Tag Archives: Richard Sinclair

Richard Sinclair plays with Maartin Allcock and Oak

This popped up on the Richard Sinclair Live info Facebook page so I thought I’d help spread the word by posting it here as well. It seems Richard will be playing a couple of concerts with Maartin Allcock and the band Oak. :)

 

Next Live Gigs coming up are a new project with Maartin Allcock and Jerry Cutillo’s OAK, we’ll be performing in Rome and also Umbria …

 

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Today we celebrate the birthday of the magnificent guitarist and adventurer Mark Hewins who is 57 today. As a musician, Mark got involved with the Canterbury scene in the mid-70s when he played in Polite Force alongside ex-flowers Graham Flight, Dave Sinclair and many other Canterburyan heroes who guested the stage with the band. Later on, he would befriend and collaborate with many other musicians from the scene like Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and Richard Sinclair in projects like Going Going and Mashu.

Mark has also been a a great resource to many of us fans as he has happily shared with us both Canterbury-related music, pictures, videos and anecdotes, for example stories from when he was on the road with Soft Heap. He is always friendly, always approachable, and many of us owe him our personal thanks.

Some time ago, Mark sent me a video which is an interview with him while “on the road” – or perhaps “in the air” – and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share it. Enjoy!

Also don’t forget to check out Mark’s account on Soundcloud where he shares his music, both his own solo works and collaborations with others. It is a treasure trove for any Canterbury enthusiast.

Happy birthday, Mark! :)

Big in Japan – Part 2 : Sixnorth

Cover for Sixnorth's Prayer (2003)

Sixnorth or “Six North” depending on where you’re reading about them is a Japanese fusion/prog rock group led by talented bassist and composer Hideyuki Shima. As far as I know, the band has released two albums. The first, I’m Here in my Heart from 2000, features a lot of lovely composed and largely instrumental music which is a joy to listen to. Their second album, Prayer from 2003, is a worthy follow up and connoisseurs of the Canterbury scene will also be happy to hear that it features a guest performance by none other than keyboardist Dave Sinclair on the album’s final track which is named after his cousin Richard. Actually, both Dave and Richard Sinclair have performed with members of the band at a Canterbury festival in Asia in 2004, although I don’t know any specifics beyond that.

The band is slightly obscure here in the west, but those adventurous enough to check them should find them a rewarding listen. Not much is available on sites like youtube, but I did manage to find the song “Richard” from their second album which is the song previously mentioned, dedicated to Richard with a guest performance by Dave Sinclair. If you listen closely, you should also hear a musical reference to the Hatfield and the North song “Fitter Stoke has a Bath”.

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntUQhRcLWzc

Big in Japan – Part I : Ain Soph

The music of the Canterbury Scene reaches out to people through time and space and has far reaching influences on other musicians. Some of these influences travel across to the other side of the globe from where the music originated. Over the course of a few posts, I will take a brief look at a few Japanese bands inspired by the Canterbury scene. More than simple imitations, these bands feature highly skilled musicians with a deep respect for their inspirations.

Ain Soph - Hat and Field (1986)

Ain Soph is one of the most obviously Canterbury inspired bands from the Japanese prog rock scene. They started out as a prog band in the 70s and the earliest available recordings from them are late 70s live demos released in the early 90s in the release Ride On A Camel. Could it be a reference to the band Camel? In 1980, they released a highly acclaimed debut album called A Story of Mysterious Forest and in 1986, their even more acclaimed (I believe) Hat and Field which is an obvious reference to Hatfield and the North, both in title, album cover and to some extent the music they play. One of the album’s songs is called “Canterbury Tale (For Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair)”. It makes me wonder if Pye or Richard ever heard it?

If you find these references obvious to the point of being a little painful, don’t let it turn you off their music which is surprisingly beautiful and “genuine” for a Canterbury band so far away from Canterbury.

For those curious enough to check it out, here’s a small sample, the album’s opening song “The Swan Lake”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKJ2y8qlkf8

Enjoy! :)

Panzerpappa – 2006 – Koralrevens Klagesang

Koralrevens Klagesang (2006)

Panzerpappa is a band from from Oslo, Norway. In their own words, the band plays “progressive rock with a friendly face” but is more accurately described as RIO/Avant-Prog with influences stretching back to 70s bands like Henry Cow, King Crimson and Samla Mammas Manna with a dash of Canterbury like Hatfield and the North. The band has so far released four albums with the fifth, called Astromalist, currently in the final stages of production. The band’s fourth effort, Koralrevens Klagesang, mixes rock in opposition, prog and jazz together to great effect. In addition to the band (Trond Gjellum, Jarle G. Storløkken, Anders Krabberød, Steinar Børve), the album also features contributions from a range of musicians which, I imagine readers of this website will be pleased to hear, includes a guest vocal performance by Richard Sinclair.

Album review

Listening to the album again, I notice how refreshingly diverse it is. Each song clearly has its own identity and attempts its own thing. The album features a recurring title theme called Koralrevens Klagesang parts I, II and III and even though they share a same musical theme, they all sound very different. The two first parts open the album with the intro track being a mournful tune dominated by a brass section while the second descends into barely structured chaos featuring sinister sounds which, to me, are reminiscent of Univers Zero. The album’s third track is as close as you get to a prog epic on the album which features, along with great sax and guitar, great use of vibraphone in its first half. Some of the hooks here have a way of getting stuck in the ears.

Apraxia is a beautifully slow and layered piece that I thought reminiscent of Return to Forever’s Crystal silence when I first heard it. Bass at the bottom and then beautiful vibraphone, balaphone and guitar forms the basis while a mournful saxophone solos on top. A moment towards the end when the sax finishes its solo and an acoustic guitar enters to finish the piece is one of the most hair raising moments of delight found on the record. Vintervake, featuring vocals by Richard Sinclair, will likely be a favourite with anyone listening to the album for the first time. Richard’s singing gives it an instantly Canterburyan feel, but the composition (by Steinar Børve) is still very Panzerpappa. Etyde and Frenetisk Frenologi (For Nybegynnere) are both instrumental pieces that, to me, seem to tell some sort of narrative. Both songs feature changing themes exploring musical landscapes from the upbeat and beautiful at one extreme to aplocalyptic gloom at the other.

The album’s finale is a beautiful acoustic version of the Koralrevens Klagesang theme featuring clarinet and two acoustic guitars. As an added trivia, the track features no overdubs and so a few takes were done. Just after the final take (the one featured on the album), one of the strings on Jarle’s guitar breaks and so the last sound we hear on the album is the sound of the string tearing and unwinding a bit before it suddenly snaps.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

Final words

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve yet to get something resembling a firm grip on modern RIO/prog. I am still by far mostly listening to records from the 70s. Although I probably would’ve picked up the album eventually due to its guest performance by Richard, I got around to it quicker as Anders Krabberød (bass) is a personal friend, something which helps make this album extra special. Still, my praise is not simply a plug for a friend. According to Gnosis, Koralrevens Klagesang is currently the second best album from Norway in their database. Although it’s been a while since I first heard it, I still find  it a highly interesting album which covers a lot of musical ground and contains many enjoyable highlights. Those not familiar with avantgarde music may find it a challenging listen, but probably not to the point of being exclusive as songs like Apraxia and Koralrevens Klagesang III should be enjoyable to just about anyone, at least those visiting this website!

Koralrevens Klagesang is still my favourite Norwegian album and, I suspect, will be until the upcoming release of Astromalist which I very much look forward to.

[rating:5/5] (5/5)

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)

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!

Vintervake

Vintervake is a song by norwegian avant-garde prog band Panzerpappa. It was written by Steinar Børve. Featuring vocals by Richard Sinclair, Vintervake was the only song with sung lyrics from the band’s fourth album Koralrevens Klagesang from 2006.

Lyrics

As there’s no official written source for the song’s lyrics, the ones given here may not be entirely correct. (?) after a word indicates the word might not be the correct one.

 

Flickering lights
in the sky
shines upon my troubling nights

Is this for real
or a dream
this enormous cold that I feel

Onwards I strive
step by step
trying just to keep me alive

What’s there to see
where to go
can anybody help me to breathe (?)

Hear how they call
sickly sweet
sirens, as they wait for my fall

Still I go on…

Figures in white
dancingly
guided me away from the light

Deep underground
to a world
where the strangest creatures are found

Both foul and fair
after (?)  me
mock me without heeding my prayer

My life was frail
death was drawing near
here in the land of the pale

Then in a flash
all is changed
someone pulled my life from the ash

Honey I’m back…

 

External Links


Just Keep Going Going in Herne Bay

Cast:

  • Dave Sinclair…piano
  • John Murphy…a composer
  • Mark Hewins…himself
  • Richard Sinclair…an electric bass player
  • Richard Coldman…an intense fellow who played guitar
  • Alan Prosser…acoustic guitar
  • Arthur Kitchener…another electric bass player
  • Bill Bruford…a drummer


Herne Bay is about 5 miles from Canterbury and on the sea. Many of the students from the University live there, but they are mostly the ones who prefer the seaside to lectures. Well that was in 1975 anyway.

Dave Sinclair was living in a flat in the road that runs parallel to the sea. I lived at the top of the road about 200 meters from him. I used to see him quite often, usually in the mornings I would go for coffee. I remember he first introduced me to Edam cheese, on toast for breakfast, a habit which has lasted for me ever since. John Murphy and his wife had the flat upstairs so the surroundings were always musical, and Richard Sinclair only lived about another 200 meters further on from my flat. He had moved to Herne bay because of some personal problems that were in Canterbury and had been pretty quiet. So we didn’t at that time play together even though we lived virtually on the same street. Then Richard Coldman turned up, out of the blue. Alan Prosser, the Guitar player with the Oyster band (who later had a No.1 hit in the UK with ‘Didn’t we have a loverly time ….’) introduced us and as I had just run out of cash I needed someone to share the flat in Herne bay. So he moved in, this was a really fine musical relationship and we had several successes.

I had found this person who was as serious about playing as I was and we began working and practising up to 16 hours a day, as a Guitar duo. This kind of work needs an outlet and we began playing the bars in Canterbury to earn some money. To save the bus fare, and often to get home at night after the last bus had gone, we hitchhiked the 5 miles – with two Guitars!

But very soon we began to branch out and we did a recording project at the Hornsea College of Art in London. Their electronic music studio at the time was arcane, with old VCS 3 patch synthesizers and bits of wire everywhere, but we got, and I still have, some nicely strange music from there.

Back in Herne bay we were offered a brief to do the music for a TV commercial which was a real deal for us, and more money than we had before. I had been playing on and off with Arthur Kitchener (later the Bass player with the Balham Alligators) in a country and western band who had a great pedal steel player (I wish I knew his name!) and as the company wanted a bluegrass tune we used him. We did it at John Wood’s studio somewhere in Soho – very exciting, but not really what either of us wanted to do. The commercial was broadcast nationwide and earned us a slight reputation.

We came home to Herne bay and continued writing. Richard Sinclair started spending a lot of time playing with us, because we were getting some work it seemed we had became popular, and he seemed more upbeat. I still have some written music from this period. One of the pieces is called “Waltz for Spanish gargling waiters, riding square wheeled bicycles who have lost their way”. I think this was a committee title! We were all having a fine time. Around this time we supported Sinclair and the South at the university, an amazing gig. I got to play my Euphonium on that one, more by stealth than wonder. Where is it is now? Maybe John Murphy has got it, there were some terrible storms that year! I took it out once in a virtual hurricane and played it to the sea. I had it wrapped in a black plastic rubbish sack and played it very loudly, both Richards were there and we had a real laugh, and I had a jolly good parp! But back to the S&S gig. Me and Rich C. did a little 45 minute duo supporting them. By playing things that the crowd sort of knew the tunes to, Nuages by Django Reinhart and the Harry Lime theme we got the audience (6-700 people) singing along wildly, I still have the recordings to prove it. Sinclair and the South went down really well, but Bill Bruford stole the show, making total mincemeat of his drums. He arrived with his gear in a blue Ford Mustang – well impressive. Years later Richard Sinclair and I rented one to drive round Texas for a while. But that was another time and space. This period lasted about 9 months.

MORAL – Just keep going, don’t plan too much and if you are lucky, things will come to you.

WORD COUNT – 835 COPYRIGHT – MARK HEWINS 1994


PS! This is a repost of a story that was originally published on the old website on Musart.co.uk. These old web pages are gone, but are still accessible through archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Read the story on musart.co.uk by clicking here.