Sunday, July 15, 2012

Frith Greaves Blegvad - ZU 12/19/78


ZU was a project of UK scenemaker Giorgio Gomelsky, who relocated to New York after helping launch the careers of the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds from his Crawdaddy Club and producing early sessions for John McLaughlin, Graham Bond, Alexis Koerner and Soft Machine. He was soon forcing the likes of Magma, Henry Cow and Plastic People Of The Universe on unsuspecting Americans as well as encouraging young Bill Laswell to form a band that became Material after backing Daevid Allen as ZU Band and New York Gong. The present concert took place some two months after Gomelsky's ZU Manifestival - the first progressive rock summit in the United States. Frith played several Manhattan solo shows around this time, including one at Artists Space in Soho where he fell in behind sirens passing in the street below. There was also a misguided booking at the Mudd Club, where devoted fans were refused admittance for showing up in jeans, stocking caps, long hair and pimples. I was once halfway through the door behind two downtown celebrity pals when a great arm came down like a railroad crossing gate. Quality control figured there was no way the two sharp suits had come with Travis Bickle. According to the wondrous Blegvad discography @ idiot dog, there should be a nine minute reading between Silence and Big Guns Theme, where there is an audible edit. At any rate, it's great to hear the tapers gasping in wonder as they experience their imported heroes in the flesh for the first time.

Fred Frith, John Greaves, Peter Blegvad
w/ Bill Laswell, Fred Maher, Lisa Herman, Eugene Chadbourne, Michael Beinhorn, Dr. Dan
ZU Loft, New York City, December 19, 1978

01 Milk
02 Mostly Twins And Trios
03 For Bearings
04 The Rose Sob
05 Silence
06 Big Guns Theme
07 Alcohol
08 Strayed
09 Actual Frenzy
10 22 Proverbs
11 Riding Tigers
12 A Little Something
13 improv
14 improv
15 improv
16 improv

Photograph from Peter Blegvad / Andy Partridge Orpheus booklet.

download @ 320vbr

63 comments:

gidouille said...

I knew a similar lineup had done some gigs around this time, but I'd never heard of any recordings. This is exciting, thanks.

BTW when I saw Daevid Allen and Yochko Seffer at the Manifestival in LA in '79, Laswell and company were the backup band. They did their own set of minimalist funk, but were known only as the Zu Band. The highlight of their set as I recall, was a cover of Sombre Reptiles.

Godard said...

Thanks for this reservatory
G

gidouille said...

This is fascinating. The first part serves as something of a demo for John Greaves' Accident album, which wasn't released until 1982. Then comes an early instrumental version of what eventually became Crumb de la Crumb. It's interesting that these tunes were already written (or at least works in progress) in 1978. I pulled out the one sided clear vinyl 7" that includes Frenzy, and it also was not released until 1982.

reservatory said...
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reservatory said...

Glad to be of service. Big Guns was the name of a downtown Blegvad band with Laswell and Fier. Greaves is a great composer and I wish I had more of his 'solo' stuff. I've got Songs, which I like very much.

gidouille said...

Yes, I remember that name, The Big Guns. That's the one that shows up on Downtime as Crumb De La Crumb. Accident, like its follow up, Parrot Fashions, has great Greaves/Blegvad tunes and peculiar '80s production values.

reservatory said...
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reservatory said...

I had Accident many years ago and got rid of it. Can't recall or imagine what could have pushed me to reject one collaboration out of so many. I guess I am fairly allergic to what a lot of the 80s sounded like, though.

Anonymous said...

GreaVES is so genius, so deep, so truthful, complex, communicative... I'm dying to hear the Zu recordings.... but can't open the zip- what application do I need? Thanks, Lisa Herman

reservatory said...
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reservatory said...

It's an honor to hear from you. I use Zipeg, which should be free and easy. If this doesn't work, let me know and I'll figure something else out.

kevinass said...

thanks!
...and..donald ayler in florence?

Jenny McIlwain said...
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Christin Reiniger said...
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Jinji said...

We all talked about the name, and went with Giorgio's idea of "Zu"--not everyone was crazy about that: it was based on the Zu bird, a mythological phoenix-like creature." Gidouille: it was the coming together of Giorgio, his loft space on 24th Street, and his idea for a great festival, that created the context for locating the band members that became Material: that name evolved shortly after the festival. Bill Laswell was in contact with Cliff Cultreri (then manager of Pantasia Record store), and (as I recall) he had been in touch with Michael and Fred.

More on Zu and Giorgio's place some other time.

As for this evening at Giorgio's loft space, I've thought of it many, many times because it was so remarkable. I was then Bill Laswell's girlfriend and helped him with booking and promoting the band, after the festival, after which Frith stayed in town. Blegvad was then living in Manhattan. Then...Greaves came to town for awhile, and as a result this evening came together. A couple of things to note, aside from the fact that I had a bit of a crush on Greaves. In addition to Lisa Herman there was another woman singing (mostly backup vocals; Peter and John sang most of the songs with a vocal track). On one of them, (Greaves was singer), Fred played the most lyrical, melodic, short lead guitar part I've ever heard. I only heard it a few times (rehearsals and the performance), and to this day (35 years later) I can still hear parts of the lead line. It was robust and pungent, like Fripp, whom Fred hadn't even heard at the time, but beautifully elegiac. At the time, all I'd heard Fred play was experimental guitar--rice thrown on the guitar, bowing the guitar, etc--so I was totally blown away by this short, blistering, poetic burst of melodic lead from him. I'll never forget it.

I would.do.anything to have a video or sound recording of this evening. It was unforgettable. I was just telling a local friend here in Austin, TX about this yesterday, which is what prompted me to look for a video of it online, thinking that by now, someone would have posted something about it.

Btw, the song that included this solo part by Fred had something do with number, and a code and a message from a woman: it was a broken-hearted song of loss, and Greaves was an amazing singer.

Blegvad's songs were darkly-comic and ironic.

It's been a long, long time. Thanks for sharing this.

john lawrence said...
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reservatory said...
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reservatory said...

Who knew that Peter Blegvad and friends would be so popular with entrepreneurs attempting to sell all sorts of inappropriate goodies to unsuspecting music fans??

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Alica Stonham said...

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muddy said...

the zu band & the u.s. gong band (that performed at the original zu fest in '78 were 2 entirely diff bands. zu, with cliff, went on to become material. they WERE meant to be daevid's american band, that is until a mutual artist/friend, dorian lapadura, on mine & beinie's invited me to come down the the zu house, just to help out (& get to see the show for free).

as it turned out, las, beinie & maher were rehearsing downstairs, & following the sound, i found myself face to face with cliff's tele sittin' upright in a chair, the man himself absent on the day (sick, if mem serves). the guys asked if i'd like to sit in, & that was it; i was asked to join, replacing cliff (i could play a LOT like hillage, & i knew the toons even better than they did; chris, of course, set us ALL straight when he & daeve arrived from overseas; big DOH moment), on the spot, cliff maintaining his zu guitar chair.

i bring all this up because there is SO much misinformation on who the actual members of ny/us gong were, the band that rehearsed & performed that eve in october '78, so here is the factually correct listing of the members of gong/mother gong:

daevid allen
gilli smyth

george bishop - sax
michael lawrence (me) - guitar
bill laswell - bass
michael beinhorn - synths
fred maher - drums

chris cutler - drums
fred frith - guitar

this is the ENTIRE list, anyone else listed (on too many sites) as a band member was invented, myth.
i keep seeing this guy dennis weise listed as bein' another synth player in the lineup, & though it's possible he might have played with the zu band (material), i personally don't even remember the guy, & he did NOT play with us in gong. neither did cliff, who was actually VERY sweet when the guys asked me to take over for him in gong.

i'll tell you, though, i was mesmerized by chris cutler, as i was a MASSIVE cow fan, & all the rehearsing, talking & performing only confirmed my reasons for idolizing his unique playing & thought process. i adored fred too, but i think i scared him with my loud, aggressive, american noise-scaping. i did later on become friends with john greaves, after playing with him live in a couple of diff bands, & kew rhone, to this day, remains one of my favorite lps in any genre. & after bein' friends with both fripp & frith, they most DEFINITELY had heard & knew of each other, LONG before the zu fest...

Seth Danks said...
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reservatory said...

Thanks for the inside information, Muddy. As the misguided entrepreneur says in the comment following yours, "The matter that you provide is worth our time and energy." Adding, "An immense moonlike of commendation, reserve it up."

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reservatory said...

I'm still trying to figure out why this post attracts hopeless misguided sales pitches. Taking 'loft' out of the title seemed to help for awhile, but the predators have adapted and evolved. Curses!

reservatory said...

Of course, I am grateful for occasional brilliance like mentholeliquid's 'An immense moonlike of commendation, reserve it up.'

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