Sunday, November 25, 2007

Aqua Sulis Calling

Just got back from a trip to Bath to see the Aqua Sulis Calling gig, a reunion of ‘80s Bath bands. Actually, I missed the headlining Jonah and the Wail as I’d mainly gone to see the revival of the Hippy Slags and chat to a few people about the Free Festivals book which has now been green-lit by SAF Publishing. I did catch the opening set, by Childe Roland, which I thought really rather good and the rockabilly sci-fi of Wild Planets in addition to the, let’s say frankly triumphant, appearance of the Slags themselves. And to cap it all, I enjoyed an hour or so in the company of former Demented Stoats and Smart Pils man Steve Bemand and his lovely lady Juliet in the warm-glow of their candle-lit flat – ostensibly to chat about festivals and the like but which quickly turned into a rambling natter about Doctor Who and other things in the Cult TV line. At the gig, I was also pleased to meet-up again with Neil ‘JollyHawker’ and Jules ‘The Roadmeister’ who I met previously at the Abingdon ‘Space Rock Spectacular’ even if this time they did embarrass me (i.e. leave me secretly very pleased) by producing copies of Sonic Assassins for autographing! I also enjoyed catching-up with Hawkwind drummer Rich Chadwick and meeting some of the ‘Slags’ for the first time!

I stayed outside of Bath, up at Corsham on the road to Chippenham where the next day brought a rather fetching but particularly chilly covering of frost and, exploring after a suitably filling breakfast I discovered that the pub I was staying in (the now highly recommended Methuen Hotel) backed on to a grove of trees in their vibrant autumnal glory and a wide-expanse of open access farmland. If only I’d travelled more properly attired I’d certainly have taken the opportunity of rambling across crisply coated fields.

In the meantime, I’m trying hard to work to a ‘to do’ list. Record Collector recently published a bundle of reviews and Q&As of mine, of which I particularly enjoyed talking to MC5’s Wayne Kramer (extracts from this not used for RC can be found on my SpaceRock Reviews blog) who still has the indignant fire that fuelled the agit-prop of the 1960s and has his sights firmly targeted on the Bush administration and other sources of unrest. A real gentleman and an excellent interviewee.

I’m also working on a ‘space rock’ collectables feature that’s really coming along nicely and should look visually very good and hopefully that’ll be finished-up before the Christmas season hits us full-on (though I’m not banking on that). SAF are reissuing Strange Boat – Mike Scott & The Waterboys in a standard paperback format in March, 2008 and I’ve committed to revising the final chapter to more fully cover the release of Book of Lightning and the subsequent tour and make any corrections the remaining text requires; another pre-Xmas task there.

At the start of the year I had on my list of things to achieve, ‘write for national newspaper’. This I ticked-off in November, though not quite in the way I’d have liked to. I’m sure many will have been saddened by the untimely death of Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven at the end of October. My obituary of him was published by The Guardian recently and can also be read on-line. His albums with Killing Joke are amongst my favourite LPs of all-time and I was proud to have been commissioned to account for his life.

The Festivals Book, co-written with Bridget Wishart, is now starting to take shape and interviews are starting to roll-out. I was delighted to be invited to talk to former Hawkwind guitarist, now Space Ritual bassist, Jerry Richards when Space Ritual appeared at the 100 Club in October and, of course, was pleased to catch up with SR-friends including Nik Turner, Thomas Crimble and Chris Purdon. Chris was kind enough to introduce me to their dancer Angie ‘Miss Angel’ Fallon and Vicky & Mark at Esoteric Records were generous and ensured Jerry’s kind invite to me for a guest-pass was organised. Thanks to all, and if you get a chance, make sure you pick-up Space Ritual’s stonking new studio album Otherworld which I’ll hopefully be commenting on in next month’s Record Collector. I’ve also recently talked with Keith ‘Le Missile’ Bailey from Here & Now for the festivals project and many more interviews are being lined-up for the next couple of months.

One other project has started to look quite promising, this time one outside of the music arena. More on that soon!