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Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Greetings From Bad Back Land

Thanks to the numerous folks who’ve e-mailed me their good wishes. I’ll get round to responding individually in the not too distant. . .

Heard from Hugh O’Donnell that the notes I sent him for the next club release have arrived in the nick of time. Phew.

Debbie has left for Birmingham today but I’ve got people looking in over the next couple of days and the boys are old hands at helping me around when the back goes stiff on me.

Listening to Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter – anticipating “world music” by years. Love that cool, clean sound that he gets on his soprano. The Man In The Green Shirt by Weather Report also raises a smile today.

Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Slipped Disc Blues

It’s raining in Whitley Bay and in my heart . . .

Spent most of the last couple of weeks on my back with a slipped disc and more recently loaded with this ongoing cold which I think I was coming down with the last time I visited the Great Kimbrini’s.

The slipped disc has kept me pretty locked down and out of action. The furthest I’ve been is at the top of the street. I’ve got some groovy little pills which take the edge off the pain but unfortunately take the edge of everything else including my comprehensive faculties. This means I’ve not been able to do any writing or e-mails, etc., not even with the aid of a lap-top.

Managed to sit in the chair long enough to download the pile of e-mails waiting for me and even answer a couple. One or two from Hugh O’Donnell wondering where the notes are for the forthcoming collectors club release. The bad news being that it looks like I’ve missed the deadline for their inclusion. However, I mailed him what I’d managed to do and hope he can pull something out of the hat.

Apologies to anyone whose written to me but have not yet received a reply. Hang on in there. I will get round to it.

Debbie has kept me supplied with magazines and treats including the BBC Music magazine which included an advert for Riverrun Records. At the bottom of the page, the ad carried the legend;

“coming soon - Quickening The Dead by Andrew Keeling.” Way to go AK !

Listening to Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer album. A cool little classic if ever there was. He’s working with Tyner, Elvin Jones, Reggie Workman as well as Freddie Hubbard who blows along a storm. Pure Coltrane retro but by Gum, I love this kind of straight ahead playing.

Thursday, October 12, 2000


Met up with Bill Bruford last night at The Dome in Whitley Bay. The band were on good form and the performance really sizzled. The audience seemed to be a mixture of older Jazzer’s and young ‘un’s wearing Yes T-shirts. Quite a few women including Debbie and Chris Wilson’s wife, Pauline.

Although Jazz isn’t quite Debbie’s scene she wanted to come along to see what all the fuss was about. She’s spoken to Bill on a few occasions and has had to put up with me wittering on about how economical and energetic his playing is and so on for the last few years.

There was quite few new tunes in the set and in the sound check, Bruford and the boys took their pens to the scores making amendments and alterations which were then executed during the gig with deceptive ease.

Watching Bruford work is always exciting and last night proved no exception. The way he turn on a dazzling rhythm can be astonishing. The players around him are also capable of some remarkable peaks and last night there was warm applause during the numbers as they each in turn scaled the heights.

I was never 100% convinced about the earlier versions Earthworks finding them somewhat caught between the rockier side of Jazz. This line-up with it’s predominately acoustic and straight ahead feel seems much more balanced and the playing and writing less gratuitous and flashy and therefore more satisfying.

Before the show I took Bill along the sea front to a local restaurant. As we legged it I mentioned to him that I’d been listening to the CD of the Nashville sessions. Bill isn’t necessarily too keen on the sessions being released as the pieces aren’t fully formed or developed but accepts that it does have a historical interest to collectors and fans.

The Nashville recordings have formed much of my listening over the last couple of days and I’ve been thinking about different ideas out for what I might write as I’ve been on the bus going to and from work. Hugh from DGM tells me that they need the words pronto so I’ll try and put pen to paper (as it were) this week-end.

Brilliant suggestion from Peter Sinfield for the title of the book;

A history of the music and musicians of King Crimson

Hardly any writing on the book for two weeks now due to the pressure of work and general tiredness on my part. I need a rich philanthropist to give me a some cash to be able to take a couple of months off the day job in order to get this book finished and on the way. If you’re interested then please apply at the usual address. Dollars accepted and your name on the front cover in big type face.

I’ve found myself feeling quite down about the lack of progress on the book but no matter how early I get up in the morning or how late I go to bed, I just can’t quite keep up with the necessary pace.

Sunday, October 08, 2000

Not A Cloud In The Sky


On the way back from Tynemouth . . .

A listener's guide to the music and times of King Crimson

12.35 p.m.

Last night . . .

Just back from Re-Genesis and my ears are still ringing. The band were great fun and sounded in terrific shape although a trifle loud for my ear ‘oles to easily accommodate these days.

The set consisted of the usual mixture of old favourites and . . .er. . . old favourites. Opening with the fabbo ‘tron classic Watcher of the Skies, they thrilled and entertained a good crowd of a couple of hundred white, middle-aged geezers and their long-suffering partners.

Of course I felt rather smug because I was there with two women who knew all the words. Within seconds of the band starting Debbie and Dude had formed the Watford Polytechnic Re-enactment Society and their misspent prog youth was given full flow.

I saw Geoff Bianchi at the gig. He and I were the first people in our school to see the original Genesis sometime in 1971 or 1972. It’s Geoff’s forehead that is just visible in the photograph of Fripp and me outside Newcastle City Hall which can be viewed in my biog bit at the top of the diary page.

All in all, it was a great evening of fun and merriment.

Today. . .

Now it’s sunshine after the rain and it’s a truly gorgeous day. The boys have been awake and at it since just before seven and want to know what the schedule is. Tom wants to play snooker and Joe wants to watch a movie on the video. We’re thinking of mounting a trip to Tynemouth.

Outside the sea is a deep blue with little white boats ploughing through the surface. Not a cloud in the sky

Saturday, October 07, 2000

Double Trouble

Both Tom and I are short of breath due to a bit asthma. This might account for the fatigue and torpid feeling I’ve been experiencing all week. The pair of us wheezing away in unison as we climbed the stair after our housework chores this morning.

Debbie’s sister arrives later today and is staying for the week. She’s the one that used to go to school with Jakko Jakszyk in way back when in Croxley Green.

Tonight we’re all indulging in a big long soak in the nostalgia pool by going to see Re-genesis who make a living for themselves by playing all the Gabriel-era songs. They do a stunning job in re-creating the sound and the look of the band during that period between Nursery Cryme and Lamb.

Absolute enjoyment guaranteed.

Speaking of which, I managed to get five minutes on the phone with the great Kimbrini who was in the middle of licking his eyebrows when I called. He tells me that the ladies are particularly attracted to this little known and arcane example of body preening. What a hero.

Trying to get cracking with the book after falling behind. Received a small parcel of some interview clippings from Richard Maughan – thanks Richard.

Also found a newsletter from Progress Forum for me in the in-box. This is an outfit run by wonderfully named Tiz Hay and their (his / her ???) website includes reviews covering all the names that one normally associates with Prog Rock.

I was slightly taken aback to discover that they’ve included a review of the Night Watch double cd which I think I sent Tiz in 1997. Crikey – one from the archives.

And speaking of archives (what a link eh ?), I got an e-mail from Hugh O'Donnell asking if I'd be interested in writing a few notes for the forthcoming club release which features the last Double Trio rehearsals in Nashville.

I heard these sessions when I was at DGM rummaging through Hugh's drawers a couple of months ago and they were certainly an ear-opener then. Can't wait to hear that stuff again. The Double Trio had bags of potential and these sessions reveal where things could've gone. As far as I can remember, the set I heard was Pat M's ear-view/production and rather stunning it sounded.

Of course they may not use any of my ramblings for the club release but that's never stopped me rambling yet. Let there be light !

Friday, October 06, 2000

A Partnership with Paucity

Got in late last night from staffing a stall at a partnership market. This is where all the great and good organisations put their stands, leaflets, video’s, sharp suits and give-aways on display for public scrutiny. The idea is that the public come in an urgent rush to see how democracy and participation is operating.

By my estimation nearly nine non-aligned members of the public turned up to walk around the large municipal gymnasium to glance at the stalls and listen to the message.

In short the four hour event was vanity publishing, whereby the great and the good went around each others stalls and slapped each other on the back about the quality of their display.

The paucity of this is breath-taking and I can’t believe that this is the best way for local authorities to try and engage the local community in a dialogue about partnership and regeneration.

Still the event ( I shudder to think how much it all cost) will be hailed as a massive success and the bean-counters (who wouldn’t know a piece of community development if it came and hit them on the noggin) will be able to tick this off on their list of action points.

When I got in last night I was so tired that I hit the sofa in need of some mindless TV. What I got was a programme on the Nazi’s search for the Holy Grail. Not long after ten, Debbie put me over her shoulder and carried me upstairs to bed. I think I was asleep before she even whipped my plus-fours off.

This morning the weather sky is that inspiration arctic-blue and I look at some e-mail. Yet another refinement from Julie Tippett regarding the sleeve-notes for Blueprint, a funny from Kimber and a funny from Peter Sinfield.

Not one word on the book this week. Not one.

Thursday, October 05, 2000

Brain Dead

Brain dead last night and by 9.00 o’ clock after being Dad for a few hours, I finally caved in and zonked out. Debbie similarly waded through treacle until she eventually gave up. At least she’s got a good excuse being loaded with cold.

However, it’s not just me. Yesterday at work there was a succession of colleagues who seemed to be sluggish and tired. Maybe it’s a kind of collective hysteria that’s sweeping through us all. Fundamental change will do that to people.

A grey overcast sky broods overhead though the rain has held off so far. Tom and Joe bomb around this morning with boundless energy, full of beans and raring to go. How on Earth do they do it ?

Wednesday, October 04, 2000

On The Verge Of Being Cut Off


Got in tonight from work and a difficult long day at work. The good thing was that the telephone company hadn’t cut us off yet. So another quick blast from the coast.

E-mails from Ian McDonald and Andrew Keeling. Also one from Voiceprint Records enquiring on the progress of the sleeve notes for the re-issue of Blueprint.

I made the minor revisions to the text following my chat with Keith and Julie at the week-end and sent it off to the good folks in County Durham. The final version of the notes are radically different from my first draft and also about half the length – the first version was more documentary and used relevant excerpts from the interview I did with Keith and commentary from Robert. It may well be that I put the thing up here if there’s the interest.

Listening to Landing On A Rat Column by the 64 Spoons, Drivers Eyes by Ian McDonald and Soft Machine Six


It was a wild night with a thumping wind raging and swirling all over the house and this morning garden debris litters the street. The sky however is a perfect picture; yellow smeared over orange spread over ice blue.

Debbie’s full of cold and I think it’s heading my way. We were both so tired that we were in bed and asleep before 10.00 p.m. This morning as she sniffles her way off to work, I feel beat.

Interested to read Pat M’s account of Crimso’s Japanese gigs. Ladies Of The Road ? Wow ! That would be something. When I heard ProzaKc Blues it put in mind of the Ladies in some bizarre tangential way. Funny to see it mentioned by Pat.

E-mails from Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield last night. Ian offers several potential suggestions for the book title. Peter muses on the Prog Rock programme.

Looks like I’ll be going off line for a few days. The telephone bill is just too big for us to pay on time and so today they’re going to cut us off. The good side about this is that I wont have any on-line distractions and I can concentrate on trying to bash on with the book.

So if you don’t receive a reply to your e-mail then you’ll know why. See you later folks. . .

Tuesday, October 03, 2000

Being Interviewed For Television

It’s grey overcast kind of day back in not so sunny Newcastle. I feel tired and foggy this morning but expect that this is due to Highgate Lag which is a variation on Jet Lag. Late nights and mucho nattering do take their toll. I’m strictly a Horlicks kinda guy but do enjoy dipping my toe in the water from time to time.

Yesterday was a day of problems in long dark tubes trying to get from a to b but failing. In the end I had to cab overland but to be honest this wasn’t much better – it just cost a lot more.

Eventually rendezvoused with Pete Woods the producer of the Top Ten Prog Rock programme. They’d just finished filming an interview with Steve Howe. We filmed the piece in the kitchen of a member of the production team. They had me sit in front of a fireplace which had in the centre a large version of the LTIA sun face.

The questions ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous but then again so did my answers and as ever with these things, one never knows how much of what was said will be used or how it will be used.

After a couple of hours it was all over and they dropped me off at Hotel Akimbo where we the great vibe guide had prepared a plate of toast and Marmite and a big mug of tea.

Then it was off to Kings Cross and more problems with the tube. Kimber was heading off to see Steve Howe in concert. Home to the sea side and Debbie after 9.00 p.m. and in bed before 10.00 p.m.


Monday, October 02, 2000

A Small World & A Wild Coincidence

Leafy Highgate

Yesterday. . .

Talked to Julie and Keith Tippett regarding another revision for the sleevenotes for the forthcoming re-issue of the Blueprint album and then Kimber dragged me from the house and up to the commanding views of Parliament Hills on a gorgeously balmy afternoon. The large Victorian Parks manage to preserve something of London’s lost rural past although around every corner housing snuggles up as far as is decent under current UK planning law.

We walked along to Tufnell Park and I headed off to have Sunday roast with Jakko. He was at a football match and when I rang him just to confirm times and so on, his mobile was answered by his chum Danny who mistook me for Syd Lawrence (UK big band leader) and began consulting his diary and availability. Of course, this was none other than bass player and legendary wit Danny Thompson in high jinks mode.

Got to chez Jakko and we began to catch up with what’s been going on and then we got to talking about out teen-age years when Jakko mentioned he grew up in Croxley Green. Well, he couldn’t have known it but Debbie (who he’s never met), my partner, also grew up in Croxley Green.

I phoned Debbie and put the two of them in touch and of course it turns out that they went to the same school, knew the same crowd and it seems that Jakko might even have been in the same class as Julie (Debbie’s sister).

After a good twenty minutes of name checking and catching up I prized them apart and we sat back to reflect on the unseen connections which tie us together. Talk about it being a small world eh ?

In between scraping his parsnips and stuffing a chicken Jakko also got his guitar out and played through the fast ascending run from Schizoid Man and then the slow doomy theme from The Battle Of Glass Tears. You might at first there’s no similarity between the two but Jakko’s theory is that the first few notes are related. If not actual brothers and sisters then certainly a cousin or two.

Even playing acoustically, Jakko’s fingers blurred through the fast run in an impressive flurry. If he can do that with a guitar just think what he’s like with a parsnip.

After a lovely Roast Chicken dinner Jakko and I sped off to Rickmansworth to meet up with Mel Collins who had rang earlier in the day. Mel looked great and was full of stories, quips and observations about his time with Crimson and working with Robert.

We didn’t get it all covered and we’ve agreed to talk when he’s next back from Germany. Mel hasn’t heard the Crimson albums for a long time so I’ll try and get a few copies to him in time for our next conversation.

Stephy Ruben joined us for the last half hour and after chucking out time in the White Boar, Stephy whisked me off to Watford where I managed to catch a train to Euston. Getting back to Kimberworld sometime after midnight, we ended up watching a 1973-ish documentary on ELP. Crikey, those boys knew how to live.

Today. . .

Grey leaden skies threatening to rain. I’m heading off to meet colleagues for a day job related meeting in the centre of London and then back out to Muswell Hill to do an interview for this Prog Rock programme. More details as they emerge.

Sunday, October 01, 2000


Leafy Highgate

Yesterday. . .

After some breakfast and bossa nova with Shirley Bassey and the Propellerheads and their reinvention of the Bond classic ‘Goldfinger’, Kimber and I got down to some serious brainstorming around the title of the KC book. We spent an age talking about KC and what it means to us.

We pushed around our understanding of what the book might be about. Themes around opposites emerged as likely contenders but nothing quite stuck or fired me up. Maybe it should be something dead simple and straight forward like; King Crimson; A Users Guide.

The best idea of the day came from Kimber;

1.The sound of 379 pages not quite making sense at the same time.
2. The sound of 379 people opening a book almost simultaneously

Oh well, I guess you had to be there. . .

Last night . . .

We took an early evening stroll through the leafy highways, byways, handbags and gladrags which make up the streets of Kimber’s manor eventually ending up at Bengal Berties. A couple of beers and a Lamb special later I was a happy lad. Our talk meandered away from worthy topics into a trivia-fest of TV programmes we watched when we were lads;

Adam Adamant
The Champions
The Avengers
Do Not Adjust Your Set
Man In A Suitcase
Burke’s Law
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
Fireball XL5
Captain Scarlet
Dr. Who

Well you get the idea. What was interesting was the degree to which the female characters in the Gerry Anderson puppet series used to fuel my pre-pubescent imaginations and more particularly, my loins. You’ve only got to mention Destiny, Marina, Atlanta and Venus and all the blood drains from my head and I black out.

Kimber of course feels superior because his black-outs were caused by Champions heroine Alexandra Bastedo. She used to do it for me as well but on reflection this might be because her acting was so wooden.

Well, it’s come to this - admitting in public to being given a woodie by er. . .a lump of wood.

As you can see it was a deeply cultural kind of night and what better way to round it off by watching The World Is Not Enough which I’m led to believe was the most recent James Bond movie. I really enjoyed the thing and it might well be the best Bond movie since Thunderball.

Sometime after midnight Debbie rang and we caught up with the news and gossip. She sounded prickly and irritable which might have been something to do with our (or more accurately, her) house-guest. Or not.

So then it was off to bed and dreams involving a spokeshave or two.

This morning. . .

Talked to my mother who tells me that her brother (my Uncle Tom) had passed away. He’d been diagnosed with cancer of the liver a couple of weeks ago and thankfully he’s not had too long to linger. She was of course very upset but understands that the swiftness of his passing was really a blessing.

I remember seeing my Gran waste away in a hospital bed for three months several years ago. In her heyday, my Gran was a severe and daunting matriarch who ruled the family with a rod of iron and then when she was 95 she had a heart attack.

Instead of felling her there and then, she was taken into hospital where she suffered from horrendous bed sores, professional indifference and eventually she was lost in an insidious maze of dementia and drool. Her constitution was such that she hung around for weeks not knowing where she was or who we were.

The best we could do was just be there. She was a slip of her former self in every respect and it was painful for us to see her so diminished and fragile. In the hours before her death, we sat with her, stroking her hair and trying to provide some element of contact and connection to where ever she was inside.

At one point not long before she went, the fog seemed to clear and in a few moments of calm clarity, she talked of George, her husband who had died in 1965 and was sorry that he’d been waiting for so long.

Her last words were "Sweet Jesus take me home" and she was gone and we all cried. Our tears were of grief but also of relief that she’d managed to eventually escape from the half-husk that wasn’t quite her anymore


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