Monday 31 December 2018

Poem: 'Reading Your Stars'



strung out on the wires 
of impossible romance, 
nothing to believe in 
just loose ends to tie off and 
staples of habit that bite deep, 
search the space between words 
to find no taste of breath 
no pulse of blood-warmth 
the stars are cold 


a new moon in your sky 
a focus on fresh creative ideas 
but nothing that connects 
other than astrological signs 
the movement of planets 
constellations that turn 
into strange alignments 
dictating the destinies 
of impossible tomorrows 

while you and me, 
bide time in hope 
something useful 
will emerge, 
no turn of page 

Sunday 30 December 2018

Book: Bryn Fortey 'Compromising The Truth'


Book Review of: 
(The Alchemy Press, 2018, ISBN 9-781911-034063, 340pp) 

‘As time went by I learned how to compromise the truth 
what’s wrong is right, what’s black is white’ 
(“The House That Time Forgot”, Bryn Fortey)

You can’t compromise the truth, it knows no regulation. Unless…

Ludwig Wittgenstein says that truth is merely an abstract semantic construction with no causal relationship to so-called reality. While quantum physics indicates that all is constantly in flux, making anything resembling the whole ‘truth’ and nothing but the ‘truth’ a shifting nonsense of fake news and conspiracy theories. Fiction blurs the edges. Bryn Fortey’s fiction blurs the edges more than most.

I never heard the killer Blues of Jackson ‘Truth’ Monroe. But when you read “Ain’t That The Truth” you’re damn-sure you heard it. Wasn’t he tracked down by Alan Lomax who did field recordings of him? No. Or maybe it was Mike Vernon who tasked Alastair Drake with tracking down the elusive Blues legend for his Blue Horizon label? No, not that either. Bryn knows his way around a twelve-bar so intimately you feel your fingers pressed against the fret. This is a tale wrought from the very guts, sweat and bone of vinyl. You meet it at the voodoo crossroads of midnight and sign away your soul into its inexorable crawling horror. Can de Blue man sing the Whites? He sure can now…

Music threads this collection, a recurring riff or looped motif. Poems to Blind Lemon Jefferson or Charley Patton. The ghost wannabe session-voice “Singing Sad Songs” in the haunted Indie recording studio. The resurrected zombie horn players of “Trumpet Involuntary” who freeze the world into the soulless bleakness of their dead vision.

Frederik Pohl wrote “Let The Ants Try” for ‘Planet Stories’ (Winter 1949). There, it’s the radioactive residue of the Three-Hour Nuclear War which destroyed Detroit that mutates super-growth in bugs. Bryn never takes such an easy option. For “The King Is Dead” (originally in ‘Tigershark’ no.9) he traces his mighty mighty Stag Beetles back to reports of an eccentric electrical inventor in 1907 editions of the ‘London Mirror’. And just for good absurdist measure the bugs choose Elvis Presley as their god-deity, legitimising a spattering of song-references. The singer-emerging-from-the-coffin thing was once done by Screaming Lord Sutch, although Screaming Jay Hawkins probably beat him to it. Noddy Holder stole the idea for a sequence in the ‘Flame’ (1975) movie. I’m not sure how Elvis fans would embrace a Dead Elvis tribute act quite like the one that Bryn conjures here. But it makes for a great tale.

Yet there are other gears, he does hard-boiled pugilistic noir, and serial-strangeness in which he totally inhabits character. “After The Harvest” opens as history lesson, a Family Saga of First World War separation, that gradually insinuates the terrible truth of what combat-trauma really means beyond smug patriotic ritual and polite remembrance, where honest well-meaning lives are ripped from simplicity to unendurable awfulness. As Bryn’s bone-hard poem says with such dreadful concision ‘sometimes love is not enough.’ Here is Horror stripped of supernatural element, yet starker because of it. Into the crafted mood-piece “Cracked Concrete” where the forces of nature in resurgence conspire against transient human pretentions.

Then “Space Jocks: Yes! No! Yes!” rampages through every Space Opera you ever read, and all the science fiction you’ve not yet got around to. Veteran Sci-Fi of days gone by had mad scientists inventing backroom Time Machines, for “The Road To Salamis” Bryn sees events from the Beef’s perspective instead, the bought-in security who watches mega-wealthy Arman Kazemi’s attempts to shift history in Persia’s favour. Then the odd wrangling dialogue of the post-death entities in “The Place Of Small Misdemeanours”, lost in a purgatory the size of a small planet. An idea suggested, says Bryn, by George Saunders novel ‘Lincoln In The Bardo’ (2017). Until “Vengeance” begins in Carry-On farce style as the self-styled Big City Playboy escapes the angry husband dressed in his amour’s pale-pink bathrobe, only to run foul of rampaging Zulu warriors time-lost from Rorke’s Drift Station cast into Newport, Wales.

Bryn describes himself as a ‘Short Story Hobbyist’, yet there are eighteen finely-crafted examples here, too many to list. “Even The Klin”, with centuries of benign alien occupation, or the moving “Messages From” balancing the death of a father with unsettling strands of extraterrestrial oddness. To the scandalous truth about the 1947 Area 51 UFO encounter (“El Homestead Notorious”). There are a couple I’ve read before – in ‘Tigershark’ or Jon Harvey’s excellent ‘Worlds Of The Unknown’, although they’re worth reading again, and most of the others are newly-minted previously-unseen titles. These are storyteller’s tales that both rip into your mind like fishhooks and soak into your consciousness like high-grade toxic bootleg hooch, then hang around like the earworm hook you can never get rid of, leaving aftertastes of joy. Bryn plays games that tie truth into conundrums, beguiling anecdotes, unreliable memory or alternate worlds of sly wonder. The stories that happen to be poems, or the poems that happen to be stories.

The second short-story collection by BRYN FORTEY 
is available now from Alchemy Press at:

Saturday 29 December 2018

Alternative Punk: Overground Records


Album Review of: 
(Overground OVER 70 CD, January 1998) 

‘God save ME in my hour of need’. The howl of human debris having its speed-ravaged frontal lobes surgically removed without anaesthetic. The sound of long streaks of piss gallumphing backwards into tomorrow. “God Saves” shoves a lyric-idea already used twice by the Sex Pistols (“God Save The Queen” and “No-One Is Innocent”), forcing it into new areas of ineptitude by demanding divine preservation orders for Mary Poppins, Space Exploration, The House of Lords, other symbols of the British Institution, Horatio Nelson, all the heroes of the British Empire, Elvis and the history of Punk Rock. It’s meant to be post-ironic. Probably.

In a rage of acne, solvent abuse, unhygienic personal habits and ‘anarchy in a vacuum’ this man Mark Perry once inflicted a black Xerox atrocity called ‘Sniffin Glue’, a ‘revolution in a bottle’ that froze something of the amphetamine Safety-Pin spirit of that Jurassic era in its bursts of faulty striplight illumination. Later he became Supremo of Step Forward Records (where ‘Deptford crackles with tension’), unwittingly unleashing The Fall and Chelsea onto an unforgiving world. Fings ain’t been quite so high since, although yes – I’ve still got it, I’ve still got that paean to the failed erection, “Love Lies Limp” by Mark’s first ATV incarnation, on an appropriately flaccid flexi-disc. But now, some few decades and many lost years later, with some production input from Steve Albini, an unlikely cover from Industrial Hardcore Terrorists Throbbing Gristle, and an eye to autobiography, Mark’s back to demonstrate the diversity crammed into the apparent simplicity of a now-denigrated Punk Movement already ‘crumbling into memory’.

‘I’m exciting, sexy, intelligent as well, but I remain an Unlikely Star’ is his opening shot wrapped around a crude early Depeche Mode click-track, but while Mark’s voice moves with the words it’s as though his legs don’t always co-ordinate with his brain. From that point ‘Punk Life’ runs from awkwardly pain-wracked White Dance Miserablism with controlled hits of noise, through to limp Rap, from “A Bold Chance” which turns down the lights into a poem after the style of Flux Of Pink Indians, into unforgiving lurches of Reggae bass leg-work, and “Jane’s Not At Home” – a short sharp Sham 69/ John Lydon kick-about. Having a voice like a turd in a Moulinex Food Blender doesn’t help, and Mark’s got a decidedly ten-watt bulb band here, but ‘Punk Life’ is engagingly ramshackle, and it’s totally wired on nothing more than adrenaline, perverse existentialism, and self-pisstaking deception on a grand scale. In fact its humour is breathtaking in the annals of urine-extraction. ‘Smash Your TV’ advises Mark in a closing and probably self-referential sample. Sniffin’ Glue. Don’t do it, kids. You know it don’t make sense.

Album Review of: 
(Overground Over 83 CD) 
‘SLAM’ by 999 (Overground Over 84 CD) 
(Overground Over 82 CD) 

Three bunches of dysfunctional sonic self-abusers handicapped by natural immaturity. Three bunches of retards you wouldn’t trust with a spud-gun. Three triumphs of enthusiasm over ability, and energy over talent. Three bunches of whack-merchants who were to musical taste what Charles Hawtrey was to body-building. And now, all those sounds that once squirt and spray are preserved on CD as frozen digital energy for us to love all over again.

Album Review of: 
(1998, Overground OVER 69CD) 

Punk. In Julie Burchill’s auto-bragathon ‘I Knew I Was Right’ (1998, William Heinemann) Punk is less the continuing thrash of upstart libertarianism, more the advance tremors of shallow careerist Thatcherism. And perhaps in her Me-Me-Me London-centric self-image Punk WAS just a convenient backdrop to strike sultry slut poses against. But to No-Future wastrels lost in Hull, Newcastle or Belfast its effect came in giga-volts. Kids like Blitzkrieg Bop. While Burchill was digging herself doing ‘Hey! – look-at-me Nose-Candy’ in the back-seat of ‘NME’ expense account black London taxis, the REAL movers of Punk were out firing up RAR, the mass CND revival, the Anarcho-Green and Animal Rights protest groups. And giving brief incandescence to bratty lives trapped in Tower-Blocks and run-down Council Estates.

Here – in an interview segment, John ‘Blank Frank’ Hodgson struggles to articulate Punk. Finally defining it as ‘energy’. On the sleeve-shot they come on like sub-Adverts also-rans. During Punk, mesmerised by Clash, Patti Smith and – obviously, the Ramones, they play support to everyone from Slaughter and the Dogs to Magazine. They issue three singles with titles like “Bugger Off”, “(You’re Like A) U.F.O.”, and the collectable hippie-baiting “Let’s Go” which Burchill’s one-time co-shagee Tony Parsons announces as a ‘dark Velvets noize’. This is the Bop’s first album, made up of those singles, plus no less than twenty-one new tracks. It’s archive raw and musically inept, with “Dole Walla” and “Mental Case” as perfect period Punk, and probably their finest and most adventurous moment – the speed-riff “Life is Just A So-So” managing a Stranglers-style key-board run. Teesside New Wave, a photogenic bassist called Gloria, and vaguely political anthems like “Police State” and “Prostitution” get added to a failed attempt at commercialism with Eddie Grant’s novelty item “Viva Bobby Joe”, and more snarly vitriolic re-takes on “Let’s Go”.

They struggle. Volume and anger are their weapons of choice. Each song a documentary of their life and hormones. Inevitably, they fail. Does Julie Burchill suffer from Long-Term Memory Loss, or does she just lose it in equal parts conceit and eye-liner? Writers more perceptive than she can ever hope to be – Stan Barstow, Alan Sillitoe, and even Irvine Welsh, are capable of illuminating the slow-burning intensity of ordinary lives. And while Blitzkrieg Bop may be just foot-notes in the margins of Punk, briefly they achieve that too


Published in:
‘HOT PRESS Vol.22 No.8: 13th May’ 
(Eire – May 1998)

Friday 28 December 2018

Two CD Reviews: ERIC BIBB


Album Review of: 
(2006, Telarc Blues CD-83660) 

It starts with that playful old click of the stylus dropping onto the play-in groove of crackly vinyl. But there’s little else retro about ‘Diamond Days’. This is discreetly articulate, literate acoustic music planted firmly in now, balanced by an intelligent respectful acknowledgement of progenitor roots and past masters – ‘look ‘em up on the net’ Eric Bibb advises. He runs a spectrum of Blues styles and techniques – from the kind of gospel-infusion on “Shine On” that even a militant atheist like me can enjoy, then takes in Dylan (“Bucket Of Rain”, the album’s only non-original song) allied to Martin Simpson’s educated guitar, through the jazzy intimate interplay of the live “In My Father’s House”, into the deceptively-simple chords of “Destiny Blues” which universalises the existential itch at the heart of consumer opulence.

While so much current music is hopelessly impassed in repetition and replication, Eric Bibb takes the oldest form of twentieth-century music and extricates it all diamond-sharp by exposing the autobiographical truth of clear-sighted poetic observation. On an album replete with the Easter-eggs of hidden tracks and video-clip additions, nothing is contrived. Nothing is pretence. It flows, as it should, as natural as water, out of today. No striving for exaggerated effect. Even with the Orbit-ing electro-echo and ghost-horn on “Forgiveness Is Cold”, his subtle understated voice and sparse instrumentation tell it all as it should be told.

He’s living the Blues life from playing a Biker Bar outside Topeka, to a ‘Blues Cruise’ to Dominica, from a Five-Star Hotel to sleeping on a stranger’s floor. Follow him in the video, tall and elegant in flatbrim hat, as he travelogues you into ‘Luthers’, his favourite guitar shop down a Paris arcade, where he lovingly selects and unhooks guitars from the wall, to finger-pick “Candy Man” on a Gibson from the ‘Robert Johnson time-zone’, price-tag still dangling from its neck. He reminisces about Mickey Baker, and how Dave Van Ronk taught him “Talk It Over One More Time”. Back on the CD, “Dr Shine” is a timeless shoe-shine sales-pitch that could date from the Depression Years, but polishes up new like a story that’s stepped direct off the Columbus Ohio airport. The closing track, “Still Livin’ On” encapsulates it all, affectionately and knowingly nodding to the heroes who still strengthen Eric’s own repertoire in thumbnail sketches of those who inspired, and inspire in a persistent continuity seldom expressed better than it is here. Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples, their ‘voice inside my own’. The ‘hidden track’ is the old skiffle favourite “Worried Man Blues” renewed by his irreverent interjection ‘if anybody asks you who composed this song/ tell ‘em it was me, and I sat all day long’… and for a moment, you almost believe him. But that’s what Blues does best. Re-writes and renews itself. As this excellent CD does better than just about anything else you’re likely to hear this year. If there’s a balance to achieve, Eric Bibb has it dead to rights. Until the crackle fades. And the stylus lifts.

Featured on website:
(UK – December 2006)
and published in:
‘THE SUPPLEMENT issue 38’ (UK – January 2008)

Album Review of: 
(2008, Telarc Blues CD-83675) 

Eric’s ‘Diamond Days’ was my favourite Blues album of 2006, less scuffed-down torn-knees Blues, more discreetly articulate, literate acoustic music grounded firmly in now, balanced by an intelligent respectful acknowledgement of progenitor roots and past masters. Recorded in Nashville, and mixed in Stockholm, this is another meticulously crafted statement, a standout follow-up taking his muse ‘into the place where blues meets gospel and soul’. And because Eric operates from creative rather than commercial imperatives, the album structures an argument for the essential interactivity of the three. The tracks hang together in a coherent fashion, but oddly, the best of them – for the more atheistically inclined, are the ones that eschew the gospel fighting the good-fight as their motivating sentiment.

The undisputed highlight – “New Beale Street Blues”, is about walking to Memphis to play his own songs, join a jugband, buy new strings, and make a solid deal. While “Pockets” showcases his full-tilt throw-away wit over ruthlessly honed rhythms. Eric’s got ‘a pocket for my keys… case I’ve gotta leave town fast’ and ‘before I gave it up, I had a pocket for my spliff’. His lyrical inventiveness is polished – ‘I’ve been having so much fun, writing love songs, and this one’s nearly done’, there are unexpected strings on “River Blues”, he name-checks Memphis Minnie, is joined by Bonnie Raitt’s slide guitar on the vaguely Stax-ish “If Our Hearts Ain’t In It”, and shares dialogue vocals with Ronnie Foster on “Conversation”, even before the gospel spirit moves him into the muted distillation of a more narrowing aesthetic. Once there he grapples with the existential question of meaning with “Spirit I Am”, then reworks the ‘down to the river’ baptism theme, and the standard ‘Gospel Train’ of the title song. For wavering non-believers the Civil Rights anthem he adapts for “Stayed On Freedom” also has Hallelujah spiritual origins, just as his “Step By Step” dedication to Martin Luther King acknowledges the religious dimension of his visionary ‘Promised Land’, showing just how inextricably these things are intertwined. It’s a persuasive argument. But then again, this CD is designed primarily, first and foremost to meet the intentions of its creator – and perhaps, The Creator, rather than to please any target audience. Although, inevitably, it pleases anyway.

Sue Williams, Frontier Promotions,
The Grange, Cockley Cley Road, Hillborough,
Thetford, Norfolk IP26 5BT. Tel 01760-756-394
or e-mail:

Published in:
‘ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.10 (July/August)’ 
(UK – June 2008)

Thursday 27 December 2018

Graphic Novel: Neil Gaiman's 'SANDMAN'

Book Review of: 
(Titan Graphic Novel, April 1996 £12.99 ISBN 1-85286-683-7)


There’s a Candy-Coloured Clown they call the Sandman. Tiptoes to my room ev’ry night. Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper ‘Go to sleep, ev’rything is alright’. Roy Orbison sang that in 1963. Nothing to do with this hefty and lavish book. But then again, it just might be. Neil Gaiman’s five-year ‘Sandman’ story-arc (of which this is the last chapter, probably), deals in a heavy traffic of Jungian archetypes and the awkward tendency of myth-figures to lap over into reality. There’s the real world of AIDS and incinerated babies. But there’s also ‘a downstairs in everybody. That’s where WE live’, the Gods, the Goths and the talking Ravens of ‘Raw Dreamstuff’. A place, but perhaps also an attitude, where gravity is ‘not so much a law, as one of a number of suggested options’. Where a makeshift barge made of dead flesh is slowly poled down a river of cold semen.

Lyta Hippolyta Hall is something of a bridge between the two worlds. Lyta, as is ‘less darker’. Hippolyta, as in queen of the Amazons. And Hall, as in a corridor between places. Weird literary stuff. And Frank McConnell’s turgid introduction levitates itself way over the top on the serio-art pretentious twaddle scale in its claims for ‘Sandman’s cultural credibility. Sure, it could be argued that alone of the twentieth-century’s three great indigenous art-forms – with Jazz and Movies, only the comicstrip still shows signs of evolution. But a genre advances by devising its own continuum, vocabulary, and conventions (as, arguably, DC and Marvel did with the Superhero as long ago as the forties), and not by aspiring to the standards of another genre. Not by clever theft, or even clever inspired theft. Splicing art, artifice, life and legend, across an epic multiverse of shifting ciphers, symbols and encrypted meaning, Gaiman’s innovative skills are a given. And with literacy in flux, Manga as Japan’s dominant adult reading format, and twenty-first Century media up for grabs, ‘Sandman’ probably has a higher mytheopoetic profundity-quotient than most book-formatted novels critically analysed in this weekend’s review sections. But the Graphic Novel is its own thing. It doesn’t need cross-cultural justifications to exist. While – illuminated by Hempel’s stylised stripped-down art, there’s wit and cleverness aplenty lodged within the gravitas of Spock-eared Faerie Folk, faceless entrail-chewing dream-women, three chintzy Macbeth crones brewing tea while weaving fates, and Merv Pumpkin-head.


It all began in 1988 when Gaiman launched ‘Sandman’, who – like god, liberty, and Boyzone, is the corporeal manifestations of an idea, a desire, a metaphysical transference tripping through a series of ‘Vertigo Jam’ and DC comicdom editions, then collected into previous Titan covers blurbed by the generous recommendations of Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison and Samuel Delany. It allegedly ends – here. Sandman dies. ‘Can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of beginnings, myself. Messy little things. Give me a good ending any time’ says one of Gaiman’s Fates. But you can’t kill a Candy-Coloured Jungian archetype. Go to sleep. Ev’rything is alright.

Thursday 29 November 2018



I hear the soft murmur of waves
in the trees, damply aquatic,
fish dart in drizzles of rain
across fields of shimmering tide,
England, our new Atlantis
is sinking beneath the sea
lost and neglected, eroding away
in the gentle silt of forgetting
no future, frightened of today
submerging in dull nullity
retreating through leagues of regret,
I pause, squelching through wetland
and listen to history draining away
in the soft murmuring of tide,
riverbanks ebb into lakes,
high streets into a swans glide
of disturbed dreams where
steeples collapse in the flood
swallowed by undercurrents,
this is the dream I once had,
those not drowned are drowning,
we dissolve into mist
and float away…

Featured in 'View From Atlantis':

Wednesday 28 November 2018

ROLAND PENROSE: Surrealism's Third Eye


Personal impressions of the 1980-1981 
Arts Council Touring Exhibition

In a world of supermarkets selling the fingers of fish in neat frozen packages beneath murals of rain-storming cigarettes – how to convey the subversion of Surrealism? Surrealism is/ was not product, but attitude. A Surrealist perception takes aspects of the normal world and uncovers the absurdity that the deaf-eyed miss. Marcel Duchamp took a hat-rack and/ or a urinal, exceptional only in their strict normality/ utilitarianism and makes them Surreal by the act of selection. The physical manifestation and personal ephemera of Surrealism, acting within and against its neat capsules of time, can become dated. Yet the aesthetic, the perception is beyond time and beyond fashion. This we recognise lurking behind the objects, assemblages, and paint layers… the ghost behind the machine, the thinking behind the reed, the action behind the reaction, in the work of English artist Roland Penrose.

Because Penrose doesn’t blind with the intellectual incandescence of a Duchamp, does not riddle logic with the inverted equations of a Salvador Dali, or overawe the critical faculty with the daunting propagandist overkill of an André Breton, he becomes human. He can be touched flesh-warm. He can be visioned in personal terms. This tactility can be sensed most intimately in a collage made up of repetitive postcard fragments where, beneath the background paint, you can see the pencil outline of planned pre-positioning (“Souvenir de Trouville”). The unravelling, the onion un-layering is there, and Penrose is one man with a pencil, a pair of scissors, and a pile of postcards. You feel the gum snagging thumb to forefinger, it’s THAT real.

The same is true of the ink line-drawings in which the process, and the challenge, is just as naked. The process is white paper with pen. The challenge is what one man, sitting in a chair in a room with a sheet of white paper and pen has accomplished. The proof is simple, clear, incontrovertible.

I grab the Penrose exhibition at the ‘Ferens Art Gallery’ in Hull, sliding in out of January sleet. Roland Penrose was the first Surrealist with whom I got on nodding terms as an inmate at the ‘Hull College Of Technology (Humberside University)’, through a mistaken connection with graphic-art ‘The Penrose Annual’. So the slight personal homage was unavoidable. It was also illuminating. A line-drawing – “Pregnancy”, was done in 1947, the year of my birth, a post-war time of drabness, rationing and bomb-sites, yet the picture is optimistic, it forms a holy absurdity flying against every proof of moral and economic defeat/ nadir. Now – 1981, in a time of much-proclaimed new austerity, in a new atmosphere of disillusionment and repression, it is a pledge that such isolated insurrection MUST continue. And because Roland Penrose is accessibly human – not Dali, not Breton, not Duchamp, it speaks directly to ME. To YOU.

London 1947 lacks the romance of Paris. The English Surrealists have traditionally lacked credibility. The posturing of George Melly’s exploding cutlery, the luminous dialogue of poet David Gascoyne, fascinating in their own uniqueness, yet always a pale reflection down a long hall of mirrors. Even the titles at this exhibition (“Hommage À Max Ernst”, “Hommage À Miró”), and subliminal whisperings of style, speak of imitation rather than inspiration. Even the greatest Penrose moments, “Winged Domino”, speak through the terminology of others – René Magritte occludes with apple, Penrose with butterflies. The national division makes the delineation that much more clinical. It makes Penrose that much more easy to dismiss. But the dates and locations demand your reassessment. PENROSE WAS THERE. Sure, he was born in St John’s Wood in 1900, but he painted “Pequod” in Paris in 1923 where he moved amongst and was accepted by Ernst, Braque and Man Ray, delta-ing out to Luis Buñuel – leading to a cameo in ‘L’Age d’Or’ (1930), as well as Miró, Paul Éluard and Dali. Penrose lived in the Paris Surrealist vortex for thirteen years. So what were YOU doing, so what had YOU achieved at age twenty-three?

Retrospect is deceptive, shot full of trace-line Family Tree’s and correlations, but Roland Penrose was hung on the edge of 1927 when he painted “Mazout” with no view of irrelevancies like a 1960 CBE, or a 1966 knighthood, or a 1980 touring exhibition. 1927 was before Andy Warhol, before Happenings, Claes Oldenburg, Abstract Expressionism, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Jackson Pollock, you name it. Surrealism was as hot and brutish and delinquent as Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker destructuring jazz at Minton’s in 1941, was as blasphemous and obscene and euphoric as Elvis Presley crossing racial demarcations in Memphis in 1954, as angry and iconoclastic and arrogantly wilful as the Sex Pistols aborting history at the ‘Screen On The Green’ in 1976 London.

And you can still watch “Grand Jour” (1938) and interpret the water-cycle allegory piece by piece with a splendid sense of discovery. You can still be intrigued by the winged imagination of “The Conquest Of The Air” (1938). You can still be overjoyed by the wit and invention of “Captain Cook’s Last Voyage” (1936), an assemblage of nude torso, wire globe, saw handle and paint. You can still read “Portrait” (1939) like the delightfully unexpected poem that erupts through the mailbox irradiating the day with lines like ‘His hair air, his lungs a street lamp, his hand an encyclopedia, his arse his arse, his heart anything, his head nothing.’ In the summer of 1938 Penrose toured the Balkan countries by car with photographer Lee Miller, tapes of the epic on-the-road documentary poem of head-changes and eye-imprints “The Road Is Wider Than Long” – broadcast late 1979 by BBC Radio 4 – still has implications in concept and execution not totally assimilated after forty years. Listen if you have the ears. Learn if you have the perception.

British Surrealism is a footnote. Hazy connections with the great Pop Artists of the fifties are probably more cryptic coincidence than direct influence, even though – as Ronnie Scott (OBE) was to UK jazz – so was it Roland Penrose who proselytized Surrealism through his relentless PR work, his New Burlington Gallery Exhibition (1936), his Cork Street Gallery, his co-founding and endless support of the ICA, through to the Dada/ Surrealist Hayward retrospect of 1978, which he co-organised.

Disciplines of Art and the verdict of academia are the empirical illusions of textbooks. Shedding all wrappings and preconceptions you get one individual as you and I are individuals. Roland Penrose was/ is a Surrealist. More important he was/ is a man you can/ could touch. A fountain of truth, now as then.

Monday 26 November 2018



Book Review of: 
(The Alchemy Press, March 2014, ISBN 978-0-9573489-6-7, 352pp) 

 ‘Cut me and I would bleed, not blood 
but the flowing patterns of unborn galaxies’ 
(“Satellite L’Amour”, Bryn Fortey 1997) 

Bryn Fortey is one of the good guys. His story “Ithica Or Bust” is an extravagant absurdist reimagining of the Homeric epic transfigured into a ludicrous galactic quest, with a two-headed eight-limbed Odysseus warp-driving through non-space, meeting Dodos and polite dinosaurs. I know the Greek island of Ithica. It is nothing like this. He describes it as ‘my comeback story after a period out of the loop, and the most light-hearted story I’ve written’ (it first appeared in ‘The Alchemy Press Book Of Ancient Wonders’, September 2012). Yet it’s just one of a startlingly original spread of profoundly imaginative tales densely packed into ‘Merry-Go-Round And Other Words’, which amazingly constitutes Bryn’s debut full-length fiction collection.

He knows all about the vagaries and pratfalls of publishing. He’s been around long enough to have been there and done it. But he’s always written on a sufficiently spaced basis that the urgency of deadlines seldom interferes with the work. He writes a tale as and when the idea and the inclination arrives and demands ‘Write me, you bastard!’ It’s only later he sets to thinking of an appropriate home for it. Kenneth Bulmer, editing ‘New Writings In SF No.28’ (July 1976) adds a personal note ‘that almost all Bryn Fortey has to say about editors is just about ninety-nine percent accurate.’

The Bryn story Bulmer was in the process of accepting – “Wordsmith”, is about a bitter resentful self-regarding unpublished writer, his craft itself outmoded by ‘thoughts extracted’ via ‘micronic impulse absorbers’. ‘He submitted manuscripts by both post and email, pestered publishers, wrote bitchy letters to the press, and achieved nothing but sweet zero. Most publishers hated him and very few would even read his submissions before rejecting.’ And while Bulmer approvingly notes that Bryn’s observations about editors are accurate ‘if not in this world then in the one he posits here’, he ‘deals much more directly with the writer’s problems.’ There’s a story within the story – the one that the fictional Piller Presavorrat is writing about ‘The Man With No Face’, a postmodern structure in its self-awareness and deconstruction of its plot-motivations. While the full narrative also ‘introduces, among other delicacies, the extravagant and intoxicating notion of Black Art, the Stealer of Dreams’, who emerges from his fictional reality.

The final irony is that when, finally driven insane by this inhabitant of his own dark imaginings, Presavorrat’s resulting ‘thought extraction’ will provide his elusive literary breakthrough. But the fact-fiction interactivity is not yet exhausted. In his ‘Afterword’ Bryn explains how even the character-name is a kind of in-joke, a Latin mangling of Robert Holdstock, a writer Bulmer had also selected for the same ‘New Writings’ edition. Holdstock is credited with an initial collaboration of another story, “Remnants”, although the connection lapsed and it wound up as Bryn’s own.

Born 27 August 1937, Bryn recalls that ‘the very first book I can remember reading was about intrepid Earthmen discovering and combating a race of Moon beings living beneath the surface of our satellite. The title, author and conclusion are lost in the mists of time, but it did help shape a lifetime’s interest in what we now term speculative fiction.’ As a result, he was active in SF-fandom since the 1960’s, reviewing novels by Samuel R Delany, Philip Josè Farmer and Philip K Dick for the BSFA-magazine ‘Vector’ as early as 1967. He writes amusingly of watching Michael Moorcock’s chaotic ‘New Wave’ lecture at an annual Easter SF Convention in Bristol, then meeting Christopher Priest and observing Brian Aldiss at the following year’s event. He took the opportunity of tracking down editor Kyril Bonfigolio in Oxford, who feared that Bryn had come to hit him in retaliation for a series of encouraging rejections from ‘Science Fantasy’ magazine. ‘Things were sometimes complicated’ Bryn recalls, ‘but never dull.’

He was working within the steel industry in Newport, south Wales, so as for where his stories come from, as well as the more obvious influences – Kurt Vonnegut, JG Ballard and Priest, he lists ‘Beat’ writers Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, as well as a plethora of Jazz and Blues musicians who also vitally input into his creative continuum. He concedes ‘I was never prolific/ as a writer/ but I would devour books/ like a starving man.’ And the free-flowing Bop prosidy spontaneity and directness of those influences is ever-present. When he writes of having hit a new prose-vein as being ‘golden highways popped in his minds-eye’ he’s drawing on the prose-freedom of the Beats.

He sold his first story – “A Saleable Commodity” (to ‘International Storyteller’ magazine in 1969), but it was not genre fiction. He writes as he writes. His favourite genre, he says, is ‘quirky’. It sometimes seems that new writers are handed an early get-out-of-prison-free card, and he made a series of strategic sales to David A Sutton’s ‘New Writings In Horror And The Supernatural’ paperback series – “Prison” in No.1 (1971), and “Shrewhampton NE” in No.2 (1972). The latter picked up by Mary Danby for her acclaimed ‘The 15th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories’ in 1982. The story takes the form of a strangely-strange but oddly normal meticulously-detailed 1950’s train-journey seen through the eyes of an inquisitive boy, as their journey takes them through a kind of limbo, into a purgatory waiting room in an escape-proof British Rail station. It resembles a black-and-white low-budget episode from ‘Twilight Zone’, its extreme mundanity only gradually tipping over into the politely macabre.

His affinity with social outsiders forms the core of “Prison”, in which a gang of misfits led by alpha-male Watko squat in a derelict fairground. The horror element – drawing a lonely old man into the group only to slaughter him in a Coconut Shy ritual, is almost secondary to the dialogue delineating the group’s shifting inner politics, its guilt and jealousy sketched in with considerable insight. It’s not time specific. They could be 1950’s Angry Young Man existential rebels, or 1960’s counterculture drop-outs, or perhaps the vampire hoodlum-teens of ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987) movie – the hunchback Renfrew even seems like a play of Bram Stoker’s ‘Renfield’. Yet their ‘prison’ is their internalised alienation.

Once established, the association with Danby led to further inclusions in her anthologies, including “The Substitute” (in ‘Frighteners 2’, 1976) – a twist on the Walter Mitty/Billy Liar theme with Lackadaisical Macey swamped by his own fantasy-continuum, and the title-story of Bryn’s “Merry-Go-Round” in her ‘The 12th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories’ (1979). Here, the protagonist is drawn into a brutal murder plot, which rebounds when he’s betrayed by the woman he’s supposedly doing the killing for, only to be then tipped over into a bizarre ‘Groundhog Day’ retribution in which he’s doomed to repeat the murders in a time-loop forever. But there were false starts too. The original prototype of “The Oscar Project” – a clever time-travel plot with a religious-satire sting written with Jack Marsh, was sold to ‘SF Monthly’, but the lavish monthly magazine folded before publishing the story. The carbon-copy manuscript languished unseen for decades, before being extensively revised for its eventual debut in this collection.

There are poems too, ‘concocting letters to his own patterns and designs’, words ‘all dragged with blood and sweat from his own mind’. “A Taxi Driver On Mars” is a narrative fingernail in its own right, a character sketch and an outline future-history. Elsewhere, he published his own A4-size magazine, ‘Target’ (1996), theming an impressive range of material around Bryn’s preoccupations with Beat, BeBop and the fantastic realms of the imagination, following it with some ten issues of the A5 ‘Outlaw’ magazine (2002-2005, no.6 a Jazz Special). He editorialised that ‘the most exciting poetry being written today is often to be found in small-press magazines, chapbooks and pamphlets, or heard live at readings. Many of these poets are happy to operate outside the protection of the literary establishment. These are the poetry outlaws…’, he published American writers AD Winans and Gerald Nicosia, as well as Jim Burns, Chris Torrance, Sheila Badham, Geoff Williams… and me.

His own verse-collections ‘Rebel Head’ (with John Light, 2000, Forty Winks Press) or ‘Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive’ (Sad Face Press), plus poems scattered around small-press constellations of magazines – ‘Global Tapestry’, ‘Read The Music’, ‘Canine Teeth’, ‘Black Rose’ (“Memories Of Bird”) and beyond, never fail to impress. Tightly constructed, with no words wasted. Hymning the likes of “Charley Patton: Father Of The Delta Blues”, Howlin’ Wolf – ‘an indestructible force’, John Lee Hooker, “The Death Of Blind Lemon Jefferson”, and a poignant “Honky Tonk” (‘the radio was playing the/ Mead Lux Lewis 1936 version/ of Honky Tonk Train Blues/ when I came across your/ long forgotten photograph…’). As a fictioneer he writes like a poet, and his poems snatch glimpses from narratives and pin them down to the moment. Other uncollected texts are out there, worth tracking down, the SF short story “Conversations In A Darkened Place” in ‘Awen’ (Issue 76, June 2012), about two imprisoned mercenaries awaiting execution following a failed coup on a dark world, a rumoured story published under an alias in Robert Holdstock’s ‘Macrocosm’, and one in the audio-magazine ‘Tales That Terrify’, these are texts awaiting rediscovery.

When it comes to ‘Merry-Go-Round And Other Words’, I’ve probably given away far too many plot-spoilers already. Although Bryn’s fiction doesn’t necessarily work that way. Its strengths lie more around the accumulating momentum and shock nastiness than the neat closure. Although the neat closures do work like spring-loaded traps too. But I won’t pre-leak any more. Because there’s a wealth of them here. “Bomb Scare” from ‘Sci-Fright No.2’ (April/May 1995). “The Flier” from the Mike Chinn-edited ‘The Alchemy Press Book Of Pulp Heroes 2’ (October 2013), which blends crime-noir, UFO’s and Jazz (its central character LaRocca even borrows his name from the cornet-player in the Original Dixieland Jazz Band). Plus the man who saw skulls. The new sequel to “Shrewhampton North-East” – “Shrewhampton North-West”, which is both a logical extension and a visceral development of the progenitor tale. “The Teleported Woman’s Husband” about a misfiring beam-me-up technology. “Digging Of Holes Considered As Symptomatic Of Personal Compulsion”. And more.

In his introduction Johnny Mains details the personal tragedies that led to Bryn’s ‘period out of the loop’. The tragic loss of his son Jim and wife Maddalena, to whom his verse collection ‘Saying Goodbye’ (2012) is movingly dedicated. ‘The world is bent and I dropped over the edge, but landed on a rocky ledge and took root for far too many years’ he confided to me. This fine anthology reaches back to the very start of his writing career, renews our connection with the best of the years between, and presents a handful of new previously unseen gems. In total, it’s frighteningly good, an invaluable volume. Bryn Fortey is one of the good guys.


The second short-story collection by BRYN FORTEY 
is available now from Alchemy Press at:

 This review originally featured on website:
‘THE ZONE’ (UK – April 2014)

Thursday 22 November 2018

Sixties Music: GRAHAM BOND


The mighty Graham Bond was one of the vital catalysts of 
 the Jazz-R&B cross-over scene that ignited the 1960s. 
He lived – and died, at the extreme edge 
 of the changes that defined the decade… 


‘Gonks Go Beat’ (1965) is an appalling film. It was ill-advised even as a tacky merchandising tie-in for the brief mid-sixties fad for spherical googly-eyed Gonk soft-toys. But alongside ‘Carry On...’ regulars Kenneth Connor, Terry Scott, Arthur Mullard and Frank ‘Are You Being Served’ Thornton – who attempt to make the best of Robert Hartford-Davis’ direction, ‘The Craziest Musical Adventure Ever On Planet Earth’ offers opportunistic cameos for the Nashville Teens, Lulu And Her Luvvers, The Long And The Short… and the Graham Bond Organisation.

They perform a Hammond-organ driven “Harmonica” – ‘kinda stormy with an R&B beat’, in an unlikely Beatland fake-jungle setting, with prancing Go-Go girls, and Reginald Beckwith as a comic-turn Teacher in mortarboard and chalkboard. For the group, cool-denoting dark glasses are in place at all times, maybe to provide face-saving disguise too. But look closely, blue-shirted Graham Bond on keyboard has skinny Zapata moustache, Dick Heckstall-Smith wears flat-cap pulled low for his tenor-solo – when he’s not sitting on a stuffed tiger, while surely that’s Ginger Baker on drums. And – held aloft by gyrating dancers, that’s Jack Bruce as the eponymous harmonica-player! Inclusion in this Pop-trifle might have seemed fun, and maybe even an astute career-move at the time. But film of the Graham Bond Organisation is rare. You gotta take what you can get.

As the era recedes further into history there’s a reductionist theory that tends to be applied to – say, the Yardbirds. That they were significant only because they produced three mighty guitar-spanking heroes, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Wrong, the Yardbirds deserve their place in the narrative because they were a fine little Blues-Rock group in their own right who left a trail of defining singles and albums. The same is true of Graham Bond. It’s easy to write the story through the retrospective lens that Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker went on to become Cream, John ‘Mahavishnu’ McLaughlin played with Miles Davis (‘In A Silent Way’, 1969 and ‘Bitches Brew’, 1970) and beyond, while Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith formed the nucleus for Prog-fusion band Colosseum (recording Bond’s “Walkin’ In The Park” for their debut LP). But the Graham Bond Organisation was more than just the sum of its parts.

Graham John Clifton Bond was born in Romford, Essex 28 October 1937. He was adopted from a Dr Barnardo’s Orphanage, and educated at the Gidea Park ‘Royal Liberty School’. Despite a troubled childhood, his flair for music – by fourteen he’d already mastered four instruments, resulted in his first jazz gigs playing Eric Dolphy-derived alto sax with the Goudie Charles Quintet by 1960. Soon he was spending his days working in a sales office, and his evenings with the New Don Rendell Quintet jazz group. This was serious jazz, ‘blowing some of the wildest jazz within our ken’ according to journalist Chris Welch, in a sophisticated small-group interplay, with ‘Melody Maker’ voting Graham one of UK jazz’s ‘brightest hope’ in an early sixties poll.

His alto can be heard to advantage on Don Rendell’s hard-bop ‘Roarin’’ (1961 Jazzland JLP51), billed as ‘A Blast Of The Finest And Rarest UK Modern Jazz’, he even contributes one original composition – “Bring Back The Burch” a punning reference to group pianist John Burch, alongside material by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Plymouth-born Rendell later formed the celebrated Rendell-Carr Quintet with Ian Carr. But by then Graham had left Rendell’s combo to join Blues Incorporated in place of the mighty Cyril Davies in November 1962. 

Alexis Korner and harmonica-man Cyril Davies form a vital ignition point for UK R&B, turning ‘Skiffle’ nights at Wardour Street’s Roundhouse pub into the Thursday-night ‘London Blues and Barrelhouse Club’ as early as 1955, a venue where Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy and Otis Spann found ecstatic audiences. 17 March 1962 they took the ABC teashop basement, just down from Ealing Broadway tube, and opened a new club, with their Blues Incorporated as the houseband. Its shifting line-ups at various times include either Art Wood or Long John Baldry (vocals), Charlie Watts, Phil Seamen or Peter ‘Ginger’ Baker (drums), Jack Bruce and Ronnie Jones, while the club itself rapidly became a hang-out for embryonic Rolling Stones and Manfred Mann’s. Its notoriety became a springboard to Blue Incorporated being offered a ‘Marquee Club’ residency, at 165 Oxford Street, from May.

Graham Bond was taken on as Blues Incorporated alto player, although he became increasingly diverted onto electric organ. He quit the line-up as early as February 1963, taking Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker with him to form his own trio. Again there was a strong jazz background. Ginger had played with the Terry Lightfoot and Acker Bilk Trad bands, and enjoyed a Ronnie Scott’s Club residency before replacing Charlie Watts in Blues Incorporated in 1962. Then the Bond trio was expanded by the addition of guitarist John McLaughlin, direct from Mike Carr’s Trio – replaced six months later by saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. 

Beneath the conformist complacency of late-1950s Britain, Jazz – both Trad and BeBop, in collusion with Beat Generation poetry, and the Angry Young Men of new-fiction were a gnawing subversion. And there was an increasing flux between art-genre’s. Richard Malden Heckstall-Smith – born 26 September 1934, had played St Martin’s Art School dances as part of innovative Scottish clarinettist Sandy Brown’s group. But he was recruited into the New Departures jazz-poetry movement too, in which Graham Bond and poet Pete Brown creatively interact with wordsmith Michael Horovitz and Jack Bruce on stand-up bass. As part of New Departures ‘desire to nurture legends and legendary events’ there was a jazzetry concert at St Pancras Town Hall celebrating ‘The Battle Of Culloden Moor’, a heady concoction of Brown and Horovitz reading with Anselm Hollo and Adrian Mitchell, backed-up by improvisational musicians Graham Bond, Ginger Baker, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Les Condon, Stan Tracey Jeff Clyne and Bobby Wellins. Barriers were dissolving with new freedoms in the air.

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The Pop charts were full of Frank Ifield, Billy Fury, Helen Shapiro, Cliff (“I’m Looking Out The Window”) and Elvis (“Good Luck Charm”), around that same 1962 mid-summer. But all that was about to change. It had amused impresario Larry Parnes to create matching popstrels called Fame and Fortune for his stable of pretty-Pop Star pin-ups, but while Lance Fortune rapidly scored a Top Ten hit with “Be Mine”, Georgie Fame languished back-of-stage in the resident bands of Package Tours. It was only later – post-Parnes, playing ‘The Flamingo’ in Wardour Street that Georgie was drawn into the vibrant Blues scene, noting and absorbing the musical tastes of the club’s predominantly black audience. He and his Blue Flames began sharpening their distinctively jazz-based Rhythm & Blues style. Soon followed by the Hammond-organ fronted Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, Ronnie Jones and the Nightimers and Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds. Creating an incidental portal of access for Graham Bond who, with only the slightest fine-tuning, was playing that music already. The barriers between R&B and jazz were already in flux, and they were about to be accelerated into new territory via that Pop-Rock axis.

It was another strange quirk of unlikely fate that led to the recording of Graham Bond’s debut single. Raymond Leslie Howard – born in Fulham 9 September 1941, was also discovered and promptly signed by Larry Parnes, as ‘Duffy Powers’. Despite a series of cover version singles – including Bobby Darin’s teen-angst “Dream Lover” and Michael Holiday’s sweetly tuneful “Starry Eyed” both in 1959, that elusive chart hit never happened, and Duffy quit Parnes in 1961, suffering from acute depression. At a loose end he followed Georgie Fame into the R&B clubs, coincidentally in time to take advantage of the Beatles first album. Track one side one of the ‘Please Please Me’ (1963) LP is Paul McCartney’s raucous “I Saw Her Standing There”, which Duffy Powers promptly adopts as a powerful up-tempo single, with a backing credit to the Graham Bond Quartet (May, Parlophone R 5024).

The ‘quartet’ at the time consists of Bond with the Jack Bruce-Ginger Baker rhythm section, and John McLaughlin on guitar. One of the first covers of a Beatles song, it must have seemed an irresistible combination, yet again the single failed to chart, despite its many positives. Perhaps it missed out because the Beatles original was already too familiar? Yet check out the ‘B’-side, “Farewell Baby”, and it’s an original Graham Bond composition. Nevertheless, BBC Radio commissioned further editions of its ‘Pop Go The Beatles’ show, with presenter Rodney Burke introducing the Fab Four’s guests Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet for the fifth show, recorded at Maida Vale’s Studio 5, and broadcast 16 July 1963 at the family-friendly teatime 5-5:30pm slot.

Music was in free-fall all around the Bond Quartet. They’d come out of jazz and Blues, content to play extended jams and impromptu torque’d-up solos in clubs for niche audiences. And that was enough. As Pete Brown notes, ‘R&B provided a much-needed living and regular work for many non-establishment jazz musicians.’ Until the Rolling Stones broke through to major commercial success. They proved by example that there were receptive fans out there for harder music-forms, if it could be focused in minor presentational ways. By now the Bond Organisation were fixtures at all the trendy Mod scenes, the ‘100 Club’ on Oxford Street, while an October 1964 set at the legendary ‘Klooks Kleek’ was pirated, the tapes circulating privately for years before eventually seeing release. As such it forms a valuable document, catching the furious dynamics and group energy of “Big Boss Man” and “The First Time I Met The Blues”, as well as template versions of future studio material. Bond’s stage announcement credit to Ginger as ‘one of the most fabulous drummers in Europe’ leads into a startling “Early In The Morning’ drum-solo, contrasting its rough hand-clap driven official release.

And with the dawn of 1965, everything seemed to be dropping into place. The year opened with a major package tour promoted by Robert Stigwood, headlined by Chuck Berry and the Moody Blues. The Bond Organisation follow the Five Dimensions in the first half, before Long John Baldry takes the show into the intermission. And there was a bizarre tie-in single coupling the group’s jazzy instrumental arrangement of the traditional “Wade In The Water” – later a cool US hit for the Ramsey Lewis Trio. It showed just how strong the Organisation’s interplay worked at its very best. While the flip was the cheesy old 1957 Debbie Reynolds hit “Tammy”, a honeyed sentimental movie-song by Carrie Fisher’s mother. Graham’s vocal makes play around the melody-line, as though undecided if it’s a spoof – as in the over-the-top excesses of Gerry Monroe’s “Sally” which ludicrously reached no.4 in May 1970, or to play it straight and turn up its dramatic charm as – say, PJ Proby might have done. As it is, the song’s undeniable potential is diluted by little attempt at arrangement or pre-thought that just might have made it the breakthrough they need. Yet there were sessions across the dial on BBC Radio, taking them beyond genre, all the way from ‘Jazz Club’ to Brian Matthew’s essential Pop ‘Saturday Club’, as well as BBC2-TVs ‘Beat Room’. All the reviews were positive. All the correct connections were in place. Their visual appeal was never destined to be fanmag-shattering, but they were so hip it hurts.

With no formal keyboard training, Graham was unafraid to innovate, teaming his Hammond organ with a rotating Leslie speaker to create a phased sound. Debut LP ‘The Sound Of ‘65’ (March 1965) is top-and-tailed by regular R&B standards “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Got My Mojo Working”. The first sax-led with a mid-point solo, ‘yeah-yeah yea-yeh’ as he announces his presence with ‘everybody knows I’m here’, the latter evolving into call-and-response, improvised into ‘got my hrrrrrrrrrr working’ with both black-cat bones and mojo’s set to stun. There were two instrumentals, “Wade In The Water” – ‘signalled by a ferocious opening cascade from ol’ Johann (Bach)’s ‘Toccata And Fugue In D Minor’, plus jazzy “Spanish Blues” with flamenco flourishes. “Oh Baby” is jerkily percussive with a powerful Ginger Baker solo, while Jack’s harmonica locomotive effects propel “Train Time” (as it will on Cream’s ‘Live At The Fillmore’ set on 1968 ‘Wheels Of Fire’). Rough and raw in a way that – say, Georgie Fame is smooth and polished, a couple of original tracks have such minimal lyrics they verge on pastiche, but when they take off into the jazzy setting of “Baby Be Good To Me”, it flies. “Baby Make Love To Me” is a slow-burning Blues with harmony vocals and cutting harmonica, closing into the repeated phrase ‘make love, make love, make love to me’. Or the witty “Neighbour Neighbour”, in which an inquisitive next-door busybody can’t make out how ‘I make my bread’ or ‘how I treat my wife’. Perhaps it reflects the dubious life-style the Organisation were living? There’s a threatening edge to Bond’s ‘something bad’s gonna happen to you’, and irony in the throw-away line ‘my success is driving you out of your head’.

Just as Rock began tentatively venturing into improvisation, the Bond group was already there as catalyst, coming from an extemporising background. ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ (1965), which came later that same year, is tighter, sharper and more confidently integrated than what had come before. With a group line-up photo across the cover, Graham Bond ‘looks like Sweeny Todd’ writes Vicki Wickham on the liner notes, and Ginger Baker ‘looks like a refugee from Greenwich Village’. This time there are four fluid small-group instrumentals, from the opening “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf?’, through a cover of the Mar-Keys Stax specialty “Last Night”, then two group originals, “Dick’s Instrumental” showcasing Heckstall-Smith’s sax, and Ginger’s furiously percussive “Camels And Elephants”.

 The four-way group structure allows for no passengers, each a virtuoso player in his own right. Jack writes and sings “Hear Me Calling Your Name”, with its own jazzy changes. While Bond’s “Walkin’ In The Park” is one of his strongest originals. His slow late-night Blues “Baby Can It Be True” innovatively uses mellotron colouration. And there are two tracks from a Ray Charles template, with chanted ‘night and day’ back-up vocals to his filthy rasp on “The Night Time Is The Right Time”, and a playfully dirty adaptation of “What’d I Say” – ‘see the girl that’s dressed in green, put her down, you don’t know where she’s been’ and ‘see the girl with the topless dress on, she stays cool all night long’. The topless dress he was referring to was a brief and sensational sixties fashion.

There was the ‘Gonks Go Beat’ movie too. And then they play out the year with the 15 October ‘Ready Steady Go!’ (season 3, no.7), alongside Georgie Fame, Ben E King, the Fortunes and Dusty Springfield. To poet Pete Brown, ‘to my mind this was the greatest-ever British band, certainly becoming for musicians what the Beatles were to the public. I was a huge fan.’ They persist as a group’s group, appreciated and respected by other musicians and hip club goers, even when that commercial breakthrough fails to happen. The vital equation at the core of their sound takes the powerhouse Jack and Ginger chemical equilibrium, and adds an impeccable pedigree in British Blues, to equal bliss. Their superb individual technique honed by having to fight for prominence in fiercely cutting egocentric line-ups. But the Jack-Ginger axis is notoriously brittle, characterised by fiery temperament, already exacerbated by substance abuse problems. Their bickering and Ginger’s bullying led to Bond deputising the drummer to fire Bruce in order to defuse the irritation. Jack promptly joined Manfred Mann – and plays on “Pretty Flamingo”, before Baker himself quit. Yet the Graham Bond Organisation survives the departure of both, with Baker temporarily replaced in the drum-chair by roadie Pete Bailey, until Jon Hiseman takes over. He’d formerly played with pianist Mike Taylor, and in the New Jazz Orchestra.

When I interviewed Jon Lord he confided to me that ‘Georgie Fame and Graham Bond – they were organists I listened to way back in the mists of time. So that’s where I came from initially. Graham Bond was my mentor. I learned from him. The Graham Bond Organisation used to play at the same Blues Clubs that the Artwoods (Lord’s group at the time) used to play at. We were usually the interval band, so I used to – figuratively speaking, sit at his feet. And I used to pester him with questions about how to get the Hammond to sound like this, like that, like the other. And he taught me an enormous amount. Superb musician. Very odd man, strange man, but a brilliant musician.’

There are extravagant stories. Of John McLaughlin passing out on stage. As he slowly collapses, his rasping guitar emits squalls of feedback. Rather than offering help, Jack Bruce stands back, notating the sounds for future reference. On another occasion, in mid-set, it’s Jack who shorts his bass against the microphone, receiving a flash electric shock that stuns him. As the gig progresses they calmly pick him up and lay him out on top of Graham’s organ until he revives. ‘Bond sat there like some pudgy mandarin (a pioneer in the distribution of facial hair he was, too), shooting his cuffs like some demented concert pianist and bringing his arms crashing down on the keyboards’ (‘New Musical Express’ 25 May 1974).

Yet Bond’s jazzy aggressive Blues would never find widespread success. Consider, apart from the obvious Ray Charles original, everyone from Elvis Presley to Brenda Lee did covers of “What’d I Say”. “Got My Mojo Working” was an onstage stormer, but Long John Baldry already did a stand-out version, as did Manfred Mann – with powerful Paul Jones vocals. So what exactly was the Organisation’s unique selling point? Some of their original songs were strong, delivered in that loose intuitively rough interplay that sparked magic live, but they’d benefit from a producer’s tidying to make them commercially viable, in the way that – say, Georgie Fame was lubricated by punching horns.

‘I went to see the band down ‘The Marquee’, playing to a sparse audience’ recalls Pete Brown. ‘Graham, keeping up with fashion, was wearing psychedelic kaftans and had attempted to persuade the others to do the same. Dick would only go as far as a Hawaiian-style shirt that looked too small on him. They had a good light show, but were still playing the same jazz and R&B songs, albeit supremely well.’ Invited to play the ‘Amazing Technicolour Dream’ Hippie-Fest at the Alexandra Palace they arrive ‘late, unrehearsed and disorganised and never went on.’

From his dingy Ladbroke Grove basement flat, a cash-strapped Graham watched his two former sidemen go global with Cream. He’d tutored Jon Lord on organ technique, and Jon went on to Deep Purple. It is the lot of pioneers, they open doors for others to pass through. With Bond already subject to physical and mental health problems, depression and manic episodes compounded by narcotics. Not the Mod purple hearts or Pep pills, not the Hippie grass or LSD, but the hard heroin of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, Chet Baker and William S Burroughs. As Pete Brown observes, the group came to an end in 1967 with ‘Dick and Jon having become disenchanted with Graham’s growing smack addiction and dodgy attitude towards the band’s finances’ (from ‘White Rooms And Imaginary Westerns’, JR Books, 2010).

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In a sense, this had been Graham Bond’s highpoint. For the duration of these two albums he was the coming thing. Yet even without that focus there was more to come. In early 1968, newly dedicated and attempting to stay clean, Bond set off to America – via an Irish stop-over, for twenty months of new adventures, without ever bothering about Work Permit complications. From New York they move to Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, courtesy of Lou Reizner. After all, hadn’t Eric Burdon recreated his career on the west coast, with Zoot Money joining his New Animals there? And Van Morrison was discovering a whole new US audience following the crash-and-burn of Them. English Rock musicians were immediately immaculately cool. Doors opened. Graham stands in when the Buddy Miles Express organist quits. He jams with Jefferson Airplane, and works with Graham Nash on an album by the Fool. In LA, Irwin Garr had launched Pulsar Records to siphon off the new counter-culture market. He scored a distribution deal through Mercury, with Mac ‘Dr John’ Rebennack and Harold Battiste stashed on backroom production roles.

And Graham cut a solo album lifting its title – ‘Love Is The Law’, from the writings of cult ‘golden dawn’ Satanist Aleister Crowley. There’s a hippie girl dancer on the cover, and lyrics with a slanted vagueness taking advantage of that new mood, although the sound is a logical organ-led evolution of what had gone before. The title track extends his mellotron explorations into the realm of cosmic imagery, ‘love is the law of the sun and the moon and the stars.’ The churchy organ of “Crossroads Of Time” takes that same Age Of Aquarius new-era feel, that after two World Wars it was time for a renewed morality, ‘ain’t gonna fight no more, no more, gonna make love not war, not war.’ ‘This is the age of Aquarius, the age of colour and sound’ Bond explained to Chris Welch (in ‘Melody Maker’ June 1970).

The theme continues with the jazzy organ of “The World Will Soon Be Free” which is based on his new wife’s ‘dream in colour’, although he and American dancer Diane Stewart were not actually married until Spring 1970 with a wild event at London’s ‘Revolution’ club. Her dream sees ‘the whole wide world was one big family’ while adding a cautionary note that ‘it was just a dream’, yet it anticipates John Lennon’s “Imagine” in that ‘dreams can come true’ and ‘the whole world will soon be free.’ It was a strong album, but was overlooked in the psychedelic tsumami of strange new names. Lacking distribution too, it was not even initially available in the UK, beyond a promotional single combining “Love Is The Law” c/w “Naz”.

As a reaction to 1950s social conformity the counter-culture media flaunted an admirable openness to alternate belief-systems, which could also be naively gullible. As well as the Maharishi the Beatles include Aleister Crowley – the self-styled ‘Great Beast’ (1875-1947), in their ‘Sergeant Pepper’ art-collage. He was the same occultist who exerted a fascination upon Jimmy Page, as well as on Genesis P Orridge of Throbbing Gristle. Before we even get to the dark underside of the hippie idyll personified by Charles Manson. Beyond good and evil, Crowley’s ‘Law Of Thelema’ dictates ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’ Which can have unfortunate consequences to a certain mindset.

It’s not clear when Bond first became intrigued by this Dark Side, but it’s already showing its influence in his lyric preoccupations. There are stories he believed himself to be Crowley’s lost love-child. One of Crowley’s scarlet women acolytes gave birth in 1937, leaving the baby at an orphanage. On the tenuous reasoning that Bond himself was born in 1937 and adopted at six months old from an orphanage, the symmetry makes a certain kind of sense-connection when he researched this. He set out his beliefs in an article for ‘IT: International Times’ (September 1969). Yet it seems Bond’s flirtation was at least positive in that he used Crowley’s Thelema system to get off smack.

A second album for Pulsar – ‘The Mighty Grahame Bond’ (1969, AR 10606) followed, and musically stands as one of his most accomplished sets, efficiently fusing his jazzy keyboard with rootsy Blues influences. For the cover-photo he wears a colourful kaftan, maybe to lower visibility of his expanding waistline! He was also doing session-work with Harvey Mandel – he plays piano on “You Can’t Tell Me” on his 1968 ‘Christo Redentor’ album (Philips SBL7873). He also contributes to Dr John’s ‘The Sun, Moon And Herbs’ (1971, Atlantic 2400161) – on tracks “Black John The Conqueror”, “Pots Of Fiyo” and “Familiar Reality-Reprise”, alongside such luminaries as Doris Troy, Bobby Whitlock, Bobby Keys, the Memphis Horns and Jim Price.

Bond might have been adrift in troubled waters, but he was still capable of making waves. Following his American sojourn he returned – via a stop-over in Jamaica, with spectacular highs and lows. He was promptly arrested and confined in Pentonville for alleged contempt of court resulting from two-year-old bankruptcy charges. ‘I was treated very well in prison and was allowed to play the piano and give a talk to the prisoners on alto saxophone playing’ he told ‘Melody Maker’. Only to be released in time to launch a new band – Initiation (with drums and percussion by Keith Bailey and Dave Sheen) at Pantiles Club, then a less-than sold-out Albert Hall concert, opening the set by playing a flamboyant overture on the Albert Hall organ (17 October). The brief Initiation stay together long enough to do a session for Radio One’s ‘Top Gear’ (31 January 1970).

From that point on, he became involved in a long series of abortive groups, including recording with Ginger Baker’s Air Force as well as working as part of Jack Bruce’s ‘Harmony Row’ (1971) promotion band with Dick Heckstall-Smith. Feelings of resentment at being employed by his more-successful former-sidemen must have been compounded by Jack subsequently firing Graham from the band!

‘Holy Magick’ in 1971, the name of the group and the album, arrived within a gatefold Stonehenge cover, on the prestigious Progressive Vertigo label with Graham and Diane Stewart as the nucleus around which pick-up musicians orbit, including Rick Grech, Victor Brox, Alex Dmochoski and Jon Moreshead, formerly of Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation. It’s an album of dissonance, chants, incantations, white magic, Celtic mysticism and pentagrams (‘my father’s six-pointed star’, Crowley as father?), over a jazzy improvisational flux. What writer Rob Young described as ‘steamy, rhythmic workouts heavily infused with ritual magic chants and mantric voodoo’ (in ‘Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music’, Faber, 2010).

It could be argued Bond is channelling mystical influences in the same way that Dr John uses his New Orleans juju traditions. Or as Sun Ra uses his outer space mythology. ‘I believe that an artist should prepare himself scientifically for the task of creation’ he told journalist Richard Williams. The sound of his organ swells and seethes around sharp percussion, and flaring echoing horns. Horn sections wail and stutter over pummelling rhythms. It is relentless. No compromise. No concessions. No hits! Diane’s voice adds edge and response. There are nominally eighteen tracks, but initially there’s barely a delineation as one track bleeds into the next for twenty-three minutes. There are snatches of motivational lyric – ‘seek and you’ll find, it’s all in our mind,’ and ‘there is no fear, that enters in here.’ With quasi-religious ‘thou art the kingdom and the power and the glory for aeons and aeons and aeons, amen.’ To Harry Shapiro who writes the CD reissue liner-notes it’s ‘a magical ritual done in the Ray Charles mode’… maybe, but whatever in means it’s a stunningly-conceived extended piece.

The last four tracks stand slightly apart. “The Judgement” retains a recognisable blues form, with piano and gospel voices, while the millenarian lyrics exhorts ‘the end has just begun’ and that ‘it is too late for changing, now that god has made the plan… to start the Earth’s new cycle.’ Then his appeals for King Arthur and the wizard Merlin to return utilises cutting guitar figures around ‘the twelve holy knights of the grail.’ Those seeking a more personal insight into whatever is going on inside Graham’s head can find clues in ‘my soul caught the fear’ over the slinky slithering “My Archangel Mikael”, ‘when the chaos of this wicked world brings you pain… he calls, Mikael calls.’ He seems to be stripping himself to the core with ‘I’ve been dead too long, I can’t hide myself no more,’ into the entrancing “The Magician” where he confesses ‘I was a fool to think I could make it on my own,’ with a direct reference – maybe, to him and Diane, that now ‘we work our magic together’ and ‘there aint nothing we both can’t do.’

The second part of the project – ‘We Put Our Magick On You’, with its pentagram cover (‘the symbols on this cover, and the Tattwa or Elemental Signs on the inside constitute the keys to practical high Magick’), extends the themes into Hindu and Aquarian beliefs. Pattering toms lead into catchy girl-voice harmonies about ‘everbody’s looking for Jesus, but Jesus changed his name, his name is Harakhite…’ Despite dazzling keyboard-work, it’s not easily digestible material. It’s true that around the same time the Beatles Apple Records were hoisting the Radha Krishna Temple into the top ten. Quintessence were nudging into eastern sacred music, Joe Harriott and John Meyer were developing their fascinating ‘Indo-Jazz Fusions’ experiments, and even Black Sabbath were marketing their own Horror-movie brand of Satanism. Graham Bond was moving into strange territory, but he was not entirely out-of-sync with the times.

Graham Bond’s final recording project comes in the form of a link-up with poet-lyricist Pete Brown, who’d already collaborated with Jack Bruce on “White Room” and “Theme For An Imaginary Western” – among other classic tracks. It forms the culmination of a long-term mutual respect. And the album title – ‘Two Heads Are Better Than One’, works on a number of levels. It equates to a fusion of equals, with a cover collage showing great duos Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Tom and Jerry, Tarzan and Jane, and Bonnie and Clyde as well as Brown and Bond. While ‘heads’ is a sly term for, among other slang usages, ‘a head of their time’, and a derivation of acid-head, meaning aware or turned on. The ‘Vox’ magazine reviewer says ‘if “Colonel Fright’s Dancing Terrapins” is daft, “Ig The Pig” is mad, with Bond hexing his former manager’ for disasters ‘down in Californ-i-ay’ (‘we put our voodoo on you now’). The Caribbean party sway of “Oobati” contrasts with the spaced piano and fractured experimental structure of “Amazing Grass”, and the lurching fun changes of “Scunthorpe Crabmeat Train Sideways Boogie Shuffle Stomp”. There’s free sax solos, powerful percussion, with Bond’s vocals and agile keyboards always in control. Soundtrack material added to CD reissues ‘shows Bond’s organ staying in control as the rest of his life falls apart’ (October 1992).

But more than just Bond’s final album – through a hook-up with Les Reed’s new Chapter One label, it was a band and a tour too, Graham’s Hammond C3 and saxophone, Pete’s trumpet and talking drums, drummer Ed Spevock, Lisle Harper on bass, with Diane adding vocal harmonies. Later, guitarist Derek Foley joins too, replaced by an energetic Mick Walker. Following a few try-out gigs prior to Christmas 1972, including one with Hawkwind at the Seymour Hall, the band takes to the road in a Mercedes truck.

There were college gigs, then to France and down to Marseille with Graham and Pete sharing driving duties. After a UK stop-over there were German dates, including one at Hamburg’s Stadpark. Pete Brown tells the tale of how Bond retains his mystic incantation “Freaky Beaks” for the set, which hexes enemies and hate-figures. It was surely coincidental that he includes the name of right-wing publisher Axel Springer, and that the next day Springer’s HQ is devastated by an unexplained explosion? Calling off backstage at a Gentle Giant gig Graham grabs a pass-around joint and ‘reduced it to ash in one blast’. As Phil Ryan (of Man, on the same bill) relates, ‘examining the saxophonist’s very expensive instrument’ Graham ‘blew a few things on it that the poor guy would never get close to, and handed it back, saying ‘great horn’.’ A drunk Graham Bond plays most of the Payerne Festival in Switzerland ‘from underneath the Hammond’, following it with excellent sets at Bilzen on the German-Belgium border with Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, and in Hanover with Arthur Brown and Zoot Money.

Evicted from a cottage he shared with Diane, the couple move into Pete Brown’s Montagu Square flat for the best part of six months. With uncanny prescience Bond and Brown play Burton-on-Trent’s ‘76 Club’ where Graham delivers a eulogy to recently-deceased jazz drummer and junkie friend Phil Seamen. Then at a Scarborough date ‘a seriously unreliably’ Graham collapsed on stage and was hospitalised, bringing the Bond And Brown duo project to a close. Following its demise, and a split with Diane, there was steady roll downhill.

There was Magus, a line-up involving Folkie Carolanne Pegg (aka Carole Pegg of Mr Fox), with bass-player Pete MacBeth, guitarist Brian Holloway and funky Paul Olsen on drums. But Bond’s unpredictable behaviour, his dependence on drug and occult lore, was leading them into increasingly bizarre involvements. Always a large man of voracious appetites, excessive in most things, his life and career were fractured by frequent depression resulting from substance abuse and his psychic obsessions. Stories proliferate. After Long John Baldry had been sent voodoo dolls at his Muswell Hill home, Graham visits to carry out an exorcism – with Ginger Baker in tow (Ginger called him ‘Gipsy Rose Bond’). ‘Graham told me that he felt he had taken something quite terrible and very heavy out of the house on his shoulders’ Baldry told ‘Melody Maker’. Bond returns home to find a live chicken nailed to his door – the ultimate occult curse.

An imposingly large bearded man in flowing kaftan, beads around his neck, he took trips hunting Ley-lines. Stopping off on tours he’d emerge from some local pharmacy with ten assorted mind-and-body-altering pharmaceuticals – explaining gleefully what each one did, before necking them all at once! He got beaten up after double-crossing a drug-dealer and sought sanctuary in a police station, only to be hauled into custody for the 35-pence bag of hash he was carrying. Subject to evaluation over his mental stability he managed to convince the psychiatrist that he’s only a Taxi Driver! He was held in custody for just shy of a month prior to transfer to Springfield sanatorium. Despite taking prescription antidepressant downers following hospital in early-March 1974, he continued to suffer crippling depression.

Pete Brown called off while Graham was staying in Holloway, north London with roadie-friend John Hunt. ‘He said he’d sworn off all the magic stuff and drugs and was now just going to play jazz and blues.’ In a weird limbo, Bond phoned ‘New Musical Express’ to line up an interview, ‘he sounded purposeful, optimistic, enthusiastic, and full of energy’, with plans for tomorrow. Then he went out for the walk from which he never returns. He died Wednesday, 8 May 1974 under the wheels of a speeding tube-train at Finsbury Park station in mysterious circumstances. An eyewitness claims he jumped. It takes the police days to even identify the body, using fingerprints. Only the silver pendant talisman star he wore around his neck escaped unscratched. The news shocked its way around the music community. Always unpredictable, Graham was never less than respected. There’s no clear verdict of suicide, accident, or victim of black-magic foul play.

There’s potential, and then there’s lost potential. Georgie Fame and Zoot Money also endure slumps and troughs but come out the other side into renewed respect and cultdom. While re-evaluations of the Graham Bond legacy continue as his work finds new audiences through re-mastered CD editions and YouTube uploads. There’s even a clip in an appalling film called ‘Gonks Go Beat’. It’s tough that he’s no longer around to enjoy it.


1961 – ‘ROARIN’’ by the New Don Rendell Quintet (1961 Jazzland JLP51, reissued on CD by BGP, 2005), recorded 17 June and 29 August 1961 at Star Sound Studios, with Don Rendell (tenor sax), John Burch (piano), Tony Archer (bass), Phil Kinorra (drums), and Graham Bond who plays alto sax and contributes one original composition – ‘Bring Back The Burch’

May 1963 – ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ c/w ‘Farewell Baby’ (Bond original) by Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet (Parlophone R 5024)

June 1964 – ‘Long Tall Shorty’ (Don Covay-Abramson) c/w ‘Long Legged Baby’ (Bond) (Decca F11909) A-side collected onto compilation LP ‘The Sixties Explosion 1962-1969’ (See For Miles SEE CD 223) and ‘Pop Inside The Sixties Vol.2’ (SEECD399)

1964 – ‘THE GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION’ EP (Decca DFE 4616) with ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘High Heeled Sneakers’, ‘Little Girl’, ‘Long Legged Baby’, ‘Strut Around’. First two tracks collected onto compilation ‘Blues Roots’ (Decca ROOTS6), while an early version of ‘Wade In The Water’ is on ‘Blues Now’ (Decca LK4681)

October 1964 – ‘GRAHAM BOND ORGANISATION: LIVE AT KLOOKS KLEEK’ bootleg recorded live 15 October 1964 (admission 3s6d), with ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Big Boss Man’, ‘Early In The Morning’ (with Ginger Baker drum solo), ‘Person To Person Blues’ (with Heckstall-Smith tenor solo), ‘Spanish Blues’, ‘Introduction By Dick Jordan’ (stage banter), ‘The First Time I Met The Blues’ (Buddy Guy), ‘Stormy Monday’ (Willie Dixon), ‘Train Time’, ‘What’d I Say’. Produced by Giogio Gomelsky, liner notes by Chris Welch. First released in the UK as ‘The Beginning Of Jazz-Rock’ in 1977 as Charly CR300-17, then under various titles, by Decal LIK-47 in 1988 as ‘Live At Klooks Kleek’ and as ‘Person To Person Blues’ by Metrodome METRO431 in 2000, also Charly CD214

January 1965 – ‘Wade In The Water’ c/w ‘Tammy’ (Columbia DB7471)

March 1965 – ‘THE SOUND OF ‘65’ Graham Bond Organisation LP (Columbia 33SX1711) Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, with side one: ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ (Willie Dixon), ‘Baby Make Love To Me’, ‘Neighbour, Neighbour’, ‘Early In The Morning’ (trad, group-arranged), ‘Spanish Blues’ (Bond instrumental), ‘Oh Baby’ (Bond), ‘Little Girl’ (Bond). Side two: ‘I Want You’ (Bond), ‘Wade In The Water’ (group instrumental, trad arranged with Paul Getty), ‘Got My Mojo Working’ (Muddy Waters), ‘Train Time’ (group composition), ‘Baby Be Good To Me’ (group, with Dodfrey), ‘Half A Man’ (Bond), ‘Tammy’. ‘The playing is absolutely confident, with the songs less important in themselves than as stepping stones to instrumental freedom’ according to Brian Hogg

March 1965 – ‘Tell Me (I’m Gonna Love Again)’ (‘John Group’ aka Bond-Baker-Bruce-Heckstall-Smith) c/w ‘Love Come Shining Through’ (John Group) (Columbia DB7528)

1965 – ‘GONKS GO BEAT’ Soundtrack (Decca LK4673) includes the Graham Bond Organisation’s ‘Harmonica’, alongside Lulu And The Luvvers, The Long And The Short, Nashville Teens

July 1965 – ‘Lease On Love’ c/w ‘My Heart’s In Little Pieces’ (Graham Bond) (Columbia DB7647). Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117

October 1965 – ‘THERE’S A BOND BETWEEN US’ Graham Bond Organisation LP (Columbia 33SX1750) with side one: ‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?’, ‘Hear Me Calling Your Name’ (Jack Bruce song and vocals), ‘The Night Time Is The Right Time’, ‘Walkin In The Park’ (Bond), ‘Last Night’ (Mar-Keys), ‘Baby Can It Be True?’ (Bond). Side two: ‘What’d I Say’ (Ray Charles), ‘Dick’s Instrumental’ (Heckstall-Smith), ‘Don’t Let Go’ (Jesse Stone), ‘Keep A Drivin’ (Chuck Willis), ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman?’ (Freddie King), ‘Camels And Elephants’ (Ginger Baker). Liner notes by Vicki Wickham. The two Organisation albums issued as one CD by Edsel DED254 (1988), BGO BGOCD500 (1999), and Demon DED254

1966 – ‘Saint James Infirmary’ (arr: Ginger Baker) c/w ‘Soul Tango’ (Graham Bond) (Columbia DB7838). Features Neil Hubbard on guitar, replacing Jack Bruce. ‘It was a true group performance with each musician concentrating on playing together rather than saving their efforts for their own solos’ according to Brian Hogg. Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117

1966 – ‘Substitute’ c/w ‘Waltz For A Pig’ (Reaction 591001) by The Who, although the B-side, credited to ‘The Who Orchestra’ actually features label-boss Robert Stigwood’s other clients the Graham Bond Organisation, writer-credited to Harry Butcher, a Ginger Baker alias

February 1967 – ‘You’ve Gotta Have Love Baby’ (Graham Bond) c/w ‘I Love You’ (Graham Bond) (Page One POF014) Produced by Larry Page. Jon Hiseman on drums. ‘This was a strange single, with its peculiar mid-Eastern rhythm, frantic sax and pounding ogan.’ Both sides featured as bonus tracks on German CD ‘There’s A Bond Between Us’ 2009 Repertoire Records REP5117

1968 – ‘THE CROSSROADS OF TIME’ (Mercury 20134SMCL) by Eyes Of Blue, with Graham Bond liner notes, includes two songs ‘Love Is The Law’ and the title-track written by Bond through his wife Diane Stewart’s name

1968 – ‘LOVE IS THE LAW’ as by Grahame Bond (US Pulsar Records AR10604, UK 2011 CD Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2239) with ‘Love Is The Law’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’, ‘Our Love Will Come Shining Through’, ‘I Couldn’t Stand It Anymore’, ‘Sun Dance’, ‘Crossroads Of Time’, ‘Bad News Blues’, ‘Strange Times, Sad Times’, ‘The Naz’, ‘The World Will Soon Be Free’. Titles credited to ‘Billy Gamble’ (Graham Bond), with Harvey Mandel (guitar), Eddie Hoh (drums), Harvey Brooks (bass)

1969 – ‘THE MIGHTY GRAHAME BOND’ (US Pulsar AR 10606) with ‘Water, Water’, ‘Oh Shining One’, ‘Pictures In The Fire’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Sisters And Brothers’. Side two ‘Stiffnecked Chicken’, ‘Freaky Beaky’, ‘Walk Onto Me’, ‘Magic Mojo’, ‘Brothers And Sisters’ with strong Bond Hammond organ as well as Mellotron and alto sax, Harvey Mandel (guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Eddie Hoh (drums), Drachen Theaker (drums), Frank Mayes (sax). All original songs credited to ‘Billy Gamble’. Liner notes by Troy Randle

January 1970 – ‘Walking In The Park’ c/w ‘Springtime In The City’ (Warner Bros WB 8004) Both sides written by Graham Bond

March 1970 – ‘GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE’ (Polydor 2662-001) Ginger’s ten-piece big-band recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, 15 January 1970, features Bond sax solo on Harold McNair’s ‘DaDa Man’, Bond vocals on ‘Aiko Biaye’, also Baker’s ‘Early In The Morning’ as on ‘The Sound Of 65’. Bond also takes lead vocals on the studio LP ‘GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE 2’ (December 1970, Polydor 2383-029) and writes ‘Twelve Gates Of The City’

May 1970 – ‘SOLID BOND’ Double LP (Warner Bros 3001) Graham Bond Quartet live tracks recorded at Klooks Kleek in 1963 with Bond, McLaughlin, Bruce and Baker, ‘Ho-Ho Country Kicking Blues’ (Bruce song), ‘The Grass Is Greener’ (Bond-McLaughlin ‘in a Mingus-like 6/8 groove’), ‘Doxy’ (Sonny Rollins), plus a 1966 Graham Bond Organisation Olympic Studio session with Bond, Heckstall-Smith, Neil Hubbard (guitar) and Jon Hiseman with ‘Green Onions’ and ‘Last Night’ plus Bond compositions ‘Springtime In The City’, ‘Can’t Stand It’, ‘Only Sixteen’, ‘Long Legged Baby’, ‘Walkin’ In The Park’, ‘It’s Not Goodbye’ and ‘Neighour Neighbour’

1971 – ‘THIS IS: BOND IN AMERICA’ LP (Mercury 6499200/1, Philips International 6382010) with ‘Stiffnecked Chicken’, ‘Walk Onto Me’, ‘I Couldn’t Stand It Anymore’, ‘Oh Shining One’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’. Side two ‘Crossroads Of Time’, ‘Baroque’, ‘Freaky Beak’, ‘Strange Times, Sad Times’, ‘Love Is The Law’. Made up of tracks from his two US-recorded albums

1971 – ‘HOLY MAGICK’ LP as by Holy Magick (Vertigo 6360021, reissued as BGO BGOLP35) with ‘Meditation Aumgn’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross: The World Of The Aeon’, ‘Invocation To The Light’, ‘The Pentagram Ritual’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross: Hymn Of Praise’, ‘Twelve Gates To The City’, ‘The Holy Words Iao Saluao’, ‘Aquarius Mantra’, ‘Enochian’, ‘Abrahadabra The Word Of The Aeon’, ‘Praise City Of Light’, ‘The Qabalistic Cross Aumgn: Return Of Arthur’, ‘The Magician’ with Ric Grech, Diane Stewart, John Moreshead, Steve York, Keith Bailey, Victor and Jenny Brox. Debut Vertigo single April ‘Twelve Gates To the City’ c/w a new version on ‘Water, Water’

February 1971 – ‘WE PUT OUR MAGICK ON YOU’ LP as by Holy Magick (Vertigo 6360042, reissued as BGO BGOLP73) with ‘Forbidden Fruit Part 1’, ‘Moving Towards The Light’, ‘Ajama’ (written by Gaspar Lawall), ‘Druid’, ‘I Put My Magick On You’, ‘Time To Die’, ‘Hail Ra Harakhite’, ‘Forbidden Fruit Part 2’. With Graham Bond and Diane, Terry Poole (bass), John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers (drums), Graham ‘Hedley’ Williams (guitar), Gaspar Lawall (percussion), Steve Gregory (saxophone). A 2008 double-pack as BGO483 combines both albums

November 1972 – ‘TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE’ Pete Brown and Graham Bond (Chapter One CHS-R-813) features Diane Bond’s ‘Amazing Grass’ plus ‘Lost Tribe’ (Bond-Brown), ‘Ig The Pig’ (Bond), ‘Oobati’, ‘Scunthorpe Crabmeat Train Sideways Boogie Shuffle Stomp’ (Bond-Brown), ‘CFDT: Colonel Fright’s Dancing Terrapins’ with Mick Hutchinson guitar, ‘Mass Debate’, ‘Looking For Time’ (Bond-Brown). Recorded at Richard Branson’s Manor Studios in Oxfordshire with engineer Tom Newman of ‘Tubular Bells’. A December 1992 CD reissue with bonus tracks SEECD345 adds single ‘Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes’ and ‘Macumbe’ (Afro-Gospel written by Lyle Harper), plus material for Murray Grigor’s ‘Maltamour’ docu-movie soundtrack about Malta, dubbed at the Islington Pathway Studio, ‘The Beginning’, ‘Aeroplane Drinking Man’, ‘Italian Song’, ‘Spend My Nights In Armour’, ‘Fury Of War’, ‘Magpie Man’, ‘Drum Roll’, ‘Swing Song’, ‘Sailor’s Song’, ‘The Ending’. With Erica Bond and Sue Wooley backing vocals, Mick Walker (percussion), Lisle Harper (ex-Gass, bass, congas), Ed Spevock (ex-Piblokto, drums), Derek Foley (ex-Paladin, guitar) 

1972 – ‘Lost Tribe’ c/w Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes’ + ‘Macumba’ (Harvest 2C 006-93828) Pete Brown and Graham Bond. There’s also a ‘Lost Tribe’ EP done in France for Pathe-Marconi

1972 – ‘A STORY ENDED’ by DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH (Bronze ILPS 9196) solo album recorded after collapse of Colosseum Mark One, with Bond’s organ, piano and synthesiser guesting on ‘Moses In The Bullrushhourses’, ‘What The Morning Was After’ (both Pete Brown lyrics) and ‘The Pirate’s Dream’. Features Jon Hiseman, Caleb Quaye, Chris Spedding, Chris Farlowe, Dave Greenslade. Graham Bond also plays alto on ‘Male Chauvinist Pig Song’ and other tracks on Steve York’s Camelo Pardalis ‘Manor Live’ LP (Virgin, 1973), and he appears as ‘sax-player’ in the 1973 ‘That’ll Be The Day’ David Essex movie

April 1992 – ‘THE R ‘N’ B SCENE VOLUME II’ (See For Miles LP SEE73, CD SEE4) includes Bond’s ‘Harmonica’ and ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’

2008 – ‘LOST 1973 ALBUM’ by the John Dummer Band (Angel Air Records SJPCD276). Recorded in 1973, but shelved until 2008, featuring John Dummer (drums and vocals), Graham Bond (sax), Ian ‘Thump’ Thompson (bass), Pick Withers (drums), Pete Emery (guitar), Colin ‘Foghat’ Earl (keyboards)

 2015 – ‘GRAHAM BOND: LIVE AT THE BBC AND OTHER STORIES’ (Repertoire Records REPUK 1279) vastly significant 4CD covering all phases of his career from 25 April 1963 ‘BBC Jazz Club’ recorded at Paris Cinema by The Graham Bond Quartet with Bobby Breen, ‘Bluesology’, ‘I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town’, ‘Hello Little Girl’, ‘Spanish Blues’, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’, ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’. Then Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Got A Woman’. ‘Summertime’, ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’. The Don Rendell Quintet with guest Dick Heckstall-Smith from 9 September 1962 ‘Jazz Session’ at Paris Cinema, ‘Things Are Getting Better’, ‘Elsie And Ena aka Bring Back The Burch’, ‘Richmond Festival’, ‘Kelly Blue’, ‘Troika’, ‘Kazeef’, ‘Persian Party’. Graham Bond Organisation 22 January 1966 from ‘Jazz Beat’ 22 January 1966 at Playhouse Theatre, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Only Sixteen’, ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’. Graham Bond And Pete Brown from ‘Sounds Of The Seventies’ 23 March 1972 at Maida Vale, ‘Macumbe’, ‘Milk Is Turning Sour In My Shoes’, ‘Beak Suite’. Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith 1963 Home Tape, ‘Improvisation’. Dick Heckstall-Smith Band demo ‘Moses In The Bullrushourses’. Graham Bond Organisation Live 1966/1967 ‘What’d I Say?’. Graham Bond Initiation Live 1969/1970 ‘Wade In The Water’. Graham Bond Quartet 16 July 1963 from ‘Pop Goes The Beatles’ at Aeolian Hall, ‘I Got A Woman’, ‘Cabbage Greens’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Spanish Blues’. Graham Bond Initiation 31 January 1970 from ‘Top Gear’ at Maida Vale, ‘Walkin’ In The Park/ I Want You’, ‘Wade In The Water’, ‘Love Is The Law’ and 22 March 1970 from ‘John Peel Show’ at Paris Cinema, ‘Love Is The Law’, ‘Magic Mojo’, ‘The World Will Still Be Free’, ‘Wade In The Water’. The Brian Dee Trio featuring Graham Bond from the 1962 EP ‘Jazz And Twist’ (Vaux VA8), ‘Things Are Getting Better’. The Philamore Lincoln featuring Graham Bond from 1970 LP ‘The North Wind Blew South’ (Epic BN26497), ‘Blew Through’. Graham Bond with Ken Wray And The Joe Palin Trio, a 1962 rehearsal session at ‘Club 43’ in Manchester, ‘Sack O’ Woe’, ‘Mack The Knife’, ‘Work Song’, ‘Oleo’, ‘Things Are Getting Better’ 

June 1992 book – ‘GRAHAM BOND: THE MIGHTY SHADOW’ by Harry Shapiro (Guinness Publishing, Square One) well-researched biography with interviews, includes allegations of Bond’s improprieties with his step-daughter, reprinted in 2004 by Crossroads Press ISBN 10-1872747078