September 27, 2010

Another gift for TEB's fans: "Ghoo" (a.k.a. "Eternity in D") rough recording from Balham Studios!

Another little gift for all the (few) Third Ear Band fans all over the world!
Here's another very rare recording from Balham Studios, where on February 1971 Sweeney, Minns, Bridges and Buckmaster recorded a complete new album ("The Dragon Wakes") never published (read at

The "Melody Maker" ad designed by Glen Sweeney for the 'forthcoming' "The Dragon Wakes".
"Ghoo", abbreviation of "Genetic Octopogillar Goo", was the new title for that known "Eternity in D" played live at a BBC "John Peel's Session" one month before (January 7th, 1971).
Listening this rough recording (3.59) - taken by my Panasonic RQ-L30 mini cassette recorder from a Denim Bridges MySpace private audition I was lucky to listen to - it's an intriguing example of the great interplay of the four musicians, clearly conditioned by Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew".

I admit to have been really torn to publish this track in so poor quality, but I hope TEB fans can appreciate it anyway as a nugget from that obscure past.
Who knows if Mr. Bridges, apparently the sole owner of the six tracks left from Balham, will decide now to publish a proper album.

[Download and listen the track at]

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 24, 2010

"Which kind of drums played Glen Sweeney?"... An Italian radio tribute to the TEB.

On last September 11th Italian radio has dedicated the second of two episodes to the Third Ear Band story with original music from "Alchemy" ("Stone Circle") and "Elements" (all the four tracks).
Introduced by Fulvio Savagnone, the music was spaced out by brief excerpts of the band's biography with few and superficial analysis of the musical structures and instruments ("which kind of drums played Glen Sweeney?", asked the journalist...).
As often it happens in this our poor country, the truth of facts it's just partial & altered: who made the reunion of the band in the Eighties? For Savagnone, just Materiali Sonori...
Anyway, you can listen to this infrequent tribute at the podcasts one) and (part two)
(all in Italian language, of course).

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 22, 2010

TEB's July 1969 "Peel Session" from is just a gip!

As the great TEB expert Sedayne writes in a recent post "the July 1969 Session you can download from Amazon is just a rip of stuff you get free elsewhere - the quality is no better & you don't get part two of Ghetto Raga!".
The problem is that when in August I announced the thing    ( I couldn't know that it'd be possible to download the music just for USA customers, so I couldn't verify the right stuff but just the samplers...
Anyway, as Sedayne suggests us: be aware!

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 18, 2010

Original John Peel sessions still available in the BBC vaults but...

Thanks to Steve Pank, original TEB promoter and driver, and Ursula Smith's husband, we're trying to investigate with the BBC Radio if old TEB live radio recordings are still available.
Steve contacted Eleanor Fleetham of BBC Written Archives Centre and got this kind answer:

"Dear Mr Pank, 
thank you for your call earlier regarding your wife's contribution to the John Peel Show as part of the Third Ear Band. 
Because we are the Written Archives Centre we don't have audio or video copies of programmes (we have all the written material).
As Ursula Smith was a contributor to the show she would be able to apply for copies of the broadcast via the contributor access application process (I expect this was the form you mentioned). 
The website is here: 
which explains the terms of the application process and the actual form is available here: 
(choose 'new application' from the drop down box and it should guide you through the process. 
You can also contact the Contributor Access Team via mail at BBC Information, Contributor Access Service, PO Box 1922, Glasgow, G2 3WT or alternatively you can telephone them at 0370 333 8998. Please bear in mind there is likely to be a charge for copies of the programme.
I hope that helps, please let me know should you have any other queries. 
Kind Regards, 

The great John Peel.
Because it's clear that the broadcasts are available for original TEB members or their families only, I've asked Steve what Ursula intends to do. He has explained me that "Ursula has no immediate plans to buy the archive recordings, I used her name to get the information about applying for archive material. As you see, if they still have the tapes, the charge is around £60 per programme".
Anyway, even if Ursula would decide to get them, all the broadcasts would be under the BBC copyright. So we couldn't edit them through the Net... but it would be important to know which TEB's recordings are still in BBC vaults: as reported in another file of this archive the sessions known (informations based on Ken Garner's "The Peel Sessions" book, edited by BBC in 2001) are: 

-January 1st, 1969 - "Night Ride"
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Cartland) played "The Grove""Stones Circle""Egyptian Book of the Dead""Pierrot"
-July 27th, 1969 - "Top Gear"
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Smith) played  "Hyde Park Raga""Druid""Ghetto Raga"
(Note: this session is available in the Net by free non-official download)
-June 12th, 1970 - "Black"
"Earth", "Downbone Raga", "Water (& Festival)" 
-June 20th, 1970 - "Top Gear" 
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Smith) played "Downbone Raga", "Feel Your Head", "Hyde Park Raga"
-February 11th, 1972 - "Peel Session"
TEB (Bridges, Pavli, Marchant, House) played "Air" and "I The Key" 
- March 21th, 1972 - "Drummond"
TEB played "Groan's Dance""Fleance's Song""Hierophant"
- May 18th, 1973 - "Sequence"
TEB played "I The Key""The Magus""Ten Dimensional Landscape"

From some sources (first of all the Paul Minns' diary) we know also TEB recorded live in other BBC radio programs:
- May 20th, 1970 - BBC "Sound of Seventies"  
-June 18th, 1970 - BBC "Sound of Seventies" 
TEB played "Dog Evil" ("Mosaic"), "The Sea" (a.k.a. "Air") and "Water"
(Note: this session is available through the page of this archive)
-January 7th, 1971 - BBC "John Peel's Sunday Show" 
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Bridges, Buckmaster) played "Eternity in D", "Druid", "Water"
(Note: this session is available in the Net by  free non-official download)

Then, the following 1970-1971 TV recordings have been probably cancelled but maybe recorded by some listeners/fans at that time: 
- April 24th, 1970 - Essen TV 
- November 18th, 1970 - Bordeaux TV program 
- November 23th, 1970 - Paris TV program 
(file updated October 2nd, 2010)
no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 09, 2010

New cover of "Fleance" recorded by Bristolian band Hi-Fiction Science.

After Stone Breath's cover and I Monster's remix, also a band from Bristol (UK) has recently recorded a cover version of "Fleance", the controversial song sung by Keith Chegwin and included on the "Macbeth" film soundtrack.

Even if I don't like the track (the same Glen Sweeney considered it just a colossal crap...), I have to admit Hi-Fiction Science's version is quite good and catchy (you can listen it at
Anyway, it's been the occasion to ask guitarist James McKeown and singer Maria Charles some questions about it...

How did you become aware of TEB’s music?
James: "I personally became aware of them in the same way that I became acquainted with much of the Psychedelic and Progressive music of the late 60’s and early ‘70’s in the ‘pre-Wikipedia’ days – through Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’, an excellent resource of information for these genres. So I was aware of the name. I then heard their music after discussing them with a good friend of mine, John, who is closer to my parents’ age and had actually seen them perform, along with Donovan, in Hyde Park supporting Blind Faith in 1969. He leant me a copy of the "Elements" album, which I enjoyed and found very hypnotic, I then purchased the Macbeth soundtrack and worked backwards".
Maria: "I was introduced to TEB's "The Magus" by friend and fellow musician Lord Gammonshire, "I the key", being my favourite track due to it's hypnotic repetitive drumming, in combination with the heady swirling medieval psych qualities. This would be my second choice if we decided to cover another of TEB's tracks, as both the vocal and lyrics are enchanting but with a dark pagan edge".

Why did you decide to make a cover just of “Fleance”, a track Sweeney and Minns (and many fans) didn’t love at all?
James: "As a band we are influenced and informed by many areas of culture – obviously music, but also areas such as film, art, architecture, literature etc. We were discussing Roman Polanski’s "Macbeth" and Maria (Charles – vocals) was enthusiastic about  "Fleance" and said that it had an interesting melody and melancholic edge and would be an original track to cover. After checking it out myself I worked out a rough arrangement of the chords, not that different to the original, but when we tried this as a band it felt somewhat lacking and slightly too ‘folky’. Eventually and after much experimentation and practice we arrived at the version we are releasing which retains the minimalism of the original and the strong original vocal melody, but adds some of our own style, in terms of the melody and structure.
As a band we are also musically influenced by Krautrock and Post-Punk  - in particular bands such as CAN and P.I.L. - so it was a really interesting surprise to find out that John Lydon had been involved in a Capital Radio show broadcast in 1977 playing his favourite music and songs that had influenced him. "Fleance" was featured as were CAN! This was a nice synergy between our music, influences and direction".

Hi-Fiction Science (2010).
Maria: "My love for "Fleance" as a track stemmed from many a hazy Sunday mornings being drawn into the other-worldliness of Polanski's “Macbeth”. When I heard “Fleance" in it's entirity, i fell in love with it. It was the vocal melody, and lyrics adapted from Chaucer, "Merciles Beaute" -  "A Triple Roundel" [read the lyrics at], that really attracted me. The words have been adapted perfectly to fit into the song, and the line 'Oh your two eyes will slay me suddenly', and it's repetitiveness within the track is beautifully contageous".

What do you think about the TEB music, above all about the first two albums?
James: "The debut album, "Alchemy" and also it’s following release – self titled or "Elements" - for me both have a mystical and almost primal quality. The rich harmonic layering of woodwinds, strings and percussion range from pastoral to almost free-jazz, which even during that time of rich creativity and innovation was certainly very unique in the broader context of ‘rock’ music.
Interesting ideas in the music are the drones, the pagan darkness, a primal simplicity and the way that a parallel could be drawn between their music and some modern classical music that uses minimalism, repetition and drones – such as Terry Riley or Steve Reich. Yet also John Cale’s sawing viola playing in The Velvet Underground or the cyclical percussion of Moondog which all adds up to a timeless, ethereal quality to the music".

What about your experience in music (your story)?
James: "Hi-Fiction Science came about when Jeff Green (bass) and I (James McKeown – guitar) met through a mutual friend, Ralph Joseph (guitar). They had both previously played in Bristol based psychedelic dronesters Suncoil Sect.
Initially we were a very loose jam based band playing quite heavy, extended psychedelic instrumental pieces. Our original drummer Jack Stanbury left to emigrate before we had a chance to play any gigs as did Ralph, to concentrate on another band he was in at the time.
Jeff and I had to rethink our game plan and, after attending a small gig by Michael Rother and Mobius (Harmonia), we thought about taking our music in that direction. More minimal and electronic and layered and textural.
At Jeff’s suggestion we brought in his colleague Matt Rich (Laptop, Keyboards) to help trigger samples and provide textural drones and beats. The need for beats was hastily sidelined with the arrival of Aidan Searle (drums) who responded to an ad we had placed and sited his influences as being Kraftwerk, CAN, P.I.L. and Dub. This made an interesting compliment to us and our combination of styles gelled in quite a unique sound. We gigged in this vein for a year or so before enlisting Maria Charles as a vocalist through fellow Bristolian experimentalists Fuzz Against Junk.   It was at this point that we began to structure our material whilst attempting to hold on to our Krautrock inspired roots and accommodating the 'folk' element introduced by Maria vocals.  We hence began work on tracks for our debut album in 2009".

What can you tell me about your forthcoming album?
James: "Our debut album is entirely self funded and is taking shape in Toybox Studios in Bristol – Toybox has a great pedigree and we are fortunate to be working closely with producer/engineer Ali Chant who has worked with PJ Harvey, Jon Parish, WARP and All Tomorrows Parties to name check  a few eclectic artists and labels.
The final track listing is yet to be decided; indeed we are still working on the last few tracks. It is a fairly longwinded process, due to the fact that we are not full time musicians and have a limited budget.
The finished album will be a cohesive and confident debut from a band building on a rich musical heritage, both in terms of the city in which we are based, Bristol, and our varied influences.
Ahead of the album "Fleance" is being released as a limited vinyl run on the Fruits De Mer record label ( Updates, progress, details of purchasing our music and live dates can be found at our myspace site:".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 04, 2010

A very rare sampler from 1971 recording sessions in Balham Studios: "Raga n. 1".

Thanks to Denim Bridges, all the tracks recorded by TEB in Balham studios are still available and could be published in  the future.
As already reported in this archive in TEB chronology (read at, in January 1971 (the 7th and the 17th) the band played live on BBC studios for John Peel's "Sunday Show" announcing an electric third album as next.
Infact, the month after, TEB (Sweeney on drums, Paul Minns on oboe, Denim Bridges on electric guitar and Paul Buckmaster on violin/cello) retired to a studio in Balham for three weeks to rehearse the tracks of the third album, already announced on August 1970 by "Melody Maker" as "The Dragon Wakes". 
TEB 1971 line-up.
Roy Hollingworth, sent by "Melody Maker" to 'drive out' the band, wrote on those days he had heard the musicians play a new electric version of "Druid". In the short interview, Sweeney explained: "The line-up now seems more viable. I got sick of saying that the old band, with violins and things, had no right to be in the pop business. Now we look like a pop group, but it's still Third music". As to the title of the new record: "There are two sets - order and chaos. Order may go, but out of the chaos comes the dragon. Maybe we will kid everyone now that we are high powered and progressive". 
The new album will be never published. A caustic Paul Minns remembered in 1996: "Heavily influenced by "Bitches Brew" by Miles Davis (an album I hated for its aggression), Paul Buckmaster drove some tracks manically from the bass and flipped during the session. On acid he ran out in the street screaming about the Gurjeffian Eye and I believe stripping off his clothes. He was never the same person afterwards and the recordings went no further". [Note: in confirmation of the Davis' influences on the band, you can compare the electric bass lines at the beginning of "Eternity in D" with Miles Davis' ""Bitches Brew", from 2.53, just from the same album...]

"The Dragon Wakes" ad on "Melody Maker".
Different opinion by Denim Bridges, from some e-mails he sent to me on December 2009: "Paul Buckmaster was my room-mate on the road and a great inspiration musically in the band. I won't say anything bad about him. I remember an accident similar to the one you wrote about [Minns said] but it was nothing like as out-of-control as your version. I have worked with Paul in the studio with huge orchestras since TEB many times and he handled the responsability of those efficiently and professionally. His musical compositions and arrangements have been inspired. Lastly what happenend was before the "Macbeth" sessions and Paul was very involved with that project".
From the Balham sessions a copy on reel of one track was taken for years by Paul Minns ("Raga n.1"), before he gave it to me in 1997, and six by Denim Bridges ("Air", "Mini Mac", "Ghoo", "Game Six", "Discrimination" and "Fire"). Another track, "Mistress of Sun", was recorded in the same sessions for a planned single, but never published. It is still in the EMI's vaults (read at

About the matter of TEB tracks' titles, Bridges did write that "the problem with much of our discussion is that sometimes the same (or very similar) piece of music had different titles. The piece "Eternity in D" was called "Genetic Octopogillar Goo", which was also used, at one time, for "The discrimination against Runny Custard", which I call "Custard" for short but "Discrimination" is a more appropriate title. "Discrimination" is now the title, ok? "Eternity in D" musically had nothing to do with the poem of the same title on your archive. Another example of using the same title  for different things. To the converse the same (or very similar) piece had the same title...".
Anyway, here you have now the unique opportunity to listen/download "Raga 1" (taken from a copy of the original reel), 8.31 minutes long, and verify the great interplay between the musicians, really better than that bad "The Magus" recorded by Ron Cort one year later...
So we can only hope one day to have a 'new' TEB album in our cd player... 

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

September 02, 2010

The aim of this archive and the endemic scarce information about the Third Ear Band.

The main aim of this archive is to offer first-hand informations about the Third Ear Band, a group on whom music magazines, biographies, essays usually have written few things, most just commonplaces. 
The critical dimension on the TEB is marked by a very common fate to others: apart very rare cases, generally rock/pop journalists use to repeat the same old informations, sometimes with very creative and funny inventions: for example, just recently on a Web site ( French journalist Philippe Blache writes that "Third Ear Band originated from Canterbury", forcing an improbable relation with the so-called "Canterbury Sound" (Caravan, Soft Machine...) - but everyone knows TEB was born in London, in the Grove! 

Even here, in Italy, for many years the few knowledges about the group was limited to the Rolf-Urlich Kaiser's 1969 book on the pop music (read in this archive at or, during the Seventies of past century, to some  little quotations on good magazines as "Gong" or "Muzak". 

For the few Italian fans of that time, better made a seminal book about "Rock-Progressive Music in Europe" printed at  the beginning of 1980 (authors: Luca Mayer and Al Aprile, edited by Gammalibri of Milan) with a page dedicated to the band with a smart analysis of his music ended with the line:
"(...) A tale at the edges of fantasy, maybe, just listened by few (the Bruce Palmer of Alpha, Omega, Apocalypse?), but also a story with no stains and  negotation with business. Without compromises".

First retrospective articles appeared just in that years and  at the end of the decade, when I was so lucky to convince Glen Sweeney to reform the group: touring  in Italy, TEB was involved in various interesting interviews, also revealing for the first time unknown facts from the past... 

One of the best interview ever appeared in UK  (and in the world), edited by Nigel Cross,  was published only in 1990 by "Unhinged" fanzine (soon available in this archive)
In 1997 Italian home publishing Stampa Alternativa printed my little book "Necromancers of the drifting West", with the first serious attempt to reconstruction of the band's history, thanks some interviews with band members and above all Paul Minns' personal diary.

Even now it's still so fascinating to investigate on TEB's experience and discover so many brand new things, while traditional rock/pop music subculture (press, radios, TVs...) and the Net are repeating the same old obvious things, feeding accidentally that fake aura of mistery surrounding the group... 

no©2010 Luca Ferrari