2006: SPOTLIGHT ON...
WHITTEN AND JAMES
BEAUDREAU INTRODUCE BRITISH GUITAR LEGEND BRIAN GODDING
AND THE LOST CLASSIC, WORKER'S PLAYTIME
Brian. What are you currently working on?
Blunder’s predecessors The Blossom Toes (who should be a subject
for another entire interview) began by making an ornate psychedelic
album (We are ever So Clean). Their sound then evolved in a bluesier/ballsier
direction (If Only for a Moment) while still retaining psychedelic
Playtime continues that evolution towards a more
‘rock’ sound but the album still retains psychedelic
moments – including extended fade-outs, ambient instrumental
tracks, etc. Is it a fair description to use the word ‘psychedelic’?
How would you have described the band’s sound back then?
always had an issue with the word 'psychedelic' (apart from being
very hard to spell!). I actually have no idea what it means. If
it means “music for the imagination,” then 90% of classical
music must be psychedelic, to say the least. But if it just points
to a certain period in time when musicians and composers were, supposedly,
hooked into certain class A drugs of an illusionary (and delusional!)
nature, then I'm a bit lost. I mean, for instance, Howling Wolf
(!) "Smokestack Lightning" (!!) how weird and wonderful
as Blossies Ever so Clean panned out, to me, it was a compilation
of songs and arrangements put together under a certain amount of
duress. Pretty much aimed at the 'fashion' and 'lifestyle' statements
being made by our peers and generation and really had very little
to do with what the band had been used to doing on the road. Bands
of the period (60s) survived by playing anywhere and everywhere
and the sudden switch to a almost exclusively studio lifestyle was
fun for a limited period of time but groups need to get out there
and make some serious noise and see a bit of the world in the process.
(Look what happened to the best rock band of the time, the Beatles.)
So the only way for the Blossies to continue as a band was to somehow
get back to being able to perform 'live' again (and by that I mean
be able go out and deliver a convincing set of rock type music within
our capabilities as a quartet). So we re-invented the band with
the Only for a Moment album and this music formed the basis
of the band's live show till we disbanded.
of these albums had been successful who knows what may have been,
but it was not to be! Workers Playtime was, to start with,
a studio project (loosely based on a film score which eventually
never happened) and gave us the opportunity to “get people
in to contribute,” which was a pretty popular thing to do
at the beginning of the 70's. I personally have good memories of
making that album because (unlike Ever so Clean) we had
total control of what ended up on tape -- for better or worse! The
album was not received well by the music business at the time. It
was like all the drugs had begun to wear off from the previous 4-5
years and the true nature of the beast was re-emerging: nothing
left to do but ridicule, dismiss, and put two fingers up to anything
new. The fact that the album has been reissued now is, to me, very
comforting, because I always knew it was an honest piece of work
by all concerned and never deserved to be written off with such
disdain and venom.
regards to how I would describe the band sound…as far as Blunder
is concerned, me, Big
Bryan Belshaw and Kevin
Westlake really used to enjoy stretching out and stopping
when we were knackered! Not forgetting that like many other bands
we were totally seduced by 24 track recording. (There was a lot
of learning to do at that time, and learning to know when to STOP
became critical!) So I suppose the sound was our naive but genuine
attempt at 'orchestrating' the three-piece rock setup. (Sort of!)
The competition was pretty ‘heavy’ during the days of
the Blossom Toes/B.B. Blunder (the Beatles, Stones, the Who)….
Where did you guys think you fit in?
certainly was! But we were, in reality, not in the same league as
these guys. These bands were all huge commercial successes (quite
rightly as far as I'm concerned). But everything has its kick-on
-- their success opened plenty of doors of opportunity for us “fringe
artists.” The Stones indirectly financed the Blunder album
(through their company) and we had access to their rehearsal studio
and equipment (courtesy of the late Ian Stewart, their road manager
and the keyboard player on their albums). Paul McCartney bought
me a scotch and Coke once! And Pete Townsend told me fuck off on
was it that Julie
Driscoll came to sing on your album? Did you do any
live shows with her?
Julie since the mid-sixties and wrote her 1st solo single, I
Know You Love Me Not (on Parlophone). Also, by
the time we were recording Blunder, she was my sister in law. So
she had little choice! The Blossies contributed a fair bit to her
first solo album Julie
on Marmalade [recently reissued on Eclectic Records – ed.].
I personally toured with Julie promoting her second solo album,
Sunset Glow on Utopia Records, and played
a fair bit on it as well. So there's quite a bit of history there.
was the song "Sticky Living" written? Did you guys develop
the monster riff in the Blossom Toes/B.B. Blunder communal home?
And how did that nifty horn arrangement featuring Marc
Charig (trumpet) and Nick
Evans (trombone) come about?
Living” was written by me and it was brought to life by Brian
and Kevin on the day in the studio. If I remember correctly, Julie
came down to add some vocal cred' to the song and Keith
Tippett [who Brian played with on the legendary prog
Energy- ed.] suggested maybe a couple of horns
would be good on the chorus and the bridge. Mark and Nick took a
few prompts from me and sorted the rest out themselves. And at the
end I suggested they go into free improv and we'd fade everything
else out because that's what those guys do best.
song “New Day” Mick Taylor plays slide guitar. How did
that come about?
was simply that he heard a demo of the song someone was playing
up at the Stones office (he was with the Stones by then) and got
in touch to ask if he could play on it. Great blues slide player
and a really lovely gent! That was a real pleasure for me. My only
regret is that he's not loud enough in the mix! (Not my fault…
I wasn't there and we couldn't afford to remix it, shit!)
were the “Combined Forces Network Choir” who sang on
everybody and anybody we could drag into the studio! The basis was
a bunch of “proper” singers like Julie, Reggie, a rock
group called Gypsy,
Troy (I think). And the rest were recording engineers,
tape-op's, vagrants, taxi drivers etc.!
to the new CD reissue blame some of the absence of Workers’
Playtime’s success on the band's name and album cover (at
least the second point seems absurd – the record cover is
great). Have you thought about why the album didn't do well and
why it has flown under the radar so long?
why some things go and some things don’t. As I said, the album
got very cynical reviews by the so-called music press of the time.
Actually, the cover was rated as far too good for the music within.
Remarks like "Workers’ Playtime? Don’t give up
your day jobs!” being among the rare humorous and less offensive
Hair CD reissue sounds fairly similar to the vinyl version of
Workers’ Playtime. Is the new release from the original
master tapes? Does the reissue you offer on your site clear up the
Dolby issues more than the Long Hair version?
Long Hair CD is straight off the master tape without the dreaded
Dolby as are the CDs I have been offering. But I kind of have to
offer Long Hair’s now, which is no bad thing as I
like the way it's been put together. (By the way, it's also available
on Airmail Recordings in Japan and they have issued it in a cardboard
sleeve identical to the original vinyl but bonsai miniature version.
It’s really great!)
Playtime shows a real knack for creating guitar orchestrations with
overdubs, some of the best work of its kind along with Jimmy Page's.
Were you influenced by Page or did you arrive at that sound independently?
really kind of you to say so! It really was (as I said) a learning
process at the time but I can truthfully say that I was not personally
aware of what Jimmy was up to then. If anything, I was probably
more influenced by the great American group, Spirit.
They were making really cool and expansive albums. And don’t
forget, stereo was still in its infancy then (great earphones music)!
I was also starting to take the jazz-rock music of the time very
seriously (Don Cherry, Miles Davis, etc.). All very exiting and
were you/the band listening to at the time you were making Workers’
As I said,
Spirit were a fave' listen and of course the great collaborations
taking place like Crosby Stills & Nash & Young. Multi track
recording was opening possibilities up for everybody, but it was
still new technology and open to artistic abuse. Don’t forget,
it was only a few years prior that everything was 4 tracks max!
Makes you realize how bloody good the Beatles and George Martin
were at their craft.
live recordings exist of Blunder with the Action’s
King (who fronted the band for a handful of U.K. gigs)?
enough, Reg's only solo album from that period has just been re-released
on CD and vinyl. (Another reissue!) It’s on Circle
Records – an English company. We played on quite
a bit of it including “Little Boy” and “10,000
are the guitarists that you admire today, and who were the guitarists
you admired prior to the making of Workers’ Playtime?
Allan Holdsworth, Eric Johnson, Larry Carlton, Glen Campbell (oh
yes -- he's outrageously competent!). The late Ollie
Halsall (good mate, great muso) Bill Frisell, oh god,
it goes on… Jeff Beck!! In the Blunder days I was trying to
come to terms with how f**ing good Ollie was and of course Hendrix
was always a good reference point. But I've always tried to be a
tone man, my primary influence being Hank Marvin. (Perfect!)
were some benchmark musical events in your life that opened your
eyes /influenced your musical development?
so many of them really. Like hearing the likes of Eddie Cochran,
Fats Domino, Tennessee Ernie Ford, etc. when I was a kid. Then on
to The Shadows (big!) and then The Beatles (even bigger!). Then
Mr. Hendrix comes along with a totally new concept of rock/blues
guitar playing allied to a cosmic concept of how to present his
stuff on vinyl (talk about spacey!). And then I start meeting and
playing with all the modern jazz guys like Keith Tippett and
Mike Westbrook, so another new panorama unfolds. I
would say working with Mike in his bands has been (musically) my
biggest break and good fortune over the years. The musicians and
music I've encountered through the 70s, 80s, and 90s have been extraordinary,
and the probability is that if the Blossies hade “made it”
none of that would ever have happened. I would have ended up some
spoilt miserable old bastard like Ray Davies!
Dylan recently said modern recordings sound “atrocious,”
and he also said “I don’t know anybody who’s made
a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really”
…what do you think? Has technology had a negative effect on
music? Or is it that the players were better back in the ‘60’s
and ‘70’s? Was the bar higher for entrance to the world
of Rock and Roll?
we have the archetypal Grumpy Old Pop Star having a good old moan.
For a man of his stature and maturity he should know better and
keep those silly thoughts to himself! It's bullshit! If he's talking
fidelity, sound recording has never been more accurately reproduced.
Has he listened to the sound quality on Sting’s pop albums
or the “immaculate conception” of John McLaughlin’s
recordings and blah blah blah etc.
there any currently working rock bands that you admire?
loads of modern bands. Wales has always given birth to gutsy rock
groups, and I really like the Stereophonics and the Manic Street
Preachers. Oasis have made some mega records in pop terms. I really
love Metal music in small but extreme doses! Anything really that
goes the extra mile.
that the first half-decade of the new century has seen an extraordinary
amount of obscure 60s and 70s records reissued on CD (including
the “rediscoveries” of Bill Fay, Vashti Bunyan, Sibylle
Baier, Linda Perhacs, etc.) It’s pretty amazing when you consider
that there’s also more NEW music product being released every
week than ever before. Do you have any thoughts about the ongoing
fascination with records from the sixties and seventies/the reissue
it’s a pointer to the fact that music in its unadulterated
form is timeless. I don’t want to sound arty farty but some
music will always hold its relevance and in some cases become MORE
relevant as time goes on. Why does a 1960's Vox AC 30 amp sell for
more than a new Mesa Boogie? Why are “Strawberry Fields”
and “A Day in the Life” still probably the most evocative
pop recordings ever? All we know is that the answer to life and
the universe is 42!
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