December 08, 2009

Third Ear Band records ‘mysteries’ revealed (:… thus, piracy is not only an Italian phenomena…).

Just after the end of the TEB Italian experience, ended with the recordings of “Brain Waves” (CD – Materiali Sonori, 1993), there have been a lot of CDs around that ‘disordered’ group’s catalogue with unrealized and edit recordings, demos and live tapes.

It has been Glen Sweeney, leader of the Thirds, that disappointed by relation with Materiali Sonori tried to sell last official recordings to other English labels (as Voiceprint and Blueprint): thus we have some CDs with an amateurish packaging, often kitsch, with scarce liner notes, incomplete and imprecise, that disoriented fans and journalists playing with ambiguity and just apparent mystery of sources.

Now I try here a sort of “philological” reconstruction, hoping to make the things more clear.

RADIO SESSION (CD – Voiceprint VPR017CD, UK 1994)

1. “Raga La Luna
2. “Spirits”

Although notes attribute these two tracks (just 21 minutes) to the unlikely Glen Sweeney (percussion), Mick Carter (guitar), Paul Minns (oboe) e Ursula Smith (violin) line-up, this could be a 1988 recording, done by the TEB-reunion line-up with Sweeney, Minns, Carter and Allen Samuel. Enough to compare "Live Ghosts" or "Necromanthicus" with these tracks...
Mick Carter (8-12-2009): "I don't remember Ursula playing  with Paul Minns. While she was in the band it was Lyn on soprano (but I don't remember the recording at all...)".

On “Radio Session” booklet included, infact, there’s no place and date of recordings, but it’s presumable they are rehearsals recorded in London before or after the first Italian tour.

LIVE (CD – Voiceprint VP157 CD, UK 1996)
1. “Hymn to the Sphynx” 2. “Sun Ra Raga” 3. “Third Ear Raga” 4.”Live Ghosts” 5. “Pyramid Song” 6. “Egyptian Book of the Dead”.

Reissued in a second time as the second CD (live) of “HYMN TO THE SPHYNX” (2CD – Mooncrest Records CRESTDCD 067 Z, UK 2001) compilation, this CD is the live set recorded by the last TEB’s line-up (Sweeney, Carter, Dobson and Black) on November 24th, 1989 in Gorizia (Italy), during “All Frontiers” festival. It was the third TEB’s Italian tour.

Compiling the track-list for the CD, Sweeney, as usual, changed the tracks titles of two songs: “Hymn to the Sphynx” is actually “Reading the Runes”, “Pyramid Song” is “Behind the Pyramids”.

From that concert, “Third Ear Raga” had already been included as a bonus track on the CD version of official “Magic Music” (Materiali Sonori MASO CD9 0016. , ITA 1990), while “Live Ghosts” in a compilation titled “All Frontiers” (Materiali Sonori MASO CD 90026, ITA, 1991).

“Solstice Song”, instead, just in the middle of concert, is been inexplicably omitted from this edition…

MAGIC MUSIC (CD – Blueprint BP 257CD, UK 1997)
1. ”Gog and Magog” 2. “Flight of the Coven” 3.”Dance of the Elves” 4. “Atlantic Rising” 5. “Midnight on Mars”.
This record, with same title of the original Materiali Sonori second output published in 1990 as MASO CD 90016, proposes actually an excerpt of “Brain Waves” (!), record produced by Materiali Sonori in 1990, even if with re-played and re-arranged versions.

Here again, Sweeney shuffles the cards, changing titles and track-list: “Gog and Magog” is “Midnight Drums”; “Flight of the Coven” is “Sirocco Song”; “Dances of Elves” is “Psychedelic Trance Dance”; “Atlantis Rising”, instead, is “Dances with Dolphnis”, while “Midnight on Mars” is “Spell of the Voodoo”.

Omitted, but it doesn’t understand why, “Water into Wine”, sang by Dobson, and “Alchemical Raga”.

Even if Blueprint tries to convince the buyer explaining on their catalogue that the record is not the same that Materiali Sonori published in 1990, the game is easily discovered: enough to have two good ears…

This “Magic Music” would be been reissued later on the first “HYMN TO THE SPHYNX” (2CD – Mooncrest Records CRESTDCD 067 Z, UK 2001) CD.

1. “Kingdom of the Brave” 2. “Life is an Art” 3. “Chrysalis the Man” 4. “Abracadabra” 5. “Behind the Pyramids” 6. “Prophecies” 7. “Dances with Dolphins” 8. “Water into Wine” 9. “To Be Continued”.

A partial reissue of “PROPHECIES”, published by Materiali Sonori (MASO CD 90018) in 1991 as  Hydrogen Jukebox, Sweeney/Carter project launched in 1978 with different musicians (Brian Diprose e Jim Hayes) and kind of music.

From the original MASO edition are taken just six tracks (omitted “Voidoid City” and “Shoe Suede Blues”), while three tracks (“Behind the Pyramids”, “Dances with Dolphins” e “Water into Wine”) are from the other Italian production (the first one from “Magic Music”, the other two from “Brain Waves”…): all in all just a mere hybrid, an incongruous anthology, very bad…

Various Artists - "MATERIALI SONORI" (CD – Olis Music OM 0021, ITA 1998)

1. “Midnight Drums”

A compilation with MASO’s various artists, included to the Italian magazine “Olis: TEB is here with “Midnight Drums”, taken from the original “Brain Waves”.

ABELARD AND HELOISE (CD – Blueprint BP 310CD, UK 1999)

"Abelard & Heloise" I-VI.

This is an unauthorized reissue of the CD included to my book “Necromancers of the Drifting West” (Stampa Alternativa Sonic Book SB5), published in 1997.

Later, this reissue is been included also in the double “HYMN TO THE SPHYNX” (2CD – Mooncrest Records CRESTDCD 067 Z, UK 2001).

The beautiful recording was played by Sweeney, Minns, Smith e Coff in the Summer 1970 as a soundtrack for the homonymous German television screenplay (directed by Fuchs and produced by Morse): producer Morse had seen the band playing at the Jim Haynes’ London Arts Lab in Notting Hill. This music is been an incredible, magical discover due to Paul Minns (the reels have been forgotten in a corner of his attic), one of my favourite TEB production ever!

MUSIC FROM MACBETH (CD – Blueprint BP 312CD, 1999)

1. “Overture” 2. “Beach” 3. “Lady Macbeth” 4. “Inverness” 5. “Banquet” 6. “Dagger and death” 7. “At the well/Prince’s escape/Coronation/Come sealing night/Court Dance”.

Another not authorized reissue of the TEB EMI third album recorded in 1972 for the Roman Polanski’s film soundtrack. This great record, for many years out of catalogue, had been reissued in 1990 by English label Beat Goes On (BGO CD61).

Various Artists – HARVEST FESTIVAL ( 5 CDs – EMI-Harvest 7243 5 21198 2 0, UK 1999)
Stone Circle”.

Wonderful 5CD compilation made to celebrate the EMI-Harvest catalogue: Third Ear Band is included here with an edit version of “Stone Circle” (from “ALCHEMY”, 1969), a short interview with Glen Sweeney and some well-known photos and posters.

Various ArtistsGUIDE TO INTELLIGENT MUSIC Vol. 2 (CD – Materiali Sonori MASO 642932, ITA 2001)
“Dance with Dolphins”.

Second volume of “intelligent music” from the MASO catalogue. TEB is included here with an edit version (from “Brain Waves”, 1993) of “Dances with Dolphins”.

HYMN TO THE SPHYNX (2CD – Mooncrest Records CRESTDCD 067 Z, UK 2001)
Disc One (Studio)

1. “Gog and Magog” 2. “Flight of the Coven” 3. “Dance of the Elves” 4. “Atlantic Rising” 5. “Midnight on Mars” 6. “Abelard and Heloise” (part I-VI).

First five tracks taken from the Blueprint “MAGIC MUSIC” (CD – Blueprint BP 257CD, UK 1997). Track n. 6 is the soundtrack “ABELARD AND HELOISE”, taken from my book on the group (“Necromancers of the Drifting West”, published by Stampa Alternativa Sonic Book SB5 in 1997), already reissued in England on CD by Blueprint (as Blueprint BP 310CD, 1999).

Disc Two (Live)

1. “Hymn to the Sphynx” 2. “Sun Ra Raga” 3. “Third Ear Raga” 4. “Live Ghosts” 5. “Pyramid Song” 6. “Egyptian Book of the Dead”.

This disc is the reissue of “LIVE” (CD – Voiceprint VP157 CD, UK 1996), recorded by the last TEB line-up (Sweeney, Carter, Dobson e Black) in Gorizia on November 24th, 1989 during the third Italian tour.

A double just useless CD, for collectors only…

RAGA LIVE (2LPs – Turning Point TPM-02216, ITA 2002)

1. “Hymn to the Sphynx” 2. “Sun Ra Raga” 3. “Third Ear Raga” 4. “Live Ghosts” 5. “Pyramid Song” 6. “Egyptian Book of the Dead”.

A double vinyl record (180 gr.) based on Voiceprint CD “LIVE” (see above), published in England on 1996 and then included also in the 2CD HYMN TO THE SPHYNX” (2001).

Imagination at the power! – as one would tell…

Various Artists - ART SCHOOL DANCING (CD – EMI-Harvest 756225, UK 2002)
“Druid One”.

A new Harvest compilation with 17 tracks played by label artists. Between Syd Barrett, Barclay James Harvest, Move and Kevin Ayers, also the Third Ear Band with the edit version of “Druid One”, from “ALCHEMY” (1969).

THE MAGUS (CD – Algel Air SJPCD 173, UK 2004)

1. “I The Key” 2. “Cosmic Wheel” 3. “The Hierophant” 4. “The Magus” 5. “New Horizon” 6. “The Phoenix” 7. “Kozmik Wheel”.

It’s the fourth “lost” album of the band, recorded at the London Island Studios in the end of 1972 by an electric line-up included, with Sweeney on drums and Minns on oboe and hammond, also Simon House (violin, piano and effects), Mike Marchant (guitar and vocal – he wrote the majority of the lyrics inspired by Tarots), Dave Tomlin (bass) and Ron Kort, producer/sound engineer (on the record he played also percussion and piano): just Kort (fate wanted he died before the album was published…) found the lost reel and managed to produce the record.
On the album Dave Tomlin wrote and sung "New Horizon"; 'Pheonix' is a poem written and recited by the same Tomlin, that played also flute on this track only.

As I wrote in “Necromancers of the Drifting West” (Stampa Alternativa, 1967), the new TEB line-up had been formed around March (Sweeney reveled it during an interview with “Melody Maker”) and had signed a record deal with Island Records on November, thanks to Peter Jenner. As Paul Minns told me in 1996, anyway, the record, whose tracklist on the contract had  the title “Tenth Dimensional Landscape” but not “The Phoenix” e “Kozmik Wheel” (?), “was disasterously recorded and rejected” by the record company.

Finally I like remember that on January 25th, 1972 – according to the Web site dedicated to John Peel and his great “Peel Sessions” (see at, an improbable line-up with Denim Bridges (guitar), Simon House (violin), Michael Marchant (guitar and vocals) and Peter Pavli (bass) – but without Sweeney and Minns (!!!) – would have recorded live in the London T1 two tracks – “Air” and (at that time) unrealized “I the Key” (later on “THE MAGUS”). Recording transmitted by BBC Radio One on February 11th, 1972...

"The Magus" is anyway an important document more about historical aspects than musical (very interesting the CD booklet), just anomalous if compared with band's standard production.

This CD is been published also in a vinyl format by Italian Akarma as AK312 LP.

ALCHEMY. ELEMENTS (2CD – Gott discs GOTTCD010, UK 2004)

Disc One: Alchemy

1. “Mosaic” 2. “Ghetto Raga” 3. “Druid One” 4. “Stone Circle” 5. “Egyptian Book of the Dead” 6. “Area Three” 7. “Dragon Lines” 8. “Lark Rise”.

Disc Two: Elements

1. “Air” 2. “Earth” 3. “Fire” 4. “Water”.

Remastered reissue of the first two wonderful records. The first rendition of them in England was issued by Drop Out Records (Drop Out DO 1999, 1989) and Beat Goes On (as BGO CD89, 1990). Very good the CD booklet edited by Chris Blackford, partially available in the Web from 2001 (see

no©2009 Luca Ferrari


  1. Good old Voiceprint, always careful to make sure that their releases receive the care and attention one would use while shovelling shit from one place to another.

  2. The most appealing point is the connection between TEB and the esoteric side of underground (High Tide in primis, but also Rustic Hinge, Magic Muscle etc.) How much recordings can be survived from that area? Ie, all the Hazchem records are strangely ritual/mystical, long improvisations, but also the last 90s ethinic records Draken Theaker-oriented of High Tide. Pavli, Hill &C aren't well served by internet. Remain a strange connection, a hole in the puzzle...

    regards vic
    regards vic

  3. It's not Ursula Smith on the Radio Session - more likely Alan Samuel from the same Alchemical Studio session that provided Necromanticus on the Live Ghosts CD.

    The word is that all the unauthorised Voiceprint TEB editions were done with Sweeney's blessing & encouragement - hence the covers are all by his wife (Radio Sessions notwithstanding).

  4. Right about the connections, Vic, it's an interesting thing to investigate...
    About Ursula playing on "Radio Sessions", my informations wa different... but I'll try to ask Mick, that was deeply involved in all the recordings...
    Thanks anyway to all of you for the opinions.

  5. Sorry - Sweeney's wife Carolyn Looker did all of the Voiceprint Third Ear cover designs.

    If you compare Samuel's playing on Live Ghosts to the Radio Session it becomes a little clearer - and quite unlike Ursula's amazing playing on New Forecasts! We can but dream of what Ursula and Minns would have sounded like at this point in time!

    That was me (Sedayne) above by the way.

  6. About Ursula on Radio Sessions, I was wrong, of couse. I didn't read my old book where the things was already clear... Ursula and Minns could play absolute great music, I think!
    I know very well that was Glen and Carolyn to sell the records to Voiceprint, I'd written it very clearly, I think... I remember well that period, because Glen asked my opinion and I was not agreed with him, of course!
    I don't know how much they could have gotten from that materials, but I suspect that they could get much more from Maso... Even so, I was against the idea to ruin their great catalogue just for a question of moneys... The result is now the paradox to have many records from the last period (not always so good) and very few from their best period...

  7. I could listen to Minns forever! I think the Radio Sessions / Necromanticus / Live Ghosts music has a very special charm which is only partly let down by Samuel's tentative violin, but that's not to criticise him over much - stepping into Richard Coff's shoes was never going to be easy & he does a more than adequate job. Ursula Smith's violin playing on New Forecasts is something else altogether thugh - just a shame, as I say, that Minns wasn't around to respond to it, though Lyn Dobson is more than capable.

    Talking about Richard Coff - do you have the tracks he composed & recorded for Bernie Taupin's 1971 LP 'Taupin'? I'd love to hear those!

  8. No, Sedayne, I havent got the tracks composed/recorded by Coff for Taupin... and I'd love to listem them too!