December 30, 2010

"The hydrogen Raga": another old interview with Glen Sweeney (1988).

One of the first Italian interview with the Thirds was made in 1988, just after the first tour (Bergamo and Umbertide). It was pubblished by the rock magazine "Rockerilla" (issue 99, November 1988).
With a biographical, full of commonplaces and quite boring stuff written by Italian journalist Vittore Baroni (title: "The hydrogen Raga"), came this interview with Glen Sweeney made by myself (under the name of my wife Elena Blasi). Another little contribution to set up the knotty puzzle of TEB's history.

EB: "First of all: how do you feel about the reaction of audience at the Bergamo and Perugia gigs?"
GS: "Well, twenty years ago drugs conditioned the concerts, today the approach is quite different. Anyway, the fact is that in Bergamo the audience was really well-disposed with us and surprisingly open to our music; promoter Luigi Bresciani has done a great work, making the things worked on. Instead, at the Perugia gig people came just for listening to very different groups and everything was just a guys drinking and eating all the time... It dipends, you know, by the way the people 'feel' our music: we're not cold and unfeeling machines made to entertain the listeners... We play with soul, yes, with soul and spirit..."

EB: "If I'm not wrong, "Spirits" is just the title of a your new composition..."
GS: "Yes, right, even if the track will be titled "Ghosts" on the new record... Spirits, in this case, as misterious,  supernatural higher entity. The essence of material life...".

EB: "So, you'll produce a new album, after about fifteen years from the "Macbeth" soundtrack!".
GS: "Yes, it'll be one of the many things involving the new Third Ear Band... Maybe it's too soon to talk about, but Materiali Sonori is agreed to produce a record, as like for a live album that will be published first, until this year..."

EB: "A live record...?"
GS: "Yes, it's been an idea of Luca Ferrari, our manager, that in agreement with the Bergamo gig's promoter decided to record professionally the concert... It came a great thing, really exiciting... So, at the end of the concert, listening to the reels, we decided to realise it..."

EB: "What about the other things you was talking about?"
GS: "Just after the two gigs we've formed The Ear Management, not a pretentious thing, you know, just a practical way to coordinate better the things. On December we'll managing a new tour, maybe with more dates. And we have an idea to create a sort of fan club, a thing that personally I consider ridiculous, insomuch as we've thought to call it The Ear Lodge because it'll born here, in Italy, the quintessential country of Mafia...".

EB: "But why in England indie's are not interested into producing your music?"
GS: "In London, if you haven't got an hit in the charts you doesn't exist, believe me, and as you can easily understand we cannot have any 'song' in the charts. Our music didn't have any chance to be played live in England because the so-called "underground" is that Sixties 'archeological' kind of music, just interested into the past on a discographical level. Just to make moneys... In this sense, a real English "underground"  doesn't exist now, because every expression is conditioned by the big record companies".

EB: "What did you do before this unexpected reunion?"
GS: "Nothing of interesting. Everyone of us had a normal job. All over those years, me and Paul Minns was experimenting, playing Indian music...".

EB: "What's happenend just after "Macbeth", your last record produced by E.M.I.?"
GS: ""Macbeth" is been our best commercial opportunity. At the same time it's been our definitive 'debacle'. The Polansky's film, our potential vehicle, basically had a very bad promotion and it was a disaster. Now the soundtrack is a rarity for collectors, by now deleted. After the album, we played some gigs, but we had lost our self-assourance and in Blackhill, so we decided to split up the band".

EB: "What's happened to the other TEB musicians?"
GS: "Well, as you can see, me and Paul have been in contact for all those years... About Ursula Smith, I know she is married and she has got some children: I think she plays now country & western music somewhere... About Richard Coff, I've lost track of him... probably he came back to America. Just after "Macbeth", he tried to form an acoustic band with Ursula, a band called Cosmic Overdose, but nothing happened, just few performaces in London Hyde Park".

EB: "Where have you met the new Thirds?"
GS: "Violin player Allen Samuel is a Dave Tomlin's  pupil, a great friend of mine. He has had academic training playing at the Albert Hall. Mick Carter, the guitar player, is an old friend of mine since the Hydrogen Jukebox, the band I formed about 1974, after "Macbeth"".

EB: "Did you record anything with that band?"
GS: "The main idea was to change our music, composing proper pop songs, and at the end we made a master for a record never realised. At the moment Luca Ferrari has got it and we are planning to realised it at the right time. Maybe now it's the right time, considering the new interest for the Sixties, but I don't know... We will see...".

EB: "Can you tell more about the Hydrogen Jukebox?"
GS: "What can I say... It's very different from TEB music, it's just another thing! Maybe listening to the record you'll think to the Doors, even if is not the best comparation. Most of all, the lyrics are really interesting: they talk about political and social situation of England at that time, that to be honest it's not too changed... Something of those lyrics, anyway, will be published on a book Luca is going  to write next year...".

EB: "A very lot of things for a band reported as dead!"
GS: "Yes, it's really incredible to think... These are the oddities of this world! It took not much to resurrect us, and it's been a real surprise to discover all this interest in Italy. On December I hope we'll  come back here, I really love your country...".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 25, 2010

The Cambodian Embassy rehearsals tape!

Just before the first Italian tour (September 1988), as documented in another file of this archive (read at, TEB rehearsaled at the London Cambodian Embassy some new instrumental tracks.
The line-up, the same of the first tour: Sweeney - hand drums; Minns - oboe; Carter - electric guitar and electric/electronic effects; Samuel - violin.

Around the end of August 1988, Glen sent me a demo tape just to understand what kind of music they was playing at that time: three long instrumental tracks for about 27 minutes of really wonderful music, almost the same of that  erratic,  poignantly bold improvised sound they recorded later for "Live Ghosts" album.


It's possible the CD titled "Radio Session" (Voiceprint VPR017, 1994), played by the same line-up, is taken from these same sessions, but even if the music is quite similar we cannot be totally sure...
Anyway, you can now download and listen to this distillation of 100% pure ('80's) TEB's music at:

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 21, 2010

Christmas greetings, Glen and me...

For years, just few days before the Christmas Day, I used to receive a little card from Glen and Carolyn with their warm greetings... 
You can see below a sequence of them, those left in my archive.

A musical card with Christmas melodies...

The point is that I'm a professed atheist - Glen knew it - and I know he wasn't a Christian catholic, but a persuaded Buddhist...
So I'm asking now why I've received so many cards of this kind from him and I never have asked him the reason of it...
Anyway, this is just a pretext to send my Christmas greetings to everyone of you, whatever you believe into.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 14, 2010

"Solstice Song", an unrealised live track from the Gorizia 1989 gig.

As stated in a recent file (read at, the Gorizia 1989 concert was one of the finest ever played by the TEB in Italy. You can listen to it on two (semi-legal) CD edited on  1996 ("Live", Voiceprint VP157CD) and 2001 ("Hymn to the Sphynx", Mooncrest Records B00005CC25 ). 
Quite strangely on both editions has been omitted a track, placed just in the middle of the set: "Solstice Song" (a track composed by the Sweeney, Carter, Black and Dobson and recorded at the Alchemical Studios  for the album "Magic Music", 7:03 long), a really wonderful tune .
Because Glen sent me a cassette of the concert, you can listen now to this rare live tune just download it at

The tape sent by Glen handwritten by him.
title: "Solstice Song"(15:16)
composed by: G. Sweeney, M. Carter, L. Dobson, N. Black
recorded by: Claudio Zanin
performed by:
Glen Sweeney - hand drums
Mick Carter - synth guitar
Lyn Dobson - flute, soprano, vocals
Neil Black - electric violin

As you can note, the original titles selected by Glen Sweeney for the gig was different from that published on the CDs. A typical way of the percussionist to joke with meanings and ideas of compositions... For example, when he introduced the track "Behind the Pyramids" he used to dedicate it to someone telling: "... but we don't know what he's doing behind it..."!

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 10, 2010

"The return of the third ear's mistery". A rare 1989 interview with Paul Minns...

Just after the first TEB concert in Italy (Bergamo, September  8th, 1988), musician and journalist (now filmaker) Francesco Paladino (The Doubling Raiders’ founder) met Paul Minns and Glen Sweeney for a brief interview.
This is a rare occasion to read some considerations from Paul, hardly ever involved by the press.
This interview has been published by the Italian magazine "Hi, Folks!" (issue 48) at the beginning of 1989 with the title of "The return of the third ear's mistery".

TEB on stage in Bergamo, September 1988.

FP: “Which is the reason you’ve decided to reform the band?”
PM: “It’s been the great interest of the fans: they carried on to contact us from Italy just to get some news from us, so we seriously decided to make the reunion. In ’68 everyone was interested to the Rock culture. We tried to change our approach to that kind of audience introducing the vocals in our compositions. But it turned up to  be difficult for the same nature of our music, so then we played just instrumental tunes and the TEB was born. We’re really surprised by the interest of people in our music. Our challenge is to propose us with the same old feeling”.

FP: “I know you’ve recorded a demo…”
PM: “The band’s reunion has been very quick and experimental. Even now improvisation is our basic element.  The past has taught us much.”

FP: “In your old records there’s a great amount of esoteric references: is still this element in your music?”
PM: “Glen has always been involved in this kind of  area and he was him to give this musical and “visual” direction to the band. He has titled all the band’s albums and tunes. He has studied really much the esoteric science, as Zen and Buddhism, and Egyptian philosophy. People used  to understand that. In Woodstock and Hyde Park (with the Rolling Stones) we understood people was “available to understand””.

Original handmade flyer for the Bergamo concert.

FP: “What do you think about contemporary esoteric groups as like Psychic TV?”
GS: “There’s a new generation now that has learned to think about things and doesn’t take drugs. I’ve to thank Luca Ferrari because he has resurrected “the ancient word”…”.

FP: “Which collaborations have you done in all these years?”.
GS: “Mainly we’ve played just for ourself, deepening the approach to the music. Mick Carter has got a recording studio where he played experimental music with guitars and electronic machines. Samuel has done academic musical studies”.
PM: “… Glen has studied Indian music and he has played with Dave Tomlin”.

HF: “Which are the most important aspects of your music you’d like people understand?”
GS: “Freedom of music, not the free jazz: the pragmatic approach, the self-discipline. The inner adhesion that brings you to improvisation”.

The "Hi, Folks!" 1989  interview.

HF: “Why your second and third album have never been reissued?”
GS: “It’s been an EMI’s fault, the men with tie decided it”.

HF: “But you didn’t answer about your new demo…”.
GS: “It’s fantastic. It talks about the spiritistic world, ghosts and witches. The title is top secret because the power of this music is telepathic and I wouldn’t others can steal our title”.

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 06, 2010

"Live Ghosts" at "All Frontiers", a beautiful Italian festival...

The important involvement at the great "All Frontiers" festival in Gorizia happened on November 24th, 1989, during the third Italian tour. Big TEB fan Tullio Angelini managed the festival through More Music, his cultural association - for him just a dream that became reality.
Gorizia is a sinister beautiful smalltown placed in the North-East of Italy, just at the border with ex-Yugoslavia. I remember that surreal mood in the hotel, watching with Glen  from the window to the soldiers marching at the border in that icy Autumn...

 The concert, in the wonderful Borgo Castello museum, was one of the best they played in Italy, thus Materiali Sonori decided to include in the celebrative CD of the festival ("All Frontiers", the title, edited as MASO CD 90026 in 1991) a very good rendition of "Live Ghosts". In that occasion, "Auditorium" magazine took an interview with Sweeney (read at

title: "Live Ghosts"(15:44)
composed by: G. Sweeney, M. Carter, P. Minns
recorded by: Claudio Zanin
performed by:
Glen Sweeney - hand drums
Mick Carter - synth guitar
Lyn Dobson - flute, soprano, vocals
Neil Black - electric violin

One of the few photos taken at the concert (by "Auditorium" magazine, 1990).

So if you don't want to buy the original record ( also with tunes by After Dinner, Art Molou, Harold Budd among the others, you can now download it at

[Note that the Gorizia concert was published later in two different editions ("Live", 1996, and on the second disc of "Hymn to the Sphynx", 2001) and a track from the gig ("Third Ear Raga") appeared as a bonus-track on "Magic Music" CD edition]. 

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

December 03, 2010

Another little gem for TEB's aficionados: "Old Man Kangaroo pt.2" (1991).

During the period TEB was in Italy for the third tour (concerts in Rome, Rieti, Milan, Florence...), on February 6th, 1990, Glen Sweeney was invited by Italian avant-garde composer Fabio Capanni (leader of group called Nazca - go to to record in a studio in Florence, just before the gig that evening the band played at "Auditorium Flog".

With him and Glen at hand drums, also the great Amon Duul's co-founder Chris Karrer.
The track recorded, titled "Old Man Kangaroo pt. 2", it'd be been included  in a special MaSo CD titled "The Greetings Compact vol. 2" (Materiali Sonori MASO 90014) distributed in 1991.

Title: "Old Man Kangaroo pt. 2"
Composer: Fabio Capanni
Fabio Capanni - electric keyboards, synthesizer
Glen Sweeney - hand drums & bells
Chris Karrer - saxophone
Recorded in Florence (Italy) on February 6th, 1990.

A great track, indeed, that you can download now at: 

Anyway, for the best sound quality you can buy the original CD at

no©2010 Luca Ferrari