Rex Anderson

ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, January 13, 1973

Yes, I know, I published an article about this band only a couple of weeks ago, but I just feel that I need to give this band a little more room on the internet. Why? Because they are one of the great bands arriving from England in the late 60s/early 70s, and they should be mentioned in the same breath along bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Alongside Purple they are the only band of these from that era that still play their music on the road all over the world. Respect!

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What a Heep

Rex Anderson talking to that very `umble band Uriah Heep

This is the band they call the Heep. Heep of laughs, heep of money, heep of trouble. Hang ups? Listen! The word was invented by these guys.
Businesswise – fine. Well managed… well organised… went down a storm in the States… great new album… off on a British tour – fantastic. On stage they rock like the Empire State in a high wind – and that`s really rocking babe.

SMASHED

Come and spend a day with them. Mad looking aren`t they? They are. Mick Box is the worst. He smashed two Gibsons on the American tour. “I threw them up and forgot to catch them.” He told the same joke three times – about the nine-year-old gynaecologist (he wanted to be a heart surgeon but he couldn`t reach that high) – we all laughed politely the third time. Lee Kerslake is insane. “I`m only the drummer. I`m not expected to have brains as well.” And David Byron actually encourages him: feeding bits of sausage to him as Lee bounds round the floor barking like an overgrown Spaniel. “I put too much mustard on that bit. That should shut him up.”
Mick is bouncing about on the sofa examining his repaired Gibson and working his way round to telling the gynaecologist joke again. Gary Thain, the bass player, is being unbelievably quiet and Ken Hensley, their keyboards man, is worrying about what he just told the News of the World, in between Monty Python impersonations.
Lee: “Christ Dave. What did you put on that sausage.” Yelps and pads off towards the drinks trolley. In between the interviews, most of the conversation is taken up with planning a set for their next gig and discussing their health.
The band is dying on its feet. You can see that. That`s not to say they are splitting or anything boring like that. In fact they are very happy with each other. The wise cracks bounce back and forth and Lee`s occasional fits are almost ignored.
But they are all so ill. Gary Thain`s voice sounds like a kiwi in a gravel pit. He`s also having trouble with his back. Dave has got back pains as well and Ken says he can`t eat and wakes up with a headache every morning. Lee says he`s the same. “I just want to sleep all day and stay awake all night.”

Dave says he feels fine. How does he know? His doctor told him he felt fine. “It wouldn`t matter if he was a charlatan. As long as he said you were 100 per cent fit you`re on stage feeling great.” Ken has to slip off to see the band`s doctor.
“He`s a wonderful doctor,” says Lee. “He`s got these new pills that completely cleared my sinuses.” Gary has got to break rehearsals the next day to see the same doctor. Dave says he`s sick. “Sick of that Demons and Wizards angle. We`re going to get right away from that on the next album. It`s going to be recorded live on the tour. A double.”
Mick says he likes all that Demons and Magicians bit. Ken has been getting letters from a cat who calls himself a wizard and is designing a space station. “I`ve got all the blue prints.” He also has mail from a witch in Japan who tells him everything he has done the night before. “It`s nothing like.”
There`s a bit of a hustle over rumours that someone has been circulating about the group`s behaviour abroad. They decide to hold a board meeting in camera and drift off into an adjacent bedroom. Ken and Lee get locked in. A flunky has to get a pass key to get them out.
Ken: “We ought to cancel all our tours and take the year off. I need more practice in taking holidays. I get so bored sitting at home looking at the floor boards. I play all me records and the piano and all me guitars one by one. That takes care of about three hours and then I`m back staring at the boards again.”

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Fact is, the group enjoy being together and out on the road. Dave admits they are all nervous before a tour, but they love being out on stage triggering things off and playing up to each other.
Lee is making a list of numbers for the Rainbow concert. There`s “Magician`s Birthday” and then, “Sunrise”, “Traveller In Time”, “Sweet Loraine”. From Dave: “No. `Traveller In Time` comes after `Sweet Loraine` and then `Easy Living`.” Lee: “`Easy Living`, `July Morning`, `Gypsy`. How do you spell `Gypsy`?”
Dave: “We can`t really work it out till we`re down there. We`ve got to work out `Magician`s Birthday`. You could try `Blind Eye`.”
Lee: “What`s that one that goes voom pa-da-da?”
Dave: “That`s `Blind Eye`. (to Ken) I`ve suggested that if we have a good piano and it`s miked up we could do `Rain`. I`ve worked out how to do that `Happy Birthday To You` vocal thing.”
Lee: “I can get a kazoo. That`s easy. I can play drums and kazoo.”
Dave: “Ken, I don`t know whether you can do it. That high voice I try to get on `Sweet Loraine`. It sounds like a Moog note.”
Mick: “How can you get that da-da-da?”
Ken: “We can do it two ways. Either with electric guitar, or I can try it on the organ. I can get that rhythm.”

CONSCIOUS

Dave: “Only one thing about it. That `Musician`s Birthday` on stage. We`d have to be very volume conscious.”
Incredible isn`t it. And they can all understand every word they are saying. They are really very bright boys. It`s just the music that`s loud and violent. Perhaps it`s because of that that they have had so many hang-ups. “The authorities think we are violent,” says Mick.
There was the time that Ken`s life was threatened in Detroit and someone fired a bullet through Lee`s hotel window. Then there was the occasion they were all held at gun-point in Rome and the time they were all stranded in a snow-drift in the middle of Canada.
The group seems to spend their whole time trying to avoid death – either natural or accidental. They seem to upset people too. What is it? Do they go round the world smashing up hotels or something. “No. We don`t believe in that sort of thing. After all we have got to go back there,” says Mick.
What an incredibly sane thing to say, we all think.
“Did you hear about the nine-year-old gynaecologist…”.

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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: Fairport Convention, Ronnie Wood, Jon Hiseman, Pentangle, Claire Hamill, Ray Davies, Al Kooper, Procol Harum, Hemlock, Graham Bell, Elton John, Brinsley Schwarz, Martyn Wyndham-Read, John Peel.

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 Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 14, 1976

I wonder what kind of guitar the Broom is? You haven`t heard of either? Well, you will read about it in this article, but I can not give you any answers. I guess that Mr. Anderson really knew how to spell this famous guitars name, especially when you know that one of his interests is Greek. The writer of this article lives in South London and runs his own company called Rexclusive these days – for the most of the 70s he worked for NME.
The other person mentioned in this article, John Birch, sadly passed away in november 2000. His company still exists under the name of John Birch Guitars UK.
Tony Iommi just recently ended all concert activity with his band Black Sabbath, one of the greatest bands that will ever exist for all eternity.

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The Secret Of The Hidden Valley

A thrilling melodrama by ever-popular Rex Anderson, in which two intrepid explorers recount the adventures that befell them in the upper reaches of the M1 – homeland of the Iommi tribe.

Somewhere in the upper reaches of the M1; in the untamed lands where the swarming bees drive the natives indoors in the summer-time and lone wolves prowl at night in search of a tasty morsel of visitor`s ankle; somewhere, on a lesser tributory of the 47th intersection is a land where no white man`s eye has ever set foot.
There lives Tony Iommi, lead guitarist of the Black Sabbath tribe with his stunningly attractive native bride, Susan, whom some believe has strange, enchanting powers and whom some call simply She.
There too, in the misty, murky foggy nights of the forgotten country-set mansions of the awe-inspiring Leicestershire landscape, dwells the great mystic witchdoctor, friend of the Brum-brogued Iommi and soothsayer to those in the lead guitar fraternity who have read the signs.
Some call him “Ablokeimet,” – but locally he is known by the strange, almost unproununcable native name of John Birch.
Our story begins one mild-but-drizzly-on-high-ground January afternoon (visibility good, outlook fair) when two intrepid explorers set out from Long Acre (the old NME base before the great river crossing) with our trusty native guide in search of the wisdom of Iommi.
We were destined not to meet the legendary Birch, but rumour has it that he speaks a strange tongue which few men (other than the mysterious tribe of Electrical Engineers) can understand, and that when he speaks this tongue he is often siezed in a mystical and sacred trance so that none can stop him for several hours.

Our journey passed uneventfully. We found the Iommi palace without mishap. It was indeed a grand residence, of such a size that Birmingham council could have built an enclosed shopping precinct in the hallway and erected a council estate in the conservatory.
We were welcomed and made comfortable by the hospitable Iommi and having put him at his ease and explained the functionings of the camera – dispelling all ideas that his soul would remain imprinted on the image of the negative – I questioned him as to his dealings with John Birch and as to what of his teachings concerning the guitar he could pass on to me.
Iommi explained, in almost perfect English, that the jungle telegraph – what he described as the grape-vine – first brought his attention to the great wizard but that at that time he was conversant in only the common magic of electronics and that it was Iommi himself who encouraged him to research the higher magic of guitar manufacture.
He said: “I went to see him with one of the guitars to do one of the pick-ups or something. He wasn`t actually making guitars at that stage, but there were so many people going to see him, asking him to repair this or that – broken necks and other bits that went wrong – that he started up a little business at home doing repairs.”
Birch`s initial interest and expertise had been in electronics, but Iommi says he became involved with the rest of  the make-up of guitars and began to criticise the workmanship in many well known makes.

Throughout the conversation Iommi referred to a guitar which he said was very popular by a strange name that I was never able to translate and so I will refer to such guitars throughout as Brooms.
Please remember that whenever I mention Brooms I really mean a famous make of guitar that, as I say, I was never quite able to catch the exact name of.
Iommi said of Birch: “He said that a lot of workmanship in the guitars was bad and I can agree with him. It is. The newer Brooms are not as well made they used to be. I have a Brooms that is badly made and it`s not even one of the later ones. The later ones are worse.”
He produced a red one which he said was terrible when he first had it but which had been doctored by the amazing Birch.
“I think if you can get hold of the older ones the work is there. Now they are mass produced. They are just churned out.”
I asked him if he didn`t think the newer ones were merely immature and that possibly the older ones seemed better because any faulty ones had been thrown away or repaired so that only the best had survived.
He agreed that there was some validity in my argument. He said that he liked to play a guitar that felt as though it had been used, and that one of the great feats of magic that the amazing Birch performed was to produce a guitar, a brand new one, with a neck that felt as though it had been matured by time and use.

“With most new guitars you buy now, the frets are rough. It just doesn`t feel right. That`s how it was with that Broom – I picked it up and it was terrible, but I knew I could get work done on it. I brought it back to John, had all the neck taken down, had new frets, new tuning keys and a new pick-up put on. It`s virtually a different guitar now.”
What is it that John Birch does to his guitars, apart from that, to make them distinctive and better than other guitars?
“The guitar itself is made of one piece of wood from head to tail – whereas Brooms are joined at the neck/body junction and they`re weak there. They`re also weak at the head/neck junction. If you drop them they snap. But Birch guitars will stand up to very rough treatment, so they`re perfect for taking on the road. Look at this Broom.”
Iommi picked up the guitar, strummed it and applied light pressure to the neck. The strings immediately dropped a semi-tone.
“You can sit down and tune it and when you stand up it goes out of tune. I like the old guitars and this one has a particularly nice feel, but there is that problem – which is why with the newer ones they`ve tried to stop it by building this heel where the neck meets the body. But I can`t say it`s a well-made guitar.”
Iommi is very critical of the instrument. He doesn`t like the heavy tailpiece, but says he bought the guitar for a particular job and because he knew he could have it worked on.

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“But you can`t compare it to one of these,” he said, indicating his Birch guitars. “Even in looks alone they knock spots off it. And now he`s (Birch) got these different pick-ups so they`ve got tone as well.
“Why people bought the old Brooms was to get that old, dirty rusty sound and because Clapton has used them and all the rest of it. But if you`re playing at volume, especially like we do (chuckle), that sound becomes squealier and howlier and God knows what else.
“I`ve had a few Brooms before. I had a rare 1951 three-pick-up model or something in the days of `Paranoia` – in fact, I done `Paranoia` on it – and as soon as you plugged it in it squealed. The coils were so loose in the pick-ups that they just used to vibrate and cause feedback.
“What Birch has done is produce the sound of the Les Pauls, that raw gutsy sound, but made it really solid so that there`s no whistling.”
Another Birch innovation is a guitar with interchangable pick-ups. The pick-up itself can be slotted in from the back. He and Iommi have a patent on this idea, which was perfected as a result of Tony`s need for one guitar with the different pick-up sounds of all the others for studio work.
“Normally you can alter the controls on the guitar or on the amp or use a different amp, but you don`t actually change the effect of the pick-up itself. If you put all the bass on the amp you get a muffly sound and if you take the bass off and put on all the treble you get a thin sound, but the pick-ups have a sound of their own and you can only build on it with the amp.

“Like the Fender sound… a Fender guitar, with those single-pole pick-ups has a thinnish sound. If you have power behind you from the stack you can get a really gutsy sound from them.
“Using an AC30 with a treble booster you can get a particularly good sound with the Strat, but I`ve tried it on recording and I find it really thin in comparison.”
Iommi has a Birch Interchangeable for recording and another Birch, with beautiful inlaid crosses all up the fingerboard, which is now his favourite for stage work. He is unstoppable in his praise of the amazing Birch.
“I think he`s a genius in his own right. The difference with him is he`s trying all the time to make something better. He`s trying to make the perfect guitar – the perfect instrument for anybody, not just one particular player.
“He can make anything you want, including the sound of the pick-ups. I tell him what sound I want, perhaps play him a record and tell him it`s something between that and this, and he can produce it. He`ll just keep doing it until it comes right.”
Birch doesn`t just make custom guitars for the stars. He also makes standard models that come off a small production line and are slowly finding their way into the musical stores.
When buying one, the customer, presumably for a fee, can request any adjustments he likes. Iommi believes Birch`s retail price for a production-line guitar is about £250.

“But people think they can get a Broom if they pay just that bit more… they think because it`s a Broom it`s got that much more in it. But it hasn`t. It fools a lot of people. If they would only pick up a Birch and feel the difference…
“Birch also has a different system for truss-rods that I don`t quite understand. And he sets all the controls in epoxy resin so everything is absolutely solid. Another nice thing is this plate right across the back so you can never scratch the wood. He only employs one type of timber now, too.”
Examining the guitar, it`s apparent that Birch has coated the fretboard with polyurethane varnish, sanding both fingerboard and frets between each coat. The result is a scalloped effect similar to that seen on some antique classical guitars which were originally made that way so that ladies would find them easier to play.
The guitar also has a virtually flat fingerboard; there`s no bevel to speak of – a feature that Tony apparently prefers.
“Nothing is impossible for him. It got to the stage where I was asking him silly things. Making things up like – can you build a little tape recorder in the guitar? And he would say: `Yes… yes I think that can be done if we…”
“He`s also got a pick-up now that`s two sounds in one. It`s got a switch to give you a different sound… He`s more or less built two pick-ups into one. He was even talking about building one to fill all the space between the bridge and the end of the neck. It would be so powerful and gutsy it would just blow the amps up. But this one is as near as damn it to the Broom sound I wanted – and he hasn`t ripped a Broom pick-up apart, he just knew what was wanted electronically.”

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The controversial LP-cover once made for the band Boxer.

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: Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Fania All-Stars, David Bowie, Sailor, Gay and Terry Woods.

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 Budgie FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, March 1, 1975

I guess Lars Ulrich of Metallica may be one of this band`s biggest and most famous fans. Metallica recorded the Budgie song “Breadfan” as a B-side during the …And Justice for All sessions. Hopefully the original songwriters earned a bit of money from that one. Feel free to tip Mr. Ulrich about this article – I guess he would like to read it if he haven`t already!

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No birds
No booze
No glitter
No money
No…life at all is it? So what motivates bands like BUDGIE? Yes, you`ve guessed it folks – the answer is integrity

Playing In The Band
By REX ANDERSON

Seven years on the road. Hardly a nibble at the charts. Solid following in most parts of the country. The freedom to play what they like. Not a lot of ready.
It could be any number of bands. In fact it`s Budgie, but I thought it`d be interesting to see what life was like for the average musician; the people who are in it for the music and the performance, not for the cars and the glitter, the birds and the booze.
It started as a conversation in a pub about mistakes on stage. Burke Shelley and Tony Bourge were describing recent occasions when they`d slipped.
“Everyone does it from time to time,” said Burke, “Especially if you`ve been off the road for a few weeks recording and you just do one gig – as I did the other week.”
Burke apparently proved worthy of his name, and despite the fact that he leads the band from behind his bass he let them all change into D while he was still pumping out runs in A. “Normally the band notices it and it can spoil your entire evening for you, but you cover up so that the audience shouldn`t notice at all.”

Bourge said that the worst thing – when a band hadn`t played for a few nights – was getting halfway through a number and realising you couldn`t remember how you arranged the ending.
“It always comes back to you at the last moment. When you get there, suddenly it all clicks into place.”
It`s true that mistakes on stage are very difficult to spot because a good musician will always try to cover them up. But another musician can spot them – because he is familiar with the expressions that flit across stage when someone plays a bummer.
It`s far easier to make a mess of what you are doing, of course, when your foldback system isn`t working properly. A decent PA and adequate monitors are the biggest problem facing new bands today. Budgie have been using a Marshall set up with a small Marshall desk. But it`s not really big enough for them, and they have been thinking of buying some secondhand bass bins and adding to the desk.

A ready-made PA to suit their needs would involve them in something like £15,000, which the band just haven`t got. So what does the band get?
“We go out for between £400 and £500 a night,” says Burke. “But that has to pay for transport, expenses, road crew, maintenance and so forth. Most of the money is ploughed straight back into the band.”
In fact Burke estimates that the band members make around £50 a week, which isn`t a great deal for working something like a 12-hour day, seven days a week, come rain or shine. Burke remembers having to go on stage with a throat infection because there was a telephone bill that needed paying.
“If the audience were familiar with the songs I don`t know what they thought that night, because all I could do was grunt them out like a soul singer.”

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Fifty quid a week may sound a lot of money if you`re still at school or college, but it`s not much for a musician with a wife, kids and a mortgage. Why was it, d`you think, that blue denim became so popular with bands? It wasn`t fashion so much as the fact that that was all they could afford….
The money Budgie makes from publishing is used to pay for things the band needs. There`s no income from the record sales at present because that money was given to them in the form of an advance and is long since spent.
Of course, Budgie are a little different from many bands in that they`re attempting to pay for everything themselves – the instruments, equipment and the van they own. Whereas other bands are tempted by offers from backers to set them up with good equipment.
Burke says he didn`t fancy taking the risk and finding the band tied to an agency or manager who could dictate what they did under the threat of taking their gear away.

We discussed the system in America. There, with each big town having its own vast stadium, it isn`t viable for the band to cart the sort of equipment needed from town to town. Instead they hire it on the spot and the equipment is built to suit the venue.
One major problem with gigging around concert halls is that the PA really needs to be designed for the hall. Inevitably there`ll be some halls where your PA sounds dire. Tony remembers one club in Cardiff that`s notorious for bad sound. The PA is yet to be designed to cope with it.
“I remember The Who cancelled a gig there once because the sound was so bad.”
The American answer to this problem doesn`t work in the UK to any great extent. There are PA hire companies – and very good equipment they have, too – but imagine trying to fit together gear of a standard that would sound equally good in the Hammersmith Odeon, Wembley and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Budgie, then, are stuck in what Burke and Tony describe as a very pleasant rut. They enjoy being on the road. They enjoy playing the music. They change the set almost entirely every year so they never get bored with what they are doing. They ignore the chart.

This last is unusual. Most bands look forward to the day when one of their records will miraculously take off. Album and publishing revenue will rocket, there will be exposure on TV, the fans will flock to see them and their appearance money can be trebled overnight.
Not so Budgie. They regard that sequence of events with the same cynicism that you do the promises made by Mrs. Jones up the road concerning her forthcoming Premium Bond win. A healthy attitude. The reality is to get to America.
Leo Sayer was commenting this week that on three gigs a week in Britain he just about breaks even, while on one gig a week in the US of A he can make a comfortable living.
The beautiful thing about bands like Budgie is their dedication. They believe in the music they`re playing and are prepared to suffer the hardships for the sake of it.

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

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Elton John, NME`s Soul Spectacular, Adrian Gurvitz, Queen, Leo Sayer.

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.