Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Vinyl log 4 - 14 April

DayMonthYearArtistTitle
14April1971Soft MachineFourth
14April1976Van der Graaf GeneratorStill life

My concert diary shows that on 1 April 1971, I attended a concert by the Soft Machine at the Royal Festival Hall in London. My memory is not clear as to where I had heard SM - presumably on the radio - but I do recall that I was staying in London for a few days with my friend Jeremy and I arranged beforehand to buy tickets for this concert. My friend Robert joined us for the show.

All I remember about the concert is the plush seats of the hall. Obviously I must have been sufficiently impressed to buy their album. Every now and then I still listen to it - I preferred the second side with its four part 'Virtually' as opposed to the first side. I was chuffed with myself when I realised many years later that most of the first two parts of 'Virtually' are in 7/4 time.

I saw Soft Machine a few months later in Bristol. I must have been enamoured with them as I remember securing seats in one of the first few rows. By that time, Robert Wyatt (the drummer) had been sacked from the group and had been replaced by John Marshall. He was the opposite of a laid back drummer - he played all over the music and hit the drums very hard. I regretted sitting so close to the stage as all I heard was drums and cymbals

I suspect that I bought the VdGG album whilst on a Passover break at my parents' house in Cardiff as I remember leaving a message for the same Jeremy on the phone, telling him that the track "Childhood's end" was indeed influenced by the Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name. 

We didn't know at the time that two of the tracks, the opening "Pilgrims" (possibly the quintessential VdGG song) and "La Rossa" had been recorded at the "Godbluff" sessions some time previously but held over. I did note that they seem to be more integrated, but I had that down to the erroneous 'fact' that the band had been playing them for longer.

The title track has the curious distinction of being the only song that I know whose lyrics contain the word 'defecation'. In context, it makes sense.

For some reason, I didn't connect with the opening track on side two, "My room" for about a year. It wasn't until a concert in February 1977 (IIRC) without Hugh Banton and David Jackson that they played the song and suddenly it make sense. The final verse has, over the years, become a key text for me

Dreams, hopes and promises, fragments out of time,
all of these things have been spoken.
Still you don't understand how it feels when I'm
waiting for them to be broken.

Keen readers of this blog will have known that I recorded a cover version of "Pilgrims".

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