May 17, 2024

My liner notes for the recording at Essen Festival.


"Despite not being at least initially among the scheduled groups (in fact, the band’s name does not appear on the poster or the official program for the event), Third Ear Band played at the Zweites Essener Pop & Blues Festival on April 24, 1970. 

The evening’s packed program included, among others, The Flock, Ekseption, Rhinocerous, The Groundhogs, It’s A Beautiful Day, and the still-unknown Black Sabbath, who had recently debuted their self-titled album. 

Coming to Essen (Germany), Third Ear Band stayed overnight at the Rheinischer Hof hotel at Edwig Strass 11 (four band members, manager Steve Pank, and two sound engineers), and on the evening of the 24th, between 9 and 10 p.m., they played their set on the main stage. 
On that first evening, in the long afternoon that began at 4 p.m. with bands taking turns on two stages, the Groundhogs had played just before them, and the Oscar Benton Band would play after them. The first of the festival’s two days ended at 2 a.m. with a performance by The Flock. 

Other times, one would say, considering the sad homogenisation of today. Times when progressive, blues rock, hard rock and folk music could be played in the same festival. 

It was thanks to an enlightened young man, Konrad Mallison, who in 1969 had emptied the intuition to invent the most famous alternative music festival ever held in Germany, only after attending the Bath Festival of Blues the year before, while on holiday in England. 


The 49 minutes of Third Ear Band’s live set, recorded by NDR TV, ending with what appears to be the tuning of the instruments, suggests that the length of the gig was longer and that at least one or two tunes are missing from the roll call. But the extraordinariness of this find, the quality of the sound, and the choice of music permormed, make this set worthy of going down in history among the few other great bargains available in the catalogue (e.g., along with the wonderful concert filmed by French TV on May 28, 1970 and available on the Web) in one of the most interesting phases of the band’s history. 
In fact, the concert in Essen, played by the quartet line-up with Sweeney on hand drums, Minns on oboe, Coff on violin and Smith on cello, falls just a few weeks before the release of the second album, known among fans as “Elements” despite being titled simply “Third Ear Band” (released in June 1970), and the recording, also in Germany (on July 2 and 3), of the stunning soundtrack for NDR TV animation short movie “Aebelard” by film maker George Morse with overexposed psychedelic illustrations by painter Herbert Fuchs. 

Entitled “Abelard & Heloise,” it is one of Third Ear Band’s most significant works, which remained unpublished for almost thirty years (it only come out in 1997 with my first book on the band) and which would have deserved to be released even then. 

Of these two excellent works, in Essen the band premiered shortened versions of “Earth” and “Water” and one of the six-part soundtrack, the third, featuring a beautiful oboe theme by Paul Minns. It’s interesting to catch the group just during the Abbey Road recordings (held in a few sessions in April and May 1970) at a stage when these tracks still seem to be in progress: “Water,” whose earliest recordings dated months before, was here reprised in a version with a minor key and it is very short compared to the one later released, limited to a repetition of the main theme without the improvised studio variations. 

Even more surprising is the performance of “Earth,” only 3:00, much shorter than the album recording, with Ursula Smith engaged in pizzicato and Coff playing his violin with a plectrum. In between the two novelties and the excerpt from “Aebelard,” in Essen the band offered old “Alchemy”’s warhorses they had been playing for over a year in concert such as “Druid One,” with an unexpected vocal intro, “Ghetto Raga,” “Mosaic,” and “Area Three” (but without John Peel’s Jews Harp!), showing a incredibly brilliant interplay: the structure of the compositions, whether raga scales or free improvisation, is based on Sweeney’s hypnotic rhythms (however, not always precise) and Smith’s cello, with predominantly a rhythmic function, on which Minns’ oboe and Coff’’s violin phrasing are grafted – now rigorous, in chasing each other on the raga scales, now erratic, unpredictable. 

The final effect, caught in its slow, mesmerising unraveling, also renders the atmosphere of the festivals of these years, with a participating and attentive audience, eager to hear the music even when, between tunes, the musicians indulge in tuning their instruments or simply catching their breath. 

From this concert, filmed by German TV, only the performance of “Earth” has been circulating on the web for a few years now, and is part of a DVD documenting the festival (titled “Pop & Blues Festival 1969-1970,” it was not officially released in USA by RareRock DVDs)."  


Tracklist

Side A: 1. Water 03:50 2. Abelard & Heloise (Part 3) 06:08 3. Mosaic 05:41 4. Area Three 07:58 

Side B: 1. Druid One 05:47 2. Ghetto Raga 07:50 3. Earth 03:11 total: 40:25 min.

May 13, 2024

M.I.G. Music scheduled the TEB live album at Essen Festival for 31 May 2024.

The announced LP/CD TEB  live recording of Essen Festival (1970), titled "Druid One", will pubblish by M.I.G. on May 31th, 2024. 

The news is on line now at M.I.G. web site at http://www.mig-music.de/en/mig-music/


no©2024 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

April 03, 2024

The wonderful 1970 Third Ear Band live concert soon out for M.I.G. Music - an update.

The fantastic unreleased 40 minutes live gig played by the Third Ear Band at the Essen festival in June 1970 will be released soon by M.I.G. Music in two different formats: a vinyl record limited edition and a CD standard edition (with a booklet edited by me including a short story of the event).

The album is engineered by  Manfred-Joachim Kaiser and mastered by Johannes Scheibenreif. The cover is a wonderful colorful drawing by Anna Vavatsis and based on this frame taken from a short video of the gig:


These are other frames taken from that great live event:


For further infos and updates go to the M.I.G. web site at http://www.mig-music.de/en/mig-music/

 no©2024 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

April 02, 2024

An obscure collaboration by Ursula Smith in 1969 with a disappeared band...

As you can read on this short article below, published in Wishaw Press and Advertiser on September, 19, 1969, that year Ursula Smith played cello in an obscure album recorded by a disappeared band called Lever; a band consisting of John Roy, Stuart McIntosh and Tom Morgan.

I asked Ursula and her husband Steve Pank to share with Ghettoraga Archive their memories about this unknown minor event in Third Ear Band story, but it seems they don't recall anything...

What happened to the Lever? What about that first album? Anyone has info or memories about?

 

no©2024 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

February 10, 2024

A 1970 Third Ear Band's unrealised live recording found in Germany!

Dear TEB aficionados, lovers of fine antiques, 

I was contacted a few days ago by Made In Germany (M.I.G. Music), a German label specializing in reissues and discoveries of 60s and 70s albums and recordings (http://www.mig-music.de/en/), to collaborate in the production of an extraordinary new live album by the Third Ear Band!

As announced months ago (read HERE), this is a recording of the performance that the band (in the quartet line-up: Sweeney, Minns, Smith and Coff) played on April 24, 1970 at the Essen festival, recorded and broadcasted by German radio. I am working  to analyze the seven tracks, partly taken from "Alchemy", partly from the upcoming "Elements" album, with some brilliant surprises.

An extraordinary new chapter in the band's history is therefore expected in the coming months. I am sure that it will amaze and captivate you as in the past. 

Keep in touch!

no©2024 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

December 18, 2023

An old article on a gig of the Al Stewart-Third Ear Band tour.

An old article from the "Evening Sentinel" published on January, 27th 1970 presents the gig TEB played at Stoke-on-Trent on Friday 30th, 1970.

Journalist Mick Wormald wrote a short very good portrait of the Band, stating that 

"their inspiration comes from the Indian raga form, and their style is a hypnotic droning music that can be listened to carefully, or just allowed to lilt around one's head."


no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

December 01, 2023

"How I got the third ear". Memories from Finland.


TEB fan Mauri
Kankaanpää gives us some memories closely related to the Third Ear Band...

"1st of December 1973 was a remarkable day for a 17 years young man. On that day, exactly 50 years ago,  the mailman gave me a ticket to pick a box of records from the local post office. I can’t remember the content of the box as wholly, or if there even was more than one LP, but that very one is still in my shelf, from the band I got into in previous summer. 
 

Easy to guess the name of the band. The LP I bought first was the one known as Elements. It really changed my musical world. At that time, I was also interested in esoteric things, theosophy etc. so the music fitted to my taste like glove in the hand. How did I find this world? First step was taken on a Fool’s day the previous year. I was able to visit our capital Helsinki and a large record shop there. I had saved lots of money to buy three records, one of them was Pink Floyd’s "Meddle" (I still have the copy). 
 
 
The record itself was extremely important to my music taste which was turning to progressive rock, but also the inner bag, ”the Harvest shopping list”. Following summer I bought Roy Harper’s "Flat Baroque and Berserk," starting my long lasting fandom to him and a week later my first Third Ear Band record, "Elements" - just by the name of the band, the cover of the LP and the typography on it. So it’s 51 years and 4 months now when I gave Glen & C. my other ear lobe, after which they took the whole ear, then the second on the other side of my head and finally they gave me a third one to start hearing.
Back to the date mentioned in the beginning. The album was "Alchemy". More of the magical music, thank you very much. 
One thing where vinyl beats cd is the cover size. Of course, vinyls need space if you have a lot of them, but the information and the emotional aspect of handling the cover, it’s almost like shaking hands with the artist. You get closer to them. 
 
So, I was 17, and I was living in Western Finland in the middle of an agrarian flat, known earlier as the bottom of the sea which now, after the ice age, is rising 5 mm in a year. Pop music was extremely rare on the radio. There were two channels, one for serious music and things like that, the other was for common people, almost funny ones. But please remember that people between 12-20 didn’t really exist for radio management, it was still in the ice age. And then there were minorities with their occult hobbies.

Again, I was handling the cover you know now. Turning it front and back, open and close, reading the text as much as my English did bend to it, more or less hypnotized from the music. Then there was the photo, with a monument where the players were hiding or just stepping out. Oh how far they are! Wish could visit that place! For a 17 years old person such a thing was like a flight to the moon. England is so far, three times around the world and only rich people here could afford to fly - and then they go to Mallorca... And if I ever get to England I surely will get lost. And where is that monument, if it is a grave there must be a graveyard, or thousands of them! Not for me! A desperate case.

But the years will roll. Inevitably. We are in 2019 in this story, now. Thanks to the internet and Wikipedia, sources and sites I found the name of the graveyard and got the name of the monument. I had found England earlier and the City of London in it, too.
London is an interesting town with all the layers the history had left there. I was travelling with my now ex-lady and had spent a couple of days in the town enjoying its arts and taps. After leaving the town, the metro rattled in a narrow gap through sleepy suburbs like in some Ghibli movies. Old dirty cables were hanging on the sides like lianas in the jungle. The car was almost empty. Now I was sure it will happen. 
 

Kensal Green cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London (I've seen two of them now). And what a relief, the grave was quite easy to find, thanks to the officer of the cemetery and the map she gave. The very moon of this story is the grave of Charles Spencer Ricketts (1788–1867). 
We landed at the cemetery on the 16th of September, at last. I felt excited when starting to walk the paths of the place. And finally, there it was!
 
 
The grave was smaller than I expected but it stood out of the area in its pale colour and strong decorations. Looked like it was ready to take a walk. Unfortunately I forgot to say something immortal like... “this is one small step for mankind but one giant leap for man”, but just something like “siälä se on!” (there it is! in Finnish) directed to my partner. 
However, it was unbelievable that it had been waiting for me all this time!"
 
Mauri Kankaanpää
 



Other stuff in this archive about the Kensal Green cemetery:

https://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2017/06/ray-stevensons-memories-on-kensal-green.html

https://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2010/01/teb-first-photo-session-by-ray_30.html

https://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2017/08/original-contacts-from-first-1969-teb.html
 

no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

November 21, 2023

Two old reviews of "Alchemy" found in the local press...

Not only music magazines, but also local newspapers have devoted space to the Third Ear Band. Here you can read two reviews of "Alchemy" from "Lincolnshire Record" (21 July 1969) and "Evening Post" (20 September 1969)  on which we can ascertain the band's golden moment and the media's consideration of it as one of the most interesting expressions of 'new wave' at the time. "Evening Post"'s journalist James Belsey wrote, "The music is sort of gentle, rather whimsey. I'm a bit lost in this one, truly. Try Area Three or Ghetto Raga and you may find something I can't."


no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

November 13, 2023

The Anacondas Skiffle Group story: the end of the prehistoric events before the Third Ear Band (part 3/3).

(read the second part of the story HERE )

After the sudden success due to winning the band competition promoted by the Croydon Jazz Club...

July 5, the Croydon "Times and County Mail" announced the invitation of Anacondas for receiving the "Tommy Steele Trophy" as winner of the contest. 

On July 8, the band received the "Tommy Steele Trophy" at the Savoy Cinema, Croydon. It is reported in the "Croydon Times" on next Friday:


On August 27 they play at the Savoy Cinema in Wandsworth in an evening called "The Skiffle Night". News of this is given by the "South Western Star" that announcing the presence of the Anacondas writes:
 
"The Skiffle Nights are to be tried out for four weeks and if proven successful they will become a regular feature throughout the winter months. "But," manager Cave points out, "over enthusiastic teenagers in the audience will be asked to restrain themselves if they wish the shows go on because any resulting rowdyism will definitely mean the end of "Skiffle at the Savoy"."
 
On November the band play a set a concert at the Croydon Civic Hall in aid for a fund a social centre. "The Stage" reports it on November 26.

On 14 November, the band is quoted in a long article titled "On the Bandstands" about the many Skiffle groups on the scene published by "The Stage"...

On 14 December at Jazz Club, Anacondas in concert with Seth Marsh's Jazzband (Croydon "Times and County Mail", 13-12-1957)

On December 17th, Anacondas play at the Granada of Thornton Heath in a evening announced as "The Anacondas in Folk, Blues and Skiffle" ("Norwood News", 13 December).

Same gig but announced by Croydon "Times and County Mail" on 13 Dec. 


Few days later, Anacondas was quoted in an article printed on Croydon "Times and Country Mail" on 20 December 1957 about a strange event...

Then, on December 20th, the band is on stage at the Park Lane Ballroom (Croydon) for an event promoted by the Jazz Club, "Festival of Jazz Boxing Night", with other five bands involved:
Teddy Layton Jazzband, Bell-Holloway Big Nine, Jupiter Jazzband, Saffron Valley Group and Nomade Group.

On January 21th, 1958 the band is on stage at the Granada of Thornton Heath (Croydon "Times and County Mail", 17 January, 1958).


Same event announced by Croydon "Times and County Mail" on 17 January.

At this point the news about the band disappeared from the newspapers. 
Despite their local notoriety, the numerous concerts they played, and the prestigious recognition they received, The Anacondas never transcended the limits of the provincial dimension to become a professional group at a national level.
In the absence of direct evidence, it's plausible that the six musicians after months of sacrifice decided to give up. So, it was probably the end of The Anacondas, which occurred, as Glen recounted, overnight. 
The cause? A newspaper investigation in late 1957 established that there were 50,000 active skiffle bands in England... reason why.

no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

November 07, 2023

Another interesting article on the late great Paul Buckmaster.

Here below you can read another old article about Paul and his brilliant career. Written by by Paul Huddleston, it was published in  "Leicester Mercury" on November 4th, 1975.

A very clever person, Paul talks of his experiences as arranger. There's also a little quotation of the Third Ear Band, as "experimental" band...



no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

October 30, 2023

The Anacondas Skiffle Group story: some prehistoric events before the Third Ear Band (part 2/3).

(For reading the first part of the story click HERE)

Our story about the very first known band involved Glen Sweeney is now focused on the Croydon area, where the young Glen (born Gordon) moved his first steps in the music business. In the absence of direct witnesses, it's the local press to guide us in this account...

The period is first half 1957-beginning 1958, the band The Anacondas Skiffle Group - a non-professional six musicians band who's playing in the Croydon area and becoming soon a sort of local heroes. In their repertoire there are songs as "Frankie and Johnny", "Green Back Dollar" and the teenagers favourite "Puttin' on the Style".

Local news reports inform us that on April 12, 1957 the Anacondas play at the Park Lane Jazz Club of Coydon, located at the Park Lane Ballroom, with on the same bill the Dick Charlesworth Jazzband (Croydon "Times and County Mail", 12 April 1957).

Three days later, on Monday 15 April, for the Bank Holiday Monday they are at the same club playing with two other bands, Seth Marsh Jazzband and Saffron Valley Band.
 
On May 11, the Anacondas play at the Streatham Baths for the Communist Party (!). It is announced by "The News" (the Streatham local newspaper) the day before.
 
 

In June, the Croydon Jazz Club, sponsored by the local Croydon "Times and County Mail" newspaper, launches a competition for young skiffle bands called "The Amateur Skiffle Group Competition" in which eight bands participate. 
The event is featured by the "Times and County Mail" on the 14th in an article entitled "Winning skifflers will receive cup and cash":

 
It's June 22, 1957. That night at the Croydon Civic Hall, in front of about 800 young fans, it's really the Anacondas who win. 
It is reported in the Croydon "Times and County Mail" a week later on June 28 with an extensive report:
 
 
On the same page, an article goes into the facts of the evening:
 


The effect on press and public is immediate, and from then on they will be invited often to play in the surrounding area.
 
A rare photo of the band with Glen Sweeney sitting front center.
 

(to be continued)

no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

October 21, 2023

The Anacondas Skiffle Group story: the Stone Age of Glen Sweeney and the Third Ear Band (part 1/3).


Historiographical Background

It is well known that Glen Sweeney's musical beginnings date back to the 1950s and were consummated in the area of Croydon, Surrey, where he was born in 1924.
The percussionist rarely went into the details of that season, preferring by far to gloss over the period when, in the early 1960s, he moved in search of his fortune to London, where he found work as a busker, dishwasher, and clerk in antique stores in Soho (in one of those stores he met, his colleague, Carolyn Looker, a lifelong companion). Turner in modern jazz groups first, free jazz later, without great fortunes, playing in "terrible places" (his words), "strange clubs that I'm sure were run by white slave traders. I used to play with a pianist and bass player. I always had a quartet that was "rehearsing" but they always collapsed before they actually got off the ground." (1)


As for his beginnings, almost nothing. A few vague words even to Carolyn or lifelong friend Steve Pank. I also attempted to elaborate on his early musical experiences with him, but he considered them irrelevant, of little interest. Only a hint of militancy in a Skiffle band, where he played washboard. Aptitude confirmed in interviews with the press, to which he would simply say, “like most people on the scene today, I started with Skiffle in a very suburban basis. I was washboard king of Croydon and that sort of area. But that died one weekend when there were about 5,000 skiffle groups and only eight gigs.(2)

Or, in what is probably the longest and most in-depth interview, provoked by interviewer Nigel Cross:“(…) I as totally into the scene – jazz drums – when a couple of guys I knew did an interval at a club I was hanging out at and their washboard player cracked up under the strain. I immediately leapt in, sussing I simple it must be and became moderately famous overnight because it was only local talent; it wasn’t difficult to do. (...)
 
The Anacondas: Glen Sweeney to the far left.

Cross: Tell me more about the Anacondas band?
Sweeney: “It came and went. One of the high spots was residency at the Driftbridge Hotel in Reigate, because it was local. We used to play there every Sunday and pull a decent crowd, because we were ethnic skiffle – we played the actual band’s numbers. This was were I met Ginger Baker – we were doing the interval when Ginger was playing with some trad band – Charlesworth – after we’d done out set, and Ginger came up to me and threatened to do me over for doing all his band’s numbers! After that I really got to know the guy and he was great! What happened with Skiffle was – one Saturday or Sunday it ended! I’ve no idea what happened – I think the scene got so full of Skiffle groups that it just killed itself.(3) 
 
 
New materials surfaced!

When by now the history of the Anacondas seemed dead and buried, destined for absolute oblivion, in January 2023 thanks to the Facebook pages dedicated to the band by friend Mirco Delfino (https://www.facebook.com/third.ear.band/), Chris Shields, Sweeney's nephew, came forward and posted an old photo of the Anacondas, apparently colorized from the original black-and-white, and a business card of guitarist and leader John Hall on the back of which are listed (with writing that looks like Sweeney's) the names of the musicians: 
 
John Hall - guitar and vocals
Alan Carder - harmonica 
Norman Strong - guitar
Colin Burrons - banjo
Gordon (Glen) - washboard 
Roy Bance - tube bass 
 
Only clue, the nephew's comment: "Old picture of my uncle, on washboard, first band he had. They won the Tommy Steele skiffle group cup."
 
 

Notes: 
(1) "Me and my Music. Glen Sweeney: Third Ear Band", in
"Disc & Music Echo", 11 April 1970.
(2) As above.
(3) N. Cross, "The Return of the Acid Prankster. Glen Sweeney tells the Third Ear Story", in "Unhinged", Summer 1990. 
 
 (to be continued)

Read part two at: 
 
no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first) 

May 14, 2023

A 1969 letter by Michael Horovitz quoting the Third Ear Band.

In January 1969 International Time published a letter signed by Michael Horovitz, a poet and cultural agitator and editor of the underground magazine New Departures, citing the Third Ear Band and Dave Tomlin as participants in an event held the previous December 15th, 1968.

Just three days before the legendary  "A Hippy Gathering: An Alchemical Wedding" with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Steam Hammer, Christopher Lodge and Rip Torn, in fact, Horovitz organized at All Saint's All in Powis Gardens "Brave New Departures Revisited."

This is the excerpt of the letter, taken from the issue 48 of International Time


no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first) 

February 16, 2023

"Alchemy" in Padua...

A few weeks ago, while on vacation in some beautiful northern Italian cities, in Padua, I came across the window of a historic record store, GABBIA DISCHI, established in 1920. 

You can imagine my surprise to see that among the records in the window was also displayed prominently the recent vinyl edition of "Alchemy," released by Esoteric Recordings.

This was an unexpected event, also because record stores are becoming increasingly rare, unfortunately...


 



no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

January 01, 2023

The music according to Glen Sweeney in an old article from 1970.

 
Dear loyal listeners of the Third Ear Band, for however few of you are left, here is another archival tidbit from the distant past. 
 
From an April 11, 1970, issue of Disc & Music Echo, in a column devoted to musician's ideas of music, Glen Sweeney talks about his idea of music and reveals some unknown biographical anecdotes (e.g., I didn't know he had been a dishwasher for a living either).
It is interesting to note that a magazine as widespread as Disc could give the floor to an obscure protagonist of the underground of those days: in times of boorish homogenization such as the ones we are suffering, it would be as if today Mojo or Uncut gave space to  R. Stevie Moore or Eugene Chadbourne...
 

no©2023 LucaChinoFerrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)