Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Grand Tour 2

Last night Prometheon created a new 23 minute piece. There was no title that sprang to mind, so for the time being we're calling it ' The Grand Tour 2'

Robert Lelievre

I’ve planned for a while to write something about Robert Lelievre on this blog. He’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard as well as being one of the best songwriters. The album he made with his Danish band Pan, is one of the great classics. I first heard the only studio album by Pan in 2002, after finding a CD at the record fair in Utrecht and fell in love with its brilliance immediately. There were thousands and thousands of records that were made in the 70s and very few of them are remembered by most people. Pan is not one of them, which is sad, because it should be in the pantheon of rock’s great records. Pan only released one album. It is one of the great cultural crimes that the solo album that Lelievre made for Sonet was unreleased in his lifetime or as far as I know ever. I truly hope a record company will rectify that situation soon. I cannot think of any other unreleased tapes (apart from perhaps Haystacks Baloboa’s second album (same musicians mainly but different band name) or David Forman’s second album) that I want to hear. There is some deep connection made by Lelievre’s voice into my head. ‘Song to France’ and Tristesse are filled with a truly painful yearning for a lost home. Pan is undoubtedly one of the biggest influences on my creativity over the years since I first heard it. Until recently I could find very very little information about Pan or Lelievre but there is now a very impressive website dedicated to them. I would urge you to visit:

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Motion Demon at Silent Hill

I like this picture of Steve Kethero's, taken at Silent Hill, during a Motion Demon session a few years ago

some bookmarks

It's been quite a while since I made any attempt to get my Opera bookmarks in order (possibly my memories of the thousands of carefully ordered bookmarks on crashed computers of the past, has made me question the future value of the task) and looking through them again tonight, I came across a few pages that I enjoyed visiting again.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

another undated cdr compilation

I found another undated compilation tonight. I think this is probably from 2003. I'm not sure of the name of the last tracks. It's from Jeff Tarlton's draginSpring, which I have, but can't find at the moment.

Jackie Leven – Classic Northern Diversions
Terry Mann – Fire
Flying Dutchman – Underground
Violet – Slideshow
Rock Four – Government
Fool’s Garden – The Principle Thing
Fool’s Garden – Probably
Autumn Leaves – Theme from Autumn Leaves
Widespread Panic – Little Lilly
Reeves Gabriel – Say that now
Barrage – Mahatma
Terry Mann – Bar Room
Jackie Leven – Dust Elegy/Savannah Waltz
Violet – Rain
Terry Callier –Lazarus Man
Jeff Tarlton – track from draginSpring

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Dominion:Prequel to the Exorcist

Horror is my favourite film genre. This is one of the very best. It ranks alongside ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ for intellectual excitement. As well as being one of the best horror films I’ve seen, this stands among the best of Paul Schrader’s work as a director. The script by William Wisher and Caleb Carr is flawless. This is a great film.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

23rd September 2006

Below is another cdr I found this evening, compiled on the 23rd September 2006.

John Cale – Andalucia
Fairport convention – Book Song
Tim Buckley-dream letter
Laura Nyro – Eli’s Coming
Terry Reid – Erica
Gene Clark – From a silver phial
David Forman and Levon Helm - Gimme a Stone
Nick Drake – Hazey Jane 2
Stoneage – Zo Larat
The Outsiders – you’re everything on earth
The Rolling Stones - Wild Horses
Horslips - We bring the summer with us
Jefferson Airplane – Today
Aztec Two-step – The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty
(On The Road)
Horslips – Stars
John P Strohm and the Hello Strangers – Powderkeg
The Byrds – Renaissance Fair

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


C.O.M.A. - The Community of Multinational Artists - The Subway to Art

I’ve been thinking about C.O.M.A today. This is a German based, world encompassing arts organisation that I was involved with a few years ago. I lost contact with the organisers, which is a shame. C.O.M.A was/is a good vision.

Keeper of the Flame

A strange film this is, indeed. Made in 1942 by George Cukor and starring Spencer Tracey amd Katherine Hepburn, this isn’t what you might expect if you’ve seen their other collaborations. Released a year after Citizen Kane, this has echoes of Orson Welles masterpiece (I wouldn’t argue with anyone who says Citizen Kane in the greatest film ever made) but is a minor work in comparison. It’s very very dark and slightly gothic and has some things to say about the world we live in today, where great power is not always in the right hands. Spend 97 minutes watching this and it's time you won't regret.

a compilation from sometime in the last few years

There's going to be a lot of lists on this blog and here's another one. Since I was a teenager I've been making compilations of music I like. Many of those I made on tape are now lost and I don't remember the dates of a few of the cdrs. I came across a cdr this evening, which I think is probably from 2003 or 2004, but I'm really not sure. Anway here's the tracklist:

Family – No Mules Fool
David Ackles – Down River
Nick Drake – River Man
Anne Briggs – Standing on the shore
Pacific Drift – Tomorrow Morning Brings
Out of Focus – The Way I know her
Pentangle – Sweet Child
Cressida – Munich
Gryphon – The Unquiet grave
Fungus – The White Hare
Tony, Caro and John – Swordsman of Samoa
Sweet Smoke – Id rather burn than dissapear
Sunshine Company –Springtime Meadows
Edgar Broughton Band – Get out of Bed-There’s Nobody there-Side by Side
Aztec Two-Step – The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty
(On The Road)
Audience - Jackdaw

Saturday, 12 July 2008

More from JOB

Watercolour Marilyn by JOB

Marlon Brando

I've been thinking about Marlon Brando today. I believe he was possibly the greatest presence who ever was on the screen and have seen almost all his films . One of the few I hadn't seen was 'Morituri'.  I saw it for the first time this afternoon and it's an overlooked classic. Directed by Benard Wicki, it's a tough and suspensful spy film  set almost entirely on  a German cargo ship during the second world war. The acting is excellent. Apart from Brando and a brief appearance by Trevor Howard at the beginning (very authoritative performance, as always), the other great perfomance is by Yul Brunner. I can't recommend this film highly enough.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Haystacks Balboa

The Haystacks Balboa album is one of the most important of all records.

My e-mail interview can also be found on the Prometheon myspace site.


Mark Polott e-mail interview by James Holbrook

The album that Haystacks Balboa released in 1970 has been deeply embedded in my consciousness for a significant proportion of my life. Through myspace, I recently met Mark Polott and he very kindly agreed to answer some questions that I have always wanted to ask. What follows is an interview compiled from some emails we exchanged:

JH: It's really exciting for me to be to be able to ask you these questions about Haystacks Balboa. I remember when I bought the album I was about 14 years old and already an obsessive collector of rock music from the 60s and 70s. As soon as I picked up the album in a shop in the north lanes in Brighton and saw the sleeve I knew I had to hear it. I got a sealed German pressing and from the moment I got it home and the needle touched the vinyl it cast a still unbroken spell. Over the years I have worn out my copy. 'The Silken Men', 'Auburn Queen' and the 'Children of Heaven' have buried themselves deep inside who I am and 'Riverland' has always been a beautiful end to a journey that still moves me with each repeated play

If there is one song out of the 1000s and 1000s I have heard through the years that I have listened to music that had a biggest influence than any other, it is 'the Silken Men'. It still gives me goosebumps to hear the moment when the middle interlude ends and the vocal comes back in.

I've lived for more than half my life with your music while knowing very little about the people who made it and I'm excited to know how the music came to be.

What follows are the questions I have always wondered about.

Who were the band members?

MP: Mark Mayo guitar Mark Polott bass Lloyd Landesman keyboards

Mark Babani drums Bruce Scott vocals

JH: How did you meet?

MP: Mayo, Babani and Landesman played in the Tangerine Puppets at Forest Hills High School in Queens, NY .They broke up and Landesman joined me in the Innovation Umbrella, my guitarist, Richie Dimedia also went to Forest Hills. We broke up and Lloyd returned to a new band with Mayo and Babani and brought me in as the bass player. We rehearsed the whole summer of 1970 in Babani's basement. We did a demo at Charles Lane Studios and brought it to Shelly Finkel, the manager of Mountain. He signed us. Our singer, Larry Goodman, quit right before we started to record our album , too much pressure, maybe. We found Bruce Scott and did our album. We signed with Premier Talent and then jumped to ATI, so we toured with the top bands of the era. We were mostly 19 years old, except for Bruce who was 26, maybe...

JH: Where did the band's name come from?

MP: Back in the 60's there was a 400 pound wrestler named Haystacks Calhoun. Mark Mayo hung around with a great local band called the Vagrants, Leslie West (Mountain) was the guitarist. One of the Vagrants friends, Bobby Pace, coined the phrase Haystacks Balboa, probably in reference to Mayo's large size at the time. He and Leslie were "look alikes" and people always compared them...similar look and guitar style, and they were often together. So, when we looked for a name, in that drug infused era, Haystacks Balboa jumped out at us. This is how I remember it.

JH: What where your influences?

MP: Cream, Jeff Beck, Blues Project, Mountain, all the great guitarists of the time and Keith Emerson.

JH: How did you write the songs?

MP: We got together and wrote. Sometimes Mayo and Landesman, sometimes me and Mayo. Mayo's sister wrote some lyrics and Larry West, Leslie's brother wrote some riffs. He was never really in the band but jammed with the guys before I formally joined.

JH: How long did they take to write?

MP: A day or two, each tune. We jammed for hours and got ideas. It was summer, no school, we played a lot.

JH: How often did you play live?

MP: We had a good manager and agent so we got great gigs and had high exposure once the album was out. We played most weekends and would drive to Detroit, Chicago, Boston, etc. as soon as classes were over. The album came out in September 1970 so we were in college but taking a light load of courses.

JH: What bands did you play with when you played live?

MP: Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Savoy Brown, Faces with Rod Stewart for about 8 weekends, Mungo Jerry, Black Sabbath, Eric Burdon and War, Cactus...just to name a few

JH: How did you come to be produced by Shadow Morton?, what was his input as producer?

MP: Shelly knew him and he came out of retirement to do us. He wanted the cash to buy an Excalibur and we had good backing, until the record came out. Then our manager concentrated on his other new band, Hammer, and we were left out there on the road alone.

JH: Who designed the album sleeve?

MP: While being photographed for the back cover by David Hoffs (I think) we saw a painting of his in his studio and we instantly knew this should be our cover...very Hieronymous Bosch, like our music.

JH: How many songs did you write for the albums and were some unrecorded?

MP: Ironically, none of the songs from our original demo were rerecorded for the album and they were pretty good. We did play them live. Why? Who knows...

JH: Do you still have the original demo, or remember the songs you recorded on it?

MP: Thats a tough one...
1.Bobby Lemonade
2. Balls
3. One other that escapes me

JH: Do you ever or would you ever play any Haystacks Balboa songs again?

MP: We sometimes launch into something, spontaneosly, at a rehearsal. It's been a long time but we remember a lot for old guys.

It's all good memories. One irony is that many web sites portray us as an English band, even calling us "another British Boogie Band" which we clearly weren't. We listened to the great British bands of the 60's and were very influenced by Cream, Jeff Beck, Zeppelin, and others, but we tried to forge our own sound. I must admit, now, we were usually "under the influence" of the various drugs of the era, but we were always under control and attacking things from an intellectual angle. We also always tried to really play our instruments and although it is not overly apparent on the album, at the time we were one of the better musician bands in the local scene in NYC. We studied, and played countless hours. Our image was always secondary to our chops and this probably hurt us in the long run.

JH: What happened to the members after Haystacks Balboa?

MP: Me and Mayo stayed together through many projects. Lloyd left to pursue his own interests and played with Clarence Clemons, Edgar Winter and then , and now, is a successful Jingle writer. Babani left the business to be a cook out West but resurface for a while with a band made up of him and his kids -L'iL Willie. They were signed by Doc McGee and toured with Lynard Skynard but it didn't last. Bruce became an agent, we've lost touch after he screwed us on some commissions.

Joe Franco from the Good Rats was in Haystacks for awhile. After the end of the tour, Joe joined the band, around 1971? He actually got good with us, he started studying with Carmine Appice and our serious approach inspired him. He left us to join the Good Rats as they had a lot of gigs. He played again in our group, Blue Lagoon, in the late 90's. He had 2 kids and didn't want to travel ], we were a perfect fit for him. We are still very close. He went to the Cream reunion show with me and Mayo and Lloyd last year. He runs a very successful recording studio in NYC and plays occasionally with Dee Snider in projects.

JH: What's your thoughts on the pirate re-issue (there should be a proper re-mastered CD of this truly great album album)?

MP: We figure it's better to let the music live on than to litigate. The pirate keeps the band alive and it must sell because it is all over the internet. Long live HB!

JH: Who are the Silken Men?

MP: Mythical Warriors. We loved the epic form and production. Remember, this was an era of heavy drug use and good headphones!

JH: What are the Children of Heaven doing now?

MP: Our children are in college or working, none in music. They've all thrown their dollies away...

My pleasure to respond. Stay in Touch.


JH: thanks again for taking the time to remember a fascinating past.


If you want to hear the music that Mark Polott and Mark Mayo are making today, then go and have a look at these myspace sites:

with Feddo and the Zippies

You'll find  a link to a picture of me from a few years ago, on one of the favourite evenings of my life, spent with my friend Feddo Renier and the Zippies(who were playing on his show). The drummer for the Zippies was at one time the boy pictured on the cover of 'Agemo's Trip to Mother Earth' (by Group 1850). It was a thrill for me when the Zippies current drummer had to leave early in the evening for another engagement and Feddo and  I got to be their drummers for a few jams.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Compilation 3rd July 2008

Jennie Lee - Shuggie Otis
Nobody - Three Dog Night
Rainman - Rainman
Right now for you - Al Kooper
Of course - The Rascals
Flying Home - Jo Jo Gunne
Walking in the rain - The Green Pajamas
Come Together - The Beatles
Genesis - Jorma Kaukonen
Faster than the hound - Horslips
Ballad of El Goodo - Big Star
Circle round the Sun - Truth
Get you to come through - Rainman
Captive in the Sun - Eire Apparent
Injun Joe - The Good Rats
Rari - The Standells
Mr Guy Fawkes - Eire Apparent
Vanilla Queen - Golden Earring

Rainman - Frank Nuyens

It's the second night in a row I feel compelled to write about a great new song I've heard. It's 'Get you to come through' from the Rainman album by Frank Nuyens. I'm a big Q65 fan, so was looking forward to hearing this album, which is excellent. Another song is added to the great playlist in my head and I feel a cdr compilation taking shape.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Shuggie Otis - Jennie Lee

This song is in my head tonight. I heard it for the first time this afternoon and it instantly established itself in the rotating playlist in my head for the rest of my life.  I first became aware of Shuggie Otis because of his track on the CBS double album compilation 'rockbusters' that I bought at a market stall at least 25 years ago and probably more. For some reason, while hearing albums by almost all the other acts on the album I managed to miss Shuggie Otis' albums (apart from 'Al Kooper introduces') over the years.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Richie Havens - Something Else Again

I've been listening to Richie Havens tonight. I love his first four albums, which contain some of the most moving and life affirming music there is. My favourite will always be 'Something Else Again', which I bought more than half a lifetime ago in a shop in Woking, now long since gone. I think of this shop and all the other places that no longer exist where I found treasures full of sound.