FaceLift Magazine – The Canterbury scene and beyond

FaceLift Magazine, all issues!

Back in the day, between 1989 and 1999, Phil Howitt put together FaceLift Magazine, a fanzine dedicated to the Canterbury scene. An increasing number of fans and writers helped fill each issue. In addition to a wealth of information on the scene including articles, reviews, prints of posters and the like, the various issues featured interviews with many musicians from the scene, some who have sadly passed away since then. In the end, 19 issues were made and together they’re a treasure trove of information for enthusiasts.

In the 90s when most of these issues were made, I was a kid or a teenager. I didn’t know who Mike Ratledge or Daevid Allen was and I’d never had the pleasure of listening to National Health or Matching Mole. When I later did become a fan, I read about the existence of the FaceLift fanzine and I remember thinking how I would’ve loved to be a subscriber or contributor had I been who I am now back then. Thus, I was very happy and surprised to find that Phil Howitt is still selling his fanzine!

Today, roughly a week after my discovery, I’ve become the proud owner of all 19 issues which I look very much forward to diving into. So, thanks to Phil and everyone else who contributed. I look forward to reading your magazine!

Check out : FaceLift Magazine Website

Caravan – 1973 – For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night

For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night is the fifth album by Canterbury scene band Caravan and was released in 1973 on Decca’s Deram Records label.

Production

The album was recorded between April and August in 1973 at Decca TollingtonPark Studios and Chipping Norton Studios in London. Engineers were Kevin Fuller and Derek Varnals from Decca and David Grinstead from Chipping Norton. Producer was David Hitchcock. In a 2010 interview with Prog Sphere, frontman Pye Hastings had the following to say about the album.

 

Pye: Dave agreed to record “Plump in the Night” as a session player for a fee because he didn’t want to re-join the band at the time and needed some quick cash. We had previously recorded the album without keyboards with the intention of adding them later. Dave obliged but the recording lacked feeling and commitment. In the meantime we had a tour to do which again Dave agreed to do for a fee. Upon return we recorded the same numbers immediately, having ironed out all the bits that weren’t working, and got the backing tracks done in one take. Clearly this was the way forward. Great fun. I have never stopped writing and had this batch of songs ready as soon as Richard and Steve left the band. Something positive usually comes from a disruption, like line up change.

>> Source

 

Track listing

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]All songs written by Caravan except Backwards.

Side A

  1. Memory Lain, Hugh (4:54)
    • Pye Hastings
  2. Headloss (3:25)
    • Pye Hastings
  3. Hoedown (3:10)
    • Pye Hastings
  4. Surprise, Surprise (3:45)
    • Pye Hastings
  5. C’thlu Thlu (6:10)
    • Pye Hastings

Side B

  1. The Dog, the Dog, He’s at It Again (5:53)
    • Pye Hastings
  2. a. Be All Right/b. Chance of a Lifetime (6:38)
    • Pye Hastings
  3. a. L’Auberge Du Sanglier (1:00) / b. A Hunting We Shall Go (2:45) / c. Pengola (0:35) / d. Backwards (4:54) / e. A Hunting We Shall Go (Reprise) (0:32) [total: 9:46]
    • a. Pye Hastings / b. Pye Hastings / c. John G. Perry / d. Mike Ratledge / e. Pye Hastings

Note that later CD releases typically have bonus tracks in addition to the 7 tracks from the original release.

Personnel

[cc_half_col_left background_color=”f1f1f1″ radius=”6″ shadow_color=”888888″]Guest Musicians

  • Rupert Hine
    • A. R. P. Synthesizer [tracks A1/A2/B2a] / Congas [B2b]
  • Frank Ricotti
    • Congas [A2/A3/B1]
  • Jill Pryor
    • Voice [A5]
  • Paul Buckmaster
    • Electric Cello [B2a]
  • Jimmy Hastings
    • Flute / brass Arrangement & conductor [A1]
  • Tony Coe
    • Clarinet / Tenor Sax [A1]
  • Tommy Whittle
    • Clarinet / Tenor Sax [A1]
  • Harry Klein
    • Clarinet / Baritone Sax [A1]
  • Pete King
    • Flute / Alto Sax [A1]
  • Barry Robinson
    • Flute / Piccolo Flute [A1]
  • Henry Lowther
    • Trumpet [A1]
  • Chris Pyne
    • Trombone [A1]

Orchestra arranged by John Bell and Martyn Ford and conducted by Martyn Ford[/cc_half_col_left]

[cc_half_col_right background_color=”f1f1f1″ radius=”6″ shadow_color=”888888″]Caravan

  • Pye Hastings
    • Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Electric Guitar
  • Geoff Richardson
    • Viola
  • David Sinclair
    • Organ [Tracks A1/A2/A5/B2b/B3] / Piano [B3d] / Electric Piano [A3-B1] / A. R. P Synthesizer [A2] / Davoli Synthesizer [B1/B2a/B3d]
  • John G Perry
    • Bass Guitar, Vocals [A3/A4/B2a] / Percussion
  • Richard Coughlan
    • Drums[/cc_half_col_right]

[cc_clear]

On-site Reviews

External links

 

Caravan – 1973 – For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night

Cover Album Art for For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (1973)

After the release of Caravan’s Canterbury landmark album In the Land of Grey and Pink, creative differences in the group started pulling the band apart. First to leave was keyboardist David Sinclair to be replaced by Steve Miller. On the band’s fourth album from 1972, the band was basically split into two working pairs, Richard Sinclair and Steve Miller doing their more jazz inspired thing and Pye Hastings with Richard Coughlan writing more of the kind of rock tunes Caravan were known for. As a result, the band’s fourth album, Waterloo Lily, didn’t feel entirely cohesive and after it’s completion, Richard and Steve would leave Caravan and go on to other projects like Delivery and (for Richard) Hatfield and the North.

On For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, keyboardist David Sinclair was asked to participate and agreed to (re)join (after a short stint with Matching Mole) as a paid session player as he was in need of some cash. Also joining the ranks were John G. Perry on bass and shared vocal duty and multi-instrumentalist Peter Geoffrey “Geoff” Richardson on viola who has stayed with the band since. The man at the helm was, once again, singer and self-proclaimed chord basher Pye Hastings who wrote the vast majority of the music.

Album review

The result, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night from 1973, is a much more cohesive effort than their previous album, Waterloo Lily. With the jazzy experiments of Sinclair and Miller gone, the band adopted a rockier and more guitar dominated sound with various other noticeable instrumental differences such as the lovely addition of Geoff’s viola. The music they play is remarkably seductive and peppered throughout with feelgood sounds and lyrics on topics like love and sunshine. It may sound a bit wishy washy, but they managed to pull it off remarkably well and the whole album is full of hooks. A good example of the catchy feelgood music you’ll find on the album (and perhaps the song which is likely to first get stuck on a first time listener’s mind) is Caravan’s classic The Dog, The Dog, He’s At It Again, Pye’s tribute to sex – which I promise you is more charming than it sounds.

ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeGbAz8Ri1U

I consider the last half of the album to be the strongest and, as we get close to the end, the band plays along with an orchestra for an epic finish; a medley of beautiful instrumental pieces including Soft Machine keyboardist Mike Ratledge’s wonderful composition Backwards. If only Caravan and the New Symphonia sounded this good!

Final words

Not every song reaches the same level of excellence, but there really isn’t a bad track on here. To me, the album has great replayability as I find myself returning to this more than any other in the band’s discography. I suspect some Canterbury enthusiasts well versed in the avantgarde may initially consider this batch of Caravan’s later rock sounds to not be experimental enough for their liking. For their sake, I hope not because they’d be missing out. Like John G. Perry said in his interview with Aymeric from Calyx, I consider this album to be almost on par with the band’s classic In the Land of Grey and Pink. Depending on my mood, it may even be my favourite!

[rating:5] (5/5)

Kate Bush – 1978 – Lionheart

The album art was Kate’s idea; of playing herself as a child dressing up in the attic, expressing a longing back to a time at East Wickham Farm when she was free to immerse herself in her imaginations. Lionheart opens with the beautiful and profound Symphomy in Blue. While it might initially sound as an ode to the colour blue, it’s somewhat cryptic lyrics seem to carry an uplifting message of spiritual or emotional progress; “My terrible fear of dying no longer plays with me, for now I know that I’m needed for the symphony“. The song is uplifting and light with a melody that takes some very creative twists and turns. In Search of Peter Pan is another light affair with Kate and her piano. Again there are some interesting twists and turns and changes in mood within the song and a lush refrain where Kate sings to her own backing vocals. In the Warm Room is another song featuring Kate and her piano; slow, intimate and deliciously sensual, befitting it’s romantic, erotic lyrics.

Most of the songs are reminiscent of the sound from her debut, but Kate’s own artistic wish for more bite may have manifested itself on Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak. It starts out as the usual piano song before it bursts with life in the refrain, picking up a steady beat and brass section. Towards the end, we hear a Kate who sounds as if she’s screaming from the top of her lungs which is a first in her discography. The contrast between the slower, more lush parts of her song and the intense refrains makes for a wonderful combination.

Oh England My Lionheart is a beautiful ballad and an ode to England sung by a downed and dying warpilot (“dropped from my black spitfire to my funeral barge“) who hopes that heaven will be like the England of his youth. Later on, Kate would express embarassment with the song, but her words can’t undo the song’s undeniable beauty. In addition to the beautiful soundscape created by Bush with her piano singing on top of her backing vocals, the song features some lush flute (recorder) and even a hint of harpsichord. Hammer Horror is an ode to Hammer films, a film company that started specializing in producing horror films from the mid-to-late 50s. Bush’s character in the song is a replacement actor playing the role as the Hunchback of Notre Dame who then gets haunted by the jealous original actor. A (very nice) video was made for the video with Kate and a masked dancer dancing to a black backdrop.

The commercial star of the album is the song Wow which was the first single from the album. Wow was conceived sometime before Kate’s debut and is one of two songs on Lionheart played by her KT Bush Band, the other being Kashka from Baghdad (a song about a gay couple). The story Wow tells is less tangible than Wuthering Heights, but is roughly about theatre and theatrics. Musically, Wow is a reasonably straightforward pop song with a subtle verse and a powerful refrain. A very Kate Bushy music video was made for the song, complete with dance and a multitude of expressive faces.

Final Words

Lionheart has a lot going against it. It’s largely made up of songs that didn’t make the debut, it’s production was rushed and did not live up to neither Powell nor Kate’s vision. Instead, it is an album flavoured by compromise. However, when listening to the record, many of these problems seem to vanish into thin air as it is still an impressive pop record with a lovely collection of songs. Like on her debut, there are lots of beautiful moments and many songs from the album remain fan favourites. The album does little to develop her as an artist, but there is a hint of development on songs like Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake which has a rockier flavour than anything from her debut.

Overall, the album does not have the sense of completeness which The Kick Inside had and does not, in my personal opinion, quite reach the same heights of excellence or replayability. I would argue that despite Kate getting to coproduce, the album overall sounds less personal. While the debut contains songs that directly relate to going ons in Kate’s life (The Man With the Child in his Eyes, Strange Phenomena, Them Heavy People), she seems a little more distanced in Lionheart which tells stories through the use of characters more so than her debut. Of course, storytelling her music through the use of characters is typical for Kate Bush and would be a continuing characteristic in her career.

All in all, despite a very few shortcomings, Lionheart plays on the same strengths as Kate’s debut and anyone who liked her first offering should appreciate her second and vice versa. Although it may represent the clichèd rushed second album, coming from someone like Kate Bush, it’s still one hell of a record. Warmly recommended, particularly those who like her debut and Never For Ever!

Kate Bush – 1978 – The Kick Inside

Kate brought about 120 songs to Powell’s attention; there just seemed to be an endless supply of them which needed to be filtered through a selection process. The song chosen to start off The Kick Inside is Moving, a beautiful tribute to the expressive, releasing power of dancing. The “moving stranger” in the song is a reference to Lindsay Kemp, Bush’s early dance teacher who also taught David Bowie. The line “you crush the lily in my soul” may sound negative, but is meant to illustrate how teaching her to dance has empowered her. Kate once stated in an interview that Moving was one of her personal favourites from her debut with the other being the title track. The Saxophone Song and The Man With the Child in His Eyes are both recordings from her 1975 demo, also produced by Powell, and both remain fan favourites today. The Saxophone Song is told from the perspective of a woman in a bar who is seduced as she watches a performer being taken over by his instrument and the feelings this performance stir in her. The Man With the Child in his Eyes is generally thought to be a song written about her young sweetheart, Steve Blacknell, who in an interview said he’s still got the handwritten lyrics dedicated to him.

Moving and The Man With the Child In his Eyes are not the only songs that relate to going-ons in Kate’s life. Feel It clearly seems to be a song about sex; “feel your warm hand walking around, I won’t pull away” and may relate to a young girl’s awakening sexuality. Strange Phenomena, although lyrically somewhat cryptic, is supposedly about menstruation. Them Heavy People is an ode to the people who have expanded her horizons, her brothers likely among them; “they open doorways that I thought were shut for good, they read me Gurdjieff and Jesu“. George Ivanovich Gurdjieff was an Armenic mystic whose teachings seem to have been important to Kate and her friends in this period.

Still, some songs very clearly come from external sources of inspiration. One of the most beautiful songs on the album, the title track The Kick Inside, is about the ending of an incestuous love relationship between two siblings; a suicide note from the pregnant sister to her brother moments before she kills herself.

“This kicking here inside makes me leave you behind
No more under the quilt to keep you warm
Your sister I was born – You must lose me like an arrow
Shot into the killer storm”

“This kicking here inside” refers to the pregnancy while “no more under the quilt to keep you warm” likely refers to the sexual nature of their relationship. As previously stated, Kate herself has claimed The Kick Inside to be one of her favourite songs from her debut. Despite it’s controversial lyrics, the song was also one of Powell’s favourites. In an interview, he said “as I’m mixing it the lyric just hit home to me. It got to me, it was so powerful. I found it quite an emotional song to listen to and to work on”.

The star of the record, at least commercially speaking, is undoubtedly Wuthering Heights. Kate Bush’s most famous song was not inspired by Emily Bronte’s classic book by the same name, but a televised drama version which she caught the last ten minutes of. The song does an excellent job at showcasing Kate’s extraordinairy voice and, with the supernatural theme of love pulling someone back from the grave to come back to haunt their beloved, it all becomes a powerful mixture. The song, along with the video where Kate pretends to be Cathy’s ghost, arms outstretched and reaching for her lover Heathcliffe, became tremendously famous and Kate became the first female artist to have a #1 UK pop single. Kate later had to read the book just to make sure her research was right!

Final Words

Kate had a lot of good help on this record from many prog rock veterans brought in by Powell. Although she has affection for the album, she has also expressed some dissatisfaction with the lack of control over the record, feeling that the final product is not just an expression of her vision, but also part that of her producer (a “problem” she will later fix). However, the album is entirely remarkable. I personally think Powell did a perfect job; the album is clearly about Kate, her piano, her remarkable voice and the stories she tells with her songs. On beautiful pieces like L’Amour Looks Something Like You or The Man With the Child in his Eyes, Kate is clearly the center of attention. The other musicians in the mix mainly serve to give the songs a little extra depth and lift it just a little, but they do not overpower it, just as it should be. Kate’s songs are catchy enough to instantly connect, but varied enough for lasting appeal. Although her songs may lack a little punch, they have a lot of soothing, comfortable beauty and the details are marvellous, for example the backing vocals she does on Kite or the outro guitar solo on Wuthering Heights. To me, listening to it is a thoroughly delicious experience and medicine for the soul.

Bush has also criticized her debut for being “airy fairy”, but why shouldn’t it be? Truth is she probably was a bit airy fairy at the time these songs were written and part of the beauty of the album is that it captures some of the essence of Kate at that time in her life when she was, despite some sexual themes, a more innocent person. Related to this and somewhat refreshing is also her attitude towards men. They are clearly subjects of interest to her and she does not have the sometimes clichèd (if justified) cynical attitude towards them. Instead, they are objects of desire (The Saxophone Song, The Man With the Child in his Eyes, Feel It). The lyrics are smart, well written and often touching, and the way she expresses them through her voice is occasionally breathtaking. Compared to later albums, her voice here is a little lighter and, in my opinion, more appealing. Kate was a smoker for much of her career which may not have been a good musical influence.

Finally, it is not just the imaginations of a young girl beautifully recorded in sound, but so very Kate Bush. She is entirely unique. If you gave a 17 year old girl a record deal and a chance to record her own songs, if she could approach the quality of The Kick Inside, that itself would be remarkable. But we will never see another Kate Bush and Kate herself was only as innocent and pure on this one record. For this reason, and on the strength of the songs of which there is not a single filler, it is my favourite debut record ever recorded. In my opinion, it is also the perfect place to start for anyone who have not yet checked out her discography. Pure brilliance. Check it out!

What on Earth are you doing, God?

God Song is another classic and, for me, another favorite from the Canterbury scene. It was first released on Matching Mole’s Little Red Record from 1972, but other versions exist, for example a lovely version with Robert Wyatt singing and playing the piano on his archive release Solar Flares Burn for You, released in 2003. The lyrics were written by Robert while the music is credited to Phil Miller who was, at that time, Matching Mole’s guitarist.

To me, the song showcases some amazing lyrical skills by Robert. The song itself is a sort of prayer where a drunk singer, having a moment of honesty, expresses his frustrations with God. Towards the end of the song, the singer’s fear of God seems to resurface and he asks Him to discard his frustrations as a joke or drunken rant.

 

Don’t hunt me down for heaven’s sake

You know I’m only joking, aren’t I

Pardon me, I’m very drunk

 

The song portrays God as something like a bully, possibly playing a big joke on Mankind, expecting rules to be followed while being absent and not involving himself in the betterment of his followers lives and possibly “hunting down” those who dare complain. The use of everyday language and expressions and the partly rantish nature of the lyrics (such as the changing subjects and the suggestion that he gives his son a wife and a sexy daughter next time around) may seem comical at first, but actually help make the song feel more real and honest.

Most of you who are interested in the scene will know the Matching Mole version already and so I thought I’d post here Wyatt’s version from Solar Flares Burn For You which I believe is the same as on the Flotsam Jetsam compilation, only that one has Fol De Rol attached to the end of it.

The song was also played by Hatfield and the North and has been sung many times on stage by Richard Sinclair. The last time they played it may have been in drummer Pip Pyle’s funeral in 2006, a very beautiful and touching gesture. Back in 1972, the band also played the song with Robert Wyatt as a guest singer in a duet with Richard Sinclair. Here is such a version sung at the start of this medley, supposedly from a set they played together in France in 1972, according to the video’s description.

To me, God Song is an immortal classic which never seems to get old. What do you think? Any other fans out there? :)

Happy birthday, Dave!

David Sinclair 1976/77, picture courtesy of Mark Hewins

It was back in 1968 that David Sinclair first gave us the gift that keeps on giving as keyboardist on Caravan’s debut album. Since then, he’s become one the most loved musicians from the scene and has been involved with projects like Matching Mole, Sinclair & The South, The Polite Force, Camel and also his own solo material. He’s still most famous for his work with Caravan, for the timeless beauty of his playing and for composing classics like For Richard, Nine Feet Underground and Proper Job / Back to Front. Those were all recorded a while ago now, but Dave is still very much an active musician with his last release being Stream from earlier this year (which by the way features other known Canterburyans like Robert Wyatt and Jimmy Hastings!).

Today, it’s 64 years ago since David Sinclair was born in Herne Bay and so we’d like to say

Happy birthday, Dave! We wish you all the best!