Ork Alarm! # 1

September 1990

CONTENTS

  • 1990 Autumn Tour News (Merci Marlene)
  • Dijon 27-06-75 (Pete Erskine)
  • Marquee Club 05-12-73 (Martin Hayman)
  • Ork! Update

MAGMA TOUR

French Radio Announced a European tour from September to December (9-90 to 12-90) by MAGMA with KLAUS BLASQUIZ

CHRISTIAN VANDER TRIO

08-09-90     New Morning Club – Paris

MAGMA (with Klaus Blasquiz & Marc Eliard)

20-10-90     Salle des Fetes – Avenue de la 2e DB, Schiltigheim (near Strasbourg)
21-10-90     Le Pollen – Centre des 7 Mares, Elancourt.
13-11-90     L’Aeronef – 16 rue Colson, Lille
05-12-90     Salle du Vigean – Eysines (near Bordeaux)

CHRISTIAN VANDER TRIO

27-10-90     Théâtre Dunois – Paris

NO ENGLISH TOUR!!!

There was a false rumour of a tour covering England & Belgium this autumn. It was claimed in ELERAMA Magazine to be by Christian Vander, Michael Graillier, Simon Goubert and N’Guyen Le. Georges Besnier has recently denied this.


Hawkwind / Man / Magma / Larry Coryell

Palais des Congrès, DIJON 27-06-75

Pete Erskine – New Musical Express – August 2, 1975

Sally has pigtails; designs dresses and lives just round the corner from us in Notting Hill. We ran into her last week at the bus stop on the way to work. Eight days later we ran into her again sitting behind a spotlight in a half empty cow palace in the middle of France. Such is Rock’n'Roll. Neither party is particularly surprised. The rockbiz is continually turning up a plethora of those “oh-isn’t-it-a-small-world?” situations. Sally is working lights for Hawkwind and Man. Boss Goodman is also working lights for Hawkwind and Man. Boss is another unexpected London face. Again no sense of surprise on either side. Dijon is two and a half hours by train from Paris, which is an hour’s flight from Heathrow. Dijon is two hours from Switzerland and four hours train ride from the topless winter lands of San Tropez.

Dijon is a sprawling nondescript town fringed with Holiday Inns, breakers yards and Camping Gaz distributors. It is the most important mustard producer in all of France. It also provides four thousand of the local ‘heads’ with a prolonged glimpse of the final French date of a five-piece Anglo/French/American Thinking Man’s Rock n’ Roll package that in order of appearance reads: Robert Wood (obscure English electric vibes soloist in exile), Magma (Wagnerian French rock opera), Larry Coryell and Heavy Friend (fast fingered acoustic/electric duo, American), Man and Hawkwind. Man and Hawkwind comprise the basic elements of the package. In Paris they worked with Henry Cow and Gong, whose places were taken by Magma, Wood and then, a couple of days ago, Larry Coryell, picking up a few extra gigs as part of a series of European one-offs.

In keeping with the package tour ethos you have package tour politics. Phone companies probably invented package tour politics, for they are the only ones who benefit. They usually consist of a hot and long telephonic interchange between promoter, tour manager and group manager as to the priority for the interests of the Act In Question, as to the prescribed order of appearance each night. The afore-mentioned is usually ascertained legally in a contract between group (or group manager) and promoter. However, friction often develops between acts as to 0 of A and often, individually, they may try and exert pressure on the promoter to swap things about. Apart from the discord of grating egos, the main reason for such behind-the-bushes scheming stems from the fact that different acts tend to go across better in different areas. Ultimately the squabble is for prime time – usually reckoned to be second-to-top-billing.

In their contract Man are to play second to Hawkwind each night. This particularly pleases Foster, their tour manager, when they hit Metz, a town on the French/German border because he knows that a lot of folks are going to be coming in from Germany since, traditionally, Man’s Teutonic following has always been large. Ludo, the French promoter, has other ideas. Foster claims that he absolutely hates Man for some as yet unfathomed reason. Foster also claims that all the roadies absolutely hate Ludo… booing and giving him a slow handclap every time he sets foot on a stage.

Ludo wants Man to go on earlier in Metz. Absolutely insists. Foster, however, gleefully holds the trump card. A couple of nights earlier, part of Hawkwind’s P.A. (upon which the entire package had been relying) had Sell-aborted. Foster had come to the rescue by replacing this part with some spare Man equipment. Ludo had forgotten or been unaware of this. “So I told him,” Foster relates in gleeful Swansea lilt “sod you mate. Move us, and we pull out our equipment.” Tour politics. The following night Foster, who is busy stoking up as much vengeance as he can possibly afford in his free time, puts Ludo on the floor with a deft right-hander. Hawkwind’s roadies stand and applaud.

Hawkwind, meanwhile, are readying themselves to leave their hotel, a cheesy futuristic job with synthetic croissants in Dijon-Sud. Nik Turner, seemingly the only one without wife-or-girlfriend-in-tow (the rest of the band figures on departing avec spouses for the South of France the following morning), is arched over the hotel bar. The Subject Of Lemmy is broached. Turner claims to have spoken to him (Lemmy) on the phone since the mishap. He says he does not want to “Make A Statement” and therefore add fuel to the altercation. Readers may recall that the catalyst for Lemmy’s sudden departure was an amphetamine bust on the Canadian / American border. No one seems to know whether Lemmy was in fact charged. Lemmy himself claimed that sulphate crystals are not illegal in Canada. Turner says that according to Simon House, Hawkwind’s violinist / moogist, who spent some time in British Columbia (supposedly the most liberal Canadian state) sulphate is illegal there. It’s academic, though. Turner felt that Lemmy’s bust would prevent him from acquiring further US work permits which would therefore jeopardise the future of the band. But, above all, he claims that Lemmy’s speed habit had gradually – and probably unwittingly on Lemmy’s part – been precluding him from fitting in with Hawkwind both on a working and social basis. Speed, he claims, can tend to isolate the individual, rendering him excessively self-centered.

And this, he claims, is what Lemmy became. A statement which can, to an extent, be supported by reliable tales of various onstage fracas between Lemmy and Hawkwind’s drummers; one night he is supposed to have struck one of them with his bass.Turner seems to bear no malice towards Lemmy, though. His justification is qualified by a certain gentle compassion. Remorse even. The new guy is, as you probably know, former Pink Fairy guitarist Paul Rudolph.

Back to the gig. Man are ensconced in a little office serving as a dressing room backstage while Magma are beating their collective breasts onstage. “The singer – ‘Old Rasputin’ – is a nice bloke actually,” Man guitarist Micky Jones volunteers, “But the rest of them… bit weird you know?” The guitarist – who looks like a combination of crew-cut Robert Fripp and a Nazi death camp proprietor – always wears black onstage. In particular a black floor length gown. “Even wears it offstage,” drummer Terry Williams notes. “Me and Micky were sitting round the hotel pool in our trunks and there was Magma – all in black, the guy in his cloak, – sitting there in the midday sun playing-chess.”

Magma make the kind of music that Ken Russell might use as a soundtrack for the firebombing of Dresden; it’s almost as if you’d expect them to stride onstage wearing Viking helmets with horns. The drummer, Christian Vander, is rumored to practice against a background recording of Hitler speeches. Onstage he changes rhythm every 100th of a second, keeps his ass slightly raised from his stool and swivels his eyeballs.

The French love all this. Anything with a bit of feedback goes down a real treat because the French have no sense of rhythm. They neither dance nor tap their feet. They’re terribly intense about it all. They listen. And at the end of each number they applaud and sometimes even whistle. Seldom are encores demanded and even if they are the package is too tightly scheduled to allow for them.

Henry Cow are very big in Paris. Deke Leonard looks ill. Ashen. According to Foster, Man have been working solidly on the road since February. One would not know this from the standard of live music they’re putting out – and, in particular, from the amount of energy exuded by Martin Ace (the return of the prodigal bass player. Ace was a founder member. He returned when Ken Whaley left in the middle of the last U.S. tour). Ace is notoriously wacky. Boss tells this story of how Ace spotted Tommy Cooper in a hotel bar in Manchester on one of the English dates. He disappeared briefly, returning to the packed bar poker faced wearing only a sheet and a pair of socks. Coolly he draws up a stool next to Cooper. Orders himself a drink and waits. Inevitably Cooper gives in and inquires as to the reason for his baroque attire. Ace leans across and says in a stage whisper, “I thought I might take some of the heat off you, boyo.”

The acoustics are terrible. And it’s odd to hear Man lunging into such weather-beaten classics as “Bananas” and “C’mon” without a hint of recognition on the part of the audience.They acquit themselves beautifully under adverse conditions – at one point turning their backs on an unresponsive audience, centering the energy in a semi-circle around drummer Terry Williams. They kick ass. Employ feedback with artistry; quit the stage for two month’s holiday.

Sally likes Man. Relaxing behind her spotlight she also takes pains to offer up a few words of praise for the promoter, Ludo. She says she thinks he’s doing his best. Each night he lays on a large table of fresh fruit and cheeses, bread, savories and beer, whilst posting an assistant to slave continuously over a gas ring preparing omelettes on demand. She says that a couple of days ago he even took the trouble to go out and buy up a vast quantity of fresh strawberries as a special treat. Reports also suggest that apart from laying on a number of hired cars for each band and its roadies. Ludo also took the trouble to order in a generous supply of comestibles so that everyone is chain-smoking and nodding out at regular intervals. Sally hasn’t slept for 3 days but she’s enjoying it.

Larry Coryell and unannounced Heavy Friend With Mann County Moustache make for a pleasant interlude before H. Metal gets another embroidered outing with Hawkwind. Cornell is a good player but always seems to miss his mark. He and McLaughlin are of the same school of jazz/rock virtuoso guitar. They’re very similar in many ways. Only Coryell just missed the boat McLaughlin pushed out with “Inner Mounting Flame”. Last time I saw Coryell – with a band called Eleventh House featuring Cobham sound alike drummer Alphonse Mouzon – he seemed to be trying to cash in on that particular McLaughlin genre.

Hawkwind – still relying on the repetition of mid 60s pop riffs – and still ultimately tending to establish an emotive rhythmic cement then not having the imagination to build anything worthwhile on top of it – are really beginning to put on an effective show. Simon House seems to be taking care of the hitherto largely neglected musical end. Nik Turner’s sax is at last becoming quite audible and the drummers are achieving a fine mesmeric quality. They were good. This one will run and run.

Foster had returned to the hotel shortly after Man had left the stage, sidling up to me in the stand-ups to report that he’s just had another set-to with Ludo who he says is trying to make Man repay all sorts of hotel bills etc. Grinning conspiratorially he imparts the information that he now intends taking both the hired Peugeots back across the Channel and dumping them at Dover. He walks off giggling to himself. He makes his representation at three o’clock the next morning in the swimming Pool adjacent to our bedroom window. There is a loud splash like the detonation of a depth charge and Foster is to be heard informing the sleeping clientele that the water is as warm as a copulating bath. He is joined briefly by a French girl who appears to have been thrown out of an upper window. Where does he get his energy?


Marquee Club

Wardour Street 05-12-73

Martin Hayman


Magma were stunning at the Marquee in 1973. Rarely is it our privilege to hear music of such an intensity and integrity. I had gone with great interest for their latest album, I thought, was truly outstanding. But I doubted their ability to reproduce that dense, structured sound on stage, particularly in the foreign surroundings of the Marquee. I need not have worried. For a start Magma are evidently total professionals, though I doubt whether it’s the description they would apply to themselves.

Magma were an eight piece French group led by Christian Vander who devotes most of his own time and creativity to it and evidently demands that the players who make up the group do so as well. Vander is the drummer, and with him were three vocalists – a girl and two men, who doubled on percussion and a curious instrument known as a contrebass clarinet, which requires a microphone at well over head height – plus two keyboards, bass and guitar.

Of course it’s strongly rhythmic, based around Christian Vander’s inspiring drumming, at the same time simple in its appeal and extremely complex in its structure: and though the voices (all lyrics are in Vander’s imaginary language Kobaïan – another quite conscious reprise of existing traditions) seem to serve only as a rhythmic function, you soon found yourself floated away by unsuspectedly beautiful melody lines. Perhaps the link was the incredible Jannick Top, whose swift and fluid bass fingering liased between the three part vocals of Klaus Blasquiz, René Garber and Stella Vander, and the constantly changing drum patterns of Vander, which he pared down to the bare minimum essentials to suggest the rhythmic subtleties, leaving himself plenty of space for the very considerable muscle he exercises.

The band’s constant attack comes straight from the drums outwards and characterizes all sections of the group – the way that the group works is as a band comprised of sections. Magma’s overall approach is orchestral but the result is a hybrid music which comes as near to the totally original as I’ve heard in years.

Magma would be a bit too much to take for many people. It challenged too many of our comfortably middle-aged assumptions of what pop music was all about. But for those who go with open ears, who still have the ability to enjoy the unpredictable and unheard, it’s an experience not to be missed.


Ork! Update

FUTURE RELEASES

Apparently all future 7th record releases will be on CD & K7 (Cassette)
Seventh Records will release “Mythes et Legendes” Vol 1 on CD on 1-11-90
Offering III & IV release date will be 12-11-90
The next Magma CD is to be called “A Fiïèh” It was mentioned by TAUHD ZAÏA (Stella Vander) in a 1990 interview in Mr. Peach magazine # 2

 

 

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