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Sunday, September 30, 2001

Scott Walker, Catholicism and Glimpsing.

Grey unmoving clouds and a persistent threat of rain.

Talked to my sister for well over an hour on the blower this morning about kids, books, old chums and our forthcoming get together in London during the half term hols. I'm taking Tom and Joe down to London to see the sights and stay over in Milton Keynes where my sister lives during the holiday week.

We sort of had a night out with Chris Wilson and his partner, Pauline. I say sort of because we didn't quite meet up. I say didn't quite meet up because we congregated in a new pub in Whitely Bay called the Firestation. Sadly, the rest of humanity had the same idea and when Debbie and I arrived we could barely squeeze through the front door.

We scanned about for the Wilson's but in they were lost in the sea of faces. We beat the retreat along the road to the Fat Ox (John Kimber's pub of choice whenever he visits the North) but it was hos show and no go. We had a pinyt and then walked back along to try another fruitless sortee into the Firestation. Then we called into the video shop and got some Chinese food and legged it back home for movie and grub. About an hour later the door went and it was the Wilson's. Thus the night was partially saved.

The four of us made last orders at The Station pub at the top of our street. Later on Chris and I got into serious anorak mode about album collections, Scott Walker, Catholicism and Glimpsing.

This morning the Wilson's tripped out before Debbie and I got out of bed, so we took advantage of this and had some leisurely lurvvve action baby !

The day has been spent doing cleaning, filing and learning how to floss my teeth in an attempt to arrest the recession of my gums from their rightful place.

Listening To. . .

The Sparks Collection (courtesy of Chris Wilson)
Just Us by Elton Dean
Playtime by National Health
Silesia by Jakko Jakszyk
Choices Under Pressure by Peter Blegvad

Saturday, September 29, 2001

Possessed By Dick Emery!

At the dentist again getting my teeth sparged like there's no tomorrow. Consequently it feels like I've been possessed by the spirit of Dick Emery playing the toothy vicar. Of course it could be worse. I could be possessed by the spirit of Dick Emery playing the part of the cross-dressing Mandy with his/her catch-phrase "Ooo, you are awful but I like you !" Of course it could be worse than that. I could be possessed by the spirit of Harry Enfield playing the Tim Nice But Dim character. Ya.

So it's been another day of pain and rain interspersed with a walk to my mate Steve Cowgill. The purpose for the visit was to get some technical advice about the electricals required to make the In Times Of Hope installation work. Steve agreed to help me build a prototype of the frame - each with nine smaller paintings housed within it - so we can see how the electrical side of it will work.

Behind the nine paintings in each frame is a small light which will slowly fade up and back down again all within the space of four beats to the bar. These lights will come on randomly. There are a total of nine frames in all with nine paintings within each frame. That's a hell of a lot of lights and a hell of a lot of painting. Fun, fun, fun.

Currently listening to Triologue - Live at The Berlin Jazz Days (1976) featuring the devastating talents of Albert Manglesdorf on trombone, Jaco Pastorious on bass and Alphonse Mouzon on drums. Music to blow yer socks off !

There's a new pub opened in Whitley Bay tonight and later this evening Debbie and I off to see what it might be like. Life in the fast lane eh ?

Friday, September 28, 2001

Installing Hope

The final pieces of a planned installation finally fell into place. I've been working on the idea it for the last couple of months and it looks good - to me at least. There's a lot of details to sort out around the technical requirements of the show but I'm meeting with a chum who is an electrician for some advice.

The nine pieces which make-up the installation are collectively entitled In Times Of Hope. Although this may seem to somewhat inappropriate given the currently bleak world-wide situation, it nevertheless feels like the right title for the piece or pieces.

I need to begin to tout the thing around the gallery circuit but frankly won't be able to do this until the whole book launch thing is out of the way.

Out with Debbie last night to the theatre to see a performance of Glengarry Glenross by David Mamet. Highly enjoyable. I know the script to this play fairly well and so it was a case of sitting back and just enjoying the delivery of the piece. Simple staging and confident performances engaged a slightly less than full house.

If there was one complaint it was that several members of the cast looked too young for the characters they were meant to be playing. Debbie rolled her eyes when I said this and complained that I was becoming ageist.

Last night was also very special in that Debbie and I got to hold hands for about two hours. Sounds daft I know but when was the last time you got to hold hands with your partner for two whole, child-free hours ? We spend so much time running around it's easy to overlook the small acts which can bring quality into a situation.

E-mails this morning from Chris Wilson regarding the book layout. He thinks we might be able to squeeze in a couple more pictures. I'll talk to him later today about what's possible. Also hoping to be interviewing Peter Hammill about his work on Exposure. This is for the Frame By Frame book. Exposure was mentioned in passing in the KC book and so I'm hoping to put that right this time around. Also heard from Helter Skelter regarding the book launch - I'll be posting up details in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

In Cahoots In Concert

"So how was Prez Pringle ?" said a sleepy Deb when I got in last night. What she meant was "How was Pip Pyle ?" but I got the gist of what she was on about.

For those readers unfamiliar with In Cahoots, they consist of Phil Miller on guitar, Pip Pyle on drums, Elton Dean saxcello and alto, Pete Lemer on kyeboards, Jim Dvorac on trumpet and Fred Baker on bass. They were playing at the Cluny Warehouse. It's an old converted building nestling in the heart of the Ouseburn Valley in Byker - barely a stone's throw from canny Chris Wilson's place.

Playing a hybrid cross of what could loosely be described as Canterbury fusion, the music sounded at times like Weather Report crossed with the Average White Band with a couple of members of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble thrown in for good measure.

The sound was little more than a rehearsal room level, i.e. unmixed, loud and indistinct which was a pity given the calibre of those packed onto the tight little stage in the Cluny's mezzanine performance area.

I'm a veteran of many a Hatfield/ National Health gig and indeed a fair proportion of my Cd collection is taken up with all the various strands of the Canterbury scene - including several by In Cahoots themselves.

So on paper at least, this should have been a belter of a gig. Unfortunately, it never quite gelled.

The problem was that although the individual players were excellent when they took solos, I found the ensemble playing a little tired and lacklustre. Though the complex themes and tunes were expertly executed there was nevertheless a perfunctory quality about them.

However, once the heads had been dispatched then the individual players came alive. That said, I had a sense that the ensuing solo's had little relation to what was moving around underneath as they played. There was a subtle dissonance between what happening and what could have happened.

This criticism aside, it doesn't mean there weren't some incendiary moments. Sax legend Elton Dean played a storm. As he sat waiting his turn, he looked for all the world like a middle aged geezer waiting for the bus to come along. When his turn came however, his blowing was like a hot wind straight up from hell - fiery, caustic and full of risks.

Trying to keep up with the twists and turns of Phil Miller's guitar playing when it broke free of the tight arrangements was admittedly a futile but enjoyable affair. His soloing is concise and carries non of the excess noodly baggage which often bedevils jazzer's with a point to prove. A greatly under-rated player if ever there was.

So I guess it was a mixed evening for me. Happy to be there and happy to hear some of the individuals racing about but feeling slightly let down by the playing of the ensemble playing.

Before dashing to catch the last bus home (which I missed) I managed to speak to Pip Pyle (passing on a message to him from Jakko Jakszyk) and Phil Miller himself. Late last year, I interviewed Phil (facilitated by the ubiquitous Jakko) about the recording of Matching Mole's second album which was of course produced by Robert Fripp.

In the end, Phil's contribution didn't make it into the final edit of the book despite the interesting light it shed on those sessions. However, Frame By Frame: The King Crimson Companion, will be the ideal place for Phil's views to appear.

Also at the gig I bought a copy of Elton Dean's first solo album Just Us from the man himself. I used to own this one on vinyl but it sadly went west several years ago. For those with long memories, it's the one with the scorpions on the dinner plate as the cover. This is wild dangerous music and for this listener, it retains an edge which the passing thirty years since its recording has not blunted one bit.

This album was on my "most wanted" list for years and listening to it with the volume cranked up so high it sounds like the band is the room with you, I know why. I worked up a sweat just listening to it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

A Velveteen Slur

Working on the structure for the King Crimson Encyclopaedia which currently has the working title of Frame By Frame: A King Crimson Companion. Once I get a sense of its contents, I'll set about drafting a pitch to send out to publishers. More details once I finalise it all.

Heard from No-Man supremo Tim Bowness who is promoting a rare concert by Peter Hammill. The gig is in the impressive setting of the beautiful 18th Century Assembly House venue in Norwich on Monday 8th October - complete with a Steinway grand piano. Now there's a gig that I'd like to get along to. Sadly, the Smith diary and finances will not stretch that far.

Spoke to Bill Bruford on Sunday to clear the use of a photograph of Bill which Chris Wilson had exhumed from the vaults. Happily Bill was in good cheer and gave his blessing. Also heard from Helter Skelter regarding a date for the UK launch of the book. More details once they are firmed up.

Last night spent listening to four albums by Donovan. I borrowed these from the impressive collection of Chris "Wank-Mags" Wilson. The items are all housed in weeny replicas of the original sleeves and the music itself dates from the mid-sixties.

Wiffly, fluffy and light, the music burbles on in a good-natured kind of way with lyrics. Donovan's voice performs some intriguing manoeuvres on all the albums - affecting a Caribbean lilt from time to time or a velveteen slur which suggests either a stoned reverie or a post- coitus loss of faculties.

Of course, some would say John Martyn forged an entire career using this very template !

Our current favourite of the crop happens to be 1968's Hurdy Gurdy Man - Crim fans will know that this album contains the original version of Get Thy Bearings. The smiley-smiley daftness which characterises the albums as a whole, clearly locates them in a time and a place. However. Mickie Most's production is surprisingly strong and ensures that the contents remain largely palatable and playable. So, I light a joss-stick and watch Debbie groove and twirl her fingers in agreeably sixties kind of way.

This return to Hippiedom has also found an expression in Alys's latest coat. It's a sanitised version of what we used to call an Afghan - that is an animal of indeterminate origin, freshly slaughtered, almost washed, turned inside out and branded with a suitably swirly pattern.

The motif was often a dramatic reconstruction of the downward spiral which the wearer would inevitably follow once they'd inhaled the malodorous whiff coming up from the twitching beast. All of which made the Afghan coat the sartorial equivalent of mechanically recovered meat.

Now a sanitised version of the coat line the racks of girly shops and as far as I can tell possess only the odour of fine upstanding man-made fibres. Of course, you've got to be careful wandering around shops sniffing the coats. Being a couple of old hippies at heart, Debbie and I think Alys looks great.

Last night as I went to bed I thought how good a string arrangement of Providence by King Crimson might sound. Must send a note to Andrew K.

Today art and the dentist await and tonight I'm off to see Phil Miller, Pip Pyle et al in concert.

Friday, September 21, 2001

Something To Think About

Talked to Robert last night. The line was pretty fragile and at times became aqueous as he was driving around Nashville. He sounded in good spirits and very upbeat about the new Crimson material he's been working on with AB.

We also talked about the impending release of the book and even kicked around some ideas for the KC Encyclopaedia. There are a number of different elements which could be included in such a venture. Primarily, it could be a receptacle for many of the unused images, a far more detailed survey of KC alumni projects. I'd have liked to have been able to focus on ex-Crim careers and although they get mentioned and highlighted, it's not as detailed as I'd have liked. A good example of this would be the work of Keith Tippett. A minor part-time Crim but hugely influential and interesting. The Encyclopaedia would enable a more serious examination of people's career.

Additionally there's the other idea which was to get eye-witness accounts of every gig KC played which would be an opportunity for fans and enthusiasts to send in their reminiscences. The current book does feature on or two views from the stalls and for me, this kind of thing really makes the book come alive. So there's something to think about.

We also touched on the possibility of using soundscapes as part of some sound installations which we (the dayjob) are planning. Yee-haa.

Also talked to Sean Hewitt who sounded pretty down having had to pick up the pieces following the introduction of a new computer system at his place of work. The new system was promised to speed things up and make them more productive. What was originally a simple five minute job now takes an age. That's progress.

Today was spent mostly in County Durham talking to the owner of a CD retailing business with whom we (the day job), are working in partnership. There's something altogether more civilised about having a meeting in someone's kitchen than in a sterile office somewhere. Highly productive and potentially exciting - which is always a good thing and not nearly as common as you would hope it to be in my line of work.

Later in the day I also talked to Russell Mills who, along with the wonderfully box-jacketed Ian Walton, has an exhibition currently on at the Ad Hoc Gallery in Wallsend. We hatched a plan to have another chin-wag later in the week.

Plans also in place to meet up with the wok-smuggler of Walker aka Chris Wilson. We're going to do a trawl of amendments and minor alterations for the book. Phew !

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Chance Encounters In York

By the time the boys get in from school, get changed, have something to eat and then do their homework, there seems to be very little left of the evening. They usually go to bed at around 8.30 p.m. and we read a story. But this leaves them very little time to play with their chums during the week.

Instinctively, I want to allow them to stay up a bit later. Yet I've found that if they go to bed at 9.00 p.m. then they are too tired for the morning. As it is they have to get up by 7.15 a.m. at the latest in order to catch the bus to school.

Last night, once they went to bed I dealt with a shed load of e-mail hearing from Toby Howard of ET fame and RF along the way. Also sent off some content ideas to Markus Reuter in Germany. Markus and the Centrazoon team have bravely taken on the work in supporting www.inthecourtofkingcrimson.com which will be coming to a place in cyber-space in the near future. Watch this space for details.

Also hard from Tony Marshall and his wife Clare, who got back to Norwich safe and sound after their visit to the North. Lover's of synchronicity will like the e-mail I received from him last night.

Sid Thank you and Debbie for a wonderful time, I am looking forward to the next time already.

After we left you on Tuesday Morning we went to see "The Angel Of The North" as we haven't seen it close up before and then we went on to York trying desperately trying to prolong our holiday. As we were sitting stationary stuck in the traffic in York, a man came out of a shop. "Bloody Hell, I know him and I don't believe it" I announced to Mrs Marshall. I don't think you knew that man but his name is Glynne, a long time ago his girlfriend was called Gay.

You may not immediately recognise the name but Gay moved into your old room upstairs at KG. After Gay moved out Glynne moved in. Play spooky Twilight Zone music.

I left your house, after seeing you, someone I hadn't seen for 25 years and within hours I'd seen someone from the same house also from 25 years ago in a place I was in purely by chance.To paraphrase Victor Meldrew "I don't believe it". I am gobsmacked, amazed and somewhat unnerved.
Tony

Listening to. . .Like The Milk by Mr.McFall's Chamber

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Scary. Very scary.

Wild weather blowing about the place - a high tide and grey skies clashing against each other.

Talked to my sister Lesley on the phone last night. She's feeling pretty stressed by the combination of international events and domestic matters. In the emotional swell, these two separate entities have become fused and linked.

Over the last few days the news has begun to sound like the bulletins from a sci-fi movie about the end of the world. Troops massing, borders closing, economic uncertainty, talks of crusades and holy wars. Scary. Very scary.

The news also tells of the proliferation of hate crimes on sections of the Muslim community in the UK. Timely as ever, Jakko Jakszyk sent me this e-mail.

Just came back from Pete Blegvad's house. He's co written some tunes on John Paul Jones new Discipline release and also painted the cover. Named, as it is, after one of his lyrics 'The Thunder Thief.'

When Pete was here, day after day at the end of last year working on his 'Choices Under Pressure,' he would frequently go home to Shepherds Bush by cab. He got quite friendly with one of the cabbies that took him home regularly. When he first got in to his cab he turned his cassette player down. 'Don't do that says Pete 'It sounds interesting' They got chatting.

This guy, in his late 20's, was from Afghanistan and he told Pete that if he was caught by the Taliban forces playing this tape would be arrested. Caught playing music twice and he would be shot. Hence his relocation to quiet west London. Last night he took 3 guys to Twickenham. They beat the shit out of him because he a Muslim and from Afghanistan. He is now paralysed form the neck down.

Debbie sat last night reading through the latest proofs of the book scouring the text for typo's. Good news is that she said reading the text made her want to listen to the relevant tracks. So we did. Having listened to a couple of tracks from each era, Debbie commented how utterly different it all sounded from each other and yet, it couldn't be anybody else but King Crimson. Which made me wish I'd put that in the book.

E-mails also received regarding the Tome from Robert and Bill B. Also received an e-mail from Markus Reuter who has wasted no time seizing the initiative in respect for the web site for the book.

I reserved the domain name today in order to not have somebody else do so before you/we act. Things like that have happened before. The domain name is now in safe hands. If somebody else is to host it I will simply transfer the domain name to them/you. I thought it would make sense to make sure the domain name can't go to somebody else.

Talk soon!

A building / work in progress page will be constructed presently.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Meet The Marshalls

A lovely day and evening spent in the company of Tony Marshall and his wife Clare. It's been 25 years since Tony and I last saw each other and we had a lot to catch up on. Most of the day was spent locked into the five W's - the who what where when and why of life.

It's always a bonus when you get on with a chum's partner and after ten minutes in her company, I felt as though I'd known Clare for ages. Another bonus was Tony insisting that he take me over in his car to pick up the boys from school. The boys of course were thrilled at the prospect of being chauffeured back to Whitley Bay.

Once Debbie joined us (sometime after six in the evening) the party was really ready to get underway. I cooked up some new potatoes and a mixture which included a fried onion, diced chicken and olives swizzled around in a pan, drizzled in honey and tarragon and served onto a bed of leaf salad with a garlic / olive oil dressing. I don't know what it's called and I can't even recall how it came to be part of the small but perfectly formed Smith cooking repertoire - but it is.

After doing the boys' ongoing bedtime story - A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett - we all retired to the red room and yakked away until the wee hours. This morning they have to drive all the way to Norwich. Meanwhile the boys and I are about to exchange the snug cozy fireglow for the wild, wild weather which rages outside. Urrgh.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Joe is 8!

Today my youngest son Joseph was eight years old. Big celebrations and general merriment ensued. In fact this was the second day of celebrations because last night we had a huge birthday feast ahead of the day itself so that Granny could be involved. So the Green room was packed to the gills with wrapping paper, laughter and songs. The latter included most of Joesph's favourites which include Nowhere Man, It's All Too Much, Yellow Submarine and other Beatles tracks.

I should have compiled them all onto a tape but frankly I forgot. So I did the DJ act. This week Tom has been learning about the Beatles in his history classes at school. Later in the night, as the boys and I played in the red room, I put on Debbie's vinyl copy of Liege And Lief. Tom and Joe nodded in the direction the album as I slipped it out and said "Gosh Dad didn't CD's used to be big."

Called over today to spend a happy afternoon with Chris Wilson. He got the proofs of the book off to Sean Body at Helter Skelter yesterday and I took delivery of a set of my own. I think it looks great. I hope Helter Skelter will be just as thrilled with it all as I am. I await word from them with baited breath.

In Newcastle I picked up the newly revamped My Aim Is True by Elvis Costello for Debra. She loves the album and her old vinyl copy gave up the ghost a long, long time ago. She was very happy with the product and as we cooked tonight's meal bounced around the kitchen in a manner which would have made any observers fear for our sanity. Nick Lowe is one of my great heroes and I love his production work on this album.

Unlike Debra, I was never a huge fan of punk and new wave. It's arrival coincided with my passion for atonal avant-garde scrummaging by the Tristan Honsinger, Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Misha Mengleberg, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, et al. Listening to the visceral edge and terrifying noise of that lot made the curled-lip posturing of punk seem like a Sunday school outing.

That said, I have to confess the odd snippet of song did creep past the avant-guards. Thus Alison by Costello is something of a timeless classic for me.

Tomorrow is the Great North Run - a huge marathon which runs from the Tyne Bridge through to South Shields. Thousands take part and one competitor will be Tony Marshall. Regular readers will recall that Tony and I used to be mates but haven't seen each other since just after the release of The Clash's first album - not that the two things are connected of course. He will be staying over for a night after the rigours of the race and I'm really looking forward to meeting him again after all these years.

Friday, September 14, 2001

A Self Fulfilling Prophecy

I'm sure there are many of us who let silence into their lives on a daily basis. Whether through systematic established practice or simply by default, there's no doubt that silence can help us find a point from which it's possible to look anew at our situation.

Today in the UK and elsewhere around the world, three minutes of silence were observed. In Whitley Bay most shops closed or stopped trading, building sites came to a halt, people stood still in the street - even the traffic seemed to grow quiet.

On Wednesday as I sat with tears in my eyes, the children asked if the World War had started. Certainly Bush and Powell's pronouncements to this effect have a chilling air of prophecy about them.

In the days and weeks ahead the qualities of leadership and judgement of will be tested as never before.

The real challenge will be to find the courage to break out of the instinctual desire for retribution. History tells us that Government's and regimes the world over - regardless of ideology or faith - find forgiveness, the most elusive and politically unpalatable of options available to them.

As the understandable demand for action and vengeance gathers pace, we mustn't lose sight of how precarious things are and how much worse they can get.

How best should a civilised society respond in the face of such a ravenous evil ? How do we satisfy the needs and requirements of justice without descending into base and naked revenge ?

Unless we find the answer to those questions, the terrorists will surely have won a complete and terrifying victory.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

The Last Package Out of New York For A While

Chris Wilson is thinking of charging me ground rent given the amount of time I've been spending at his gaff. Late this afternoon, I called in with the latest set of amendments. His eyes looked like they'd been left out in the rain. He'd been up until a little after five a.m. working on the last minute additions to the visual side of the book.

The main job was scanning in a poster which dates back from 1969 sent to me by Ian McDonald. It arrived first thing on Wednesday morning. When the courier delivered the two bulky parcels (the poster and a scrapbook) in their Fed Ex boxes, he said to me "Well this'll be one of the last packages out of New York for a while."

I talked to Ian last night before leaving for Chris Wilson's. He told me that he only just managed to get the items out before the Fed Ex office closed on Monday night.

The poster in question was designed and silk-screened by Barry Godber and was fly-posted around London by McDonald and Sinfield and played a part in getting the buzz going about the band. Printed on reflective silver paper, it's very much an artefact of its time and given that Godber only printed one hundred, as rare as rocking horse shit.

Chris has done the honours and the thing looks like DB's, nestling in amongst the text. Also in last night was a shed-load of stuff from Ioannis at Worldwide Images which Chris has managed to slip in - but only just. The finished article goes to Helter Skelter tomorrow. Another step forward.

Back home . . .the shock wave of horror from America continues to hit everyone over here as the tales of individual tragedy begin to emerge. And tonight I hear that Leonard Slatkin has chosen Barber's Adagio for Strings to be played as part of the Last Night Of The Proms concert on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Pain And Loss

I was out last night with Chris Wilson. We'd been working on the picture editing side of the book. Later, we sat in his local pub overlooking the River Tyne, staring at the horrific images from New York on the television. Debbie joined us later and mentioned that Ian McDonald had rang. Thankfully he's fine.

This morning, the children asked if the World War had started.

The enormity of what has happened in America is beyond belief. Given the sense of pain and loss which we feel - even at this distance - I truly cannot imagine how people must be feeling in the wake of this atrocity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Bouremouth To Nashville

A beautiful smouldering sunrise. . .faint orange turning to a molten yellow within ten minutes.

Spoke to Peter Giles yesterday who has forwarded details of the forthcoming Brondesbury Tapes CD which is to be released on Voiceprint in the near future.

It features a good twenty minutes of material not covered on the recent Metaphormosis vinyl release (now on the verge of being sold out he tells me). I have to admit to a slight swelling of the breast as it was me that put Peter Giles in touch with Rob at Voiceprint.

More work on editing pictures with Chris Wilson. And more tonight as well. It's hard trying to get the balance right but it's worth all the hard work as the book will look great. More work on the index. Dull as ditch-water but vital.

A query on the guest book from Jon regarding the scope of the book. Well it starts of in Bournemouth in the 1950s and ends with KC and Tool in the 00s. Imagine someone wanting to show you a 360 degree panorama but swinging you around by your ankles in order to see it all.

The book which is now called In The Court Of King Crimson will be published in a limited edition hardback but I gather this will only be available directly from Helter Skelter.

Sunday, September 09, 2001

Proofs & Pencils

Up very early this morning having taken delivery of the proofs of the book courtesy of canny Chris Wilson. The thing looks great although I've noticed that the illustrations tend to peter out as the book moves toward the present day. Bottom line is that there are less photographs to chose from of the later period Crim.

However it makes the book look unbalanced so I think when I meet up with Chris next week we'll have to lose some of the early period photographs in order to try and even things out a little.

Peter Giles & SS aka The Little & Large of Progdom earlier in the year


Talked to Peter Giles yesterday. He tells me that an enhanced CD release of GG&F material is currently being prepared. Called The Brondesbury Tapes it features loads of material not included on the recent Metaphormosis vinyl album which has all but sold out.

Peter also agreed to be one of the guests at the book launch which I'm hoping to arrange at some point in November. On the same point, Ian McDonald and I kept missing each other on the telephone last night. So we'll try again tonight.

As I sit reading through the proofs, the clouds are a heavy ochre tinge to them. The November Suite accompanies my reading emphasising the tranquillity of this time in the morning - a little after six. Tom and Joe are up and about at around 8.00. We've no fixed plans for the day but obviously I'm going to have to wade through the text with my pencil.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

A Blind Date With Sean Hewitt

Well I had my head lanced yesterday at the Dentist. Good news my teeth are in great shape. Bad news is my gums are mightily pissed off and are jumping ship. Good news is I don't have an abscess. Bad news is that I have a massive build-up of tartar (?) which is digging into the gum. It's this that has been causing the painful inflammation and consequent Smith histrionics.

You know you're old when you worry about whether or not your dentist's mother knows where he is. A nice guy but really young. Anyway . . .that's me done for the next week or so.

Got a tape from Sean Hewitt today. One side and a bit is the new Bjork album. All big production and wispy, fribbly singing. The overwhelming sound is that of a big budget being bashed and resonating throughout every nook and cranny. Here and there, there are great melodies but I do wish she would just let go and sing a bit more than she does. A great voice when it gets going. Too much faffing about for my ears.

Much more interesting however is the rest of side two. Sean's tacked together a collection of items which I'm going to try and identify. Long suffering readers will recall John Smallwood inflicting a similar CD upon me. Then it was all Italian progster's thrungingabout. Now. . it's er. . .well I don't know what it is. . that's the point.

Blind Date courtesy of Sean Hewitt. . .

Notes written as the tracks play. (answers in italics supplied the next day)

1. Big bouncy production with much horns and snappy edits and joyous African voices. Or are they Indian ? Or both. When presented with an anonymous ethnic voice, I take the lazy way out and say Youssou N'dour. Certainly those bass grooves have a Gabriel-ish tinge to them. Great stuff.

DR HUKWE ZAWOSE & MICHAEL BROOK: Assembly (from a work-in progess album for Real World; this track came from the Real World Notes E-CD12).

2. Ahh. . .Sean has thrown me an easy underarm here. Peter Gabriel . . . Oh it's just slipped out of the usual Gabriel groovy angst and into a shimmering middle eight. Delightful. Lovely. . .and it's gone again back into the amiable, understated shuffle. Ho hum. Gabriel sounds like he's coasting here. Don't know which album this is from.

AFRO CELT SOUND SYSTEM FEATURING PETER GABRIEL: When You're Falling (radio edit)

3. Great bass intro and a voice that's taken many years to get to this point in the studio. Blind Boys Of Alabama ? A great performance full of sparks. Nice stuff whoever it is.

THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA: Run On For A Long Time

4. Sci-fi theremin woobling over big beats of chunky drums and a tabla ? Cut up and collage words . . .and even a reference to William Burroughs in the lyrics. No its bongos not a tabla. . Peteluma . . .Montezuma ? It's a low-slung funky groove that contains many surprising twists and turns. Somewhere between Living Colour and Kid Creole and The Coconuts. Nah . . .don't know this at all.

THE HEADS FEATURING ANDY PARTRIDGE: Papersnow

5. Strangulated guitar being flattened in a steel yard. Vast clunking machinery finally turns into a chord sequence. This is a serious piece of furrowed brow guitar playing. Sounds like Belew actually although it's nothing I know. Blimey . . it is Belew. It has to be Belew. The way those notes are bent and spoogled. . .The main theme is repeated amidst the sound of rushing traffic and metallic roaring and the industrial pounding maintains a steady and orderly march.

ADRIAN BELEW: Predator Feast (from Coming Attractions)


6. Midi strings . . .sounds like the soundtrack to a movie. And very like the opening sounds contained in Dinosaur. This must be Belew. I've not heard The Guitar As Orchestra so maybe . . .hang on . . I remember hearing a Zappa album which consisted of synclavier strings . . .this sounds way too "straight" for Zappa, you know not clever clever enough. So if THIS is Belew then who did the track before ?

ADRIAN BELEW: Laurence Harvey's Despair (from The Guitar As Orchestra)

7. Not sure if this is a continuation or not. Lots of diverse instruments opening up quick time like flowers when the sun light hits them. The clarinet sounds real enough though so maybe it's different. A cymbalom glistening. Maybe this is Zappa doing the orchestral thang ! There's a restless, roving melody that seems to pass from one instrument to another. The odd dissonance here and there gives it piquancy. Bits remind me of Zappa's For Calvin from The Grand Wazoo album. Great trombones glowering around the bottom end. Eventually disappearing into a glistening light. Big applause!!!

FRANK ZAPPA/ENSEMBLE MODERN: Get Whitey (from The Yellow Shark)

8. "When you see an accident do not turn your head and look away" sings the vocalist. It's a chamber ensemble . . .lots of grunting cellos and straining violins. Is that David Byrne crooning ? Yep. David Byrne it is. Haven't a clue which album its from though. Used to love DB and Talking Heads. Reading the TH biog made me re-visit all my TH albums. "Naked" is amongst my favourites.

DAVID BYRNE: The Accident (from Look Into The Eyeball)

9. Strident driving theme. . .marimba's and trumpets give a military air to the thing. Sounds like a tension builder in a movie. Oh it's gone. Blimey that was short and er. . sweet. Haven't a clue

FRANK ZAPPA: Run Home Slow Theme (from The Lost Episodes)

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Bad Review Nightmares

Small details, tales, dates, anecdotes, corrections, rebuttals, clarifications, deletions, additions, italics, parentheses, brackets, mislaid e-mails, detritus, debris - all slowly orbit around my head. No matter how many times I grasp at them, yet more spills away, wobbling off out of the immediate reach of my febrile bonce. Ever tried to pick up mercury with swollen fingers ?

Of course it doesn't help that one half of my face has swollen up like a balloon - on the inside. It's like all the little addenda and sundry items to check up on have built up, come to a head (mine) and burst out in a pustular sludge.

Standard nightmares:

Unchecked typo's
Peter Sinfield played VCS3 on Earthbound
Greg Lake has a plutonium bike
Captions for pictures indulge in random time travel
Right to left or was it left to right ?
I'll never forget Whatsisname.
Whatsisname ?
The wrong credit in the right place
Did the public really need to know that ?
The public really need to know that !
Richard Frudge was born in Wimourne.
Polytechnic NOT University

Latest copy of Mojo reviews the book :
"Whilst Smith's diligent research is to be commended it's a pity that the book is laden with over-amorous, gushing prose which would have been rejected by a sixth form magazine."

Latest copy of The Wire reviews the book;

"Overblown and tedious, at least the book has this in common with its subject. A missed opportunity."

I wake up and it begins again.

Monday, September 03, 2001

The Romance of Dentistry

I've managed to get a dental appointment for this coming Wednesday. My head hurts. I'm lucky in that I am someone who has no fear of the dentist although I can vividly recall the first time as a child of being given gas prior to some difficult dental intervention. I think I was about five or six. Just thinking about it produces a sour memory of the abrasive, searing taste of the gas.

Funnily enough, attending the dentist on my own for the first time was a rite of passage. Normally my mother would always take me. Then at the age of ten or eleven, when my check-up was due she asked if I wanted to go by myself. I said yes and did. I walked along, I felt a growing confidence with every step.

As I sat in the reception waiting for my turn I noticed with some pride that I was the only child of my age there on my own. Untouched by the chill condensation of uneasiness and nerves which settled upon the other kids in the room, I calmly leafed through magazines - the adult ones mind you - and waited my turn. A very patient patient.

In between leaving the house and returning, I had entered a subtlety different world. I was still a kid - shy Colin who would blush every time he got on a crowded bus - and yet with that short walk things began to change.

On the book front Hugh O'Donell at DGM mailed me up a couple of photographs I'd overlooked when I scouring his drawers a couple of weeks ago. Still waiting on a couple of images from other sources before the drawbridge is pulled up this time next week.

Thanks for the many suggestions which I've received in respect of web site content. All contributions gratefully received and acknowledged. Right now I need to get a domain name registered pronto - although pronto in this case means after pay day in a couple of weeks time.

Heard today from Sean Body at Helter Skelter. The book takes another tentative step forward. He's happy with the gigography and discography I've supplied him. Sean B forwarded the whole lot to Archbishop Kebab (aka Chris Wilson) who's working round the clock to get the whole thing looking, if not ship shape, then something akin to a book. A bloody good looking book at that.

Chris tells me that the central strip of album covers which had been dropped from the cover design has now gone back on. Chris and I had grown to prefer the new design sans strip but Sean B wants it in. And so he shall. It was very popular with the many visitors who came to take a peep at the old design (the TxT link at the top of the page.)

Listening to . . .
No Man . . .various
National Health. . .various
Planxty the black album
God Speed You Black Emperor
Miles Davis Quintet ESP
Miles Davis Bitches Brew Box Set

Sunday, September 02, 2001

Fatuous Commentary

Now I have to confess that unlike my DGM diarist colleague Mr. Wallace, my knowledge and interest in football is what might be politely described as being "minimal". So I hadn't realised that there was a football match (that's soccer) between England and Germany on television last night. The game was in progress when I wandered into the front room to turn the TV off. And then Germany scored. A German victory a forgone conclusion.

Feeling aloof from it all, I cast a half interested eye on it all and to my surprise, began to become drawn into cut and thrust of the match. Indeed, I started to enjoy the thing - even the fatuous commentary which has been rightly lampooned for many a year on the comedy circuit.

I even let out an involuntary howl when England equalised and from there on I was hooked until the end of the match - which concluded in a 5 - 1 win to England. I felt no patriotic fervour or triumphal air-punching. However, I was aware of having been entertained for over 90 minutes. This is a first.

Completely unrelated, I notice I have the beginnings of what feels like an abscess building up inside my mouth. A visit to the dentist will have to be on the agenda this week.

Starting to draft up ideas for the In The Court Of King Crimson website. At this stage it's nothing more than a bit of paper on my desk but I'd like it to include some or all of the following things.

Interview material and commentary that never made it into the final version of the book, along with some of the pictures which will inevitably fall by the way side after Chris Wilson has done his work. I'd also like it to include a track of the day and randomly generated daily quote as well. Any other ideas ?

Saturday, September 01, 2001

Infected

Blimey that was a narrow escape. I got infected with the Sircam virus which was using my old Virgin net account to mail out most of the files on my hard-drive out to all and sundry - well all those on the old Virgin account address book. If you had an e-mail from me using my old Virgin addy with a file attachment then it was the Sircam worm getting up to no good.

Apologies to anyone who has been infected as a result of this little booger. Lucy Shortis, who works for Tom Phillips, received 147 e-mails from me. When she phoned me you can imagine how miffed she was.

Met up with Chris Wilson yesterday and took a look a look through the book now with added photographs. I have to confess that I was highly agitato when Chris gave me the proofs. Even though they were printed on cheapie computer paper they still looked like the dog's scrote.

Heard from World Leader Symes who got back to London safe and sound from his recent visit to the North. Also heard from Kim Le Ber who has a bad case of the Builder's Blues at the moment. His entire life has slipped into the vast crevice between reality and fiction that is the builder's estimate of when they'll get the job finished.

Right . . .I'm off to deal with a ton of outstanding e-mail.

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