Issue #22 Extra!: Archives, Collections & Reissues

John Greaves - “Accident”
John Greaves - “Little Bottle of Laundry”
Plus - "The Seven Deadly Sins"
Polite Force - "Canterbury Knights"

John Greaves - "Accident"

(Blueprint, BP234CD, 1982/1997, CD)

John Greaves - "Little Bottle of Laundry"

(Blueprint, BP232CD, 1991/1997, CD)

Two additional albums from John Greaves European catalogue are now available from Voiceprint. “Accident” is his first solo album from 1982 and features literally a bizarre set of songs and arrangements. Peter Blegvad, Greaves longtime lyrical cohort is jointly responsible since the topics covered range from sailors (on “Salt”), to “Milk” and “Silence”. The unsettling title track indicates the remainder of the disc’s bleak thematic development, both sad and lamentable. “Little Bottle of Laundry” stems from 1991 and is the stronger of the two discs compositionally. Plus consistent personnel helps a lot including Pip Pyle and his ex-girlfriend, Sophia Domancich on drums and keys respectively. Blegvad’s lyrics are used in only two instances on the album’s show tune like, “Solitary” and “Le Garcon Vert”. Francois Ovide gives a convincing set of lead guitar phrases across the disc including the opening track and his subtle acoustic world on “The World Tonight”. A few other notable tracks include “Old Antiquity” and “Dedans” with their down-home arrangement offset by fluid soloing from the soprano sax of Alexis Drossos and harmonica. “Lullaby” also contains a great phrase from Domancich on organ and Ovide on electric guitar, which contrasts to National Health’s “Of Queues and Cures” except a bit more vocal. Overall, “... Laundry” favors a solid visitation from fans of Henry Cow, while “Accident” stands as the most disturbing and less approachable of the two. Regardless, both are worth your effort to track down and analyze. - Jeff Melton

Plus - "The Seven Deadly Sins"

(Free Records FR 9903, 1969/1999, CD)

One look at the cover and it should be clear that producers Simon Napier Bell and Ray Singer (who also penned about six of the tracks here) were trying to capitalize on the look and feel of Jesus Christ Superstar with this concept album that is laid out like a Catholic mass. The only musicians credited are Tony Newman (g), Max Simms (b), and Mike Newman (d); there’s also vocalists (an entire choir on a couple tracks), piano, organ, violins, cellos and much more – which naturally leads one to believe this is more an album by the two producers, than that of the “band”, although the Newman brothers are credited with writing the remaining five songs. So what’s it all about? Imagine an eclectic mix of sixties styled rock and pop songs (early Who or pre-psychedelic Beatles might be a fair comparison) separated by short dissonant string quartet interludes, short spoken introductions, with some classical rips (the “Toccata” with the choir singing the names of the sins over and over is quite ridiculous, as is the silly doo-wop meets Elvis “Dismissal”, but the bombastic “Devil’s Hymn” for choir and band is quite cool, with its jazzy center section). The meat of the album is in the songs though, all of which sound a little dated (even by 1969 standards) but are still quite good. From the poppy “Envy: I’m Talking as a Friend” and “Pride”, to the out-and-out rockers “Sloth: Open Up Your Eyes” and “Gluttony: Something is Threatening Your Family”, the song-craftsmanship and arrangements throughout are at a very high level. Probably not for everyone, but those into sixties styled eclecticism might do well to check it out. - Peter Thelen

Polite Force - "Canterbury Knights"

(Voiceprint, VP187CD, 1996, CD)

Mark Hewins’s longtime jamming project released a disc in 1996 after many years of existence in local obscurity. The band had a floating set of players as wide ranging as Richard Sinclair and Andy Latimer (both Camel members circa 1978) as well as Jan Schelhaas and Geoff Richardson (from Caravan). Included were the likes of Dave Sinclair on keys (mainstay Caravan keyboardist) and Graham Flight on bass (from 1960’s legends the Wilde Flowers). The musical slant is more-or-less straight ahead lounge style loose improvisation, which permeated the Canterbury club scene between 1976-1977. D. Sinclair is the player who seems most at home in this environment; his electric piano on “Childsplay” and “Solitude” emphasize the earlier period of his tenure with his main band from Kent. Tenor saxist, Max Metto is the main soloist on the twelve tracks while Geoff Corner’s alto carries “Arabadnaz” and “Extension” from 1977. Hewins acts as archivist and semi-leader of this unit with his anecdotal stories proliferating the Musarts website ( We get to hear him step out a bit on “They Shoot Indians (In Brazil)” with a great fuzz tone reminiscent of Phil Miller’s. “Hey Diddle” is probably the most bop-Canteresque of the pieces and my favorite on the disc. Overall this is a nice slice of an unknown musical entity that although is low key, adds an enjoyable perspective on the English town doings. - Jeff Melton