Tag Archives: Phil Miller

Romantic Warrior III : Canterbury Tales

Documentary filmmakers Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder need your help! They are working on their documentary series, Romantic Warriors, and now they’re currently in production of their third film, Canterbury Tales. As you might have guessed already, this film focuses on the Canterbury scene and will feature interviews with a wealth of musicians like Phil Miller, Dirk Campbell, David Sinclair, Brian Hopper and Didier Malherbe, just to mention a few.

They’ve also made a trailer.

 

Currently, they are working on getting funding to complete their film and, unless i july 11th already, you can help them. Read more about the project and help them reach their 20 000 USD goal on indiegogo.com :

 

In memory of Steve Miller

Yesterday (Dec. 19th) would have been the 68th birthday of keyboardist/pianist Steve Miller (1943 – 1998). In 1966 he formed the band Delivery in which his younger brother Phil played guitar along with Pip Pyle on drums and Jack Monk on bass. Lol Coxhill would later join the line-up and the group became the backing band for Carol Grimes. Since then, he had a brief stint in Caravan as well as musical collaborations with musicians like Lol Coxhill and Mark Hewins. His last album was Miller’s Tale by the Steve Miller trio and Lol Coxhill.

Sadly, in early 1998, Steve was diagnosed with cancer. A benefit gig was held later in summer at the London Vortex Jazz bar which featured reformations of Delivery and Miller’s jazz quartet as well as improvisations by Mark Hewins and Elton Dean.

Mark has been so kind as to share with us a video recording from that evening. The video shows a moment on stage, I assume between songs, when Steve improvises a little tune on the piano. The quality of the picture is not good, but the music is beautiful.

Embedly Powered

via Flickr

 

We all knew it was Steve’s last gig before he was taken from us..

On stage here as he improvises a moment, so sublime, so.. Steve.

 

Source : Mark Hewins @ flickr

 

Sadly, Steve’s battle with cancer ended on Dec. 9th that same year. May his memory and music live on.

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? :)

The Collapso and Pip Pyle’s T-Shirt

In 1978, founding member, keyboardist and composer Dave Stewart left the Canterbury supergroup National Health to play with Bruford. However, even though the skilled musicianship and experimental sounds of National Health found themselves in an increasingly hostile environment after the rise of punk, the band was invited to come and play on BBC’s TV Show Old Grey Whistle Test on January 9th 1979. Dave Stewart temporarily rejoined the band for this one-off show, the only televised performance in the band’s history.

The song they performed was Dave Stewart’s composition The Collapso from their brilliant second album Of Queues and Cures from 1978. Their performance did not go off without a hitch. A visibly drunk John Greaves has some trouble on bass which may also have been what causes Phil Miller to lose the melody on his guitar in one of the song’s more climactic moments, but even these problems are dwarfed by the awesomness of National Health playing one of their classics.

 

After watching this clip a few times, I noticed drummer Pip Pyle was wearing a long-sleeved white t-shirt with a parody Ford logo on it saying “Fraud”. Certainly, something like that should still exist and so I checked the internet and lo and behold, it certainly does. Not only did I find such a logo in an acceptable resolution, but the site I found it on, Ford Visteon – a Fight for Justice, is encouraging it’s use. In case any of you would like to head on over to cafepress.com or spreadshirt.com to make your own Pip Pyle Fraud T-Shirts, I’ve hotlinked here a version which has the white background trimmed away and replaced with transparency.

Just click the image for full resolution!

National Health – 1977 – National Health

National Health is the eponymous debut album of Canterbury scene band National Health and was released in October 1977 on Affinity Records. The album features lengthy, complex instrumental compositions reminiscent of Hatfield and the North and is considered by many to be a classic album from the Canterbury scene.

Production

The album was recorded in in London in March and April 1977. Studio engineers were Mike Dunne, Paul Northfield & Brian Gaylor. The producer was National Health and Mike Dunne.

Track listing

[cc_full_width_col background_color=”f1f1f1″ shadow_color=”888888″ radius=”6″]All songs by National Health.

Side A

  1. Tenemos roads (14:32)
    • Dave Stewart
  2. Brujo (10:13)
    • Alan Gowen

Side B

  1. Borogoves (Excerpt from part two) (4:12)
    • Dave Stewart
  2. Borogoves (Part one) (6:29)
    • Dave Stewart
  3. Elephants (14:32)
    • Dave Stewart, Alan Gowen

Personnel

[cc_half_col_left background_color=”f1f1f1″ radius=”6″ shadow_color=”888888″]National Health

  • Alan Gowen
    • Acoustic [tracks A2, B3] and electric piano, moog
  • Amanda Parsons
    • Vocals
  • Dave Stewart
    • Organ, acoustic and electric piano
  • Neil Murray
    • Electric bass guitar
  • Phil Miller
    • Electric guitar
  • Pip Pyle
    • Drums / cowbell, gong, tambourine [A1] / glockenspiel, finger cymbals, shaker, bells [A2] / Pixiephone [B2][/cc_half_col_left]

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

  • Jimmy Hastings
    • Flute, bass clarinet [A1], clarinet [B1]
  • John Mitchell
    • Percussion [A1], temple blocks / guava [A2], congas [B1][/cc_half_col_left]

[cc_clear]

On-site links

On-site reviews

  • None!

External links