Sunday, 10 April 2016
Thanks so much to Shindig! magazine and their reviewer Greg Healey for this terrific write up of Festivalized in their latest issue:
Festivalized: Music, Politics and Alternative Culture
Ian Abrahams & Bridget Wishart
Taking the performances made by Hawkwind and The Pink Fairies outside the gates of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival as its starting point, and ending with the ’92 event at Castlemorton Common, the ambition and scope of this book is admirable.
Drawing on over 50 interviews with those who were there, including Nik Turner, Mick Farren and Penny Rimbaud, there are contributions from musicians, festival-goers, landowners, writers, and more, to produce an honest, unflinching portrait of this key period of social history.
Talking head source material is confidently and expertly marshalled into a coherent and powerful narrative that, despite its fragmented nature, vividly portrays and delineates the highs, lows, conflicts and achievements of this unique countercultural movement. Personal reminiscences and anecdotes, mixed with incisive opinions and perspectives on the political and sociological drivers that sustained and ultimately destroyed the movement, combine to paint a picture of its multifaceted nature. Watchfield, Windsor, Deeply Vale, Greenham Common, Stonehenge – all with their different purposes, intentions and outcomes – are explored, along with squat living, life on the road with The Peace Convoy and much more. The freedom and fears, the communal living and self-reliance, the love, peace, drugs, foods, violence and vehicles all feature in the kind of detail that only comes from actual experience.
A history of underground music is threaded through the book, an ever changing landscape in itself, and contributions from members of Hawkwind, The Levellers, Here & Now and many others add an important dimension to the story.
Saturday, 26 March 2016
Really pleased to see some really nice reviews starting to come in for Festivalized.
Steve Palmer has written about the book on his own blog Stephen Palmer SF and the review is also live on Terrascope.
Klemen Breznikar has posted a review on his blog It's Psychedelic Baby.
And Amazon UK now have a selection of lovely four and five star reviews recommending the book!
Saturday, 12 March 2016
Here's a one-track single from former Touchstone singer Kim Seviour - available on limited-edition CD or as download and released by the new White Star Records label. Not space-rock, but I think a lot of blog readers of a progressive music persuasion will really like this uplifting tune, that's come to us as through a serendipitous moment.
It's written by Swordfish, from Astralasia and was being laid-down by White Star co-founders John Mitchell and friend of this blog Chris Hillman, of Magik Eye Records. Kim was visiting, got asked to provide some backing vocals and then wanted to put down some lead vocals as well. And, as you'll hear, it worked so well that with justice, the proper thing to do was to continue that path and release it as a Kim Seviour single. (She's working with John Mitchell on an album currently - this single isn't intended to be part of it).
'Fantasise To Realise' is a bold, danceable, feel good number with a big heart. I talked a while back - while in the middle of a change of working arrangements and saying farewell to colleagues all going their different ways - about how 'Big Buzz' from Killing Joke's new album had sat with me on constant repeat while I sat in an otherwise empty office at the end of a long association with some great people, and that it spoke to me and kept me focused and motivated, and optimistic. Absolutely there is someone out there in different circumstances but also needing that sense of positivity and that forward looking vibe, who'll come across this song and have Kim's inspiring vocals and Swordfish's addictive and soaring tune and find a something that speaks to them in the same way, something they'll take heart from. In that way, it's a really lovely track. And, if you're not looking for that sort of moment of a song meaning something for the time you are in, then it's simply a joyous song with a great backing and worth your time in any event.
Saturday, 20 February 2016
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK
RE-ISSUES DISTANCE, FURTHER AND CHORUS ALBUMS
20th ANNIVERSARY VINYL REPRESS
RELEASED 18th MARCH 2016 ON DOMINO
Following last year’s re-emergence with Instrumentals 2015, three of Flying Saucer Attack’s most revered albums - Distance, Further and Chorus – are to be re-issued on Domino on March 18th 2016.
Stream Distance’s ‘Ocean’, Further’s ‘In The Light of Time’ and Chorus’ ‘Feedback Song’ via fsa.space now HERE.
David Pearce re-materialised last year with the beautiful Instrumentals 2015 and attracted all manner of attention - as one does when one emerges from self-imposed exile holding a glittering prize. Without warning he became part of the musical landscape once again, heralding a new phase of the project he initiated in the early 1990s. Interviews and retrospective features assessed his importance in the continually unfolding story of British music, referring back to the music contained within these three artifacts, which sound as untainted - even more so, in fact - as they did on their initial release.
There are many that believe the concept of electric folk to have died at some point in the 1970s following the heyday of bands and artists such as Fairport Convention, Roy Harper and John Martyn. These three reissues give the lie to that commonly held misconception. For while Distance, Further and Chorus do not cleave all that faithfully to the folk rock template established by the electrified rovers of that supposed golden age, and incorporate elements absorbed from musics as varied as krautrock, drone and dub, they can be considered in that lineage, with its Arcadian attitude to the unsullied landscapes of Britain and romanticised idea that old traditions may, at some point, produce something fresh and unheard.
All three are essential listening for those who are still capable of dreaming even as our dreams are co-opted and second guessed in a digital era which is revealing itself to be monstrously voracious and venal. Distance, Further and Chorus open up spaces in the mind where one may wander at will, Pearce’s excoriating feedback serving as a dream weapon designed to cleanse the grit from the mind’s eye. The melodies beyond the noise reassure us that it’s okay to take this route away from the superhighway and explore paths trodden only by a few, Pearce and collaborators included. This may be derided by some as escapism; rather it is parallelism. The search for alternatives, when the very term ‘alternative’ has been devalued beyond all recognition.
Each of the three albums come in a 20th Anniversary Vinyl Repress format, cut in 180gm heavyweight virgin vinyl from original masters by Matt Colton at Alchemy. The albums will also be available on CD & digital formats.
News Submitted: Hermana PR
Raging Speedhorn Announce Split EP With Monster Magnet!
Desertfest Sponsored 7” Set For April 29th Release
Corby sludge demons Raging Speedhorn are set to appear on a split EP with US Stoner Overlords Monster Magnet as part of the bands’ appearance at the British Desertfest.
The Desertfest sponsored 7” split will be released by H42 Records on April 29th, the first date of the festival, with a limited vinyl pressing of 300.
The track listing is:
Side A: Raging Speedhorn - Halfway to Hell
Side A: Monster Magnet - Hallucination Bomb
Guitarist Jim Palmer had this to say on the release:
“Having been a fan of Monster Magnet, forever it’s a real pleasure to be part of this split record! We also feel tremendously honoured that Desertfest chose us, as we are big fans of the festival. It doesn’t much better than this!”
This is Desertfest’s second split, with last year’s featuring instrumental legends Karma To Burn & Sons of Alpha Centauri.
Raging Speedhorn are currently in the studio with Russ Russell finalising their fifth record, which is set for a mid-2016 release.
News Submitted by: Tom Brumpton / Polymath PR
Thursday, 21 January 2016
It's taken a while since the book was originally conceived - to say the least - but thanks to our friends at Gonzo Multimedia, Festivalized: Music, Politics, Alternative Culture is now out in paperback as well as the eBook edition that was released in November.
And we have our first Amazon review;
""From the horse's mouth". A history that absolutely needed to be told, and an absorbing and fascinating read - an excellent book."
And we have our first Amazon review;
""From the horse's mouth". A history that absolutely needed to be told, and an absorbing and fascinating read - an excellent book."
You can order the paperback from Amazon (it currently says 4 - 6 weeks shipping, please ignore, they are shipping copies as of now) through this link:
or the eBook at Amazon is available through this link:
If you're an Amazon customer who can give us a review, that's always very welcome!
Gonzo Multimedia also have the book available and are shipping copies currently, and you can buy the paperback (though not the eBook), here. The eBook is also available from Smashwords, where you can also download a free extract first, iTunes and other digital book retailers supplied from the Smashwords platform.
It's been a labour of love - hope you like the end result!
Friday, 15 January 2016
Welcome to a brand new year and the 10th anniversary of Sendelica! We are really proud to unveil the opening track, 'Black Widow Man' from our first release of 2016:
This brand new studio album, entitled I'll Walk With The Stars For You, will be released in Italy on VE Records in mid-March on special limited-edition blue vinyl with poster, black vinyl, and CD. It features guest appearances from Twink, Nik Turner, Virginia Tate, Geoff Chase, Roger Morgan, Vasily V. Bartov, Jack Jackson, and Paul Williams.
Pre-orders available at:
News Submitted by: Sendelica
Thursday, 14 January 2016
Announce new double-album Magnetic Seasons for release March 11th via Rock Action Records.
Liverpool’s MUGSTAR announce the release of their latest and most weighty sonic onslaught to date, Magnetic Seasons, the new double-album, due for release via Rock Action Records (Mogwai, Blanck Mass, Part Chimp, Envy etc) from March 11th 2016.
Magnetic Seasons sees MUGSTAR shifting through a whole range of newfound sonic gears. Recorded at Liverpool’s Whitewood Studios, the band approached the Magnetic Seasons sessions in an extended and open manner. Allowing time and space to experiment, improvising and feeling their way through playing, this free approach and method of working resulted in an extended body of material; nine intense and atmospheric soundscapes moving across an expansive and distinct four sides of vinyl.
With fresh layers and swathes of texture stretching out a much broader aural vocabulary than is often permitted during their explosive live shows, Magnetic Seasons is a game changer for MUGSTAR. Not just in terms of length, but in its fluidity and its breadth of moods and emotions locked within the songs. Lead track ‘Flemish Weave’ is a two-headed beast, drawing the listener in with intricate finger-picking, immersed in waves of sound before dropping effortlessly into a simultaneously tight and expansive psych-kraut groove. Where tracks like ‘Sky West & Crooked’ see MUGSTAR at their most mellow and laid back, with a Fender Rhodes blinking beside dusty guitar lines that float up into a soothing dream-like haze. Not to mention the engrossing, side-long, closer ‘Ascension Island’, an extended piece of improvisation and instantaneous composition. “On playback, it was apparent that this track had a life and trajectory all of its own. It felt organically right and complete immediately. Somehow it produced atmospheres that seem to embody a sense of eeriness, and yet be seductive and embracing all at the same time”, the band explains.
Underlying these forays into their bottomless cannon of creativity, MUGSTAR’s trademark rhythmic drive is ubiquitous as ever. Albeit in more subtle and muted guises, the overall effect of Magnetic Seasons emerges as being one that is ultimately engrossing and captivating.
MUGSTAR have been playing, performing and recording since 2003. Their tireless work ethic and astonishing, internationally renowned, live performances have earned them a much deserved status as cult heroes. Their first single ‘Spotlight Over Memphis’ caught the ears of late and great radio legend John Peel, who later went on to record them as his last-ever Peel Session in 2004. A subsequent string of singles, EP’s and several full-length albums make up the band’s back catalogue, not to mention a split release with Mudhoney.
2015 also saw a particularly busy year. With the release of Start From Zero, the hugely anticipated collaborative LP by MUGSTAR and Damo Suzuki (from legendary krautrock band Can) on Important Records, recording what has become Magnetic Seasons, playing Austin Psych Fest and completing a tour of the USA. 2016 will see the band will play the following UK dates with a full EU tour soon to be announced.
26th February, London, Electrowerkz
1st April, Brighton, Green Door Store
28th/29th May, London, Raw Power Festival
Mugstar is Pete Smyth (guitar / keyboards / vocals), Neil Murphy (guitar), Jason Stoll (bass) and Steve Ashton (drums).
Saturday, 9 January 2016
Hello everyone; a very quick post to link to a couple of radio interviews that I've recently done to talk about Festivalized and the free festival scene.
Firstly I was at Radio Cornwall yesterday to talk to Tiffany Truscott on their afternoon show, which is currently on 'Listen Again', I would think for the next six days:
And I've been chatting with Gonzo's Jon Downes for their website:
Do have a listen! Print copies of Festivalized will be shipping in the next few days and the eBook is available from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes and other digital sellers right now.
Tuesday, 29 December 2015
I saw Motorhead only once – at the much missed St Austell Cornwall Coliseum – and as far as I can remember I only ever owned one of their LPs, No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith, though I’ve heard many over the years and always held a soft-spot for Ace Of Spades in particular. So when I think of Lemmy, it’s usually for the Hawkwind connection and in writing this blog, it’s not, then, to talk about his whole career, which of course stretched back into the 1960s, and for which there are so many obituaries today, but to reflect on his importance to Hawkwind during his tenure, and the legacy that he’s left them.
Think back to the very early albums, Hawkwind and In Search Of Space and they are distinctive and distinct entries into the catalogue; calling cards with differing messages and classic albums in and of themselves. Both, in their own ways, are fantastic records. And I guess it’s entirely arguable that In Search Of Space, in its production, is more advanced than what came next. But what came next was Lemmy, an unarguable force of nature riding his bass lines like the Silver Surfer on acid, a rollercoaster balanced on its tracks but twisting and turning, looping and pushing forward, twisting, turning and looping again, free spirited but in service to the whole as well. I mean, Simon King is a key component of that sound as well, but that period of Hawkwind is about Lemmy and the way which he and Dave Brock coalesced the idea of a rhythmic, driving, powerhouse space-rock that defined the musical content of Hawkwind across Doremi Fasol Latido, Space Ritual, Hall Of The Mountain Grill and Warrior On The Edge Of Time.
I wrote about ‘Brainstorm’ for Shindig! when they did their space-rock special a couple of years ago and identified, as so many have before, that meshing of musical comradeship: “Though ‘Brainstorm’ is Nik Turner’s first solo credit on a Hawkwind track, and his lyrics lean the band almost in to territory that might retrospectively be described as ‘cyberpunk’, the musical story that ‘Brainstorm’ tells is of the definitive guitar and bass Hawk line-up of Brock and Lemmy gelling together in what they’d both come to recall as an empathetic and intuitive partnership and, alongside Turner’s wailing sax, that collision of sound not only created one of the great space-rock classics but setting the texture and tone of the classic Hawkwind sound. It has a great mythology and mystique to it – great versions abound, the pulse-pounding Live 79 blast-through, the dark and mysterious Space Ritual rendition and its original Doremi… album appearance with its at times almost ethereal vocal delivery from Turner.”
On Doremi… though, there’s also Lemmy’s own first solo credit for Hawkwind, on ‘’The Watcher’; pensive, brooding, thoughtful, involving. I was playing it recently, listening out for that great lyric that seems to me to rally against the futility of boredom in a proto-punk manner: ‘where I come from no-one smiles/every inch exists in miles’ and was astounded not to hear it… but it’s not on Doremi… an addition in the live set, as heard on the 1974 American live album. It adds another dimension, a different texture, to the dense songs around it, and really is a strong argument for Hawkwind’s influence on punk even though it’s quite removed in sound.
‘Silver Machine’, that timeless Brock/Calvert number, had of course been in the Hawkwind set for a few months, Calvert on vocal duty when available, before Dave Robinson, future Stiff Records boss, identified its potential buried in the tape of their ‘Greasy Truckers’ Roundhouse gig in February 1972 and highlighted it as something special, with Lemmy overdubbing the vocals at Morgan Studios, where the sprawling original was cut and distilled down to its 7” release. One reviewer might have claimed at the time that “the vocals are so submerged in the thudding, whirling sound that they are largely irrelevant,” but it’s that growling delivery set against the grungy guitars, all around the kit drumming, and spacey electronics that turned that song into a perennial, known to the many who don’t know it’s Hawkwind and don’t realise – how could they not – that it is Lemmy. It’s a piece of magic, atypical of Hawkwind in some respects, but a stone cold classic.
I posted on-line in one comment thread today that those familiar with Lemmy only through Motorhead should listen to Hall Of The Mountain Grill and discover the more nuanced playing that Lemmy delivered there. I later reflected on that as not really being correct, because you can hear it on something such as ‘1916’, music with intelligence and thought that transcends the public image. But on that Hawkwind record you get the most proper understanding of what he brought to the band. It’s a sharp blend of heavy rocking and sympathetic playing, taking joint control with Dave Brock of the really big songs – ‘The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)’ and ‘You’d Better Believe It’ – but adding something more subdued on things such as ‘Wind Of Change’. ‘Lost Johnny’ is, of course, one of his own, co-written with Mick Farren. I was fortunate to able to ask Mick Farren about this one and have added his comments to the new edition of Sonic Asssassins: “It’s Lemmy’s song. It was written for Lemmy, for Hawkwind. They were doing Hall of the Mountain Grill and Lemmy was concerned he wasn’t going to get any songs on to it, so I said ‘Let’s write one’. I had this idea about all these loser characters, of which we knew many, looking for drugs and ‘baying at the moon’. I mean, it wasn’t Terry Ollis and it wasn’t Steve Took, and it wasn’t nine other people ... it was a combination of all of them, or seven versions or whatever it was. I put it down on a piece of paper, handed it to Lemmy and he took it away and put the music to it and came back and we changed a few things and that was ‘Lost Johnny’. I can’t sit down with a guitar, a blank mind and somebody else and come up with a song. I usually have to go away by myself and write the lyrics, and that song was no exception.” But he’d also told Alan Burridge years previously how: ““[Lemmy] said, ‘Hey, you got any lyrics?’ and I said yeah, and we wrote ‘Lost Johnny’.” Farren and Lemmy wrote a handful of other songs together, when Lemmy was assembling his band Motörhead, but the writing partnership “faded away, because Lemmy started writing his own lyrics with great fluidity.”
Then there is ‘Motorhead’, the B-side of ‘Kings of Speed’, complete with violin break, but despite that a pointer to where Lemmy would be going once he was ejected from the band. Would he ever have left on his own accord? He’d suggested not in the past and indeed when asked why he made so many guest returns afterwards he’d simply responded ‘because I can’t resist it’. And I wonder if that was how he was afterwards, elevated to National Treasure status and at the helm of a band that eclipsed Hawkwind in terms of record sales and recognition (achieved in no small measure I’d suggest, from working with Dave Brock and learning what it takes to put together and sustain a band), but still looking backwards with a fondness and nostalgia and appreciating what Hawkwind had been for him as his career developed and his profile expanded. He’d never have thought in that term of course, it wasn’t a career, it wasn’t even a way of life, it was what he had to do.
What was his legacy to Hawkwind? Well, it was in bridging the gap between their hippie roots and their biker following; no surprise that once punk had burst across the music scene that he’d be adopted by that scene. He was a talisman for Hawkwind in that period, when he’d been such a major part of defining their sound even though that time was quite brief in the context of all the years the band have continued onward. He seemed to be someone who just went on; Captain Sensible once told me how Lemmy was always nicely topped up on his favourite Jack Daniels tipple but never drunk. He loved the rock star life, bought into some of its excesses and mantras for sure, but he seemed to transcend it, to walk over it with impunity where lesser people succumbed to it or were enslaved by it. Small wonder then that he had to be ‘Killed by Death’… rock ‘n’ roll could never have seen him off.