TIME — IN QUAALUDES AND RED WINE

When you are in pain, time has the capacity for slowing to a torturous crawl.

Such was the lot of your correspondent this week, as one of the Vinyl Connection bicuspids decided it was sick and tired of meekly sitting between ripping canine and grinding molar and transformed, Jekyll and Hyde-like, into a small white tower extruding agony. Exaggeration, you say? Then, my friend, you’ve never had toothache. Count yourself fortunate. Floss and brush assiduously. Make an appointment for a dental check up tomorrow. But for now, sit back—preferably with a stiff drink—as I unfold a tale of horror, darkness, and codeine.

Having committed to help an old friend move his substantial vinyl collection between properties down in the south-eastern suburbs, I took paracetamol for a nasty head cold and saddled up for a long day. We got through a hot, sweaty Sunday reasonably OK, though I was absolutely knackered by the time I staggered home. After a shower and much-needed nap, I felt a bit better, but noticed a tenderness in one of my teeth, one that has caused problems previously. As I’m a jaw grinder from way back, I put it down to that… but during the evening, far from receding, the pain increased, relentless as the creeping tide.

As this particular white horse was well-known to my long-suffering dentist—he first worked on it back when the Oasis debut was all-conquering—the need for professional input was obvious. Let’s fast-motion through the next part: Visit Dentist -> inconclusive x-ray -> start antibiotics -> increase analgesics -> moan and groan a lot -> assess Clash options (“Should I stay or should I go”) -> resolve on the latter.

Ms Connection (she’s my International Woman of the Year, you know) took the day off to drive me back to Malvern. But the tooth did not give up its place in the team willingly. In fact it was an all-in wrestling match between Doctor Phang and the stubborn bicuspid that lasted more than 20 minutes before the chap in the white coat, panting slightly, dismembered and removed his opponent from the ring. Clenching (lightly) a cotton wad over the wound, we started for home.

More stop-motion: Driving home, the new car died -> Ms C ordered an Uber to take me home -> arriving at Chez Connection, I began to feel quite unwell, shaking like an ancient washing machine on fast spin cycle -> suspecting this was not good, rang Ms C.

This process culminated in the arrival at my bedside of Ms Connection and three female Paramedics almost simultaneously. It was like being in a very bossy harem, but I was in no state to enjoy the attention as the team ascertained I had a serious fever; in all likelihood a tooth related infection.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” they advised.

Shaking and sweating and feeling utterly shit? Yep, I can do that.

So that’s what I did, while the amazing Ms Connection fixed everything else.

As the fever began to reduce, pain reappeared from the haze and I again noticed how stretchy time is. It redacted my life to working out the periods between alternating doses of paracetamol/codeine and ibuprofen. How sensitive I became to the jaw twinge indicating the return of Captain Throb; the clock became a parsimonious dealer in relief.

The arc of healing slowly bottomed out and began to ascend. Couldn’t read, couldn’t think straight, couldn’t concentrate on anything more complicated than part two of the Hunger Games. Yet, amazingly, thoughts of records danced in my brain.

How many records called Time are there? ELO had one, I thought; then there was a rock musical in the mid-80s by Dave Clarke. Oh, and didn’t Fleetwood Mac do Time in the 90s? Don’t have any of those. What about album titles beginning with the word Time? There must be a few of those in the Vinyl Connection collection.

Quite a few, then. There has to be a post in this. Better take panadeine and narrow it down.

Got it! I’ll write about all the albums entitled Time Something located alphabetically between SCHO and SCHU. All praise the Gods of Vinyl for an operative filing system.

*

1979 was a busy year for Klaus Schulze. The German synthesiser pioneer released Dune—the eleventh album in his already substantial catalogue—and began working on a parallel project called Richard Wahnfried. The idea of this ‘band’ was to enlist a shifting cast of guest musicians to present more commercial-sounding electronic based music.

The first album is called Time Actor and includes vocalist Arthur Brown (of sixties “Fire” fame) along with Vincent Crane (of Crazy World of Arthur Brown “Fire”fame and, of course, Atomic Rooster) plus Santana alumnus Michael Shrieve (credited with ‘Rhythmical advice’, whatever that is).

The name Richard Wahnfried was created by Schulze based on his love of Wagner; he borrowed the composer’s given name and paired it with the name of Wagner’s villa in Bayreuth. Surely that would appeal to the rock/pop youth market? History does not suggest massive sales ensued, yet the project did produce some interesting attempts at merging electronics with rock structures in a way that remained idiosyncratic (the songs are scarcely 3 minute radio ditties) and progressive.

How you feel about this first outing of Richard Wahnfried will depend a lot on how you respond to the melodramatic vocals of the inimitable Arthur Brown. Dramatic, ranting, imploring, intoning, declaiming; Brown is in great voice and as long as you are not expecting Tangerine Dream, it works reasonably well. It would need to: most of the pieces are vocal-based and there are a lot of lyrics.

Although released at the tail end of the seventies, there is a distinct 80s sheen to the synth sounds; the tones are bright, the attack sharp, the decay brief. Drums sound synthesised to me—perhaps advice was all Michael Shrieve contributed. That’s a pity, as the sound is somewhat dated by the percussion textures.

In sum, one for dedicated Klaus Schulze fans (and not the place to start if you are new to his oeuvre), for those who love the eccentricities of Arthur Brown, or someone deeply into early progresive-electro-rock.

*

Eberhard Schoener is a composer, arranger, conductor and musician of great breadth and scope. Classically trained in Germany, he has written everything from opera to electronica, dabbled in World Music as early as 1975, and worked with Jon Lord of Deep Purple (orchestrating Sarabande) and two-thirds of The Police. Intriguing, yes?

The album we’re focussing on today is his 1981 LP, Time Square. Unfortunately it is not one of his best. The album seems to be an attempt to continue the work Schoener did with Sting and Andy Summer but without either of those artists involved. It ends up as a kind of damp experimental pseudo-rock that never quite finds a home.

What I enjoyed most was the composer’s use of texture. Sax over marimba, for instance, in “The nine lives of a cat”, a song sung by Clare Torry (she of Floyd’s “The great gig in the sky”). The synth and electronic percussion in “Gramercy Park Hotel” is cool, too, even if vocalist George Beck does seem to be channelling Sting with throat-straining enthusiasm. Elsewhere, the combination of almost operatic vocals and sparse electronics in “Take the zoom” works well, but sounds like it belongs on a different album. The atmospheric instrumental title track was probably my favourite.

Is it too much diversity that leaves Time Square lacking cohesion? Hard to say, as for all the creative textures and innovative accompaniments the album remains just a bit, um, square. Another day, we’ll return to Herr Schoener’s catalogue to do justice to the really interesting records he’s made.

*

Robert Schroeder is a German electronic musician who released his first album in the same year Richard Wahnfried began. Time Waves (1987) was his eighth album and showcases his ability to combine rhythmic momentum with synthesiser melodies in a way that is engaging and often hummable, without ever stretching the listener.

Opener “The turn of a dream” is a good example. A brief catchy melodic hook leads into a secondary theme that is lush and romantic. Kind of muscular, Teutonic Enya.

After a gentle interlude, the beat is back with “Waveshape”, a pulsing, Numanesque piece that even boasts some (surely tongue-in-cheek) Yello style vocal incursions: Wave shape, Oh Yeah!

Centrepiece of the album is the eighteen minute “The Message”. This continuous piece is really a suite in several parts. Like all of Schroeder’s compositions here, there is lots of variety and enough tonal diversity that you forgive the sometimes icky eighties synth sounds. Remember that breathy calliope voice? It is in evidence here but not so much that you turn off. Parts of “The Message” evoked Jean-Michel Jarre in a very positive way; perhaps this could be his restless younger brother.

If you want to experiment beyond Jean-Michel Jarre and like any 80s Tangerine Dream you’ve stumbled across, then Time Waves would be likely to please. Used in conjunction with codeine-based analgesics and a glass of wine, it might even ameliorate toothache.

*

34 comments

  1. Oy. Music always helps. Hope you feel better, Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Getting there Michael, thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is quite the story. My condolences. That must have really sucked. Especially the car on top of everything else. Glad you’re back on the case.

    Funny but when you mentioned Time music my mind went first to songs, not albums. Three to report: Time Passages by Al Stewart, Time of the Season by The Zombies.

    And a song by a band called The Chambers Brothers. The song was called “Time Has Come Today” and it was part of the psychedelia going around in the late ’60’s. The original meanders on for a good 11 minutes. This version is about 5.minutes and was actually a pretty big hit.

    https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=skeHO0V6-mM

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    1. Love both the Zombies and the Al Stewart songs (you’ll see the album on that list!) and will definitely have a listen to The Chambers Brothers. Love some psychedelia around these parts!

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      1. You’ll need to hear the full 11 minute version for that. 😁 I posted the shorter one.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hoping your mouth recovers from this recent trauma in no time (see what I did there?). I”m not familiar with your highlighted albums although I own 10 of the albums on your list. I should check out the Richard Wahnfried record. I’m currently listening to Atomic Rooster’s debut album (a gem I hadn’t played in a few years) so we’ve got a Vincent Crane connection happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very neat. Poor Mr Crane. Talented muso, bedevilled by depression.
      My piece on Rooster’s second album is close. Very very close.

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  4. I’m sorry to hear about your dental woes (tooth pain truly is the *worst*), but is it awful of me to say that your account was downright enjoyable? Tell me: is your dentist’s name really Dr. Phang, or is that your fabulous wit at play again? I confess I’m not a big fan of electronica/synthesizer heavy work. Interesting that Schoener titled a cut on Time Square Gramercy Park Hotel, a New York allusion, as the title would also be were it not missing an all-important ‘s’. When you were in your codeine haze I wondered whether you would start dreaming up song/album titles with a dental vibe (Kicked in the Teeth, AC/DC; Crooked Teeth, Death Cab for Cutie; or, perhaps most appropriately for you, Pulling Teeth by Green Day! P.S. Wives are always heroines. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heroine. “Heroin.” Lou Reed. That’s a song he could have used. :-0

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Touche, Jim!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. JDB, I’m delighted you enjoyed the read. Transmuting discomfort into a vague attempt at humour was certainly the goal.

      Dr Phang, is one of two obscure rock references in the post (the title is the other). A famous 70s reissue of the first two Pink Floyd albums was called ‘A Nice Pair’. The cover consisted of a series of panels with unusual photos. On the top right was a Dentist’s shopfront for Dr Phang’s practice. So borrowed wit and trainspotter music-nerdishness!

      Let us let the ‘tooth song’ idea run and see what else emerges…

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      1. Atomic Rooster. The missing link between Arthur Brown and ELP. As to tooth songs, a few thoughts: “Smile Away,” McCartney; Spooky Tooth (band); and isn’t there a crazy dentist song in Little Shop of Horrors?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There is, Jim. Bravo!

          “You’ll be a dentist
          You have a talent for causing things pain
          Son, be a dentist
          People will pay you to be inhumane”

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, that explains the reference soaring over my head…not well versed in Pink Floydiana. I like the album title vein. You’ve given us albums with ‘time’…how about albums with….animals? plants? infrastructural elements…? Sorry, long day…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Time for a glass of Chardonnay, JDB!

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  5. Oy. Tooth pain. 1000% of my sympathies to you, my friend.

    And can we all just take a moment to applaud the wonderous Ms. Connection? Seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dr. Phang! Love that… and hoo boy, what a collection of meds you’ve got there. Well, you did have the time to ponder all of this. Great post, but sorry you had to write it. Feel better! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know that idea when you are travelling and having a really miserable time, and you tell yourself “This will make a great travel story, this will make a great travel story”? Well, this one was like that!
      Pleased you enjoyed it Marty.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Poor bugger.
    Last time I had a tooth pulled, I was grateful my dentist was in training for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably better if he was somewhere between Sydney and Hobart?!

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      1. Perhaps, but I was implying that he was in good shape to extract a stubborn molar fairly quickly.
        Anyway, I hope all things are on the up at Maison Vinyl.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. To the toppermost of the the poppermost!

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  8. Eh. Sorry, but I have to admit to having a right chuckle at your telling of your pain, Bruce.

    I haven’t suffered like that myself; it sounds horrendous. Glad you had Ms Connection to look after you and lists of records to make! (I am familiar with a few, but have only one – Time Out Of Mind).

    As for the featured albums there? Lost. I don’t know any of them. Sound fairly intriguing, right enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! Chuckles were what we were hoping for after the week that was.

      (Have tickets for Teenage Fanclub tonight, James. Wish me luck!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Smashin’! Hope Teenage Fanclub are braw!

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  9. Felt your pain, really enjoyed your gritted teeth response.

    In the early 80’s I would drive through London past a dentist whose surgery’s front window proclaimed in big white letters “Dr. Phang, dentist”. I chuckled over that half way to Middlesbrough (more than 250 miles). It was years later that I saw the Pink Floyd album. I’ve wondered ever since if it was that window there on the album cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Surely it must have been. The story goes that the Dentist in question requested his photo be removed because the dentist’s code of ethics bans advertising and the album photo could be construed as that. If it ain’t true, it ought to be!

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  10. Well, Bruce, you’ve certainly made the most of a pretty diabolical situation.Was it Shakespeare who said something about music soothing the angry beast? In this case, it was your knowledge of music distracting you, calming you, treating you. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Vin. I confess, I did enjoy a few glasses of vino at the end of the week. Get your analgesia where you can, eh?

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  11. Sorry, missed this little blighter first time around. I really enjoyed this, but not your agony obviously.

    I’m a bit disappointed at the lack of either Time Buckley, or Time Lehrer here though.

    The ‘dart’ cover is truly wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pain into prose. It’s our motto here. (querulous frown). The Schoener cover is indeed wonderful. He’s really interesting too. Must do his album that re-dated trance by twenty years.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ouch! CB has an “International Women Of The Year” over at his pad. Where would I be with out her?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rule one of Relationships: Strive to appreciate your partner!

      Liked by 1 person

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