‘BREAD ON THE NIGHT’
Looking back on:
‘BREAD ON THE NIGHT’
by LIVERPOOL SCENE
(RCA Victor SF8057, 1969)
What were they thinking of? What on earth were the RCA suits thinking when they scheduled the release of ‘Bread On The Night’ by Liverpool Scene? Could they really have imagined they had a commercial property on their hands? Is that remotely possible? Surely it’s evidence of strangely different days that a major record label was willing to release, not just one Liverpool Scene LP, but four of them. Each of which failed to return on its advance. What were RCA thinking? Grab a look at the cover-shot. The group were incapable of giving good face, even in the dishevelled sixties sense of disarray. From every logical marketing point of view, they were a preposterous proposition. A rabble of rogues, a parcel of misfits. Well – there were precedents, actually. Listen to various fragments of the album, and you touch elements of, not quite Scaffold or the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, not quite Lindisfarne or the Fugs, but something that has bits of them all, and none of them. Liverpool Scene was part of the greater art-Rock Folk-Poetry trad-cabaret anti-commercial underground, and also a scene unto themselves. There was nothing quite like them, prior to them, and there’s certainly been nothing remotely like them since.
Adrian Henri was already a name. Although he was far from the only name within the group. I once talked my way into supporting him when he did a reading at the Wakefield ‘Unity Hall’. Wrangling at the pay-desk until I got free admission in exchange for a twenty-minute reading spot. The venue is now derelict, although then, around the early-to-mid-seventies, I also saw Captain Beefheart, and punk band Chelsea there. A strange constellation of names. I hadn’t been writing long, but I’d written a poem consciously in the Adrian Henri style, attempting to draw upon the same kind of urban wistful romanticism, aping his Pop-culture references and sudden flights of oddness, the way he twists lines from the street-level into the esoteric within the space of a phrase. I’d sat up typing out multiple copies on colour-tinted off-cut paper stolen from work, with layers of carbons adding to their bulk, so that once I completed the set on stage I was able to throw copies from the mike down upon the audience. The intention was that they’d rain down like poetic confetti. Instead they formed a flying wedge that narrowly missed causing harm. I’m sure I glimpsed Adrian Henri smirking from the side of the stage. He formed a solid presence, rotund, bearded, wearing a fringed brown-leather jacket. He was reading from his latest book, more serio-surreal than the audience expected. I got the feeling they wanted the hits. The poems they knew. The ones from ‘The Mersey Sound’ anthology (Penguin Modern Poets No.10, 1967). When he did something familiar they reacted and applauded with genuine vigour. But I also gained the impression he was somewhat disappointed by the level of their response. In fact, he confided as much later, in a slightly guarded way across the alcove of the ‘Black Horse’ tavern opposite. Not that he need worry. What’s one night in Wakefield out of a life of readings?
Liverpool. It was different then. Even the accent was different. Over the years since, it has changed. Listen to the rich slur of Lennon or George Harrison in ‘A Hard Days Night’. That accent has gradually shifted, evolved higher and more whining, to become what it is today. During World War II Merseyside took the full brunt of the Luftwaffe firestorm, but came out with a swaggering bantering confidence, classless and free, with an insolent cheek as wide as Gerry Marsden’s grin. If it’s now nominated a European City Of Culture, it was more so then, when Ginsberg declared it the ‘centre of the human universe’. Even after the ‘Mersey Beat’ group-wave receded, as Pop got more lyrical, poetic stanzas went Pop, and the press refocused on new levels of creativity in the city. The logic said that if record-buyers could memorise huge verse-screeds of ‘Desolation Row’, they could deal with Pop poets too. After all, it had been going on in pub back-rooms for some time, in the L8 ‘Streates Coffee Bar’, or in the ‘Everyman Theatre’. Although now inextricably entangled with the riot-myths of Toxteth, Liverpool 8 was then ‘an unpunctuated state of mind’, a gently decayed bohemia of layabouts, artists and beatniks, a low-rent district of Georgian squares and terraces where – as Liverpudlian George Melly tells it (in his ‘Revolt Into Style’, Penguin, 1970), Henri’s ‘bearded, bespectacled, pear-shaped polymath’ infused his diverse enthusiasms for Apollinaire, Andre Breton, Jarry and Magritte into the volatile culture mix. Next door to the Liverpool Police HQ on the corner of Hope and Hardman Streets, there was ‘O’Connors Tavern’ – a sometime poetry venues outside of which the group-shot cover-photo for ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Liverpool Scene’ was taken (the venue later became a Fancy Dress shop). If it sounds obvious to say now that the poetry they read there spoke with its own street-level voice and distinctive humour, it was revelationary then. To Adrian Henri, poems could be like found-art picked up from words in the street, ‘words scrawled on pavements, words painted on walls, words painted on the road – Stop!, Go!, Halt!’, or maybe words like ‘dandelion seeds blowing from waste-ground’.
And yet Adrian Henri wasn’t all Liverpool. Born in Birkenhead – 10th April 1932, he spent the war years down the coast in Rhyl, working the fairground for ten summer months. He studied at the old-fashioned North Wales St Asaph Grammar as the only student of his year taking ‘A’-level Art, hence having the study-room to himself! He graduated in Art in 1955 from the University of Durham. But his life in art moved parallel to his life in verse. By 1957, turned twenty-four, he was back in Liverpool where he encountered Roger McGough and Brian Patten. Soon after that he was doing Jazzetry – Jazz-Poetry, exploring temporary performance art at multi-media ‘happenings’ before there was a name for it. His poems sang anyway, written to the percussive rap of acoustic typewriter, and by 1965, to paraphrase Jeff Nuttall, he was inevitable. It was he who invited Ginsberg up to the ‘pool, although its cultural connection with the Beatles may have been a catalyst in his accepting, and Henri drew outsiders such as Pete Brown and Mike Horovitz into the reading scene. He was writing poems about “I Want To Paint” (‘fifty life-sized nudes of Marianne Faithfull, all of them painted from life’), while his first one-man exhibition took place at the London Institute Of Contemporary Arts in 1968. He did an album with Roger McGough ‘Recorded Live Along The Mersey Beat’, with the ‘Scouse guitar’ of Andy Roberts playing back-up. Titled ‘The Incredible New Liverpool Scene’ (1967) it included Adrian’s poems “Tonight At Noon” and “Mrs Albion You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”. As McGough, in league with Mike McGear and John Gorman, lived out Henri’s line about when ‘poets get their poems in the Top Twenty’ (in “Tonight At Noon”), and Brian Patten took his tousled versifying south, Adrian Henri gravitated further into group-form. An idea most would have filed under ‘improbable’.
John Peel, still DJ-ing his ‘Perfumed Garden’ at Radio London picked up on ‘The Incredible New Liverpool Scene’ album, played bits on-air, and encouraged its development. When Adrian assembled a new semi-stable group-oid line-up – playing its debut gig at Aberystwyth, it was his personality plastered across the band. With Tuesdays at O’Conner’s, and a Wednesday-night residency at the tarted-up Cavern Club. Yet the first single was Mike Hart’s raucous proto-scally sing-along “Son, Son”, issued in November 1968. Hart recites the verse with mock-childish naiveté, until the catchy hook-chorus comes crashing in with irresistibly rowdy harmonies. A fine single promoted by RCA to healthy air-play, it proved a worthy trailer for ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Liverpool Scene’ (1968) which came a month later. John Peel took producer credits for this, their debut proper, a beautifully unwieldy confusion of delights, a roaring cabaret made up of divers entities. The emerging Liverpool Scene would never be confined by the simple description ‘Rock Band’. With its joyously chaotic mixture of sounds, poetry, spoof ‘Bomb Commercials’, news items, and songs with titles like Mike Hart’s “Happy Burial Blues” (words by Maurice Cockrill), it was a fairly accurate reflection of their full-on stage attack. Here are Adrian Henri’s folk-songs being ‘sung by real folk’, a world in which ‘art galleries are closed to people over twenty-one’. But if RCA had thought they were signing a second Scaffold with their coy music-hall ditties and comedy-pantomime sketches, then that illusion must soon have become apparent. Liverpool Scene was made up of musicians with genuine technical ability, versed in a wide range of styles, and unwilling to settle for purely back-up status. Indeed, collectivist fusion was the concept imprinted into the unwieldy gang’s genome. They were a Rock group – with poetry, and it was this degree of stylistic incongruity that gave Liverpool Scene both its vital air of shambling anarchistic spontaneity, and the rifts that would bring about its long-term instability.
When Adrian Henri published his well-received poetry collection ‘Tonight At Noon’ (1968), excerpts were drawn from, or fused into the Liverpool Scene repertoire, either with or without the addition of complex musical accompaniment. The poems were written to be read aloud anyway, and were intended to work better on stage than on the page. They plunder the Pop-mythology of Frankenstein, and Batman – set to the TV-theme tune. They quote piecemeal from the Coasters (“Along Came Jones” in “Wild West Poems”) and Phil Spector (‘to know you is to love you’ in “Love Poem”). The poem “Me” credits influences as wide-ranging as John Coltrane, Blake, Jackson Pollock, Kropotkin, William Burroughs, HP Lovecraft, Trotsky, Marquis de Sade, and others, while poems like “Love Is” – set to a reggae rhythm (‘love is feeling cold in the back of vans / love is a fan-club with only two fans / love is walking holding paint-stained hands / love is’) and “Song Of Affluence” – as poems, are simply Pop songs without music. The latter taken from the source also pillaged by American Rock band Electric Flag for their “I Wouldn’t Leave My Wooden Wife For You”. Some of the poems form contrived jokes or word-play, but they are direct, and they communicate in ways that spoken-word had not communicated for decades. They still provide a luring introduction to the idea that poetry can be fun. Ideally suited to initiates.
‘Tonight At Noon’ is dedicated to Charlie Mingus, and to Liverpool group The Clayton Squares, and poet/saxist Mike Evans – a former member of the Squares, was there. As was guitarist-songwriter Andy Roberts. Not Scouse-born but from Harrow, Andy happened to be attending Liverpool University while backing Adrian Henri’s poetry and ‘playing Spider John Koerner numbers’ (Spider John was a white American ragtime guitarist). Andy was in full-time from the group’s inception, even as he and Adrian did duo poetry dates (including Leeds Folk Club at the Royal Sovereign pun 30 June 1967). Mike Hart from the Roadrunners was there too. For ‘Bread On The Night’ (1969), Hart was gone, but drummer Bryan Dodson and bassist Percy Jones were in. Liverpool Scene, or its various guises – Bobby & The Helmets, Brute Force & Ignorance, or The Spontaneous Rubbish Ensemble, carried no passengers. Credits were equally split.
Mike Evans’ melancholy squeeze-box opener to the album, “The Day We Danced At The Dole” tells a tale that sets up exactly what it’s all about, bursting into the kind of jaunty tambourine-rattling Morris-Men reel last encountered on a Fairport Convention album. It relates how installing a jukebox in the Leece Street Labour Exchange transforms dreary dole-queue drudgery into joyful celebration. ‘Signing on to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ becomes the danceable solution to benefit fraud with Wilson Pickett, while there’s Englebert playing in the Woman’s section. Give the story a JobCentre-Plus rebranding and the scenario doesn’t quite work. Andy Roberts, a hugely underrated presence whose own creativity is frequently overlooked in the light of his associations with every other manifestation of poetry, comedy, and Folk-Rock, adds “The Raven” and “64”. The former is not an Edgar Allen Poe reference, but carries a macabre-humour edge, as the ‘family sat, tossing goldfish to the cat’, with TV dinners on their knee. The raven on the roof becomes a metaphor for the vagaries of status and fortune as munitions-work is both the curse that kills the father even as it class-elevates the family over their next-door neighbours who ‘cultivate a garden which they smoke’. The latter title is a jaunty neighbours-from-hell tale, based on the house-number Adrian Henri and Andy Roberts shared through the Liverpool Scene years. There’s ‘a hole in the bathroom ceiling where the poet’s foot went through, which now is used for chucking things at people on the loo’. There’s also Mike Evans’ “GBS Blues”, with its Dylanesque phrasing and harmonica, a song that seems to be about a girl who ‘wears clothes so clumsy you’d think they’re for some other girls’ and who ‘walks like a spaceman treading on a brand new world’, before it expands into full stoned acid-surrealism. Then, flip the vinyl to side two, and “Come Into The Perfumed Garden, Maud” is credited to Henri but features creeping bass and free-jazzy sax in its long instrumental changes. While the linked “See The Conkering Heroine Comes / Winter Poem”, is decorous with Andy Roberts’ Simon & Garfunkel guitar. It risks straying into over-cuteness with its romantic imagery of ‘caught purple-handed coming back from blackberrying’ and the Pop-consumerist eye that sees ‘leaves, you said, were the colour of the green sweets in Mackintosh’s Weekend’. Reflecting the change in seasons its ‘cold hands through woolly gloves’ conjures a kind of sensual pleasure.
But the two major tracks, one on each vinyl side, are primarily Adrian Henri vehicles. He’d trailored ‘the entry of Christ into Liverpool in 1966’ as a line in “I Want To Paint”, referencing James Ensor’s 1889 painting ‘The Entry Of Christ Into Brussels’. He’d also anticipated the poem with his own painting dated 1962-64, showing crowds gathering outside Lime Street Railway Station (art critic William Feaver observes ‘Henri and friends, Beatles among them, stand beneath signs for ‘Ban The Bomb’, ‘Coleman’s Mustard’ and ‘Long Live Socialism’. Seekers of the original Sergeant Pepper need look no further’). But here, he inflates the line into a full epic poem, into a Liverpool ‘Desolation Row’. It opens with quiet Saturday morning shoppers carrying baskets, there are dogs, girls in curlers, and headscarves that smell of factories. Then the pipes and marching kettle-drums of the procession come around the corner into Myrtle Street, with drunks stumbling and ‘excited feet crushing the geraniums’. Although it’s essentially observed from life, the sectarian march fills with transfiguring masks and a menagerie of incidents. Henri notes the banners non-judgementally, from the ‘Loyal Sons of King William Lodge, Bootle’, to those announcing ‘Keep Britain White’, or ‘Long Live Ian Paisley’, all fleshed out further by the full band (playing the Folk song on which TV’s ‘Z Cars’ theme is based), as the procession winds down past the Labour exchange, the Philharmonic Hall and ‘O’Connors Tavern’. Henri exhibits the full range of his art-literary influences by drawing Guillaume Apollinaire into its Symbolist soundscape, with the Pieter ‘Bruegel-faces of old ladies in the crowd’, then he glimpses absurdist ‘Ubu Roi’ writer Alfred Jarry ‘cycling carefully through the crowds’, as well as James Ensor himself, the ‘King of Masks’. And a figure in white robes on a donkey. The phantasmagorical parade peaks into a shouted crescendo filching stuttered ad-speak ‘Guinness is… good for you’, as a Pop-Art collage might appropriate print-ads. Then there’s the aftermath, the anticlimactic evening, the ‘men with big brooms sweeping the gutters’, and the poet himself stumbling home alone with ‘empty chip papers drifting round my feet’. Sometimes, listening to an Adrian Henri poem can be all but indistinguishable from being inside it. An amazing sound-poem, it would reappear, in print, as part of the revised and expanded edition of ‘The Mersey Sound’ (1983).
Then there’s “I’ve Got Those Fleetwood Mac Chicken Shack John Mayall Can’t Fail Blues” with Andy Roberts slide-guitar artfully pastiching the kind of ‘Jethro Tull belly-full Savoy Brown reach-me-down’ white-boy Blues the lyrics satirise. An Adrian Henri song – rather than a poem, it opens ‘woke up this morning’ – the only way a blues can open, with him finding ‘my agent, and the people from Blue Horizon records, Mike & Richard Vernon, standing in my room’. They advise him to learn some Blues, son, because there’s gonna be a great big boom, daddy! So, with ‘bottleneck the latest trend’, even though ‘I don’t know the chords and I just can’t sing, but there’s lots and noise and the drums don’t swing’, the band cranks up into blues-standard “Spoonful” which Henri slyly reworks into first ‘got money by the spoonful’, then money by the handful, by the roomful, and finally by the bank-full! The track winds down with the sound of creaking chairs and scattered applause, as the virtual gig collapses. Henri whingeingly mimics an irate Jobsworth complaining that the Hall should have closed at ten-thirty and it’s already past eleven. Hadn’t he fought the war for the likes of us? The comic scenario deliberately reflects the footer-text on the sleeve that warns ‘Cash With Bandleader On Night Of Engagement’, and the track probably stands as the group’s most high-profile moment.
Throughout those years Liverpool Scene formed a lumbering presence at Festivals (including a Saturday set at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival), or touring supporting such unlikely headliners as the burgeoning Led Zeppelin, as well as appearing at concert venues across the land. And inevitably, on stage with Liverpool Scene, the over-awing presence of sixteen-stone ferociously-bearded Adrian Henri was visually dominant. They toured through 1969, during which they released another single – “The Woo-Woo”, a percussive sax-led largely-instrumental piece commemorating the fictitious Bobby & The Helmets, a group-name not exactly unconnected to the glans of the penis. According to Adrian Henri’s lead-in, Bobby & The Helmets died in a New York soda-fountain explosion in 14 August 1957, but they play on for ‘the great promoter in the sky’. As the year ground to a halt it found the Scene in an advanced state of disintegration. There was to be one more group album – ‘St Adrian & Co, Broadway & Third’ (1970). But there were other outlets for the group’s material. The Andy Roberts solo catalogue had already begun with solo LP ‘Home Grown’ (1970) – a title not exactly unconnected to the home-cultivation of dope in ‘a garden which they smoke’. The album includes his fine “Moths & Lizards In Detroit”, reliving incidents from the Liverpool Scene’s eventful US tour, before which Brian Dodson contracted tuberculosis, precipitating former-Escorts drummer Pete Clarke to step in. ‘That terrible American tour which just about destroyed us’ as Andy Roberts recalls. But ‘Home Grown’ remains a highly collectible album, and a general good thing. Nevertheless, by April it was obvious the Scene was extinct. They split up following a final gig at the LSE, and such was the state of relations within the group that they were unable to complete twenty further planned dates. Sandy Robertson, their manager, told ‘Melody Maker’ that ‘the group was going to carry on until the end of June, but there was so much disharmony between the members it became impossible to continue’.
They split with only one slab of retrospective vinyl remaining, the rarities and out-take collection ‘Heirloon’ (1970). Its material spanned a life-time running from September 1968 to June 1970, with previously unreleased live material. There’s an extended version of Mike Evans’ “Tramcar To Frankenstein” well-worth ear-time (‘as I boarded the tram the man said ‘just ask for Frankenstein’… the lines grew rusty and dusty’), a rocking “The Woo-Woo”, the percussive “Gunner From Dakar”, and Adrian’s “Love Is”. It was followed by the compilation ‘Recollections’ (1972). Already by this time Andy Roberts had formed his band Everyone, debuting at the Isle of Wight Festival, and Mike Hart had released his first solo album (‘Mike Hart Bleeds’ produced by John Peel and issued through his Dandelion label). A second album, issued under the ‘Mike Hart & Comrades’ group name, called ‘Basher, Chalky, Pongo & Me’ also came through Dandelion in October 1972. It was a humorous set featuring Bonzo Dog luminary Viv Stanshall and pianist Robin Park working their way through titles like “Neil’s Song”, “Dear Bathsheba Everdene” (referencing Thomas Hardy), and the amusing “If You’ve Ever Been In Love”. Andy Roberts formed Plainsong with Ian Matthews in 1972 and made one country-flavoured LP for Elektra together before Ian quit, and the project folded. He was also part of Grimms – from 1973 to 1974 with Zoot Money and Neil Innes, a tumultuous churning mix of music and humour, a road show which he themed with “Clowns On The Road”, while continuing to record for Elektra, with solo album ‘The Great Stampede’ (1973). From April 1977 Andy Roberts was part of Yellow Dog (with ex-Stealers Wheel Gary Taylor, plus Kenny Young & Herbie Armstrong formerly of Fox), then through October he was playing with Roy Harper’s Black Sheep, while writing the score for the BBC ‘Play For Today: The Out Of Town Boys’ (January 1978) and Howard Schuman’s theatre extravaganza ‘Censored Scenes From King Kong’ (February 1978). But despite such eventful fragmentations there was one final spasm left in the suspended Liverpool Scene.
In June 1974 they got together for a reunion two-month one-off tour (with bassist Dave Richards replacing Percy Jones, and drummer Mike Kellie standing in for Frank Garrett). The round of gigs were taken at a less furious and self-destructive pace, with space for each member to indulge in solo explorations. Andy Roberts played a country-styled spot fleshed out with material from his ‘The Great Stampede’, and later played acoustic banjo on “Wild West”. Mike Hart added his own composition about the events of 7 January 1968 – “Gliders, Pranks & Other Things”. While Adrian Henri read poems about Batman – opening with ‘rockabye baby’ and pleading for the caped crusader’s intervention in the Vietnam conflict, and about the Liverpool Football team with “The Ballad Of Chairman Shankly”. But there was ensemble playing too on “Car Crash Blues” – dedicated to Enoch Powell, “Speedway” which, according to Roberts, ‘has little to recommend it except that it is loud and we get off on it’, and finally the exuberant dance-craze “The Woo-Woo”. It was a tour that provided fascinating intimations of what might have been. A spectacle altogether too expansive to ever be contained within the restrictions of a vinyl LP, although the 2CD ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Liverpool Scene’ comes close, and there’s a live TV-clip dated February 1969 on YouTube of the spacey jazzy improvisations swirling around a reading of “We’ll All Be Spacemen Before We Die” illustrating how dextrously fluid a fusion it could be. Twas indeed a motley crew, and this performance shows how amazing ‘Amazing Adventures’ could be…
While, around the same time, on the liner-notes for the Jam’s ‘Modern World’ album Paul Weller was writing his dedication ‘for Adrian Henri, for foresight and inspiration’. Even as Henri was doing his reading at the Unity Hall in Wakefield, he was becoming part of cultural heritage. With ‘Bread On The Night’ as a rare and precious delight. A souvenir of a curious era when a major record label was willing to conjecture such an unlikely proposition. Surely, in retrospect, when the RCA suits signed Liverpool Scene, it’s less that they imagined they had a commercial property on their hands. More evidence of strangely different days, when squirming unformed art-experiments were emerging in the unlikeliest places and in the strangest of forms. The established hierarchy were tilted off-centre by it all, didn’t know how to react. They sensed something was happening, that there was a sympathetic audience for it, and there was a need to grab a part of whatever it was. Oddly, now when consumers have vastly more inflated disposable incomes, music-industry budgets seem proportionally that much tighter. Probably that’s something to do with the growth of the independent sector. Back when Liverpool Scene were roaring the major labels exerted a monopolistic stranglehold on vinyl, and RCA revenue from its mainstream artists Elvis Presley and Jefferson Airplane were there to finance its more esoteric forays into less lucrative projects. That a major label was willing to release, not just one, but four hugely diverse and rewarding Liverpool Scene LP’s, is a remarkably enduring testament to those strangest of strange days. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Adrian Henri never left Liverpool. He lived in a tall Georgian terraced house on the fringes of Toxteth, and died 21st December 2000, aged 68.
Meanwhile Unity Hall in Wakefield is constructed on several levels. Some weekends they held flea-markets here, where you might pick up an early ‘Eagle Annual’ or some Little Richard 78rpm’s. Other weekends they held model-railway exhibitions. Tonight they have live poetry. The wind comes in off a huge expanse of bare tarmac car-park as I crouch in with poems in every pocket. Even as I wrangle at the pay-desk it’s evidently already started, for somewhere above me I can hear the promoter’s clinical poetry being read. Once I’ve slunk inside, I see an ‘artsy-fartsy’ audience sitting in their polite rows, applauding politely as someone reads excerpts from RD Laing very seriously and conscious of every significance-inflection. There’s a couple of token post-hip delegates, but even they wear their carefully-pleated denims and finely-arranged hair in studied postures of image-association. There’s a display provided by the local ‘serious’ bookshop, lots of ‘Tonight At Noon’, and Liverpool scene album sleeves. Much later, once the readings are done, Henri dutifully autographs said memorabilia and answers inane questions with admirably feigned interest. He looks slimmer and fitter than he does on the album sleeves, his beard and hair carefully trimmed, an inlaid leather shoulder-bag over his expensive buckskin jacket. The only visible symptoms of agitation are the way he shifts from foot-to-foot, as though rehearsing flight, and the way his owlish spectacled-eyes race around the hall seeking some mode of escape. Behind him they are serving tea, which explains my escape too… to the alcove of the ‘Black Horse’ tavern opposite. It’s tempting to romance the evening further. That he picks up on my own poetry set, recognises its potential. That he speaks intensely, confiding secrets and enthusiasms, passing the torch to me. But it wasn’t like that. He seemed a little downbeat, and me a little overawed. Not that he need worry. What’s one night in Wakefield out of a lifetime of readings?
INDIVIDUALLY & COLLECTIVELY
‘THE INCREDIBLE NEW LIVERPOOL SCENE’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (CBS 63045, US Epic LN 24336, 1967) Adrian Henri reads “Love Is” and “Tonight At Noon”, Roger McGough reads “Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death” with Andy Roberts playing back-up, recorded in two hours in Denmark Street’s ‘Regent Sound’ studio
“Son, Son” c/w “Baby” by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA 1762), single issued in November 1968
‘AMAZING ADVENTURES OF LIVERPOOL SCENE’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA Victor SF7995, US RCA LSP4189, 1968), Line-up is Andy Roberts, Adrian Henri, Mike Evans, Mike Hart, Percy Jones & Brian Dodson
‘BREAD ON THE NIGHT’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA Victor SF 8057, 1969), Mike Hart had quit, although still contributes his songs
“Love Is” c/w “The Woo-Woo” by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA 1816) single issued 1969. ‘The Woo-Woo’ carries writer-credits to Henri, Roberts, Dodson, Jones, & Evans, while ‘Love Is’ bears the credit arr: Bobby & The Helmets
‘ST ADRIAN & CO, BROADWAY & THIRD’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA SF8100, April 1970) Pete Clark replaces Brian Dodson on drums. Side 1 is Adrian & Mike Evan’s impressions of their three-month-long ‘Made In The USA’ tour, Side 2 recorded live at the ‘Airport Lounge’, University of Warwick, 1 October 1970
‘HEIRLOOM’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (RCA SF 8134, October 1970), released post break-up consisting of material recorded between September 1968 and January 1970, including Adrian Henri’s “Love Is”
‘RECOLLECTIONS’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (Charisma CS3, October 1972) Double album compilation made up from the first two group albums. Chris Welch in ‘Melody Maker’ said ‘in retrospect Liverpool Scene could only have existed when it did. Before would have been too soon. Now would be too late… don’t forget them, we’ll ne’er see their like again’
‘THE LIVERPOOL SCENE FEATURING ADRIAN HENRI & ANDY ROBERTS’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (Polydor 2310055, 1972), a Best-of compilation also drawing on Andy Roberts solo projects
‘AMAZING ADVENTURES OF LIVERPOOL SCENE’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (Esoteric ECLEC22138), a Best-of 2CD compilation including previously unreleased live, and digitally remastered material
‘LIVERPOOL SCENE: AMAZING ADVENTURES OF LIVERPOOL SCENE’ + ‘BREAD ON THE NIGHT’ by LIVERPOOL SCENE (issued as expanded double-CD with bonus material, Beat Goes On BGO CD538, 2001) In ‘It’ Roger Mortimore wrote ‘they booze and screw and talk like ordinary layabouts. But they also work at their thing. They don’t waste time. Or if they do, they write about it’
‘HOME GROWN’ by ANDY ROBERTS (RCA SF 8086, March 1970 with lyrics printed on the sleeve, reissued on B&C Records CAS1034, 1971 with slightly amended listing and some re-recorded tracks, ten tracks including “Just For The Record”, “Applecross”, “John The Revelator”, “Moths & Lizards In Detroit”, “Creepy John”, “Gig Song”, “Queen Of The Moonlight World”, and “The One-Armed Boatman & The Giant Squid” with added “Lonely In The Crowd”, features Gerry Conway, Mac & Kissy Kissoon, Carol Grimes, Ray Warleigh. ‘Melody Maker’ said ‘it’s country, it’s delightful, it’s good’ (issued on CD by Strange Days WAS104, 2007)
‘MIKE HART BLEEDS’ by MIKE HART (Dandelion, Cherry Red expanded-CD 2008), includes “Son, Son”
‘NINA & THE DREAM TREE’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Pegasus PEG5, 1971, CD Strange Days Records WAS1042, 2007), includes “Keep My Children Warm” and “Nina”. Promoted by a tour supporting Steeleye Span. Andy also plays ‘string organ’ on Cat Stevens’ ‘Teaser And The Firecat’ album (1971)
‘EVERYONE’ by ANDY ROBERTS (February 1971, B&C CAS1028, reissued as Polydor LD2310068 with amended listing including Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In the Sand”), from Andy’s short-lived ‘ill-fated attempt to form a band with Bob Sargeant’ (organ), Dave Richards ex-PC Kent on bass, John Porter guitar, & John Pearson (drums), seven tracks, three by Andy Roberts, three by Sargeant, with “Trouble At The Mill”, “Sad”, “Midnight Shift”, “Don’t Get Me Wrong”, “Sittin’ On A Rock”, “Too Much The Loser”, “Radio Lady” & “This Way Up”, ‘NME’ said ‘for some unknown reason which only Andy can reveal, he has chosen to submerge himself within the context of this band, so that his individuality is somewhat obscured. This is a pity for he has a great deal to offer… more than this particular album demonstrates’
‘BASHER, CHALKY, PONGO & ME’ by MIKE HART (Dandelion, October 1972), issued through his ‘Mike Hart & Comrades’ group name. Later, both Mike Hart LP’s combined onto See For Miles SEECD419, 1995
‘URBAN COWBOY’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Elektra K42139, June 1973), solo guitar with low-key rhythm-section (Timi Donald’s drums & Dave Richards’ bass) and Andy fresh from Grimms. Ian Matthews adds back-up, while the track-list includes “All Around My Grandmother’s Floor” which was co-written with Mike Evans, “Elaine” with Richard Thompson’s guitar, “Big City Tension”, “Richmond” recalling ‘Jeff (Beck) on stage with the Tridents’, and single “Baby Baby” with Martin Carthy on banjo and Zoot Money backing vocals – ‘a strangely compelling sound that should take it into the charts’ said ‘Melody Maker’. It didn’t!
‘ANDY ROBERTS & THE GREAT STAMPEDE’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Elektra K42151, December 1973, also available on cartridge!), includes single “(53 Miles From) Spanish Town” (K12127), features musicians BJ Cole and Gerry Conway. Sleeve shows a US small-town street-scene with ‘Nicholson’s Wonder Store & Bar’
‘ANDY ROBERTS’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Charisma CS6, March 1973), compilation drawing on Liverpool Scene material as well as solo albums, his stint with Plainsong (producing the fine ‘In Search Of Amelia Earhart’ album), and a few tracks from Everyone. Cuts include “The Raven” and equally satiric “Goodtime Charlie”
‘CHARIVAR’ by ADRIAN HENRI (limited edition LP, 1974), recorded live at the ‘Liverpool Academy Of Arts Gallery’, with “Scenes From The Permissive Society”, “Butterfly”, “Mrs Albion, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” and “Liverpool Poems”
‘FROM TIME TO TIME’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Big Ben Records, 1985, re-issued on CD as ‘BEST OF ANDY ROBERTS’ on Mooncrest CRESTCD014, 1992)
‘ANDY ROBERTS: JUST FOR THE RECORD 1969-1976’ by ANDY ROBERTS (Sanctuary CMEDD1084, 2006) 2CD-set includes digitally remixed tracks from ‘Home Grown’ and beyond