1975 – Cozy Powell, Viv Stanshall, Brian Eno, Gary Moore, Phil Collins, Chris Spedding^, Bill Bruford, Andy Pyle, Manfred Mann, Alvin Lee PLUS all of Brand X and sundry Procol Harum and Blodwyn Pig dudes ALL ON THE SAME LP. IT MUST BE THE BEST ONE EVER MADE! YES?! YES?!
Rewind back to 1983, I’m sitting at the back of the music class in a drafty room, it’s raining and we’re all listening to Prokofiev, albeit not very attentively. The teacher is keeping it simple, it’s something we all looked at in primary school ‘Peter & The Wolf’. It was a nice way to introduce kids without a classical background to the various instruments in primary school, we were now too old and cool for that. If only someone would record a version with more modern instruments, that might really speak to us – the disenfranchised youth of West Wales. Well, unbeknown to us*, Jack Lancaster had done this 8 years previously releasing Peter & The Wolf**.
I know very little about this album in terms of its’ genesis, recording and/or reception at the time and so I’ve been totally thrown back on my own ears and judgment – crikey! I remember it being a big, disjointed mess when I first listened to it, I’d still go with big and disjointed, but not the mess bit. As you’d imagine the musicianship is superb throughout, maybe a little self-consciously so at times, but it is superb. Poor Viv Stanshall does not sound remotely healthy, which he wasn’t by that point, during any of his contributions. Garry (sic) Moore and Stéphane Grappelli are the musos who stand out most to my ears. It is a little too disjointed to be superlative, but it was far better than I remembered nonetheless. There are some awful bits, but I’m all about the positives here at 1537.
Some random, yet entirely positive, notes:
- ‘Peter’s Theme’ a prog-funk-gasm of the highest degree of grooviness, drenched in string synth – oh yeah!
- ‘Duck and Bird’ – some tasty, barely restrained guitaring from Moore.
- ‘Cat Dance’ – violin and bluesy licks from Alvin Lee.
- ‘Cat and Duck’ – wild, unrestrained violin, guitar freak-out – the likes of which had not been heard since the glory days of Jean Luc Ponty – far too short.
- ‘Grandfather’ borderline pimptastic – not sure what the old fella had done in his prime, but I’d be willing to bet it didn’t involve the sweat of his own brow.
There isn’t a vast amount more to add, other than the fact I love the large sumptuous booklet in this one, telling the story in multiple languages, un ferocissimo lupo, indeed. This LP was clearly the product of such deranged excess and fanciful logic that it could only have been conceived in the mid 70s. I mean, why? I’m glad they did it though. If you want to listen to ‘Peter & The Wolf’ head to the classical section, if you want a strangeoid prog funk rave up head for the Peter & The Wolf section. A bit of a rock folly? yeah, in the architectural sense of the word definitely – what could be more beautiful?
^thus providing, once and for all that elusive Sex Pistols – Prokofiev – Blodwyn Pig link that rock scholars have been searching for since the year, 1537.
*and I’ll wager, unknown to Miss Jones too.
**sometimes referred to as The Rock Peter & The Wolf, although that’s not its’ proper title, so I shan’t.