April 2013 News Update
Monday, April 1, 2013
What a month March 2013 has been. A month of high’s and of lows.
The high points of course being the music and the lows are; being plagued by a rotten cold virus (both Hilary and I) and news of the loss of our dear friend James Herbert. My thoughts and memories are here on this page. But first the highpoints.
Giltrap / Wakeman
My two concerts this month with Oliver went swimmingly well although it has to be said that the Margate concert was a tad thin on the ground attendance wise.
Our gig at Farncombe on the 15th was a sell out at the church and was incredibly well received. Sadly our two Cumbrian concerts at the Hunter Hall School had to be re scheduled because of the snow we had during that period. Never mind, the good news is that it WILL happen.
Hilary and I travelled up a day earlier and stayed with our friends Scott and Jane in Ulverston. A big thank you to them for looking after us so well, so even though it was a wasted journey it was a pleasure to see them again. The FIVE HOUR drive back was a bit of a pain though. Still we got back safe and sound.
Ravens and Lullabies
The new album continues to garner fantastic reviews, and the article in this month’s PROG magazine was just outstanding. The magazine gave glowing reviews for the album as well, and Moneyfacturing was one of the tracks on their free CD that goes with this superbly packaged magazine. It’s not cheap (£8) but it’s good. It can be bought from WHSmith or online here and it has the Moody Blues on the cover of the mag's posh cardboard envelope. The three page feature I think you will find will bring a smile!
See below a selection of some the very favourable reviews that the album has received thus far. We hope the authors will forgive us but we've taken paragraphs from all the reviews and effectively made a new one from them! You can read the individual reviews in full with the appropriate credits on the Ravens discography page.
The good news is that the record company have printed up another 500 copies of the limited edition twin album pack. The down side is that Oliver and I had to jointly sign another thousand sleeves for the edition. Hey ho, no big deal there and not a problem, just brain numbing and time consuming.
Ravens and Lullabies excerpts from reviews.
This is the first time Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman have recorded an album together, but they each have an exceptional musical heritage that is put to great use here. Gordon's unique and brilliant guitar work and Oliver's masterful keyboard playing complement each other perfectly.
This album has been well worth the wait. Right from the opening track "Moneyfacturing" to the closer "Ravens will fly away" it's a broad spectrum of virtuoso musicianship, great vocals and a superb rhythm section. This album should appeal not only to fans of Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman but should find a following of anyone who just likes well written and well performed acoustic/electric rock.
As you would expect from these two musicians, all of the material is strong in its own right whether individually or jointly written and certainly Wakeman's lyrics are meaningful, and I suspect somewhat personal. The playing too is top-notch - Wakeman equally impressive on synthesisers and piano, while the electric guitars of Giltrap are powerful and expressive, and may come as a surprise to those more familiar with his acoustic work.
An album for people, who appreciate the highest class of virtuosic guitar and piano (you will love the instrumental compositions). The songs: intriguing vocals and melodies that sound in your ears long after the CD stopped playing. For those into the good, old progressive rock - some parts may remind you of YES and early Genesis (surprised?).
This release brims of beauty, delicious songs and excellent delivery from all involved!!
An incredible collection of tracks. I am a long-time GG fan who still likes Fear of the Dark and Perilous Journey at full volume and this is most definitely a full volume album. That's not to say that there are not beautiful under-stated and low key tracks but there are melodies and songs that scream 'turn me up'. Moneyfacturing is a great opener and Ravens a luscious final song. Inbetween there is the glorious Wherever There Was Beauty and the maddeningly too short Anyone Can Fly featuring solo keyboard and guitar in an incredible last two minutes. If you get the bonus cd then you are in for more treats from some live and studio tracks. I guarantee you that if you like early GG you are going to love this. I'm new to OW but you just have to see this guy play to recognise talent. He writes some great tunes too! Buy it.
Some might say that this was an ambitious project to undertake - after all, Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman are still relatively new to each other and it's a long time since Giltrap's prog rock days. Question is do they pull it off? Well in my opinion yes they do in fine style!
And here's the thing. What might have been a tuneful and pleasant album has been transformed into something of genuine beauty and substance by real care over the quality of the material and the arrangements, and the undoubted enthusiasm of the two protagonists. Fans of the acoustic side of both men's past work will be kept happy, of course, but it is when the band kicks in that this album really flies, and it's particularly wonderful to hear Gordon unleash those trademark lead guitar lines as if it were 1978 all over again!
To conclude this well-crafted offering deserves recognition and success. Let's hope it marks the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership too! BUY IT!
4 Parts Guitar March 5th Walberton Village Hall
There is something so fun filled and special about 4 Parts Guitar that makes every gig so memorable. This quartet hadn’t played together for months, but after a brief rehearsal and catch up chat we all just launch into our individual sets with gusto and then re-grouped for the second half. For anyone who has attended any of our concerts you will know how much GENUINE fun we have on stage together, and that’s why I guess we continue doing what we do as a quartet.
Poor old Clive had just returned from the States minus his new bride who wasn’t allowed to enter the UK through some ridiculous technicality, so you can guess how the poor fella was feeling. I like to think the concert lifted his spirits a tad and allowed him to forget about things for a short while.
4PG have a major tour planned for next spring so do look out for that. I for one can’t wait. A big thank you to Sue Martin for promoting this excellent evening that was packed to the gunnels. Bless ya Sue.
Memories of Jim Herbert
As I write this, we are still only three days away from the news of the passing of our friend James Herbert.
We have known Jim for so many years now; it’s hard to remember how it all came about. I had long been a fan of his page turning novels and had always felt that maybe one day we would meet. That day indeed did come after I wrote to his publishers saying how much I had enjoyed his work, especially books like The Dark, and particularly The Magic Cottage with all its many references to guitars and the music business, I just knew that this man must be a guitar player, and of course he was.
I remember our first meeting in a posh hotel room in London; I think it was The Dorchester. Jim was in town doing a book launch for his latest work. We just hit it off straight away and over the years have spent quite a few quality times together.
Hilary and I have so many good memories of Jim, like the time he agreed to be part of a feature entitled "How We Met" for the Independent Magazine. We went down to his lovely home in Woodmancote where a photo session and interview had been arranged. This was around the time of the Troubadour album release. The sun was shining and Jim and I had lunch at a local pub. It was a good day!
Other memories include being part of a wedding reception in Venice where I had been asked to play at the reception for our friends Steffi and Arthur Blake. I remember well the guests were pretty noisy and Jim standing up shouting for them to “shut the f**k up”. Such was his respect for my music and playing!
Jim had a passion for music and guitars generally and had quite a nice collection, many of which I took away and did serious make-over’s for him so they would play better.
I remember Hilary ringing him up to give a progress report, and he really didn’t want to know the details just in case I had damaged his precious guitars. Fortunately of course I didn’t, and he was thrilled with how much better and easier they played when I returned them. I even gave him my old Fylde guitar that I used for much of the Fear of the Dark album. He treasured this instrument and kept it by his writing desk, and would have a strum in between writing his latest novels. It’s a nice feeling to know that I in my own way had an influence on this remarkable man.
Now he has gone, all we are left with are fond memories of times spent together. Jim was a pretty tough cookie who had no time for phony people, and didn’t suffer fools easily, but beneath all of this was a generous kind hearted and very emotional man.
It was only a few weeks ago that I was speaking with him on the phone to say how much we were looking forward to seeing him on his 70th birthday celebration day. He sounded delighted that we could attend. I said to him “yes Jim because you’re worth it” We were SO looking forward to seeing him again and I know it would have been a special day. I had even planned to take the guitar and play something for him. I had also looked forward to giving him a copy of Ravens and Lullabies which I know he would have loved. I can even hear him saying “well done Gordon, at long last you have created something that I think could be quite commercial” or something along those lines. It saddened Jim that I hadn’t achieved the fame and fortune that he believed I deserved for my talent.
Of course, I know the truth of my life is measured by my friends and loved ones and not by money in the bank, as nice as that would be. I couldn’t have bought the friendship I had with Jim Herbert. Our friendship was the real deal.
I can still remember picking up the phone last Christmas morning and hearing Jim’ voice wishing me a happy Christmas. When a friend sets aside the time to do that it really means a lot.
I need to draw to a close now because writing this is quite emotional for me. I’m glad to share these few memories with you, and there are SO many more besides, but as I said I’m finding it a bit too upsetting right now.
I was indeed proud to call James Herbert my friend and for us to share a part of our lives with him and the lovely Eileen. Our thoughts go out to them right now at this oh so very sad time in their and our lives right now.
Jim we are going to miss you and your voice on the end of the phone.
Rest in Peace dear friend.
We are getting some new GG posters printed for my solo gigs....Here it is...hope you like it! Maestro Raymond Burley’s son Tim has done the design honours here and I think he’s done a cracking job. Thanks Tim.
For some reason most of the major newspapers used my personal tribute to Jim Herbert that I posted on Twitter, in their news pages. This was completely unexpected, and I feel very honoured that they had chosen my few words of sadness for their tribute to the great man. Because of this I think I have acquired quite a few new followers on Twitter. It’s the only thing I can put it down to.
Hilary and I along with our friend Rob Aitchison from Explore Audio had a lovely meeting with Ellie and Jon Ellery at Marshall’s head office on the 18th of March to discuss quite a few exciting products. I can’t really give details as yet, but needless to say it is a great honour and a pleasure to be involved with such great people and this legendary company. Many of you will know that Jim Marshall was a friend of ours and a brother Water Rat. Like many great men who have passed away recently it is hard to believe they are gone, such was their charisma in life. Truth is they are still with us all the while we speak fondly of them.
Guitar of the Month
This month’s guitar is quite a rare beast. It’s called a Gretsch Hawaiian and is based on a pre war guitar. The looks aren’t to everyone’s taste, but I personally love it. It was up for sale but had no takers and has returned home. It comes with a scratch plate that I have removed and put away for safe keeping. I find it just gets in the way of my playing. It has a lovely playing action, and although it hasn’t a particularly “deep” voice it has quite a unique tone and wonderful sustain on the lower bass end.
I say its quite rare because Gretsch don’t make them any more to my knowledge, and you would be hard pushed to find one for sale. I have looked everywhere from EBay to anything that Google can come up with but I can’t find one. I like it's small body and it’s what I call a sofa guitar, just perfect for practising and writing.
For Next Month
By the time you read this I will have spent the day with Raymond Burley filming in the Guitar Practiced Perfectly studios as well as my concert in Hereford. I shall be reporting on both next month.
See you then dear friends and as I always say....BE WELL.