PAUL OSBORNE delves deep into the incredible hidden legacy of LA’s soul-rock innovators, 4TH COMING
Eothen Alapatt’s LA-based Now-Again Records has shown increasingly fine pedigree as a label over the last five years, specialising in unearthing long-forgotten and often unreleased psychedelic soul, funk, Afro-rock and world music from the last 40 years. Following hot on the heels of Never Satisfied, the superb collection of lost 45s by Atlanta guitarist Richard Marks, Alapatt has struck gold with the label’s latest piece of musical archeology.
ALAN PARSONS is most famously known for his Engineering work on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and The Beatles’ Abbey Road. He also worked throughout the ’70s with such various bands as The Hollies and Ambrosia, as well as his own work as part of The Alan Parsons Project.
In advance of Parsons’ return to the studios that featured so importantly in his early career, Shindig! was able to speak to Alan and ask about his time at Abbey Road to get an insight into those initial experiences there. MARC LE BRETON listens closely – in stereophonic sound.
Shindig!: How did you start at Abbey Road Studios in the first place?
Alan Parsons: I had already been working for EMI in an associated department called Tape Records, making reel-to-reel copies of EMI’s product featuring all the big names of the time, whilst also making copies of masters for overseas as every record factory in the world needed its own copy. It was all fairly primitive. I got an interview with the boss at the time, Allen Stagg, and a couple of weeks later I started working in the tape library of all places.
SD!: So did you progress to the Tape Operator role at that stage?
AP: I progressed very quickly as it was usually traditional to spend several months to a year at the tape library before they were let loose on sessions but, in my case, it was within another couple of weeks that I came down to watch sessions as this formed part of the training. The very first session I sat in on was with The Gods, with Ken Hensley playing keyboards rather than guitar as he did with Uriah Heep later on.
Since 1986 NICK SALOMAN has released tons of albums under the BEVIS FROND monicker. A new record, the excellent Example 22, is out now on Woronzow. ROBERTO CALABRÒ meets the psychedelic head to talk about his latest effort
Shindig!: Between Hit Squad (2004) and The Leaving Of London (2011) you had a seven year hiatus. Why did you stop releasing music for such a long time?
Nick Saloman: I came back from a European Tour in 2004, and although it was a nice tour, I just felt like I’d had enough. I felt really jaded and tired, and I thought if I felt that way, it would certainly come through in the music. Also, my Mum was slowly dying of cancer, and I was spending every day with her. We had always had a bit of a stormy relationship, but she was a devoted single Mum who brought me up on her own, and we were pretty close, and to be honest, I just thought there were more pressing things I should be doing. So I figured if I had a bit of a break it would probably help. I never realised that it was going last seven years!
SD!: In recent years you released a double album, The Leaving Of London, then a triple one (White Numbers, 2013) and a double again this year (Example 22). It seems you’ve got an uncontrollable urge to write song after song.
NS: Well, I write songs all the time. I never stopped writing while I was having my Sabbatical, so when I felt like recording again, I had quite a lot of material to choose from. I really enjoy writing songs, and I’m always thinking up tunes and lyrics. It’s quite therapeutic.
SD!:You’ve just told me you write all the time. Keith Richards says that you don’t need to write a song, they’re in the air, you just need to tune in and catch them. Is it the same for you? Who or what inspires you the most?
NS: No, it’s not the same for me. I don’t get a net and go out catching songs. I love Keith, but that sounds a bit fanciful. I think you have to work at it. I don’t really need much inspiration to write. I think because I enjoy writing so much, that’s an inspiration in itself. I actually look forward to sitting down with the guitar and trying to write something. I know some musicians dread that blank sheet of paper, but I really like it.
SD!:You’re considered a legend of the UK psychedelic underground scene. Is there any new band that you like and what you think of the new psych movement of young bands like Tame Impala, Black Angels, Pond, and so on?
NS: My daughter likes Tame Impala, and they are pretty good. I like a lot of new stuff. Weird Owl, Blues Pills, The Mutants, Magic Bus, Golden Grass & Biscuit for example. We’ve played with a lot of these bands, and they’re really good.
SD!:You started Bevis Frond in 1986 in your own place. Now it’s a full touring band with a stable line-up. Do you prefer to be in a proper band or the freedom of being a solo recording artist?
NS: If I’m totally honest, I probably prefer working alone in the studio, though the current line-up is so good, that it’s been really nice and easy recording with them. Obviously it’s different when you’re playing live. That has to be with a band, and as I just said, this line-up is a bit special.
SD!:Cherry Red has recently launched a series of Bevis Frond reissues starting with the High In A Flat compilation. So far we have been able to re-listen to Miasma, Inner Marshland, The Aunt Winnie Album, Through The Looking Glass and Triptych. Are they going to reissue your entire back catalogue? If so, what are the next albums to be released?
NS: I don’t think Cherry Red are going to continue with the reissue programme. I don’t think the albums sold as well as they hoped they would, and it looks like they’re going to cut their losses and stop putting the albums out. The next one would have been Any Gas Faster, but that’s probably not going to happen, at least not on Cherry Red. There is another label currently negotiating with Cherry Red to take over the programme, but at the time of writing nothing is confirmed, so I better not say any more in case it doesn’t happen.
In this accompanying piece to the cover story of his Shindig! issue #51 SLADE story GREG HEALEY continues to ponder on the band’s growth and change from faux skinheads to million selling owners of teethy grins and platforms.
By shaving the heads of Slade and dressing them in the bovver boy clothes of the skinhead Chas Chandler and Keith Allen unwittingly unleashed an image that the more gentile sensibilities of the the home counties and the BBC were not ready for. It was too edgy, too aggressive and too redolent of no go slums and the rougher parts of the nation.
When Noddy, Don, Dave and Jim stepped out of Harry’s Hair in Soho they were joining a subculture that, from it beginnings in the London of the mid-60s, was resolutely working class and unflinchingly disruptive and violent. Originally associated with West Indian culture, and in particular the rude boys that sprang from Jamaican, Kingston, the British skinhead was originally, and at time Slade adopted the look, an apolitical movement for discontented youth. Whether it was the disruption of gigs through fighting or simply making their intimidatory presence felt on the high street, the Skinhead represented something no Government welcomed: disorder.
The Britain of chaotic slums was being swept away in the clearances as successive Governments pursued a vision of neat modernisation. Back to backs with outside toilets and washing lines that hung from window to window across the street were being replaced by open grassy vistas and sweeping crescents of high-rise concrete. In this land of order and restrained and carefully delineated plenty the worker was supposed to be happy, content and pliant. The skinhead movement was a vivid reminder that, beyond the planning committees of central and regional government, was a mass of people whose decisions and choices were not always entirely rational. Read more Cropped Hair, Bovver Boots, Flat Caps & Glitter ›
This Hallowe’en, the spooky surroundings of North London’s Union Chapel will ring with the sounds of menacing electronica as the Grade I listed Victorian venue hosts two rare appearances by film composer ALAN HOWARTH. As part of the annual film event ‘Chills in The Chapel’, Howarth will be performing live scores from his collaborations with John Carpenter; 1981’s Escape From New York and a medley of music from the Halloween films. CHRISTOPHER BUDD caught up with Alan as he sharpened his pumpkin-carving knife.
Shindig!: Why have you chosen these particular scores to play live?
Alan Howarth:As for the Escape From New York score, I’m working on a new vinyl release of a re-recording of that soundtrack. At the same time there is a potential reboot of the film over at Fox right now – John Carpenter has agreed to be the Executive Producer. And obviously Halloween is Halloween, we’re doing it on Hallowe’en night! We’re going to revisit the horror elements that I’ve done with Carpenter. So besides Halloween I’ll do something from They Live, Prince Of Darkness, a little Christine, I’ll do a little medley of horror films as part of the set.
SD!: You have a background in surround sound and acoustics, are there particular challenges in playing these scores live that affect the kinds of venues that you pick?
AH:Well at this point, we’re keeping it just as a stereo programme, because of the budgetary constraints of going into someplace just for one night, without the chance to set up an elaborate system. At some point if my shows get more popular I would definitely expand into a more “surround” or immersive programme. The essence technically is we’ve got the laptop that’s got a music sequencer on it, we have a video that is also synchronised with the sequencer, so there’s the video and – we’ll call it a backing track – so there’s “music minus one” or “music plus one” in this case! So you’ve got the original scores, and then I have dialled up in software synthesisers a lot of the original sounds and so I improvise or play along with the tracks I played with Carpenter from the past. And so that puts a new live performance element to it. So it’s a lot of fun!
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