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THIS WEEK WE BRING YOU ZENIT, MR AVERELL, THE FLAMING LIPS, MR AND MRS AYLING, HAWKWIND, YES, STORM THORGERSON, THERAMIN, ALAN DEARLING, BLACK SABBATH, C.J.STONE, THOM THE WORLD POET, PETER McADAM, THE NINE HENRYS, NIK TURNER,
PETER BANKS, BILLY SHERWOOD, STEVE HOWE, GEOFF DOWNES, RICK WAKEMAN, DAYS BETWEEN STATIONS, BLODWYN PIG, MICK ABRAHAMS, JETHRO TULL

This is the nearest that you are ever going to get to a posh weekend colour supplement from the Gonzo Daily team. Each week we shall go through the best bits of the week before, and if there aren't any we shall make some up, or simply make our excuses and leave (you can tell the editor once did contract work at the News of the World can't ya?)
ALL THE GONZO NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
Issue Twenty-Two        April 20th 2013
Social media stuff that I am really too old to understand, (my stepdaughter spent much of last Christmas trying to explain Twitter to me) but I am assuming that at least some of our readers are younger and hipper than I am.
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Website
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Google Plus
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LinkedIn
LinkedIn
So what is this all about?

It is simple; my name is Jon and I am the editor of the Gonzo Multimedia daily online magazine. Now there is a weekly newsletter, once again edited by me and my trusty orange cat from a dilapidated ex-potato shed  in rural Devonshire. 

You subscribed to it by opting in on the website. I hope that you all stay to join in the fun, but if it is not to your liking it is just as easy to unsubscribe again. But what a long, strange trip it is gonna be...
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: WEDDING BELLS
I've known about this for a couple of weeks, but was sworn to secrecy until they returned to the UK. Gonzo grande fromage Rob Ayling married his fiancée Kristian Darling in America a few weeks ago. I have known Rob for 25 years, and although I have only met Kris once she seemed adorable. So, my dears, congratulations and much love to you both...
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: Feedback
This week I received the following letter, referring to last week's C.J.Stone column:

Jon.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but SEX was not invented until 1972.

I read your Gonzo Weekly mostly intoxicated, and I believe they are written in the same way.

Excellent.

Anthony J. O’Neill

Well actually Anthony, until I read Chris' essay, I thought that I had invented it sometime in March 1973. As for being intoxicated when I write the Gonzo Weekly, I am actually sober (mostly) whilst writing it, but Graham and I have been known to reach for the brandy within minutes of completing an issue...
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: Bart Sabbath
Bart Lancia, my roving reporter, sent me a couple of stories that I had not heard before. Firstly: Here is a chance to get a sneak preview of the new Black Sabbath album. Secondly: Iggy Pop is not expecting the new Stooges album to make any money, even though it is his first studio collaboration with James Williamson for 40 years..
THE WEEK THAT'S PAST: The Terror

The Flaming Lips is one of my favourite contemporary bands, and they have a new album out! Yay! Or maybe, 'Yay!' is not the word. The band don't sound like they are in a very celebratory mood.

Although it appears to come from a very dark place - possibly a much darker place than any of the other Flaming Lips albums (not particularly surprising considering that Wayne Coyne is in a pretty dark place himself at the moment) this album is a thing of fragile beauty.

Although I enjoyed the last album Embryonic (in fact it was my album of the year back in 2009) this album is far less self consciously experimental. Embryonic sounded like they set out to be weird. The Terror sounds like they got out of bed with massive hangovers and just played what came naturally.

Opening with grating industrial slabs of noise, opener Look... The Sun is Rising is the ugliest and most confrontational song on the album, which is probably a good thing because it batters you into submission before applying a series of strange and often astringent balms to the wounds.

Try to Explain is the first classic Flaming Lips ballad on the album, and even that is a two edged sword. On this album nothing is ever quite what it seems. The tunes (when they arrive) are gorgeous but never go quite where you expect. The instrumentation is uncompromising in the extreme. I have only heard it twice and already it is one of my favourite records of the year. Not psychedelic as much as psychotic in the true sense of the word, this album is a true event - the latest in a series of remarkable events orchestrated by a remarkable band.

 
FEEDBACK: Alan Dearling and the Theramin
Following on from Alan Dearling's plea for help with his theremin playing, I received this letter from Ben Craven:
Hi Jon

A little feedback on your theremin story! I owned one of the Moog theremins for a while and had a ridiculously hard time playing it in tune. In the end I sold it and settled on a pretty nice patch I set up on a Roland JP-8080 instead. It's the real deal though if anyone asks.

But I think Good Vibrations, I Just Wasn't Made For These Times, etc were recorded using a "Tannerin", which is pretty much a theremin with a long fader/slider control for the pitch. So you can mark out the note locations easily. Which makes it nothing like a theremin, but you get the idea.

(Incidentally I managed to get a decent theremin sound on one of my tracks, Nobody Dies Forever, but ended up burying it under a slide guitar so you can barely hear it..)

Ben Craven
Desert Comb Music
www.bencraven.com
And Don Xaliman wrote:
Here be a start to discovering all you need to know:
http://melodicenergy.com/theremin1.html

Our albums are full of this instrument. To contact George directly:
theremin@melodicenergy.com
Thank you guys. Most appreciated
Remember, if you want more than your weekly fix of this newsletter you can check out the Gonzo Daily, which - as its name implies - does much the same as this newsletter but every day. It also features a daily poem from Thom the World Poet, and the occasional non-Gonzo rock music rambling from yours truly, plus book and gig reviews from our highly trained staff of social malcontents. And its FREE! You cannae say fairer than that!
Each week, some of you seem to recognise me. Yes, I am indeed that weird bloke off the telly who chases mythological animals. I have a day job as Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and also the editor of the CFZ Blog Network, and publisher of a plethora of books about mystery animals.
THOSE WE HAVE LOST: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013)
The man who produced some of the most iconic album cover images of all time is dead. I met him once at a Fortean Times Unconvention, and he bought a copy of one of my books. The world, truly is, a poorer place without him.

Storm Thorgerson at Wikipedia
Our Tribute to Storm Thorgerson

A HISTORY OF SLEEP

In those days, of course, I could fly.
 
I was riding on the back of a swan, with my girlfriend at the time. Or rather, it was someone I was deeply in love with, though I can't say, now, whether we were actually ever boyfriend and girlfriend as such. We were sailing on the wild breeze, on the high, drifting currents high up over the little toy-town world below, looking at the thin lines of roads unreeling into the distance. Suddenly there was this fly-away forevision, like a hint in a dream, of a high mountain trail leading up and up to a kind of craggy outcrop, shining with encrusted diamonds of light, and my heart flew to that lonely place of wind and solitude, and I knew it was my home.
 
It was a dream, of course. I was about five years old.
 
I've always loved dreams.
 
There was another one, about tunnels. I'd be creeping down, down, down, through all of these tunnels. There was something familiar about them, as if they were part of me. It was like I was investigating hidden parts of myself, exploring the secret recesses of my soul. Suddenly I came to a door. It was so familiar, that door, as if I had known about it all my life, as if it had always been there. I opened it and stepped through. Into... Into... Where?
 
Into a prehistoric landscape populated by dinosaurs.
 
I've thought about the meaning of that dream since. There's a part of the human brain that is a lizard's brain. I believe I was travelling through realms of the unconscious to discover other, more primitive parts of myself. That is the beauty of dreams. They lead you to other parts of yourself.
 
All of human time is written into your brain. All of pre-human time too. I was thinking about re-incarnation the other day. Sometimes I feel strangely familiar with other periods in history. I have a particular resonance with the period of the English Civil War. In my more romantic moments I imagine that I was part of Cromwell's army, one of the Levellers, the early communists, that Cromwell later violently suppressed. Sometimes I think back to one or another period and I think, "we did that!" It's as if I was there. Maybe I was John Bunyan in a previous life. Maybe I wrote The Pilgrim's Progress. I have always felt a particular affinity with that book.
 
But, then again, maybe not.
 
Then the rational side of my brain stepped in, and came up with another explanation for my feelings. Maybe I wasn't there as such. But somebody very much like me surely was. Somebody with my DNA. So even if I wasn't there, somebody else was, somebody who had left their signature on time, for me to find, like scratched graffiti on the walls of an ancient cathedral, and that when I think back to that time, I am in communication with them.
 
Do you believe in Time Travel? I do. I also believe in Telepathy. Indeed, I know there is such a thing as Telepathy. It has been proved. I don't know who proved it, or when, but I do know how.
 
It was in an experiment carried out in the USA only two or three years ago. When I heard about it I knew it was true. They took two subjects, both wearing earphones, with brain scanners attached to their heads, to watch the activities of the mind in motion. The two subjects were in separate rooms. And into the earphones of one of the subjects they fired a regular click. Just that. Click. Click. Click. The brain scanner would pick it up. There would be a corresponding tick on the page every time the noise interrupted the person's brain-patterns. But - now - here's the strange thing: this would also happen to the other person too, the one in the other room, subject to certain preconditions. The second person, the one not receiving the pulses, would have to be related by affection to the first person in some way, as brother, sister, son or daughter, husband or wife, or even, simply friends. If the two people didn't know each other, there would be no corresponding result. The brain scan would be normal. And then they tried something else. They took two complete strangers who had never been introduced and carried out the experiment. No result. But then, after the strangers had been introduced, and had spent some time relating to each other, discussing their lives in ordinary conversation, then it would happen: the click, click, click of the sound-pulse feeding into the earphones of one, and then, by some unknown mechanism, into the brain of the other.
 
The scientists were bemused by this. The only explanation lies in the realms of Quantum Mechanics, in the subatomic particles that are known to travel through time and space. The human brain must work on a Quantum level, also, they decided. The human brain has to be some kind of a Quantum computer.
 
I'll buy that. I have no idea what a Quantum Computer is, or might look like, but that parts of the mind function on the back of subatomic particles that can shift about in time and space, magically disappearing and reappearing in different unpredictable ways, seems like a certainty to me.
 
That's what I like about dreams, that feeling that you can shift about in time and space, that space is not a barrier to you, that time is just another dimension that we inhabit, as we inhabit the earth, and that we can go wandering in it, as we wander about our lives and the streets of our towns, at will.
 
It means we have to take a different view of what we are.
 
Are we merely mammalian bodies destined to die? Or are these bodies the vehicles for something else, a kind of subatomic whisp, maybe, a spiral code hidden in the physical matrix of our Quantum Mechanical brain-computers.
 
In other words, maybe there is a scientific explanation at last, of what the old religions were always telling us: that we are much, much more than we think we are.
 


SOME BOOKS BY C.J.STONE
EXCLUSIVE:
An interview with Andy Thommen from the one and only Zenit
I am embarrassed to admit that until their CD  The Chandrasekhar Limit popped through my letter box courtesy of the lovely Anne-Marie at Gonzo HQ, I had not heard of Zenit. But Galileo Records have been putting out so much fine stuff recently that I had high hopes from them. My hopes were justified - they are magnificent. Much more subtle than much of today's contemporary progfare the band show an admirable lightness of touch that should be emulated by all and sundry. They have a deft awareness of the importance of light and shade, in the way that Pink Floyd had, and that few bands that followed have mastered. They are a very, very good band, and I have somewhat of a proselytising hat on whilst I write about them, because they deserve to be absolutely massive.
 
The Galileo website has this to say about them:

Zenit was found in Southern Switzerland (Ticino) in 1998 by bass player Andy Thommen, keyboarder Ivo Bernasconi and drummer Gigio Pedruzzi after their well-known experiences with bands like Clepsydra, Changes and Brainstorm. In 2001 with the addition of singer Lorenzo Sonognini, Zenit release their debut album „Pravritti“ with words in Italian as well as in English, followed by inspiring live performances in relevant prog festivals. In 2006, with the addition of Luigi Biamino on guitars, the band releases the second album „Surrender“. The song material is elaborate even so catchy and offers all fans of Genesis, Marillion, Supertramp, Kansas or Gentle Giant all that they love in their favorite bands. The production of „Surrender“ is crisp and very accurate what makes sound all tone diversity covering multiple musical desires. On Zenit’s 3rd album „The Chandrasekhar Limit“ (69 minutes), Andy Thommen affixes a seal with his distinctive bass play right from the start of the first song (“Awaken”). Later, with the start of the guitar, you will somewhat be reminded of the Clepsydra sound: awesome guitar-bass team play! Here you start with what you expect to get from this brilliant album: quality. The marvelous long tracker “Matrimandir” (17 minutes), brings a breath of oriental sounds in a very subtle but delicate way without being brash, despite the Sanskrit lyrics now and then. One of the best long tracker of recent times clocking around 25 minutes, is “The Daydream Suite” that brings reminiscences of Pink Floyd and all the other stuff a prog suite should have: crazy keyboard solos, melodic guitar lines, cool bass parts and complex choirs, harmoniously in action. The rocking instrumental sound of “Pulsar”, the sweet and sinful ballad “Cub Lady” and the screaming-jazzy “PiGreco” song, jointly make up an impressive and progressive rock album of the 21st century. 
For those of you not in the know, I am bi-polar and there are some days - like yesterday - when I am no use to man nor beast. However, I did manage to pull myself together for about twenty minutes and have an interesting chat with Andy Thommen of Zenit. I was not at all well whilst I was talking to him, and had to truncate the interview fairly abruptly when my housekeeper and kids arrived, causing Prudence (my massively bulky bulldog x boxer bitch) to rush about everywhere like a tee-to-tum barking insanely. This was too much for my faltering mental health to deal with, and so I promised that we would talk again soon, and said my goodbyes. Andy, my friend - I am terribly sorry about that. I would have liked to have talked for longer, and I will set up another interview soon, I promise.

Part One
Part Two

ZENIT AT GONZO UK
ZENIT AT GONZO USA
WHO THE HELL IS MR AVERELL?
Well, who the hell is Mr Averell? On one level that is an easy question to answer; he is René van Commenée - a Dutch percussionist, composer and artist. Another way of looking at it is that Mr Averell is a band. The man himself says:
"As a musician I work mainly as a percussionist, electronic music performer and sound designer. I am a member of the trio The Art of Doing Nothing with Pipe Organ master Willem Tanke and MIDI-wind-controller/flutist Martijn Alsters. With Alsters I formed a duo for live-surround concerts and installations also. Separate from this I create visual sound art installations. I always like to use my voice though.

I was a singer in several Dutch rock bands in the seventies and eighties, and like to write, record and perform more song-based music as I call it. But if you do so many diverse things I think you have to make clear to your audience what it is they can expect when buying your work or attending your concerts/performances.

Therefore I chose to give my song-based projects a separate name, Mr Averell; a band in which I am the main writer and performer."
But on the other hand... I have no idea. I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr Averell is the avatar of an ancient race, living out eternity through the medium of a bunch of talented musician-types including Mike Garson (David Bowie), David Jackson, Hugh Banton and Judge Smith (Van der Graaf Generator), John Ellis (Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill, The Stranglers), Lene Lovich, along with Stuart Gordon (Peter Hammill, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack), Dyane Donck (Daisy Bell), Martijn Alsters, Willem Tanke, Ninca Leece, Tammo Heikens and Lisa Weiss..
 
The album - apparently their second - is a masterpiece of sonic invention. It is also very silly. It ranges from avant-noise to tunes that sound like they came from the soundtrack of The Magic Roundabout. There are sensitive and chilling ballads and imposing waves of brassy soundscape. There is a story, but what the hell that story is I have no idea. The nearest reference point I can give is Tom Waits' sublime retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but in point of fact the two records sound nothing like each other. I merely suspect that they inhabit the same universe. I may be wrong. I often am.
 
But I am intrigued. I have booked an interview with him this weekend, and I am also approaching some of the other folk on the album to try and find out what on earth this is all about? And who the hell is Mr Averell?

FIND OUT NEXT WEEKEND
MR AVERELL AT GONZO UK
MR AVERELL AT GONZO USA
HAWKWIND NEWS
(The masters of the Universe, do seem to have a steady stream of interesting stories featuring them, their various friends and relations, and alumni)
HawkBinned!
 
The recent news that Nik Turner has applied to trademark the band name "Nik Turner's Hawkwind" for his roving ex-Hawkwind members has caused mixed reaction among the Hawkwind fan base, but it's fair to say most published reactions express disfavour or wariness.
 
On the Hawkwind YahooGroup, Turner's action has drawn comments like "bloody-minded," "heartily sick of it," and "needs to grow up." (Those remarks were from three different people.) Others have talked of a boycott of his activities.
 
Hawkwind themselves heard about the trademarking news just before Easter and they were probably surprised it took the fans a whole two further weeks to find out about it, as the information is in the public domain. It's just a matter of knowing where to look.
 
The story broke on the Hawkwind forum on 12th April and swiftly became a hot topic, the thread garnering 100 replies in just a few days.
 
Turner's historical claim to be "the spiritual Hawkwind" was dusted off and examined and... well, let's just say many fans remain unconvinced.
 
Hawkwind themselves have always had a deep dislike of washing any dirty linen in public, but on Saturday 13th they commented via the Hawkwind forum:
"We are trying to initiate discussions to try to sort all of this out amicably. We live in hope that a solution will be found that will not divide the fans and destroy the band."
There's no doubt that Turner's name-claim activities have caused some polarization within the fan base, both at the start of the century and now, ten years later.
 
Gonzo's resident Hawkwind fan, Graham, commented:
"Turner's gigging activities around the year 2000, under the band name xHawkwind, resulted in a court case. That band name is actually rather witty, but imagine if you started marketing a brown fizzy drink in a red can and called it xCoke! Turner was batting on a similarly sticky wicket as the name "Hawkwind" is trademarked.
 
"Turner changed the name of his band (and webite) to spaceritual.net and the domain xhawkwind.com was allowed to expire."
Hawkwind's position has the support of the fact of the trademark, but there is also a concept known in law as "custom and practice" and one would have thought that, here too, Hawkwind's position was a very strong one.
 
Graham again:
"After his first Hawkwind stint, Turner spent many years on the festival/alternative circuit, with activities as diverse as his band Inner City Unit, another band called Nik Turner's All-Stars, and playing a flute inside one of the Egyptian pyramids.
 
"All good stuff, of course. Turner's always exploring musical avenues, isn't he?
 
"Meanwhile, Dave Brock was dealing with the fraught task of keeping the Hawkwind madhouse on its musical course, despite curve-balls like band implosions (1978), violent attacks (Brock was once shot in the leg), and threats to the integrity of their musical catalogue (a relicencing frenzy in the early 1980s).
 
"How many tens of thousands of hours of effort Brock and his cohorts put into keeping the show on the road is impossible to calculate. But it's surely true that there wouldn't even BE a Hawkwind for people to peck at, were it not for Brock staying at the helm through thick and thin.
 
"It's a bit much if someone then strolls into the kitchen, decades later, and admires the cake, and demands a nice big freebie chunk."
HAWKWIND-RELATED STORIES ALSO ON THE BLOG THIS WEEK:

Warrior on the Edge of Time (Review)
N
ik Turner interview
THE YES CIRCULAR - DIVING IN THE TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS
The Court Circular tells interested readers about the comings and goings of members of The Royal Family. However, readers of this periodical seem interested in the comings and goings of Yes and of various alumni of this magnificent and long-standing band. Give the people what they want, I say
It has been a very quiet week in Yesland; in fact, I think that it has been the quietest week as far as Yes are concerned since I started doing this weekly round-up of what is hot, and what is not at the bottom of the topographic oceans.

We posted two interviews with Steve Howe, which you can read HERE and HERE. In fact, we posted three, but one turned out to be a virtual reprint of something that we had already posted so we took it down again.
We also found a couple of articles which I think will appeal to your inner muso: a video short featuring Geoff Downes http://gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2013/04/studiologic-sledge-on-tour-with.html in which he explains one of his more arcane bits of equipment, and an interesting (if slightly contentious) piece suggesting Steve Howe's top ten guitar solos.

Finally this week there is news featuring three different Yes alumni; Billy Sherwood and the late Peter Banks and the Caped Crusader himself. The first has produced the album which contains the second's final studio work before his untimely death earlier this year. The album, by Days between Stations also features our very own Rick Wakeman.

I am probably getting a bit OCD about all of this, but I find the Yes soap opera of sound to be absolutely enthralling, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next!
MORE DETAILS OF YES AT GONZO (UK)
MORE DETAILS OF YES AT GONZO (USA)
OUT
with the old, in with the new.
Relationships need to be see worthy
We means more than I and I /community relies
upon the bonds that fly between us.
Withdraw and the monsters rule your closet
Engage and the cleaning can begin - Welcome to Spring!
where all that is new awaits you. More than one can do requires two
And we are three with extra energy. Four means a quartet
Five a quintet and six well you know the Roman (Latin) for this!
Seven Shakras = Heaven! Eight can relate. Nine is a perfect number
10 is all we can double digits combine
and 11 finds us standing together again
Every moment more than mere numbers.
We are you in another skin
Time for love! Time for life! Time to Spring!
In Victorian times every well-bred Gentleman had a 'Cabinet of Curiosities'; a collection of peculiar odds and sods, usually housed in a finely made cabinet with a glass door. These could include anything from Natural History specimens to historical artefacts. There has always been something of the Victorian amateur naturalist about me, and I have a houseful of arcane objects; some completely worthless, others decidedly not, but all precious to me for the memories they hold..

I used to be a collector of rock and roll memorabilia, but most of my collection went into my solicitor's pocket during my divorce from my first wife, and I never had the stomach to build the collection up again. However, people send me pictures of interesting things such as this which came from our old mate Graham Inglis.

This is one disk you don't want to insert into a CD player - it's a "pump clip," otherwise an ID on a beer handle in a bar.

INTRODUCING THE NINE HENRYS
I think Peter McAdam is one of the funniest people around, and I cannot recommend his book The Nine Henrys highly enough. Check it out at Amazon. Each issue we shall be running a series of Henrybits that are not found in his book about the nine cloned cartoon characters who inhabit a surreal world nearly as insane as mine...
EXCLUSIVE: Song by Song with The Atkins/May Project
BEFORE YOU READ ON, LET ME TAKE YOU BACK TO THE BEGINNING:

11/17/2011 – London, UK – The rock world is buzzing with proof that good and evil can in fact work together in the form of former Judas Priest vocal legend and Holy Rage heavy metal frontman Al Atkins and Christian guitarist and music artist Paul May. Together these extreme opposites combine creating a powerful new CD called ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, now available on Gonzo Multimedia. The 10-track album is the product of two of the Midlands finest architects of rock and metal coming together to create something that is unique and totally exhilarating!

There are enough doses of melody and metal madness to entice all fans of the genre, and while it is solid, honest working class heavy metal, it also has its roots in contemporary metal with some fine axe-work and killer choruses. The cover art for ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ is also unique as it was created by world famous fantasy artist Rodney Matthews.

Al Atkins: More noted for forming UK’s Judas Priest and fronting them for four years and laying down the foundations which would see them eventually selling 40 million albums worldwide. He also wrote songs for them which went gold like “Dreamer Deceiver”, “Never Satisfied”, “Winter”, “Caviar and Meths” and Priest’s all time classic “Victim of Changes”. Al’s unique powerful vocal style sites influences by noted rock singers Roger Daltrey, Paul Rodgers and longtime friend Robert Plant. Al has done countless radio and TV interviews worldwide and recently was filmed for BBC TV ‘British Heritage’ and ‘Banger Films’ Canada for the metal evolution series on VH1. He has even written a book on his musical life about growing up in Birmingham, UK alongside Robert Plant and Black Sabbath called ‘Dawn of the Metal Gods’. Al has released 6 solo albums to date, toured the US twice, and has worked with Brian Tatler (Diamond Head), Dave Holland (Judas Priest), Dennis Stratton (Iron Maiden) and Bernie Torme (Ozzy/Gillan). Al recently released a new self titled album with his offshoot band Holy Rage and has now teamed up with brilliant Christian writer/guitarist Paul May and recorded an album called ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, which Al says are the best recordings to date!

Paul May: Some people learn to play guitar, Paul was born (again) to play guitar! Paul has become respected for his passionate, soulful guitar work and noted for his explosive and exciting solos. As a world class professional guitarist and songwriter, Paul has played and recorded sessions across the globe, touring and playing throughout the UK, Europe, USA and the Eastern block. Paul appears on around 50 albums to date, featured in both the secular and Christian arenas. Paul is also a record producer and has covered the entire spectrum of musical tastes in production. Paul has played, recorded with and produced alongside the bands and members of: Al Atkins (Judas Priest), Dave Holland (Judas Priest), Roy Wood (MoveELOWizard), Jon Brooks (The Charlatans), Smokin Roadie/Tempest, MC5V-Rats,JanusA.N.DDave Rowley Band, Larry Norman and many others. Along with working with Al Atkins, Paul currently plays guitar with A.N.D and Temple Dogs.

“Working with Paul May on the Serpent’s Kiss album was a fantastic journey,” says Al. “From the opening song ‘The Shallowing’ to the last song ‘Theatre of Fools’, it was an honor to have been asked by the brilliant guitarist Paul May to put this project together… Without a doubt this is one of the best albums I have appeared on since my early days with Judas Priest and that says something having written and recorded several of my own works.”

“This album was meant to be,” explains Paul. “When Al agreed to do the vocals it inspired me to write specific tracks tailored for his voice. Not only did Al deliver in abundance, he did so with world class! It’s what I’d call a ‘Classic Hard Rock/Metal’ album; that covers a wealth of subject matters and life experiences. It’s all rock ‘n’ roll! And a real triumph to me in so many ways. I just feel blessed! To again, be involved with such a great vocalist and friend and end up with such a cracking album is a gift indeed!

The second album by the Atkins May Project is a definite step forward. I enjoyed the first album, but this second record takes them off into the stratosphere. Some months ago I went through the first album track by track, (HERE and HERE) and then sent my deliberations off to Al and Paul for their comments. I meant to do the same thing with the second album about a week later, but - as the late John Lennon said - life is what happens when your busy making other plans, and my particular life, both professionally and personally, got rather complicated.

 

I see, to my embarrassment, that it has been something like five months since I did the aforementioned article. However, better late than never. And it is a job that I have been particularly looking forward to; listening to music, and then having the chance to hold forth about it. What's not to like?

 

Valley of Shadows was released last year, and it has taken the heavy metal fan community by storm. It appears far more cohesive than its predecessor, and at times almost appears to be some sort of narrative, although, if it is, the plotline is obscure. However, the basic concept seems to be that this music is the result of the synergy caused by a collaboration between Christian guitarist Paul, and his old mucker Al, who comes from the far more conventional heavy metal background (he was the original singer for Judas Priest).

 

This state of affairs always reminds me of the character of Genesis in the Preacher comics by Garth Ennis; a being synthesised from the forbidden love between a daemon and an angel; a being of incredible power, but one that is almost impossible to control.

Read on.....

ATKINS MAY AT GONZO USA
ATKINS MAY AT GONZO UK
COMING SOON FROM GONZO: Blodwyn Pig
It is a story as old as time itself.  I'm sure that it predates rock'n'roll, but it is a paradigm which has appeared so many times within the canon of the sort of bands that I have spent the last four decades listening to, but it hardly bears repeating.  Except, of course, that I must - because without the back story the extraordinary tale of Blodwyn Pig would just be another rags to...  well, if not exactly riches, then slightly more expensive rags.

In the beginning there was Robert Johnson who sold his soul to the devil.  The cornute one passed it on to some evangelical promoters in the Thames Valley. The Blodwyn Pig story begins back in the mid-1960s when a whole generation of relatively privileged white kids in the UK discovered the music of a previous generation of reasonably underprivileged black men living in the southern states of the USA. 

People quite often forget that Jethro Tull, who are best known for having a personable front man who looked like a tramp and stood on one leg whilst playing the flute didn't start off as a folk band, or even a progressive rock band; they started off as a blues band. Back in the halcyon days of 1967, a couple of members of a Blackpool-based blue-eyed soul band travelled down to the teeming metropolis where they teamed up with two members of a failing, Luton-based blues band.  They appropriated the name of the legendary 18th Century agriculturist (inventor of the rotary seed drill, no less) and the rest is history.  Except, of course, that it is nothing of the kind.

The band signed to the legendary Island Records, home of the cream of what was then known as `the underground`, and during the summer of 1968 recorded their first album This Was.  Ian Anderson, the aforementioned gentleman of the rock and roll road, described their music as "a sort of progressive blues with a bit of jazz." The blues influence came largely from guitarist Mick Abrahams.  It was Abrahams who - on the first album - provided the only non-Anderson lead vocal in Jethro Tull's recorded history, and with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see that both he and Anderson were jostling for position as the prime creative mover behind the band.

Unsurprisingly, there was a massive falling out between the pair, and Abrahams left the group. He was replaced by Martin Barre (after brief tenures by Toni Iomni, later as Black Sabbath, and Davy O'List of The Nice) and Jethro Tull did their own inimitable thing for the next four decades.

But what of Abrahams? One of the main reasons that he had fallen out with Anderson was that he was a blues purist, and didn't want to follow some of the more esoteric paths that Anderson was to lead the band into.  No, he just wanted to play the blues.  Robert Johnson hadn't sold his soul to the devil in order to make progressive rock albums about a nine-year-old boy poet.  There was a purity and an integrity to the blues, and it was the path along which Mick Abrahams intended to walk.  So he started his own band and for reasons which remain obscure he named it Blodwyn Pig.

They recorded two albums, before the two leading lights - Abrahams and Jack Lancaster -  split. I saw Mick Abrahams in the autumn of 1977. Whilst the rest of the universe was punked up to the nines, he was a sales rep for one of the major guitar companies (Gibson, I think, but my memory fails me) and one night he played an intimate gig upstairs in Bill Greenhalgh's music shop in Exeter. Although the show was aimed at showing off the intricasies of the newest guitars in the range, I was overawed by his sweet, lyrical guitar playing. I went home, and the next day bought the two Blodwyn Pig LPs, and I have been a fan ever since. The band reformed in the 1990s, and have played intermittently ever since, and I have every intention of catching up with them at some point.
This is an anthology of the greatest moments of the original band's career. Every track is a gem, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Robert Johnson did not sell his soul in vain! 
CHECK IT OUT AT GONZO USA
CHECK IT OUT AT GONZO UK
FRIENDS AND RELATIONS: 
Supra Naturals, "Wild Education" CYK Records11

"With a powerful, almost supernatural force these guys blast their mixture of  drum 'n bass, Rock, Punk along with a pinch of Dubstep on your eardrums at the fastest pace known to man," the information from the record company declares.

 

They omitted to mention there's more than a spoonful of The Faust Tapes in the mix, as well.

 

The guitaring style is often in the grungy distorted driving rock area, the backing effects a weird mixture of trance and prog, and the vocal delivery either angry punk or in the hip-hop/rap zone. Sometimes, the lyrics are about as clear as those of Crass in their more excited or angry moments.

Read more of what Graham has to say...


THE BEST LAID PLANS...
And so, another week and another newsletter comes to an end. It has been a relatively straightforward week for a change here, and apart from the fact that one of Corinna's pet rats died, and my work on this week's newsletter was interrupted by a very welcome telephone call from the quondam Wizard of the Western World, everything has gone reasonably according to plan
We have a lot to look forward to in the week to come. I conducted an interview with René van Commenée about an hour ago, and it shall appear in these hallowed pages sooner rather than later. I also received a copy of Judge Smith's new album, and shall be talking to him about it, and his work with Mr Averell very soon. A chat with Judy Dyble is in the offing, as is a chat with Liz Lenten, so I have a busy week ahead.

There is still likely to be a monthly magazine in both digital and hard copy formats at some point, as soon as I have managed to attract around me more like-minded souls who want to contribute.

We are living in disturbing and strange times, but ultimately they are very interesting ones, and continuing to chronicle the Gonzoverse is an immensely rewarding thing to do. Thank you for reading.

Until next week,
Slainte

Jon Downes
(Editor)
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