Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Music: EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND



EDGAR BROUGHTON: 
VOYAGE AROUND AN 
UNDERGROUND BAND 


 Andrew Darlington takes a strange trip through the 
late-1960’s English ‘Underground’ Scene,  via the band 
that was ‘almost like its news-sheet’ 
 – The Edgar Broughton Band – 


‘THE URBANE GUERRILLAS…’ 
“nineteen-hundred and sixty-eight 
the year that you gave us a break…” 
      (“Double Agent” on ‘In Side Out’) 

Think about this. What bullets are to war, ideas are to revolution. In the battlefield of insurrection opposing factions compete to control concepts that are the keys to support. And in revolutionary situations they are everywhere. In slogans chanted by street-mobs. In agitational rhetoric from would-be leaders. In manifestos and posters, banners, and graffiti sprayed on walls. They are also encrypted into the secret codes of songs... but of course, the late 1960’s counter-culture battles are seldom fought near the barricades. They happen in the area of what William Burroughs calls ‘the Grey Room’ – the mind, where the propaganda value of ideas is even more important.

And the ‘Underground’ makes it up as it develops. Extemporises it. It is happening for the first time. There have been Anarchists and Romantic Poet Revolutionaries, Jazz Be-Boppers and Beat Generation Bohemians, but nothing on this scale. Nothing quite like this – ever, before. What comes next? Nuclear Armageddon? World revolution? The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius? No-one knows. Everything changes. And everything stays the same.

You’ve thought about that? Right – now forget it. Some had reservations about Robert Edgar Broughton from the start. To them the British underground – to which his band was ‘almost like a news-sheet’, is an odd, idiosyncratic hybrid. An anarchic and irreverent fraternity, looking to America for its models, channelled through hazy dope-clouds of ill-disguised and badly misunderstood New Left slogans looted from brief perusals of the ‘Fontana Modern Masters’. Most of it just so much Idiot Wind, raw material for the great vinyl auto-muncher of ephemeral mass consumption. America has the Vietnam Draft, the anti-Segregation struggles, Bob Dylan, Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane. England has ‘It (International Times)’, The Pink Fairies, ‘OZ’, LSD, Richard Neville’s ‘Play-Power’... and the Edgar Broughton Band.


Step One: the ideal prerequisite for an ‘Underground band’ is obscurity, which – largely, the Broughton’s achieve. Mick Farren’s (Social) Deviants are more obscure, and hence – by definition, more valid. Lucifer, with its few dilettante-porn singles obtainable in plain brown wrapper through your mail-box succeed in remaining obscure to a degree beyond even their own wildest mouth-watering anticipations. But largely, around the turn of the decade – 1960’s into 1970’s, the Edgar Broughton Band get to become a serviceable street-corner pass-word with which to impress the standard dumb straights.

Of course, all this hard-won oblivion – even when supported by John Peel’s ‘Top Gear’ Radio One slot, could so easily have been destroyed by commercial success. But mercifully that never happens. Their first single doesn’t catch fire. So their integrity/ reputation remains intact. Both sides – “It’s Evil” c/w “Death Of An Electric Citizen” (Harvest HAR 5001) are later featured on a conveniently historic retrospective ‘A Bunch Of Forty-Fives’ (Harvest HAR 2001), charting the dubious progress of their most visible years. Even if – at the time of its original release the single, opening with peals of manic laughter, is reviewed as ‘an unbelievable cacophony of psychedelic noises, reverberating twangs and berserk vocals’ (by ‘NME’, who obviously don’t get it).

But the single does form a useful trailer for their first album – ‘Wasa Wasa’ (1969, Harvest SHVL757), an archetypal electric-Blues set featuring stand-outs “Crying” and the ‘transparently cynical’ “American Boy Soldier”. “Love In The Rain” uses lascivious Hendrix changes (‘…tell your Mother, I’m no fussy Lover...’) ‘YOU LIKE IT? SO DO I... I’M COMING, I’M COMING, I’M COMING – I’M NEARLY THERE.... THAT WAS SO GOOD…!!!!’ fading out in lustily post-orgasmic panting. And the heavy guitar figures of “Why Can’t Somebody Love Me”, plus both sides of the single – of which ‘Electric Citizen’ had begun as a track spontaneously recorded the year previous in just fifteen minutes at EMI’s No.2 studio. It is clearly a formative album utilising the classic Cream/ Hendrix bass-lead-drums power-trio line-up, with much of its potential yet to be realised. While the sleeve features the protagonists moodily clustered about a candle. Faces, suitably solemn, half-eclipsed by its light, emerging from its Twilight Zone…

At the time Edgar is busily engaged in telling ‘Zig-Zag’ magazine (itself a former fanzine, grown out of the ‘counter-culture’ community) that ‘we are the product of the people, a mirror of the people.’ Prophetically so. For this is the real – and only way, that all that potential will be achieved. They are a working band. Recently down from gentle historic Warwick where they were managed by the Broughton’s mother. Beginnings are easy. Encounters that unhinge separate lives into a shared ratio. Two brothers bedazzled by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates on ITV’s Saturday evening ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. Watching Hank B. Marvin, the Stones and the two Kink brothers on ‘Top Of The Pops’. Impressionably idealistic, listening in awe to vinyl editions of Dylan’s incendiary political rage. We could do that. We could combine those elements, and change the world with a handful of riffs, and if we score some Hippiechick nubiles and some High Times along the way, so much the better! From there it’s deceptively easy, falling weightless into the heat of a social furnace that will buckle identities and fates into new shapes. Events in pinpricks on the time-map.


But by this time they’ve been taken up by Blackhill Enterprises, and they’re turning up at Festivals and Benefits playing in the rain off the back of pick-up trucks for free. On stage they are evolving Canned Heat’s “On The Road” riff, into “Greyday” – a song about a businessman who gets killed. But more importantly they’ve also begun doing “Out Demons Out”, the chant that will become not only the ‘A’-side of their second single (c/w “Freedom” Harvest HAR 5015, March 1970), but also the first of their only two bona fide chart records. The band’s anthem, and its occasional albatross.

Their exhaustive rendition of the repetitive chant incites a frenzy when they do it as part of their set at the high-profile Blind Faith Free Concert at Hyde Park. While the single – which hovers between 40 and 50 on the list (aspiring to a high of no.39 on 2nd May), had begun life as the ‘Exorcising The Evil Spirits From The Pentagon’ invocation recorded live-on-the-streets by the Fugs for their ‘Tenderness Junction’ album. Something possessed (pun!) Broughton to commit it to wax, replacing the Fugs’ documentary-authenticity with a Heavy Rock backbeat – a dubious trade-off, resulting in a chanta-longa-Broughton incarnation more ‘Dennis Wheatley Armies of Hammer Horror’ than the Fugs ‘Norman Mailer Armies Of The Night’ subversive act of insurrectionary Street Theatre. And – like that never-to-be-repeated epic of Woodstock, the ritual gets spontaneously reborn at a thousand subsequent gigs up and down Europe in all its chanted monotony and subject to the same laws of decreasing returns as said Festival.

But pause for a moment here. By 09:00 on the morning of Saturday 7th June 1969 there’s an estimated 7,000 psychedelic gypsies here in Hyde Park, clustered in and around a natural amphitheatre called the Cockpit. Many bedraggled freaks have already spent a long and uncomfortable night on this dew-chill grass. Then The Third Ear Band’s hypnotic mantra-drone eerily opens up events at around half-past-two. And by now they’re talking about something like 150,000-strong of us squatting in the dirt.

And the Broughton’s, doing a clutch of electronic howl-and-fart numbers, are stalking stage-boards aggressive and lethally raucous. This is a band consisting of Edgar (born 24 October 1947 in Warwick) on vicious mouth-noises and guitar, brother Steve (20 May 1950) on heavily mortgaged drum-kit, and Arthur ‘Art’ Grant (14 May 1950) pulsing search-and-destroy basslines. Edgar is always the visual art-object, his pseudo-romantic bohemian overkill charisma derived somewhere between committed Ian Anderson and media-radical Red Danny Cohn-Bendit. He looks good, down from the Midlands Working-Class Industrially silted wastes (only the A429 separates Warwick from Coventry). A visually right symbol. Audially, it’s not always quite so satisfying. But what the hell? Joints are ritually ignited. Street-sellers are bartering wonderfully Art Nouveau copies of printed ephemera, ‘UFO’ posters, ‘Frendz’, spirit-duplicated poems. A nude girl idiot-dances to Ritchie Havens. Donovan and Blind Faith (featuring both Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton) follow as the sun filters down through the trees... it’s an event. A Renaissance Fair. A peak experience.

How to capitalise on that collective buzz? Well – why not subvert the antique hypocrisies of the 1970 General Election by issuing a cut dedicating its ‘we’re all dropping out’ raspberry to ‘all of you in Whitehall’? And the result is an act of Benny Hill politics. Naughty fun timed to tie in with – and as a comment on the tired facade of democracy, while also featuring the David Bedford Orchestra and Chorus. Listening to “Up Yours” (Harvest HAR 5021) now, it seems a vaguely amusing absurdist tribal sing-along – but then, of course, absurdism is a vital part of the Situationist Manifesto, and although its ‘mildly offensive’ content gets it banned from the BBC playlists it proves an appetising taster for their second twelve-incher ‘Sing Brothers Sing’ (SHVL 772) issued in June.

On the cover three kids (one black) are framed by a Gothic arch. Inside there are occasionally jazzy rhythms, and “The Psychopath”, a song about a child molester that features the ‘WEM Hand-Ful’ for sound distortion and effects. Other cuts include Tribal Crowd-Pleaser “Momma’s Reward (Keep Them Freak’s A-Rollin’)” and “Officer Dan”, plus “Old Gopher”, the peaceful “Aphrodite” and “Refugee” chanted over a stark percussive backdrop. Press-ads for the album read ‘we would like to thank the Policemen, the Councillors, NAB Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Stoned-Out Freaks without whom this album would not have been possible – STAND PROUD!’ Completing the set is the epic “There’s No Vibrations, But Wait” with its distorted megaphone-voice rap-chanting poem-style, complete with bleeped-out obscenity and ‘negative negative’-repetitions which reduces ‘the cultured word-wizard’ to deliberate nonsense for ‘as long as the cigarette-smoke curls up and not down from the ash-tray.’ We – of course, can all decrypt that code. While there’s also “The Moth” (a three-part dialogue with a moth concerning ‘are you a boy or a girl’ Freak ridicule about what really constitutes maturity), “Grandma”, “Is For Butterflies” and “It’s Falling Away”….


‘TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT BOOGIE…’ 

But the best is yet to come – in the shape of “Apache Drop-Out” (Harvest 5032), a single from November 1970. In a classic juxtaposition exercise the Broughton’s loot Captain Beefheart’s ‘Safe As Milk’ album, replicating its “Drop-Out Boogie” with authentically acid-etched vocal – but substituting the keyboard minuet bits with regurgitated lines from the era-defining Shadows’ 1960 instrumental hit. Whether it’s Brion Gysin-inspired cut-up collage, or inspired anticipation of the as-yet uninvented mix ‘n’ match Hip-Hop sample-culture to come, the fusion – or collision between the two disparate elements works oddly on vinyl where, on paper, it shouldn’t work at all. Swelling into a monumental Jerry Lordan meets Don Van Vliet confrontation crammed into 45rpm with a hot-line, potentially – to both markets, but in actuality to neither.

As it simmers around the chart plimsoll line (reaching a high of no.33 on 27th March during an in-and-out four-week run) the band are preparing to play eleven German gigs in fourteen apocalyptical December days of riots and headlines. Broughton’s crowd-pleasing ‘Free Music’ notoriety precedes them across Europe, where the dichotomy between such protestations and the gate-money demanded by ‘Mama Promotions’ induces an outrage that the band are made aware of, and on which they capitalise. They declare free gigs, thus earning the animosity of Mama, a two-year ban by German promoters, and the nucleus of a large following across Europe and Scandinavia. Of course, music should be free. As in ‘free expression’. Or ‘Freedom Suite’. But that don’t necessarily legitimise the Yippies or the White Panther Party storming the perimeter barricades of the Isle Of Wight Festival demanding free access. It doesn’t mean that venues don’t have to be paid for. Or power bills honoured. But hey, it’s a great slogan.

Nevertheless, in the first month of the new year they add to the momentum by recruiting twenty-four year old Warwick guitarist Victor ‘Vic’ Unitt (5 July 1946) from the Pretty Things and cut “Hotel Room” c/w “Call Me Liar” (Harvest 5040) for June release. Broughton writes “Hotel Room” about the ‘injured parties in my bed’ in a Hamburg ‘Desolation Row’ Hotel off the Reeperbahn, and it’s a strong song, one of their strongest. Strummed guitar, with the smooth girlie voices of The Eruptions dubbed across both sides. Ragged romance. But no intrusive politics. And it makes the German top twenty.

As mid-summer arrives it seems to be the time the Broughtons might break on through elsewhere. They play a benefit for Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in Battersea Park Pavilion with other high-profile ‘Underground’ acts including Juicy Lucy and Assegai. Then, in furtherance of their ‘Peoples Band’ ideology they go on to do a string of free open-air concerts at seaside venues – running into trouble at Redcar and Blackpool where local Councils forbid same. But they play anyway. July 18th, at Redcar – they attempt to play from the back of a truck, but get moved on by Police after various hassles. Manager Peter Jenner (credited as co-producer with the Broughton’s on ‘Bunch Of Forty-Fives’), and a roadie are charged – but later acquitted of ‘obstructing Police and a Breach of the Peace’. In that same court, the same August – and later in Brighton, the band are prosecuted on obstruction charges, and also have £200-worth of gear, including a Fender and a Burns twelve-string lifted from their van! Property, after all, is theft.

This chaotic tour goes off against a soundtrack of ‘Edgar Broughton Band’ (1971, Harvest SHVL 791), their most convincing – if occasionally messy album, enveloped in a meat-market sleeve of carcasses hung in neat raw rows. Side one opens with “Evening Over The Rooftops” co-written by Unitt and Edgar. The song is accused of vibing Leonard Cohen’s bleakness (‘the smoke hung over the sky-line, the city fell in silence’) while around the Symbolist poetics of ‘the mating of the earth and air’ – cryptic with meaning, lurk girlie voices, shivering Palm Court Strings and a Salvation Army tambourine. Further along the vinyl is “The Birth”, a more orthodox heavy Broughton exercise lyriced ‘in the heat shaking her meat, pointing her tits up to heaven’.

Exhibiting more esoteric ‘back to the farm’ sentiments and Johnny Van Derek’s appropriately country violin comes “Piece Of My Own” – ‘all I want is a piece of my own, a lot of land, and some sticks to build a home.’ Next track is the novelty strum-along “Poppy”, a country-blues about pollution, with side-swipes at ‘plastic picnickers’ talking about the length of his hair while he’s there having deeply meaningful eco-friendly thoughts, although the title could equally be inferred to have an opium connection (‘I laid on a poppy, it laid on me’). It is followed by “Don’t Even Know What Day It Is” and “House Of Turnabout”. “Madhatter” seemed like a word-game send-up, while “Getting Hard” is painlessly vocal-less.

After this respite the track bleeds into the impassioned vocal laid across “What Is A Woman For?” recalling James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” in an odd way, its long instrumental fade eventually dissolving into “Thinking Of You” with its pleasant mandolin bits. The album – which allegedly takes a not-inconsiderable (then) £10,000 to record through the months of July ‘70 into February ‘71 closes with the violin-ridden ‘Albatross’-alike “For Doctor Spock Parts One And Two”, with the lyrics suitably dumbed-down infantile (no pun intended) – to ‘what if all the babies went on strike, for a better life to be born in.’ There’s some nice Hawaiian-style slide guitar on the cut though…


‘REVOLUTION FOR THE HELL OF IT…’ 

What bullets are to war, ideas are to revolution. And in interview the Broughton’s stance and protestations are never less than political. Asked by Pete Frame if working through capitalist giant EMI compromises their ideals Steve comments ‘if we sell as many records as they would like us to, and if we sell as many as we want to, eventually we are going to turn people onto burning EMI down’. Edgar – in the meantime, is telling ‘Melody Maker’ ‘of course I believe. I’ve got a social conscience.’ For this is an Underground Band. It plays to the Underground Press. Its audience think of themselves as concerned, as radical. Even Broughton’s company – including eventually the Music ‘Factory’ in Barnett – is called ‘Weemeenit’. When Edgar complains that ‘the planet’s in a bad way, oh yeah, and I’m sitting here counting the days’ (“Call Me A Liar”) his sentiments can be expected to get some kind of sympathetic feed-back from their floating turned-on community. Even though his affirmations on behalf of the student-shootings at Kent State – ‘she is my sister, he is my brother’ (“Freedom”) can so easily be seen as angst-by-proxy.

Sure, as political songs go, they lack the precision and focus of – say, Phil Ochs or even Billy Bragg. But that’s hardly the point. Innocence can be a wonderful asset. And their real politics are the blurry-edged fuzzy-logic generational dialectic. Free Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll can save the world. Terrorists are romantic idealistic figures, associated with liberation, not atrocity. Do the Broughton’s sincerely believe all this? I suspect that – on at least one level, and with some reservations, yes – they do. ‘Cos what can a poor boy do? ‘Cept play for a Rock ‘n’ Roll band? And on stage, Edgar is doing just that, up there playing phallic symbol games with a Fender Sunburn electric twelve-string, a Gibson Flying Arrow special and a Fender black Stratocaster. Steve does GBH to a Ludwig drumkit. Victor uses a Gibson Les Paul original bass, as does Grant. It’s loose, but getting tighter. A working band loud and hairily unsubtle on gigs, but encapsulating that particular brand of inspired spontaneity that can sometimes catch the true essence of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Through April of the following year they embark on yet another UK tour to launch the fourth album – ‘In Side Out’ (1972, Harvest SHTG 252). Recorded between 15 February and 9 March, in many ways it contains a more playfully mature approach to lyrics. Although “I Got Mad (Soledad)” comments with unconvincing rage on the black American prison riots, running ‘I got mad, really bad, have you heard about Soledad? ...if they take me, I’ll take ten for one’ – a manipulation of media-radical cliché slogans, issues and concepts, built around vintage riffs. ‘We said ‘no more war’... what’s there worth fighting for?’ There’s also a track to ‘my comrade’, jailed radical “Sister Angela” (Davis). In some ways it compares favourably with John Lennon’s similarly themed ‘Sometime In New York City’ agit-prop album.

The outer sleeve starkly reflecting the monochrome urban working-class stance of “Home Fit For Heroes” which runs a Dylan harmonica over more local issues – ‘up there in the dockyards, they’re fighting for their rights.’ The Broughton’s taking on the Lennon ‘Working Class Hero’ persona. But there’s also humour – ‘you ask me what I’m doing, I’m just picking my nose. My Lady’s in the kitchen and she ain’t wearing no clothes, I’m tired and crazy and I’ve just come off the road.’ The kind of shambling haphazard ‘Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band’-type thing that Ian Hunter would later write so well.

Other tracks include “Chilly Morning Mama” – an uncomplicated Pop song, “Totin’ This Guitar” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll” (a slow cut, despite its title). But the stand-out, “It’s Not You”, is 11.06-minutes long and full of full-on Magic Band dislocated rhythms and Stones raunch (‘Jesus please be good to us, or we’ll all be on the News’), and “The Rake”, which – according to the lyric sheet, is a dirty song riddled with double entendres (‘I was looking through her dressing drawers to see what I could find, I found the Ten Commandments stamped on her backside’). ‘CAN YOU DIG IT – OUT HERE ON A LIMB?’ Sure, we can dig it. So dig this – ‘I love that little hole in the back of her head... I was looking down a needle, a needle full of red.’ “Gone Blue” is vaguely menacing, there are sounds of fighting – don’t know what it means, but it sounds nasty. Dreams have a dark side. Inside the gate-fold there are atmospheric black-and-white shots of the wind-blown band amid a symmetrical complex of concrete motorway, interposed by effective rural shots. For every country idyll, there’s a hard narcotic urban counterpart….


‘DREAM’S END / DREAM-SENDER…’ 

Knowing what we now know, it’s strange to evoke other lost possibilities. We obsessively re-examine time into comforting geometries and reassuring clarities until we think we know it. And surely momentum, and the force of that momentum, must have already been at work, defining all the subsequent pathways. But pause on this space of grace. Because back then it still seemed other outcomes were open. And although the revolution hits the dead-end of the 1970’s in a dark Thatcherite backlash of Right-Wing violence, its legacy defines us here and now. Gay Lib, Animal Rights, Black Liberation, Feminism, Eco-Awareness, anti-Globalisation protest, they all have their roots in the ‘Alternative Society’.

And the Broughtons are defined by their status as a counter-culture band. They can’t really be considered any other way. Mick Farren goes on to mainstream Music Journalism and SF novels. Bopping Elf Marc Bolan discovers electricity and becomes a tiny gilt-wrapped Teen Idol. But the Broughtons never achieve elevation beyond their ragged community. In the years to come ‘Underground’ bands will become more pointedly, more knowingly political – Crass, Poison Girls, and Chumbawamba. While for career outrageists like Limp Bizkit or Marilyn Manson the profile gets meticulously rehearsed and premeditated. Into the platinum albums. And the Greatest Hits DVD compilations.


And of course – for the likes of the Broughtons, the record companies really wanted marketable product all along. Like Family. Or Jethro Tull. And as a concession to such expectations, as the 1970’s gets into its stride, they do get dutifully more adept at parcelling and selling units of supposed insurrection. But while I guess the Broughtons weren’t exactly averse to the idea of a hit record, it was hardly their most urgent priority. It is open-ended. No-one really knows what comes next. It could go this way... or it could go that way... Nuclear Armageddon? World revolution? The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius? No-one knew for sure. Everything changes. And everything stays the same.

But while we wait, ‘A Bunch Of Forty-Fives’ arrives as a partial ‘the-story-so-far’ re-run of the Broughton’s contribution to the German ‘Masters Of Rock’ series – an album that inexplicably omits “Apache Drop-Out”. By contrast the British version is fleshed out by the 1972 single “Gone Blue” (HAR 5049), plus its B-sides “Mr Crosby” and the nice snarly intricate acoustic interplay of “Someone” (‘someone threw a bomb...’), all nicely repackaged by the Hipgnosis art-studio who turn the band’s faces green for the cover shot.

But beyond the period covered by this retrospective comes the Broughton’s final full-length play. The mid-’73 album ‘Oora’ (SHVL 810) which further develops their hallucinogenically humorous angle with that ‘long smoke in my hand’ and ‘green lights in your eyes’, set to a slow acoustic knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door and ambient wind ‘I met her in the garden’ sounds. The album’s advertising graffiti is also effective, made up of pictures in cartoon-like sequence, a Spitfire, the Palestinian girl guerrilla Leila Khaled, etc. While the sleeve superimposes the band over a quasi-mystical mandala-symbol. But it is album of endings. It will be the last project on which Vic Unitt plays – before he splits, contributing nice mouth-harp to “Get Out Of Bed”. And while it remains probably the band’s best recorded album, it meets standard Broughton sales reaction.

The revolution that had never really happened is over, leaving the band stranded in a time-warp of hung-over images, legal complications and bad karma. Like a tired deja-vu flashback of earlier ‘straight-world’ complications a last-minute Council veto means that a free gig for the Broughtons – organised by Granada TV in Stoke, has to be hastily transferred to another location. While through October they return to the site of their earlier anarcho-forays in Germany for a fifteen date tour, their first since the lifting of the two year ban, during which the group van blows out and has to be abandoned in Frankfurt. Then 1974 sees a Roundhouse concert embellished by their concession to Alice Cooper-style visuals – stomping on flurries of cellophane butterflies! And this is the act they take with them on their first American tour.

But as they get back a series of management problems conspire to temporarily bring a halt to their recording and performing, and the first – inevitable, Broughton split is announced 19 November 1976. Finis. Yet a long and determined hang-over of projects and reformations continue, including their final big-label album – ‘Bandages’ (1975, NEMS NEL 6006), and the intriguing ‘Parlez Vous English’ (1979, reissued Eclectic Discs ECLCD1034) with its more complex history. Recording as ‘The Broughtons’ they temporarily resume in 1979 as a six-piece, the original trio expanded to include Pete Tolson – another one-time Pretty Thing, John Thomas, and Richard DeBaston. The resulting album achieves its initial release through the Swiss ‘Interhandel’ Indie to coincide with European live dates, although a single from the set – “All I Want To Be”, contrives a UK release through EMI in a picture sleeve artfully mocking the then-current Sex Pistols product. Who was it who’d originally declared an intention of ‘burning EMI down’ anyway?

Later there was a reversion to trio format for a further single – “Ancient Homeland”, from ‘Sheet’, a Songwriter’s Workshop label. And although the promotional artwork shows them shorn of their extravagant hair in a style more acceptable to the 1980’s, its ironic attack on patriotism indicates that – lyrically, they’ve lost none of their political bite. An album called ‘Superchild’ arrives in 1982 (there are probably others I’ve failed to track down, if so – why not let me know?), but by this time the CD re-issue program is about to go back to the murky beginnings of it all, and start resurrecting the battered Broughton legacy. Even though, to reviewer Monty Smith of ‘Q’ magazine, ‘the notion of the Broughtons on CD is kind of cute... their records were more likely to be played on Dansettes in squats than on stereos in suburbia. If at all.’ Yet – even into the early nineties there are tales circulating that Edgar can still be found performing part-time as a component of a late-sixties revival show, and on the London pub circuit.

The ‘Counter-Culture’ invented itself as it was happening. Extemporised it. Sure, there had been Anarchists and Romantic Poet Revolutionaries, Jazz Be-Boppers and Beat Generation Bohemians before it, but nothing on this scale. Nothing quite like this – ever. It was happening for the first time. And, like I said, the British ‘Underground’ – Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, ‘Nasty Tales’, Hawkwind, ‘Frendz’, the Deviants – and the Broughton Band, might have started out as an often distorted ‘Through-The Looking-Glass Mirror-Image’ of what they imagined was happening in the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury area, or New York’s Greenwich Village, or MC5’s Detroit. Yet Hippies instantly became Global.

And it was this skewed misapprehension, this accidental Chinese-whispers altering of nuance and emphasis that gives each scene its uniqueness. And now, with Hippie Head-shop ephemera demanding collector’s prices – posters, magazines, and vinyl albums, those frequent reservations about the Edgar Broughton Band are frequently outweighed by affection, and in retrospect the whole thing even acquires its own internal, if shambling, consistency. One that was seldom apparent at the time. And strangely, I find myself enjoying those Urbane Guerrilla’s album in retrospect more now than I ever enjoyed their oddly assorted component cuts then.

Out, Demons, Out…


OTHER EDGAR BROUGHTON 
ALBUMS INCLUDE: 

LIVE HITS HARDER’ (1979)

AS WAS’ (Dec 1988 - 90 min 20-track compilation, EMI Harvest GDP7 909632)

DOCUMENT SERIES PRESENTS... CLASSIC ALBUM & SINGLE TRACKS 1969-1973’ (1992 - compilation)

OUT DEMONS OUT: THE BEST OF THE EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND’ (EMI Harvest 7243-5-31067-2-0) 2001 CD compilation

SUPERCHIP… PLUS’ (1981 - SEECD 464) Concept album about the ‘silicon revolution’, with tracks ‘Metal Sunday’, ‘Superchip’, ‘Who Only Fade Away’, ‘Curtain Outrageous Behaviour’, ‘Not So Funny Farm’, ‘Night Hogs’, ‘Pratfall’, ‘Overdose’, ‘Do You Want To Be Immortal’, ‘Subway Information’, ‘Last Electioneer’, ‘Ancient Homeland’, ‘Innocent Bystanders’ and ‘Fourteen The Virus’


Published in:
A draft version of this feature originally appeared,
in a different form, in ‘LIQUORICE no.3’ (UK - October 1975)
This version: ‘LOVERS, BUGGERS AND THIEVES
Edit: Martin Jones’ (Headpress) (UK – June 2005)

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