I am on a lonely road and I am travelling, travelling, travelling…


Hello Good People who read this blog in my absence

(This blog entry was written after listening to hours of Joni Mitchell on my travels…)

I thought of you all on Solstice morning . The light was shining through the curtains of my guest room not long past 4 a.m. , unable to sleep I looked out the window and in the pale light I saw the sea, the birds and some drunken young revellers still ambling loudly on the beach from the night before with beer bottles in hand. They weren’t celebrating the Solstice, they were simply on holiday. Yes, I was in England but I don’t have a laptop or a mobile and was in a seaside town without internet access.

But I thought of you all out there somewhere. I felt bad for not writing about the Solstice, for this blog has become a commitment, although I don’t need any commitments right now.

I am on my own personal journey, this blog started with bits of my past, that others could relate to, then as I wrote various forces and choices transformed my present.

The same thing used to happen when I wrote many songs,  when I did art and wrote silly stories,the creative process subsequently changed my life.

Some people always stay in the same place all their lives, they like the same things, wear the same clothes, do the same job, love the same people and live with the same friends, family and neighbourhood. Although they still gently change and age, they are content with their stability.But people like me find this stability impossible and in spite of ourselves we need to transform, re-generate especially at times when the world too is changing fast( and we clash with our kin).

Joni Mitchell”California” 1970

So as a result of my blog I started to study again a subject which turned out to be just right for me in many ways, and also as a result of writing about protests and rights and looking at inequalities in relationships between people I mounted my own protest with  my nearest and dearest. Not fun, not fun at all but revolutionary. Not sure where it will end.

Also I foolishly mentioned to some that I had an anonymous blog and know that others observe me and can see into my private writings, I have to just live with that, but it has also put me off . A bit like having your parents or your teacher look over your shoulder while writing your private diary about the same said parent or teacher.

Joni Mitchell live 1974 “all i want”

Anyway I have been travelling and dealing with shit, just came back from a place in Eastern Europe that is amazing. I don’t want to tell you where it is! Because there are so few British and American tourists there at present. I may be going back there soon, just to say that people are nice there, much much nicer than in London, and that I left  a bag with my money , passport , debit card on a bench surrounded by at least a hundred people at the side of the biggest outdoor swimming pool I have ever seen and left it there for a couple of hours and no one took it.

But really coming back to London is so bad , as soon as I got here I was robbed in the street of only a few quid, still it was meant to be my week’s food money, without violence or even my noticing. I told the community police, they said there was nothing they could do but were sympathetic.

So  I called the real police, they were really nice but I soon felt like I was in a Monty Python sketch, the one with the restaurant where a diner complains about a dirty fork. In the end all the staff apologise and I think at least one stabs themselves to death.

They called me again today and asked for a description of the people hanging around me in the street when the money was taken. They chatted and laughed with me and were really nice so I thought I’d write about that.

But at lunchtime I had to walk past the same spot where I think my money was taken. There were two police vans , three police cars and about thirty police officers and community police people all standing guard around the place and stopping young people in the street asking them for ID. They didn’t stop me as I am too old.

I suddenly felt really guilty wondering if  maybe my calling them had somehow contributed to this operation.I am not being too specific here for obvious reasons. I didn’t feel good about it. I went back about four hours later and there were still around 15 police officers there stopping young people.

So on the one hand for a change I’d like to state that the police really can be very helpful and on the other , if this police presence really was in response to my complaint then we are living in a  scary place.

In the tremendously cultured , beautiful , historic, progressive , very friendly and poor town in eastern Europe I have been recently been to, they only have one or two CCTV cameras. Eco-conscious weasels break into parked cars at night and chew through the electrical wiring.There are tons of young people there, little or no health and safety rules, no Body Shop, no Starbucks etc..and the locals don’t speak English.

Apparently they had put a CCTV camera outside a building where journalists worked. The journalists complained that they should not be filmed and it was taken down. Also there was a smoking ban and bar owners who smoked complained that they would have to go outside for a smoke at their place of work, so they allow some restaurants and bars to have a major smoking section and a small non-smoking section. I’m not saying smoking is good for you but I think their approach is a little saner.

Here is a collection of Joni Mitchell songs starting with “Come to the Sunshine” with a great guitar riff with bended strings, performed live in 1967 at  the Couriers Folk Club Leicester. This song is definitely my current favourite of hers. If this plays correctly this should be a series of songs including a very expressive version of “Both Sides Now“. Joni Mitchell’s early live stuff is really her at her best in my humble opinion. If you can’t hear the others double-click onto youtube to find the rest. There are remastered (clearer) versions of some of these songs on one of a couple of live bootlegs called2nd Frets  1966-1968″ and “Live at Club 47″ ( 1968).

I think Joni should release this song again, it’s a definite hit, the version on “Live at Club 47” , unfortunately a bootleg, is louder on the guitar and more confident but the words and structure of this song are fantastic, it’s a gem of an undiscovered song. (maybe the sexual connotations kept it hidden!)

(for a complete list of Joni’s 37  unreleased early songs with lyrics go to jonimitchell.com)

Back to my travel tales in a cultured town in Eastern Europe….

I was sitting outside alone at three a.m. one night, smoking a fag and I asked a local if I was in danger of getting mugged. He told me that the only crime in their town was ” Street Demolition” which made me laugh.

I asked him what that was, it turns out it means graffiti and other small acts of vandalism like the odd beer bottle being smashed. There was lots of graffiti, but most of it was art which was much cleverer and skilled than your average “Banksy”.

I also went to an outside swimming pool there which was the size of Belgium, it even had waves without a wave machine. There was no chlorine in it, no shallow end,the lifeguard was in his own room about a million miles away and was fully clothed. It was bloody scary but no one drowned and everyone looked like they were having fun. Families chain smoked on the grass and under tress after a good swim.

The young people there seem so much more responsible and organised about their lives. They all drink  beer but  I was in this major town for ten days, I never saw a police car or a police officer.

Everyone in the street, in shops, everywhere was smiling and friendly even though I couldn’t speak the language , they were patient and entertained by my ” charade” miming skills. I didn’t have a phrase book though:

London and the UK are so over-rated, in just ain’t the same as in the times of Monty Python. Comedy is censured now so that no one gets upset. Would that sketch upset Hungarians?  It depends how people are represented. Freedom is good, travel broadens the mind if you allow it to, or if you are going a bit crazy it can cure depression or a nervous breakdown better than Prozac or dyamtholintoolitisticholum ( random name of prescribed drug I invented). If travel is better than anti-depressants then I will also say that music is also better than religion . Will I get comments? I doubt it, I’m not John Lennon.

That’s why I haven’t been here, but I am thinking of all of you. Going to Guilfest tomorrow, never been, I will writing again when I can like a  lost alternative Auntie. I’m going to Guilfest for an odd reason, my friend wants to go and see Motorhead somewhere he can smoke. Simples, squeak. Heavy rain is forecast.

I am going through a Joni Mitchell phase who wrote many songs about her travels but this is her famous ecological one.

“Big Yellow Taxi” 1970

Love and Peace

Born2rant

(I really should be packing and other stuff..excuse any typos!)

17/7/09 P.S. Clue for those who can be bothered to Google: the town I was referring to is home to a place where in the past , two dictators gave public speeches  from its main balcony,that was at the Blue Elephant Hotel. If you go there don’t take lager lout friends or hen parties with you,  the place is almost free of foreign tourists due to its location and history. Actually it’s not blue just Elephant Hotel, I must have put a colour in there with my imagination. You’ll probably read this after Googling “Blue Elephant Hotel” ten times, but I have to make it possible but hard for you to find, so only the determined will succeed, like the swimmers determined to survive a length without drowning at the swimming pool there.



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(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments


Carlyle ReedyCarlyle Reedy

(Episode Three) Notting Hill and the Arts 1967-1972: an interview with Dave Russell – Jazz, Psychedelic Rock Bands, Poetry, Frestonia, Release and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments.

Hello Good People who read and contribute to this blog!

Thanks for waiting, there have been technical problems galore which after complaining to TalkTalk and reformatting the computer are gradually clearing up.

I have finally uploaded the third installment of the Dave Russell interview about The Crypt in Notting Hill . He also tells us a bit about Frestonia and Release.

Episode Three of the Dave Russell interview about The Arts and Community Centre Notting Hill

At the start of this post I have put a photo of Carlyle Reedy who started up and ran the club from 1967 to 1972. She is fairly reclusive at present but I hope to meet her soon.

Dave talks about them charging half a crown which is 2/6 ( two and six) in predecimal money which is 12 and a half pence in today’s money . Here is a poster kindly sent to me by Iain Jacobs for the club which has the price and several other interesting points. If you point your cursor over the picture you can enlarge it and read the details. You will see several well known names in music.

Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments Poster

Pete Brown who is best known for co-writing most of the hits for the band Cream was a performance poet.

Here is a bit I nicked from Wikkipedia:Pete Brown (born December 25, 1940 in Ashtead, Surrey, England) is a British performance poet, lyricist and musical producer, best known for his collaborations with Jack Bruce. He worked also with The Battered Ornaments, and formed his own group Piblokto!. He was part of the poetry scene in Liverpool during the 1960s and in 1964 was the first poet to perform at Morden Tower in Newcastle. In 2004 he formed Brown Waters, an award-winning British film production company[1], with Mark AJ Waters and Miran Hawke….

Brown was originally brought into the Cream fold as a writing partner for drummer Ginger Baker, but the group quickly discovered that he worked better with bassist Jack Bruce. Of the situation, Bruce later remarked “Ginger and Pete were at my flat trying to work on a song but it wasn’t happening. My wife Janet then got with Ginger and they wrote ‘Sweet Wine’ while I started working with Pete.”

Together, Brown and Bruce wrote the majority of Cream’s numbers, including the hits “I Feel Free“, “White Room” and (with Clapton) “Sunshine of Your Love“.

After the breakup of Cream, Bruce and Brown continued to write songs together for Bruce’s solo career. Brown wrote the lyrics for Bruce’s albums Songs For a Tailor, Harmony Row and Into the Storm.”

Chris Spedding is another well-known name who has worked with many people in the music business. Here is a bit taken from his website. It’s a very brief description of his career.

Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter Chris Spedding has been a mainstay of the British session scene since the late 60s, playing with just about everyone from Nucleus, Jack Bruce, John Cale, Elton John, Mike Batt, to Paul McCartney & The Bay City Rollers (anonymously!).
In 1975 Spedding had a hit record called “Motorbikin'”. In the late 70s he moved to the States and worked with Robert Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Dick Rivers and Johnny Hallyday.
Recently, Spedding played with Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, in the summer of 2005 he released a solo album “CLICK CLACK”. And plays The War Of The World tour!”

Chris’ website is http://www.chrisspedding.com/

It’s funny that I had The Wombles on my Christmas blog because I think Chris may have known them well.

I used to think The Wombles were a very lame excuse for people in the music business to make lots of money out of little children. I still think that but now seeing them on youtube makes me smile and they are almost cool…in fact I’d like be one on stage and do the dances etc…ok I’m being really uncool and must carry on.

getting back to the poster..in brief (as it’s late now and I need to lie down) …Jamie Muir was a free form percussionist and later played in King Crimson and is now a painter.

Charlie Hart has also done 10 billion zillion things here is a short extract from the biography on his website featuring a picture of Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments:

” As a student Charlie played organ in the psychedelic band 117. The group appeared frequently at the Middle Earth/UFO clubs and recorded at a legendary session with Mick Jagger and Andrew Oldham at Olympic Studios. By that point, Charlie was heavily into black music and the most sensible plan seemed to go to Africa, so he spent a year in Ghana. Highlife and traditional music became an obsession and the next year Charlie returned to sit in with highlife bands and study marimba.

After college he was asked to join Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments with Chris Spedding, Dick Hextall-Smith and George Khan and he was introduced to the delights of the M1 and the Blue Boar. At that time he also started playing double bass with the People BandTerry Day, Mel Davis, Lyn Dobson, Mike Figgis, Davey Payne and they toured with the People Show. With Davey Payne and Terry Day he formed OMMU and they toured Holland frequently.

OMMU then joined Ian Dury, the eccentric art-school lyricist and Kilburn and the Highroads were at the front of the early 70s Pub-rock boom, free jazz meets rock and roll. Wreckless Eric was in the same stable, and Charlie played keyboards on his first LP. “

His website is http://www.charliehart.com

George Khan was a tenor saxophonist and all of them I’m sure were great ..I just don’t know them and I have to go to bed now! This took longer than I thought.

Next time maybe a bit of ranting, maybe a bit of Frestonia maybe a bit about Steve Hillage maybe some more posters from the 60s and 70s and 80s that are not published anywhere else or nicked ! I will see ..for now

Thanks for reading and bedtime!

but music before bed

see also

Frestonia-Your essential entertainment & lifestyle guide