Pete Erskine

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM SOUNDS, April 13, 1974

I don`t know what is happenning. Lately I have had a peak in the number of views on this blog, but the number of visitors have stayed the same… I can see that I have a lot of views from the USA, so someone over there must be reading this blog extremely thoroughly. Well, to that someone: It seems you enjoy this as much as the rest of us do and I hope that you will take much pleasure in this one from the days when Queen still were a fairly unknown entity.

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Queen street

Erskine does it again! This week, Queen`s drummer Roger Meddows Taylor

Gosh it would be so easy but I don`t think I can trash on a man who says he hated “Bridge Over Troubled Water” even if he does fruit about with a band who, it has been decided, are the new persona non grata.
Are Queen really that obnoxious? You tell me. I wouldn`t rightly know, never having heard them you see. I tried but the albums never arrived in time. They were despatched no doubt, strapped to the horny hindquarters of a rheumatic tortoise still making its way past Victoria Station.
So anyway, at least they`ve inspired extremes of opinion and a predominantly negative reaction from the press all of which is good for business because then the kids who buy the albums and go to the gigs can feel that they know something we don`t – and they could just be right.
A rather smug lady who figures she discovered the band has finished her interview and is flicking through the papers sneering at this week`s putdowns of her new pets and she also figures she knows something the rest of us don`t and makes quite sure everyone in the office realises it. I tell you, socially your rock clique has to be the most exciting thing since the day the paperclips arrived.
“I don`t pretend to understand the workings of the journalistic mind.” Drummer Roger Taylor`s looking svelte in felt – a black jacket with piped seams festooned with chains and silver coins. There had, it appeared, been a problem with the publicity shots. The one that you won`t be seeing on this page because it was too blurred and boring was officially approved. It had a `yes` scribbled on the back. The shots we are using instead are not approved. The smug lady shrinks in horror at the thought and my o my I`d sure like to stick one on her… Julie Andrews ain`t got nothin` on this doll.

Anyway, it`s hot and clear outside and I would much rather be cruising slowly round South London looking at office girls with trim little jugs and downy earlobes, but onward we go serving and returning the cliches like your verbal Ken Rosewalls.
“There are really only two things that hurt,” he continues, “firstly when we`re called a hype – that`s one thing we`re not. We`re making it in the old-fashioned way which is initially through selling records through playing concerts… enabling the record company to get behind you for the second album. The other thing is that they cast doubts on the musicianship which is one thing we`re really sure about… obviously we think we`re bloody good… oh yes, and we`ve also been accused of being a part of supermarket rock – which is a bit much when you write your own material.
“Considering the abuse we`ve had lately, I`m surprised that the new album has done so well. I suppose it`s basically that audiences like the band.”
Yes, I `spect it is.
“We`ve had the name for four years now, believe it or not – most people don`t – and it was Freddie`s idea. It was just a reflection of the social world we were in at the time, when he and I were working together on Kensington Market – it was good then. In those days there was a pretty eccentric crowd there, people in sombreros and a lot of them were gay and a lot of them pretended to be and it just seemed to fit in. I didn`t like the name originally and neither did Brian, but we got used to it. We thought that once we`d got established the music would become the identity more than the name…”
And how about this “New Zeppelin” tag with you in the States?
“Oh that`s happened here too, but it seems mainly an American thing. We haven`t been there yet but the first album did quite well there. Apparently we`re known to an extent on the East coast and in the South… sorry to go on about journalists but it seems to be a trait to describe any sort of band that the journalist isn`t particularly aware of in relation to other bands.

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We`ve been compared to Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Zeppelin, Purple… everybody, even Geordie and Nazareth. In fact, Geordie`s album was reviewed the other day and they got accused of sounding like us which made me laugh…
“There must be parallels but we`re not aware of them. Obviously we have our heroes. I personally think Zeppelin and the Who are the two best rock bands in the world. I`ve got all their albums and I`ve listened to them a lot. I still think John Bonham is one of the most underrated rock drummers, so I suppose we`ve absorbed some of that somewhere…”
The debut Queen album was universally ignored but is now selling in increasing quantities whilst “Queen II” has been universally panned and is selling in even larger quantities.
“We took so much trouble over that album, possibly too much, but when we finished we felt really proud. Immediately it got really bad reviews so I took it home to listen to again and thought Christ are they right? But after hearing it a few weeks later I still like it. I think it`s great. We`ll stick by it.
“There are a lot of things on the first album I don`t like, though, for example the drum sound. There are parts  of it which may sound contrived but it is very varied and it has lots of energy… but then I think one of the best albums last year was the “Mott” album and that had loads of inconsistencies and rough bits…”
Roger has `O` and `A` levels, a biology degree and is a former dropout from dental college. He also says he learnt from observing such luminaries as Pete Townshend and Ian Hunter who, he says, has “an interesting philosophy”. He is, Taylor adds, “far more intelligent than you might give him credit for”.
We are digressing. Could Roger see himself slipping into a Rick Wakeman lifestyle?
“To be quite honest I`d like to have a house here, one in Cornwall, a house in Greece and move back and forth between them but still be totally involved in music, but perhaps getting to that level removes the necessary paranoia that keeps you going.”
Oh yes and Roger says the stages were too small, the gigs too crowded, and in general the sound was bad on their recent British tour and I have to wonder because, as I say, I know very little about Queen, but to me it seems like rampant craziness to be starting yet another rock and roll band on the rise up the slippery pole at this point in time with all those prospects of marathon Stateside tours and continuing abuse from the press and an image which to say the least, has become a trifle hack-kneed. Although Roger claims it to be totally uncontrived although Zandra Rhodes is their stage costumier which must mean something… perhaps, as the lovely and indubitably Polish Pete Makowski says, that they are trying to straddle two markets at the same time – your progressive can-crushing and your pretty-boy teenscream, but I don`t know. It`s a nice day outside, the public bar awaits me and I have to investigate that torso of a man in his mid-40s and subsequently I have to put the cat out and mow the lawn…

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

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elton John, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Refugee, Mott the Hoople, Uriah Heep, Sweet, The John Peel Column, Little Feat, Sparks, Strawbs, Ducks Deluxe, Alquin, Dr. Feelgood, Jimmy DeWar.

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

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Carl Palmer (ELP) FROM SOUNDS, January 26, 1974

This very influential drummer has played for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia, and has really made his mark as one of the most influential drummers in the world. Reading this article you can understand why when you take into account his serious approach to his profession. This is not someone in it just for the fame, fortune and easy access to girls. A good read.

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Carl: Doing it first

Exclusive by Pete Erskine

Cracking the Manticore complex is something like breaking and entering Fort Knox with a butter knife and a pair of plastic specs. Manticore is E.L.P.`s record company. It performs the usual record company functions but with an air of dense but organised chaos and a careful screening process – on all levels – maintains a frustratingly efficient protective role.
It is, of course, only another extension of the band`s “positive” philosophy – of permitting only the good, constructive things to actually break through and reach them. It is also a part of their policy of total co-ordination and, apparently, total control – a theme that passes through almost everything they seem to be involved with from press relations to promotion to marketing to management and so on right through to the music and all the facets of touring and stage production. They are undeniably slick and undeniably it works and that`s probably what puts people off; it intimidates them, it makes them suspicious, it makes them jealous.
People I know are resentful that an operation of these proportions always wins through in terms of constant sales and popularity above lesser known, looser, but maybe just as talented outfits. The music may not be to everyone`s taste but the band`s attitude and commitment to the same is surely worthy of respect. You can write it off as ego and a lust for supremacy but there is a genuine desire to experiment and, individually, for the musicians to further their personal musical boundaries.
All of which sounds like preaching and the usual press cant, but talking to Carl Palmer earlier in the week one begins to realise the validity of the band`s approach to their work and their heavy investment in the musical ideal; being bigger and better than the competition may be good for one`s self, but it also means that the public is getting a better deal too.

“I think we got a little more showy on the American tour,” says Palmer, inspecting a tube of ointment. He has a growth on the palm of his right hand. “But it added rather than detracted from what we were doing. I mean I think visuals are really effective if they relate to what you`re doing… and not just there for their own sake, like with some of the things Alice Cooper uses.”
Contemporary ELP visuals, aside from overall group lighting and individual footlights, comprise a white baby grand, upon which Emerson rises and revolves whilst playing Chopin`s “Revolutionary”, a computer, programmed to repeat a section of “Karn Evil 9” with increasing rapidity until it dissolves with a thundercrack and belch of smoke, a revolving drum rostrum and… in a way, Carl`s custom-built stainless steel drum set. The piano is merely a humorous device, to provide contrast and to poke fun at the whole concept of gimmickry, the computer, according to Emerson, is a counter to those accusations of ELP as a “mechanical band”, in that it becomes obvious that Emerson`s rendition of the particular phrase and the computer`s are separated totally by the factor of human touch and feeling and human expression. It also is relevant to the theme, both directly lyrical, and indirectly musical, of “Karn Evil 9”. The revolving rostrum is almost purely visual, but has its practical side too – in that Carl is elevated to eye level with the other two, and, in circular stadiums, where part of the audience might be looking down on the band from the back, they, too, get a chance to see what`s going on.
“The drums were made in London,” explains Palmer, “and no drum companies were involved – mostly because they`d look at it from a commercial mass-production point of view, whereas I`m looking at it from a purely personal view, almost eliminating most of the practical aspects.
“A metalworking firm made the stainless steel shell, which is about quarter of an inch thick and this means that the total weight approaches something like two and a half tons. The thing is that it`s such a true sound, unlike a wooden shell.

“I`ve been experimenting for quite a while and I`ve found that most wooden drums were okay a few years ago but they just didn`t give that constant sound. With stainless steel, for me personally, the drums project a lot more. They have more top frequencies. I have them tuned quite tightly, unlike the heavy rock and roll drummers who go for the fat flabby sound.
“The idea for the engravings came from a hunting rifle I saw one day with a couple of foxes jumping over a fence and I thought it would make it more personalised. I left most of the actual drawings to an engraver. He drew them first and we went over them together. It adds a touch of quality. It`s very bizarre and it`s very extravagant but it is something that I`ve always wanted.
“I`ve been playing 13 years this coming March and I`ve always wanted to build my own kit. I know exactly what I want and I have the money now to afford it, so I figure why not have the Rolls-Royce drum kit?
“The biggest innovation with this kit, though is that it`s part-electric. I`ve been working on that for such a long time and was sort of let down so many times – well, not so much let down, more that the people helping me didn`t have time to take it any further. Bob Moog was very busy at the time. He gave me a prototype drum. On the floor it had five buttons which you pushed to change the sound. That was okay, but say you wanted to play all those sounds really quickly in succession you`d have to be a tap dancer.
“What I did was to transfer all the sounds I wanted to each individual drum. I`ve therefore managed to get five electronic drum sounds that are pure electronic rhythmic impulses… another drum plays a sequence, a series of 14 notes that repeat on the 14th and I managed to produce two counters. One counter plays a long bass note when you strike it while the other plays a pattern that`s a little more complicated. The whole thing operates through a simple on-off button.

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“It has to be done doesn`t it? I mean, people have left drums alone for so long. My main thing has always been to be a musical drummer; I`ve always preferred a musical approach to the basic heavy rock rhythmic playing. I can`t slate those kind of players because they`re good for what they do but I`ve always thought maybe I should use gongs and tubular bells and timps onstage… and I thought to myself that if I was going to take that approach I should have a very futuristic approach as well as developing the instrument I play.
“It just seems like a logical progression. My reason for doing it also lies with the fact that I wanted to be the first to record something on an electric drum set – which I did on `Brain Salad Surgery`.
“I don`t believe in it totally because I believe more in symphonic drumming – tuned percussion. I just have this thing in me that I like to do things first whether I believe in them 100 per cent or not. I believe in the product, but as far as drumming becoming electronic in the future, well I don`t believe that will happen; I believe it`ll be used only as an effect.
“The main thing about English drummers – they`re changing now, and I hope it`s through something I might`ve done – up to about two years ago the fact was that they`d be using, perhaps, two bass drums and a couple of small tomtoms or maybe one bass drum and a tomtom in front and one on the floor and I always thought this had to be wrong in today`s music; there can`t be enough colour there. When you think of how many notes the piano`s got and how many notes you can reproduce on the guitar yet the drummer`s got next to nothing, it doesn`t add up.
“That`s when I decided to introduce these concert tomtoms which range from a drum that`s six inches in diameter to a drum that`s 18 inches. It goes 6, 8, 10, 12 inches, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 inches. They provide an awful lot of scope which is something that was missed over here.

“The idea originated after hearing Elvis, who I really dig. He`s got an amazing rock and roll band – true rock and roll musicians you know, with that guitarist James…”
“Burton?”
“Yes, James Burton, and an amazing drummer and I heard these, these concert tomtoms, being played on a record of his and it just freaked me out… and `Hawaii Five-O`, that series, that`s got them too. Lots of people are using them now and it`s a good thing because as a drummer I`m into being an instrument rather than a rhythmic device… hence you have to develop your instrument further and have more of it around you; my attitude to playing in this band is as a percussionist in an orchestra; that`s how I think of myself. I try and do the job of four percussionists. I`m not just into the funky stuff and I`m not just into the technical thing that I`ve always been labelled with – I`m really into the whole spectrum.
“So many drummers are into the funky thing and the technical thing but they don`t quite make the musical approach which is warranted these days…”
In fact, having seen Palmer in action at Madison Square Garden one of the first things that seemed obvious was his seeming ability to tackle an enormous range of styles and feels with equal ease. There were sections, apart from the previously recorded material – In “Tarkus” and “Take A Pebble” where the band hit into piano-orientated sections touching on old George Shearing material and Carl would tap out that fast swing… and there`s the barrelhousing “Benny The Bouncer” where he`d employ fast brushwork… and there were even odd little blues/jazz sections reminiscent of the Nice where he`d strike up a harder more funky approach. His timing and edge are both immaculate, and effortless.

“That technical thing kills me, though,” he continues, “okay it`s partly true you know. If people want to say am I a fast drummer, have I got a great technique, then, yes, it is true, right, and I don`t mind saying it, but some people have said that I`m not funky and that`s unbelievably wrong. What I`ve done, and what people haven`t seen, is to try and open up more than just being a funky drummer or just being a technical drummer. I`ve tried to push it forward and especially on this album – percussion as more of an intricate instrument rather than the knocking nails in routine.
“Like Jimi Hendrix – the reason why he made the guitar so famous was that he wasn`t simply putting it through a straight stack, he was putting it through a fuzz box and wah-wah and he`d got certain things specially made up and so on. He was trying to better the instrument and so am I – technically and in terms of playing.
“Tuition,” he adds, “has been incredibly beneficial”. I had wondered whether on the contrary, it could lead a person into thinking only along set lines, rather than broadening his experience. Palmer has two a week one at the Guild Hall and one privately round at his tutor`s house.
“It`s given me more scope musically and furthered my musical ability,” he adds. “It hasn`t inhibited me at all in anything I`ve done. Personally I think it`s a very valid thing for people not just to have classical tuition, because there are so many things you can learn that you couldn`t possibly pick up yourself, and I`ve reached the point now where I can switch on and play something musical… or anything really. I never close myself off; I try to get the most out of the things I learn and apply them at the right time. It depends on what I`m playing, but the way I`m playing at any given moment is the way I`m thinking. The minute you close yourself off to anything, you`re burning your bridges.
“The nature of my instrument tells me that to be a percussionist I need to be able to play all forms of music – to know I can back anybody at a minute`s notice… unlike people who play pianos and other kinds of instrument who probably tend to lean more on one particular line.
“Quite honestly, too, I want to be greedy about it. I want to be the best jazz drummer, the best technician, the best rock drummer and the best musical drummer.”

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

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Status Quo, Ralph McTell, Incredible String Band, Kiki Dee, Marc Bolan, Jethro Tull, Pointer Sisters.

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

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Cozy Powell FROM SOUNDS, January 19, 1974

Finally an article with Cozy Powell, a drummer who many other rock drummers have cited as an major influence.
When I grew up I thought of him as one of the very best in his profession, without really knowing too much about drumming, but just by listening to some of the fantastic albums he recorded.
Tragically, he died just 50 years old in circumstances that really should have been avoided. Powell died on April 5, 1998 following a car accident while driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph (167 km/h) in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol. He had been dating a married woman who was having troubles with her husband. Upset, she  phoned him and asked him to come quickly to her house which was approximately 35 miles away. As he was driving to her house she phoned him again and asked “Where are you?” He informed her he was on his way and then she heard him say “Oh shit!” followed by a loud bang.
Powell was ejected through the windscreen and died at the scene. According to the BBC report, at the time of the crash Powell’s blood-alcohol reading was over the legal limit, and he was not wearing a seat belt, in addition to talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. The official investigation also found evidence of a slow puncture in a rear tyre that, it was suggested, could well have caused a sudden collapse of the tyre with a  consequent loss of control of the car.
So don`t drink and drive, folks! Use a seat belt and be sure that your car is in order. You may avoid women to be on the safe side too… The consequences can be dire.

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Lament of a session man

Cozy Powell talking to Pete Erskine

It is indicative of the old grass-is-greener philosophy that we tend to regard the sessions scene as a particularly American phenomenon; I`m not sure why, but maybe it`s because, in so many cases, albums there are cut on a looser basis, and the people involved always seem to be credited quite openly. Anyway, for whatever reasons it does, from our viewpoint, appear to be a healthy and entirely self-sufficient industry within an industry.

OVERLOOKED

`Course, we have our own, but somehow it always gets overlooked – really excellent musicians like Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway, Albert Lee, BJ Cole, Caleb Quaye, Dave Mattacks, Rabbit, Rebop, Herbie Flowers, and, in the past, the Dundee Horns (Roger Ball and Mollie Duncan of the Average White Band) and Chris Spedding; the main difference is that the majority also have a regular gig within a band, but the point still stands that they could all do with a degree of recognition – and, in particular Max Middleton… and Cozy Powell.
You may remember Cozy as the drummer with BB&A`s predecessor, the ill-starred Jeff Beck Group. There were two albums from that line up – Jeff on guitar, Max on keyboards, Clive Chaman, bass, Bob Tench, Vocals, and Cozy on drums. The first was called “Rough And Ready”, but the second, simply entitled “The Jeff Beck Group”, was produced by Steve Cropper, and was, I always thought, pretty fair – “Sugar Cane” was an outstanding cut, anyway; BB&A`s debut album wasn`t all that great in comparison.
“The critics really slagged that band,” Cozy recalls, “and I thought it was one of the best groups Jeff ever had – in terms of musicianship – discounting myself of course. Take people like Max and Clive; they`ve got to be two of this country`s best. I`ve worked with Jameson (Motown`s house bassist) and he`s THE bass-player. Clove doesn`t come far short of him; he`s really superb.
“Not only is Max one of the best, most tasteful keyboard players in the country, but he`s also a superb arranger. He worked on the new Lindisfarne album, amongst others.” Middleton is also a part of Linda Lewis`s backup band. You might`ve seen him with her on the “Whistle Test” recently. Check out Linda`s “Fathoms Deep” album if you think I`m hyping.
The band, incidentally, broke the Stones` record at the Roundhouse, which still stands, but in spite of everything they remained a grossly underrated unit.

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“But in the States it was a different matter. The group was just beginning to win some acclaim. I reckon we would`ve started to break on the next tour. We were just beginning to do the 5000 seaters… the next tour Jeff did, he got bottles thrown at him. They gave him a rough time because they wanted to see the last group. I mean, Timmy and Carmine are excellent but they`ve been around for years over there. Everyone for years over there. Everyone knows them. The audiences really wanted to see Jeff with the English guys.
The demise of the band is still a source of dismay to Cozy, apart from lumbering him and the others, within the business, as just another bunch of Beck rejects. Cozy`s name has been associated with an enormous spectrum of musicians over the eight years he`s been playing sessions, not the least of whom are Tony Joe White – at the Isle of Wight festival – and, more recently, Bill Withers, with Stray Dog`s Snuffy, and Rabbit. And his association with Mickie Most – through work with CCS, Hot Chocolate, Donovan and Blue Mink – led to recording of the “Dance With The Devil” single.
“He said he`d got an idea for a drum single,” Cozy explains, “he had the melody – as such – worked out and he wanted me to come over and have a listen. He played it to me and we figured it`d be a bit of fun so we hammered through it for a couple of hours one Monday morning and that was the last I thought about it. I was pretty amazed to see it actually selling, but it`s been very good, not just for me, but for the band as well.”
The band, of course, being Bedlam, Cozy`s regular gig with former Procol guitarist Dave Ball, Dennis Ball, bass, and Frankie Aiello, vocals, whose first album, on Chrysalis, released mid way through last year, was the first to be produced by Felix Papallardi since his mountain days. Cozy reckons they`re doing well. They`ve been concentrating during the last six months on tightening up in the provinces in preparation for an American tour.
The future includes work with Humble Pie`s Dave Clempson on a solo album, “he`s got some bloody amazing things written” – which began this week, further time with Bedlam but definitely no solo gigs. “I`ve had all kinds of offers of work – ridiculous prices too, but what do they want to see, me sitting there behind a kit playing variations on the single all night? It`d bore `em stupid.”

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

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, Bryan Ferry, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Paul Butterfield, Sweet, Tim Hardin, Average White Band, Nazareth, Robin Dransfield, Andy Roberts.

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

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Chris Squire (Yes) FROM SOUNDS, January 19, 1974

Always a pleasure to give you an article with this excellent band and their excellent bass player and founder.
Hope you find it as good as I did.

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Hello Squire!

Interview by Pete Erskine

Mr. Goodwin, a well known publicist is on the phone. “They would like,” he is saying, “to answer some of the criticism they`ve received in the press. They`re not angry,” he continues, “in fact, someone else want to see them the other day and he`d written a really bad review and he was amazed that they didn`t seem to mind.”
They really don`t; well, Chris Squire doesn`t, why should he? “Tales Of Topographic Oceans” went gold, representation of a genuine advance order in excess of 250,000, before it even reached the shops.
Squire`s personal attitude to the album is slightly inscrutible.
“On the whole,” he says mildly, “I`m really happy with it. It was like an ever-opening flower as it went along… it just seemed to develop. I mean, playing it and learning the words was like something opening up to me; it wasn`t as if anyone started with a clear conception of what it might turn out like. Jon probably had the clearest vision…
“I honestly couldn`t expect anyone to attempt a review after only having heard it a few times because there is so much in it. It`s not as if there`s been a lot of works like it in the past to relate back to. In many ways the manner in which it developed was a surprise to us. It was an eye-opener. The whole thing seemed to have a strong force behind it. We all felt it but none of us knew what it was. We simply let ourselves be carried along by it to the point where we couldn`t take it any further so we had to wrap it up.
“I think, too, that you have to be involved with Jon`s style to begin to understand his lyrics. You said you didn`t understand the lyrics but I don`t think it that important to get anything across in terms of message. It`s far more important to begin to make people think for themselves.”

Having spent several days attempting to digest the work the only impression I seem to get, is a recurring one of someone tossing a jigsaw into the air and recording the pieces as and where they fall. Squire admits the album is “subtle” while others prefer to describe it as “fragmented”.
“Can you really see it as an overall concept?” I wonder.
“Yes, I can now, I think it`s a powerful work, it`s a double album and yet it is far more than twice as intense as `Close To The Edge`.
“It is eighty minutes long and there`s an awful lot of relating to do. Different sections have got to be heard so many times for you to ascertain any kind of link between them. For example side one and side three are interlinked by identical melodies although they might be manifested in different ways. A phrase in one section might be hinted at again in a different form in another; even I didn`t begin to see those things until much later.
“It may sound egotistical but critics don`t worry me a bit. My attitude is that if they fail to understand now, then I sincerely hope they will later. Someone read me a letter sent in to a music paper by some guy who said he`d always dug us, bought all the albums and so on and that he`d bought the new one, taken it home and played it over and over again and just couldn`t get into it…”
Subjectivity aside, I still think that if Miles Davis and Chick Corea, for example, are supposedly “over the public`s head” then how come a large section can readily devour the complexities of current Yes? Is part of it little more than intellectual snobbery, which feeds on the old “chosen few” sentiment, which of course, thrives in direct proportion to the resistance it encounters?

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“Quite possibly,” Squires muses, “I can`t really say yes or no on that one. All I can say is that I don`t believe those things are without foundation – there will always be a percentage who pretend, but, perhaps, even if they start with the wrong attitude they might learn in the end – at least they`re playing the album so in time they might even come to appreciate it. Or else their perverse attitude might turn others on to it.
“From my own point of view the only statement I can make, as a musician, is to say that I think musicians do play for themselves, whatever they might say, and for me `Topographic Oceans` has been a source of personal satisfaction; I haven`t felt as strongly about any of our albums since `The Yes Album` when Steve joined us – then there was a feeling that we were toying with the unknown; but with that album we created a statement which was prially resolved in `Fragile`. That was our first US album and then we made `Close To The Edge` and that was another `searching` album; that`s been the pattern with us – we ask a question or series of questions with one album and seem to answer them with the next. There`s always a `searching` album before the really positive one.
“`The Yes Album` and `Tales Of Topographic Oceans` have been the two album high-points for me, maybe not so much in the intrinsic qualities of the music itself, perhaps more in terms of a feeling captivated.”
The opposing school of thought has always said rock music should be instant and disposable – the throw-away thing it perhaps really is.
Squire concedes that Yes are probably not really a rock band at all.
“Everyone has to have influences,” he says, “gleaned from every kind of source. Some are content to listen to what`s gone before and keep it going, not deviating much from the accepted line. But it is hard for people to accept new things. One should be ready to accept everything that comes along and in that way one can`t help but gain.

“Every member of Yes has gained from making `Topographic Oceans` although in some ways it was a heavy task, but that`s the point; any slightly heavy experience endured is going to increase your knowledge.”
Originally it had been intended to find a suitable situation for recording the album in a custom built studio. Producer Eddie Offord had various plans but none materialised. Even so, rather than return to the familiar surroundings of Advision, the band opted for Morgan Studios and began constructing the piece last May starting with eight weeks of intensive rehearsals leading into the studio proper in July. It could possibly have been the most carefully prepared album in history, which may or may not be a good thing.
It surely has been a surprisingly tense experience, though. It`s rare to encounter anyone nowadays with complete faith in himself and what he`s doing; so rare, in fact, that it seems quite un-natural like being stopped on the street by the automated Jesus freak with the glazed eye and wan smile; blissed-out – Squire appears to be slightly so. There`s a kind of quiet zeal in him. It is certain that he regards the new album as something spiritual because of the amount of faith he has in it that people will understand it, if not at this point in time, then at least in the near future. Correct me, but I`ve always been sort of wary of blind faith, perhaps it`s not truly “blind”, but in the sense of being too heavily involved in one thing and one thing alone… to the exclusion of almost everything else; perhaps Yes`s music has become too personalised, too inward-looking for it to be anything but frigid and slightly distant.
The interview, as such, stumbles off on a tangent. For example, Squire attributes the supposed shortage of good US music to the upsurge in the popularity of the nasal habit (it`s spoon-size folks). Sly seems to have profited by it, he opines, but mostly it`s just another facet of unfulfilled talent becoming prematurely eroded. Other names spring to mind. Squire also laments the demise of the clubs, as does everybody, seemingly, and the lack  of space within the business for new talent unless it is heavily subsidised (in which case it is invariably relegated to hype).

“The whole economic advancement has affected the business because it`s taken the action out of the little clubs which was where rock and roll always stemmed from in those times, and it`s taken it into vast arenas and closed circuit TV and I suppose this generation is growing up with different ideas and identities.
“The scene definitely needs livening up… but in a way bands like us are just as guilty of playing along with the game and I`m sure people can see it from that point of view, but on the other hand if a gig arena is a thing to go and play in, and if that is where the business is nowadays then we can only try and make the best possible use of that kind of media, by investing as much as we can in sound equipment and a total investment in the whole ideal of music. We`re therefore trying to bring those kind of bigger events into the close-knit situation where the audience can identify with the band. Despite everything I feel that Yes are getting closer to the audience all the time.”

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

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, Bryan Ferry, Nazareth, Rick Wakeman, Paul Butterfield, Sweet, Tim Hardin, Average White Band, Cozy Powell, Robin Dransfield, Andy Roberts.

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

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Keith Emerson (ELP) FROM SOUNDS, December 29, 1973

Certain parts of the rock community and classical music have always had a close relation, and this article proves it when it comes to the the music of ELP who were being led by the musical genius that was Keith Emerson. There was speculation that he took his own life because he worried that he wouldn`t be able to play as good as the fans deserved because of an illness that troubled him late in life. You could call that “high ambition” but you could also call it “depression” and “Mental illness”. I believe the latter is true. Still, at 71, he outlived the composer, Ginastera, who is mentioned in the article. Alberto Evaristo Ginastera was an Argentine composer of classical music. He is considered one of the most important 20th-century classical composers of the Americas. Born in Buenos Aires in 1916 to a Spanish father and an Italian mother, he often used traditional Argentine musical elements in his compositions. He left behind a huge production when he died in Geneva at the age of 67.

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Silent nights in America

Pete Erskine talks to Keith Emerson

Having spent the best part of a week hustling upwards of a dozen people for an interview with either Keith Emerson or Greg Lake, and having secured an audience with the former, shock and horror, but what should happen but your reporter`s tape machine blows out. Hence this interview was conducted, as a repeat, in adverse conditions, on the plane home.

Who is Alberto Ginastera?

About four years ago I was in Los Angeles doing one of these spectacular Hollywood Television productions which was being organised by Jack Good – it was about the time that mixed media was all the rage and everyone was getting into the thing that rock groups and classical orchestras were all the thing, let`s do a television spectacular on it.
Whilst I was over there I met Zeuben Maiter, Daniel Barenbaum and Jaqueline Duprez and lots of other people. This particular piece was being played by the pianist who did the world premier Ginastera`s first piano concerto and I happened to just grab the last part of it and afterwards I spoke with the pianist and it was very interesting to look at the part.
When I got back to England I managed to get hold of the piano music and I just worked on it in my own leisure time, not really intending to do it – it was just sort of something to play. Carl had always wanted to do a percussion piece which was well arranged and it wasn`t until we were getting this new album together that I realised that this was the ideal number because it`s percussive anyway – in the original there`s lots of pounding piano – it`s a very hairy piece of music so I rang him up and played it to him on the telephone and he liked it quite a lot and at rehearsals I played it on the organ and everyone was well into it. So I talked about arranging it, making strict observations on how Ginastera himself had written it and the rules that he had laid down for this particular piece of music were very strict.

So it had to meet with his approval before you could actually play it or record it?

Well, the thing that came across to me was that it can only be performed with the tympany set up here and the pianos were set up here and everything was laid out on this chart. The actual movement which I was arranging was well laid out to the number of bars and the whole thing was in `Rondo` form so in arranging this I had to adhere strictly to the rules. I didn`t want to adulterate his music in any way.

Is the version you`ve arranged very different to his own version?

There are reasons why all of it has not been used. There are various repeats which I`ve missed out and in some cases I`ve done repeats where he hasn`t. This was done because for the stage version I would be playing it on the organ and for various things to be audible I had to do this. There was a hassle there because he`s written it for piano and the piano has a far greater octave range than the organ so things had to be altered that way round.
Eventually we got the whole thing together as I`d done with Aaron Copland`s “Hoe-Down” I sent a tape to Copland (I`d not met him personally because I was out of the country) this time I wrote a letter to Ginastera and sent it care of Boosey and Hawkes the Publishers. They read the letter and said that they understood that I wanted it doing very quickly and they thought it would be much quicker for me to go and see him.
The next day I was off the plane with Stewart Young, armed with a tape recording and met Ginastera and I was quite nervous about meeting the guy face to face and playing his music to him. I had dinner with him and he was quite familiar with this electronic equipment because he`d worked in Argentina on these things and after dinner we got him to play the music. He couldn`t quite believe his ears at the start of it and then listening to it the second time through he said that it was fantastic, you captured the essence of my music.
I flew back to England and I was over the moon and I told the rest of the guys what had happened and they were knocked out. In the early days of the band we were sometimes referred to as a classical rock band and my reasons playing classical music are that when I write a piece of music (and it can take six months to do it) it`s a refreshing change to play a different piece of music. I have a liking for classical music as much as I have a liking for jazz but it is refreshing to play something that somebody else has written and in my experience people have usually related that to earlier recordings.
As far as my own writing is concerned I think I can modestly say that it`s completely my own without any direct link or even a snatch from anything else which is classical. One example which made me slightly up tight was that when we were in America I heard one of our Baleros played over the radio at the end of which the D.J. said that it was Ravel`s Balero assuming that because I happened to call this piece of music a Balero he assumed that it was Ravel`s Balero. But on reference, if you compere the two there`s a different harmonic structure with mine and different time, signature, everything is totally different.

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Is the band wholly satisfying for you?

Yes, they are. My musical education has been such I started off playing by ear, long before I had piano lessons. My first recollection I have is of an old upright piano being shipped into the house and my father played it and I used to imitate him and pick out my own tunes. When my father saw me trying to busk he asked me if I wanted to be taught and the next thing I knew (I was about eight at the time) this old dear of about 80 came round and started giving me lessons. It was a bit of a drag but I went along with it because it went along with my schooling.
I took it up to the age of about 14 – I played a bit of guitar and then I realised that because I could only play a few basic chords I couldn`t really entertain people. I realised that I could do a lot more at the piano because to me it was really more of a solo instrument so I went back to it but I really still wasn`t turned on to classical music. My first liking for the piano was hearing the jazz pianists and mixing with other local jazz musicians and developing my taste accordingly. Nothing at that stage on the pop scene interested me at all.

Does anything on the pop scene interest you today?

Nothing at all. My record collection at home doesn`t really consist of anything that interests me or turns me on except something like Steeleye Span which I think are really original, plus a bit of Frank Zappa. I`ve heard Weather Report, Joe Zawinul is great, I`ve got recordings of him when he played with Cannonball Adderley – I dug him then, he`s capable of a lot more and on this Weather Report album I`ve got he doesn`t do a lot.

Do you think that this is part of the trend today away from heavy instrumental dexterity back to a simplicity of feel?

Yes, you can`t rule out the fact that this is an overall sound effect. I think that when you listen to something of Miles Davis, you`ve got to listen to the overall effect not just analyse this bit or that bit. Possibly what Miles Davis is asking for is a new look, an overall look at everything, be patient and wait for something to happen – maybe I`ll give it to you and maybe I won`t. Which is possibly the way music should be. It`s usually a very spontaneous thing and as Eric Dolphy once said, music once it`s played, it`s gone, it`s gone through the air and you can never capture it again. I think that it`s a very valid point – it`s there for the moment, it`s not a lasting thing.
I mixed with a lot of jazz musicians and my earliest influences came from them. I started playing with local bands, and trios in some of the sleazy places. At least we could play the music that we wanted to play. Very gradually, pop music began to take on to me what you might pretentiously call, a culture. Studying people like Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, it was getting more interesting as blues was being brought into pop music and suddenly I took an interest and I started getting into it. But my early days were such that I wasn`t really playing what I wanted to play and I don`t think any bands those days could play what they wanted to play.

Are you really playing now what you want to play?

Well, I`ll get round to that. It was in those early days that I`d go off and play the piano and there`d always be people there who were listening and they`d say why don`t you play that on stage? And my excuse would be, you`ve got to be kidding… but then when I formed the Nice I thought well, why can`t I play that on stage? I`m cheating myself, I`ve really got to do this and Pete Jackson was with me and we both had the same idea. So the Nice was formed with that policy and it`s stuck with me ever since.
We did our first gigs and they were really hell, we played the Soul Clubs where the D.J. would do his bit and the band would come on and then the D.J. would come back again. But having made that policy I`ve stuck to it rigidly and anything that I`ve liked I`ve played and I think possibly the audience have broadened their tastes. This broadening of audience acceptance started to be brought about by people like the Beatles, George Harrison`s association with interesting Indian Music.

Do you think that the things done with rock bands and classical music ever worked?

John Lord`s concerto and the “Five Bridges” thing were both done round about the same period and I really admired John Lord`s writing on that concerto. I thought that he scored that orchestra beautifully and I told him… and he slung a bouquet of flowers back at me and said he liked the “Five Bridges” thing… I did it on lots of occasions… I did it in Los Angeles with Zeuben Maiter, as I`ve already said I did it twice in England, once we recorded it live and then once I did it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall but on both occasions there were so many hassles mainly because we were dealing with the musicians union which is tough. They`re unco-operative about getting rehearsals together. Even when we were called back for an encore some of the guys were looking at their watches and leaving the stage. The second time we did it the orchestra refused to come back on to do an encore and we had to come back on just on our own and improvise something to keep people happy.
All this just put me off from working with them again – I may well do but it`s got to be under a different situation. At the time I wasn`t really that concerned about whether it worked or not. I looked on it as the establishment against the anti-establishment. Here was a loud rock band battling hell out of these old conservatives in their penguin suits. There was a slight balancing problem with the orchestra – I`m quite happy with how the recorded version turned out. What really made it so enjoyable, you could get these guys to do almost anything – we were doing a piece from “2001” and I got them to all stand up on their seats throw their music up in the air and play each others instruments and they completely freaked out for just one minute.

I get the impression that this current tour has been incredibly carefully worked out in every respect…

It has to be. The lighting has to be pretty well together mainly `cos they can`t improvise. There were just a few minor changes that had to be made at the beginning of the tour. Like originally the piece with the moog at the end finished with it panning the theme from the third movement of “Karn Evil” and we left the stage, but people didn`t understand it. We needed some sort of finality to the set, to make the point. Another thing was that one of the numbers had to be transposed down a tone or so because Greg got laryngitis or broke his vocal chords trying to sing the number. I still like the improvisation parts… they differ from night to night.

Having just played a string of concerts, though, is the attraction still there?

Oh yes. It`s going to take me some time to relax. I could play another concert tonight. I don`t feel as if I`ve just worked six weeks…

Has this stage act got across better than the last one?

We`ve experimented an awful lot you know and tried various things, some of which have worked and some haven`t, but, as I was saying this morning, like a lot of bands around at the moment I would consider “safe” bands, but we`ve done an awful lot and risked a lot of things, like on the European tour with that praesenium and lugging around 70 roadies.

Do you risk things musically as well?

Sometimes. At Madison Square we went on and we did those things with the choir and a whole bunch of other sections without rehearsing them.

We were saying about “Karn Evil 9”. Do you think it`s come across as you intended it to?

Well, as we said, there`s only been a slight change in that to provide the people who`ll only have seen it once all year with a strong impression. The stage ending doesn`t take away from the meaning of the piece but it was very necessary to do this for the live performance; on the actual recording it was left as an unanswered question, because obviously with the subject we`re handling there is no answer…

How does it feel when the audience reacts to the effects in the show sometimes to a greater degree than some of the finer more subtle instrumental solos?

It`s important for me to put the point across of the difference between a machine playing the theme in relation to what we play and trying to drive the point across to the audience that it`s computors and things which are making them redundant. And I purposely programmed the synthesiser to play the theme that we just played to make the effect more pronounced. We also wanted to counter, in a way, accusations in the past that ELP are “Mechanical” in their music. I can base what I`m talking about on fact as, like when I left school I worked on IBM equipment and I was going to learn to become a programmer for these things, but, man, it was so boring. I purposely used to put faults in the machine to brighten up a dull day.

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Some very interesting bands in small locations on the menu…

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

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Leo Sayer, Tim Bogert, Gallagher&Lyle, The Who, Deep Purple, Magma.

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

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.