exploring the so-called "Canterbury Sound", its many roots, branches, twigs and accompanying mycelia — a new episode each full moon
Monday, 25 March 2013
new podcast: Canterbury Sans Frontières
Today sees the launch of my new podcast, Canterbury Sans Frontières. As with Canterbury Soundwaves, a new three-hour episode will be released with each full moon.
I decided to wind down Canterbury Soundwaves so that I didn't end up (i) repeating myself, (ii) scraping the bottom of the Canterbury barrel, or (iii) becoming increasingly tangential.
This new podcast broadens the musical remit, so it'll be about one-third 'Canterbury sound', together with progressive/psychedelic/experimental music from the Canterbury of today, the remainder being a mix of music from various times and places which I feel to be in a similar spirit of creative adventurousness. I'll be doing a lot less talking, and the programme will be less expository – so no interviews, barely-listenable bootlegs, etc.
I also plan to include guest one-hour mixes from various musicians from the current music scene in Canterbury (Episode 2 will feature a mix from Neil Sullivan from Lapis Lazuli). This episode, however, is dedicated to Kevin Ayers who passed away less than two weeks after the final episode of Canterbury Soundwaves went out, so there's an hour of his finest work embedded in the middle of the programme:
Kevin Ayers died on the 18th February at his home in Montolieu, France. He was 68. He was a dear friend of Daevid and Gilli, well, forever. His life both musical and personal intertwined closely with theirs particularly in the 60's and 70's. They lived together, made music together, had adventures and just experienced it all together in those days. Despite some of the many obituaries denying the fact, Kevin was to all intents and purposes a member of Gong in 1971 when the band first toured the UK. He also played an instrumental role in
Steve Hillage appearing in Gong's Universe in 1972 while Steve was touring France as a member of Kevin's band.
Daevid told me on hearing the news of Kevin's passing he and Gilli thought, 'If the situation was reversed what would Kevin do?' Easy, a bottle of the best red wine affordable was purchased, Kevin's music went on heavy rotation and stories of the good times, full of good thoughts were shared with close friends and
family in Australia. When all is said and done they simply loved him.'
It was with great sadness to hear that Kevin Ayers, a legend of the Canterbury scene has passed away aged 68.
Kevin was a founder member of Soft Machine and played on their first two albums. He had a varied and prolific solo career producing memorable LPs such as 'Joy Of A Toy' and 'Shooting At The Moon'. His backing band included Mike Oldfield and Andy Summers. Kevin was very well known and a friend of Caravan during their early years and
he will be greatly missed.
One commentator has pointed out that Kevin's contribution to two Soft Machine albums is an error unless
Jet Propelled Photographs is considered an official Soft Machine release. Also "No mention on the Caravan site that it was Kevin who taught Pye Hastings his first guitar chords. Where But For Kevin...".
Stuart Maconie had a lovely chat over the phone with Robert Wyatt about Kevin as part of his BBC Radio 6 "Freak Zone" programme (click on image to stream):
The Web and (more surprisingly) the UK media have been awash with coverage of Kevin Ayers' recent passing (he died at home in southern France on 18th February, seemingly peacefully in his sleep). I don't think there's much I can add to what's already been said, apart from noting that with all the discussion of his character, voice, lyrical quirkiness, lifestyle, Englishness, etc., it's largely been overlooked that he was a fantastic bass player with the early Soft Machine. Live material from that era (especially the 1968 American tour when the trio were truly on fire) is sadly quite limited, but some excellent examples can be found if you search through the various episodes of Canterbury Soundwaves.
excerpts from Graham Bennett's Out-Bloody-Rageous, pp. 121 and 145
I was tempted to put together an extra episode of the podcast as a tribute to his music (despite having announced Episode 28 to be the final one)...but, no, I've decided to stick with my original decision and instead dedicate the first episode of the forthcoming Canterbury Sans Frontières podcast to him — that should be out in late March and will be announced here.
34. Daevid Allen — "Yum Yum Tree" (sung unaccompanied in Rev. Beverage's car while driving around Sturry, near Canterbury, 2012-09-11)
35. Soft Machine — "Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening" (from The Peel Sessions, 1991, recorded at BBC studios 1971-06-01)
36. Acid Mothers Gong — "Bellyful of Telephone/Why Do?" (from Live in Nagoya, 2006, recorded Tokuzo, Nagoya, Japan, 2003-04-09)
37. Gong — "Magick Mother Invocation" → "Master Builder" (live at Canterbury Fayre, Mount Ephraim Gardens, Kent, 2000-07-30)
38. Gong — "Occupy" (live at New Morning, Paris, 2012-10-15)
39. Brainville — "Hope For Happiness" (from Live In The UK, 2004, recorded at The Lanterns, Ashburton, Devon 1998-06-18)
40. Gong — "Isle of Everywhere" [excerpt] (live at Lounge on the Farm festival, 2009-07-10)
41. Gong — "You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever" (from You, 1974)
42. Kevin Ayers — "Joy of a Toy Continued" (from Joy of a Toy, 1969)
[voiceover ambience: Daevid Allen and Euterpe — "Wise Man In Your Heart" (from Good Morning, 1976)]
clarifications/errata: I mistakenly gave the name of Duke Ellington's "Ballet of the Flying Saucers" as "Flying Saucer Ballet". The French TV recording of Gong which Daevid mentioned over lunch appears to have been autumn 1973 rather than 1974.
clarifications/errata: I should have mentioned the fact that Michael Mantler (Karen's father) was part of the Carla Bley Band which we heard, as was Gary Windo. I should also have mentioned the (unrecorded) Ottawa Music Company which involved members of Egg, Henry Cow, Steve Hillage and the Northettes.
25. National Health — "Phlákatön" (from Of Queues and Cures, 1978)
26. some Canadian National Health audience members — "Phlákatön" (recorded somewhere in Canada, 1979, released on National Health's Missing Pieces 1996)
27. Adam, Matthew and Matt — "Phlákatön" (undisclosed location near Barham, Kent, 2012-11-22)
[voiceover ambience: Centipede — "Septober Energy — Part 1" (from Septober Energy, 1971)]
Errata/clarifications: The drummer with Khan on that album track was Eric Peachy — what became of him? I mentioned that I was going to "focus on" Gong's Continental Circus album, but only played one track — I'd originally intended to include "What Do You Want?" (a version of "Fohat Digs Holes in Space") as well, but had to cut that due to time constraints. Dashiell Hedayat's real name appears to have been Jack-Alain Léger. The first Soft Heap track is called "Petit 3's", not "Petit"
There wasn't time to mention a number of Pip's other projects:
All Wet and Dripping (a shortlived "Canterbury-influenced band in which he replaced Charles Hayward")
The Weightwatchers (unrecorded touring band with Elton Dean and Keith Tippett)
Phil Miller's In Cahoots (Pip was the drummer for many years)
Rapid Eye Movement (with Dave Stewart, Jakko Jakszyk and Rick Biddulph)
T-Mit (with Mark Hewins, Richards Sinclair and Vince Clarke)
Pip Pyle's Bash!
Also Pip's composition/songwriting with Hatfield, etc. should have got a mention, as drummers who can write music are few and far between.
Some YouTube comments have questioned the thinking behind putting the following footage from Pip's funeral in the public domain, but it appears to have been cleared by his family. The general feeling seems to be that he would have wanted people to have enjoyed themselves at the event.
[from the Pip Pyle homepage, 2006-09-11]: "Pip's funeral will be held in England in a week or so (the date has not been fixed yet). Pip's children are planning to decorate Pip's coffin with the type of stickers he had on his drum cases, and have asked that if anyone has any Hatfield and the North, National Health, Gong, Chicken Shack, L'Equipe Out, Soft Heap, Bash!, Musicians' Union or 'Keep Music Live' (etc.) stickers they would like to donate, could they kindly send them now to the Funeral Directors...
Alternatively, bearing in mind that these stickers are often treasured possessions, you can scan them and send the image to Sam Ellidge and Sam will make them into stickers. All submissions are welcome. Please feel free to send anything that tickles your fancy, however daft or irreverent — Pip had a wicked sense of humour and would have liked the idea of people having a bit of a laugh at his funeral."
Errata/clarifications: Steven Miller died December 9th, 1998. I said The Whole World was Lol Coxhill's first outing into the world of rock music, completely overlooking Delivery, with whom I started the programme...d'oh! "Was a Friend" is indeed from Robert Wyatt's 1997 Shleep album. Banco de Gaia is Toby Marks. I forgot to mention that Pye Hastings played (very unusual) guitar on Hopper's "Miniluv Reprise", another Coxhill—Caravan crossover. I also failed to mention a number of other notable and innovative projects Lol was involved in, e.g. Brotherhood of Breath, AMM, Dedication Orchestra and Welfare State.
The Delivery piece "Betty" features just Roy Babbington on bass. Richard Sinclair supplied vocals at that gig, but not on that track. Coxhill and Babbington left soon after and Sinclair took over on bass, resulting in that proto-Hatfield lineup who played at The Tower of London in July '72 (see Episode 11).