HERE IS MY LIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE BBC. IT, I HOPE WILL LEAD TO FURTHER INTEREST AND PERHAPS A MUSICAL AND CREATIVE LITERARY EVENT TO RAISE MONEY. I HOPE TO ENTER FURTHER DISCUSSIONS AS MY ORIGINAL HOPE TO REACH A WIDER AUDIENCE THUS FAR HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE SO MY INTENT WILL BE TO TRY TO IMPRESS THE POWERS THAT BE THAT SOMETHING BIGGER THAN A LOCAL RADIO SLOT IS NEEDED.
I AM ON BBC RADIO -ON EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK AND NEXT WEEK EARLY EVENING BETWEEN 6-10PM FEATURED ON BBC SOMERSET TALKING ABOUT SAVING ALFOXTON AND THE ROMANTIC ARTS MOVEMENT – SAVING THE HOUSE, THE MUSICAL WORKSHOPS BY THE NEW OWNERS AND MUCH MORE! WILL TRY TO POST LINKS AND MEDIA HERE IN DUE COURSE.
LIFE HAS TURNED INTO BRAVE NEW WORLD SOMEWHAT I WELL REMEMBER READING THE CLASSIC AT 15. WELL WHAT A FEW WEEKS WE HAVE HAD. AS YOU MAY KNOW I HAVE BEEN INTO UFO’S ALL MY LIFE HAVING SEEN MANY. ONE SPRINGS TO MIND THAT WENT VERY SLOWLY THEN DARTED IN A HAPHAZARD DIRECTION THAT I SAW IN 1993 IN SOMERSET (AS DEPICTED IN THE PASTEL PICTURE OF ME ON THIS SITE FROM 1995) AND THEN IN 2016 ON A PLANE (RATHER LIKE THE CLASSIC TWILIGHT ZONE – NOBODY ELSE SAW BUT I GOT TO MY DESTINATION JUST FINE!) I SAW FROM THE PLANE A BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN GROUP OF LIGHTS FROM LOWER BENEATH ME FROM THE GRAND CANYON. IN 2012 RENOWNED UFOLOGIST ANTHONY J HILDER (HIS MUSIC WAS IN THE FILM PULP FICTION WITH HIS BAND THE VENTURES) CALLED ME TO TELL ME UFO’S IN MY BOOKS ABOUT THE VRIL WERE NOT CONSPIRACY THEORIES BUT WERE REAL – HE HAD MET NASA WHISTLEBLOWERS….HE DIED SOON AFTER SO OUR MEETING IN PERSON NEVER HAPPENED AS HE WANTED NOT IN CALIFORNIA BUT GLASTONBURY WHERE HE USED TO VISIT TO UFO SPOT FROM THE TOR. SO TO SEE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THAT A GOVERNMENT HAS DISCLOSED THAT WE ARE ARE NOT ALONE IS MOMENTOUS ONE WONDERS IF ANY OF THOSE BEAUTIFUL CROP CIRCLES WERE REAL AFTER ALL? AFTER A UNPRECEDENTED YEAR ON A LEVEL WITH THE GREAT WARS… THE COVID PANDEMIC SURE SET US ON A UNIQUE PATH. AS LENNON SAID “STRANGE DAYS INDEED…UFO’S OVER NEW YORK…”
I had a very interesting trip today to ALFOXTON where I presented and wrote a little film 7 years ago. The current owners- An extraordinary Buddhist group, are planning a literary hub and international centre just as I had envisaged and Jayraja, the chap pictured in my photos, explained to me that not only due to legal issues have they had to Sleep in the OPEN but that if it were not for donations they would not have furniture! An extraordinary statement on how these wonderful new owners are trying to make good of a very challenging scenario – really suffering for art. In a quest to save what could be a cultural centre. Sadly this house – one of the most important cultural arts literature places of worldwide importance is just rotting away…Even though its positive my film helped save it the sad truth is its derelict leaking the power points dont work and the roof is falling in. So I am going to see if I can launch an APPEAL once again. If only George Harrison (another Buddhist) were alive…(mind you it isnt exactly easy contacting a Beatle!) If you arent aware please check out my Alfoxton film. In literature terms this place is every bit as important as Dove cottage and Coleridge cottage nearby yet this 300 year old property actually is unchanged UNLIKE Coleridge Cottage which as Grade 1 got all the care while this actually SUPERIOR setting has been left to crumble. It continues to be a NATIONAL DISGRACE of monumental proportions. Endless witless owners have cut costs and treated the place like a pig sty. At least the owners now care and want to save it and thats a massive improvement. Coleridge and Wordsworth have influenced the world of music (particularly Coleridge) from Fleetwood Macs Albatross to countless other mentions from Franke Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome (Kubla Khan) through to Iron Maiden. I would compare it to where Lennon and McCartney first composed together. For it is here that Coleridge first read “Rime” to Wordsworth. As it stands the house needs rescuing. The ecological aspects of the Romantic poets cannot be underestimated. Not only the Pantisocracy commune movement (which should be resurrected!) but the reverence shown to nature in a very 1960’s sense, but far from posturing they really meant it. Spy allegations and all manner of intrigue made their stay at Alfoxton very memorable…Perhaps a fundraising concert might work? King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard ?! It will need something big. But to start with some BBC journalists…I will keep you posted…https://sites.google.com/view/alfoxtonpark/history
Incidentally there are two ghosts of servants according to the new owners and by total unconnected coincidence one of the (Buddhist owner) members is called Hartley – Strangely this was Coleridge’s sons name and Frost at Midnight with the lines “The frost performs its secret ministry” was indeed the inspiration behind his name but long before any involvement which is…”Strange but True”! As a last note – to those who say “there are more important things”. What is more important than giving hope at times of empty loneliness? Poems like This Lime tree Bower my Prison (which inspired Shelley Byron…Jim Morrison…) is used in prisons to give hope and for those in Lockdown or hostages this has also been the case. Art can help enrich and give therapy and hope to those at the end of their tether. Primo Levi Cited Ancient Mariner as his favorite ever work and used it to great effect to show the suffering in the concentration camps of the second world war. Coleridge’s words resonate across the ages and reach us from Iron Maiden to Monty Python to “Water Water Everywhere” said by the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. Much Like the Beatles and Coleridge’s favorite romantic composter Beethoven Coleridge found a seminal base to launch what would become the crowning inspirational moment in the history of romantic culture literature and music worldwide. Would we let Dove Cottage, Coleridge Cottage or Lennon and McCartney’s Liverpool places like Lennon’s Liverpool home just rot? (which is protected by the National Trust…Again the GRADING was clearly off with Alfoxton but in some ways it may lead if saved to a literary hub rather than a private dwelling or hotel as id always hoped) To ignore Alfoxton is as bad as the doomed sailors treatment of the Albatross. Ignore at our peril!
I had to share these few masterpieces I have been listening to all week. Matt Berry is known for comedy, rather like Neil Innes was but as Madness or the Monkees show, lines get blurred. Even more so with these gems which compare to Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells style Intro!) Vangellis, Jean Michel Jarre (Oxygene), Brian Eno (Music for Airports) and even a bit of Kraftwerk. The vocals are also very 1970’s progressive in terms of vocal styles Genesis or King Crimson used with choirs, also the case with Steve Hackett’s Voyage of the Acolyte for example. For these wonderful ambient soundscapes Berry deserves serious recognition. To illustrate the point further of comedy/tragedy (only tragic if the music isnt recognized I guess) I have included my fave (Oasis sounding before Oasis) classic Rutles song. Usually a great musical discovery by an artist comes BEFORE they dabble as an older person in acting or comedy but clearly Berry has his own way and its to be commended but I would never write off his music, its far from comedy. Even if Berry dressed as Vangellis once in a comedy was one of the funniest things I have seen in recent years (and the Snuff Box Prog rock skit is up there with Spinal Tap). I do have to add that toward the end of part two when he plays around with the Jarre style melody that perhaps he has a Mozart style joke on us. But as an Ambient listen this is up the with the Orb in places…I also greatly enjoy the slight Jah Wobble style Dub Reggae tinged sections.
I was ploughing through all my old records the other day pondering on the longevity of certain artists – Weller, Bowie ect…and then other short lived genius whether a Syd Barrett or a great one off record like Paul Hardcastle’s record “19” – an amazing unique record that the artist never really bettered (though he did do other fine music less well known) and then there are complete one hit wonders like say “Safety Dance” by Men without Hats, “Heartache Avenue” the classic white soul 80’s number by the Maisonettes or Fiction Factory’s “Feels like heaven”. Then there are talented musicians like Jona Lewie..a two hit wonder! (Again far more to his music but Kitchen at Parties and Stop the Cavalry are the two songs in question) . It made me realize just how few, if any, artists have ever matched early work. I could not think of one! Certainly even rarer are original line ups. Kraftwerk when they reformed in 2003 for an album wasnt the original line up and they mainly remixed old classic Tour De France tracks. Take Simple Minds or the Stranglers. Two seminal bands but neither kept the original strongest line up. I could only really think of four examples. Although The Stranglers “Norfolk Coast” is a great Album I have included Hugh Cornwell here as I think his “Monster” album was possibly other than perhaps Leonard Cohen or some Bowie, one of the great unsung comeback LP’s. It is very rare to match earlier eras for any particular songwriter. Monster for me is the strongest set of original songs Hugh produced since the stranglers and matches the finest post Hugh stranglers efforts in my view (which when it comes to music i change my mind all the time as all music is connected- certainly across genre). On a few tracks I do miss Dave Greenfield’s Swirling mastery but who cares its a vintage set. Its interesting to note how Cornwell is a big admirer of Weller in the way he split the Jam and followed his instincts, however his fate until recently was to fall well behind The Stranglers themselves who had way more success without him himself for many years. Of course in Weller’s case its been quite the opposite. The Intro to Pure Evel is wonderfully like LA Woman by The Doors. In my view the album is not only his finest solo work BUT in an extraordinary exception- i believe it to be possibly better than all other post Hugh Stranglers work without him but I cant really say that as the band have been so strong without him and JJ Burnel is also another fave artist of mine so its tough to say, but i do find other than Norfolk Coast that this seems the strongest. I was told at a Stranglers gig by a joking fan that if i meet him and if he finds out JJ Burnel would have my guts for garters as they say in the East End!!!
My next choice is ULTRAVOX. Sadly sometime in the 1990’s many music journalists would trash Midge Ure era Ultravox, which was very confusing for fans of the band as the vast majority discovered them via the commercially successful Midge Ure era (Phil Collins/ Peter Gabriel Syd Barrett /Dave Gilmour are similar examples). I still feel his was the strongest era- however I do adore Jon Foxx era too – particularly “Quiet Men” and “I cant stay long”. Other than U2 there arent really any original line ups of bands that i can find that have matched anything like earlier music (U2 havent) and thats if they ever got back together at all. Of course bands with endless changes of line up like Hawkwind are in their own category! So I have included a track from the “Brilliant” album,-which for a reformation years later was surprisingly good. Like Hugh (who i did get to meet briefly) i saw Ultravox live. To my ears this has a slight Trevor Horn Production sound. I wonder what that would have been like had they collaborated back in the mid eighties!
My next choice is sadly not an original line up due to MOONIE and THE OX being sadly no longer with us. However this track (pretty much a solo Townsend inclusion on the amazing recent albums cd issue. The best WHO album since Who are you and the late great Keith Moon. Having lived in the states for a few years myself I am glad to say I never really experienced guns!
This recent track by the MONKEES rubs shoulders convincingly in comparison with earlier work. Also includes some songs by Andy Partridge of XTC and Dukes of Stratosphere , like the track ive included. Also Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher contribute elsewhere on the album. It is a really authentic listen! (Even if shy of the late great Davy Jones) Below I have included one of my favorite songs. Its written by Andy Partridge and captures 1967 in 1985. It also is very much the same sound as his song penned for the Monkees.
HERE IS THE START OF MY VRIL SUPERNATURAL SCI FI SERIES AUDIOBOOK CHAPTER ONE AND PROLOGUE. THIS WEEK TWO PUBLISHERS HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST – JOHN HUNT AND JO FLETCHER BOOKS.