A trip back to The Pavilion - Anthony talks about the second of the Private Parts & Pieces albums. Interview conducted on Sunday 19th March 1995. (originally published in #7 of The Pavilion).
INT: I suppose the first question to as is why did you decide to release another generic album…?
AP: I’ve go to think about this. Zis is a very long time ago, you know! (In best Herr Flick * accent). This album happened after the Arista deal went, basically. After the two so-called “commercial” albums: Wise After The Event and Sides hadn’t done anything and after Sides hadn’t been the great top ten commercial hit that they thought it would be, that contract went. This was before the contract with RCA but I had an existing contract with Passport and so the only outlet was Passport. There was no advance coming from them so the music that could be used had to be available, hence the use of guitar and piano pieces and material that was available like The Scottish Suite which was in fact, music that was originally done for a proposed Shakespeare project using all of the dialogue from the tragedies set to rock music.
They wanted to try and get some very famous rock musicians involved and in the absence of any big names, they got me to do some of it as a pilot for this thing, so all sorts of titles were originally written for this project. It was terribly over-ambitious but, as you know, you’re not supposed to say Macbeth in the theatre, it is always referred to as “The Scottish Play” hence The Scottish Suite. That was available from 1976, the summer of that year as I recall.
I Saw You Today was from quite early in the 1970’s actually. Back To The Pavilion was an early piano piece from the same time as Autumnal. Lucy An Illusion, as we know, was an extra track on the CD but that dates from the late 1960’s. Von Runkel’s Yorker Music, Magic Garden and Chinaman and Nocturne were all links from the Wise After The Event period when it was planned to be a much longer album.
Some of the guitar pieces were those which had been released by Weinberger’s in score form like Spring Meeting. K2 was just a fiddle about on the Polymoog. Actually, Postlude: End Of Season was used as a jungle too, that was a library piece. It was going to be a Christmas song from around the time I did Wise After The Event and Peter Cross liked it very much but Tony Smith didn’t. Heavens was a synth improvisation, Will O’ The Wisp was a guitar improvisation done at home. Tremulous was originally another Wise After The Event link which had Mel Collins on it.
My brother played the oboe on Von Runkel’s Yorker Music. Romany’s Aria was the end of We’re All As We Lie backwards as is known , I think. I always loved the sound of that. It sounded like somebody juggling the sitar backwards..
As far as The Scottish Suite is concerned, obviously Salmon’s Last Sleepwalk was Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalk scene where she has gone quite deranged. Some of the more strange stuff in Amorphous, Cadaverous and Nebulous went with the witches and there’s an odd almost slide guitar bit that was supposed to be their broomsticks - I’m serious! (laughs). Salmon Leap was a kind of overture. Parting Thistle was for a scene where someone reads a letter. I can’t remember where Electric Reaper fits in.
Lindsay was inspired by somebody called Lindsay but it wasn’t Lindsay Anderson! Spring Meeting was taken partly from the fact that we used to have at Send a sort of pre-summer get together which we used to call The Spring Meeting, so there was a slight double entendre there. Chinaman, as you know, is a kind of ball you bowl in cricket. Magic Garden was recorded while I was waiting for Rupert Hine to arrive one day. Rupert would always give his utmost in the studio but was a little bit flexible on the hour of his arrival (laughs). He would always give you toms of time but he would start half an hour later each day so you ended up starting work at eight in the evening! That track uses a lot of harmoniser on it which is the strange, slightly warbly effect on it which slightly reflects Wise After The Event recording techniques where I was crazy for things like choruses and harmonisers and things like that as well as rich harmonics on acoustic instruments, mainly on guitar but sometimes on piano.
INT: Obviously the title comes from the track, but the whole packaging is influenced by your cricketing influences. Did Peter Cross come up with the sleeve design as a result of that or the music itself?
|AP: Yes, in those days the music was always done first and obviously with this one, a lot of it was already on the shelf and we had lots of these titles. It always helped to make things as graphic as possible for him. Actually, Back To The Pavilion was something that was used in our cricket team, that term was actually used quite a lot in the context of one guy always getting out, so Peter was already very much thinking about that. A lot of the main protagonists are here (Ant looks at the sleeve). I remember it was always rather sad because the dear old accountant at Hit & Run, Monty Wynn, who has sadly passed on, was really chuffed because he was convinced that it was him at square leg, and in fact it is my father at square leg! (laughs). And I could never disabuse Monty of that! He was always very nice to me but he was a hard man, even Phil Collins would come out crying almost after a meeting with Monty! There are many subtleties in this sleeve which would take hours and hours to explain. Jeremy Gilbert is there, of course, in the greenhouse at the top, and Peter’s good friend and mentor, Peter Dallas Smith is there too at the top. Of course there’s Dale (Newman), Colin Sturge, Tony Smith, John Downing and a guy called “Hurricane” Higham, a good friend of mine. They are all there and it is a brilliant design.|
INT: Who has the original painting?
AP: A good friend of mine called David Atchley has got the original. The original picture is about fifteen inches in circumference I think. I’ve never known who the pirate guy is in the top branches - any ideas? He’s wearing a Scotsman’s bonnet so maybe he’s a Scotsman? This album was the one which was in the top of the import charts or second in the import charts I think. I think I have still got the cutting that my friend Don Peachey sent me from the Philippines. I’m second and Bob Dylan is first. Sides didn’t hit the big commercial stuff they wanted, nevertheless there was a strong ish following and the albums were fairly regular. It was after 1984 that things got difficult.
INT: I always liked the quote on the back cover. Was that aimed at anyone in particular?
AP: Yes, I think it was mean, absolutely. I think there were a lot of trends and tides really with Punk in particular, which I have nothing against personally. If I had been ten years younger I would probably have gone along with it myself. I DID resent the way in which everybody was supposed to go into a kind of reverse gear and that was the only cool thing to be doing. It was like a party line but I think it was the message whereas in the Sixties, the message, which may have been very naïve, but it was very positive, whereas this was very negative. The idea that “bad playing is cool” was quite worrying in that they couldn’t actually PLAY their instruments and it was the fact that it was being taken too seriously and turned into a big thing; a fashion, and it was exploitation. If you wanted to go out and play some honest rough music then, no problem at all but that was really, really cynical with the turncoats who one day had been praising the bands and the next day when the new thing was in, started rubbishing them, it was like Stalin in a way.
People had a tendency to go along with it and somebody had to stand up because otherwise there were no ideals and values and I found also in the classical world, I found myself unable to deal with a lot of this dissonant music, which seemed to be over intellectualised and where people just seemed to be saying, to my way of thinking, that something was really great and new and avant garde and it was really passe to write a melody and make nice sounds. This argument that because it was a dissonant world with the bomb and stuff; the music had to reflect the age in which you live and because this is a terribly threatening age, the music should sound awful. I mean, when you look back to the Sixteenth Century there was the most wonderful music written and conditions were unbelievably awful. There was no bomb but there were constant wars and people lived in the most appalling conditions and yet there was this wonderful music being created at the same time. So I was really having a go at that attitude from the avant garde classical people.
INT: Did you write all of the music for the album or were any of the tracks written in collaboration with others?
AP: No. I wrote none of it. In fact, I stole it all! (laughs). The Salmon wrote most of The Scottish Suite, Lindsay did that piece,. I think Chris Bonnington did K2 and Mao Tse Tung wrote Chinaman (you see what I have to put up with in what is supposed to be a SERIOUS interview, folks? - AH). I think I wrote most of it. On Tremulous I didn’t write all the flute part out for Mel Collins, he just blew away and mainly improvised.
I think, apart from that and The Scottish Suite it was all pretty new stuff. Mike (Rutherford) helped me a bit with Lucy: An Illusion but it was more in terms of playing more than in writing. He probably advised on the shaping of it but didn’t do any of the writing as such. So, it was all me, actually.
INT: All self-penned on the back of bus tickets?
AP: That’s right.
INT: What is you favourite track from the album?
AP: People always ask me if I have a favourite track and that’s the last thing I have! I don’t want to listen to them unless I have to do compilations. I was quite surprised to find in The Pavilion readers’ poll that it was number four in the all-time list. I have always thought of it as an album that people either like or loathe; it is very strange. Because it is such a hotch potch but some people seem to think it is a nice mixture, whereas I would have thought that it is an album where people like some things and not others. It doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t. That was all that was practicable at the time and I thought it was valid to put them down in a combination and try to make a flow from them which is difficult because the stuff is already written. It was almost like a compilation in a way, with running themes and the cover helped.
I know from what I have been told that people do like these sort of titles, the sort of whimsical stuff. I have remembered the Christmas single which we mentioned before and, of course, Bing Crosby had just died and I remember Tony Smith saying: “There will only be ONE Christmas single…” Peter Cross always remembered that line but Peter also remembers Brian Murray-Smith talking on the ‘phone about Tarka and saying: “We really like this package… it’s really good… no, no there are no otters on this one…” It stemmed from when we trying to sell Tarka during the Punk era which was all very badly timed and nobody was interested. Tarka did the rounds of the record companies and can you imagine Tarka coming out while Punk was going down? And we were trying to sell Sides at the same time an I overheard Brian Murray-Smith who was Tony Smith’s sidekick, a terribly nice guy, saying this over the ‘phone to somebody and that became an absolute classic!
INT: How did Andy McCulloch end up playing on The Scottish Suite?
AP: Good question. The stuff being more sort of electric for the Macbeth project, which was where they wanted some stuff that was quite band orientated and they wanted a Genesis or a Pink Floyd to do it so I got Mike to come over and play bass on it. I can’t remember what the drumming situation was although I am sure I had tried to get Phil.
Earlier in 1976, I was involved with the first Peter Gabriel demos. It was a strange combination of people who did those demos. There was John Goodsall from Brand X, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and me! I played piano on Here Comes The Flood. John Goodsall was good and he had a quite scatty sort of style. It was absolute dynamite playing with those two as a rhythm section as by that stage they were so good. I tried to get Phil and he wasn’t available. I don’t remember where Andy McCulloch came from although he played with Greenslade although I didn’t know them. I knew the chap who was their sort of roadie or manager, a guy called Jeremy Ensor, who was known as “Obbal” who was in a group with David Thomas. He was the guy who thought that in twelve bar blues, the third note was a D instead of being three open strings on a bass guitar. He played with a group called Principal Edwards Magic Theatre who actually played the Royal Albert Hall which is something I haven’t done!
Greenslade used to drop in at Send on their way to Guildford gigs so, I suppose I must have already met Andy McCulloch then and maybe kept the contact although I really don’t remember. He was nice but it would have been nicer to have used Phil. That session was done at Olympic, a sort of day there just to knock all of the tracks down and some of it was transferred from my machine.
INT: So he tracks had all been pre-recorded before you went into the studio?
AP: Yes. But things like Parting Thistle, the acoustic one, that was done at home I think, it was just the electric ones recorded at that session. It was backed by Fuse Music, who Genesis were published for a while, and then went bust. They were actually very nice guys who invested in quite a lot of things and this one obviously was quite an interesting one but a bit of a long shot.
I have still got tapes of what they gave me as the starting point with the dialogue which had Glenda Jackson as Lady Macbeth and Michael Jayston as Macbeth. I had to put the music to their dialogue. When I used this I was probably on dodgy ground really but nothing happened to it for five years and I hadn’t been paid for it. Some of the Amorphous, Cadaverous and Nebulous stuff was very powerful because it was during the dark stuff in the play.
I tell you what we also used; I have just remembered this actually, because The Geese & The Ghost had been recorded but not released as this was the terrible summer of ’76 where I was just mooning around wondering why nothing had happened to that. I was doing lots of stuff to keep busy and we used some of the lyrical sections in Henry in some of the speeches. Curiously enough, some of that medieval, slightly sparse, plaintive stuff worked incredibly well with some of the quite violent speeches rather than having crash, bang, wallop and so on. Sometimes the opposite things work as a counterpoint. Misty Battlements worked the best in that situation.
And moving swiftly one we now get to Private Parts & Pieces III….