Sunday, 27 December 2015

Blue Planet & Cinderella interviews with Art Bausch, Peter Wassenaar & Betty Raadgever


Download at [mf] or [mg] or [yd]
password:  tdats




First posted here on Saturday, December 5, 2015.
The Netherlands was surely home to many rocking pop bands back in the early days, and Blue Planet was one of the best. Presented here is all the music they recorded. Something of a TDATS tradition now, we have another focus on a Dutch band that only made a few 45s. Blue Planet was cultivated in The Hague, a European rock mecca to rival London and Hamburg in its heyday. Their singles possess heaviness, deceptively wrapped in a hook-laden glam/pop disguise, a talent that many other Dutch bands of the time had. One major quality of BP which jumps out is the vocals of Ron Bausch. They have an emotive strength, but also vulnerability, that gets you straight away. Reminding maybe of Rod Stewart, minus the whiskey-soaked gravel.

Included below is an interview I conducted with the drummer of Blue Planet, Art Bausch. He was really helpful and more than happy to answer anything I asked. He has great enthusiasm for the times and says that he really enjoyed every minute of Blue Planet, even though after the big break of touring with Golden Earring, the band didn't realise its potential in the end, and there were a few sad consequences of the rock n roll life style. He still plays today. I also got a few answers regarding the early days from bassist Peter Wassenaar. Peter in particular painted a picture of the The Hague and Scheveningen being exciting and heady places to be for players and fans, with happening clubs like The Scala, Club 192 and The Flying Dutchman.

As is the case with other talented Dutch singles bands that have appeared here before, including Cobra (Vol111) and Panda (Vol119), some Blue Planet members are associated with Dutch bands that had greater success, and made albums. Guitarist Aad van der Kreeft was in InCrowd, The George Cash band, Big Wheel, Twelve O'Clock and later, Think Tank. He currently plays in Electric Blues (link). Drummer Art Bausch was in Barrelhouse, Trail, later in Livin' Blues, and still plays with The Oscar Benton Band. Bassist Peter Wassenaar was later in Galaxy Lin. All these guys have played in many other bands and musical projects up to the current day. Aad in particular, is an admired guitarist, and you only have to hear his understated, fluid ability, adding to every one of BP's songs, to see why.

I must say many thanks to Marc Emmerik of Dutch band Vitamin X (fb), who has always been a great help with this blog and in this case pointed me to some great newspaper articles and translations! Alex Gitlin's Nederpop Files (link) were also very useful as usual.


Blue Planet Discography

1970
I'm Going Man I'm Going / Nothing in the World
Philips 6075 105
'I'm Going Man I'm Going' was the band's first release and it was their most successful one too, reaching no 16 in the charts. It is grinding, melodic and memorable, Ron Bausch's vocals are immediately arresting and invoke sympathy. Flipside 'Nothing in the World' is heavier, starting out with a stomping riff and great guitar hooks from Aad.


Boy / Climb the Mountain
Philips 6075 110
'Boy' is another memorable track which has a story to tell of a young guy learning the ways of the world. Flipside 'Climb the Mountain' is a slower pensive tune which again highlights Aad's great double-tracked electric and acoustic guitar skills.



1971
Times and Changes / Please Don't Shake Me Baby
Philips 6075 128
The final Blue Planet single goes in a different direction and contains two upbeat country-flavoured tracks, with 'Please Don't Shake Me Baby' having the most grit. US Country rock had an influence in The Netherlands around this time.


Cinderella
From Town to Town / The Love That We've Got
Imperial 5C 006-24448
Although the cover shows a full, mostly-female band called Cinderella, all the music on this unique single was played by Art, Aad and Peter of Blue Planet. It was written by Betty Raatgever who started the band Cinderella. Both sides are fantastic, including a richly-shimmering folk ballad with a stella closing solo from Aad and a heavy glam stomper which could be mistaken for one of Blondie's heavier tracks.



Interview with Blue Planet drummer, Art Bausch

Following is a phone interview I took with Art about six months ago. Since then he has come back from a successful international run of shows with the Oscar Benton Band.

Art Bausch in recent times
Me: Hi Art.

Art: First I want to say it’s very nice that you from England are so interested in this period of music and Dutch bands. Back then in the ‘70s we were in our twenties and we learnt it from the old guys.

Me: It was all still relatively close to the days of the beginning of Rock n’ Roll in the 40s and 50s. Things hadn’t changed too much at that point. I’ve always been drawn towards the sound of the ‘70s, no digital technology in those days, you had valves and organic-sounding instruments and production.

Art: Yes, and it was very loud. Next to me I had 400watts bass equipment and on the other side I had 400watts guitar. The old Marshal amps. And my brother the singer had a 600 watt installation, we didn’t have a PA system at that time, but the drummer (myself) wasn’t mic’d up. Because it cost a fortune for drum heads and sticks and foot pedals, cymbals, because I just ruined them competing with the sound next to me, but, it worked haha.

Me: I noticed the BP singer had the same surname as you but I wasn’t completely sure that you were related.

Art: Ron Bausch was my older brother.

Me: How did you get into being a musician in the first place?

Art: Ah well, I can speak for my brother too. My father was a military man. He was an airplane mechanic. He was also a very talented young man, he came from Indonesia, from a family with money. He played classical violin. He came to Holland just before the war broke out in 1939. Just before he came to Holland at the age of fifteen, he had a scholarship arranged to study violin in the Hague but a week before he arrived by boat in Holland hell fell with his left hand through a window and hurt it so badly that violin was no option anymore. So he signed up for the army, pretending to be older than fifteen. So he went from playing music in to the army; he never spoke about that time very much but it wasn’t a very nice time.

So he came through the army first to Scotland, he was on a boat to protect the transport on the ocean from Murmansk in Russia to Scotland and then all those Indonesian guys came to Holland after the war, they still were in the army, so that’s how my father met my mother because she was a nurse somewhere where all those guys were, and they got married and this is the result. In the army he played guitar, piano, he sang and he had a big band. There was always music from all kinds of sources in the house where I grew up, from classical to Elvis. It comes from my father. When I was thirteen I had my first amateur band.

Jan Frederik Bausch, second from left, 1947

Me: So you started out as a drummer originally?

Art: Yes. As a small boy I was sitting next to the drummer from my father’s big band, we were in the Dutch part of New Guinea. My father rehearsed with his big band every Sunday in an airplane hangar, I was sitting next to the drummer with my sticks at 5 or 6 years of age.

Me: Were you in bands with your brother at the age of thirteen?

Art: No, my brother was a couple of years older than me, he was a very talented guy, he discovered for me Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley, Otis Reading and the old blues guys, that’s what I learnt from him. That was my start, which was a good one. Blue Planet was my first proper band, when I was just eighteen. Peter the bass player was seventeen. My brother and the guitar player met and they had a thing going while I was just playing at an amateur level. They were already rehearsing and working on the heavy stuff, Zeppelin, Free, and then one Sunday evening they came while I was playing with my band at that time in a very small venue in Leiden,  I was still living with my mother at the time, and suddenly I saw Peter and my brother and Art the guitar player there on the side of the stage and then I knew they were going to ask me. That was exciting.

I was not the first choice of drummer. They were not happy with the first guy, Jack Wolf. He wasn’t in to their groove, I met him shortly afterwards and he was very angry. Ron and Aad had a very clear idea of what they wanted by did not always agree with each other, they were both very talented guys and both had big egos which often came into conflict with each other. But it worked for a short while, we only existed for two years, three months.

Me: What clubs/gigs were you going to back then? What was the life like then?

Peter: The Hague was rock city #1 in the '60s (link) , with clubs and bars were everybody met after gigs, like The Scala, Club 192, The Factory and De Drie Stoepen [The Three Sidewalks].
In The Scala, drummers, bass players and guitarist all had their own corners. In Scheveningen (link)   there was The Flying Dutchman, you could see the bands playing by looking through the upper windows, the club was below street level. On the beach in Scheveningen were lots of people playing all kinds of instruments, mostly blues, I started playing the blues harp in 1966.

It was all great fun, we were young, and there were lots of things to do both in The Hague and Scheveningen. The well-known bands from The Hague were The Motions (Rudy Bennet and Robbie van Leeuwen later in Galaxy-Lin with me), Golden Earring, The Tielman Brothers, Shocking Blue.

I saw Fleetwood Mack playing in Club 192 back in 1968 even got their autographs in the dressing room, Jerremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood etc.

Blue Planet all rehearsed in a place called "Het Kraajenest" in de Jan Vossensteeg in Leiden, among other local bands from Leiden. The reason for forming this band, was the first album of Led Zeppelin, in a week we played all the songs from the album. Also of inspiration were J Geils band and Love, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape.

Me: Why the name "Blue Planet"?

Peter: During that period we all watched rockets go into space and, also to the moon (Bowie sang it; "planet earth is blue, and there's nothing"….in Space Oddity, later that year). It was a catchy and short name. Here in Holland bands changed their names; The Golden Earrings became Golden Earring etc.

Art: We started as opening band for Golden Earring. Their first appearance after their first American tour, and they had just changed from being a commercial band to what they are nowdays. They were getting very heavy, and our manager at that time arranged their homecoming gig in The Hague which was sold out of course, and we were the opening act. We played only for 35-40 minutes, to an audience of 2000 people. Bearing in mind that I had just come from playing gigs in Leiden to only 50 people. When we finished our set, George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen from Earring asked us to play their whole tour which was in 1970, it was 36 gigs in a row, with one evening off, at that time I learnt much.

Being professional is what I learnt from those guys. They were big and they had hits. Me and Peter were just enjoying the hard work. We had no money at all. My mother kept the band alive by feeding us and buying us equipment, we got a loan from my mother for a drum kit, that’s the way it was. The start of Blue Planet was just like a fairy tale, Golden Earring’s manager was also their producer, he said that BP was special, we had a sound, and he recorded "I’m going Man I’m Going" and produced our three singles. This guy was so big in the music world, he knew “This is gonna work”, and it worked, we went into the hit parade, and we had work.

Me: How did you get the gig with Golden Earring in the first place? That’s quite an achievement for a young new band.

Art: Because our manager at that time, Henk van Leeuwen, came from The Hague and he knew all those guys. He was very smart and he had a view. We played all weekend, Monday was our day off and Tuesday until Thursday we rehearsed, starting each day at 9am and leaving at 5pm. He told us we have to work hard. So after the Golden Earring tour we went to the studio and recorded “I’m Going Man” and “Nothing In The World”. The machine started working from Fred Haayen’s side (Earring manager) and the booking agency, and we had at that time the pirate music stations out at sea.

Freddy told us “this single is too long” and we said “this is what we have, we are not going to make a sale from two minutes and twenty seconds”. In the end everybody on the radio stations was playing I’m Going Man I’m Going haha. I still meet people when i’m out playing who ask me about my past and what my first band was, and I tell them I was in Blue Planet and they say “woo man, that was the first single I bought” haha.

Me: Was one of those pirate stations Radio Veronica?

Art: Yes, and the Red Bullet agency, Freddy Haayen, they had all kinds of business connections, and they were also rebels, who understood the need to get this music out there. They were very smart, they made a lot of money but also gave a lot of bands the chance to be on the air.

Me: Was it Freddy that negotiated Blue Planet signing to the Philips label? Many other Dutch bands I like were also on Philips.

Art: Yes at that time they were very progressive.

Me: Did Fred have a lot of input in your recording of the singles?

Art: Yes. First you give in a tape with the number and you say this is what we’re gonna do. Fred was very good in feeling the energy of the band and he didn’t want to change too much, he was very good.

Me: Did he suggest things in the studio to improve songs or did he come up with original ideas?

Art: He added the mellotron in I’m Going Man I’m Going. We were the first band with a mellotron as it was a new thing then. It was in the studio and he suggested using it.

Me: Who was playing the mellotron?

Art: It was a well known jazz pianist Cees Schrama.

Me: Did you talk to Cees much or did he just come in and do his own thing?

Art: It was different at those times, when those guys came in there was more animosity. He was not a studio player, you know, “Let me hear the number”, “OK, I think I do this, maybe that”. And we were all there, yeah it was quite an experience. We were living as rebels in hippy times, Rock n’ Roll...

Me: And he was from the more old-fashioned way of doing things?

Art: You could think at the time “You work in an office”, that’s what we thought, everybody with a suit was an office guy haha.

Me: Can you tell me about the 1970 TV clip of "I'm Going Man I'm Going"?

Art: It was late 1970, this was a promotion project named "Beat Behind The Dikes" to help Dutch groups to go international, directed by Bob Rooyens. It was recorded in Hilversum, and also outside on lake IJsselmeer.


After looking into "Beat Behind The Dikes", I found that other bands appearing included Golden Earring, Shocking Blue and Earth & Fire.



Me: So we have spoken quite a lot about your first single, do you have any favourite songs, like Boy or Climb The Mountain?

Art: Climb The Mountain is my favourite, of the ones we recorded. My brother came up with the lyrics, and he sings it very nice.

Me: Yes I do like your brother’s emotive singing on all the tracks, and his lyrical stories, one of the great things about the band. Who was the main song writer?

Art: My brother came with the rough guitar parts, then Aad would come in with suggestions. After that it would go to the rehearsal room where the whole band would have equal say in finishing it off. Everybody was at that time equal. Like I’m Going Man I’m Going, the first two chords are mine. And then the rest came, Pete had ideas....It was the new era, “We are all equal, and we are gonna change the world” and all that bullshit haha.

Me: Well, it worked for a while at least I guess!

Art: Yes, it worked for two years, don’t forget at that age there was a lot of dope going on, it was almost free, a couple of guys in the band enjoyed it very much...

Me: A bit too much?

Art: Yeah, Yeah and they went on to LSD, and speed, and blow. Everyone was going to change the world on LSD. I’ve been there once but I left, I thought “This is a crazy world, this is not my thing”.

Me: Yes abusing drugs usually ends badly.

Art: At that time, for example in Holland, Golden Earring was a totally clean band, they didn’t even get drunk. It was all healthy. And look at them now, they are on top of the world.

Me: Yes it’s respectable to be able to do that really. It’s very easy to give in to these temptations, especially when you’re in that atmosphere, of clubs and groupies and what have you.

Art: Yeah, and a lot of people come up to you “Eh, Eh do you want a pill, do you want a sniff?”. Not for me. That was that time you know, it was total anarchy.

Me: Sure, much more so than now.

Art: It’s also important for our story, as especially my brother and Aad, were doing a lot of speed which is a lot of fun when you are young and you can go for a day or four or five but it wears you out you know, and then they were finished, but there was drive in the band, we thought we were the best in the world you know. “We’re gonna make it”, but reality says we didn’t play sixteen times a month, we played four or five times.

Me: You think that's one of the reasons you didn’t last very long in the end was you weren’t playing enough?

Art: Yeah there was a lack of money, and those two egos of Ron and Aad were too big. They were quite arrogant.

Me: They used to argue?

Art: Yes. Later when the band was finished, years later, then you realise, talking to people, even now, going to my home town, people talk about “Do you remember that concert in the park? Beautiful weather, and you started at twelve o’clock in the night and you ended at three”. People remember. It had something special as a band, we gave a lot from the stage, there was energy.

Me: Can you tell us about the last single, 1971’s Times and Changes?

Art: It was our last record, it didn’t make an impression, nobody was interested. At that time there was no work, little money, our manager wasn’t getting things going. I called everybody together and said “This is the end, this is not what I want”, at that time I was very busy and I didn’t see a future. Aad was starting to get interest from other bands, and that was the moment it was finished.

1971 newspaper article, the band are quoted as saying their
third (and ultimately final) single "Times and Changes" is to
be in a less heavy style, with the goal of reaching a wider
audience. It also says that the band got good responses
playing in both France and Germany.

Me: I consider their final single to have a slight country influence, further away from hard rock than the previous two, but both the sides are great and really grow on you. American country rock was popular in Holland at the time. Bands such as Normaal and Dizzy Man's Band were introducing it into their songs. Mailer Mackenzie Band (listen) made two albums and were actually signed to US label Ampex, with reviewers comparing them to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Members of the band had a couple of links with Aad and Peter W. of Blue Planet, via The InCrowd, Big Wheel and The Motions.

Marc Joseph says of this style. "Southern/country rock was really popular in Holland in the late '60s/early '70s. Bands who were virtually unknown in the rest of the world were playing to sold out venues in Holland. Flying Burrito Brothers even received a gold album while in the US they were playing for 100-200 people."


Did Aad play on your last single single or did you have a replacement at the end?

Art: No, it was Aad. All three singles are with the same, original lineup.

Me: I read that a new guitarist came in at the end of the band's life, is that correct?

Art: Yes that is correct, our manager brought in Peter Dingemans to replace Aad. Very good player, at the time he was 22 with a wife and child, trying to decide if wanted to be a professional musician, but the magic was gone. The energy and the drive was gone.

Me: So Aad was the first guy to leave?

Art: Yes. He was a little bit older, he had played in Germany in night clubs and he had become a well respected guitarist in the Hague scene. He was also a guy who wanted to drive sports cars, and I found out years later that our manager was paying him a separate weekly wage that the rest of us did not know about. It was a dark side to Aad.

Me: Did he leave Blue Planet to go and play for another band?

Art: Yes, he played in a group who was from a record company, called Think Tank. And those guys were on the payroll. The record company had a lot of money for Think Tank, and those guys had nothing to do with Blue Planet, it was a commercial thing to make money. It was a different style of music as well, not as appealing to me.

Me: How long did the band last after Peter Dingemans joined?

Art: Around five or six months, and then it was over. It was a marriage which was doomed along with the band. A nice guy and a good player but from a different musical background.

Me: What background was he from?

Art: He was from a more hippy “be nice to each other” way of thinking and we were more arrogant. In Holland we had the nickname “the Dutch Zep”, the looks, the appearance on stage, we were the boss.

Me: So you decided that you were going to leave before the band broke up?

Art: I called everyone together and we had a meeting in a restaurant with the manager, I said “Boys it is over and I quit, I don’t see any future any more” and that was the end.

Me: Did you have songs that were never released or never recorded?

Art: No

Me: Why didn’t you make an album?

Art:  We got off to a great start with the I’m Going Man I’m Going single but didn’t keep the momentum. But of the lack of playing and lack of money, and the two egos who were in conflict all the time, we just never got to that point.

Me: Can you tell us about the equipment that you used?

Art: I had a West End hand-made drum kit which I couldn’t afford, my mother lent me the money. The drummer from Golden Earring drummer, Jaap Eggermont, who became a big producer, had a West End while we were opening for them. I went to the Hague and “West End” is the name of the street in English. There was a man who makes drum kits, a lot of Dutch drummers at that time played on a hand-made West End kit, they were beautiful, and very collectible now. I don’t have it any more.

Me: And the other guys?

Art: Peter Wassenaar had a Fender bass with an Orange combo. Aad played on a Marshal 200W double stack, he started with a Strat and then changed to a Gibson SG, a hard rock icon at the time.

Me: You mentioned Fred Haayen, he produced another band that I like called Cobra (see Vol111).

Art: Yes, same era, Cobra had this English singer, Winston Gawk. He was a very outgoing person on stage, while my brother Ron was a very introvert person, he didn’t move much, he just stood there and sang beautiful, his appearance was important to him. We played together on a few gigs, which definitely would have been at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, at least once. A big venue where you had to play.

Peter Wassenaar   -   Art Bausch   -   Ron Bausch   -   Aad Van Der Kreeft

The Leidsch Dagblad newspaper printed a story that on 10th July 1971 Blue Planet played a festival in Meerlo, with Cobra, Livin' Blues, Brainbox, Focus and Jug Session Group among others. All great bands, showing what circles Blue Planet were mixing in.

Me: Do you remember Big Wheel? I ask because their music reminds me a little of Blue Planet.

Art: Yes, Rob van der Zwan the guitarist was a very big fan of my brother, and at the same time as we had I’m Going... they had the single "If I Stay Too Long". The story on that single was that the producer sang on that single, not the singer Cyril Havermans.

Me: Cyril Havermans sang in Focus later on.

Art: Yes, that’s the circuit Blue Planet were into at that time, we did festivals with Focus, Cuby + Blizzards, Golden Earring. Are you interested in a Dutch group called the Shoes? They had 26 hits! They were older than us, they started off as young guys going to Germany when they were all around sixteen years of age, they did all the hard work you know? It’s so different now days, I was talking to a professional drummer in his thirties and he plays with whoever calls, you know, but in the early days you had a band, it was not done to play with other guys.

Me: I guess you have to be adaptable to make some money, play with a few different bands.

Art: Yes, but you lose your identity.

Me: Are you aware of a split single that Philips released with Big Wheel and Blue Planet?

Art: No, not at all! Someone clever obviously put that one out. I know the drummer Shell Schellekens a little, at that time we admired each other’s drumming.

Me: I’m Going... reached position sixteen in the Dutch hit parade, was that your biggest success?

Art: Yes, but we could have come higher up. But because of the long time it took for I’m Going to reach a high position, Philips decided not to press any more copies. In that week we could have entered the top ten, but It was not available any more.

Me: So it sold-out basically? Why would the label let that happen to a successful song?

Art: It happened because the labels become impatient, and decide to dedicate resources to newer releases. If they had been more patient with us we would have hit the top ten and things could have been very different for us...

Ron Bausch c.1976
Art: Another story also, my brother’s appetite for drugs was large and he had developed addictions. After Blue Planet he didn’t do anything. We tried to get him back on his feet, the family you know.

Me: So he was burnt out? He never worked in music again?

Art: He had plans, but he was going down and down. He never got out of it and he died at age 36 in 1983.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that Art, a cautionary tale.

Bassist Peter had this to say regarding Ron at the time they met: "Ron Bausch was a photo model and a singer with an extremely high vocal range. he was very thin and tall and drove an Austin mini cooper, he was what they then called a 'dandy', and always very sharply dressed"

The Leidsch Dagblad newspaper in 6th Februari 1976 had an article saying that Ron Bausch was in contact with record labels and had arranged a BP reunion LP. Clearly this never came to anything before he died.

Cinderella in 1971
Have you heard of the band Cinderella, that made a single in 1971?

Art: Yes, I did studio work with them on their first single, together with Aad and Peter. That was while Blue Planet was still going. I’ve been seen it on Youtube.

Me: Did you guys write the single or were you just brought it to the session?

Art: The main girl, Betty Raadgever wrote it. Their producer, Gerrit Jan Leenders, I did other work for him too. That’s how that started. My memory is good, especially of that period. Everything was so intense and every day was a party.

We take a brief diversion here to read some responses that Cinderella's Betty Raadgever kindly gave for this article.

Betty Raadgever
Me: Hi Betty, did Cinderella make any more music other than the single?

Betty: Cinderella did make more songs, but they are not recorded on a album, unfortunately. And of course I wrote a lot of songs after Cinderella for my other bands: Eyeliner and The Betty Ray Experience.

Me: I spoke to Art Bausch. I asked him about your Cinderella single and he confirmed that he, Peter and Aad Kreeft played on it. Did Blue Planet play on both sides?

Betty: Blue Planet played on both sides of the single, but I wrote the lyrics and music. Aad was a good friend of mine and we knew the other guys from Leiden/Oegstgeest, where we all came from. A very good band, Blue Planet!

Me: Did the other guys in Cinderella play or sing on it too (Renee, Bernardien, Nico)?

Betty; The singers on the record are Betty, Bernardien and Renee in the chorus. I am singing the lead, and the b-side, "The Love That We've Go", Bernardien sings. The guys from BP played all the music.

Me: Did Cinderella break up for any reason or did it change into a different band?

Betty: After four years I choose to switch bands and became lead singer of a hard rock band called "For Shame". Cinderella was over... After the hard rock period I had four other female groups: Trevira 2000, Eyeliner, Nasty Girls and The Betty Ray Experience. The other Cinderella members stopped playing in bands.

Me: Thanks Betty!

And back to Art...

Me: You were in the Oscar Benton Blues band after Blue Planet?

Art: Yes, straight after Blue Planet. We leave for Istanbul on the 9th of June 2015 and play on the 10th. Then we have a day sight-seeing and come back on the 12th. The youngest in that band is sixty three and the oldest is sixty eight haha. Can you imagine? This man made one major hit called "Bensonhurst Blues (1973)", used in French movie Pour la Peau d'un Flic (link) in 1981. He sold eleven million singles in Eastern Europe and Italy and France. But the man is not very healthy now, he is only 65. Three years ago came a German agency, saying hey, we want Oscar in Bucharest, and in Russia. Next we play in Istanbul. We will play an hour and fifteen minutes then an encore and that’s it. We are payed in advance and everything is payed for, we are very pampered. They only think we have to do is play well. It’s really fun. I originally played with those guys from 1972 to 1975, they are real friends, we kept in touch. Three years ago we got together again to play Bucharest, it would have been nice to be taken care of like that back in 1970!

I stopped being professional in 1990. The year before I was working from Monday to Friday in bands.

Me: can you name any other important bands you were in while you were a pro musician?

Art: Living Blues from 86 until 1990. I have also had my own bands, I had an old fashioned 12 piece soul band and we played the old stuff, the singer in this band was the singer in my first band from 1963, a guy from Indonesia. We did the old soul stuff you know; Otis Reading, which is the music I grew up with, is in my heart, this is what I want to do. So at the moment I am with Oscar Benton, I have another band called Johnny Feelgood (link).  This is a band that consists of six guys of similar ages who are all in other bands. My third band is called The Blues Factory (link), I am the oldest in that band with the rest aged down to 35, which makes it interesting. I am still ambitious but not to play 17 times a month.

Me: Did you ever stop playing to start a different career?

Art: Yes, in the early ‘80s I stopped because I was fed up with the whole thing, I sold my kits. But after 3-4 years I felt the urge to play again.

Me: What work did you do then?

Art: Since the late ‘80s to this day I have been a self-employed handy man. I have a van and a lot of experience by now, so I am very busy with that.

Me: Do you have any more Blue Planet stories to tell?

Art: Blue Planet was playing in Germany in the ‘70s. We all had long hair. During the day when we were just walking around we got a lot of shouts at us about being gay, and being weak. It did not happen while playing in the venues but it was from the general public, away from the scene. We were bullied on the streets.

Me: I guess it no different to anti-hippy sentiment that you could have experienced in any country back then. German, the UK, America, anywhere. Ironically German had many great rock bands back then, with long hair too haha!

Art: Our attitude was that we were going to change the world, no more politicians, we will look after ourselves. What happened?

Me: That dream didn’t work out in the end did, unfortunately.

Art: You can’t change the mechanism, you can’t change the system.

Me: You can’t change human nature. I guess things will always come back down to the same greed and self-preservation, it’s easy to see what’s wrong with that but I guess it’s also survival instinct that will always be there to some degree.

Art: I do what I can to make the world a better place and help people, that’s all you can do!

Well, many thanks to Art, Peter and Betty for making this article possible. Enjoy the music of these great musicians of the golden age of rock...
Rich

Art drumming in the Oscar Benton Band c.2013

Share via:

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Alkana "Welcome To My Paradise" interview with Danney alkana



First posted here on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

According to The Acid Archives, "Danney Alkana was formerly with Cock Robin, a California band that at times featured Misunderstood legend Glenn Ross Campbell. As something of a guitar maestro, he later had some success on the classical-inspired metal guitar circuit and released and album called "Rock the Bach" in 1999."

The Alkana album "Welcome To My Paradise" is an impressive array of inventive and textured hard rock / metal which can be as melodic and atmospheric as it can be fast and heavy. The production is great, Danney really let loose with his double-tracked guitars and his harmonised leads are all over it, but tracks like "Paradise" and "Montezuma's Sweet Revenge" are also speedy, chugging riff-fests. The rest of the band was singer Jack Rucker (later known as "Damien King I" in Warlord mk.1), Craig Williams (bass) and Don Mclaughlin (drums), they were based in San Bernardino, CA.

Q. Hi Danney. Why did you become a guitarist?

Danney: "I started playing piano at four years old, and I loved playing classical. After that, the Beatles came along, and I got heavy into drums and I kind of got lost in pop music. At age fourteen I was still a drummer but got into playing guitar. I was over at a friends house and I heard Jeff Beck's Truth album. I told my friend then and there I was going to get a guitar, there was just something about the album that I absolutely loved. I had a guitar within a week. I never forgot classical music. It's just something that's part of me, especially the Baroque era."


Q. How did you get Alkana band together?

Danney: "Craig Williams (bass) and I had played together in another band for two or three years. Don Mclaughlin (drums) we found 30 miles away from where we lived. The three of us rehearsed until we were tight and then put an ad in the paper for a singer and auditioned four or five before Jack Rucker joined".


Alkana rear cover
Q. The album sounds to me like impressively advanced heavy metal, more like the eighties than 1978. What would you say to that?

Danney: "The guitar riffs and the harmonized guitar parts I don't know where they came from to be honest. I had done a single perhaps five years before as a stand-in musician or better said studio musician. So when I got in the studio to do my own album I kind of felt like I should have free reign so I did whatever I felt. Why it sounds advanced for its time I don't know, it was just the mood I was in at the time."


Q. What bands in heavy metal and hard rock were you listening to at the time that might have been an influence to you?

Danney: "The bands I was listening to at the time were all English bands. Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, UFO, Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow."


Q. Seeing as the band is named after you, I guess you were the main ideas person/writer, is that correct?

Danney: "Yes that's correct, I wrote all the tunes on the album but the title track, I gave credit to Craig Williams who came up with the base line, and I wrote the music around it."


Q. How was the album received?

Danney: "The reception to Welcome to my Paradise was quite good. It had airplay in several cities in the US. I never knew the quantity of sales exactly. Obviously since we are playing to 3, 4 and 5000 seat venues and filling them every night I imagine it's sold fairly well. I was interviewed several times and enjoyed them all. Although it wasn't an interview I would have to say my favorite piece of press was for the time we played the swing auditorium which was a 10,000 seater. My father never saw me play but was so proud of the newspaper write up on the band he went out and bought several newspapers and sent me the clippings of the write up. I did have an extensive interview a few years ago from Greece, I think the interview lasted a good two hours but I don't know what happened to the write up."

Q. What happened with Alkana, did you play live much or play with any other bands? Why did it split up?

Danney: We played several venues, most of them as headliners and a couple as the opening act. I left the band because we got tied up in a lawsuit when my manager hit the president of our department in the mouth trying to renegotiate a contract with MCA. This was quite discouraging for the rest of the band and myself and I decided if I moved on and made a new lineup things would get better. The lawsuit lasted for years but eventually in my new band Excalibur we were offered a contract with CBS London, but my co-writer & collaborator left the band. I felt at that time I wasn't going to allow anybody else to deny me my destiny so I quit the music business and joined the straight world and became a businessman.

True to his roots, when Danney delved back into music fourteen years after Excalibur, he used his multi-instrumental talents on a neo-classical record called "Rock the Bach" (link), for which he was personally congratulated and praised by Steve Vai.

Thanks Danney!

Squadran interview with Mike Gandia


First posted here on Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Squradran - Fly Away / The Wall 7"




Squadran has a stunning track, "The Wall". The first time I heard it, from 1979, I was floored at how it presented a well-formed speed/thrash metal sound a few years before such things had appeared anywhere else, that I know of at least. Drummer Mike Gandia (links 1,2) was later in an unsigned New York band called Cathedral (link), which supported Aerosmith in 1984. He has been in many bands and a session drummer ever since, working with some of the best including Ozzy himself.

I managed to contact Mike recently and asked him about "The Wall", telling him it sounds like "Slayer in 1979" and asking him if he realised at the time that they were doing something very new.

He said this: "Ha Ha! We did that record in one session back when you had to actually play every part correctly. When we did that record no one had done that style yet and we had no clue that we stumbled into a new genre of music. We played locally and did very well but no one would sign the band because this style of music was not popular yet. We were told we had to be more commercial and we wanted no part of that so eventually we broke up and within two years Anthrax and Manowar were calling asking about me playing with them while I was on tour supporting Aerosmith, and Heavy Metal was born.


Squadran promo shot, 1984 lineup
(l-r) Eric Klaastad, Mike Gardia
Mike Ray, Keith Brazil
Squadran just missed the boat. We where ahead of our time. We were contacted by Ozzy to be his band after he was fired from Sabbath. We auditioned for him all day and he loved us but said we were too young and unknown for him. He needed known people. About a month later he found Randy Rhoads. We were always told we sound too much like Black Sabbath on speed. We had many slower songs also. We where all into Sabbath/Rainbow and Judas Priest before Priest was really famous.

Squadran to this day gets respect from all over the world from Australia to Greece to England and Germany too. The single is still selling.

Thank you for your kind words and interest in my favorite band I have ever played with… I was only 20 years old then and now I've played with over 30 bands. It make's us feel good to know people still like us. Thank You!"

Squadran at Gildersleeves in NY (link)
(l-r) Eric Klaastad (bass), Mike (drums), Keith Brazil (vocals) and Randy Young (gtr)

Race With The Devil [Gurvitz Brothers special]


Download from [mf] or [mg]
unzip password:  tdats


First posted here on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
Adrian and Paul Gurvitz had influential but largely unsung careers in British hard rock in the '60s and '70s. Here are some of the best tracks associated with them, from albums by bands such as Gun, Three Man Army, Baker Gurvitz Army and others that you may be less acquainted with. I have incorporated sections from the bio on Paul Gurvitz's page into this article to tell the story of the Gurvitz Brother's heavy bands along with the music.

The prime Gurvitz Brothers bands of interest for us here at TDATS were Gun and Three Man Army, being the hardest-rocking. I have used tracks from both those bands previously, so here I have tried to avoid repetition and picks from just those band's albums, there are so many good ones and it would be too easy! So, I have used a lot of non-album singles and related bands such as 'Parrish & Gurvitz', The Knack and The Buddy Miles Band. Hopefully there'll be enough of interest here to keep you listening, even if you already know Gun and Three Man Army well!

A small mp3 audio file of a recent radio interview with Paul Gurvitz is included with this comp. A written interview with Paul is also included at the end of this article, courtesy of ItsPsychedelicBaby.

TRACKS
01. Three Man Army - My Yiddishe Mamma (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
02. Three Man Army - Hold On (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
03. Gun - Runnin' Wild (1970)
       single
04. Three Man Army - What's My Name (1971)
       from album 'A Third Of A Lifetime'
05. Three Man Army - Travellin' (1971)
       single
06. Gun - Race With The Devil (1968)
       from album 'Gun'
07. The Knack - Who'll Be The Next In Line [Kinks cover] (1965)
       from album 'Time Time Time - The Complete UK Singles (and more) 1965-1967'
08. Gun - Drives You Mad (1969)
       single
09. The Buddy Miles Band - L.A. Resurrection (1973)
       from album 'Chapter VII'
10. Three Man Army - Jubilee (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Three' (released 2005)
11. Parrish & Gurvitz - Another Time Another Day (1971)
       from album 'Parrish & Gurvitz'
12. Gun - Situation Vacant (1969)
       from album 'Gun Sight'
13. The Baker Gurvitz Army - Hearts On Fire (1976)
       from album 'Hearts On Fire'
14. Three Man Army - In My Eyes (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Two'


Gun debut LP 1968
Gun debut s/t LP 1968
Gun were an influential English hard rock band, and one of the very first. Everyone knows about their classic 1968 top ten single, "Race with the Devil" (youtube), it has been covered ever since by famous and underground acts, right up to modern bands like Church Of Misery. The Gun was a development of guitarist Paul Gurvitz's The Knack (prev. The Londoners, formed 1963). Paul's father was road manager for The Shadows so he had a good introduction to rock and The Londoners had already played in France and Hamburg's Star Club by the time they settled in London, becoming The Knack, then in 1966, "The Gun". Soon after they were playing at the UFO Club, supporting names such as Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown and Tomorrow.

Gun - Gunsight 1969
Gun - Gun Sight 1969
By 1968 Paul's brother Adrian had joined on guitar, himself having already cut his teeth with acts such as Rupert's People (see Vol70) and pre-T2 bands Please Bulldog Breed (see vols 27 & 74). Gun recorded two albums and they honed their hard rock elements further on the second LP, Gun Sight, which the track appearing here, 'Situation Vacant', is taken from. After Gun the Gurvitz brothers were in more bands together, including the excellent Three Man Army (prev. in Vol46) and Baker Gurvitz Army with Ginger Baker, as well as separate projects. Adrian and Paul also played on both Graeme Edge Band albums in the latter half of the seventies, with Paul on production duties too.

Adrian Gurvitz started playing guitar at the age of 8 and by age 15, he was touring in early bands like Screaming Lord Sutch, Billie Davis, and Crispian St. Peters. In 1967 he briefly joined Rupert’s People, who had a minor-hit single, 'Reflections of Charlie Brown'. It charted at 13 in Australia and made the Top 40 in the UK. Just before The Gun formed, Paul joined an even shorter-lived version of Rupert's people too.


Paul Gurvitz - Adrian Gurvitz - Louis Farrell

Adrian has gained notability as a lead guitarist, known for his screaming, intricate, hard-driving solos. He was placed at No. 9 in Chris Welch of Melody Maker's "Best Guitarist in the World" list. There's no doubt that he and his brother's powerful style heralded heavy metal right at its birth. Since playing in hard rock bands, Adrian (and brother Paul) were key players in the disco/funk informed soft rock of The Graeme Edge Band. The music, although well-played, is not suitable for this blog so doesn't feature in the comp. It pointed the way for Adrian's solo work from 1979 into the eighties. Adrian also continued as a producer and film score writer. He worked on the hugely successful soundtrack to the The Bodyguard and has recently worked with Ziggy Marley.

Paul Gurvitz in BGA
Paul Gurvitz in BGA
After the demise of The Baker Gurvitz Army, Paul produced and played on his brother's solo albums, and went to the US in 1985 to work as a songwriter / producer. He wrote for bands such as Five Star, Jody Watley, The Fat Boys, The Cover Girls, Stanley Clarke and others. In 2002 he returned as a solo artist and continues to record his own albums. He has started country-rockers The New Army band in recent years, where he now lives in Arizona. He did an interview with PsychedelicBaby in 2011, and his website is paulgurvitz.com (link).





You can listen to a recent US radio interview with Paul Gurvitz here:




The Knack becomes The Gun

With the departure of long time band mate Brian Morris from The Knack, guitarist Paul Curtis (aka Paul Gurvitz) made a radical change and The Knack became The Gun.

Gun went through many line up changes (Yes vocalist Jon Anderson was even with the band briefly) until they got their first break playing shows with T Rex and Pink Floyd on the London underground scene. "We were playing a lot at The Speakeasy which was a very fashionable club at the time," Paul recalls. "There you would stand shoulder to shoulder with people whose music is still played all over the world today, The Beatles, Brian Jones of the Stones, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon of The Who, just to name a few".

By the middle of 1968, Gun became a power trio. Paul had taken over bass and left the guitar to his brother Adrian, who was by this time becoming quite a talent. The drums meanwhile were still handled by Louis Farrell (prev. in The Knack). Famous jazz musician Ronnie Scott, had just formed a management company and signed them as his first band. Shortly afterwards they were signed by CBS, and by the end of the year they were at the top of the European charts with 'Race With The Devil', included here. Although the single bares the hallmarks of psychedelic pop of the times, with it's big-sounding production and orchestration, there is also the beginnings of hard rock and heavy metal bubbling bellow the surface, powered by Adrian's blistering guitar leads.

A self-titled debut LP appeared the same year and a second LP came in 1969 called Gun Sight. Included here is a track from Gun Sight called 'Situation Vacant'. It has the searing leads and aggression of Race With The Devil, but not so much of the pop production, which also defines the heavier sound of Gun Sight in general. In my opinion this is a very early hard rock album that deserves to be compared with the earliest work of Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly as some of the very first heavy metal.


The Army Advances

After Gun had backfired, the brothers Gurvitz took time out in America. Adrian hooked up with Buddy Miles, while Paul worked with former Londoners band mate Brian Morris, who had changed his name to Brian Parrish. They began writing new songs and were introduced to legendary producer George Martin, who signed them to his label, Regal Zonaphone. They recorded the album Parrish & Gurvitz and toured in support of it throughout the US, according to Paul a second LP was recorded but never released. I have included the great opening track from the album here, 'Another Time Another Day'. The rest of the band included past and future members of bands such as Badger, Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones, Cochise, Roxy Music, Foreigner, Small Faces and Ian Dury's Blockheads. After little label support the project split and the backing band went on to join Peter Frampton.

Three Man Army
A Third Of A Lifetime cover
Before Parrish & Gurvitz finished, Paul had begun working on new material with his brother. The brothers had only just returned to the UK in the early '70s when they teamed up again to write and record the debut Three Man Army album, 'A Third of A Lifetime'. This album was released by Pegasus Records in 1971. Most of the songs were rehearsed in the studio before being recorded.

The brothers had a predilection for working with first class drummers, and this album featured no less than three with Buddy Miles (Band Of Gypsys), Mike Kellie (Spooky Tooth) and Carmine Appice (Beck Bogard & Appice, Vanilla Fudge). I have used the track 'What's My Name' from this album. Three Man Army was clearly a development from Gun, Adrian and Paul's song-writing and playing was less psychedelic and decidedly more blues-based hard rock, the riffs are often heavy and fast but every song is infused with melody too, with a noticeable hint of southern rock. Maybe from Paul's love of Allman Brothers.

Two of my favourite tracks from their catalogue are Butter Queen (youtube) and Pole Cat Woman (youtube), which always go down well on the dance floor. The brothers set the blueprint with this album, all three released albums from Three Man Army are very consistent and I recommend them all equally, although they really turned the heaviness up to 11 for the third one, 'Three Man Army Two' (yes that is the name of the third LP, as explained later).

Mahesha
The band's second release, 'Mahesha' (In the US known simply as 'Three Man Arm'), came out on the Warner Bros-owned label Reprise in 1973. Drummer Tony Newman (Rod Stewart Group, May Blitz, Boxer, David Bowie), a sought-after session man who could be heard on many of the hit singles at the time, was added. Newman became a permanent member of the Army, which now allowed the band to play live and promote Mahesha in the US. "The first tour we did was with the Doobie Brothers and the second was with the Beach Boys. Not necessarily acts with which we had much in common", Paul recalls. "However, Warner Bros. thought it would be a good thing". From this album I have used the two opening tracks. 'My Yiddishe Mamma' is a stately instrumental build-up to 'Hold On'. This is not the same as the Hold On that Rupert's People played, but maybe it was an inspiration.

Three Man Army Two
A year later and the band were recording their third album. This one was heavier than the previous two and the title caused some confusion - 'Three Man Army Two'. Paul clarifies the reason behind the choice. "It was the second album for Warner Bros." Perhaps another interpretation could be that it may have been subconsciously influenced by the fact that it was the Second record to feature the line up of Gurvitz, Gurvitz and Newman. This would help to explain the subsequently titled release 'Three Man Army Three'. I have used the track 'In My Eyes' from this album, which is probably the heaviest album the Gurvitz bros ever made, and should be right at the top of your shopping list!

Buddy Miles - Chapter VII
Adrian lent his considerable guitar skills to other artists during these times. He recorded and toured with The Buddy Miles Band, for the album "Chapter VII" which was released in 1973.

Buddy's career began drumming for Wilson Picket when, at age 19, he was inducted into the original line-up of seminal Chicago blues soul rockers The Electric Flag. He also played in Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys.

The credits on Chapter VII were: Ron Johnson (bass and guitar), Adrian Curtis (guitar) and Buddy Himself on drums, vocals, organ, and guitar. As you probably guessed, Curtis is Gurvitz, the brother's real surname is Gurvitz but they would sometimes use Curtis, especially during their early careers and on various projects like Chapter VII, inspired to do so after their father had himself legally changed to it. Adrian's brother Paul explains: "When my parents divorced my father changed his name to Curtis from Gurvitz and at the time I thought that Curtis was more rock n' roll than Gurvitz". As mentioned earlier, Buddy and Adrian's friendship had started just after Gun finished, and Buddy played drums for some tracks on Three Man Army's first LP.

Three Man Army Three cover
Three Man Army had toyed with the idea of doing a rock opera (working title 'Three Days To Go') and they had recorded a few demos for the project. Paul recently rediscovered these demos and remastered them. From these sessions, nine tracks are featured on 'Three Man Army Three'. A collection of previously unreleased materials that has been captured with good sound quality and released in 2005. A good example of this is the track 'Jubilee', which is included here and features drummer Lee Baxter Hayes. When asked who this 'mystery' drummer was performing on the track, Paul laughs and says, "He was a roadie of ours with, let's say with average skills as a drummer, and we let him play. It was just for fun".

Tony Newman
When Tony Newman left the band to play with David Bowie, the brothers Gurvitz hooked up with Ginger Baker and changed their name to the Baker Gurvitz Army. Baker was considered the ultimate rock drummer at the time, known for his work with Blind Faith and obviously Cream. The band's three albums definitely sounded different to Three Man Army, and Baker's drumming was always impressive, but they do not do much for me and are more a display of good drumming and technically proficient but commercial soft rock. With that sound the band entered the US and UK charts in 1974. Two consecutive albums followed as the band expanded their line up from a trio to a quintet with singer Mr. Snips (aka Stephen Alfred Wilson Parsons - ex-Sharks and later new wave solo artist). When their manager Bill Fahelli died in a plane crash, a dispute with the management company forced BGA to part ways.

Baker Gurvitz Army -
Hearts On Fire (1976)
Of the three BGA albums, my pick is the last one, 'Hearts On Fire' (1976). It is not as good as any of the Three Man Army LPs but it has more rocking tracks than he previous two and the title track which I include here is great, if a little short!

The last rock albums that the Gurvitz Brothers played on for a while were the pair of Graeme Edge Band LPs soon after, that were unfortunately rather more lackluster than Baker Gurvitz Army. Unfortunately for heavy-heads, that was the absolute end of the Gurvitz Brothers' forays into hard rock, but by all accounts they made a lot more money for themselves in later pursuits as writers / producers. We can't blame them for doing that and we can't complain about the great set of Gun and Three Man Army albums they left us!


Paul Gurvitz interview

Many thanks to Klemen Breznikar for allowing me to reproduce parts of his 2011 Paul Gurvitz interview here! Klemen runs a great blog/zine over at psychedelicbaby.blogspot.co.uk


Q. Hi Paul. Firstly I would like to ask you about your childhood. What were your main influences at that time, beside Buddy Holly and Elvis.

Paul: I used to listen to a lot of American artist's when I was growing up as there were only a few English ones that I found exciting, around the late 60's I would listen to Santana, Buffalo Springfield, Spirit, The Allman Brothers, Zappa.


Q. Your first band was called The Londoners. You played gigs around London and you also went to Germany.Can you tell us more?

Paul: Actually the Londoners never really played in London other than when we were the backing group for Gene Vincent, The Londoners played mostly in Germany and France.


Q. From Germany you went back to London. You were no longer called The Londoners. Changing your name to The Knack, were there also any changes in lineup? You recorded a few singles for Pye and for Decca. Your first release was 'Who'll Be The Next In Line / She Ain't No Good', right? Can you tell me more about The Knack.

Paul: The Knack was a continuation of The Londoners. There were a few different members, on bass was Gearie Kenworthy, on organ was Tim Mycroft (who is the first of the family tree to have passed away) and on drums was Topper Clay, and I played rhythm guitar. The Knack played mostly in London and around England.


Q. In early 1968 you started Gun. You released a debut album in the same year, which I think it is a true masterpiece and one of the first heavy albums from that era. You also had a mega hit called Race With The Devil. Can you tell me about it? Who made the cover art? I just love it.

Paul: The Gun was a continuation of The Knack with different members. The first Gun was Tim Mycroft on organ, Gearie Kenworthy on bass, Louie Farrel on drums, and I played rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Actually I started playing as The Gun in late 67. In early 68 there were more changes, Jon Anderson was the lead singer and my brother joined on guitar, then it changed again, Anderson left so did Tim mycroft, and then Gearie Kenworthy and that's when we became The Gun that made the albums. I was now playing bass and Adrian on guitar and Louie on drums.

Race With The Devil was our first hit and was recorded at CBS in London on an 8 track recorder. We were managed at that time by the famous jazz player Ronnie Scott and rehearsed in his club. During the time we were rehearsing there was a guy painting murals on the club walls and we asked him if he would like to do the artwork of the cover. His name was Roger Dean who later did all the Yes albums and many more but The Gun was his first. As far as touring we spent time in France, Germany, Italy and England.


Q. In 1969 you started to record a second album, called Gun Sight. There were lineup changes, right? Drummer Peter Dunton came from Bulldog Breed to join your band. Can you tell me more about that?

Paul: I don't remember much about that. I know Peter Dunton played on some tracks, but never really joined the band although there were some publicity pics with him. Most of the second album was Louie Farrell, later Goeff Britton played drums and toured with us. He later joined Wings.


Q. What went wrong with Gun after the second album? Your brother went to the US to record with Buddy Miles. After that you and Brian Parrish released one album called Parrish & Gurvitz. Slowly after that a new band was born. Three Man Army. What can you tell me about this legendary trio with you Adrian and Tony Newman on drums? You released 3 albums from 1970 to 1974.

Paul: I was recording a solo album for CBS and then decided to join up with Parrish. Three Man Army was an extention of Gun but with a lot of different drummers such as Buddy Miles, Mike Kelly (Spooky Tooth) and Carmin Appice (Vanilla Fudge). The band was just a recording band at the time as Adrian and I were playing in different bands but we intended to make Three Man Army a touring band later, when Adrian finished with Buddy Miles.  Parrish & Gurvitz, after making 2 albums with George Martin (of Beatles fame), decided to pack it in and that's when Tony Newman joined and Three Man Army was born. The second album Mahesha and Three Man Army Two were both with Tony Newman.

We recorded often at the Who's studio and toured the US with The Doobie Brothers and The Beach Boys. We did some TV and there is an album of unreleased material called Three Man Army Three and can be purchased at http://wetworldmusic.com/


Paradise Ballroom
Q. During that period you started another project with The Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge. Soon after that two albums were released. Please tell me more about that project.

The two albums with Graeme Edge were just studio albums. The Moody Blues were taking a break and doing their individual projects. The artwork was by Joe Petagno (Motorhead sleeves etc.) also Three Man Army Two, the second album Paradise Ballroom was recorded in London and Memphis, they have both been reissued recently on The Acerteric label.


Q. Tony Newman left Three Man Army and you started a new band called Baker Gurvitz Army. How did you meet with Ginger Baker?

Paul: Three Man Army was back from the U.S. and Tony Newman was offered a gig with David Bowie and we suggested he took it. Three Man Army had an album ready to record, but no drummer. We met Ginger in The Speakeasy one night and he said he wanted to join the band and the rest is history. That album became the first BGA album. The band toured the UK and America and recorded somehow two more albums. There have been many live albums released since the demise of the band also on wetworldmusic.com. You will find BGA 'Still Alive' which includes a DVD.


Q. In 1976 you released the last Baker Gurvitz Army album, called Hearts on Fire. What happened next?

Paul: After the recording of Hearts On Fire our manager was killed in a plane crash and the band split. Adrian pursued solo projects and I produced them.


Q. Then came the 80's and you were involved with a lot of projects.

Paul: The 80's was a whole new era for me with my music. I went from playing and creating hard rock to writing pop r&b for many artists which you will find on my website paulgurvitz.com


Q. In 2002 you released the album 'No Gun - No Army' and in 2005 you released the 'Rated PG' album. What can you say about that?

Paul: No Gun No Army was just a release of demo's rated. PG was more a project than No Gun No Army. I make the albums more for other artist's to record the songs.


Q. In 2010 you released the album 'Sweetheart Land'. How do you feel about it?

Paul: I liked Sweetheart Land. Gave me chance to switch my style a bit to more country / rock.


Thanks Paul!

Share via:

Universe interview with Steve Finn

First posted here on Sunday, June 21, 2015.
This is the first part of a special on the Cardiff band, Universe. I downloaded their album some time ago (see vol40)  and was immediately impressed with it, which I have previously compared to the earthy, blue collar rock of other one-album British heavy bluesrock bands, Leaf Hound and Stonehouse (see Stonehouse interview). During the band's life they supported such TDATS heros as Pink Fairies, Raw Material, Patto, Man and Writing on the Wall. Their original album was first released privately in only 300 copies, in Norway in 1971, so it's one of those mythical rarities that you'll probably never find in a lifetime. Luckily the now-defunct Norwegian label Colours re-issued it in a nice package back in 1991, which has now become very collectible itself.

The story of how this transient Welsh band came to release their only album in Norway is an interesting one, about which I was unable uncover anything other than hearsay and scant online comments, until I recently got a copy of the 1991 Colours vinyl. I was extremely happy to see it includes a great little booklet with photos and an interview with Universe guitarist / singer / harmonica player Steve Finn. The original lineup of the band was Steve, Mike Lloyd Jones (lead guitar), John Healan (bass), Mike Blanche (organ) and Rob Reynolds (drums). Steve Keeley replaced Rob Reynolds in 1970. Steve Finn was later in Sassafras, and Steve Keeley had been in Kimla Taz, which ties in nicely with TDATS volume 54 (Wales) as both those bands appear on there.

What I have done here is transcribed the full Colours booklet, and scanned the photos. I think it's important that this information is up on the net for all to see. I have also recently contacted Steve Finn, and he has agreed to answer some new questions about Universe and his own career, bearing in mind that the following interview is now almost 25 years old. In part 2 I will show the results of that, along with some info on the second Universe release from Colours just before it dissolved in 1993, The Wheel. If anyone has specific questions they'd like me to ask Steve, send me an email.


First, some more about Colours

Colours was a record label based in Skien, Norway, which existed between 1989 and 1994 .The first release was the local band Utopian Fields with Bård Tufte Johansen on vocals. The releases were primarily prog rock, but the company also released records from folk rock band Shine Dion and the Deep Purple-inspired Disciples of Love, both being local bands.

Besides releasing new music from both Norway and Sweden, the label archived long-dead and forgotten bands like Universe. In these instances they went to special efforts to include posters, booklets and other historical tidbits. They were in very limited editions and today are coveted as collectibles.


The Colours booklet and interview, written by Jørn Andersen

Welcome on board, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the second journey of Colours Time Machine. My name is Jørn Andersen and I’m the Captain of this journey.  This time we will take you back to the very early, and oh so legendary seventies. Right back to the time when the Universe was founded.

When I finally in 1990, after years and years in search of the Universe, could lay my greedy hands on a rather scratched copy of Universe's sole album, I was no less than happy.  Come days later when I was down to earth again my mind was set up.  If any privately released obscure album from those days deserved a legal reissue, this was it.  The preparation for the journey started with getting in contact with Nils J. Øybakken who was the man behind Experience Records Ltd. (wiki).

In March 1971 he stumbled over Universe, one of the many times their van broke down during their freezy virgin-tour of the north of Norway.  The year before he had set up his own studio in the basement of his father’s shop, and the now extremely rare and legendary first single with Prudence (see Norwegian volume 81) had just been released on his newly founded label: Experience.  So what could suit better than a hungry English band to fill up the studio. 

The original idea was to cut a single but the session was obviously inspiring because a full album was in the can before the tapes stopped.

“A Woman’s Shape” / “Rolling”
The single “A woman’s shape” backed with “Rolling” was issued with a picture sleeve (EXP 3002) in a total edition of less than 1000 copies.  The A-side did not make it to the LP, nor the reissue, but will be included on a possible CD release on Colours later.  The album, simply called “UNIVERSE”, was released in a total amount of 300 copies.  The extremely few copies pressed, together with the fact that it was only on sale in the middle and north part of Norway, makes this one of the absolute rarest albums with any English group from the progressive area.

Colours are proud to present this album for the listeners all over the world, as it is now released for the first time outside of Norway.

To get some facts about the history of Universe I could not trust papers, magazines or books, as little or nothing is written or is saved in the archives.  So after some expensive phone calls to England, with no result, I was quite relieved when a polite voice answered: “Steve Finn talking”.  Even more relieved was I when he was positive to our idea of reissuing their album.  He was willing to supply all information so I sent over a kind of an interview.  He and the other members who are still alive came together and kindly took their time to help us to give Universe, from Cardiff in Wales, a place in the rock history which they highly deserve.  So this is the story of Universe in their own words:


Q:  When was Universe founded and who was in the band at various times?

A:  We formed in 1968 as a blues band called “SPOONFULL”.  The line-up was: Mike Lloyd Jones (lead guitar), John Healan (bass), Mike Blanche (organ), Steve Finn (vocals and harmonica) and Rob Reynolds (drums).  This original line-up changed its name in 1970 to Universe and began writing and performing original songs as a change of direction from American blues music.  Our musical influences at that time were Yes, Jethro Tull, Family, Eyes of Blue and Man (these last two being Welsh bands).  A change of drummer occurred in December 1970, when Steve Keeley replaced Rob Reynolds.


Q:  Apart from playing in Norway, did you play any other countries in Europe?

A:  We played lots of tours in Europe.  We played Copenhagen in Denmark and in Germany we played Kiel, Munich and Hamburg (at the Top Ten Club where the Beatles started out).  We also did a tour of Denmark with Johnny Winter and Iron Butterfly.


Q:  It seems like Universe is rather unknown in England.  Is it because you never played there or what?

A:  One reason might be that we spent most of our time gigging abroad.  In UK we played at the Marquee and other London clubs and did many collage gigs supporting Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Rory Gallagher, Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack, Man, Black Sabbath and many other early 70s bands.


Q:  About the tour in Norway, it seems like a lot of things went wrong.  On the 16th March the newspaper “Adresseavisa” in Trondheim had an article about this English “pop group” who got only 5 kroner (about 50 pence) to live for a day and had to sleep at the railway station where their baggage was stolen.  They wrote that the trouble started when you didn’t get the final message about the tour dates due to a post strike in England.  You left for Norway anyhow, meanwhile the agent had found another English band in Demark, called Strange Fox, engaging them for your gigs under your name.  But they regretted and the agent had to fabricate a story about a car accident as the reason for the delay.  They also wrote that when you arrived it was only to experience that no working permission was arranged for you in Norway, and the police got involved.  Finally they let you go further on after you had promised to report yourselves to the police at every new place you arrived!  Seems like quite a tour!  Did you play in the south as well, and did you play with any Norwegian bands?

A:  We started the tour of Norway in Feb/March of 1971, but only played gigs in the northern part of the country as half way through the tour our agent Ragnar Hagen left us in Mo-I-Rana with no money, no food and no gigs.  He returned to Oslo, and we have never seen or heard from him since.  Then we met some very kind people who helped us to stay alive at that time by giving us food and somewhere to sleep.  We will always be grateful to them even though we can no longer remember who they were.

We once spent 10 days at a club in Mo called Bleak House living and sleeping in the dressing room, but eventually got to Mosjøen and met Nils.  The track on the LP was our way of saying thank you to Anton Solberg and his Bleak House, it was the only way we could (listen to the lyrics).

Nils and his parents were very good to us and gave us food.  We stayed at a youth hostel and did some recordings with Nils for a single, which grew into an LP.  I cannot remember meeting any Norwegian bands or musicians but 20 years is a fair time to go back.  We eventually got enough money to get to Oslo, then Copenhagen where we played for 2 weeks at the Revolution Club and then returned to Hamburg for a month before getting home to Wales.  It was an amazing time when we had a lot of fun and some hard times, and met some wonderful people.


Q:  Nils told me some good stories about the session.  When you were loading the equipment down to his studios the organ player tried to get his heavy L-100 Hammond organ down the stairs.  Suddenly he cried “Look out!” and down the stairs went the organ.  The steps were not good looking afterwards!  You were also changing the speakers from the song-speaker to the guitar-speaker and back again all the time.  You did also lose some equipment, didn’t you?


A:  Mike Blanche remembers the van breaking down and us not having enough money to pay the garage.  They took an amplifier and a speaker cabinet as payment and the police let us leave.  Also recall breaking down late at night on a lonely road and Ragnar Hagen saying we only had 20 minutes to live as it was -20C!  Then a lorry came down the road and gave us a lift to the nearest town.  An old couple had a hotel that was closed for the winter and they gave us beds and food for free.  Another time we slept the night in the waiting room of a railway station and when we woke in the morning the place was full of people waiting for the trains and none of them could sit down because we were sleeping straight out on all the seats.

When we returned to the UK, Nils sent us copies of the single and the LP, but no covers, and we always hoped to go back and meet everyone again, but never did.


Q:  Did you do any other recordings as Universe ?

A:  We recorded some stuff at Rockfield studios in Monmouth, which was used at the time by Dave Edmunds (who is from Cardiff).  An acetate was pressed up with “Shadow of the sun” and “Waiting for summer” on it.  We hoped to bring the Norwegian LP out in the UK, Track and Island were interested but wanted it re-recorded.  Charisma too liked our songs.

Also possibly available may be some other recordings in 71/72 when we changed our style to be a bit more rock, and the songs were shorter and more commercial.  Record companies in the UK always want hit singles.


Q:  If those tapes can be unearthed and all parts can agree there is a possibility for a second Universe LP on Colours later on.  But when did Universe split?

A:  The group finally split in 72 when it was becoming difficult to carry on from a financial point – we were not making enough money to continue.


Q:  What have the members been up to musically after the split?

A:  Mike Lloyd Jones played with Shakin' Stevens from 74 to 78 and made several LP’s.  Since then he has played with local bands in Cardiff and has songwriting connections with publishers in London. He is currently setting up a music production company in Cardiff.

Mike Blanche (known in Universe as Sponge) has produced recording sessions for the Cadillacs (former members of Racing Cars and Lone Star) resulting in 2 singles, also the Boys and Cartoon (Welsh band who toured Scandinavia in the late 80’s).

John Healan moved to Cornwall in South West of England in the mid 70’s and now plays Country & Western music.  We are still great friends and see each other 2 to 3 times a year.

Steve Keeley did not play music after Universe.  He got married and had some kids and sadly died of leukemia (blood cancer) in 1981, aged 31.  It was very sad to lose a great friend.

Steve Finn continued song writing and solo performing in folk clubs and wine bars. Wrote songs for the first Sassafras LP “Expecting company” on Poloydor (2383 245).  Was asked to join the band as bass player in UJune 74 – not my favourite instrument to play.  Wrote most of the songs for the “Wheeling & dealing” LP on Chrysalis (CHR 1076), released April 75.  Did UK tours with Black Oak Arkansas and Stackridge, tour of Holland with Ace and played France, Belgium and Yugoslavia.  Month-long US tour supporting Ten Years After and Peter Frampton.  The band was also featured on Chrysalis LP “End of the Rainbow” where they had two live tracks.  Left at the end of 75 as I hated playing bass guitar.  The band made a third LP “Riding high” before being dropped by Chrysalis (CHR 1100).  I then made one LP with Southern Comfort (Country & Western, not to be confused with the ex-MSC band) in 76/77.  I am still a solo performer and have released two cassettes of my own songs for sale at gigs.  In Nov 89 supported Ralph McTell on UK tour and have a song-writing contract with Acuff-Rose Music Publishers in London and Nashville USA.  I currently have songs with Joe Cocker, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr. and Bellamy Brothers.


----------------------------------------

The Universe LP was also released by Swedish label Flawed Gems last year (2014) on CD, with a few extras that were not on the 1991 Colours vinyl, being the single "A Woman's Shape" recorded during the album session mentioned in the above interview, and the 1970 acetate, also mentioned. There's a short write-up on the back of the CD which gives nothing more away, and also omits to mention that the band was British, from Wales: "The music here is great guitar-driven hard-ish rock with some blues and progressive elements - similar to early Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, Man and Hackensack". This is the description of Flawed Gems over at Discogs (link): "Deemed a bootleg / unofficial label by many, even though many of their releases have an address and barcode (but lack proper matrix or IFPI code). Most seem to be taken from vinyl. Flawed Gems releases should be marked Unofficial on Discogs". Last year saw another release of the album on a mysterious label called Nemo (NEM 1002) (link).

Thanks for reading and watch out for further questions to be answered by Steve. As I said before, if you have any specific questions please let me know by email, Rich.


Credits in the booklet

All songs EVER OPEN EYE MUSIC (except Cocaine)
All arrangements UNIVERSE
Produced by NILS J. ØYBAKKEN
Cover: BRAVE BIANCO – S.G.B. – TELSTAR
Recorded in a small Lydstudio in Mosjøen 1971.
Originally released in 1971 by EXPERIENCE RECORDS (EXPLP 2001)

Musical archaeologist: JØRN ANDERSEN
Captain of the Time Machine, 2nd journey: JØRN ANDERSEN
Reproduction of the cover: JOAN MENDEZ
Drawing of the Time Machine logo: ROALD FORSETH
Re-released by courtesy of EXPERIENCE / UNIVERSE
Thanks to Steve Finn, Nils J. Øybakken, Morten Jensen.
This release is a limited edition of 1000 copies on LP.

Ⓟ 1971 EXPERIENCE / 1991 COLOURS A/S
Ⓒ 1991 EVER OPEN EYE MUSIC / COLURS MUSIC PRODUCTIONS
COSLP 005

Share via: