Friday, July 18, 2014

Roye Albrighton - Interview on his Coventry Days

Roye Albrighton of  Nektar and other bands like Rainbow and the Peeps got in touch with his site and and I passed him along to Pete Clemons who interviewed him on his early Coventry days. Roye has lived and played live music in Germany with Nektar since 1969 but played in a number of Coventry bands during the 60's. This article appeared in the Coventry Telegraph recently.

Roye's Golden Nektar Days Revisited.
by Pete Clemons
IT is always pleasing to get feedback on the articles I write. And it is even more special to nd out that the artist you have written about has actually read the article you have written about them.

So imagine the surprise I had when Coventry born Roye Albrighton of Nektar got in touch via Trevor Teasdel at his excellent Coventry Music Blogspot website.

It turned out that Roye had seen my article about his musical past. And, not only that, but Roye was agreeable to answer a few questions that covered his earliest musical memories in Coventry along with some which touched on his own future plans.

My original article barely touched on Roye's formative days in Coventry so I thought it would be great to redress the balance and for our conversation to see day of light by way of a freshly updated article.

And so here is that conversation in full...

PC: You grew up in the Little Heath / Bell Green area of Coventry. Were they happy memories? RA: They were very happy memories, especially just after I left school and started out on my musical adventure.

PC: When you think back and reminisce is there anything about Coventry that still makes you smile and that maybe you still miss? RA: Because I left Coventry not long after I was able to get a passport, I used to go from pub to pub wherever live music was playing, I have fond memories of that time when you could literally go from one gig to another and just get up and jam with whoever was playing.

PC: What other early Coventry memories do you have, such as youth clubs, and where in town did you go to buying your records that kind of thing? RA: I was never really one for going to youth clubs, but used to hang out wherever music was involved be it at pubs/clubs or music shops. ere were two main music shops in Coventry at that time with similar names, Cranes and Paynes, Paynes were great because they would let you take a guitar down and try it out.

PC: The Peeps were formed in 1965. Who approached you about joining the band? Are you able to recall your first gig with them? RA: I think our first gig was in Hamburg at the top ten club but I can't be sure. Martin Cure came around to my house one day and told me that Steve Jones their guitarist was leaving and asked if I would step in..Of course I said yes Martin is one of the nicest guys you ever want to meet.

PC: I am sure you were, but could you conrm, if you were involved in the recording of the singles made by e Peeps.

RA: I believe "I can make the rain fall up" was one of them PC: Did you have a favourite Coventry venue where you enjoyed playing at the most? RA: The Navigation inn and the Heath hotels back room which we always called Dantes inferno. PC: Next group up were e Rainbows. How did that band get up and running? RA: Rainbows were the Peeps reincarnate, Terry Howells came on the keyboards and Gordon Reed was on drums. Graham Amos was on the bass. We got involved with Ashley Kozak who was previously Donovan's manager and recorded our first track which was "Rainbows". It was music away from the normal verse chorus of the day and was probably the beginning of what would later be known as progressive rock.

PC: Of course you were with Rainbows when you went to Germany and first met up with the guys who would become Nektar? RA: at's right, we were doing a stint as the house band in the Top ten club in Hamburg and during the day while the clubs were being cleaned I passed the Star club and heard a drummer practising. is was Ron Howden from the band Prophecy. He and I decided to spend the next few days together playing and when it was time for Rainbows to return to the UK I told Ron that if they ever needed a guitarist they should call me. A while later I got a telegram from the bass player asking if I want to join them in Hamburg. at was November 5th 1969. 

PC: With the Peeps I am guessing the music style was described as 'beat.' .' With Rainbows it got a little more ambitious. roughout those years in the 60's can you describe your own music ambitions? I think what I am trying to get to here is when did you begin to realise that you could create music that was even more ambitious and even more stretching than the normal three minute song. When did you get that spark? Each album created by Nektar is a journey rather than an album of songs. 

RA: When the Peeps were together we played a lot of Motown material and some lightweight soul music. When we changed to Rainbows we sat down and really thought about what we could really do that would be dierent. Of course we wanted to stay in the rock vein but were unhappy to continue to play standard material, something new was needed.

We came up with a few ideas that were touching on commercial but not too much but at the same time able to venture into other parts, a little like the classics would do. is for me would be the start of my own personal song writing career which would expand even more when I joined Ron Howden to form Nektar.

PC: Nektar of course are well documented around the world. I could really go o on one right now and gush over some of those albums you created with them. But I don't want to do that, only to say that after all these years those albums still make the hair on my back stand.

RA: It was a very special time with Nektar, we were very productive in the space of a few years, it was a kind of relief to be able to play and create music as we want, we were lucky in the fact that our then record company gave us the freedom to do this. Ninety nine percent of all other record companies were afraid to take on our first album "journey to the centre of the eye" because they said it was too far out, I guess in 1970 it was. 

PC: But Nektar today - Time Machine and Spoonful of Time are getting some tremendous reviews. You have just completed a European tour and you are due to visit the U.S... Clearly, the creativity and the passion are still there. What are your future plans and projects? RA: I want to carry on writing and performing as long as I possibly can, as for future projects, I would like to revisit "Journey" with a 20-piece orchestra at some later date, but until then, more music is in the pipeline. Lastly, I would love to play my home town again but I'm sure nobody knows who Nektar and Roye Albrighton are. Fingers crossed.

And there you have it although I am not sure that last statement is strictly true. I accept that times change and musical tastes move on but today's music listener is not afraid to travel back in time to listen to some of those classic rock acts of the past as well as embrace what is current.

For me though the music is just too good to ignore and although I would personally recommend that you listen to and totally absorb yourself in a Nektar album from beginning to end, given today's listening habits, you can treat yourself to selected tracks.

If that is your preferred option then give songs such as 'Wings' 'New Day Dawning' and 'Do You Believe in Magic' a spin. They are truly astonishing and they really do stand the test of time. 

Treat yourself and hopefully you will gain a better understanding of why Nektar were so successful worldwide and why the band are still welcomed in and able to tour many parts of the globe.

Thanks to Lesley Evans for the use of the photos which were taken on April 2 at a Steve Walwyn and Friends evening at e Zephyr in Leamington.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Horace Panter - Artist, Author, Musician

For Pete Clemons latest article for the Coventry Telegraph, he turns his attention to some of the other artistic works of Horace Panter of the The Specials.

Horace's art is very art is very Special!
by Pete Clemons
YOU may well recognise the name Horace Panter as being the bass player of Coventry band e Specials. But how about Horace Panter the artist, or Horace Panter the author? Horace continues to be a member of that iconic band who reached No.1 in the UK charts with 'Ghost Town' back in 1981 but nowadays his creativity is being applied to dif-dif ferent mediums, those of art and writing. He is equally at home wearing painting overalls in his studio or donning his writing cap as he is wearing a tonic suit on stage.

It has been well documented that Horace graduated from the Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) with a degree in Fine Art and that it was while he was there that he met Jerry Dammers; the rest is history! However, it is only when you find yourself, as I did recently, in conversation with him at the Coventry Music Museum, that you gain some in depth knowledge of what he is like as a person and what makes him tick.

For example, during his many tours with e Specials over the years, Horace built up a substantial collection of art and art books from around the world. He says he has always spent his free time on tour visiting local galleries and museums in those towns and cities where the band was playing. Because of this, he has been able to see some of his favourite works of art up close: Jasper Johns, Joseph Cornell, James Rosenquist, Kenneth Noland, Peter Blake, Robyn Denny and Francis Bacon are examples. 

The concept behind Horace's art is contemporary iconography, with subjects ranging from the classic 1950s fictional robot to the supersize studio demo cassette. He says though that it is all Pop Art. One of the common denominators in his work seems to be the link to his own experiences relating to places he has been or people he has met.

My own preference is for his music-related art: e Clash, e Specials, Amy Winehouse, e Ramones. In written and spoken comments about Horace's art, I often come across the name of Sir Peter Blake as a comparison, perhaps because they both use bright colours and similar subject matter. Horace has even done an homage to Peter Blake with his 'Elvis with Badges' painting which is based on Peter Blake's 'Self Portrait.'.

* However, I am far from being an expert in thiseld so could not possibly begin to compare the two. I do know what I like though and I think some of his collages and portraits in the musical genre are wonderful. I love the vibrancy of the colours and the fact that he seems to capture the essence of his subject. 

I own one of his 'cassette' paintings. ere is a complete series of these; a simple idea superbly executed which includes (to date): e Specials, Madness, Nirvana, John Peel, the Undertones, the Jam, the Clash, Bowie and Chic. Nile Rodgers actually has the Chic 'Good Times' supersize cassette framed in his studio in the USA. He has also done a small series of giant paintings of Sony Walkmans to accompany the cassettes!

As well as the painting itself, Horace is currently putting the finishing touches to a book to be published this year about his art. is is after the fact that he wrote his musical biography 'Ska'd for Life' (published in 2007) in which describes the formative years of e Specials, his early musical experiences and the rise and fall of the band.

Following the initial demise of e Specials, he spent ten years as an art teacher prior to the band reforming in 2008. e book is written from his own perspective, in a light-hearted way and without any hint of pretentiousness; this is not the kind of book that dishes the dirt. Horace's passion and dedication for performance is very evident but there is nothing disrespectful towards the other band members. It is refreshing to read this honest first-hand account and out of my collection of music-related books it is certainly one of my favourites. 

The overriding message of the book, in my opinion, is that you may have ambitions to make it big in the music business and you may have the talent to get there but this doesn't mean it'll be a bed of roses if and when you do! Sadly, it seems that the success got in the way of just enjoying the creative process and the journey to get there. To sum it up - the chase is better than the catch!

Being the bassist in e Specials doesn't prevent him from playing locally in the blues band 'Blues 2 Go': Alio Maynard on vocals, Pete Gardner on guitar and Russell Munns on drums. ey are to be found most weekends playing in and around Coventry, with regular appearances at e Broomeld Tavern, Whitefriars Olde Ale House and e Albany Club - all the gigs are free entry.

Formed ten years ago, 'Blues 2 Go',' are recognised as being more than just a band that has a 'Special' in the ranks. eir set will typically include the music of Cream, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix. And, listening to them live, you quickly realise that their delivery of such classic and respected music is quite exceptional.

And if that wasn't enough Horace will be bringing his new venture, the 'Uptown Ska Collective',' to the Godiva Festival on Sunday, July 6. By all accounts the USC are a nine-piece band that includes a brass section, which will perform Horace's favourite music in a ska/reggae style.

Horace's art can be seen on his website: but to see it up close you could visit either e White Room Gallery in Leamington: or at Reuben Colley Fine Arts in Birmingham: He exhibits in galleries throughout the UK and this summer is exhibiting in Singapore at 'Best of British' (an event showcasing the best of British art and design) and at Icon Gallery.

Tanks to Clare Milne for her invaluable assistance in the production of this article.

Horace Panter's website

Horace and Blues to Go

Kevin Harrison Real Life with Horace Panter and Neol Davies and Lynda Harrison