December 31, 2009

Blackhill Enterprises manager and producer Andrew King talks about the Third Ear Band.

Andrew King, founder of Blackhill Enterprises with Peter Jenner and producer of "Third Ear Band" (1970) and "Music from Macbeth" (1972) talked to me about the TEB in 1996. I did interview him by letter for my forthcoming book on the TEB and he did answer me just some quick, but very interesting, things...
How did you meet TEB?
"Third Ear Band played at one of the early London Free School gigs at All Saints Church Hall, Powis Square. I think the sax player Lyn Dobson was playing with them. That's how we met".
What do you remember about the first Hyde park TEB concerts?
"On the morning of the Rolling Stones show in Hyde Park, Paul Buckmaster phoned me to ask if he should wear a suit and tie! These shows were hard for TEB, but they just about survived!"
What about the Stanley Kubrick proposal for a soundtrack?
"What Stanley Kubrick proposal?"

Which was the Blackhill approach to the music biz? And which was TEB's?
"Blackhill was only interested in Art, TEB were only interested in Money (and sex and drugs). EMI didn't know what they were interested in, but felt that should be money involved. There wasn't really anyone at EMI (except perhaps Malcolm Jones) capable of having a conversation with them. So Blackhill was always the go-between; and really Blackhill had no clear plans as to what we were trying to achieve. 
 The TEB were so divorced from the normal sort of "act", that it was always difficult to see them as anything more than a sort of strange hobby; despite the fact that they sold a lot more records than more conventional bands (e.g. Kevin Ayers).
EMI went along with what we asked of them not because they supported us, but because they were frightened of   missing out on something good and thought that we had our fingers on the ???.".

What do you remember about your experience as producer with TEB?
"I did two albums, "Air Earth Fire Water" and Polanski's "Macbeth". During AEFW the band were taking acid fairly regularly. I did not realize this and could not understand what they were laughing at all the time. I think it's a fine album. I saw Peter Mew, the EMI engineer, a few weeks ago, and he still remembers it as some of the weirdest sessions he ever worked on in 30 years at Abbey Road!"
"Macbeth" was very different, and actually technically very innovative. They improvised live to the film, reel by reel, as it came up from Shepperton Studios. There was a time-code to synchronize it to the film. I would imagine this had never been done before: we did it in Air Studios above Oxford Circus; Abbey Road could not handle it.
I well remember the trips down to Shepperton in Polanski's very large and old Rolls Royce, with Paul Buckmaster and Glen amd Paul Minns. Also a very lively meal with Polanski where he danced on the tables in a Mexican resturant near Sloane Square. All good stuff!".

no©2009 Luca Ferrari

December 30, 2009

For Kollektors only: some notes about TEB records...

Even if few records published in their "golden era" (1968-1972), TEB fans are looking for original editions on vinyl, especially the first two edited by Harvest Records.
Between 1969 and the beginning of Eighties, just few times the records have been reissued, with small differences on inner sleeve and label.
Here are the main things to know to make the right choice:

"ALCHEMY" (Harvest SHVL 756, July 1969)
All editions have gatefold laminated cover. Differences on the label.

first edition
No EMI logo on the label. Above the Harvest logo the inscription: "Sold in U.K. Subject to Resale Price Conditions See Price List".
Valued about € 80. 

                          Note the original "Alchemy" cover with no EMI logo on the top.

second edition (about 1974)
No EMI logo on the label. Above the Harvest logo no other inscriptions.
Valued about € 60.

third edition (January 1980)
EMI logo above the Harvest logo. Above the Harvest logo no other inscriptions.
Valued about € 35.

Drop Out reissue (Drop Out Records DO 1999, 1988)
This edition has gatefold cover as the original with the Drop Out logo high in front. Label in pink colour. 
Valued about € 25.


Akarma reissue (Akarma-Timeless TIME 732, ITA 2013)
This limited edition (just 500 copies printed) has heavy duty gatefold sleeve as the original. 
Valued about € 20/40.

"THIRD EAR BAND" (Harvest SHVL 773, June 1970)
All editions have gatefold laminated cover. Differences on the label.
first edition
No EMI logo on the label. Above the Harvest logo no other inscriptions.
Valued about € 80.

second edition (about 1974)
EMI logo above the Harvest logo. No other inscriptions above. The inscription: "Gramophone Co." around the label border.
Valued about € 60.

third edition (May 1978)
EMI logo above the Harvest logo. No other inscriptions above. The inscription: "EMI Records Ltd." around the label border.
Valued about € 35.

BGO Records reissue (BGO LP89, UK 1990)
This edition has gatefold cover as the original.Valued about € 30-35.

"MUSIC FROM MACBETH" (Harvest SHSP 4019, March 1972)
All editions have texture front and rear cover.
first edition
EMI logo above the Harvest logo. No other inscriptions above. The inscription: "The Gramophone Ltd." around the label border.
Valued about € 60.

"EXPERIENCES" (Harvest SHSM 2007, March 1976)
first edition
EMI logo above the Harvest logo. Above EMI-Harvest logos the inscrition "Harvest Heritage". The inscription: "EMI Records Ltd." around the label border.
Valued about € 25.

Other rare editions

German edition (Harvest 1C-062 04 066): in gatefold laminated cover. Valued about € 60.
Scotland edition (BEI-GI Wax2 Records, 1982): in an horrible full white single cover. Valued about € 20.

American and Canadian edition (Capitol-Harvest Records SKAO 376, 1969?): in gatefold laminated cover with differences of graphics on front and back. Valued about 30/60.

Japan edition (Odeon EOP 806650, 1972): in gatefold laminated cover, with Japan/English insert. Valued about € 120. Also few promo copies in white label exist, valued about € 200.


Japan edition (Odeon EOP80511, 1972): in gatefold laminated cover, red vinyl, with Japan/English insert. Valued about € 120.

Following editions in black wax are less rare. Valued about € 40. Also few promo copies in white label exist, valued about € 100.

Italian edition (Harvest 3C-062 049 66, July 1972): some differences on the front and rear cover. Valued about € 40.

Holland edition (Harvest 501726120617, 1972): same as original. Valued about € 30.
Japan edition (Toshiba-Odeon EOP 80512, 1972): same as original with Japan/English insert. Valued about € 80. Also few promo copies in white label exist, valued about € 100.

Japan edition (Odeon EMS 08617, 1976): same as original with  Japan/English insert. Valued about € 60. Also few promo copies in white label exist, valued about € 80.

Probably the most rare item is the only one single known, the Japan edition of "Fleance" (Odeon EOR10140, 1972), from the "Macbeth" original soundtrack. No value estimated.

no©2009 Luca Ferrari 

(updated on September 20th, 2016)

December 24, 2009

A Third Ear Druidic Band?

Just three days ago, on December 21th, 2009, it's been the Winter Solstice, a moment devoted to ancient and contemporary Druids (see the wonderful photo taken at Stonehenge). 

TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff and Smith) played for Druids two documented times - on April 1969 and on July 15th, 1970 (Solstice Ceremony), both at Glastonbury Tor (see a shot here below).

Unfourtunately, apart for just these fourth b/w photos survived, taken on April 1969, there're no other details about these unique events. 

Glen Sweeney ("Melody Maker", June 1970) considered the Druids as "a bunch of old fine men", "the true guardians of the mystic traditions in this country". 
He told: "... when we play with them at the Tor there was this old chap of about 90 steaming up the hill, looking like he was about to die". 

Other interesting connections with Druids was the involvement of Dave Loxley - chief Druid of the Ancient Order of Druids - who designed "Alchemy" beautiful cover. A page written by him in 1988 is available on the Web at 

Was the TEB music a unintentional, accidental soundtrack for the modern Sixties/Seventies Druids only? Which was the real cultural and emotional connections with them?

no©2009 Luca Ferrari

December 21, 2009

Roger Bunn's role in The Giant Sun Trolley: an intriguing matter for archaeologist...

The late Roger Bunn (1942-2005) is on You Tube (  with a 3.59 video recorded in 2004. 

About his involvement with The Giant Sun Trolley in 1967, as you know, sources are controversial. In some interviews Glen Sweeney said TGST was just a duo (he and Dave Tomlin), but in this video, talking about UFO Club and the bands that played there, Bunn (musician with Piblokto and Roxy Music, recorded a solo album titled "Piece of mind" in 1971 read at states his role of Giant Sun Trolley's founder (he says "my band")...
no©2009 Luca Ferrari

December 17, 2009

How many TEB unrealized tracks left?

About the charming matter on how many/which TEB unrealized tracks are still around, I try here a recognition by cathegories: 


from "Alchemy" recording sessions (December 1968): 
a) "Raga in D" 
Recorded by Sweeney, Minns, Coff and Cartland 
This track is from Paul Minn's personal archive

from "The Dragon Wakes" recording sessions (February 1971)
b) "Raga #1"
(read and download the track at the page of this archive)
c) "Air" (different version from 1970 track) - 7.31
d) "Mini Mac" - 4.21
e) "Ghoo" (a.k.a. "Eternity in D") - 3.58
(read and download the track at the page of this archive) 
f) "Game Six" - 2.34
g) "Discrimination" - 6.39
h) "Fire" (different version from 1970 track) - 3.06
i) "Mistress to the Sun" 
Recorded by Sweeney, Minns, Buckmaster and Bridges 
Track b) from Paul Minn's personal archive; tracks c-h) from Denim Bridges' personal archive; track i) originally recorded as a planned single but refused by record company: probably cancelled or in E.M.I.'s vaults

"Necromancer Suite" (October  1989)
A long instrumental suite (about 50') recorded by Sweeney, Carter, Dobson and Black as reharsal for "Magic Music"

"Magic Music" recording sessions (March-May 1990) 
The whole record was initially recorded by Sweeney, Minns, Carter and Smith with the different title "Spirits" (or "Magic") and re-recorded in a second time (November 1989) with Dobson instead Smith. This is the original track-list:
1. "Reading the Runes" (7.22) 2. "Exorcism" (9.00) 3. "Behind the Pyramids" (7.51) 4. "New Age Raga" (12.22) 5. "Witches Dance" (7.20)

from "Brain Waves" recording sessions (March 1991): 
l) "Song of Gaia" 
Recorded by Sweeney, Carter, Black and Pilcher
All "Brain Waves" tracks was firstly recorded by this line-up as Elektric Third Ear Band. In a second time, during 1991, the album was re-recorded with Dobson instead of Pilcher. Another alternate track recorded with Pilcher, "Raga of the Winds" (then "Sirocco Song" in "Brain Waves"), is been included in a Materiali Sonori sampler with the magazine "Sonora" (issue 2/91)

As reported by Ken Garner in his "The Peel Sessions" book (BBC Books, UK 2007 - see at - thanks to Pooka!

January 1th, 1969 - "Night Ride"
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Cartland) played "The Grove", "Stones Circle", "Egyptian Book of the Dead", "Pierrot"
July 27th, 1969 - "Top Gear"
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Cartland) played  "Hyde Park Raga", "Druid", "Ghetto Raga"
(read at the page and at the page of this archive)
June 12th, 1970 - "Black"
"Earth", "Downbone Raga", "Water (& Festival)" 
June 20th, 1970 - "Top Gear" 
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff, Smith) played "Downbone Raga", "Feel Your Head", "Hyde Park Raga"

February 11th, 1972 - "Peel Session"
TEB (Bridges, Pavli, Marchant, House) played "Air" and "I The Key" 
March 21th, 1972 - "Drummond"
TEB played "Groan's Dance", "Fleance's Song", "Hierophant"
May 18th, 1973 - "Sequence"
TEB played "I The Key", "The Magus", "Ten Dimensional Landscape"

Those 1970-1971 radio and TV recordings, probably cancelled but maybe recorded by some listeners/fans at that time: 

April 24th, 1970 - Essen TV 
May 20th, 1970 - BBC "Sound of Seventies" 
June 18th, 1970 - BBC "Sound of Seventies"
TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff and Smith) played "Dog Evil" ("Mosaic"), "The Sea" (a.k.a. "Air") and "Water"
(read and download the tracks at the page of this archive)

November 18th, 1970 - Bordeaux TV program 
November 23th, 1970 - Paris TV program
January 7th, 1971 - "John Peel's Sunday Show" 

Every contribute to this will be very appreciate...

(file updated on October 2nd, 2010) 

no©2009 Luca Ferrari

December 16, 2009

Origins and meanings of "Alchemy" front cover.

"Alchemy" front cover, designed by Dave Loxley on 1968, actually it's not an original drawing by the artist, but it's a re-elaboration based on an old engraving taken from an ancient book titled "Atalanta Fugiens" written by Michael Meier on 1617 and published in Oppenheim, Germany (see the original reproduction of it at
The original text, written in Latin, is about alchemy, of course, through 50 emblemas and discourses. Specifically, the image is taken from "Emblema n. 8", introduced by this epigram:

"Est avis in mundo sublimior omnibus, Ovum
Cajus ut inquiras, cura sit una tibi.
Albumen luteum circundat molle vitellum,
ignitio (ceu mos), cautus id ense petas;
Vulcano Mars addat opem: pullaster et inde
Exortus, ferri victor et ignis erit".
The meaning of image - basically a man (soldier?) with a blade in front of a little table with an egg on it - methaporically hints at the alchemical process to get the Philosophical Stone (i.e. the Knowledge): the soldier (i.e. the alchimist) breaks the egg (Ermete's vase) with a blade (the philosophical fire) to originate the chick (the Philosophical Stone).
Infact, the alchimist uses fire to change the vile substance in gold.
See here another b/w following variation of the original engraving:

As Vic - a reader of this blog - has noted, an important detail of the album cover is represented by the serpents around the border.
During an old interview to I.T. magazine (issue 63, August 29th,1969), Sweeney told that “those serpents on the cover are completely magic – they are in a protected circle, they protect the whole album  and the music on it”
A detail from the TEB cover with the egg
Apart the aim to protect band’s music, it must be recalled that in alchemical tradition serpents who eats himself (Ouroborus) symbolize cyclic time, the One in All, the Eternal Return, cyclic nature of things… (as in some more recent TEB covers designed by Carolyn Looker…). 

no©2009 Luca Ferrari