Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Second coming: The one in which I turn up in the heart of the Beatles empire...without a camera.

Back cover of  'A Portrait of Time'
Front cover of  'A Portrait of Time'
38 days 23 hours 2 mins

After the success of my first album which completely sold out within 15 minutes (there were only three of them remember), I turned my mind to the follow up. Having released every song I had been able to write, this might have been a problem. I solved this by deciding to do an, avant-garde type of album inspired by the Beatles ‘Revolution 9’ off of the White Album. I then got together with John Mortimer again and put together a recording of, sound samples, effects, crazily played guitar, bird song and other equally abstract delights. In this audio landscape I attempted to document the rise of human civilisation from the proto-swamps of the early earth, right to the present day, all in 45 minutes.

I called it ‘A Portrait of Time’ again by the Seminal Vesicle Band (which obviously had a fluid personnel now, comprising of only me).

John and I then hatched a plan to have the acetate for this album cut at 3, Savile Row, London, the heart of the Beatles Empire and after booking the session, took off one day in January 1969 to arrive outside, facing the shiny metal plaque that declared ‘Apple Records’.

As we passed a handful of ‘Apple Scruffs’, I said to one of them, “If you wanna get in, book to have an acetate done, it’s easy”. We were heading for Apple studios in the basement. Once inside, we were taken to the cutting room by the ‘soon to be legendary’ engineer George Peckham who was polite enough not to diss the 45 minutes of abstract noises of my work, presumably because he had heard it all before.

I am sitting there watching my disc being cut on the lathe, shit scared to move, I am overwhelmed, I am even more overwhelmed to know that Lennon is in the building in an office on the ground floor directly above my head!!!! I had often attempted to move objects across tables using only the power of my mind but disappointedly never succeeded, now I attempted to use psychic osmosis (which may exist as a concept or I made it up that day, I don’t know) to try to drain some of that talent from Lennon, only a few feet above me, into the empty vessel that was me. I obviously didn't succeed in that either but it did cause a peculiar grimace type of look on my face whilst doing it.

Apple studio label (with spots)

While we were in there, another engineer entered the room and for a few moments he talked to George Peckham about running audio cables from the studio, up the stairwell, to the roof. I was puzzled as to why you would want to run cables up there, but before I could ask, George left the room temporarily with the other guy, whilst my acetate continued being cut.At this point I realised that neither John nor I had a camera with us, I don’t think I even owned one at the time, In those days, we didn't have mobiles or camera phones to fall back on and so I became desperate to get some sort of memento of our visit.

Portrait of Time record with Apple label

How could we possibly have come here without a sodding camera???

In front of me were a bunch of virgin Apple Studio labels that were for putting on the acetates the studio worked on, so I grabbed I handful of them.I was desperate for Lennon to pop his head around the door and hear my masterpiece but he didn't and without meeting a single Beatle, John Mortimer and I eventually left the building clutching three copies of my next release, whilst inside, the Apple engineers continued to work on a rooftop concert.

If only I had asked that question! 

Never mind, my second album (all three again) sold out in 15 minutes, something the Beatles never managed. 

As proof of this record, inserted are images of the album sleeve, again by Kathy Baxendale and the Apple label on my disc. Incidentally, the spots on the Apple mysteriously appeared once the Beatles split up!

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