Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

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Carlisle Wheeling
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Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 16 Jan 2015, 02:40

(Part 1)

By 1973, my musical obsession was in full flow. I’d been working for three years and the regular monthly pay, although not great, meant I could take risks on what I bought. A familiar name in the credits, the artwork on an album, a trusted label, a good review in the music press from a writer I rated, a chance hearing on radio or via a friend, you get the idea; I’m sure it was the same for many off you. Once I could afford them, I went for albums. Singles were still bought but generally only if I couldn’t get the tracks on an album.

Which is why I could be found on a regular basis at HMV Manchester. What I liked about HMV back then was the way the album racks ran along the back wall from A to Z. I liked nothing better than to start at A and check out every album on the way down to Z at the far end; if the shop was quiet, so much the better. 1973 had already produced some of my favourite albums.. Honky Tonk Heroes, Viva Terlingua, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, A Passion Play, Cannons In The Rain, Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir, Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash. When I came across this…

Image

…that list increased by one. Maybe it was the fact it was on RCA, maybe the list of musicians or maybe even Clive’s moody rock pose.

Image

Ah, yes, Clive, the Clive James.

All I know is that one play was enough. It was an album to get lost in. The sound was warm and appealing, Pete’s voice and tunes were beautifully presented and the lyrics were unlike any I’d heard before. Thinking back now, maybe there was a slight similarity of style with David Ackles’ American Gothic… Here’s three tracks from the album and for each I’ve added the full lyrics. There’s also a more recent live take of a fourth song.



Carnations On The Roof


He worked setting tools for a multi-purpose punch
In a shop that made holes in steel plates
He could hear himself think through a fifty minute lunch
Of the kids, gas and stoppages, the upkeep and the rates
While he talked about Everton and Chelsea with his mates

With gauge and micrometer, with level and with rule
While chuck and punch were pulsing like a drum
He checked the finished product like a master after school
The slugs looked like money and the cutting-oil like scum
And to talk with a machinist he made signals like the dumb

Though he had no great gifts of personality or mind
He was generally respected, and the proof
Was a line of hired Humbers tagging quietly behind
A fat Austin Princess with carnations on the roof

Forty years of metal tend to get into your skin
The surest coin you take home from your wage
The green cleaning-jelly only goes to rub it in
And that glitter in the wrinkle of your knuckle shows your age
Began when the dignity of work was still the rage

He was used and discarded in a game he didn't own
But when the moment of destruction came
He showed that a working man is more than flesh and bone
The hands on his chest flared more brightly than his name
For a technicolor second as he rolled into the flame

Though he had no great gifts of personality or mind
He was generally respected, and the proof
Was a line of hired Humbers tagging quietly behind
A fat Austin Princess with carnations on the roof


I can't express how powerful I find that song. Shame it refers to Chelsea though.




The Wristwatch For A Drummer

The Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
Is the only wristwatch for a drummer
It tells true and it ain't no bummer

The Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
Can stand for more than mere immersion
It thrives on whiplash, lurch and shock
Trad, mainstream, bop and rock
Baby Dodds had an early version

The Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
Man, what a creation!
It's a mine of information
A vernier scale, the date in braille
Sidereal time, the rate of crime
And the growth of population

It's got more jewels than Princess Grace
Buckminster Fuller designed the case
Leonardo engraved the face
And did the calibration

And those knobs and screws and toggles
The imagination boggles

The Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
Without this timepiece there'd have been
No modern jazz to begin with
Bird and Diz were tricky men for a drummer to sit in with

Max Roach still wears the watch he wore when bop was new
Elvin Jones has two and Buddy Rich wears three
One on the right wrist, one on the left
And the third one around his knee

The Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
Has a warning-bell for free-form playing
That tells you when you're overstaying
Your tentative welcome with the paying
Customers in the deep decaying
Cellar club with the stained and fraying
Velvet drapes and the stooped and greying
Owner

It'll count the bars and tell you when
The basset-horn's coming in again
It'll see you right while you're trading twelves
With a synthesizer played by elves
Wear this watch and you'll keep in step
With Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp
Why be a loner?

Get the Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
It's the only wristwatch for a drummer
It tells true and it ain't no bummer

So any time the brushes shimmer
On skins and brass while the solo tenor
Slowly blows the lazy phrases
You'll catch the golden glimmer
Of the wristwatch in the gloom
So softly now let's sing its praises

For the music in the room
Both beautiful and true
On plushly hushed extended wings
Is flown to me and you

By the Omega Incabloc Oyster Accutron 72
The only wristwatch for a drummer
It tells true and it ain't no bummer




Thirty Year Man

Nobody here yet
From the spotlight that will ring her not a glimmer
Not a finger on its squeaky dimmer
I play piano in a jazz quartet
That works here late with a young girl singer

And along from the darkened and empty tables
By the covered-up drums and the microphone cables
At the end of the room the piano glistens
Like the rail at the end of the nave

Thirty years in the racket
A brindled crew-cut and a silk-lined jacket
And it isn't my hands that fill this place
It's a kid's voice still reaching into space
It's her they're driving down to hear
And it's my bent-over back she's standing near

Nobody talks yet
From the glasses that will touch soon not a tinkle
Not a paper napkin shows a wrinkle
I play piano in a jazz quartet
That backs a winner while the big notes crinkle

And along from the darkened and empty tables
By the covered-up drums and the microphone cables
At the end of the room the piano glistens
Like the rail at the end of the nave
And I play a few things while no-one listens

Thirty years in the racket
A brindled crew-cut and a silk-lined jacket
And it isn't my name that brings them in
It's a little girl just starting to begin
It's her they're piling in to see
And I'd kill that kid if she wasn't killing me

Nobody moves yet
From the tables near the bandstand not a rustle
Not a loudmouth even moves a muscle
I play piano in a jazz quartet
That backs a giver while the takers hustle

And along from the darkened and empty tables
By the covered-up drums and the microphone cables
At the end of the room the piano glistens
Like bones at the end of a cave
And I play a few things while no-one listens
For an hour alone spells freedom to the slave




All The Dead Were Strangers

I met my buddy Kovacs stripping down his M-16
He said "I think the barrel got hot -- know what I mean ?"
And his smiling mouth looked friendly
But his eyes, like all the dead, were strangers
All the dead were strangers

Just lying there were ladies so old they hardly bled
Thin kids who never needed a red hole in the head
We were all in this together
We were friends, but all the dead were strangers
All the dead were strangers

We bumped into Polonsky, and Polonsky hollered "Look!
It's a Japanese transistor that I swiped off of a gook
And it don't even have no batteries"
And he laughed that all the dead were strangers
All the dead were strangers

And Kovacs said "You crumb-dumb, we weren't sent in here to steal"
And Polonsky answered "Stow it! How do you know what I feel?
What the hell else is there in this
For me? Like, all the dead were strangers
All the dead were strangers"

I left them two to argue and I walked between the huts
It's a bad day when a king-hit of grass won't calm your guts
But it helps you to remember
Or forget that all the dead were strangers
All the dead were strangers

The birds that lift us in here lift us out through the same sky
And the gunships hose the ruins for reasons hell knows why
And I can only yell Why bother!
Why bother all the dead? They were strangers
All the dead were strangers




Now before I go further I’ll give a very brief history of Pete and Clive.

Much more detail can be found on Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Atkin ) and Pete’s fascinating website http://www.peteatkin.com/ .

Basically, Pete and Clive met at Cambridge Footlights, dreamed of becoming rock stars (very briefly) and made six albums. Nightfall was the third (and first on RCA, the first two were on Philips). The critics liked them but the good words did not translate into sales. Val Doonican recorded a cover version of the song "The Flowers and the Wine" and the royalties from that one cover were greater than the total from all six albums. The boys knew that success lay elsewhere.

And in many ways, that was it until the internet brought together a group of people , the “Midnight Voices”, who had never forgotten the remarkable work of Atkin and James and set about bringing that remarkable partnership back to life.


I'm out of time at this point and will get back with part 2 shortly. I'll finish by adding that, as I am sure some of you may know, Clive James is terminally Ill with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and did not expect to see Christmas 2014. He's written some beautiful poetry reflecting on life and the human condition and if you're interested it can be found here: http://www.clivejames.com/poetry/recentpoems For me, his site is one of the joys of the internet.

No connection to Pete Atkin but this is beautiful.



I'll miss him when he passes.
Jordan Peterson.. the best thing on the net...
Anyways, back to the Gulag Archipelago now

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Neige
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Neige » 16 Jan 2015, 08:54

Good stuff, CW!

I have a couple of CD-R's of his stuff but must admit I never properly listened to them. :oops:

Must remedy that asap.
Thumpety-thump beats plinkety-plonk every time. - Rayge

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby fire and fueryIre » 16 Jan 2015, 10:27

Fuck. I just posted quite a long reply here and it's got lost. Oh, well...
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby fire and fueryIre » 16 Jan 2015, 10:56

here as best I can remember it is a reconstituted version of my earlier post that got lost...


Good that you are a PA/CJ fan, CW, there are precious few of us on here so their cruelly overlooked and under-rated canon get a mention. As we both lived in Manchester in the early 80s, I am sure we must have breathed the same fug of smoke at the Factory, the Apollo or Manchester Poly back then...

Anyway, I first became aware of PA when I heard Master of The Revels on Kenny Everett's Sunday morning show in about 1970. I subsequently found an original (gypsy caravan cover on the Philips label) copy of his debut, Beware of The Beautiful Stranger for 50p in the sale rack of a Dublin record shop not much later. Over the course of the next few years I snapped up all five of their original and reissued Philips albums on RCA. I also got to meet PA several times at his gigs (a throughly nice man he is too) - even going so far as to get my records signed. No big deal really as PA says on Steve Birkhill's rather splendid Smash Flops site, he and Clive must be the only artists in recorded history whose unsigned records are worth more than their autographed counterparts.

While they got pretty good across-the-board airplay - John Peel was a fan and had PA do sessions several times and even Noel Edmonds used to play songs off AKAN on Sunday morning - I think what did for PA and CJ's lyrics and music (dig that Supremes riff in Carnations on The Roof) is that they were probably just a little too cerebral for mainstream tastes. The normally excellent Ian McDonald in NME went as far as to dismiss their songs as "bloodless". Certainly RCA's decision to market them as "A Level Rock" probably didn't help any. In the end, I think they only got a couple of covers on a Wizz Jones album and a version of Flowers and The Wine by the uber cool Val Doonican.

It's interesting that the poem Clive is reading in the clip CW has dug out is called Canoe as one of the songs PA and CJ performed on their Live Libel tour (which I saw at Hull Uni in Oct 75) had the same title. Excellent song though it was, it didn't get to see the light of day until History and Geography: The Lakeside Sessions Volume I was released almost 30 years later. Dig it out and give it a listen, it's pretty damn good

While don't want to steal too much of CW's thunder until he's posted his full piece, given the paucity of Pete and Clive-related posts on BCB, I'm sure he won't mind pointing the proverbial gun to my head and asking me to pick out three favourite lyrics....

Senior Citizens

You've seen the way they get around
With nothing beyond burdens left to lose
The drying spine that bends them near the ground
The way their ankles fold over their shoes
They've had their day and half of the day after
And all the shares they ever held in laughter
Are now just so many old engravings
Their sands have run out long before their savings
And the fun ran out so long before the sands
They've lost touch with the touch of other hands
That once came to caress and then to help
A single tumble means a broken hip
The hair grows thinner on the scalp
And thicker on the upper lip
And who is there to care, or left to please?

It's so easy when we're young
For me to wield a silver tongue
And cleverly place you among
The girls the boys have always sung

It's so simple when it's you
For me to coax from my guitar
The usual on how fine you are
Like this calm night, like that bright star

And the rest would follow on
The rest would follow on

And there'll be time to try it all
I'm sure the thrill will never pall
The sand will take so long to fall
The neck so slim, the glass so tall

Payday Evening

Of late I try to kill my payday evenings
In many an unrecommended spot
Curiosity accounting for a little
Loneliness accounting for a lot

The girls who pull the handles force their laughter
The casual conversation's not the best
Indifference accounting for a little
Unhappiness accounting for the rest

And the gardens of the heyday in Versailles
And Pompadour's theatre in the stairs
Should be created in my magic eye
From a jukebox and a stack of canvas chairs

But somehow we have failed to come through
The styles are gone to seed, no more parades
There seems to be no talk of me and you
No breath of scandal in these sad arcades

Concerning us there are no fables
No brilliant poems airily discarded
Just liquid circles on formica tables
A silence perhaps too closely guarded

Outside a junkie tries to sell his girl
Her face has just begun to come apart
Look hard and you can see the edges curl
Speed has got her beaten at the start

And what care these two for a broken heart?

The lady's calling Time and she is right
My time has come to find a better way
A surer way to navigate at night
The poetic age has had its day

In midnight voices softer than a dove's
We shall talk superbly of our lost loves


Between us there is nothing

Between us
The streets are swept away
The tablecloth is all the world
The rest is just the passing day
Outside of this are Soho and the far-flung islands
The stripjoints in the alleys and the grainhulks anchored in the bay

Between us
The wristwatch comes to rest
The sunlight's in your hands and eyes
By which the bread and wine are blessed
Away from here are Soho and the green seas in the west
The trainee seagulls contour-flying through the swell's long trough and crest

Between us there is nothing but the shadow
Of the future that will never let us go
To be together
Between us there is nothing but the snowline
Of the country where you will not be mine
Its savage weather

Between us
A wineglass learns to cry
But only we will reach the end
The rest is just a passing-by
Outside of this are Soho and the mangrove deltas
The dustbins in the doorways and the Spanish goldtrails in the sky

Between us there is nothing but a promise
Of the future that will make no place for us
To be together
Between us there is nothing but the condor
And the miles of air towards the valley floor
A falling feather

Between us
There is nothing
Image

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Brother Spoon » 17 Jan 2015, 13:32

Lovely write-up, Mr Wheeling.
I have to admit the songs have me kinda non-plussed.

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 20 Jan 2015, 19:59

Not Part 2 just yet...

fueryhk(redux) wrote:here as best I can remember it is a reconstituted version of my earlier post that got lost...


Good that you are a PA/CJ fan, CW, there are precious few of us on here so their cruelly overlooked and under-rated canon get a mention. As we both lived in Manchester in the early 80s, I am sure we must have breathed the same fug of smoke at the Factory, the Apollo or Manchester Poly back then...

[/i]


Only ever did the Factory once (to see The Pogues). The Poly and International (1 & 2) however were like my second home. I don't think I missed a gig by REM, Jason & The Scorchers, Green on Red, Beat Farmers, Blasters, Replacements, Steve Earle, Rain Parade etc. I also promoted quite a lot of gigs over 15 yrs or so: Joe Ely, Townes, Tom Pacheco, Guy Clark, Steve Young to name a few.

And to get back on track, I'll add that Pete and Clive were up there with any of those guys, albeit in a different style...



By the way, did you see the news of a new album on Pete's site? Here's a couple of his recent posts:


"Hello Ian (and everyone) - No, it's not Songbook Vol.2. It'll be mostly post-Winter Spring songs. Most of them have had at least an outing or two at various gigs, so few will be completely new to absolutely everybody, and I may end up including one or two that have been missed out along the way over the years, but essentially it'll be a new CD. I haven't yet decided on the final list.

And yesterday was just the first session. There'll be at least another for basic rhythm tracks. And yes, there will be other instruments added, not least electric guitar(s), plus self here and there. Not to rule out other possibilities (horns, voices, who knows?), depending on what turns out to seem desirable. Oh yes, and budget."


"Just a small update -- nine or ten of the tracks feature lead guitar from ... wait for it ... the legendary Chris Spedding, who has lost absolutely none of his abilities in all directions. He even uses the SAME Fender amp which he used forty years ago - and not because he can't afford a new one. He's back now living in Brighton having spent twenty nine of the intervening years as a session man in Los Angeles, and you don't do that by mucking about.

I'm currently working on horn arrangements plus charts for the female BVs. Still some vocals for me to work on, but we're pretty well on course to have it all done by Easter or thereabouts for an official release in September.

I'm planning to give it as much of a PR push as I can afford, which will also mean raising my presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., so watch out. I'm also doing my best to generate as decent a gig list as I can, which means contacting venues myself rather than waiting for them to approach me, so if there's anywhere you know of where you think I might reasonably hope for a booking, do please let me know (an IM is probably the easiest way)."



It's probably about time I posted some kind of an update on the new album.

It is now mixed and mastered, the licensing is under way, and the artwork is almost ready, so manufacturing is imminent. Once we have copies, the PR process can begin. If you want coverage (and we do) it is necessary to give editors a decent lead time before official release, a more or less arbitrary but necessary date, which will probably be in early May. I know that sounds a long time away from when I started this process, but it is actually happening.

The album is called THE COLOURS OF THE NIGHT and will be available on CD and download, distributed by Proper and therefore available through all of the usual outlets, including, of course, the Hillside shop. The CD will be in a digipak with a 20-page booklet including all the lyrics and notes on all the songs from Clive and me. The tracks in order are --

1 The Colours of the Night (pka Here We Stay Mk.I)
2 We Will Love Again
3 The Way You Are With Me
4 The Beautiful Changes
5 Time To Burn
6 The Closer Someone Is
7 Slow Down For Me
8 Nothing Can Touch Us Now
9 I Know The Way
10 Cottonmouth
11 You Better Face It, Boy
12 Last Ditch (pka Here We Stay Mk.II)
13 Me To Thank


Very exciting! Great to see Chris Spedding playing with Pete again.
Jordan Peterson.. the best thing on the net...
Anyways, back to the Gulag Archipelago now

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Carlisle Wheeling
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 20 Jan 2015, 20:48

Jordan Peterson.. the best thing on the net...
Anyways, back to the Gulag Archipelago now

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Carlisle Wheeling » 21 Jan 2015, 20:51

Two fine and varied covers...

The dextrous Wizz Jones does justice to Pete and Clive's one "hit", Touch Has A Memory



and not CSN but CBS ( Coope, Boyes & Simpson) with a lovely cover of the more recent and quite moving Hill Of Little Shoes

Jordan Peterson.. the best thing on the net...
Anyways, back to the Gulag Archipelago now

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby fire and fueryIre » 31 Mar 2015, 18:51

New album from Pete A and Clive J due quite soon. Here's the email from Pete A himself

PETE ATKIN NEWSLETTER – MV1501 – March 2015

THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS!

No, not that campaign – this one! Yes, that's right, after years of inactivity the hulking Atkin publicity juggernaut has begun to creak rattle and and rumble forward once again, ponderously building a momentum that will no doubt be unstoppable as the campaign reaches its frenzied peak around the 8th of June, when the world will have unfettered access to ----

THE COLOURS OF THE NIGHT
Hillside CDHILL09


Yes, I have finally stopped mucking about and committed myself. The mixing, the mastering, the artwork, the notes, etc., etc., are done, and the disc exists. The booklet includes all of the lyrics, full personnel for each track, and a new note for each by Clive, with additional notes from me. It will be a few weeks before I can make it generally available, but I shall try to keep you interested with a few teases till then.

The tracks on the album are:
1. The Colours Of The Night
2. We Will Love Again
3. The Way You Are With Me
4. The Beautiful Changes
5. Time To Burn
6. The Closer Someone Is
7. Slow Down For Me
8. Nothing Can Touch Us Now
9. I Know The Way
10. Cottonmouth
11. You Better Face It, Boy
12. Last Ditch
13. Me To Thank

(Tracks 1 and 12 are the different settings of what was originally called 'Here We Stay'.)

I hope you'll like it. There is some fabulous playing, I think, from everybody involved. In fact, it's the most 'fully produced' album I've done since the RCA ones in the seventies. I like to think it's a good sign that my own favourite bits change each time I listen to it. As before – as always, really – it's all but impossible to say what category it fits into, and as before I'll be happiest if it finds its way into 'Rock & Pop' as opposed to any of the more specialist sections of the virtual record stores' racks. I thought of calling myself a writer-songsinger (as opposed to a singer-songwriter) but that's probably just unhelpful, confusing, and a bit poncy.

It's being distributed once again by Proper, so you'll be able to find it through pretty much any or all of the usual sources, online or physical. And this time they're also dealing with the download side of things.

It's been hard to get gigs together, but I'm hoping that if and when the CD gets some coverage, that may become a bit easier. Meanwhile, it looks as if my return to Robb Johnson's Hove Folk Club on Friday June 5th will be the de facto launch event, so do please come if you can and crowd the place out (details as always on www.peteatkin.com).

I'll be making a big effort to get on top of the so-called social media, so please share and re-tweet and whatever in order to help spread the word, specially since it gets increasingly difficult to remember exactly what I've posted where. (I'm newly inspired by Martha Lane-Fox's Dimbleby Lecture. Do make an effort to catch it on iPlayer if you haven't seen it. What a shame we can't vote for her. In fact, she gives the House of Lords a good name all by herself – not a bad trick. She wouldn't want the job, of course, because, as the still-missed Douglas Adams put it, "it is a well known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are ipso fact those least suited to do it," and "anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." I'll leave you for now with that thought.)

All jolly best
Pete
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Pete Atkin

Postby Rayge » 15 Jan 2018, 19:08

bump
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