if you don’t follow this blog regularly you probably don’t know how much we love beyond the wizard’s sleeve. they are sensational. i mean for one they just work perfectly with the whole wizard thing we have going on. and more importantly the 21st century recreation of 60s and 70s psychedelic brilliance (by erol alkan and richard norris) spells a whole lot of possibility and wonder that is lacking around the place right now……..
i was very interested in the influences that have sculpted these men into making such fantasmal sounds, and after reading the latest DESERT ISLAND DISCO with richard norris over at dt I HAVE BEEN ENLIGHTENED! so here it is PLUS the mp3s of the tracks so you can get down to some good-old home-brewed wizard magic too!
DESERT ISLAND DISCO – RICHARD NORRIS (BEYOND THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE)
In the week of the release of their first CD of material – Reanimations Vol. 1 – we spoke to Richard Norris, one half of Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve, to dig through his big trippy box of desert island record treasure. The former Grid man and psychedelic guru has a love for the weird, wonderful, experimental and left-of-centre, and here’s your chance to find out about the roots of his and Erol Alkan’s 21st Century psych sound. Turn on, tune in…
Bo Diddley – Mumblin’ Guitar
When I started playing guitar, aged about ten or eleven, I had a few lessons from this bloke up the road called Steve, a bit of a muso with a comedy Seventies moustache. What Steve lacked in hirsute refinement, he certainly made up for in his music taste, which was mainly rockabilly, rock & roll and the blues. He brought me into the world of Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and my all-time favourite, Bo Diddley. I loved his square guitar, his mad sounds and his percussion touting sidekick Jerome. I loved the album Steve lent me – all the lyrics seemed to have Bo’s name every other line, the guitar playing was other worldly, particularly on a cut called Mumblin’ Guitar, or they’d be like some surreal comedy sketch like Cops and Robbers. Bo and Jerome and the crew seemed to be having a great party and I wanted an invite.
I met Bo Diddley in a lift once in New York, and saw his last UK performance a short while before he died. He had some new guitar pedal that was making an abstract, looping noise. Bo’s eyes lit up and his smile got wider with every new sonic peak he managed to wring out of it. A maestro.
Blossom Toes – We Are Ever So Clean (is an album you should buy) here is a psych pop taster – People Of The Royal Parks
When I was a teenager living in St Albans, I got a job working for Bam Caruso records, a psychedelic re-issue label run by graphics design supreme Phil Smee from his house near the station. I was officially ‘label manager’, although in reality I was more a general office boy and writer for the Bam Caruso magazine Strange Things Are Happening.
It was my dream job; making tapes all day from Phil’s phenomenal record collection, helping with design, writing about music. I learnt more in a year at Phil’s than in the three years I spent at college. Blossom Toes We Are Ever So Clean, a whimsical piece of British psych, reminds me of that time – I was young, naïve, and full of freakbeat. I would have stayed forever – in fact Phil is still in the same room, designing away – but got signed to Warners as the Grid and took a different path. Shame – I loved that job. It was pretty much the only proper job I’ve ever had.
Suicide – Ghost Rider, Kraftwerk – Autobahn (the 22 minute version for your pleasure!)
Dave Ball came down with Gen to the Jack The Tab session, and I was a bit wary of him, what with him being a pop star in that Soft Cell and the like. We soon got on thanks to our common interest in two bands, Kraftwerk and Suicide. These two played very different synthesizer music – Kraftwerk sleek and efficient, Suicide pure rock and roll – but both remain two of my all time favourites. Me and Dave formed the Grid, and we’ve played music and loved Kraftwerk and Suicide ever since. Dave’s even worked with Suicide on a recent single.
Wire – Map Reference 41ºN 93ºW
Alongside Can, Wire are probably my favorite band, managing to carve their own path, creating their own world with scant regard for outside commercial pressures, managing to write some great wonky pop tunes in the process. This is one of them, a melodic victory utilising fairly obscure subject matter. I love the way it’s from their album 154, which was the amount of gigs they’d played when they made it, I love the way Colin Newman shouts ‘Chorus!’ just before the chorus, I love the way the title is so wilfully unlikely for a pop song. I’ve met some them on a few occasions, including an interview with Graham and Bruce from the band which was easily the most uncomfortable and confrontational interview I’ve ever done, but I still love Map Reference and almost everything else they touch. Just don’t make me interview them.
The Clash – Straight To Hell
I didn’t really get the Clash’s first album – I was a big Sex Pistols fan and they seemed at the time like a bunch of over dressed also-rans who were trying just a bit too hard. I liked it, but it didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t till they started bringing in hip hop, reggae and funk into their sound that I realised their worth. Straight To Hell was later, a perfect slice of Strummer yearning and atmosphere. I worked with Joe for a couple of years, and our track Yalla Yalla, on the first Mescaleros album, was my attempt to write something in the area of Straight To Hell. It’s a great tune – no wonder MIA took it for Paper Planes. Strummer was a great and rightly highly rated lyricist with a great scope, who took it all in.
Adonis – No Way Back
In September 1987 I went to interview Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV frontperson Genesis P.Orridge in his house in Hackney. There were loads of stories going about that Gen was some sort of art school Aleister Crowley sorcerer, who practised sex magick and was in general dark and evil. The person I met certainly wasn’t – Gen was polite, intelligent and in possession of a fine black humour and the ability to take the piss out of himself. We bonded over a shared love of psychedelia, and got excited about a new music neither of us had heard called ‘Acid House’. We’d heard house, as there’d been a couple of hits and it was in some clubs, but the possibilities suggested by Acid House, of merging psychedelia with the dancefloor, were too strong to resist. We went into a cheap recording studio the next weekend armed with some videos, spoken word records, a few musician mates, some children and a dog, and made an album of what we thought acid house might sound like, called Jack The Tab.
By the time we released the album in Spring 1988 we’d heard acid house – the first track I heard was Adonis’ No Way Back. We liked it enormously, and still do, but the possibilities of Jack The Tab were sidelined for a bit. Until I met Erol and started Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve. Our early mini-albums sound just like Jack the Tab, only 20 years later. Get ready for the third summer of love…