Amoeblog

Shifters and sugarcubes -- Happy Bicycle Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 19, 2013 03:53pm | Post a Comment

Today marks the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered the properties of LSD, on 16 April, 1943, and rode his bike home.

THE DISCOVERY OF LSD


Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)

Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in his Basel laboratory in 1938 working for Sandoz Laboratories whilst studying scilla and ergot in an attempt to purify and synthesize the active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.


Siberian scilla (image source: Digging RI)

He set aside his discovery for five years at which point he accidentally absorbed a quality through his fingertips and reported feeling dizzy, intoxicated, stimulated and seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors when he closed his eyes.


HOFMANN'S TRIP AND BIKE RIDE

His curiosity piqued, on 19 April Hofmann intentionally took 250 micrograms. He began tripping and rode his bike home. At first the experience was unpleasant. He 
was convinced that a neighbor was a 
witch who had poisoned him. A doctor visited him and reported nothing unusual except for dilated pupils. Thus reassured, his trip became much more pleasant. He later wrote of the experience:

"... little by little I could begin to enjoy the unprecedented colors and plays of shapes that persisted behind my closed eyes. Kaleidoscopic, fantastic images surged in on me, alternating, variegated, opening and then closing themselves in circles and spirals, exploding in colored fountains, rearranging and hybridizing themselves in constant flux ..."


LSD's IMPACT ON CULTURE

In the years that followed, acid (as LSD is commonly known) became used for a variety of scientific and recreational purposes. It was first criminalized in California, on 6 October, 1966. The rest of the US and UK quickly followed. Of course acid had already made its mark. In music, it was the catalyst for psychedelic rock, which had by then spread to both sides of the Atlantic, and its subgenre, acid rock. I don't intend to cram the entire cultural history of LSD on humankind into a blog but I'd like to bring it back to bikes... because this is Bicycle Day, remember? Long before the discovery of acid bicycles were the subjects of popular songs.


THE INVENTION OF AND EARLY SONGS ABOUT BICYCLES


Bicylces were invented in the 18th century. The bike's ancestor, the dandy horse, had been first introduced to the public in Mannheim in 1817. The French term bicyclette had been in use since 1847. In the Anglosphere, the commonly used term was velocipede. London's Daily News first printed the word "bicycle" in 1868 but it didn't completely catch on immediately.


  


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century it was popular to sing about new inventions (see: "The Monsters of Megaphone"). In 1868, Henry Atkins led the pack with "Velocipede Galop." In 1869, he was followed by Carl Faust's "Le Velocipede Galopp," Geo. Cooper & Harry Miller's "The Gay Velocipede," E.H. Sherwood's "The New Velocipede - Galop," S. Low Coach's (John M. Dunfield) "The Unlucky Velocipedist - Galop," Frank Howard's "The Velocipede Song and Chorus," Wm. O. Fiske, "Velocipede (March)," Cha. Koppitz's "Velocipede Galop," G. Operti's "Velocipede Galop," Henry B. Hart's "Velocipede Galop," O.H. Harpel & Henry Atkins's "Velocipede Jimmy," Leander's "Velocipede Johnny," Louis Mösser's "Velocipede March," E. Mack's "Velocipede Polka," (unknown) "Velocipede Song," Leon's "Velocipede Waltz," and (unknown) "Velocipediania."


BICYCLE SONGS AND ADVANCES OF THE 1880s

  

No known songs about bicycles were published in the 1870s but in the 1880s the charts were stormed a mob of bike songs that reflected "bicycle" having taken over "velocipede." W. Diederich's "Bicycle Glide," S. Conant Doster & Harry W. Sawyer's "Mister Tobias Isaias Elias. A Bicycling Song," and E.C. Phelps's "The Sailing Party" were published in 1880. Chas. W. Nathan's "Star Bicycle Galop" was published in 1882. Wm. H.A. Hall's "Bicycle Galop," James C. Bekel's "La Fete des Bicycles, Fantasia Charasteristic," and John Ford's "The Star Rider" and "The Wheelmen's Song," were published in 1883. W.J. Holding's "Knights of the Wheel Schottische," A.S. Andrew & C.D. Blake's "Bicycle Polka," and Conant Foster's "Wheel Songs" were published in 1884. J.J. Sawyer's Bicycle Waltz" and Walter A. Dolane's "Wheelmen Waltzes" were published in 1885. S. White Paine's "Gem of the Track - Bicycle Club Song" was published in 1886. John Young's "Wheelmen's Waltz" was published in 1889.

Toward the end of decade there were key advances in the bicycle industry and the music industry. Edison Phonograph Company formed in 1887 and in 1888 commercially introduced wax cylinders to the music-buying public. Also in 1887, John Dunlop developed the first practical pneumatic tire for his son's tricycle, tested it, and patented his invention in 1888. 


THE GOLDEN AGE OF BICYCLES AND THE SONGS THAT FOLLOWED 

A series of advances beginning with the introduction of the pneumatic tire in 1888 ushered in the Golden Age of Bicycles, the 1890s. There were also new music formats. Piano rolls were introduced in 1896. 

  

Chas. F. Escher, Jr’s “Wheelmen's March” was published in 1890. R.S. Peniston’s “Wheeling, A Bicycle Parade” and Chas. Brighton’s “A Job Lot. Comic Song” were published in 1891. Frank R. Gillis’s “Washington Cyclist's Military March,” Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell,” and Gerald Deane’s “Queen of the Wheel” were published in 1892. Walter I. Dolbeare’s “Massachusetts Bicycle Club,” Robert S. Gebhart’s “The Dayton Bicycle Club,” T.H. Rollinson’s “The Silent Steed - Galop Brillante,” Ch. Eustace’s “Véloce-Galop,” Oscar H. Gerber’s “Mercury March,” J.W. Alexander’s “The Bicycle Waltz,” Harry Wunderlich’s “Wheelmen's March,” Lucien Durand’s “Women En Bicyclette,” and Chas. K. Harris’s “Katie Rides a Wheel” were all published in 1893. J.A. Wallace’s “The Pretty Bicycle Girl,” Alice Irene Fairlie’s “East Orange Cyclers,” Anthony Lohmann’s “League Meet March,” Arnold Somylo’s “Pretty Girls in Bloomers,” O. Schrage & W. Potstock’s “The Bloomers,” Emmet Duffy’s “Mulrooney on a Bike,” Harry Dacre’s “Dorothe!,” Mildred McNeal & Hattie Thickens’s “Let Us Ride Together,” Roland Burke Hennessy’s “Ye Merry Cycle Song,” M.H. Bryant & Amy P. Foster’s “She Rides a Bike,” and Wm. Hogan’s “The Bicycle Girl” were published in 1894. M.A. Althouse’s “Penn Wheelmen March Two Step,” John Lloyd Whitney’s “The Century Run March,” A. Robarge’s “The Pittsfield Wheelmen,” M. Florence’s “Bloomer March - Two Step,” Samuel H. Speck’s “Hannah Go Hide Your Bloomers,” George J. Becker’s “The March of the Bloomers,” J.F. Davis’s “A Corker - Bicycle Song,” Margaret Rogers Knapp’s “Cycling Song,” R.W. Young’s “The Pike Belt March and Two Step,” Theo A. Metz’s “Get Your Lamps Lit,” F.E. Hutchings’s “The New Cycle Path March and Two-Step,” Charles Smith Tarbox’s “The United States Wheel March,” Harry J. Ballou’s “Climbing on My Golden Wheel,” David Reed, Jr.’s “Ridin' on de Golden Bike,” Gussie Davis’s “Since Hannah's Done Learned to Ride a Wheel,” O.A. Hoffmann’s “Have You a Wheel,” George Evans’s “Johannah, Is Your Heart Still,” Ward Sprague’s “Sparking on a Wheel,” Melvin Ward & Herman Perlêt’s “Sweetheart I Love None but You,” M. Stuart & Percy Gaunt’s “Spin 'Round,” Jess Danzig & Frank P. Banta’s “Wheeling, Wheeling or Love A-Wheel,” W. Murdoch Lind & George Rosey’s “You Don't Have to Marry the Girl,” Fred J. Hamill’s “A Romance of A Wheel,” Ray Brian’s “Keating Wheel March,” F.R. Gadd’s “On the Wheel - Mazurka-Waltz,” C.E. Stewart (Stuart)’s “The Bicycle Craze,” Frank R. Seltzer’s “The New Columbia March,” Alexander Crerar & A.H. Houghton’s “The Wheel,” Jas. L. Post & R.W. Edwards’s “Angel Grace and the Crimson Rim,” Joseph Louis MacEvoy’s “Mary Belle,” William Mulligan & Roy L. Burtch’s “Rosie Steel,” George A. Watts’s “The Bicycle Belle March,” Nettie M. Wagner & J. Carroll Chandler’s “The Bicycle Girl,” Fraser Grant & Geo. J. Southwick’s “The Cycling Maid or The Maid's the Thing,” Frank P. Banta’s “Wheelman's Patrol,” and Harrison E. Ruhe’s “Allen Wheelmen March and Two Step” were published in 1895. W.J. McIntyre’s “Brooklyn Bicycle Club March,” Theodore E. Brun’s “Cyclopia March,” C.E. Vandersloot’s “L.A.W. Waltzes,” W.L. Metz’s “Mercury Wheelmen March,” Olaf E. Pedersen’s “Turner Wheel Club March Two-Step,” S.G. Kiesling’s “The Black Diamond,” Grace L. Catlin’s “The Cycling Club March,” L.B. Smith’s “What Will the Girls Do Next?,” Leonard B. Marshall’s “Bicycle Song,” T.W. Connor’s “At My Time O’ Life,” Mrs. Harold A. Lee’s “Bicycle Parade March – Two-Step,” Henry Vaughn & Paul Rodney’s “Cycling Song,” Brandon Thomas & Edgar Thornton’s “The Wheel Galop” and “Speed the Wheel,” Billy Vassar & Will H. Friday’s “Under the Trees On The Cycle,” Cornelius Higgins’s “M'kinley and Hobart's Bicycle,” Chas. Quinn’s “Happy Little Coons,” Bruce M. Priddy’s “Cycler’s March,” T.J. Donoghue & Geo. E. Schaller’s “Give Me the Girl That Rides the Wheel,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Little Zulu Lu, A Congo Elopement,” Frank Dun’s “Making Love on a Wheel,” E.T. Paull’s “New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-Step,”  Adam Craig & John Quinn’s “Wheeling Together,” August Argauer’s “Wiener Volks Radfahrer,” J.M. Cody’s “Ben Hur March,” Fred W. Edgecomb’s “Frontenac Two-Step,” Tho. W. Jaquith & Otto Funk’s “He’s Got a Wheel,” Fred L. Moreland’s “The Cycle King,” Mrs. Geo. S. Hall’s “The Patee Bicycle March – (TwoStep),” Michl. F. Hayes & Mary Agnes Hayes’s “The Scorcher,” Walter B. Rogers’s “The Yellow Fever – Two-Step,” J.J. Alexander’s “Upa Tree March,” C. Ormsbee-Gregory’s “Bicycle Galop,” Dave Reed Jr.’s “Julienne,” Jas. S. Burdett/Geo. W. Day & Wm. H. Nelson’s “Mary Ann O’Grady and Her Bike,” Geo. K. Barrett & John Quinn’s “My Silent Steed,” Willie Younge & Eugene Barnett’s “Rhoda Rode a Roaster,” Lena R. Hulett’s “The Bicycle Girl,” T.P. Brooke’s “The Cycle Queen – Two Step for the Piano,” Eben E. Rexford & Bertram Harriot’s “The Cycler’s Song – ‘My Wheel for a Comrade’,” John J. McIntyre & Francis M. Paine’s “When You Teach a Pretty Girl to Ride a Bike,” and F. A. Wood & Joseph Knecht’s “When You’re Riding a Bike” were published in 1896. George J. Becker’s “Chain and Sprocket Club March,” M.A. Althouse’s “Electric Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” Abe Wilsky’s “Fairhill Wheelmen – March and Two-Step,” L.O. De Witt’s “The Hobo – March and Two-Step,” Theo. J. Tinnette’s “Wheelmen’s Parade March,” Ramonda A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “When the Boys and Girls go Wheeling,” Frederick J. Strachan’s “Winthrop Cycle Club – March and Two Step,” Myrtle R. Davis’s “Bicycle Race,” Eduard Holst’s “Bicycle Race Galop,” George Maywood’s “The Cyclists National Grand March and Two-Step,” F.A. Mills’s “The Pacers Two Step,” Harry B. Parker’s “White Flyer Two-Step,” W.H. Hodgins’s “Olive Waltzes,” Raymond A. Browne & Charles Coleman’s “Before She Went Back Home Again,” T.W. Connor’s “I’m Going to Ride a Bicycle,” Thomas W. Russell & Roy L. Burtch’s “Mike’s Got Wheels in His Head,” Matthews and Bulger’s “Willie’s Misfit Pants,” Ludwig André’s “Vorwärts - Voran! - Bicycle-Galop,” H.H. Godfrey’s “On Wings of Steel,” G.E. Conterno’s “The Bike Intermezzo,” D.W. Reeves’s “The Cycler’s March,” F. Ibach’s “The Neverout March – Two-Step,” J.S. Duss’s “Up To Date,” Jos. B. Carey’s “Melissy,” Chas. K. Champlin’s “My Little May,” Frank Banta’s “The Chaser – Two-Step,” Frederick Solomon’s “The Kid That Knows It All,” Harry LeRoy’s “When Riding Out with Nellie On My Bike,” Glendron Mfg. Co.’s “Glendron Bicycle Two-Step,” Geo. Maywood’s “King Klondike,” Fred Neddermeyer’s “The Columbus Bicycle March,” S.B. Alexander & Summit L. Hecht’s “The Roof-Garden Cycle Party,” Geo. L. Magill’s “Windsor Wheel Waltzes,” C.G. Cotes & Felix McGlennon’s “A Nice Situation for a Girl,” J.M. Richards’s “Bicycle Episode or The Pleasures of Wheeling ,” A. Tregina’s “Camille the Queen of the Wheel,” Nellie Burt’s “Dora Brown,” W.H. Gardner & Otto Langey’s “Queen of the Bicycle Girls,” George Rosey’s “Rosey’s Scorcher,” Raymond A Brown & Charles Coleman’s “The Jolly Girl from Gay Paree,” David Reed Jr. & George Rosey’s “The Pretty Little Scorcher,” and Jos. W. Stern & Co.’s “The Scorcher (March and TwoStep)” were published in 1897. A.R. Cunha’s “Bay City March – (Two-Step),” Frederick T. Strachan’s “Berkeley Cycle Club Two-Step,” Herbert F. Estes’s “C.B.C. March,” Harry E. Jeroy’s “The A.W.C. March,” John G. Schuler’s “The Crackajack March,” J.J. Scull’s “The Lebanon Bicycle Club – March Two Step,” James E. Hough’s “Off to the Races March and TwoStep,” Ludwig Mendelssohn’s “ Radelin (Bicycling),” Albert Hall & Orlando Powell’s “Dear Old Uncle Charlie,” Carl Howard & George Everard’s “I Knew,” D. Frank Tully’s “Coasting in the Moonlight,” Paul Webster Eaton & Minnie Boyd Upperman’s “Lily Crow,” Edmund Braham’s “The Winner – Two Step or Cake Walk for Piano,” Harry F. Sanders’s “Side by Side Two Step,” Gendron Mfg. Co.’s “Lizzy Hogan on Gendron Wheel,” Harry D. Laycock’s “While Riding My Wheel,” Frank Abbott & Henry Norman’s “Mary Ellen Simpkins’ Bike,” Harry B. Marshall’s “Rosie and Mamie,” L.E. West’s “The Cyclone March and TwoStep,” Theo A. Metz’s “The Scorcher – Galop Brilliante” and Manuel Klein’s “White Heather Two-Step” were published in 1898. Anth. J. Dick’s “The Cycle Race March,” Adam Geibel’s “Bicycle Waltz,” Lydia Avery & Jessie L. Gaynor’s “My Bicycle,” Samuel Speck’s “An Easy Mark Two Step,” Wallace Moody & Lee B. Grabbe’s “The Wench That Rides a Wheel,” John P. Harrington & Orlando Powell’s “We All Went Following On,” T.H. Ervin’s “American Wheelmen's March Two-Step,” George Wm. Needham’s “Good Roads Two Step March,” Harry Clay Tacy’s “L.A.W. March and Two-Step,” F.T. McGrath’s “A Breeze from Blackville - Cake Walk and Two Step,” W. Hedemann-Gade’s “I Mot - Och Medvind,” Ellis Brooks’s “A Florida Cracker,” and Arthur J. Lamb & Geo. Schleiffarth’s “When the Band Plays in the Park” were all published in 1899 -- to name but a few.


CYCLING SONGS IN THE AUTOMOBILE AGE

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Laurel Canyon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 16, 2009 03:30pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hollywood, showing the approximate location of Laurel Canyon

This blog entry is about Laurel Canyon. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.


The woodsy area in the Hollywood Hills now known as Laurel Canyon was originally inhabited by the Tongva. A spring-fed stream attracted Mexican shepherds in the 18th century. After the region became part of the US, Anglos arrived. About 100 years ago, the area was divided up, cabins were erected and the area was marketed to vacationing tourists. The first movie made in Hollywood was shot in Yucca Corridor in 1910. Though the film industry remained centered in Edendale for a few years, it gradually shifted to Hollywood and Laurel Canyon became the home of some of the burgeoning industry's photo-players.


Famed cowboy star Tom Mix bought the Laurel Tavern and converted it into his residence. Mary Astor had a love nest on Appian Way. Gay Mexican "Latin Lover" Ramón Novarro lived there until his murder in 1968.


Though better known as an escapologist, Hungarian magician Harry Houdini sometimes acted in the silent era and was another resident to Laurel Canyon. Other stars of the silent screen who made Laurel Canyon their home include Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Theda Bara, Bessie Love, Wallace Reid and Norman Kerry.


After most of the movie stars left, the rustic neighborhood was still a draw from some bohemian types. It was there, in 1948, that actors Robert Mitchum and Lila Leeds were busted for possession of jazz cigarettes. Mitchum moved away in the '60s. The next influx of inhabitants were more often part of the music industry.


"she lives on Love Street"





 
Located as it is, just up the hill from the famed hippie and folk-rock nexus The Troubadour, the nearby bucolic setting attracted members of that scene. In the 1960s, many musicians moved to the neighborhood including Love’s Arthur Lee, The ByrdsRoger McGuinn and David Crosby, The DoorsJim Morrison and Robby Krieger, the Mamas & PapasDenny Doherty and Cass Elliot, The TurtlesMark Volman, The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, Troy Donahue, Fabian, The Beach BoysBrian Wilson, Buffalo Springfield’s Neil Young and The Mothers of Invention’s Frank Zappa.

Laurel Canyon Country Store - "the place where the Creatures meet."

In 1968, Laurel Canyon's navelgazing period truly began -- That year, Crosby, Stills and Nash formed one of the first supergroups, named after themselves, of course. The amount of musicians who referenced the neighborhood in their works is pretty humorous. The great, underrated Jackie DeShannon was first, with Laurel Canyon.  Two months later, John Mayall released Blues from Laurel Canyon. The following year, Joni Mitchell began recording Ladies of the Canyon. David Geffen moved to the neighborhood hoping to exploit the increasingly mellow singer-writer and soft rock scene embodied by new residents like Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, Judee Sill, Linda Ronstadt and members of The Eagles and America. In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang the highly irritating "Our House" about Nash and Mitchell's home. The transition from acid rock psychonauts to self-worshiping cocaine cowboys was completed in 1973, when The Roxy opened down the hill in West Hollywood.

By the ‘80s, most of the singer-writer scene had dried up and blown away but the coke hadn’t. In 1981, four members of The Wonderland Gang (Laurel Canyon’s premier coke distributors), were murdered, leading to the arrest of porn star John C. Holmes. The sleaze quotient rose further when shock jocks Adam Carrola and Tom Leykis moved there (not together).
 

In the '90s, the neighborhood became the home of mainstream darlings including Jennifer Aniston, Neve Campbell and Trent Reznor. A new generation of cocaine cowboys began to wax about the good old days of Laurel Canyon. In 2001, British band The Charlatans released their album Wonderland. Accepted into the scene, by the time of his solo debut a couple of years later, singer Tim Burgess seemed to embody the Laurel Canyon revival. In 2002, in true Laurel Canyon fashion, a movie about Laurel Canyon was released, titled Laurel Canyon.


 
World's largest dog park 

Today, Laurel Canyon still exudes considerable charm. The whimsical houses are in a variety of styles, although their current residents are unfailingly scowly types with dogs in their purses and yoga pants on at all times. Their chilly expressions are somewhat fitting in a neighborhood that, despite being surrounded by urban Los Angeles, conveys an undeniably autumnal vibe.





*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

The evolution of the music video, part II (1950s - 1960s)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 6, 2009 01:45pm | Post a Comment
As persuasively and incontestably argued in The evolution of the music video, part I  (1890s - 1940s), the music video began not in the '80s, as is often wrongly assumed, but the '90s... the 1890s (if we accept the basic concept of videos being one stand-alone work of one song/one visual). From the humble sound experiments at the dawn of the celluloid age through the artistic flowering of Soundies, many musical promos were created of high historical and artistic importance. In the 1950s and '60s, videos moved from bars and clubs to the living room, as television became the new venue for music promotion.

Cineboxes, Scopitones and Color-Sonics
According to the Quixotic Internet Accuracy Project, the term "music video" was coined by DJ (VJ?) J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson in 1959. That year, the Cinebox hit the scene, essentially following in the footsteps of Soundies by manufacturing videos for what was essentially a jukebox with a visual component. In 1965, the Cinebox was re-branded the Colorama in the US. The following year it was again re-branded, this time as the Cinejukebox.


   









Scopitones followed Cineboxes, hitting the French market in 1960 and making their way to the US in 1964. The similar Color-sonics followed in 1966.

 













 

Canada was a pioneer in moving the music video from various video jukeboxes to the television. Singalong Jubilee debuted in 1961 on the CBC, 23 years before the debut of Much. In addition to featuring musicians playing in the studios, artists were also filmed on location. The show was based in Halifax. Music videos proved an ideal alternative to a punishing journey across the vast, frozen wastelands of the north just to play a song or two before returning home. Sadly, I can't find any videos from the program.

As we've now seen, music videos were around for 61 years before The Beatles got in on the act. And yet, many still insist that they invented the music video. As the Fab Four began to make studio-enhanced psychedelia that was difficult to come anywhere near re-creating on stage, they stopped touring and relied on music videos as the main way of promoting their music, perhaps giving rise to the myth of their having had a hand in the format's creation. Many of their peers followed suit, often engaging in the lighthearted shenanigans apparently so popular with English teenagers of the 1960s. The Doors, including as they did a couple of film students, were generally more dour.





































Australia, like Canada, is characterized by tiny outposts of humanity spread across an enormous, unforgiving countryside. Following the Canadians' lead, Australia did more to establish television as the venue for music videos than any other country. With the UK and US millions of miles away, the Australians ended up regularly making their own videos for songs by bands unwilling to cross the globe. By 1966, Australian bands regularly made videos for their new releases. That year, The Black Diamonds (after encountering bushfires and blizzards in their attempts to tour) became the first "country" band to sign to a major without having set foot in the capital. A year later, The Masters Apprentices made a color video, which was just showing off, because Australia successfully resisted conversion to color TV until 1975.

Hugh Hopper 1945 – 2009

Posted by Whitmore, June 10, 2009 07:09pm | Post a Comment
 
When I was about 13 years old I became a regular customer at Platypus Records on Hollywood Blvd about a half a block east of Vermont in Hollywood. It was all about their inexpensive used records. I still spent a small fortune from money I earned the old fashioned way; recycling cans and bottles, mowing lawns and stealing money from my mom’s purse. I found great records for pennies. And one that left an indelible mark on my rookie ears was the Soft Machine album, Volume Two, released in 1969 and featuring Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Mike Ratledge on piano and Hammond organ, Brian Hopper on saxophone and Hugh Hopper on bass and guitars. I think I paid 99 cents for the album.
 
When I bought that record all I knew about Soft Machine was that they were part of some mysterious and legendary English Canterbury music scene, they hung out with Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and once toured the US as an opening act for Jimi Hendrix. Volume Two is still one of my all time favorite records. Over the years I’ve worn out more than a few copies.
 
This past Monday, idiosyncratic composer, art-rock bassist extraordinaire, veteran of some two dozen diverse solo albums and Soft Machine member, Hugh Hopper, succumbed to his year long battle with leukemia. He was 64.
 
In his years before Soft Machine, Hugh Colin Hopper, born April 29, 1945 in Canterbury, Kent, found himself immersed in the burgeoning Canterbury scene and emerging bands like Gong, Hatfield and the North and Henry Cow. In the mid sixties he was working with Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt in the Daevid Allen Trio. That band evolved into the Wilde Flowers, an almost mythic pop and soul band consisting of his brother Brian, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Richard Sinclair that spun off into two influential progressive rock groups, Caravan and Soft Machine.
 
Hopper joined Soft Machine in 1968 after their tour with Hendrix, contributed two compositions to their first self titled album, recorded in New York. Their sophomore release saw Hopper not only adding his virtuoso bass work to the mix but also composing half the tracks. He would remain with Soft Machine through 1973 and the album entitled 6. About the time Soft Machine was moving from a psychedelic, progressive rock sound into more of a jazz/fusion outfit, Hopper departed, recording his classic solo record 1984 at about the same time. His first effort was a decidedly non-commercial adventure filled with avant-garde soundscapes, tape loops, and free improvisation.
 
After his stint with Soft Machine, and in between his own solo projects, Hopper worked with some of the most original musicians of the last thirty years; Carla Bley, Keith Tippett, Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Pip Pyle, Stomu Yamashta, Phil Miller, Lol Coxhill, Allan Holdsworth, Chris Cutler, Yumi Hara Cawkwell and bands like Gilgamesh, Isotope and Soft Heap. In 2002 Hopper began a new association with several former Soft Machine members. Originally named Soft Works, they later renamed the reunion Soft Machine Legacy; besides touring extensively throughout Europe and Asia, they’ve also released four CD’s, two studio and two live recordings.
 
After his diagnoses last summer with leukemia, a benefit concert was held for him at London's 100 Club in December, featuring friends and many of his legendary musical collaborators from all phases of his career.
 
Just two days before his death he married his longtime companion Christine.




Carnival of Light

Posted by Whitmore, November 21, 2008 06:52pm | Post a Comment

"Carnival of Light," the long-rumored, almost mythical 14-minute experimental Beatles track, may soon see the light of day. Composed and performed only once for an electronic music festival in 1967, Sir Paul McCartney earlier this week confirmed that the recording exists, and the piece once thought to be too experimental for mainstream tastes might actually see a release date sometime in the near future.

In the 1990’s while preparing the Anthology collection, the Beatles plus producer George Martin vetoed its inclusion, deeming the track as being "too adventurous" for release. But McCartney feels the public is ready for the psychedelic/avant-garde inspired tune, which is said to include improvised distorted guitar, church organ, gargling, backwards tape sounds, random cacophony and band members shouting words or phrases like "Barcelona!" and "Are you all right?"

First though, approval from the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison, plus permission from Ringo Starr and George Martin would be required.

I found a video on YouTube that claims to contain actual  "Carnival of Light" music. Of course if this is a real Beatles tracks, it's brilliant! If this is in fact not a recording from he Beatle's, it  just  becomes ... more stuff.

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