Friday, 23 June 2017

60s Bowie

Adam writes…


I fear it's the one bad habit I'll never be able to break: buying too many music magazines.

It's a lifelong addiction stretching back to my teens when we had three weekly music papers in this country. I'll blog about the extent of my addiction another day.

This month's Uncut magazine has done nothing to stem my addiction, presenting as it does David Bowie on its cover.



In my own contrary way I have always loved 1960s Bowie. I think his pre-history, his musical archaeology, is absolutely fascinating.

Even hardcore Bowie fans accuse me of being a wilful obscurantist when I say this, citing Bowie's own often less-than-complimentary take on his 60s oeuvre. Many are all too keen to cite The Laughing Gnome as evidence that the whole pre-Space Oddity period was a bust.

But there's more to Davy Jones/David Bowie in the 60s than just The Laughing Gnome.

(And in favour of that much-maligned track, check out the arrangement – the totally pilled-up, speedfreak bass is a danceable joy. And THAT oboe! Please feel free to come and have a fight with me about the merits of The Laughing Gnome on any of my London Walks Rock'n'Roll London tours!)




The feature, written by Michael Bonner with contributions from those who knew and worked with Bowie, is an 11-page special and beautifully illustrated. We visit Beckenham for memories of a free festival, look at the Stylophone, get Rick Wakeman’s take on the vagaries of the Mellotron and find all the clues that point to Bowie's 70s greatness along the way. Well done Uncut!


Here's a playlist of my favourite 60s' Bowie tracks…








Watch the trailer for Wednesday's Rock'n'Roll London Pub walk, 7pm Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1)…







And here's the trailer for THIS AFTERNOON'S Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station (exit 1).





Friday, 16 June 2017

Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk: The Movie!

Adam writes…


The NEW Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk movie is live now!



Filmmaker and musician Jon Klein joined me on the Rock'n'Roll London Pub walk the other week. As a musician Jon played guitar with Siouxsie & the Banshees and was a founder member of Goth pioneers Specimen.

With his filmmaker's hat on he directed this new promo for the walk (and he's working on an other for the London Walks Beatles tours too!)…









Thursday, 15 June 2017

Pink Floyd, Giles Gilbert Scott, Joseph Bazalgette & The Abbey Road Mystery

Next to Dark Side of the Moon, it is arguably Pink Floyd's most famous album sleeve…


Released in 1977, Animals features Battersea Power Station (designed by, among others, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott) and a giant pig flying between its famous chimneys. The sleeve design and concept is credited to Floyd's Roger Waters with the shoot executed and shot by the famous Hipgnosis design team.

Shot being the operative word.

The inflatable pic – 30 feet in length – was filled with helium and a marksman was employed to bring the thing down with a bullet if it broke free of its moorings. Unfortunately, inclement weather halted the photoshoot and work was postponed until the next day… the marksman, alas, had only been booked for the first day.

Most have you have seen it coming by now.

The pig – known as Algie – broke free and was out of sight within five minutes (that's literally out of sight, rather than, "Like, outta sight man") eventually landing in a field in Kent, having disrupted flights out of London airports on the way.

It's not the only architectural relic of London's past associated with Pink Floyd. In March 1968 they filmed at Abbey Mills Pumping Station (designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette) in deepest East London. Producer Tony Palmer (who went on to make the monumental All You Need Is Love documentary series on popular music with contributions from, among others, Charles Chilton) captured a performance of post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd doing Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.



The old Abbey Mills Pumping Station is but a hop, skip and jump from London's most confusing station: Abbey Road. No not THAT Abbey Road, that's why it's confusing.

So if you DO end up at Abbey Road on the DLR, and not St John's Wood on the Jubilee Line for Abbey Road Studios (where Pink Floyd recorded their albums up to, but not including Animals), then all is not lost! At least there's a flake of Rock'n'Roll London history quite nearby.




Monday, 12 June 2017

The Psychogeography of the Pink Floyd Walk

Adam writes…


Last Saturday I wandered round the route of my forthcoming Pink Floyd walking tour, doing a few last minute tweaks and adjustments. 

On earlier walks around the route I had been very much "in my head" – concentrating on best vantage points, details, facts, cuts and edits. The practicalities of a walking tour.

Saturday was different. I guess the opposite of being "in my head" would be "out of my head", but that creates another picture altogether (!), one that will have to wait until AFTER the walk on Saturday. 

On Saturday the psychogeography of the route leapt out for the first time. 

It was there all along, of course. 

But with my head up and eyes open I was delighted to see that the route I had chosen was no mere accident. Of course the route was dictated by locations and events, that's what a walking tour is all about. But the purposes of the locations we visit all changed long ago and the events are long past. Yet the subject matter had left marks or portents, poetic coincidences, clues or good omens at every step and stop.

We'll be cutting though Cecil Court on the way to Middle Earth in Covent Garden. And in Cecil Court, two of the themes of my walk, two of the recurring themes in the work of Pink Floyd, swirl all around us: childhood and war.


One of the running themes of English psychedelia (the period in which the tour begins) is second childhood. The period was made by creatives who had been war babies robbed of a childhood idyll. A theme to which Pink Floyd's principal writer Roger Waters returned again and again in his work - from Corporal Clegg on A Saucerful of Secrets right up to his masterpiece The Wall and on to The Final Cut. As we pass through Cecil Court, military memorabilia, uniforms and medals flash in our peripheral vision…



Childhood literature looms large, too. At Marchpane book shop, Alice In Wonderland is always to the fore, just as it was in underground culture in '66 and '67, a favourite book of both John Lennon and Syd Barrett



At Marchpane, I treated myself to a lovely edition of The Wind In the Willows



… the book that inspired Syd to name Pink Floyd's first album Piper At The Gates Of Dawnafter a chapter in Kenneth Grahame’s famous book.




And – curiouser and curiouser – the album loomed into view in the window of Pleasures of Past Times/Intoxica Records, also in Cecil Court…



When I got to the building where Middle Earth club was once housed in Covent Garden I was delighted to find a temporary installation in the basement in keeping with the themes above…




… we'll have a nose around on Saturday.



Then it was on to Syd's flat in '66 and '67. The building itself was demolished in the '80s, but hard by stands the specialist gaming shop Orcs Nest with this hippie fingerprint in the window…




The nearby Odeon cinema features in our tour, adorned with a frieze that includes scenes from theatrical history, including that most trippy of Shakespeare plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream…




Denmark Street is next. Was it mere coincidence that the building where the designers of Floyd's album sleeves worked had a 1968 Fender Telecaster on display



The Telecaster was, of course, Syd's guitar of choice in his Floyd heyday.



Even the architecture chimes in. The architect behind the Odeon mentioned above studied his art at Regent Street Polytechnic – where three members of Pink Floyd first met (we call in there, too). Henry Flitcroft's St Giles in the Fields is the architectural dot in the exclamation point of Denmark Street…


… and a young Nick Mason, before he became famous as the drummer in Pink Floyd, channelled Flitcroft by drawing his St John at Hampstead church for an architectural sketch project at Regent Street Poly. You can see the sketch at the Pink Floyd exhibition Their Mortal Remains at the V&A.

We even get a guest cameo from Giles Gilbert Scott, designer of Battersea Power Station, beloved of Roger Waters and all Pink Floyd fans from the sleeve of 1977's Animals. Gilbert Scott also designed the facade of the Phoenix theatre, along our route…




I'll be following this blog post with another featuring Giles Gilbert Scott and a Floyd location way out in East London.



Join me on Saturday at 10.45am for the Pink Floyd In London Walk meeting at Leicester Square tube (exit 1)…



Online booking is available for this walk…














Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Pink Floyd London Walk – Saturday 17th June at 10.45a.m

The Pink Floyd London Walk

Saturday 17th June 2017

10.45a.m Meet at Leicester Square tube (exit 1, by Wyndham's Theatre)

Guided by Adam




Have a cigar, you're gonna go far... This is Pink Floyd's London.

Architecture students Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright met at Regent Street Polytechnic in the early 60s. They founded R&B combo Sigma 6 (later the Screaming Abdabs and then The Tea Set) and were joined in '64 by charismatic painter and songwriter Syd Barrett.

Syd melded the blues singers FLOYD Council & PINK Anderson for the band's new name and brought an oh-so English take to their psychedelic sound. The troubled Barrett has become a cult figure despite leaving the band in '68.

His drug use and reclusive final years are the stuff of rock 'n' roll legend.

David Gilmour (an old Cambridge friend of both Barrett and Waters replaced Syd and, with Waters as principal writer, they went on to sell millions of records over a period of 15 years of groundbreaking rock music followed by 20 years of very public artistic differences. Five decades on, Floyd records still sell, new Sydologists join the cult every year and the debate rages on: Waters or Gilmour – which side are you on?

This walk is not suitable for children. Parental guidance is advised as this walking tour contains frequent and explicit references to the use of drugs throughout.

PRACTICALS

Pink Floyd's London takes place at 10.45 am on Saturday, June 17. The meeting point is just outside exit 1 (by Wyndham's Theatre) of Leicester Square Tube. Bring an Oyster Card because we'll travel from the West End to South Kensington via the London Underground. The walk ends near the V & A where Their Mortal Remains, the Pink Floyd exhibition is taking place.



The Pink Floyd London Walk

Saturday 17th June 2017

10.45a.m Meet at Leicester Square tube (exit 1, by Wyndham's Theatre)



Guided by Adam


About Your Guide…

Adam

Arts journalist and tour guide, Adam edits The Daily Constitutional and leads the Rock'n'Roll London tours for London Walks. He is the writer and illustrator of the Rock'n'Roll London Comic Book…


… and adds live music to his Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk on Wednesday nights



His 12 favourite Syd Barrett songs can be found on this playlist…




Online booking is available for this walk…





Friday, 9 June 2017

#FathersDay With Rock'n'Roll London #BeNiceToTheGrumpyOldFart

Adam writes…



It's Father's Day a week on Sunday here in the UK and today I'd like to recommend a couple of excellent gifts for dad (as well as plug a couple of my London Walks!).

Firstly, this…

 



… the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon doormat!

Isn't it a beauty! My wife Karen bought it for me as a wedding anniversary gift earlier this year.

She picked it up at Music Room on Denmark Street (I can point it out to you on the route of today's Rock'n'Roll London Walk). 

They've also got a great special offer on at the moment on music books…



… buy one get one half price.



Sticking with the Pink Floyd theme, how about this toy car replica of Pink Floyd's battered old Bedford van from the 60s, which they bought for £20 to humph their gear from gig-to-gig…

 


It's available at the V&A Shop along with a whole range of Floyd goodies. 

If you're not going to make it to the Pink Floyd exhibition Their Mortal Remains before Father's Day (and a ticket to the exhibition would also make a great day out for dad, book HERE) then you can shop Floyd online at the V&A store here: www.vam.ac.uk/shop/exhibition-ranges/pink-floyd




And now, the plug!


I'm leading a special Father's Day outing of the Rock'n'Roll London walk on Sunday 18th June at 2.30pm. If you bring your dad then he goes FREE OF CHARGE! For everyone else, from babies to grannies, it's £10. Online booking is available here…







The Pink Floyd London Walk takes place the day before Father's Day, 17th June 2017 at 10:45a.m. You can also book online for that walk…







Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station every Friday.








The Rock'n'Roll London walk is ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) you can download at the London Bookstore online: londonbookstore.myshopify.com





God Save The Queen. We Mean It, Ma-a-a-a-a-a-an

Will I be making a big fuss about The Queen today on the Rock'n'Roll London tour? I certainly will…


Perhaps you can join me in a rousing chorus or two of God Save The Queen?




And at four o'clock when we've covered Soho and the West End, I can pack you off to Buckingham Palace, a Rock'n'Roll London shrine in its own right.

Buckingham Palace has, in recent decades, developed strong associations with pop and rock music. The Beatles started it all, of course, but the most recent music story associated with the old place is that of Cat's Eyes and their "infiltration" of the palace posing as members of a renaissance music ensemble.

Cat's Eyes are an Indie duo comprising Rachel Zeffira, an opera singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist, and Faris Badwan of East London neo-Punk outfit The Horrors. Here's the film of their stunt, which took place at the end of March 2016…



At the Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2013, North London boys Madness took to the roof of the palace to perform Our House – the most gentle, the most jolly, the most thoroughly low-key and British slice of political protest ever. For what is Buckingham Palace but OUR house? Nicely done, gents, made us all chuckle as we sang along. Oh, by the way: the knighthoods are cancelled.






The lads from Madness were not the first to play up on the roof – back in 2003 at the Golden Jubilee, Brian May of Queen, with a little nod to Jimi Hendrix and his take on The Star Spangled Banner, gave it large on his version of God Save The Queen…




Back when Jubileees were merely silver and the Sex Pistols roamed the earth, Buck House became the backdrop for a famous punk publicity stunt. The Pistols signed to A&M records outside the palace in March 1977…



The story of pop and the palace all starts with The Beatles. Back in '65 they received their MBE's from HMQ and one of the best of all Beatle myths was born: that The Beatles smoked dope in the lavs at Buckingham Palace. These days, Paul pours scorn on the tale. What does Ringo have to say on the matter? The perfect 60s response, of course: "I can't remember."