over-dubs that graced “The Song Remains The Same” it`s come to no less than six guitars – “five in harmonies” – intertwining themselves for “Ten Years Gone”, not to mention “In The Light”, Page`s self -proclaimed piece de resistance of the album. And all for the first month of 1975.

“1974”, in Page`s own self-effacingly jocular terms “didn`t really happen, did it?”
A grin and then serious: “1975 will be better.”
From the look of things, Zeppelin are certainly committed to endowing the on-coming year with their own particular zeal. I mean, isn`t there this film of the band on tour in the States nearing the final editing stages? The oft-touted Led Zeppelin movie forever being greeted with the archetypal knowing grin when its existence is broached to one of the band or their entourage, followed by a few visibly mysterious verbal ruminations.
Stuff about “weird fantasy scenes” and such-like. Jimmy Page is more specific. Well not that specific…well, you tell them, Jimmy!
“Well to start with, the film is nearing completion, though we don`t have a title or distributor yet. I`ve yet to mix the sound-track and the final editing hasn`t been completed. I mean, but now it`s starting to get there. We`ve finally got a distinct framework.”

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Direction of the movie has been handled by two different factions – the first Joe Massow whose most notable previous achievement appears to be “Wonderwall” and, more recently, Peter Clifton, who was responsible for the Jimi Hendrix “Live At Olympia” film.
As to the actual form of the film, well, most of the live footage comes from the Madison Square Gardens concerts of `73 and, yes, there are “fantasy sequences” concerning which Page is very cagey about letting anything slip.
“I mean, it would give the whole thing away, wouldn`t it. Like, I went to see `The Exorcist` and the audience was laughing at it because they knew what to expect, whereas if they`d been separated and placed in a room where an unknown film called `The Exorcist` was being screened, the last thing they`d have been doing would be laughing.
“It`s just…well for a start, the fantasy scenes do relate to individual numbers the band play. Like Robert`s bit comes in `Song Remains The Same` and `Rain Song`, Bonzo`s is in his drum solo `Moby Dick,` John`s is `No Quarter` and mine comes in `Dazed And Confused`. Mine`s a bit weird, actually…well so is everyone`s, really. They just happened that way.

Might there be a touch of the `Kenneth Angers` about your bit, then, Mr. Page? Certain oblique references to Aleister Crowley and the like making themselves manifest?
“Oh no (pause). I know what you mean of course, but…”
And the backstage footage? Might we expect candid Zeppelin equivalents to the supposed high-jinx omnipresent throughout Robert Frank`s “Cocksucker Blues”, the…um…vivid account of the Stones` `72 tour?
“Not really. I mean there are a few things…uh…like some chicks offering to give a policeman a…uh `seeing-to`”.
And so the richly-endorsed Zeppelin `road fever` legend-weaving stays firmly anonymous, even in the face of such occurrences as…well there`s that song that Frank Zappa wrote called “Mudshack” about that group who eh…and there was everyone thinking it was the Vanilla Fudge and it turned out to be…say no more.
And even since then, events even more incongruously shaped have occured, centring inevitably around Page himself. For example, 16 magazine, America`s equivalent to the likes of Popswop only-more-legendary have printed, in a style so garish only a magazine coming from L.A. could be responsible, a list of “Who the stars do-it-with” and…uh, “How they do it.”

Page, to say the least, appears to possess a particularly interesting case-history to wit – “Girls, he`s into anything and everything. Those who`ve tried say it`s an experience they`ll never forget.”
I see. Uh well, Mr. Page…
The subject to say the least is not welcomed.
“It`s something you can`t really dwell on because people think if you`re doing it, then the rest of the band are into it too and that would cause all kinds of trouble. No it`s…well all I can say is that it comes down to the term `road fever`.
“I mean I personally can`t play a gig in some godforsaken part of America to god-knows-how-many people and then return to a box. It`s just a total change of life-style, that`s all one can say really.”
But still, without dwelling perhaps on specifics, surely Page had some thoughts on the whole groupie syndrome, with particular reference, say to L.A.?
“I just view it all with amusement. Like the whole Rodney`s scene thing, which is just ridiculous. I mean, you walk in and the next thing you know there are cameras everywhere and you`re ducking under the bar to get away. I mean, Roy Harper has this photograph of me on the point of sticking a pork-pie in a girl`s face.

“Actually the last time I was in L.A., there was this incredible groupie feud which was getting down to razor-blade sandwiches. The competition thing out there is incredible and you`ve got to keep out of the middle of it or else, y`know it…it gets to you too. There`s a new song we`ve done for the album…called `Sick Again`. That about sums it up.
“But then again referring back to the road fever thing, and I mean, at the moment I`ve got to start building up my stamina because everytime I`ve toured the States I`ve returned a physical…and mental wreck. I mean, after the last tour they tried to get me put in a mental hospital. It was going to be either that or a monastery! Ultimately I just went to sleep for a month” (Laughs).
“Sleep” – plenty of it – appears to be the basic Page stamina tonic. That and food.
“This time I`m definitely going to take a `juicer` along with me. I mean, I used to be a vegetarian and that was like committing suicide in America. The last time I ended up just eating hamburgers and at the end I was just a complete mess. This time though – precautions are going to be taken.”

To change the subject then, Aleister Crowley. The great Page obsession or so we`ve been led to believe.
Roy Harper told me less than a couple of months ago that Jimmy was currently writing a book on Crowley which is in fact, untrue though Page is about to open a book-store dealing solely in books on the Occult called “The Equinox” and situated in Kensington`s Holland Street. Page again seems somewhat reluctant to talk about his studies of Crowley at any length. “It`s simply that….I don`t want to do a huge job on Crowley or anything – that doesn`t interest me in the least. I mean if people are into reading Crowley, then they will and it`ll have nothing to do with me. It`s just….well for me, it goes without saying that Crowley was grossly misunderstood.
“I began being interested in him in school after having read this ridiculous book called `The Beast` where the author hadn`t the faintest idea of what Crowley was all about and was totally condesanding (condescending? – Blog Editor) so I took it from there. But I mean, how can anyone call Crowley the world`s most evil man – and that even carried over to the thirties when Hitler was about?

“For a start, he was the only Edwardian to really embrace…not even the New Age so much as simply the 20th Century. Who else would state anything as revolutionary as something like his theory that there would eventually be an equality of the sexes, which is where we`re at right now. It`s like…there`s this incredible body of literature – I mean don`t even bother with the sex thing because that`s all such a bore anyway – and it`s like… there`s a diamond there to be found at the end and it involves a life`s study.”
Page however has made a sizeable inroad into Crowley`s work through even to the notorious forbidden books he`s studied. Not to mention the famous Loch Ness mansion that he bought some time ago.
“All I can say about that place is that there`s this incredible sense of peace and…energy moreover. It`s amazingly stimulating staying up there.”
And the case-history.
“Oh Christ don`t mention that. I mean, post-Crowley…don`t even bother with that…its history is literally littered with suicides and bankruptcies. It`s a whole local thing there. Old wive`s tales abound.”

Any acquaintances of your experienced anything perhaps unforseen?
“One couple flipped out up there (pause). It depends what you bring to the place – expectation-wise.”
The obvious connection from Crawley is to Kenneth Anger, right? Anger, the famous devotee of Crowley`s, the film director of such classic starts as “Invocation of My Demon Brother”, which Page claims extended from its 10-minute length “to seem like a lifetime” when he saw it, “Fireworks” and “Scorpio Rising.”
And now there is “Lucifer Rising”, lasting 93 minutes constantly dogged by such unforseeable circumstances as film mysteriously vanishing (or being stolen). “Lucifer Rising”, which Jimmy Page has done the sound-track for.
“I`ve always got on very well with Anger. He`s a good friend, really. He`s never been as awe-inspiring and unapproachable to me as some would probably tell you. It`s just…one day he asked me to toss some ideas around for a sound-track and I went away feeling something but never being able to really express it, until one day when it all sort of poured out and I got down immediately to recording it. Actually I saw him recently and he was playing my soundtrack against some of the rushes and it came together really nicely.”

Still it`s an even more intriguing series of connections we`re getting here. Kenneth Anger, one-time cohort of Bobby Beausaliel, who reputedly knew one Charles Manson, who again may just have known the guy in L.A. who set out to kill Page when he was passing through with the band over two years ago.
Almost scarey, that.
“I don`t want to think about that at all. I just don`t want to get into that. It`s…people thought there might have been some connection but…there`s a lunatic fringe whether they`re Christian or Satanists or whatever. It`s too risky because they are out there. It`s not a Kharmic backlash or anything like that. Definitely not. There have been lots of little magic happenings but nothing that has really perturbed me.
“But that awareness – obviously you get these magic flashbacks everywhere. On stage, in America – everywhere. What you put out you get back again all the time. The band is a good example of that simply because there`s an amazing chemistry at work there,
if only astrologically.
“Astrologically it`s very powerful indeed. Robert the perfect front man, Leo…Jagger`s a Leo, John Paul Jones and I are uh…stoic Leos (laughs), Bonzo the Gemini. It`s when you`re pushing each other to the limits that the strength of the chemistry comes out and makes itself manifest in this binding of consciousness.”
He`s right y`know. 1974 didn`t really happen, did it? 1975 will be better.

Patches in their most basic form in 1974 - later on they became more advanced, as we all know now.

Patches in their most basic form in 1974 – later on they became more advanced, as we all know now.

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: The People of Pan, The Pretty Things, Wings, Bruce Johnston, Elton John, Bad Company, Robert Fripp, Chaka Khan, David Essex, Brian Eno, Noah Howard, Mott The Hoople.

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.

ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, November 23, 1974

I think this may be the longest transcription of an article that I have ever done. But it is from a great period of time from a great band. The journalist is not very positive at all to the new songs – I am sure that he later must have corrected himself for calling “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” a dull song, as it is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, well, at least in my opinion. Have a good read!

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“Richly they merit their place among the symphonic overlords of today`s popular heirachy,” wrote Derek Jewell in the Sunday Times. “At Thursday`s opening they reeled off, apparently effortlessly, a performance with musical textures so ravishing and visual accompaniments so surprising that, for once, the thunderous standing ovation was completely justified.”

So how do you argue with that (and with more than 30,000 apparently satisfied customers)? Answer: you don`t. Not unless you`re looking for trouble – or feel, as did Nick Kent and Pete Erskine, a fair amount of anger and bitter disillusion concerning “symphonic overlords” and “ravishing musical textures” when it`s clear and admitted by FLOYD`S Dave Gilmour that Wembley was plainly a bad gig. On this showing, say our men, it`s time to get the Floyd back in perspective. Nick Kent, at Wembley, and Pete Erskine, talking to DAVE GILMOUR, attempt to do just that.

FLOYD JUGGERNAUT…THE ROAD TO 1984?

On November 14, 1974, approximately 7,000 people washed their hair and traveled down to the Empire Pool, Wembley, to witness the Pink Floyd live. Almost everyone, that is, except David Gilmour – his hair looked filthy there on stage, seemingly anchored down by a surfeit of scalp grease and tapering off below the shoulders with a spectacular festooning of split ends.
Rather like Bill’s locks, in fact.
Bill was sitting next to me throughout the concert y’see. Said he came from Hayward’s Heath, Sussex – and well, anyway he did have something of the patent Gilmour style about him: stringy unwashed hair parted in the middle and furrowed behind the ears, an earnest compliment of peach-fuzz masquerading as facial hair, plimsolls – the lot, in fact, even though his face lacked Gilmour’s bully-boy well-formed features, substituting a kind of bleary-eyed doggedness which wrinkled up every time he took a blast off one of a constant series of “cool jays”.
“Good stuff, this,” Bill muttered. “We get it from this spade guy down in Brighton. Straight off the boat it comes.”

Bill said he didn’t go much on any other kinds of stimulant.
He also didn’t like too much music. Said it almost boastfully. Only a few albums. And the Floyd of course. “I’ve got a good stereo, mind. Big speakers.”
So what does he do with it?
“I’ll tell you. I mean I like to get really, y’know really stoned – spaced, y’know, and I put on me Floyd…ah, `Meddle` or `Dark Side of the Moon` – that track `Great Gig in the Sky`, and I’m laying there between the speakers really spaced, getting off on the stereo crossovers.”
Stereo crossovers?
“Yeah, y’know, when the sound goes from channel to channel. Phasing and that. Those are the bits I like best.”
Bill’s girlfriend “Jiff” thinks the Pink Floyd are the best group in the whole world. “They’re taking music to this whole new level. It’s really…”
Cosmic?
“Yes, that’s just what I was going to say.”

“One thing I’ve always taken into consideration, and which sums up, for me anyway, the fundamental personality crisis inherent in the old Floyd is that Syd (Barrett) was an artist and the other three were all student architects. I think that says an awful lot, particularly when you study the kind of music the Floyd have gone on to play since that time.”
That quote came courtesy Peter Jenner, who confided the same to me some months ago. I’d almost forgotten it until about halfway through the Floyd’s Wembley set, straight after the three new numbers had been performed.
At 7.55 p.m. I’d entered the Empire Pool toting healthy expectations for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment at the very least, already.
At 10.45 p.m. I left the same hall possibly more infuriated over what I’d just witnessed than I can ever remember being over any other similar event. Angry and rather depressed.
It was hell. But let’s begin at the beginning.

At 8.20 p.m. or thereabouts the four members of Floyd saunter onstage. It is not a spectacular entrance. In fact they wander on rather like four navvies who’ve just finished their tea-break and are about to return slowly to the task of tarring a section of main road.
After approximately five minutes of slightly labored tuning up, the band start their first number of the set – a new composition entitled “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” It is very slow, rather low on melodic inventiveness, each note hanging in that archetypically ominous stunted fashion that tends to typify the Floyd at their most uninspired. The song itself is dully revealed to be of very slight mettle; the chords used are dull, as is the pace.
The song distinctly lacks ‘form’. And then there are the lyrics.
“Come on you raver, you seer of visions / Come on you painter, you piper, you prophet, and shine,” sings Roger Waters at one point, his voice mottled by a slightly squeamish, self-consciousness of timbre, not to mention the fact that he also appears at this point to be somewhat flat. The lyrics are not very good, you see. Pretty much like sixth form poetry – prissy, self-conscious and pretentious.

“You were caught in the cross-fire of childhood and stardom/Blown on the steel breeze/Come on, you target for far-away laughter/Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr and shine.”
The song is for and about Syd Barrett. He could have deserved better.
The thoroughly unimpressive beginning is duly followed by the second of the three new numbers to be showcased in this section. “Raving and Drooling” is motivated by a rhythm somewhat akin to that of the human heart-beat with further references gathered from numerous Floyd stylised devices.
Wright drags some suitably Moog-oriented “primal-screams” from one of a mighty arsenal of keyboard instruments, Waters manipulates a stolid simplistic bass-pattern, Mason plays one of the two or three standard rhythms he habitually employs -usually incorporating much emphasis on the tom-toms and cymbals – while Gilmour blithely chunks out a “One of These Days” rhythm stab on his guitar.

The song is again of incredibly minor import, Waters doing his whole “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” tormented horse -faced routine – “Raving and drooling I feel on his neck with a scream/He had a whole lotta terminal shock in his eyes/That’s what you get for pretending the rest are not real” etc., etc.
Pretty undistinguished stuff except for the fact that yours truly noted that the first line was wrenched out in much the same way that Barrett sang “Wolfpack” on his second solo album. Otherwise more identikit Floyd bereft of any real originality or inspired conceptualized connaissance.
So then there was “Gotta Be Crazy”, the magnum opus of this dubious triumvirate for which Waters had regurgitated the old “Dark Side of the Moon” study of society-and-its-destructive-pressures gruel to even more facile conclusions.

One could of course begin by pointing out that the song features a fairly decent melody – a fetching minor chord progression strummed out by Gilmour who also sings over it Waters’ lyrics – “You gotta be crazy, you gotta be mean/You gotta keep your kids and your car clean/You gotta keep climbing, you gotta keep fit/You got to keep smiling, you gotta eat shit!”
Boy, what an indictment on the whole bourgeois high-pressured schism of our time!
But then again, who better than the Floyd to commandeer such a grievous lambasting of the aforestated life-style when after all I can’t think of another rock-group who live a more desperately bourgeois existence in the privacy of their own homes.
And whaddyamean, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones… Waters hasn’t even begun yet! I mean, here he is concluding this mighty epic with a potent list of bland psychological causes for his hapless victim’s doomed condition – “Who was born in a house full of pain/Who was sent out to play on his own” – when only a few verses prior to this he avidly gloats over the poor bastard’s decline and fall – “And when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown… So have a good drown and you’ll go down alone.”

There’s obviously something here that doesn’t, how you say, correlate. Not to mention a very perverse sense of morality at work.
So there are the lyrics – which I personally find quite offensive – and I still haven’t mentioned the song’s musical construction beyond that pleasing opening strum section which I forgot to mention sounded like the kind of chord structure the old Wyatt-Hopper-Ratledge Soft Machine used to do wonders with way back when.
Unfortunately, the Floyd, as always, let the song sprawl out to last twice as long as it should, summoning the aid of some of the most laboured bouts of aural padding imaginable. I mean, the very least one would expect from a song like this would be a tight, incisive structure, but then again incisiveness has never been something the post-Syd Floyd have prided themselves on, and so one has to wade through laboured sections of indolent musical driftwood before lo, the plot is resumed and one is sent careering back to our Roger’s bloated denunciation:

“Gotta be sure, you gotta be quick/Gotta divide the tame from the sick/Gotta keep some of us docile and fit/You gotta keep everyone buying this shit.”
“Buying this shit”???
Explain Mr. Waters, if you please. The song ends, as I stated earlier on, with a mildly potent “J’accuse” blast of postured psychological cause-and-effect ranting, leaving the audience with a 20 minute interval in order to gather themselves for a further assault.

The second half is, of course, taken up by the whole “Dark Side of the Moon” presentation. Visuals for the new numbers had been muted to a minimum: two sets of spotlights tastefully flanking the stage throughout, while three mirror-balls were put into operation during “Raving and Drooling”. But “Dark Side” was to be graced by the projection of a special film made as a visual complement to the music.
Again the Floyd light into the first section of the effort. More assured…but God, they look and sound so uninspired.
Wright’s solo Moog doodling signals the first reel of the film being unleashed on the audience – random shots of a plane taking off viewed from the cockpit, a garish cartoon segment of touch-down on an alien planet ending with a section of total incendiary destruction.
S’all right, mind you. Very obvious and that, but it keeps you engaged if not enthralled. It’s only when you’re informed by an intimate of the Floyd’s entourage that the likes of Lindsay Anderson and Nicholas Roeg – i.e. the best film directors in the country – were at the outset interested in helping out on the film until they actually came up against the Floyd and immediately made their excuses in order to opt out that it all starts to fall into perspective again.

It’s also around this time that you start realising how incredibly limited the band seem to be as musicians. As a rhythm section, Mason and Waters are perhaps the dullest I’ve ever witnessed filling a large auditorium, the former going through his tedious tricks most of the time, and falling apart at those unscripted junctures when the band are forced to involve themselves in attempts at spontaneity. (These junctures of course are very few and far between, due to the situation of the whole show being moulded around the constrictive dictates of the visual presentation which depends ultimately on stop-gap timing).
Waters is not a very imaginative bass player, and doesn’t improve things by incorporating a tone akin to the dull atonal thud one gets when hitting the strings of a piano with a rubber hammer.
Rick Wright is merely an adequate keyboard player, and always seems uncomfortable when forced to take action (at one point he attempted some gospel-tinged pianistics to complement the fine performance of Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams’ “Great Gig in the Sky” segment and muffed it badly).

This weakness creates numerous watersheds in the music which just scream for some inspired interjection, whether in the form of a Ratledge-styled piece of inspired doodling or even one of those quasi-Herbie Hancock soft-jazz flurries which every young dolt in an up-and-coming progressive unit seems perfectly adept at pulling off these days.
Wright really hasn’t improved that much since the old Floyd days; only the arsenal of keyboards has been added to.
Finally there’s Gilmour – who, although an adequate guitarist, projects little personality in his playing, well-doused as his solos are in the blues guitar school traditions.
Here again a lack of inspiration fails to perceive vast holes in the music which could so easily be cemented in by some tasteful rhythm work or a short-tight solo such as he is capable of.

So anyway the Floyd battle on with their films (more obvious footage of currency for “Money” plus some shots of “political leaders” for “Brain Damage” – is this a political statement, boys? – and their tapes and their perfect P.A. system, and the audience are loving it.
Those still awake, that is. Our Mr. Erskine was being flanked by somnambulant corpses on his side of the fence while I noticed a few bedraggled-looking souls dozing off in my corner.
Even our old mate Bill – remember him? – was rendered inert for some ten minutes until the applause for “Money” brought him around.
Finally the “Moon” set is completed and the band walk off to ecstatic applause. They eventually return for an encore – no “thank-yous” or anything…I mean that would be just too much to ask, now wouldn’t it, and the band do “Echoes”.

Visuals are now relegated to luminous green orbs of circular light projected on the big screen (they never seem to really be spinning properly), while towards the end the band’s ankles are engulfed in – wait for it! – “dry ice”.
The above constituted what could easily be the most boring concert I’ve ever been forced to sit through for review purposes. Mind you, the Floyds themselves were reportedly none too enamoured by the event either: apparently there was a nasty fight between the band after the set which culminated in a sound man being sacked and some guy from Island Studios being brought in at short notice to replace him.
Having been informed of this, we decided to curb the venom long enough to give the band a second chance and go back on the Friday night. This time the sound had indeed improved beyond all recognition and the first half went pretty smoothly until there arose some “contretemps” betwixt Roger Waters at his most morose and someone who dared yelled “Get on with it!” during yet more laboured tuning up in order to preface “Gotta be Crazy”.

“We’re going as fast as we can,” muttered Waters derisively, sounding amazed that this young upstart actually dare criticize them.
If that weren’t bad enough, someone yelped out, of all things, “1967,” straight afterwards.
This was too much for Waters. “It’s not 1967, it’s 1974,” he snapped back.
Anyway, Friday’s show still pinpointed how poor the band are at jamming or really sustaining either drama or dramatics, flailing around to little avail in their attempts to pad out what are at the best of times minor works. And the band’s musicianship was, as before, questionably mediocre.
OK, boys, now this is really going to hurt.

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What the two Floyd shows I witnessed on Thursday and Friday amounted to in the final analysis was not merely a kind of utterly morose laziness which is ultimately even more obnoxious than callow superstar “flash”, but a pallid excuse for creative music which comes dangerously close to the Orwellian mean for a facile, soulless music that would doubtless rule the air-waves and moreover be touted as fine art in the latter’s vision of 1984.
David Bowie, on his “Diamond Dogs”, unwittingly (as far as I can see, anyway) hit upon something which totally invalidates the rest of his similarly facile theorizing on a computerised cruel future planet when he plays, of all things, “Rebel Rebel”.
“Rebel Rebel”, you see, is the ultimate identikit diluted series of computerised rock gestures – the mechanical Stones riff, the brainless lyrics – real “1984” rock. The Pink Floyd are even closer to that though. Over the last few years the band have in fact come to establish themselves as the total antithesis of what they started out representing: the whole Brave New World school of rock musicianship which broke loose back in ’66-’67 and brought about real masterpieces like “Eight Miles High”, “Revolver” and “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”.

The Floyd in fact now seem so incredibly tired and seemingly bereft of true creative ideas one wonders if they really care about their music at all anymore.
I mean, one can easily envisage a Floyd concert in the future consisting of the band simply wandering on stage, setting all their tapes into action, putting their instruments on remote control and then walking off behind the amps in order to talk about football or play billiards.
I’d almost prefer to see them do that. At least it would be more honest.
Still, the Floyd can content themselves on one score. They are definitely the quintessential English band. No other combine quite sums up the rampant sense of doomed mediocrity inherent in this country’s current outlook right now. “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” Just delete “quiet desperation” (Thoreau, for one, will be pleased) and choose your own depreciative little phrase as an amendment and we’ve got it all pigeonholed very nicely thank you, squire. And there’s absolutely nothing “cosmic” about any of it, really, now is there?

David Gilmour is almost by accident probably the most proficient musician in the Floyd – without, in terms of his guitar work, ever imposing any kind of “personality” on the group. Past history reveals his style and approach as being, to say the least, malleable.
Gilmour joined the band in `67 as replacement for Syd Barrett. They`d all known each other from the band`s embryonic Cambridge days. Prior to this Gilmour had been gigging in France and was, on his own admission, a fairly stock rock guitarist whose roots extended no further back than Hank Marvin.
“At the time,” reports the Floyd`s then co-manager, Pete Jenner, “Dave was doing very effective take-offs of Hendrix-style guitar playing. So the band said, `play like Syd Barrett`.”
The familiar slide and echo-boxes were purely of Syd`s invention.

Subsequently, in an interview conducted last year, Gilmour stated that his joining such an apparently disparate unit as the Floyd was in no way anything more than a minor wrench for him. Which is possibly why he finds it so easy to fit in with such other apparently disparate elements as Unicorn, Sutherland Brothers, Quiver and Roy Harper. Hence the term “malleability” may also imply (a) a lack of personality in musical style and therefore (b) a suspicion of an “it`s-only-a-gig” philosophy.
In a way, you could say that Gilmour was a geezer who struck lucky – which is why, I`ve always felt, he`s regarded the band – and his role within it – with a certain tinge of cynicism. It`s almost as if the Floyd, having loafed about half-seriously in the beginning as “The Architectural Abdabs” (sic), garnered their persona from Barrett and, when he dropped out, for want of anything better to do clung on to the momentum he provided. Until – in a manner of speaking – success crept up from behind and goosed them.
Sometime in between, of course, they must have realised, that they were On To A Good Thing.
The Floyd are nothing if not shrewd.

More, even, than Brian Eno, they`re well aware of the benefits of concocting a low-profile Emperor`s New Clothes` syndrome – which is why, I`d guess, Roger Waters makes no little show onstage of his apparent disdain for their audiences. And why, too (you`ll have noticed) that the band do few interviews and, when they do, try and avoid discussing the intrinsic grits of their music too much.
They like, you see, for you to make your own deductions – and with intellectual paranoia in the ascendant (possibly as a result of The Rise Of The Reefer) how can they fail?
Thus confronted, Gilmour`s attitude remains uniformly laissez-faire.
“Cynical?” he says querulously. “No. I mean, last night on stage I was just hung up. Because it wasn`t very good.”
At one point – the night before the Thursday gig – the first of their Wembley gigs – he`d raised his eyebrows as if to say, let`s pack it in and piss off home.”

BUT NOW it`s Friday morning and we`re camped down in the bedroom of his recently-renovated Notting Hill Town house.
Concert licks first, please Dave, how about the gaps between numbers – Roger stalling over lighting a cigarette with this “well-we-can-do-this-we`re-Artists” attitude?
“Oh yeah. But I don`t really think that`s what it`s down to. It`s just…ah…well, I dunno…Roger likes smoking cigarettes. He can`t get through a gig without a few straights.”
He is, however, more than willing to admit that Thursday night`s gig was “probably the worst we`ve done on the whole tour.”
“The first half…” he continues languidly “…when that wasn`t very good it didn`t particularly worry me because they`re all new things and we`re not doing them very well yet. But we have done them better than that. I thought the second half would click into place because it has done on a couple of other nights when the first half wasn`t good.”

The standard of musicianship was very low – for example Rick Wright`s solo on the end of “Us And Them” which didn`t approximate to the recorded version in any way.
Yes?
“In the first half…the sound wasn`t very good and the vocal mikes were pretty terrible – which makes it that much harder to sing and that much harder to work. And also it didn`t sound as if there was any bass and drums. Unless there`s a bit of that `ooomph` you can`t really get off…it was just one of those nights were you bumble around and don`t really get anything together. It sounded ragged all the way through.
“It doesn`t worry me particularly, it just happens sometimes. Just chemistry really, innit?
Mmmm.
Well, okay, was the audience`s response an accurate one, then?

“I think they enjoyed it reasonably – but I think a lot of people didn`t really think it was very good. There`s a difference between going home and thinking it was pretty good and going home and thinking `wow`. And I know we do get that pretty often. More nights than not I know that most of the people there are going to go home and say `what a groove!` I think they probably want to convince themselves that they DID have a groove just so that they don`t think they hit on a bad one…and wasted their money.”
Right. On to the Big Picture. The band has reached a level now – with “Moon” – where, inevitably, when you`re at a party, someone will put it on and everybody will say `Jeepers, THE FLOYD!` – almost as a conditioned reflex. i.e. whatever the-Floyd-do-is-hallowed. How do you feel about it?
“It`s a drag.”
It`s almost as if the band could put out a double album of Roger tuning his bass and it`d sell.

“I`m sure there would be people who`d react that way – but I`m sure sales figures would reflect a bad album in the end. But I don`t mean that 100 per cent. I`m sure that if we put out an album of pure tripe it would sell vastly more than lots and lots of other band`s records. But in relation to our sales, a bad record would sell badly. It has done in the past.”
What with?
“Well, `Atom Heart Mother`. I`d say that was the worst record we`ve made. I didn`t like it and I don`t like it much now. I`m not very keen on `Umma Gumma` either.”
Well, how about “Moon?” Did its musical content really merit its universal popularity – or was it the Floyd album that coincided with the peak of interest in the band?
`Quite possibly. You may be right. But it certainly was a very good all-round…uh…package. Everything about it was very well done. It was one continuous idea. It was recorded well, it was pretty well mixed, had a good cover and all that sort of stuff.

“But I`ve always felt, right from the word Go, that the musical side of it wasn`t that hot in some parts. And I still feel that. Some parts are a bit weak. We`d have a lyrical idea but no real idea of a musical piece to put to it, so we`d just make something up and take the first thing that came – rather than being critical about the musical side as it was being done. But then some of those bits got knocked out during the months we were playing it onstage before we recorded it. The original travel section we played for months onstage and even recorded it before deciding to scrap it and start again.”
Yes. But getting back to this bland acceptance thing…surely the band is to blame? Onstage the music is almost moving towards a kind of Automaton Rock, towards a kind of non-participatory non-thinking music – where all the audience has to do is walk in, sit down and watch it all exploding in front of them. In terms of presentation you could be getting to the point where you walk on stage, throw a few switches and walk out. Will it come to that?

“Oh I don`t think so, no. I don`t think that the audience have a very great participation in what we do but I don`t think that`s a bad thing necessarily.”
Don`t you think it promotes Bland Acceptance?
“No. Listen,” he says (perhaps beginning to get a little riled), “we still have to get off. I mean YOU know what the difference is between a good gig and a bad gig. And it`s not mechanical. We`re quite capable of blowing a gig and we`re also capable of doing a great gig.”
But in the main it tends to glut the listener`s faculties, promoting a glazed `okay feed-it-to-me` attitude (which, taken to its fullest extent, I might add, is positively somnambulist. I personally noted four people sound asleep in my row.
“You think so?” he replies (perhaps stalling a little). “I think it`s up to them. I think they`re free to take it any way they want. A lot of people don`t though. We had someone the other night who must`ve known that we`re football fans who was shouting `cyyyyomon you Floyd!!!` just like they do on the North Bank.”

The new material sounded a bit recycled – like some of the more tangible stuff on “Moon”. Does that mean you`re having trouble sorting out new ideas?
“Umm, yeah. I don`t know…uh…`Raving And Drooling` – the middle one of the three – sounds a bit recycled to me, but they`re not there yet. I`m not very keen on that one at the moment…but, I dunno, these things get worked into shape. I know that one or two of them are gonna sound great recorded. I think the last one, `Gotta Be Crazy` is very different to a lot of stuff we`ve done, but I don`t think the words go right at the moment.
“I mean, the singing thing`s been worked out a bit too quickly. Roger wrote the words to fit over a certain part and I`m not sure that we did it quite the right way.”
But how can you equate doing something like “Gotta Be Crazy” – or “Money”, even – from the relatively secure position you`re in as a band?

“Well, `Money` is obviously a satire on…money. And it is a self-satire. Obviously. It`s easy to tell that because a lot of the lyrics relate specifically to things that various of us have done, but I mean, I don`t think we`re as capitalist as…I think it mocks us, the song says that we`re more than we are, in fact. It just keeps us aware of it all.
“You Gotta Be Crazy` is about business pressure really. It does relate to us – I`m sure – you`ll have to ask Roger really, he wrote it. The way I understand the words is that I guess you have to harden yourself up to – uh – you know Make It in this world…if that`s what you call Making It…”
The other thing about the new material is that it sounds “safe”. It`s years since the band`s taken any musical risks which, for a group that claims its main appeal is that it “sounds different” from any other, is a little incongruous.
“Ah well,” replies Mr. G. “I think that`s all down to what you want to do. I mean, I certainly don`t WANT to do a lot of things we did earlier on. I`m just interested in actually writing music and getting the music done that we do.”
Ahem.

“…You know I think that everyone`s interests have gone more towards that sort of thing rather than some of the old rubbish that we used to do. Although it was good fun.
“But I dunno, I don`t think anyone`s got any great interest in it now. You can`t do that sort of thing for ever. Like there are lots of things we used to do. Like we used to do an encore where we`d just go on and not decide what we were going to do until we`d started…”
How long ago was that?
“Oh, four years ago, at least. But I don`t really want to go through that thing of doing five loads of rubbish and just once getting something that`s pretty good and new. Or getting a half-hour number with about three minutes of worthwhile music in it.”
But don`t you think that if you`d have kept on progressing from the original improvising basis that by now you could`ve achieved a personal empathy that would alleviate most of those duff patches?
“I don`t know. I really don`t know…I`ve just got memories of standing onstage farting about, plonking away on stuff and feeling terribly embarassed for long periods of time – and looking across at everyone else realising that they were all obviously feeling the same way.
“Maybe guaranteeing that what you play is something that you`ll enjoy is `playing safe.` But I don`t think we`ve got an intentional play-safe policy.”

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A cool ad from the paper!

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: Stacia (Hawkwind), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Pilot, David Essex, Queen, Deke Leonard (Man), Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Savile, Herbie Hancock, Kevin Coyne.

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