Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Books: LIN CARTER at World's End



LIN CARTER: 
 ANOTHER WARRIOR 
OF WORLD’S END

When does the fan move on and become the originator? 
 Sometimes it never happens. Sometimes there’s a partial evolution 
 that hints at a promise of more. Based on such Sword & Sorcery 
 epics as ‘Jandar Of Callisto’, LIN CARTER’s reputation is 
considered by many to be too derivative of earlier role models. 
 Andrew Darlington asks whether 
 ‘THE WARRIOR AT WORLD’S END’ (Daw Books, 1974) – the first 
instalment of his ‘Gondwane Silvermane’ cycle, is different? 


‘The world is filled with strange things 
 here in the Last Days, in the Twilight Of Time’ 


Lin Carter is a curious writer. And one that I’ve only sporadically enjoyed. He’s a fan. Rather than innovate he replicates the fantasy-buzz that first fired his youthful imagination. All writers start out that way. Most evolve from imitation to invent themselves into their own creation. It’s arguable that Lin Carter never did. He remained a fan throughout his life. His extensive body of fiction is Lin Carter, but it is also an adjunct, an extension, a spin-off from those who’d come before.

Even while he lived, Edgar Rice Burroughs had imitators. Otis Adelbert Kline was one of many who invented their own lesser ‘John Carter on Barsoom’-variants. Then John Norman amplified its sublimated sexual content for his ‘Gor’ porn-world cycle. Both Leigh Brackett and Michael Moorcock used the template Burroughs provided, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes richly and powerfully imaginatively took it to places way beyond Burroughs own limited vision and writing skills.

Lin Carter’s ‘Jandar Of Callisto’ novel-series inhabits the Burroughs continuum completely, with all its enjoyably escapist, if predictably repetitive ingredients re-mixed. Imitating the Burroughs framing-sequence in which he claims not to write the Barsoom novels – merely edits John Carter’s tales, so Lin Carter claims not to write, but merely edit the saga of Jonathan Dark who falls through a well in the ancient Cambodian city of Arangkhôr to emerge in the jungles of Jupiter’s moon. ‘In The Land Of A Thousand Foes’ he’s captured and escapes from the insectoid Yathoon, rescues the beautiful Princess Darloona who is exiled from her exotic city of Shondakar by the evil Black Legion, and leads a rebellion against the ‘Sky Pirates’ of Zanadar. In other words, for those who enjoy Burroughs, and simply want more of the same, they’ll not be disappointed. But the eight novels seldom if ever rise above or beyond his model. Lin Carter remains a fan.

Yet his ‘Gondwane’ epic is different, by degrees. In ‘The Warrior Of World’s End’ (Daw, 1974) Carter still colonises worlds conjured into being by other writers. But this time he’s side-stepped into the realms of Clark Ashton Smith’s ‘Zothique’ mythos and Jack Vance’s ‘Dying Earth’ series. There are also echoes of John Brunner’s “Earth Is But A Star” 1959 novelette (expanded into his ‘Catch A Falling Star’ novel, 1968), and Michael Moorcock’s exotic ‘Dancers At The End Of Time’ trilogy (from 1972 to 1981). Set in the ‘untold ages of dim futurity’ when the ageing Sun is dimming, there’s all the eccentric richness of Ashton Smith’s poetic fantasies. These are the ‘Last Days’, when the ‘Moon is falling, falling’, a harbinger of a time when ‘the Earth shall be man’s habitation no more’ and the ‘great night that shall enfold all, and naught but the cold stars reign.’




There’s a crudely-sketched map of Gondwane, Earth’s last supercontinent in this ‘Twilight Of Time’, which – like primeval Pangaea, is the planet’s single landmass. It’s a mythical world of strange True Men and unhuman tribes, divided up into ‘kingdoms, empires, city-states, federations, theocracies, tyrannies, conglomerates, unions, principates and various degenerate savage barbarian or nonhuman hordes.’ The timescapes beyond the ‘Eon Of The Falling Moon’ are vast, across 700,000,000-years with empires and civilisations lost to history receding into legend, leaving dead cities, ruins and relics of past cultures to litter the world. And it’s not so much that there is magic or wizards, more that people look back on a time ‘when there was such a thing as science.’ For the laws of physics themselves have become peculiar and inconsistent, ‘but remember’ as Carter’s footnote cautions ‘in seven hundred million years the Laws of Nature have undergone change and alteration,’ in which all constants have ‘been passing through a state of flux, reversal and alteration.’

Ganelon Silvermane is first discovered wandering naked in the blue rain, by Phlesco, an itinerant Godmaker periaptist, and Iminix, his psuedowoman wife as they journey towards the Realm of the Nine Hegemons, north of the Crystal Mountains. They ride ornithohippus bird-horses as ‘evolution had continued its subtle, invisible surgery amid the gene-pool of Terrene life-forms, and many new races of beasts as well as sentient humanoids had arisen.’ These other forms include halfmen, Deathdwarfs, Stone Heads and Green Wraiths. Initially assumed to be a lumbering mindless lout, the kindly couple take the giant to the city of Zermish to cater to his needs. The city, dating back only thirty-two thousand years, was considered rather youngish, according to the expectations of the time. It is here that Magister Narelon the Illusionist – alerted by the haruspex Slunth, first suspects Ganelon’s true identity. That he is both two-hundred million years old, and yet was barely seven hours alive at the time of his discovery.

Born 9 June 1930, in St Petersburg, Florida, Linwood Vrooman Carter became an early, regular and enthusiastic contributor to the letters-page of ‘Startling Stories’ (first in the Winter 1943-4 edition) and ‘Thrilling Wonder Stories’ (from December 1946). He was active in fan magazines with poems, book reviews and fiction – his first story, “The Castle Beyond The World” was in the Winter 1950 ‘The Fanscient no.10’, and the Lovecraftian “Slitherer From The Slime” in ‘Inside SF’ (September 1958). Later, his ‘Worlds Of If’ column – from April 1966 was descriptively headed ‘Our Man In Fandom’. He graduated into the pro field by completing a number of Robert E Howard unfinished drafts to produce new ‘Conan’ stories, starting with “The Thing In The Crypt” and “The City Of Skulls” in collaboration with L Sprague de Camp, which were included in the ‘Conan’ (1967, Lancer Books) anthology. As an essentially imitative writer in thrall to the genre, he was ideal for such a project. And there are echoes of ‘Conan’ in Ganelon when he’s described as being ‘like some savage giant from Time’s Dawn’, with reference to his ‘gigantic thews’.

His less convincing forays into straight Space Opera include ‘The Great Imperium’ trilogy commencing with ‘The Man Without A Planet’ (1966), although he’s more at home with Sword and Sorcery fantasies such as his ‘Thongor’ series, beginning with ‘The Wizard Of Lemuria’ (Ace, 1965). In a ‘New Worlds’ review of ‘Thongor Of Lemuria’ James Cawthorn is predictably scathing, calling it ‘ill-written and overly derivative’ (no.165, August 1965). Later, he also adopted the ‘Doc Savage’ style for his ‘Zarkon’ novels ‘Invisible Death’ (1975) and ‘The Nemesis Of Evil’ (1975). While he was contributing actively within the genre by compiling the ‘Flashing Swords’ anthologies (five volumes 1973 to 1981) and editing for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. But when does the fan move on and become the originator? Sometimes it never happens. Sometimes there’s a partial evolution that hints at a promise of more. On this basis, his Gondwane mythos might just be his most original creation.

There’s a thread of playful humour about his Ganelon tale, one entirely in character with the whimsical and fin de siècle capriciousness of the age he’s conjectured. ‘Each of the Hegemons who ruled Zermish were virtually the same personage, for the sperm plasm of the First Zermetic Hegemon – Argelibichus the Perpetual, was still preserved in an Eternity Tank, and from this original ancestral sampling the wife of each regnant Hegemon in turn was ritually impregnated with a ceremonial catheter of stain-resisting platinum.’ The latest Hegemon is tactfully absent when a migrating herd of brutish Indigons attack and threaten to inundate the city, ‘the palace issued a statement to the effect that the gods had seen fit to visit him with a sick headache. Nonetheless, he conveyed his heartiest wishes for the successful battle to (Warchieftain) Urukush and his subchieftains, and promised them state funerals.’ Urukush proves equally cowardly. But ‘there was no use crying over spilled blood, until it was actually spilled.’ It’s during the ensuing battle that Ganelon’s warrior skills first become apparent.



Ganelon, it seems, is a ‘Construct’. In a plot-device not dissimilar to Isaac Asimov’s Hari Seldon Psychohistory future-projections, a long-extinct race called the Time Gods had predicted a series of crises that would menace the world, and had created the Ardelix Time Vault of heroes preserved in a state of suspended animation to be awakened in order to resolve each crisis as it occurs. Ganelon has been accidentally wakened by earth-tremors, but what is the nature of the crisis he was designed and constructed to resolve? Meanwhile, word of his triumph over the Indigons attracts the manipulative attentions of the ‘voluptuous and virginal’ Queen Of Red Magic who is a being entirely of red – ‘she had red hair, skin, eyes and even teeth.’ She ‘loathed the bluish colouring of the Indigons, it did so clash with her hair.’ To avoid her predatory attentions, Narelon the Illusionist spirits Ganelon away to his fortress in the Crystal Mountains, in a steel-strong glass bubble called a nembalim, his foster-mother Iminix ludicrously bidding him farewell with ‘remember to dress warm and wear your galoshes when it rains’!

And there are some wonderfully idiosyncratic adventures to come. Activating a quaint bronze Bazonga bird constructed by a dead alchemist, there’s a tetchy exchange with its awakening sentience over what its name is to be. ‘Do you think I intend going through life being referred to as ‘Hey you!’ or ‘Birdie’?’ it protests. Then another nervous automaton complains of ‘rust in my knee-joint’ to avoid a test-flight in the unwieldy flying contraption, which is impregnated with anti-gravity yxium particles. The ensuing voyage takes Ganelon and Narelon into an alliance with the Sirix Xarda of Jemmerdy – her topless semi-nudity a matter of no great consequence, into slavery in the Air Mines (a frozen comet-head impacted deep beneath the surface), and a struggle against the Airmasters of the Sky Island who control the vacuum-bubble Death Zone weapon. When Xarda discovers ‘her lovely longsword, dirk, poniard, and small ax were missing. A pity, she thought, for they had been a perfectly matched set, and a bargain at that.’ Absurdly inventive, the novel climaxes in a mighty battle on the land suspended miles high in the air, beneath the vast orb of the falling Moon.

Expanded from a single original novel – ‘Giant Of World’s End’ (1969), which Carter developed into a series, the books that follow are of variable quality. But they’re all relatively short and effortlessly readable. Lin Carter is a curious writer, one I’ve only sporadically enjoyed. He’s a fan. And arguably never evolved far beyond that status. But ‘The Warrior At World’s End’ is among his very best.


‘What did it matter, after all, how life would end? 
It would end in one way or another; all things which 
had beginnings also had endings. And, whether 
Old Earth froze or melted, an ending was an ending 
and one way was as good as another. He would 
 not be here to learn how the story of man ended…’


 LIN CARTER: 
THE GONDWANE EPIC 

‘GIANT OF WORLD’S END’ (Belmont Swords & Sorcery, February 1969) 144pp, Jeff Jones cover-art. Intended as a stand-alone novel, it’s not strictly part of the cycle. Ganelon Silvermane and Zolobion the Magician journey from the land of the great Stone Face on a series of adventures. ‘Could the combined powers of the wizard and the warrior halt the Doom that filled the skies?’

‘THE WARRIOR AT WORLD’S END’ (DAW Books, November 1974) 160pp, Vincent DiFate cover-art, includes map by Lin Carter, and ‘Glossary Of Unfamiliar Names And Terms’. First of the series-proper, expanded from the original idea

‘THE ENCHANTRESS OF WORLD’S END’ (DAW Books, May 1975) 192pp, Michael Whelan cover-art, includes ‘Gondwane’ map by Lin Carter. Ganelon and the Scarlet Enchantress

‘THE IMMORTAL OF WORLD’S END’ (DAW Books, September1976) 160pp, Michael Whelan cover-art. Includes ‘Glossary Of Places Mentioned In The Text’. A decaying island-city slipping into the water, but projecting an illusion of its former glory

‘THE BARBARIAN OF WORLD’S END’ (DAW Books, May 1977) 188pp, John Bierley cover-art. Ganelon offers himself as hostage to the barbarian Ximchak Horde, and rises to become its leader, taking them beyond the glass-walled Triple City to the Marvellous Mountains carved into gigantic friezes

‘THE PIRATES OF WORLD’S END’ (DAW Books, October1978) 173pp, Richard Hescox cover-art

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Poem: 'In Praise Of False Madonna's'




IN PRAISE OF 
FALSE MADONNA’S 



Dear Claire Rayner
am I normal?

I find myself in a constant
state of involuntary erection,
it causes acute embarrassment and
spoils the lines of my Designer Jeans

things that trigger this arousal include
girls who don’t wear bra’s
and girls who do,
girls who leave lipstick rings
around the base of cigarettes…

I’m affected by the
shape of tall buildings,
and by the throb and tremble
of Toyota exhausts,
I love the way sodium streetlights
turn the world to pale flesh

Dear Claire, am I normal?

I stand on the ripples on concrete to
watch Maestro’s and Fiat’s slide
smoothly into the Leeds Urban Underpass
I get horny for
in-store promotional videos
for tights and shower fittings,
I’m 50, wretched and desperate,
I’m looking for Poetry Groupies,
Woman is an alien species

help me Claire, am I normal?

I’m aroused by Thatcher’s speeches
when her lips almost brush
the tip of the microphone,
I love Reader’s Wives,
the TV QUICK Problem Page,
the smell of burning rubber,
inoculations with shiny needles,
computer schematics of pistons in motion,
The Spice Girls, exploding Mill chimneys,
Medical Journals, Nuns,
missile launches and Mo Mowlam

Lily Savage makes me impotent

Am I normal?

                            - Dandy Arlington (Mr)



Published in:
‘YOUR FRIENDLY FASCIST no.24’ (Australia - Sept 1985)
‘A DOCTOR’S DILEMMA no.2’ (UK - March 1987)
‘CHARNEL HOUSE No.2: HALLOWEEN SPECIAL’ (UK - Nov 1998)
and on:
‘NINETY-NINETY: NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL: C60 Compilation’
(UK Cassette - May 1990)

Friday, 25 July 2014

Music Interview: DEEP PURPLE: Jon Lord 1993



DEEP PURPLE: 
THE BATTLE RAGES 
ON … AND ON… AND ON… 


The Fathers of Heavy Metal? – 
‘THAT CHILD IS NOT MINE!’ roars Jon Lord
 who played keyboard through twenty-five years of 
Deep Purple splits, reformations, recriminations and tears. 
Now he’s got a new album and tour re-uniting the classic 
‘Deep Purple In Rock’ formation to talk up, with 
side-swipes at Metallica, the David Coverdale/Jimmy Page 
album, and just why Coverdale’s sexually explicit 
lyrics made Lord ‘a tad embarrassed’. A 1993 interview




‘This will be my last time in a band…’ 
           (Jon Lord in ‘Melody Maker’ 5 May 1979)


‘Did I say that? The awful thing about being in bands is that guys like you can throw back at me things that I said ten years ago… or fourteen years ago in this case!’

Deep Purple are back on the road, with new product to promote – a CD called ‘The Battle Rages On’ (July 1993), their fourteenth studio album, and one that’s marketed through the unique selling point of a ‘Twenty-Fifth Anniversary’ logo. ‘Yes, it’s funny really’ muses Jon Lord (then aged 52). ‘It’s just sneaked up on us. It seems like three minutes ago that we were playing the City Hall, Sheffield in 1975. It’s rather frightening. Yes… twenty-five years…’

He reels off potential venues, ‘two or three in London, two nights at the Manchester Apollo, Birmingham NEC, I don’t think the tour’s absolutely written in stone yet, but you know, the usual places.’ To Jon Lord this is usual. Deep Purple play the Birmingham NEC like you or I go down the Lounge Bar in the City Centre. Jon Lord was in Deep Purple before ITV’s first colour transmissions, before Neil Armstrong took his first small step onto the surface of the Moon, and while the original ‘Star Trek’ episodes were being screened for the first time. Deep Purple’s debut gig – in Taastrup, Denmark (20 April 1968), took place just sixteen days after Martin Luther King’s assassination. The Beatles were still a band, Jack Kerouac and Jim Morrison were still alive, and I was still trying to lose my virginity. Probably you weren’t even born yet!

In a Pop Soap Opera world of fleeting ‘Eldorado’s, Deep Purple are Rock ‘n’ Roll’s never-ending ‘Coronation Street’. Jokes about trading in their psychedelics, debauchery and volume in favour of Phyllosan (which ‘fortifies the over-Forties’), Grecian 2000 and tinnitus are as predictably regurgitated as a vindaloo after too many lagers, but they’re still capable of inflicting a killer set. Jon Lord is a founder member of these pioneers of the dubious art of recycled riffology, he’s the guy on the Hammond organ, the guy – in all those yellowing 1970’s press-cutting photos, with the long dark hair and droopy moustache.

And yes, after all the turbulence, splits, personnel changes and reformations, this time Deep Purple is back to its twenty-four carat classic 1970 Purple Mark: 2 ‘…In Rock’ formation – Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (organ), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums). And Blackmore’s guitar range remains as impressive as ever, from the arrogant swagger of “One Man’s Meat” to a fleet-fingered flamenco intro that kicks off the epic 6:31-minute “Anya”, written five-handed. Elsewhere, “A Twist in the Tale” hits the same kind of intensity as vintage “Highway Star” – with Lord’s standout Hammond C3 organ solo.

‘“The Battle Rages On” is the album’s (hard-driving) title track, and some would say, the way our band has been running, it’s a well-chosen title.’ Lord jokes defensively, in a matey practiced interview technique. ‘Basically, this is the band that it should always be. It’s easy to look back with hindsight and say you shouldn’t have done this and you shouldn’t have done that. But I just wish that this line-up had never drifted apart and that we’d stuck together. Life would have been so much easier. But still, life wasn’t meant to be that easy. When we get together there’s no problems. That’s not the problem. The problem is when we’re apart. Once we’re together and working, it’s pretty good. There’s too many good times stored up between the five of us to let it just drift apart in acrimony. That would be wrong. I’m really glad to see it back together again.’

But surely, looking back across twenty-five years of Deep Purple history, is it possible to still get a buzz from playing? ‘From recording – yes. A qualified ‘yes’. But on stage – an unqualified yes. That’s the way it happens for me. That two hours on stage. That’s still without peer in my life. That’s the brilliant moment. Playing is the highlight. I find the studio a little more tiresome, always have. I’ve never been a great studio musician. I don’t mind if it can be done as quickly as possible, that’s OK. But to go over and over and over something, constantly searching for some kind of meaningless perfection, that drives me to distraction. We recorded the new album’s backing tracks last summer. Then halfway through the recording we decided it had to be Ian Gillan on vocals again. He should never have left. But you know what we’re like. So he came back in the autumn and we spent the remainder of that year and the first part of this year writing lyrics. The vocals were recorded in February in Florida (in Greg Rike Studios, Orlando) and that’s it – the baby is christened, and ready to bring joy into the world!’




But what about the other Purple graduates scattered across the subsequent years, those not included in the reunion? David Coverdale – for example, and his current album collaboration with Jimmy Page, ‘Coverdale*Page’ (Geffen Records, March 1993)? Has Jon heard it? ‘Yes I have. I’ve always made it a practise to try not to criticise other musicians too strongly, you know. Nobody tries to make a bad album. But I must say that I was disappointed with the Coverdale-Page album. I played it, and I’m going ‘COME ON! GRAB ME!! GET ME!!!’ And it never quite did. I mean, there’s some wonderful moments. Jimmy is a great guitarist. But I didn’t feel that it really caught fire. The guy who was going to mix our album was doing the engineering and producing for them (Mike ‘Fraze’ Fraser). So little bits and pieces filtered back to me. That it was taking longer than expected, and so on and so on. And as I say, I was a little disappointed with the end result. There are a couple of moments when my hair stood on end, the goose-bumps moments, you know? But David sounds like his voice needs a rest on some of the tracks. He sounds very very hoarse. Maybe he should take some of the money he earned on that huge ‘Whitesnake’ (1987) album, and just lay back for a while…’




--- 0 --- 
‘We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven…’ 
 (Jon Lord in ‘New Musical Express’ March 1973) 

To me, Deep Purple were never a class act. In Olympic terms, as a Rock band, they always seemed one steroid short of the Gold Medal. But they are the Mount Rushmore of Heavy Rock.

If you were at school in 1972 and Captain Beefheart or Led Zeppelin are too difficult or just too plain weird, then a Deep Purple album looks good with your tie-dye ‘T’-shirt and loon-pants. They have the added Pop bonus of solid metal charts hits, ideal for miming air-guitar to – “Black Night” (no.2 in August 1970), “Strange Kind Of Woman” (no.8 in February 1971) and “Fireball” (no.15 in November 1971), so you got to see them on ‘Top Of The Pops’ too. You know those hits, they’re lodged in your subconscious. Vic Reeves mined the vogue for tacky 1970’s revamps by covering “Black Night” on his ‘I Will Cure You’ (Island, 1991) album. Human League’s Phil Oakey was an accessory – producing the track in a passable tribute to the Purple template. If you had long permed hair and were in a ‘Progressive’ Rock band in 1974 but couldn’t play the tricky bits like Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, you could always bash out a passable “Smoke On The Water”. Hell, everyone did it. Some people still are.

‘Deep Purple In Rock’ (Harvest, June 1970) is still – for many, the classic benchmark statement. ‘It’s one of those benchmark albums isn’t it, for that time’ Jon agrees. ‘That – along with ‘Led Zeppelin II’ I suppose, and perhaps a couple of others, they sort of define the early Seventies, don’t they? I’m very proud of that album. I mean, it was white-hot. There were no harsh problems with that album at all, it just fell out of the band. Like “Highway Star” was written in five minutes on a bus, in the back of a bus going down to Plymouth. It was really a wonderful, lyrical, marvellous time.’ “Highway Star” is on ‘Machine Head’ (Purple Records, March 1972), and not ‘…In Rock’ – but with the same line-up. Yet there was more to Deep Purple than just turgid riffs. Lord prefers the term Rock ‘n’ Roll to describe what they do, as distinct from ‘Heavy Metal’ anyway. Although he’d probably settle for Hard Rock.

And they have track records extending back into the Sixties, that even now – to neatly coincide with the quarter-century merchandising hoopla, are being reissued on CD’s with enticing group names like The Outlaws ‘Ride Again: The Singles A’s And B’s’ (See For Miles 1990, featuring Ritchie Blackmore), Episode Six ‘The Complete Episode Six: The Roots Of Deep Purple’ (Sequel Records, 1991, featuring Ian Gillan and Roger Glover), and the Artwoods ‘100 Oxford Street’ (Edsel, 1983, featuring Jon Lord). ‘Yes, I understand these things are coming out. Good Lord, the things they do to the poor unsuspecting public. It’s really strange to have your professional life come out again for scrutiny on CD in this way.’

John Douglas ‘Jon’ Lord even played back-up with cabaret instant-Hippies the Flowerpot Men. ‘I try to keep that out of my CV’ he laughs. ‘“Let’s Go To San Francisco” (no.4 in August 1967) was never one of my favourite songs.’ It was soon after this – March 1968, that he linked with Ian Paice and Ritchie Blackmore – with Rod Evans and Nick Simper, to co-found the first Deep Purple line-up. ‘I got a very strong grounding in Rock ‘n’ Roll when I started to play with Ritchie. So I was very lucky, because I have quite a few influences to play with.’

‘Deep Purple In Rock’ remains Jon’s favourite, ‘either that – or maybe ‘Made In Japan’ (1972), because that’s the band playing absolutely on the top of its form. I don’t think I’ve ever played as well as I did on those nights in Japan. I listen back and I think ‘christ, is that me?’ Excuse me immodesty, but it’s tough to choose a favourite album ‘cos I love ‘em all. They’re all great. There’s bits on every single one of them that encapsulates a certain time of my life for me. I’m very proud of the things we’ve done. I’ve had a great career. I’ve been very lucky.’




The Deep Purple split came in July 1976, and until the first reformation in November 1984 Jon Lord played as part of David Coverdale’s Whitesnake. ‘A great fun band. We were playing in the middle of a time when everyone was out buying Punk, and what were they called… the New Romantics or something? All those kinds of early Midge Ure kind of bands. And right there in the grip of the teeth of that, we were the top-selling concert-ticket band in Europe. And we were playing a sort of modern R&B!’

The second Whitesnake album – ‘Lovehunter’ (UA, October 1979), came packaged in Chris Achilleos’ lurid sleeve-art portraying a naked woman straddling a hugely phallic serpent, the kind of Neolithic sexual imagery suddenly shoved into even sharper caricature by the prevailing anti-sexist mood of the New Wave. Imagery matched by its explicit lyrics. ‘David’s lyrics? Yes – he liked to write that way, didn’t he? I must admit the rest of the band used to be a little worried about David’s lyrics’ he chortles. ‘We felt like saying ‘can’t you… you know’? Occasionally he wrote some wonderful glorious Rock ‘n’ Roll poetry, which he got into some of his songs. Not great poetry – you understand, but great Rock ‘n’ Roll poetry. I mean, the opening lines of “Here I Go Again”, they are great – ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I sure know where I’ve been’, that’s a classic opening line. So I have a lot of time for his ability as a writer, except when he used to get into that “Slide It In” double-entendre sex bit (title-track of Whitesnake’s sixth studio album, ‘Slide It In’, 1984). David’s double-entendres were more like SINGLE entendres!’

But Heavy Metal itself can be seen as a ham-fisted clichéd stylised style populated by more living dinosaurian relics than Jurassic Park, yet even here – over Purple’s quarter-century lifespan, there’s been radical evolutions in various directions, Death-Metal, Speed-Metal, Thrash, Pop-Metal. What does Metal-veteran Jon make of Deep Purple’s contemporary opposition? ‘I hear some good things. I hear some things that make me cringe. But that’s the same with any music isn’t it? I can’t possibly make a sweeping statement and say ‘I like that kind of music’ without any reservations. I went to see Metallica last year, they’re supposed to be one of the credible bands. And they’re brilliant… at what they do. I met the guys and they were very pleasant. They played a superb show and they did a couple of Purple numbers as a tribute to us, which was very nice. Superb stuff. But it’s not… it’s not… it’s not what I would choose to go and listen to. If you want high-power stadium Heavy Metal they’re very exciting. But at the same time, I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool fan.’

So what’s it like to be described as the inventor of all this global metal mayhem? ‘Someone once said to me ‘your band are the Fathers of Heavy Metal’’ he relates with evident amusement. ‘And I said ‘THAT CHILD IS NOT MINE!!!’’

--- 0 ---

In keeping with Deep Purple’s turbulent history, and with the title of the reunion album ‘The Battle Rages On’, after the ‘Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Tour’ had played the Manchester Ardwick Apollo, the Brixton Academy, and Birmingham’s NEC, Ritchie Blackmore quit the group during the 17 November 1993 show at the Helsinki Jäähalli Icehall, never to return. He was replaced for the rest of the tour by Joe Satriani. Jon Lord himself eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002. He died 16 July 2012.



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bram Stoker: 'THE LURE OF THE WHITE WORM'


BRAM STOKER: 
 LURE OF THE WHITE WORM

Ken Russell’s 1988 movie explodes Bram Stoker’s 
‘THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM’ into gore, splatter, 
nudity, sensationalism, and massive phallic allusions. 
Dublin-born Stoker also created one of the twentieth-century’s 
most persistent mythologies in his earlier novel ‘DRACULA’
In this exploration Andrew Darlington suggests that both 
works were born out of Stoker’s perverse and repressed 
sexual problems – and that this time Ken Russell’s 
visual overkill has perhaps got it more to rights!




 ‘…an affair of ghastly mystery which has no bottom and no end – 
 with forces of the most unnerving kind, which had their origins 
 in an age when the world was different from the world which 
 we know. We are going back to the origin of superstition – 
 to an age when dragons tore each other in their slime. 
We must fear nothing – no conclusion, however 
 improbable, almost impossible it may be…’ 
 (Bram Stoker, ‘The Lair Of The White Worm’, 1911) 


Ken Russell’s ‘The Lair Of The White Worm’ (1988) is a movie, DVD, download. It is gore, splatter, nudity, sensationalism, and massive phallic allusion. All the things Russell is most reviled for camping into absurdity. Yet perhaps this time he’s got it more to rights. The screenplay is drawn from Bram Stoker’s last novel of the weird, written the year before his death, and fourteen years after he’d published his most enduring fantasy – ‘Dracula’ (1897). And it’s these two novels in particular that Stoker’s biographer (and great-nephew) Daniel Farson singles out as evidence of a twisted sexual symbolism wriggling through his work, fetishisms of which Stoker himself was unaware.

The writer’s wife – Florence, was frigid. And he died of Locomotor Ataxia, one of the tertiary stages of syphilis. To Farson, these facts suggest a haunting guilt complex derived from pathologically suppressed desires, an attraction/repulsion duality in Stoker’s attitudes to his own natural, but frustrated libidinous urges. A disturbing inner conflict charged with perverted erotic potential, all wrapped up in a swirling cloak of suffocating Victorian morality…

Draw your own conclusions.

The theory is reinforced by the disclosure that Stoker was an ardent advocate of press censorship, externalising his own struggle to screw down those instincts within himself he found ‘both thrilling and repulsive’. He wrote revealingly (in ‘The Nineteenth Century’ magazine, 1908) that ‘the only emotions which in the long run harm, are those arising from sex impulses.’ Therefore, it could be argued that the porn-lite content that Ken Russell explodes into visually garish flash-frames is merely a libidinous content which Stoker himself circles warily, but is nevertheless there, investing the prose with its intense subliminal lure, its forbiddingly dark undercurrents. But if the worm of the title is a huge white rippling amputated penis of primal power, and if vampirism in an exercise in S/M sado-erotic power-play, then the writing itself seldom admits to more than veiled suggestions.




Lady Arabella of Diana’s Grove, asquat the bottomless shaft of the worm is ‘clad in some kind of soft white stuff, which clung close to her form, showing to the full every movement of her sinuous figure.’ Hardly torrid stuff. Yet shrieking for its expression. So that when Lady Arabella – who is herself the shape-changing worm, muses ‘she must lure him to the White Worm’s hole’ there’s perhaps more than just an unconscious Freudian double entendre there? Even Freud himself concurs, opining that a ‘morbid dream always signifies repressed desire.’

The duality is more vividly displayed in ‘Dracula’ when Stoker’s protagonist, Jonathan Harker, is assailed by three female vampires, and he experiences ‘some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips… there was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive.’ Compare that passage to one from ‘The Lair Of The White Worm’ in which Arabella ‘tore off her clothes with feverish fingers and in full enjoyment of her natural freedom, stretching her slim figure in animal delight. Then she lay down on the sofa – to await her victim.’ In both cases the male target of female sexuality is not lover – but victim! The image of woman is as a strange and terrible predator, and to submit to the desires they enflame is to invite destruction. Sex is deadlier than AIDS.

Just as he drew on earlier sources for Dracula, Stoker was also using an already familiar theme when he created ‘The Lair Of The White Worm’. In the novel he charts its derivation, ‘in the dawn of the language, the word ‘worm’ had a somewhat different meaning from that in use today. It was an adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Wyrm’ meaning a dragon or snake; or from the Gothic ‘Waurms’, a serpent; or the Icelandic ‘Ormur’, or the German ‘wurm’…’ He goes on to quote Indian legend. While other references can be traced back through Oroubus, the Lambton worm, the Spindleston Hough and Whitby worms, and forward to Robert E Howard’s powerful antediluvian fantasy “The Valley Of The Worm” (in ‘Weird Tales’, February 1934). Hence Stoker worked within, and contributed to, myth-symbols of the universal shared unconscious. And if his sexual hang-ups give these Jungian archetypes their power, then the success of those images must relate to the kinks in us all…


Bram Stoker

Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, north of Dublin Bay, the third of a brood of seven children sired by a low-paid government clerk. He was a sickly kid who conquered his early weakness to become a flamboyant red-bearded giant of a man, a fine all-round athlete who poet Walt Whitman was moved to describe as ‘a breath of good healthy breezy sea air.’ He graduated from Dublin University and drifted, for want of a clear alternative, into his father’s lifestyle. He rose to the post of Registrar of Petty Sessions in the Chief Secretary’s Office in the Dublin Castle civil service, where he was restless and bored, expending his voracious energies into spare-time projects. He became unpaid theatre critic, and edited a new Dublin newspaper. He also served a literary apprenticeship by churning out a series of pulp ‘cliff-hangers’. His release from frustrating government service didn’t come until 1878. In that year he married Florence Balcombe – whose previous admirers had included Oscar Wilde, and simultaneously he quit job, pension – and the dreary Dublin of George Bernard Shaw and Wilde for the wider horizons of London.

He joined tragedian Henry Irving – the Larry Olivier of his day, as the actor-manager’s deputy, business and touring manager. Their unique association lasted until the actor’s death in 1905, a period retrospected by Stoker’s worms-eye view ‘Reminiscences Of Henry Irving’ (1906). Despite the birth of one son (Noel), sexual relations with Florence didn’t survive far into a marriage that rapidly devolved into a mere formal domestic arrangement. Stoker’s passions were instead entirely devoted to promoting a client he saw through the eyes of near hero-worship. He even confessed to becoming hysterically overcome by the intensity of Irving’s rendition of Thomas Hood’s tragic poem “The Dream Of Eugene Aram”, and he jealously guarded the exclusivity of their relationship. Yet through the Pop star period of Irving’s peak years (with the legendary Ellen Terry) at the Lyceum Theatre, the genial Stoker – who managed productions and international tours, also found time to produce eleven novels! His themes spread across a wide spectrum, from children’s stories and highly sentimental romances to the archetypal Gothic horror classics he’s remembered for – if only through Late Night TV Horror reruns.



‘Dracula’ appeared in 1897, Irving disloyally trashing the novel as simply ‘dreadful’. Stoker claimed he wrote it after an indigestion overdose from eating a surfeit of crab. Others have interpreted it as a novel about the fear of syphilis. Once bitten – forever smitten! It’s also about sexual dominance and submission. ‘A summary of the book’ declared ‘The Bookman’ ‘would shock and disgust.’ ‘It is horrid and creepy to the last degree’ agreed ‘The Pall Mall Gazette’. Whatever – it hit a vein in the dark side of the collective psyche that’s been transfused into the mainstream of twentieth-century mythology.

Stoker would have been familiar with pre-existing vampire lore, perhaps even connecting it to the Irish blood-sucking demon known in Gaelic as ‘Dearg-dul’ or ‘Dragdul’. And he’d have read vampirism’s literary antecedents, in particular “The Vampyre” (1819), a short story concerning the menacing Lord Ruthven. Originally the tale was attributed to Lord Byron, a view later revised. It’s now thought to be based on Byron’s foppishly enigmatic persona, but written by his friend and ‘personal physician’ Dr John Polidori. Polidori hatched the idea at the famous ghost-story session of 1816 at Villa Diodati, on the shores of Lake Geneva. An event later to be filmed in full gore, splatter, nudity and sensationalism by Ken Russell as ‘Gothic’ (1986), with a cast of Percy Bysshe Shelley (played by Julian Sands), Mary ‘Shelley’ Wollstencraft (Natasha Richardson, writing her ‘Frankenstein’), Byron (Gabriel Byrne), Polidori (Timothy Spall) and Claire Clairmont (Myriam Cyr).

Yet there are other literary bloodlines. Stoker probably leeched from an 1847 book ‘Varney The Vampyre’ by Thomas Presket Prest, and Sheridan Le Fanu’s sensual female vampire tale “Carmilla” included in the 1872 collection ‘In A Glass Darkly’. The earlier historical roots of the vampire myth to Prince Vlad Tepes ‘the Impaler’, have been widely documented to death – or undeath, elsewhere, and don’t need re-animation here. What Stoker adds to all this is the compulsive power of obsession, the dark lure of psychosexual fetishism.

After Irving’s death Stoker fought against illness brought on by years of overwork in the theatre, complicated by worries generated by the actor’s financial decline. He didn’t live to see ‘Dracula’s block-busting worldwide book sales in its later years, nor its spectacular progress as a stage play – touring to full houses through the 1920’s with a fanged Hamilton Deane in the title role, or its phenomenal impact as a movie series. And ‘The Lair Of The White Worm’ from 1911, unlike its hypnotic and tightly-plotted predecessor, is a stilted, disjointed, poorly-constructed long drag of prose which arch-fantasist HP Lovecraft dismissed as ‘so bad that many have mistaken it for a burlesque.’



The plot turns on ludicrously wild conclusions drawn from slender to non-existent evidence. And even the crude characterisation is marred by class and vilely offensive racial overtones. The camp titillation of Dracula’s aristo mystique is devolved to the malevolent brooding of the ‘cruel, selfish, saturnine’ Edgar Caswell (who becomes Hugh Grant as Lord James D’Ampton in the film), while his African man-servant Oolanga is vilified as an ‘unreformed unsoftened savage,’ a ‘lost devil-ridden child of the forest and the swamp.’ The relentlessly bleak setting is Castra Regis in Mercia. ‘The history of the Castle has no beginning so far as we know. The furthest records or surmises or inferences simply accept it as existing.’ A location not too dissimilar to his more atmospheric description of Dracula’s lair, ‘a vast ruined castle from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.’

The novel plot meanders aimlessly through bird-scaring kites, a snake-killing mongoose, another mongoose (in this way I avoid the necessity of finding the plural for mongoose!), psychic battles of will, a bound chest that once belonged to proto-hypnotist Mesmer… and, of course, the monstrous worm – a unique synthesis of the irrepressible power of the rampant male organ, and a woman of terrifyingly destructive sexuality contained in one single nightmare image. Russell’s screenplay tightens the narrative. Peter Capaldi is Angus Flint, an archaeologist who first excavates the skull of a monstrous worm. Amanda Donohoe becomes Lady Sylvia Marsh of the stately Temple House, sited above caverns in which the supposedly-extinct worm still lurks. And Catherine Oxenberg who is the lovely Eve Trent, kidnapped to be its sacrificial victim.

The marked decline in prose style has been mischievously attributed to Stoker’s use of unacknowledged ghost-writers, to publisher tampering, or just to his collapsing health. He died in London, aged 64 – in 1912. His death certificate tactfully cites the cause as ‘exhaustion’. He never visited the Romanian province of Transylvania, and as far as can be ascertained he remains dead, yet his best work largely stays in print, and his short stories continued to be run in horror pulps – his “The Secret Of Growing Gold” appearing in ‘Famous Fantastic Mysteries’ magazine as late as 1946. His literary powers were limited and remain unrecognised beyond footnotes on the Gothic sub-genre. His genius – if genius in was, lies in his ability to project single images of obsessive compulsion that translate ideally into more visual media.


Bram Stoker in 'Famous Fantastic Mysteries' August 1946

The first Dracula movie came just ten years after Stoker’s death. FW Murnau’s 1922 expressionist gem was retitled ‘Nosferatu’ to sidestep copyright – unsuccessfully, as the widowed Florence Stoker sued, and won! A decade after that, Bela Lugosi took the role to Hollywood – ‘Dracula’ was released by Universal on St Valentine’s Day 1931. Christopher Lee came onto the mist-shrouded cloak-flapping set as late as 1958, cast against Peter Cushing’s ‘Van Helsing’) for Hammer. There are now over two-hundred Dracula films from at least ten countries, and related commercial spin-offs that include comic-spoof send-ups, Porn versions, tourist package trips to the Carpathians… and designer ice-pops.

Vampirism itself has been given a scientific justification in the SF setting of Richard Matheson’s exquisitely chilling ‘I Am Legend’ (1954), filmed three times – first as ‘The Last Man On Earth’ (1964) with Vincent Price, then as ‘The Omega Man’ (1971) with Charlton Heston, and finally as ‘I Am Legend’ (2007) with Will Smith. The ‘Science Of Draculogy’ has been further updated through a series of revisionist vampire fiction from Stephen King (‘Salem’s Lot’, 1975), Ann Rice (‘Interview With A Vampire’, 1976), Chelsea Quinn Yarbo (the ‘Count Saint-Germain’ novel-cycle, from 1978), George RR Martin (‘Fevre Dream’, 1982), Brian Stableford (his alternate history vampire world ‘Empire Of Fear’, 1988), and the teen-franchise ignited by Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ novel-series, from 2005).

But there have been other Stoker movie-isations preceding Ken Russell’s splatter ‘n’ gore foray. ‘The Awakening’ (1980) by Robert Solo again stars Charlton Heston in an involved plot featuring Egyptologist Matthew Corbeck who tinkers with the Mummy of the evil incestuous Queen Kara (played by Susannah York), who is subsequently reincarnated as Corbeck’s daughter. It’s based on Stoker’s 1902 ‘The Jewel Of The Seven Stars’

Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ notwithstanding, only the works of equally quirky and equally sexually screwed-up Edgar Allen Poe can have generated such a vast movie legacy. Bram Stoker was never a ‘respectable’ author, always an ‘outsider’ excluded from the literary establishment, but the subsequent video and DVD release of Ken Russell’s brash and flawed movie carries his perverse imaginings over into the 1990’s and beyond. Something few of his more ‘respectable’ literary contemporaries can claim.


‘…let me tell you, he is known everywhere that men have been. 
 In old Greece, in old Rome; he flourish in Germany all over, 
 in France, in India, even in the Chersonese; and in China, 
 so far from us in all ways, there even is he, 
and the peoples fear him at this day…’ 
(‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker)




BRAM STOKER: BIBLIOGRAPHY 
NOVELS 

‘THE PRIMROSE PATH’ (1875)
‘THE SNAKE’S PASS’ (1890)
‘THE WATTER’S MOU’ (1894)
‘THE SHOULDER OF SHASTA’ (1895)
‘DRACULA’ (1897)
‘MISS BETTY’ (1898)
‘THE MYSTERY OF THE SEA’ (1902)
‘THE JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS’ (1903)
‘THE GATES OF LIFE’ (aka ‘The Man’) (1905)
‘LADY ATHLYNE’ (1908)
‘THE LADY OF THE SHROUD’ (1909)
‘THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM’ (1911)




SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS 

‘UNDER THE SUNSET’ (1881), eight fairy-tales for children
‘SNOWBOUND: THE RECORD OF A THEATRICAL TOURING PARTY’ (1908) ‘DRACULA’S GUEST AND OTHER WEIRD STORIES’ (1914)
‘THE BRAM STOKER BEDSIDE COMPANION’ (Taplinger Pub Co, 1973) ten stories including “Dracula’s Guest”, extracted from an unpublished chapter from the ‘Dracula’ novel

BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS 

‘THE MAN WHO WROTE DRACULA: A BIOGRAPHY OF BRAM STOKER’ by Daniel Farson (Michael Joseph, 1975)
‘THE ESSENTIAL DRACULA’ fully illustrated and annotated edition by Raymond T McNally and Radu Florescu (Mayflower, 1980 USA)



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Retro Music - 'BOBBY VEE: Bouncy Bouncy'


BOBBY VEE: 
BOUNCY BOUNCY 

To Jerry Lee Lewis he was one of the three ‘Bobbys’ 
who blanded-out Rock ‘n’ Roll. But no love was 
ever as single-mindedly pure as Bobby Vee’s. 
Are there mitigating circumstances…? 
Buddy Holly & The Crickets maybe…?

ANDREW DARLINGTON weighs the evidence… 

Jerry Lee Lewis knew who was responsible for the bland wave of pretty-boys taking over the late-1950’s music scene in the wake of the demise of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He blamed what he called ‘the Bobbys’. That is – Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell… and Bobby Vee. All sweetly romantic soft-Pop singers with the kind of photogenic looks that gifted them fan-mag celebrity without really trying. And yes, you don’t argue with the ‘Killer’. But as with every generalisation, there’s space for mitigating circumstances.

The decline of that first insurrectionary roar of Rock ‘n’ Roll was due to a number of factors. Payola was one, which destroyed the career of Rock’s greatest propagandist, Alan Freed. Elvis was off answering his country’s call, doing G.I. duty. Little Richard had thrown his bling off Sydney bridge and found god. Chuck Berry was in jail for trafficking underage girls across State lines. Jerry Lee himself was under a virtual media ban following revelations about his bigamous marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin. And Buddy Holly was dead.

Yet it was Buddy Holly’s death that kick-started Bobby Vee. A connection he followed through his career. When I saw Bobby Vee at the Wakefield ‘Rooftop Gardens’, in 1989, he was fronting the Crickets. He did the obligatory medley of his own hits, but the evening was very much a tribute to Buddy. The admiration was obviously sincere. Bobby himself was self-effacing and humorously not-too serious about his own back-catalogue. I had not gone expecting to like him. I came away with a grudging respect.

According to Phil Hardy and Dave Laing’s ‘The Encyclopedia Of Rock’ (Panther, 1976), Bobby Vee was both the ‘luckiest and prettiest of a generation of American ‘college boy’ soloists’ who occupied the upper reaches of early-sixties chartdom. Born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota, on 30 April 1943, his entry into fame came when he and elder brother Bill formed a group called the Shadows who, wearing matching sweaters, deputised for Buddy Holly at ‘The Armory’, Moorhead, Minnesota on 3 February 1959 immediately following that fatal plane-crash en route to the ‘Winter Dance Party’ show there. Bright-eyed baby-faced Bobby took vocals only because he knew the lyrics to their limited six-song set. It worked sufficiently well for the group to self-finance and cut four songs for the local Soma label as a result, 1 July 1959. One of them – Bobby’s own song “Suzie Baby”, stood out and was picked up for local radio-play.

Listen now. It’s easy to see how it drew attention, sung with wistful Holleyesque vocal mannerisms, its eerily thin production, sharp guitar lines over ‘Peggy Sue’ pulse, combine to give it a raw echoey edge. So when producer Tommy ‘Snuff’ Garrett heard the disc, he whisked the group away to Liberty Records, where the track was given national release. And the seventeen-year-old ‘Vee’, as he’d been redubbed, was groomed for solo stardom. Although born in Dallas, Garrett had operated as a radio DJ for KDUB in Lubbock where he first encountered and supported Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Later he did production work for formerly hit-less Johnny Burnette, gifting him the million-selling “Dreamin’”. With experience honing his instinct, he sensed the potential of what he’d found.

Many other artists started out using the Holly template. Tommy Roe’s first signature hit – “Sheila”, is a virtual retread of “Peggy Sue”. Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs had a series of American hit singles styled the Holly way. Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones recorded Buddy Holly songs. Joe Meek used his often-inept artists as vehicles to reflect his own Holly-obsession. While Adam Faith adopted his quirky vocal phrasing by imitating Buddy. And it was with a 1:39-minute US cover of Adam’s “What Do You Want” – a UK no.1 in December 1959, that Garrett launched his new signing, exactly replicating the stinging John Barry pizzicato-string arrangement. Although it failed, his revival of the Clovers “Devil Or Angel” charted – a sweet dual-track ballad counterpointed by cooing doo-wop bass-voice, it reached no.6 and became his first certified million-seller. Retaining the Holly influence by stretch-distorting the lyric with a hic-cup ‘will you ever be my-ey-ey-ey-ine?’ The Vee career was off and running, under Garrett’s masterful supervision.




Bobby Vee’s Wikipedia page devotes a disproportionate amount of space to the story that a young Bob Dylan – under the guise of Elston Gunn, briefly played keyboards in Vee’s touring back-up group. Dylan, no stranger to self-mythologising, confirms that this unlikely liaison happened, in his ‘Chronicles, Volume 1’ (2004), but at the time Dylan was a skinny unknown scuffing for whatever work he could score, while Vee was approaching chart stardom. Dylan recalled to ‘New Musical Express’ how ‘I played piano when I was seventeen. I played piano for this Rock ‘n’ Roll singer. His name is Bobby Vee and he’s a big star now, I guess. That was in Fargo, North Dakota. Then we went all around the Midwest. Went to Wisconsin, Iowa, toured around there and then I left, I was with him for about, uh, every night – just about every night, for about a month or two. And then as soon as I left him he got another recording label and then I saw his picture in big picture-magazines and that kind of stuff not too long after that. So that was sort of a disappointment…’ (2 July 1977).

After four American releases, the inanely catchy “Rubber Ball” took off on both sides of the Atlantic in 1960, the girlie-chanting ‘bouncy-bouncy bouncy-bouncy’ becoming annoyingly inescapable. In the UK it found itself involved in a fiercely-contested chart-battle with a rival cover version by Marty Wilde. Taking advantage of his established popularity amplified by access to local TV, Marty charted first at no.26 (21 January 1961), Bobby effortlessly vaulting him by entering higher at no.13 the following week. Then they were closing to 8 and 9 with Bobby ahead, until Vee hit a high of no.3 – beneath Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, as Marty fell away.

I’d just turned thirteen, and my loyalties were divided. Marty Wilde was a familiar hit-making Rocker, and surely it was the patriotic thing to support the British version? Such things still mattered in 1961. But although Bobby’s was the original, both were highly-disposable play-Pop anyway. Fifties novelty-fluff not only bright and bouncy, but bouncy-bouncy. More bounce to the ounce than a female beach volleyball team! Eventually I decided, as Bobby Vee hadn’t actually written the thing (Elvis-writer Aaron Schroeder, with ‘Anne Orlowski’ (Gene Pitney) were responsible), it was merely two equal interpretations of the same song which should stand or fall on their own merits. And in retrospect, both artists seem mildly amused by their relative success with “Rubber Ball”. In Wakefield Bobby explains in an incredulous anecdote how his version had later been adapted into a TV-ad, exclaiming ‘WHAT?... my BOUNCY BOUNCY!!!’ Marty Wilde, performing in Skegness, was equally dismissive, telling how his version of the song was being used by the troops in Afghanistan – played loud as a weapon to terrify the Taliban!




Over the next three years Vee extolled the pleasure and heartache of chaste polite romance in a series of slick custom-made hits that continued with “More Than I Can Say” – opening ‘whoa-whoa-yea-yea’, and written by Crickets Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis (who also drums on the session). It earned him high-profile TV-slots on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ as well as the ‘Perry Como Show’, Dick Clark, Dinah Shaw and the ‘Saturday Prom’ shows. But it was the lushly-orchestrated beat-ballad “Take Good Care Of My Baby”, with its part-spoken ‘my tears are falling’ lead-in, which first took him to no.1. In the ‘New Musical Express’ it even nudged Elvis’ “His Latest Flame” aside to take top slot on 2 December 1961.

For the studio recordings, Garrett assembled the cream of LA session-players, guitarists Tommy Allsup, jazzer Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts, plus Earl Palmer (drums), Bob Florence (piano) and Clifford Hils (string bass). And it established all the ingredients his image would be constructed from. It was inoffensive to a frequently cringe-worthy degree, but as a Teen Idol singing star, to be offered pure Pop gold in the form of the latest Jerry Goffin-Carole King composition is a gift too wondrous to miss. Who would pass it up? Who can blame him? And for the writing team who’d already created “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles, was “Take Good Care Of My Baby” shamelessly contrived to the market-requirements of the time – rhyming ‘and if you should discover, that you don’t really lover-her’? Was it sincerely written as the expression of genuine emotions, or just another made-to-measure product expertly crafted by the Brill Building hit machine? Whatever, its rainbow soda-Pop harmonies have adorned just about every sixties nostalgia CD-compilation ever pressed, from ‘Dreamboats And Petticoats’ to the ‘Heartbeat’ TV spin-off.

Once the winning formula was in place, the team went on feeding him further hits, built around the same template – “How Many Tears”, “Sharing You” and the clip-clop effects of “Walking With My Angel”, plus the self-sacrificing “Run To Him” and “A Forever Kind Of Love” by Goffin with Jerry Keller. Access to such superior material was an essential advantage. Cute melodies wrapped in heart-melting sweeps of plinking strings, sweet ‘n’ true vocals, with golden-voiced girls chiming in their vocal embroidery at strategic points. For “Sharing You” there’s a neat lyrical turn-around in the final verse, bringing it to a close with songwriterly precision. Although he’s sharing her love, in that last verse he pledges she’ll never have to share his. Then – in “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”, although her lies will be caught out by the voyeuristic watchers of the title, in the closer, so will his own lies also be found out.

The exception to his meek nice-guy persona is John D Loudermilk’s song “Stayin’ In” in which ‘I punched my buddy in the nose after lunch’ because ‘he was sayin’ things that were not true about her.’ Now the Dean’s given him detention, while the buddy is out making time with the girl whose dubious honour he’d tried to defend. Due to its perceived juvenile delinquency, American radio was wary of playing the record. It’s sales suffered accordingly. Lessons were learned.

Comfortably targeting white middle-class teen-females, Bobby Vee 45rpm discs epitomised the artless sterility of early-sixties Pop, as lambasted by Jerry Lee’s derision. He was the perfect parentally-approved dream-boyfriend. He’d never pressure you into inappropriate heavy-petting. He’d respect your emotional responses with an almost impossible sensitivity. Even when you ditch him for the rebel in leathers he’ll tearfully wish you well, and keep on loving you. His was the song on the car radio that accompanied every teenage back-seat snog. No love was ever as single-mindedly pure as Bobby Vee’s. In all the ‘Romance-in-picture’ comic-strip weekly magazines such as ‘Mirabelle’, ‘Valentine’ and ‘Roxy’, he was the dishy cover-star of choice. His dreamy fresh-faced pin-up smile adorned the walls wherever factory-girls worked the assembly lines or packing departments. Guys, in general, were less suckered by it all. Bobby was never cool.

Bobby’s records appeared on the London-American label in Britain, where his considerable popularity was nurtured by frequent touring. In 1962 he was here with the Crickets to promote their album together, ‘Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets’ (1962, Liberty) containing “Peggy Sue” and “Well… All Right” plus the Jerry Allison-Sonny Curtis original “When You’re In Love” alongside authentic-sounding takes on other Rock ‘n’ Roll hits, hinting to doubters that his talents had aspects and dimensions deeper than the fan-mags allowed. Here was something guys could respect too. He followed it with ‘I Remember Buddy Holly’ (1963, Liberty) with “Heartbeat”, “Maybe Baby” and “True Love Ways” which largely succeed in being respectful while adding his own flavour to the mix. Even ‘Melody Maker’ concedes that he ‘had, if anyone did, the firmest claim to Holly’s crown’ (March 1974).

There were also guest spots on BBC radio’s Sunday mid-morning Light Programme ‘Easy Beat’, recorded in front of a live studio audience, and TV shows – such as Saturday evening’s ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ (from the 5 January 1963), and in British films. He cameo’s in two big-screen Pop cash-ins, ‘Play It Cool’ (1962) directed by Michael Winner starring Billy Fury and Helen Shapiro (he sings “At A Time Like This”, from the pen of Norrie Paramor and Norman Newell). And ‘Just For Fun’ (1963) concocted by exploitation-supremo Milton Subotsky. Between songs from Freddy Cannon, Joe Brown, the Crickets and Johnny Tillotson, there’s a glimpse of a plot involving kids getting the vote, but you could easily miss it. Bobby sings yet another massive anthemic hit “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” on screen. It became another much-anthologised title, but wait… deconstruct beneath its lushly romantic sheen and there’s a creepy lyrical ‘Every Breath You Take’ subtext about ‘if you put me down for another, I’ll know, believe me, I’ll know’. It was to be his last major UK hit, peaking at no.3 in February 1963, significantly just a rung below the Beatles “Please Please Me”.




To the New Wave of Beat Groups headed by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the sweet saccharine blandness of 1960-Pop was very much what they were reacting against. For John Lennon, ‘Run for your life,’ move aside wimp, there’s a new definition of masculinity in town. And Bobby Vee was the old order’s biggest Brylcreem-sculpted bequiffed symbol. Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney retained a precarious popularity, but Bobby Vee, as its most visibly audible face, took the biggest fall. For Lennon, there was no ‘taking good care of my Baby’, instead it was ‘You Can’t Do That’ because ‘catch you with another man, it’s the end, little girl’. But let us not forget that at their first, failed Decca audition of January 1962, the Beatles performed their own, not very convincing version of “Take Good Care Of My Baby”. Sometimes these things come back to haunt even the greatest iconoclasts.

I remember Bobby’s 1964 single “Hickory, Dick And Doc” being played on TV’s Saturday-night ‘Juke Box Jury’ show, it was a minor American hit that peaked at no.52 on the ‘Billboard’ Hot Hundred. In itself it wasn’t a particularly bad record, but in amongst the Beat Boom guitar-storm it seemed vulnerable and totally out-of-time. It got predictably slaughtered by the panel, and overlooked by record-buyers. Overnight he’d gone from Bobby Tomorrow to Bobby Yesterday. He continued to record, even combing his quiff forward into a fringe, but he was fighting a losing battle. The Bubble-Pop “Come Back When You Grow Up” was a solitary triumph when it peaked at no.3 in America in 1967, despite being starved of UK airtime and passing virtually unnoticed here. A tender ‘Lolita’ anticipation of Union Gap’s “Young Girl” about a wide-eyed innocent girl ‘still living in a paper-doll world’, it’s more wistfully considerate than it is suspect. Bobby is still the nice guy. The following year a strange medley of “My Girl/Hey Girl” kept things simmering at no.35.

By 1972 he was living in a luxurious Bel Air estate bankrolled by his teenage vinyl fortune, with his wife and four kids – three boys and a new baby girl. And when he did return to the studio it was under his birth-name, Robert Thomas Velline, to record an LP ‘Nothin’ Like A Sunny Day’ (1972, United Artists) that includes seven of his own compositions, plus a dull new arrangement of “Take Good Care Of My Baby”. Like Neil Sedaka recasting his own “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, or Ricky Nelson metamorphosing into the Stone Canyon Band, this was intended to cross-over to a more adult-orientated market. Pared back to a country-rock small-group setting with pedal-steel guitar a-slippin’ and a-slidin’. It was critically respected, but commercial response was slight, leaving such future creative ventures open to question. By May 1976 he was bearded, and playing the London ‘Speakeasy’, reliving the hits of his heyday, while inserting new material almost apologetically. Although new records still appeared, there was to be no second chapter to his career. Instead, there was a legacy of hits enough to justify the Golden Oldie tours and Greatest Hits compilations through into the next millennium…

I saw Bobby Vee at the Wakefield ‘Rooftop Gardens’ in 1989. He was fronting the Crickets. I had not gone expecting to like him. I came away with a grudging respect.




BOBBY VEE: 
THE GREATEST HITS, AND MORE… 

September 1959 – “Suzie Baby” c/w “Flyin’ High” (US, Soma 1110, then Liberty 55208) reaches Billboard no.77. ‘B’-side is a group instrumental

April 1960 – “What Do You Want” c/w “My Love Loves Me” (US, Liberty 55234) reaches Billboard no.93

May 1960 – “One Last Kiss” c/w “Laurie” (US, Liberty 55251) reaches Billboard no.112

9 May 1960 – “Devil Or Angel” c/w “Since I Met You Baby” (US, Liberty 55270) reaches Billboard no.6. ‘B’-side, a revival of an Ivory Joe Hunter song, also reaches no.81

1960 – ‘BOBBY VEE SINGS YOUR FAVOURITES’ (Liberty LRP3165) includes “Devil Or Angel”, “Mr Blue”, “Just A Dream”, “Since I Met You Baby”, “It’s All In The Game”, “You Send Me”, “Young Love”, “My Prayer, Sincerely”, “Gone”, “I’m Sorry”, Everyday”

19 January 1961 – “Rubber Ball” c/w “Everyday” (London HLG9255) reaches no.4. US, Liberty 55287, reaches no.6. ‘B’-side is the Buddy Holly song

March 1961 – ‘BOBBY VEE’ (Liberty LRP3181) includes “One Last Kiss”, “Rubber Ball”, “Stayin’ In”, “More Than I Can Say”, “Mr Sandman” and “Poetry In Motion”. Reaches Billboard no.18

13 April 1961 – “More Than I Can Say” c/w “Stayin’ In” (London HLG9316) reaches no.4. In the US “Stayin’ In” Liberty 55296, written by John D Loudermilk, reaches no.33, “More Than I Can Say” reaches no.61

3 August 1961 – “How Many Tears” c/w “Baby Face” (London HLG9389) reaches no.10. US, Liberty 55325, reaches no.63, “Baby Face” reaches no.119

1961 – ‘BOBBY VEE WITH STRINGS AND THINGS’ (Liberty LRP3186) includes “How Many Tears”, “Baby Face” etc



26 October 1961 – “Take Good Care Of My Baby” c/w “Bashful Bob” (London HLG9438) reaches no.3 (Record Retailer), joint no.1 (NME). US, Liberty 55354, reaches no.1

21 December 1961 – “Run To Him” c/w “Walkin’ With My Angel” (London HLG9470) reaches no.6. US, Liberty 55388, reaches no.2, ‘B’-side reaches no.53. In the UK this was first issued on London, then Liberty

8 March 1962 – “Please Don’t Ask About Barbara” c/w “I Can’t Say Goodbye” (Liberty LIB55419) reaches no.29. US, Liberty 55419 reaches no.15, ‘B’-side reaches no.92

24 February 1962 – ‘TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY BABY’ (London HAG2428) includes “Take Good Care Of My Baby”, “Run To Him”, “Walkin’ With My Angel”. Reaches no.7. US Liberty LRP3211

31 March 1962 – ‘HITS OF THE ROCKIN’ FIFTIES’ (London HAG2406) reaches no.20. Issued in the US October 1961 (Liberty LRP3205) with a Rhythm side and a Ballad side. A review says ‘‘Lollipop’ and ‘School Days’ are two musts in this go-go-go Liberty LP’, while his voice is always better-suited to beat-ballads than it is to out-and-out rockers such as ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’. Issued as a two-for-one CD with ‘Strings And Things’ by Beat Goes On BGOCD444

7 June 1962 – “Sharing You” c/w “In My Baby’s Eyes” (Liberty LIB55451) reaches no.10. US, Liberty 55451 reaches no.15

15 September 1962 – “Punish Her” c/w “Someday (When I’m Gone From You)” (US, Liberty 55479) reaches Billboard no.20, ‘B’-side reaches no.99. Not issued as a single in the UK




27 September 1962 – “A Forever Kind Of Love” c/w “Remember Me, Huh?” (Liberty LIB10046) reaches no.13. Recorded in the UK with Norrie Paramor, with the Johnny Mann singers on the ‘B’-side

27 October 1962 – ‘BOBBY VEE MEETS THE CRICKETS’ (Liberty LBY1086) reaches no.2. US, Liberty LRP3228. Includes “Peggy Sue”, “Bo Diddley”, “Someday (When I’m Gone From You)”, “Well… All Right”, “I Gotta Know”, “Lookin’ For Love”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “When You’re In Love”, “Lucille”, “The Girl Of My Best Friend”, “Little Queenie”, “The Girl Can’t Help It”

12 January 1963 – ‘A BOBBY VEE RECORDING SESSION’ (Liberty LBY1084) reaches no.10, US July 1962 (Liberty LRP3232) includes “Please Don’t Ask About Barbara”, “I Can’t Say Goodbye”, “Sharing You” etc

December 1962 – ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM BOBBY VEE’ (US, Liberty3267)

7 February 1963 – “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” c/w “Anonymous Phone Call” (Liberty LIB10069) reaches no.3. US, Liberty 55521 reaches no.3 

4 April 1963 – “Charms” c/w “Bobby Tomorrow” (US, Liberty 55530) reaches Billboard no.13

20 April 1963 – ‘BOBBY VEE’s GOLDEN GREATS’ (Liberty LBY1112) reaches no.10. US, November 1962 (Liberty LRP3245) includes “Suzie Baby”, “Punish Her” etc

20 June 1963 – “Bobby Tomorrow” c/w “Charms” (UK, Liberty LIB55530) reaches no.21

June 1963 – ‘BOBBY VEE MEETS THE VENTURES’ (US, Liberty 3289) includes “Wild Night”, “What Else Is New”, “Walk Right Back”, “This Is Where Friendship Ends”, “Pretty Girls Everywhere”, “Linda Lu”, “If I’m Right Or Wrong”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”, “Honeycomb”, “Goodnight Irene”, “Caravan”, “Candy Man”

20 July 1963 – “Be True To Yourself” c/w “A Letter From Betty” (US, Liberty 55581) reaches Billboard no.34



1963 – ‘I REMEMBER BUDDY HOLLY’ (US, Liberty LRP3336) includes “That’ll Be The Day”, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, “Peggy Sue”, “True Love Ways”, “It’s So Easy”, “Heartbeat”, “Oh Boy”, “Raining In My Heart”, “Think It Over”, “Maybe Baby”, “Early In The Morning”, “Buddy’s Song”. Reissued on Sunset budget price label as ‘A Tribute To Buddy Holly’ in May 1978. Then as expanded-CD EMI7960572 with ten previously unissued tracks, including material cut at Norman Petty’s Clovis studio, plus a late version of “Well… All Right”, Vee’s final Liberty recording. Informative liner notes by Bob Celi

5 October 1963 – ‘THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES’ (Liberty LIB1139), includes “Go Away Little Girl”, “It Might As Well Rain Until September”, “If She Were My Girl” and “It Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy”. Reaches no.15. US, April 1963 Liberty LRP3285

December 1963 – “Yesterday And You (Armen’s Theme)” c/w “Never Love A Robin” (US, Liberty 55636) reaches Billboard no.55

January 1964 – “Stranger In Your Arms” c/w “1963” (US, Liberty 55654) reaches Billboard no.83

February 1964 – “I’ll Make You Mine” c/w “She’s Sorry” (US, Liberty 55670) reaches Billboard no.52

June 1964 – ‘BOBBY VEE SINGS THE NEW SOUND FROM ENGLAND’ (US, Liberty LRP3352) includes “I’ll Make You Mine”, “Don’t You Believe Them”, “She Loves You”, “I’ll String Along With You”, “Ginger”, “Any Other Girl”, “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”, “Suspicion”, “From Me To You”, “You Can’t Lie To A Liar”, “Take A Walk Johnny”. Also the Mersey-style “She’s Sorry”, which he promotes in the UK when it’s issued as a single follow-up to the failed “Hickory Dick And Doc”

May 1964 – “Hickory, Dick And Doc” c/w “I Wish You Were Mine Again” (US, Liberty 55700) reaches Billboard no.63

September 1964 – “Where Is She” c/w “How To Make A Farewell” (US, Liberty 55726) reaches Billboard no.120

December 1965 – “Every Little Bit Hurts” c/w “Pretend You Don’t See Her” (US, Liberty 55751) reaches Billboard no.84

February1965 – “Cross My Heart” c/w “This Is The End” (US, Liberty 55761) reaches Billboard no.99. His final single with Snuff Garrett

May 1965 – “Keep On Trying” c/w “You Won’t Forget Me” (US, Liberty 55790) reaches Billboard no.85. Produced in the UK by George Martin

September 1965 – “Run Like The Devil” c/w “Take A Look Around Me” (US, Liberty 55828) reaches Billboard no.124

November 1965 – “The Story Of My Life” c/w “High Coin” (US, Liberty 55843)

1965 – ‘LIVE! ON TOUR’ (US, Liberty LRP3393) includes a medley of “Take Good Care Of My Baby” and “Run To Him”, plus “Sea Cruise”, “Things”, “It’ll Be Me” and “Every Day I Have To Cry”

February 1966 – “A Girl I Used To Know” c/w “Gone” (US, Liberty 55854) reaches Billboard no.133

July 1966 – “Look At Me Girl” c/w “Save A Love” (US, Liberty 55877) reaches Billboard no.52. Billed as Bobby Vee and The Strangers

July 1966 – ‘LOOK AT ME GIRL’ (Liberty LRP3480, UK LBY1341) ‘NME’ says ‘young veteran Bobby Vee has got himself an American group, the Strangers, which sounds like many British groups do, and used to, sound. Although he gets plenty of vocal support, Bobby proves he’s still a very good soloist, as in such tracks as ‘Sunny’ which builds up well, ‘Sweet Pea’, and the beaty ‘Lil Red Riding Hood’, also includes “Turn-Down Day”, “Summer In The City”, “That’s All In The Past”, plus both sides of the May single “Like You’ve Never Known Before” c/w “Growing Pains” (Liberty 10272) which ‘NME’ says ‘all right – in fact his best in a while. But it’s not too clear-cut and lacks real punch. Sorry, Bob!’

November 1966 – “Here Today” c/w “Before You Go” (US, Liberty 55921) US only single of Brian Wilson’s ‘Pet Sounds’ track

12 August 1967 – “Come Back When You Grow Up” c/w “That’s All In The Past” (later pressings ‘B’-side “Swahili Serenade”) Bobby Vee with the Strangers (US, Liberty55964) reaches Billboard no.3. Produced by Dallas Smith

October 1967 – ‘COME BACK WHEN YOU GROW UP’ (US, Liberty LRP3534) with Robert Velline originals “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “I May Be Back”, plus “A Rose Grew In The Ashes” and “You Can Count On Me

16 December 1967 – “Beautiful People” c/w “I May Be Gone” Bobby Vee with the Strangers (US, Liberty 56009) reaches Billboard no.37. A cover of a song by Kenny O’Dell, ‘NME’ says ‘almost vintage Vee – could click, a bit square maybe, but in with definite chances of a chart return for the nice-guy’

February 1968 – “Maybe Just Today” c/w “You’re A Big Girl Now” (US, Liberty 56014) reaches Billboard no.46

April 1968 – ‘JUST TODAY’ (US, Liberty LRP3554) includes “Beautiful People”, “Maybe Just Today”, “My Girl/Hey Girl” etc

18 May 1968 – “My Girl/Hey Girl” (Medley)” c/w “Just Keep It Up (And See What Happens)” (US, Liberty 56033) reaches Billboard no.35. A fusion of Smokey Robinson with Goffin-King

August 1968 – “Do What You Gotta Do” c/w “Thank You” (US, Liberty 56057) reaches Billboard no.83. Revival of Four Tops hit

December 1968 – “(I’m Into Lookin’ For) Someone To Love Me” c/w “Thank You” (US, Liberty 56080) reaches Billboard no.98

August 1969 – “Let’s Call It A Day Girl” c/w “I’m Gonna Make It Up To You” (US, Liberty 56124) reaches Billboard no.92 Recorded in the UK

1969 – ‘GATES, GRILLS AND RAILINGS’ (US, Liberty LST7612) includes “(I’m Into Lookin’ For) Someone To Love Me” etc. Reissued as a two-for-one CD with ‘Nothin’ Like A Sunny Day’ as BGOCD707

February 1970 – “In And Out Of Love” c/w “Electric Trains And You” (US, Liberty 56149) reaches Billboard no.111

June 1970 – “Woman In My Life” c/w “Obligations’ (Liberty LBF 15370), written by Mike D’Abo with Tony Macaulay, arranged by Al Capps and produced by Snuff Garrett. ‘NME’ says ‘there’s a strong hookline, pretty harmonies throughout, and a pleasant gentle feel’

November 1970 – “Sweet Sweetheart” c/w “Rock And Roll Music And You” (US, Liberty 56208) reaches Billboard no.88. Liberty Records becomes United Artists

1972 – ‘NOTHIN’ LIKE A SUNNY DAY’ as by Robert Thomas Velline (US, United Artists UAS5656) includes “Every Opportunity”, “Captain On The Line”, “Halfway Down The Road”, “Hayes”, “My God And I” (written by John Buck Wilkin), “Going Nowhere”, “Home” (co-written with John Durill), “Here She Comes Again”, “It’s All The Same” plus “Take Good Care Of My Baby (New Version)”

1973 – ‘THE VERY BEST OF BOBBY VEE’ (UK, Sunset SLS50271) Budget label twelve-track compilation

1979 – “Tremble On” c/w “Always Be Each Other’s Best Friend” US, Cognito C010)



19 April 1980 – ‘THE BOBBY VEE SINGLES ALBUM’ (United Artists UAG30253) reaches no.5

April 1991 – ‘BOBBY VEE: THE EP COLLECTION’ (See For Miles SEECD297), with “Bo Diddley”, “Peggy Sue” and “Do You Wanna Dance”, John Bauldie reviews it for ‘Q’ ‘Bobby, alas, was never much of a rocker, but his balladry was always as immaculate as his Brylcreemed quiff’

2008 – ‘THE VERY BEST OF BOBBY VEE’ (EMI, CD) twenty-seven tracks

Monday, 30 June 2014

Poem: "Under Two Moons"



UNDER TWO MOONS / 
 “BANDITS OF THE STARWAYS” 
(from ‘INCREDIBLE SCIENCE FANTASIES’) 


cornering the night TOO FAST 
thru the crash-barrier
4 wheels to the wind

constellations spray like shingle

read this comic-book once
where a man takes a cab
that’s REALLY a disguised
space-craft piloted by a
green Martian
hunting experimental humans,
central-locking slams down caging him
& they launch from the highest loop
of the cloverleaf like a sudden red
insect soaring against the moon’s disc,
the dupe scrabbling at the glass
as the M-way shrinks to a relief map
& continents recede beneath him,
the blackness of deep space
folding in around them as they
motor to the vivisection labs
of Mars Central…

for one long second it’s like
I too have made it up thru
the stratos-fear…

then the windshield shatters

and worlds
white
out


Published in:
‘THE MENTOR no.62’ (January 1989 - Australia)
‘AH POOK IS HERE no.3’ (August 1994 - UK)
and the collection:
‘EUROSHIMA MON AMOUR’ Hilltop Press (UK-Oct 2000)