Before Spaceward

"I met Gary Lucas because he had been spotted by the promoter of the Hawkwind concert unloading his Revox as he arrived for the [Cambridge University] term. (Pembroke being close to the Corn Exchange). He was asked to come and tape the concert but he had no mics etc so he sought out me as the secretary of the Cambridge University Tape Recording Society. Being shy and retiring I muscled in on it and we spent a very noisy evening on the roof of a small booth (used as a cloakroom I think) adjacent to the stage and overlooking it and the crowd. We sat in about an inch of dust (the old Corn Exchange was filthy) and mixed some mics we slung over the stage and a feed from the PA - the best we could manage. The mixer was a C.U.T.R.S. built contraption designed by David Robinson (now chief engineer of Dolby) but which had its faders wired up wrong so all the control was in about 1/8th inch of travel. It had to be adjusted by light taps with a sheet of paper to avoid 20dB changes in level if the move was even visible. I recall a valuable STC 4038 microphone was destroyed when a fight broke out and cost (the university) about £100 to repair! After that we just carried on recording people using any college rooms we could get. The Pembroke College Music Room was usually for backing tracks with monitoring in the hallway leading to the bar. We usually overdubbed in my room (O2 in Emmanuel New Court) which had 3 rooms. The gyp room could hold a muffled guitar amp and entertained the people at the bus stop in Emmanuel Street, the bedroom could hold a musician or two, and the study was the control room. Sessions would occasionally stop when the porters brought a complaint about the noise from the dons whose dining room faced us across the court."

Mike Kemp, Spaceward Studios co-founder

 


Hawkwind, Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band & Pink Fairies
Live at Cambridge, Corn Exchange Jan 27, 1972



The recording of the concert was organised at the last minute and the equipment was poor as all that was available was a rather poor mixer so we just stuck a stereo mic pair across the stage for drums/backline and mixed in some PA mix for front. We were positioned on the top of a sort of cloakroom arrangement in a corner near the stage (in about an inch of thick dust) but had a bad view of the stage from the equipment area due to columns in the building. I spent most of my time with headphones at the troublesome mixer so saw little.

The whole affair was a shambles with a fight breaking out around the stage at one point destroying at least one of the mics. I was pretty naive at the time and can not say I saw Syd Barret but everyone was saying he was there. There were a number of rambling untogether acts and I am pretty convinced that the Syd Barret All Stars was mentioned at the time, as well as "The last minute put together boogie band".

Recording was onto a 1/4track Revox at 7&1/2 ips (all we had then) and I do recall listening to it after the gig over the next months. Because we changed all our recording equipment quickly to 1/2track (standard professional format) the old 1/4 track tapes couldn't then be listened to. I recall vaguely that it existed for some time but later attempts to find it failed, e.g. when Robyn Hitchcock spent a day (around 1980) checking all the tapes in our library at Victoria Street.

It is possible that the tape was placed with a whole collection of 1/4 track tapes that Gary Lucas had at the time (it was his Revox) and I am trying to find out if he has any knowledge of these. I've lost touch with him in the last few years since he moved away from Cambridge but I think I can track him down again.


Mike Kemp, engineer

 

Interview with Twink, Syd Barrett's bandmate in Stars
Opel #11, 5 December 1985

By Ivor Trueman

Ivor Trueman: After the Pink Fairies you next played in Stars. How did that all happen?

Twink: I was living in Cambridge, after I'd left the Pink Fairies I went back to London for a while & then moved to Cambridge. And while in Cambridge I met Jack Monck & some local musicians, though we didn't do anything serious.

Ivor Trueman: You hadn't known Jack Monck before then?

Twink: No. I met him through Jenny, Jenny Spires who was an ex-girlfriend of mine, and she was also an ex-girlfriend of Syd's. It was Jenny & Jack who brought Syd down to the Eddie Guitar Burns gig at Kings College Cellar. And Syd had a jam that night. And I think, I'm not sure if it's the next day, but within the next day or two Jenny & Jack came round to my house in Cambridge & we were talking & someone said "wouldn't it be great to get Syd playing again." It wasn't just me who said that, it was everyone. So Jenny said 'Oh I'll fix up a meeting with him, we'll go & see Syd & ask him if he wants to play with you & Jack.' So that's what we did. We went round to his house & I think his Mum answered the door & then Syd came to the door & Jenny said, 'This is Twink & Jack, they want to know if you want to form a band, just the three of you.' So he said 'yeh, alright, come in'. And that was that. We started rehearsing down in the basement of his house, that's how it started. I think I'm right.

Ivor Trueman: Did you do much rehearsal?

Twink: Not really, we did about two weeks & then we had this gig come up at the Corn Exchange.

Ivor Trueman: Who arranged those gigs?

Twink: A guy called Steve Brink. And I'm sure Steve's intentions were good but he was just as crazy as everybody else, y'know. If we'd had some sort of management direction then we wouldn't have done any gigs for six months or maybe a year or something, but we went straight into it. He came in & said 'I've got this gig with MC5, I'm going to put you top of the bill.' We said yes & he printed the tickets. This is very important to me actually, the tickets said "Stars-Twink's new band", and it looks as though, from that, that people think that I actually got the bands name on the ticket like that because I was more 'together' than Syd. But that's not true & I'd like it to go on record that it wasn't anything to do with me-it was the promoter trying to be overhelpful to me & I'd never seen the tickets before they came out or anything.

Ivor Trueman: I think the gigs attracted more attention than they should've done, as Syd hadn't been in the limelight for quite some time.

Twink: Yeh.

Ivor Trueman: But you did some gigs in Cambridge apart from the Corn Exchange.

Twink: Yeh well some of the gigs were great, some of them were really good but the Corn Exchange gigs were awful. The one that I remember best of all was the one that I enjoyed-the one in the Market Square in Cambridge, in the open air, that was great. And we did as few in the Dandelion Coffee Bar, I think we did two there & they were also good.

Ivor Trueman: That was all around the same time.

Twink: Yes, all around the same time, 'cos the band didn't stay together very long. Straight after that gig the bad press that we got, I think it was Roy Hollingworth-Melody Maker, he did a piece & he killed the band in fact, with that review. 'Cos Syd came round with it in his hand the next day, he saw it & says 'I don't want to play anymore'. So that was it. I mean I expected that, I thought that that was a possibility that something like that might happen, but it was a shame that it did.

Ivor Trueman: What about the recording of the earlier gigs?

Twink: Well I don't know where the tapes are.

Ivor Trueman: Which gigs were recorded?

Twink: I think all of them were.

Ivor Trueman: And the rehearsals?

Twink: Syd recorded the rehearsals.

Ivor Trueman: On a portable cassette?

Twink: As far as I remember, yes, just on a cassette. And the other one's were recorded on a really professional set up by a guy from America that was based in Cambridge. He was related in someway to Leonard Bernstein & his name's Victor but I can't remember anything else.

Ivor Trueman: Did you realise that the Eddie Guitar Burns gig was also recorded - a guy in Cambridge has a professional quality tape.

Twink: No, I did have once one of the Stars gigs, between me & Jolly, who was a friend I was working with at the time. He used to make badges. He had a tape but I don't know what happened to it. The tapes were good-they were all Syd's songs, Floyd material. I don't think we had any new stuff, but I can't remember.

Ivor Trueman: So Syd wasn't still writing anything at the time?

Twink: I can't remember. I know he was painting at the time, he was abeautiful artist, he did oil paintings, fantastic abstract paintings. Iguess most of those are still at his house, Jenny's got one of them.

Ivor Trueman: Are you still in touch with Jenny?

Twink: No. I don't know if Jack is. They were married but I think they'redivorced or separated now.

Ivor Trueman: Have you seen Syd recently?

Twink: No. Well yeh-I bumped into him a few years ago in Harrods. I was going down the escalator & he was going up. But I haven't seen him for a while.

Ivor Trueman: One of the guys writing a book on the Floyd has been to see him recently - Mike Watkinson. [Note, this is my mistake, Mike hasn't been to see Syd yet.]

Twink: Yeh, he's been in touch with me but we haven't got together yet.

Ivor Trueman: How long were the sets that STARS performed? The gig list for the Corn Exchange gig was supposed to have been: Octopus, Dark Globe, Gigolo Aunt, Baby Lemonade, Waving My Arms In The Air, Lucifer Sam and a couple of 12- bar blues

Twink: I can't remember exactly, how long the sets were but I think it was about 40-45 minutes. It's quite amazing actually, when you think about it, that he was keen at the time to do this and y'know he was really 'there'. He's a great guitarist & a great musician.

Ivor Trueman: Did Fred Frith ever play in the Stars line-up? We got a letter from him in New York saying that he played once on stage with Syd.

Twink: He didn't play in Stars but I don't know whether he did play with Syd, it might have even been the Eddie Guitar Burns gig.

Ivor Trueman: Was there somebody else there then?

Twink: I honestly can't remember. It could well have been that though.

Ivor Trueman: There's a rumour that Stars also did See Emily Play in rehearsal.

Twink: Yeh, I think that's right, but I'm not sure.

Ivor Trueman: What happened to the proposed gig at Essex University?

Twink: We tried to do that without Syd, because Syd had said that he didn't want to play anymore-but we had that booked so we all went down there with the intention of playing, I'd brought another couple of musicians in to cover for Syd. But in fact the promoter didn't want us to play 'cos Syd wasn't there-so it was a bit of a disaster.

Ivor Trueman: Were you still going to play Syd's material?

Twink: No. It was going to be other stuff. But it was the wrong thing to do we should've pulled out. But we decided to go down there and it didn't work out.

 

email from Jim Gillespie

Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2005 7:01 PM
Subject: Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band - Cambridge Jan/Feb '72


If this helps any of the questions people have been asking about this:

The Cellar at King's College was always a venue for jamming and always had lots of people there from the Town and not just University.I played there myself lots of times between November 1969 and June 1971.

I was present at Kings Cellar on 26th January 1972. Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band played a first set with Twink on drums, Syd Barrett on guitar and Jack Monck on bass. Then Eddie"Guitar" Burns played and at end there was a jam with Eddie, Twink, Jack Monck and a guy called Bruce on guitar (sorry I have no other information on who this is apart from his first name but I wrote this down the next day so I figure it is correct).

I also went to what was billed as "Six Hour Technicolor Dream" at Corn Exchange in Cambridge the next day 27th January 1972. Hawkwind definitely played as did Pink Fairies and also I can confirm, as I wrote it down, that Fred Frith did indeed play guitar alongside Syd and Twink as part of Last Minute Put Together Boogie Band at that gig.

I also saw an outdoor gig in streets of Cambridge with Twink and Syd and this took place on 12th February 1972.

Finally a word of tribute to Steve Brink who has been mentioned as organising the "Six Hour Technicolor Dream" gig. He was a very important figure in encouraging & allowing people to play music in early 70's Cambridge - a real catalyst. Steve ran probably the friendliest shop I've ever been into - a clothes and hippy paraphernalia shop called "What's in a Name" and also had a market stall selling same type of items.The electric band I sang with PUSSY FROM WORCS played a couple of support gigs for him.One was at the Dorothy - which he called "Ball in the Rockroom" - on October 26th 1970 along with local band Barney's Bonanza,Quiver, Formerly Fat Harry and Kevin Ayers & The Whole World. The other was a club he called "Porridge" at YMCA Cellar -on June 20th 1970 - this gig was as support for Quiver.Steve also organised a big gig called "Bring a Blanket" at The Corn Exchange on 5th June 1971 with Trident, Rambling Sid, Skin Alley, Steve Peregrine Took and Pink Fairies. The ticket for the night also included a place on buses after the gig which took people out to Ivy Todd Farm, Ashdon where Help Yourself struck up and Pink Fairies did another set. Steve also organised an all-in package trip (travel, ticket and refreshments) to the Bath Festival in the summer of 1970 and this was a real feat of orgnanisation considering the state of the people involved. I still remember his words as he spoke to me at that festival - "You're based here, the others are based over there, and I'm BASED IN THE SKY..........."



Jim Gillespie


Toyah Wilcox

"The Toyah session (from probably around '78 but it was continuous work from about 76 to 81 and it rather blurs together...) was strange in that she did not appear for the backing track recording but was whisked in looking rather glamorous for the vocal recording. All I recall is that we got on pretty well and she asked me if she was successful in getting a deal with our recordings (she did of course) would I come and record the album? I said yes but it never happened - as usual once the record company gets on it they have their own ideas. A shame as I recall she had amazing presence and despite the rumours that she slept in a coffin (which she confirmed she once did as it happens) she was a very nice lady and it was a very enjoyable session - the band were great too."

Mike Kemp, engineer

 

Addendum - Email from Craig Astley, Official Toyah Website

Sent: Monday, September 12, 2005 12:10 AM
Subject: Re: Toyah demo tape recorded at Spaceward Studios


Hi there Mark,

The project I am working on is a reissue of a Toyah album called MAYHEM which was a collection of rare & archive material. Finished tracks which weren't used, rejected demos, studio doodles etc etc

So, I have been researching lots of stuff to do with Toyah early unreleased material.

Ok, so as for as Spaceward Studios is concerned. Toyah and the band recorded their first EVER demo sessions for a demo tape on 27th & 28th May, 1978 st Spaceward Studios.

The line-up for these sessions was:
Toyah Willcox, Joel Bogen, David Robin, Windy Miller, Pete Bush

I sadly no not have a copy of this demo tape and nor does it seem to be readily available from anyone. David Robin provided info on this a while ago and himself would like a copy. Toyah, I am obviously in contact with constantly as I work for her and does not keep archive recordings of demos herself. Joel I have not been able to track this down.

It is thought that the songs which were recorded in this sessions were:

Mother
Hunger Hill
Eyes
Computers - finished version ended up on debut album Sheep Farming in Barnet.
The Jailor - ended up as Gaoler and was finished track but rejected from debut album Sheep Farming in Barnet.
Waiting - finished version ended up on debut album Sheep Farming in Barnet.
Danced - finished version ended up on debut album Sheep Farming in Barnet.
Neon Womb - finished version ended up on debut album Sheep Farming in Barnet.
Problem Child - recorded version appears on Mayhem. Unconfirmed whether it is the original Spaceward version, or a later re-recorded version. Unlikely to be the Spaceward one.

So, the short answer is that none of the original Spaceward demos appeared on any release -- although later finished versions appeared on releases.

So, as I would also kill to hear this, are you in any position to track it down? Will a safe copy remain at the studio?

The 15-track Mayhem album will be released with a further 5 bonus tracks through Cherry Red Records in November this year with comprehensive sleevenotes by myself. I have co-ordinated 6 Toyah CD releases this year -- it's all going great.

Look forwatrd to hearing from you.
Regards

Craig Astley
www.toyahwillcox.com


The Soft Boys

"Robyn Hitchcock recording before the soft boys included the memorable title "The Unpleasant Stain" (which I would like the world one day to hear but Robyn has the tapes!)"

Mike Kemp, engineer


"We also did a 3/4 version of the song Give it the Softboys (they recorded it at my suggestion) but it has never seen the light"

Mike Kemp, engineer

 

Iron Maiden

"There have been some cruel comments by Iron Maiden that "they went back to get the multi-tracks some weeks after the sessions (because they couldn't afford them at the time) but the nasty studio had wiped them". My side of the story has never been heard - i.e. that we were as poor as they were and couldn't afford to keep £60 multitrack tapes for every band either! (A session cost about that I recall) We did our best - I think for £5 a week we would hold them until either they were paid for or the band decided not to keep them any longer, e.g. after a remix. Presumably they did not take that option."

Mike Kemp, engineer

Iron Maiden tape copy