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20.9.10

Hugh Hopper


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Hugh Hopper - Hopper Tunity Box - 1977 - Compendium Records

Ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper augments his rather infamous fuzz-bass attack by performing on guitar, recorders, soprano sax, and percussion on this reissue of the original LP. Recorded in 1976 and re-released on CD by Culture Press in 1996 and Cuneiform in 2007, this outing features the bassist's fellow Soft Machine bandmate, saxophonist Elton Dean, along with others of note. Moreover, Hopper veers into jazz fusion territory amid his often memorably melodic compositions, also including an investigative spin on modern jazz great Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." Hopper and associates mince heavy-handed rhythms with subtle EFX treatments, a jazz waltz motif, dreamy choruses, and commanding jazz-based horn charts. Here Dean, keyboardist Dave Stewart, and saxophonist Gary Windo add a bit of luster to the session, thanks to emotionally charged soloing and wistful lines. The Culture Press CD audio characteristics tend to be a bit muddy (a minor flaw), but this shortcoming was remedied by the Cuneiform remastered version of the landmark Hopper Tunity Box in 2007. This production stands as one of Hopper's finest solo efforts — largely due to the inspiring ensemble work and the bassist's strong material. Recommended. © Glenn Astarita © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:apfwxzt5ldte

Hugh Hopper left Soft Machine in 1973 to pursue a solo career, an apparently wise move considering the wealth of his catalog. His 1977 "Hopper Tunity" was Hopper's second release, after the excellent "1984." It's an extremely strong album for the period, as the increasingly confident artist took control of the music and the studio. With sophisticated melodies and great grooves, Hopper created a work that combined prog with both the fusion movement of the time, but also with more serious work, such as the cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman". With an occasional experimental bent and a little sonic trickery, it's mostly a set of solid tunes, taking the listener in some odd directions but using a broad compositional framework. The band for these sessions included both Gary Windo on reeds and Soft Machine's Elton Dean, with Egg/Hatfield/National Health's Dave Stewart on organ. This reissue is remastered from the original master tapes and produced by Hopper himself, with new liner notes also from Hopper, and images from the original score. © 2002-2010, Squidco LLC http://www.squidco.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=7611&Category_Code=PROG&Product_Count=174

Regarded by many as a jazz/rock classic, this was the second solo album by the late Soft Machine bassist and composer Hugh Hopper. In essence it is progressive jazz fusion, but full of Hugh Hopper's distinctive twists and unusual compositional skills. Hugh's fuzz bass stylings are terrific, and the musicianship from the rest of the band is outstanding. Listen to his "Two Rainbows Daily" album, and Soft Machine's "Third" album. Hugh also played with Isotope. Isotope's "Live At The BBC" album can be found on this blog. Hugh Hopper does not play on the album, but it's a brilliant jazz fusion album, and worth checking out.

"An old Soft Machinist never lets you down. Somehow he's brought with him much of the flavour of his old band.... [Hopper Tunity Box] belongs up there with Third and Fourth...." - Melody Maker

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1. Hopper Tunity Box - Hugh Hopper/Stewart, Dave/Mike Travis/Gary Windo (3:34)
2. Miniluv - Richard Brunton/Hugh Hopper/Mike Travis/Gary Windo (3:32)
3. Gnat Prong - Hugh Hopper/Stewart, Dave/Mike Travis (7:55)
4. Lonely Sea and the Sky - Marc Charig/Elton Dean/Hugh Hopper/Frank Roberts/Mike Travis (6:31)
5. Crumble - Richard Brunton/Hugh Hopper/Frank Roberts/Mike Travis/Gary Windo (3:55)
6. Lonely Woman - Ornette Coleman (3:20)
7. Mobile Mobile - Hugh Hopper/Nigel Morris/Stewart, Dave (5:00)
8. Spanish Knee - Marc Charig/Elton Dean/Hugh Hopper/Frank Roberts/Mike Travis (3:48)
9. Oyster Perpetual - Hugh Hopper (3:10)

MUSICIANS

Hugh Hopper - bass, percussion, guitar, recorder, soprano saxophone
Richard Brunton - guitar (2,5)
Dave Stewart — organ, pianet, oscillators (1,3,7)
Frank Roberts - electric piano (4,5,8)
Nigel Morris - drums (7), Mike Travis - drums (1-5,8)
Gary Windo - bass clarinet, saxophones (1,2,5,6)
Elton Dean - alto saxophone, saxello (4,6,8)
Marc Charig - cornet, tenor horn (4,6,8)

BIO

Hugh Hopper was best known as the electric bassist for Soft Machine during the band's most creative and critically acclaimed period, but his musical career extended far beyond his time spent with that particular group. He arguably manifested the Canterbury scene's progressive spirit — at least on the instrumental side of the equation — longer than any other musician, from the late '60s through to nearly the end of the new millennium's first decade, a period spanning over 40 years, although he took a break from music for a brief stretch. Hopper was also the indisputable king of the fuzz bass, introducing the instrument's sustained burning tones into early Soft Machine's sonic palette and laying the groundwork for other bassists' fuzzed and buzzed excursions across subsequent decades on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Whitstable, Kent, in April of 1945, like other future Soft Machine members Robert Wyatt and Mike Ratledge, Hopper attended Canterbury's Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys; he was in the same class as Wyatt (then Robert Ellidge) and two grades behind Ratledge. Like the other future Softs, he also fell under the somewhat renegade influence of Australian-born vocalist/guitarist Daevid Allen — Hopper's first documented gig was as bassist for the Daevid Allen Trio (also featuring Wyatt on drums) in 1963, and the following year Hopper visited Allen and Gilli Smyth in Paris and became acquainted with Allen's tape loop experiments (which were influenced by Terry Riley). However, nascent experimentation with poetry and jazz and travels to the Continent were not bearing fruit, and in 1964 Hugh and his older brother Brian (in the same Simon Langton class as Ratledge, incidentally) formed the Wilde Flowers, now seen as forerunners of pretty much anything that later gained notice under the Canterbury rubric. The Wilde Flowers, initially including Hopper brothers Hugh and Brian on bass and guitar/sax, respectively, along with vocalist Kevin Ayers and rhythm guitarist Richard Sinclair, were a beat group that played Chuck Berry, Beatles, Kinks, and Dave Clark Five along with some original material, although they reportedly also had some inclinations toward Monk, Coltrane, and Ellington on the side. Their first live gig, at the Bear and Key Hotel in Whitstable on January 15, 1965, garnered some favorable local press, and scattered gigs and a bit of recording were forthcoming, but the Wilde Flowers began splintering in fairly short order, going through a number of lineup changes — notably the departures of Wyatt and Ayers to join the Soft Machine quartet with Ratledge and Allen, and the arrivals of vocalist/guitarist Pye Hastings and drummer Richard Coughlan (both of whom would later form Caravan with Richard Sinclair). While not exactly engaged in groundbreaking endeavors at this particular time, Hugh Hopper was at least displaying the songwriting side of his musical personality, penning the bluesy and soulful ballad "Memories" that would not only be performed by both the Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine, but also appear on the album One Down by Bill Laswell's Material in 1982, featuring the first-ever lead vocal performance on record by a then 18-year-old Whitney Houston. Hopper would remain with the Wilde Flowers until early 1967 — by then playing sax with the group instead of bass — and then fall in with the Softs, whose first incarnation came together in August 1966. Almost incredibly given his later bass contributions to the group, Hopper's first involvement with Soft Machine came not as a bandmember but as road manager, responsible for equipment haulage while enduring the general craziness associated with two legendary U.S. tours in 1968 when the Softs opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And so rather than playing bass, Hopper could be found taking charge of Kevin Ayers' bass amp and presumably watching the trio of Ratledge, Wyatt, and Ayers (Allen having departed the group due to visa difficulties with British immigration authorities) from the wings. However, following the recording of Soft Machine's debut album, Kevin Ayers departed the band, leaving the duo of Ratledge and Wyatt to seek someone to replace him after the band's record label, Probe, sought a second album and more touring from the group. In December 1968 Hugh Hopper met with Ratledge and Wyatt to set a future course, and a new Soft Machine trio was born. It was then that Hopper's signature fuzz bass was employed, as noted in author Graham Bennett's 2005 Soft Machine biography Out-Bloody-Rageous, essentially to match musical wits with Ratledge's fuzzed-up Lowrey organ. Although he first heard fuzz bass used by Paul McCartney on the Beatles track "Think for Yourself" (a George Harrison tune on Rubber Soul) and never claimed to have invented the technique of plugging an electric bass into a fuzz box, Hopper was certainly unique in making the fuzz bass such an important part of any group's sound to that point. And Hopper brought a keen melodic sensibility that enabled the fuzz bass to serve as a lead instrument at times, scattered throughout many of the short tracks on Soft Machine's Volume Two (1969), appearing prominently during the second portion of Wyatt's "Moon in June" and elsewhere on Third (1970), and significantly contributing to the overall atmosphere of Fourth (1971). This period is viewed by many as Soft Machine's creative apex, as the group graduated from short pop song forms (albeit combined into suites and with both instrumental prowess and eccentricity on display) into longer-form jazz and contemporary avant-garde explorations, although there would always be listeners who would pine for the earlier psychedelic pop days with Ayers on vocals and bass. Moreover, starting in October 1969 the Softs had expanded from a trio to a septet with the addition of soprano saxophonist/flutist Lyn Dobson and three members of the Keith Tippett Group front line: saxophonist Elton Dean, cornetist Marc Charig, and trombonist Nick Evans. The lineup would later shrink to a quintet and then quartet with the departures of all the reed/brass players aside from Dean, although an expanded lineup including the aforementioned and others (e.g., Jimmy Hastings, Alan Skidmore) would complement the core band on the Softs' early-'70s recordings. Hopper, like Ratledge, would rise to the challenge of composing and arranging for these more jazz-based aggregations, in fact contributing "Facelift" — the group's first side-long opus — to the landmark Third. "Facelift" — which spliced together two separate live performances and ended with backwards and sped-up tape effects demonstrating Hopper's most experimental side — was a manifesto of sorts, showcasing Ratledge's explosive organ playing like never before on record and bridging the piece's two live sections with an overlapping interlude in proto-DJ mix fashion, while also allowing Dobson (who actually left the band between the recording of "Facelift" and the release of Third) and especially Dean to display their jazz chops at length. With this opening salvo, Soft Machine had suddenly become a Brit jazz-rock enterprise that could challenge Miles and his fusioneers on the other side of the pond, and although some of the recording techniques employed produced a sound quality that could be charitably viewed as less than top-notch, "Facelift" was a bold statement of its era and has held up remarkably well over the subsequent decades. Both Ratledge and Wyatt also contributed side-long pieces to Third, but Hopper was the only bandmember to continue this practice on the next LP, with his "Virtually" suite on Fourth a somewhat more abstract and textured work, heavy on improvisation for sax, clarinet, and double bass, and with plenty of fuzz bass creating a subdued trippy ambience, true acid jazz unlike the generally accepted style that arrived nearly 20 years later. To many, the Soft Machine consisting of Hopper, Ratledge, Dean, and Wyatt were and will always be "the classic quartet" — notably the first "popular music group" to play the BBC Proms classical music festival at Royal Albert Hall (during August of 1970, two months after the release of Third). The band membership would continue to change, however, with the departure of Wyatt and arrivals of (briefly) Phil Howard and (more lastingly) John Marshall on drums prior to Fifth (1972) and the exit of Dean and entry of reedman/keyboardist Karl Jenkins prior to Six (1973). The inevitable changes in direction — and mainly a perceived diminishment of the band's "weirdness" according to a quote in Out-Bloody-Rageous — led to Hopper's departure before the release of Seven (1974), in which Roy Babbington debuted as the Softs' new bassist (having guested on Fourth). Roughly concurrent with Hopper's exit from Soft Machine came the release of his first solo album, 1973's 1984, inspired by the George Orwell novel and believed by some to be one of the strangest albums ever issued by a major label (Columbia Records affiliate CBS, which acquiesced to releasing the album but didn't finance the studio costs). 1984 harked back to Hopper's early interest in tape loops, and in this case the bassist interspersed lengthy experimental bass-and-loop pieces with shorter tunes featuring a more standard band lineup and drawing from another area of inspiration, the soul-funk of James Brown. The album was favorably reviewed for the most part, although Hopper subsequently noted in the liners of the 1998 Cuneiform reissue that Fred Frith, who had reviewed the LP under a pseudonym, was less than enamored by the presence of the short tunes that interrupted the abstraction occurring elsewhere. Although Hopper had left Soft Machine due at least in part to dissatisfaction with the band's particular jazz-rock direction, during the '70s following the release of 1984 he could be found handling bass duties with a pair of notable jazz-rock ensembles with overlapping personnel, Stomu Yamashta's East Wind (Freedom Is Frightening, 1973; One by One, 1974) and Isotope (Illusion, 1975; Deep End, 1976; Golden Section, recorded live in 1974-1975 and released by Cuneiform in 2008). Hopper also fronted his own Monster Band in 1974 and played bass on Robert Wyatt's classic Rock Bottom released that year, and toured with the Carla Bley Band in 1976 and 1977 (as heard on European Tour 1977, which also includes Elton Dean in the lineup). In the midst of his mid-'70s work, Hopper recorded what many believe to be one of his finest solo achievements, Hopper Tunity Box, recorded between May and July 1976 at the Mobile Mobile studio with Mike Dunne (Jon Anderson, Yes) engineering. Hopper assembled some of Britain's finest jazz and Canterbury-associated musicians, including keyboardist Dave Stewart, Softs compatriot Dean, cornetist Charig, reedman Gary Windo, and Isotope drummer Nigel Morris to record tracks ranging from a concise revisit of 1984's "Miniluv (Reprise)" to a cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." Sonically adventurous and challenging yet highly focused and even tuneful, Hopper Tunity Box remains in the upper echelon of Hopper releases, and although the original vinyl LP on the Compendium label in 1977 suffered from some sonic shortcomings (which carried over to the first CD issue on Culture Press), the album was remastered from the original master tapes and reissued by Cuneiform in 2007. As the '70s drew to a close, Hopper involved himself in various collaborative endeavors, and unlike other Soft Machine alumni who might have seemingly wished to keep their distance from anything "Softs" (a few reported grudges resulting from the band's somewhat tortured history), the bassist never seemed dismissive of his Canterbury past. In 1978 Hopper formed the Soft Heap quartet along with saxophonist Dean, keyboardist Alan Gowen, and drummer Pip Pyle; they released an eponymous album on Charly and have been further documented by the Reel Recordings label, which in 2008 released Al Dente, a live recording of a 1978 show in London. In May of 1978 Soft Heap had intended to mount a European tour with Pyle in the lineup but the former Hatfield and the North member was unavailable, and was momentarily replaced by drummer Dave Sheen. The bandmembers rechristened themselves Soft Head and hit the Continent anyway; the Ogun label documented the results of a French gig on Rogue Element, released later that year (and re-released with bonus tracks by Ogun in 1996). Hopper would also join Gowen's somewhat Hatfield-influenced quartet Gilgamesh, appearing on 1978's Another Fine Tune You've Gotten Me Into, and pair up with Gowen on the 1980 duo effort Two Rainbows Daily, an intimate bass-and-keyboards affair that maintains a Canterbury flavor while moving in a more fully ambient direction. By the end of the '70s and into the early '80s, Hopper had largely stopped playing altogether and his recorded output, even as a sideman, was intermittent at best. However, by the mid-'80s he was prepared to reenter the music world, and began appearing live and on recordings as a member of bands led by Canterbury scene friends like Phil Miller and Pip Pyle. He also formed his own "Franglodutch Band" featuring guitarist Patrice Meyer, keyboardist Dionys Breukers, saxophonist Frank Van Der Kooij, and drummer Pieter Bast. Live gigs from 1987 and 1989 by this outfit were documented on the Wayside Music Archive Series 1991 limited-edition release Meccano Pelorus (later reissued by Cuneiform) and 1994's studio effort Carousel (also on Cuneiform), an album that included Kim Weemhoff on drums as a replacement for the departing Bast. The '90s saw Hopper hitting more peaks, notably his collaboration with fellow "fuzzaholic" bassist Fred Chalenor, vocalist/keyboardist/accordionist Elaine diFalco, and drummer Henry Franzoni of the U.S. Pacific Northwest avant rock band Caveman Shoestore. Hopper had read about Chalenor's fuzz fixation in an Italian fanzine and contacted the Portland, OR, resident; the two vowed to work together and by March of 1995 Hopper had joined up with the band to record the Caveman Hughscore CD at a Portland studio. The "Hughscore" name change would stick as the group recorded two additional albums (without Franzoni), 1997's Highspotparadox (produced by Wayne Horvitz) and 1999's Delta Flora; all three Hughscore albums — with or without the Caveman — present both the jazz-rock/experimental and avant pop sides of Hopper as bassist and composer, with vocalist diFalco an ideal singer of his song-oriented material. Hopper also joined the Brainville quartet during this period; the band included Shimmy Disc founder Kramer along with fellow Canterbury scene alumni Daevid Allen and Pip Pyle. Hopper, Allen, and Pyle kept the group going — minus Kramer — into the next decade as Brainville 3, with Chris Cutler taking over on drums following Pyle's death in 2006. Hopper remained active throughout the 2000s, releasing a number of solo and collaborative recordings on independent labels such as Burning Shed, Voiceprint affiliate Blueprint, Moonjune, and old stalwart Cuneiform. And while continuing to find new collaborators such as Doctor Nerve guitarist Nick Didkovsky and Forever Einstein drummer John Roulat (who joined with the bassist under the moniker Bone for 2003's Uses Wrist Grab), he continued to revisit his Canterbury roots, perhaps even more strongly than ever. Hopper played bass on the PolySoft Tribute to Soft Machine CD recorded live at Le Triton in Les Lilas, France, in 2002, and also contributed bass to the Delta Saxophone Quartet's own Softs tribute, Dedicated to You But You Weren't Listening, released in 2007. Hopper also participated in a pair of quartets featuring Soft Machine alumni, the first under the name Soft Works and featuring guitarist Allan Holdsworth (from the Softs' Bundles lineup) along with Hopper, Dean, and Marshall (Abracadabra, 2003) and the second entitled Soft Machine Legacy with guitarist John Etheridge replacing Holdsworth (Live at the New Morning: The Paris Concert and Soft Machine Legacy, both 2003) and with saxophonist Theo Travis replacing Elton Dean following Dean's death in 2006 (Steam, released by Moonjune in 2007). One of Hopper's strongest improvisational endeavors, Numero d'Vol, arrived from Moonjune in August of 2007, and the label also issued another noteworthy release in July of 2009 with Dune by the HUMI duo, consisting of Hopper on bass and keyboardist/vocalist Yumi Hara Cawkwell. In June of 2008 Hugh Hopper was diagnosed with leukemia and canceled his scheduled appearances to undergo chemotherapy. In December of that year a benefit for Hopper was held at London's 100 Club, featuring performances by many of the bassists' friends and musical collaborators from across the years, including Alex Maguire & Friends, Phil Miller & In Cahoots, members of Soft Machine Legacy, Sophia Domancich and Simon Goubert, the Delta Saxophone Quartet, and Yumi Hara Cawkwell of HUMI. Initial reports from Hopper himself on his website gave reason for optimism, as the bassist reported in late November 2008 that chemotherapy had been successful and he was slowly getting his strength back. But sadly, Hopper died on June 7, 2009, a year after he was first diagnosed and two days after marrying his companion, Christine Janet. It had been 28 years since his Two Rainbows Daily partner, Alan Gowen, had been felled by the same disease. Following Hugh Hopper's death, the following comment was left by Dave Stewart on Hopper's website: "Farewell Hugh, king of the fuzz bass. A true original, a great player and a gentleman." © Dave Lynch © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:anftxqy5ldde~T1

MORE ABOUT HUGH HOPPER

Born: April 29, 1945 Died: June 7, 2009, Hugh Hopper is perhaps the central figure of the whole Canterbury scene. In a career spanning over thirty years, he has played with literally everyone: Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, Richard Sinclair, Elton Dean, Mike Ratledge, Phil Miller, Dave Stewart, Pip Pyle... Hopper was one the founder members of the seminal Wilde Flowers in 1964. During the 60's, he also worked in an experimental context with guitarist Daevid Allen (who later founded or co-founded Soft Machine and Gong). After leaving the Wilde Flowers, he became Soft Machine's roadie, and when Kevin Ayers departed for a solo career, he swapped roles and moved to the role of bass player, remaining in the band until 1973 and playing on most of Soft Machine's classic albums. In the early days of Soft Machine, Hopper was a prolific songwriter (his song “Memories” became a standard, even covered by Whitney Houston!), but when the Softs opted for an instrumental format, he kept the same level of inspiration, providing compositions full of unusual yet catchy riffs, and experiments with sounds (Hopper was a pioneer in the use of 'tape loops'), for instance on the groundbreaking Third (1970), which featured his own “Facelift,” one of the Canterbury “hymns” alongside “Nan True's Hole” and “Calyx.” Although he provided the bulk of the material for Fourth (1971), his creative input sadly decreased over the next couple of years, contributing short and rather minimal pieces to 5 and Six. Hopper left Soft Machine in May 1973, shortly after the release of his first solo album, 1984, which had good jazz-rock instrumentals on one side, and a long experimental and partly improvised composition/collage on the other. “1984 is obviously the title of a book by George Orwell, about a possible Stalinist regime ruling Britain. I named my LP after it because it is a book that impressed me greatly when I first read it. The titles on the album - “Miniluv,” “Minitrue,” etc. - are the names in the book of the four ministries which control the country.” Then followed five years of intense activity, both as a leader (or co-leader) and support/session musician. He joined East Wind, the band led by Japanese percussion prodigy Stomu Yamash'ta, staying about six months. Also in that line-up were guitarist Gary Boyle and drummer Nigel Morris, both hailing from the fusion band Isotope. It was only logical that when Isotope's bass player, Jeff Clyne, left in May 1974, Hopper should replace him. That incarnation (completed by Laurence Scott on keyboards) toured Europe and the United States, and recorded the album Illusion (1974), which featured future Hopper classics like “Sliding Dogs,” “Golden Section” and “Lily Kong.” In the meantime, Hopper also formed his own touring band, with former Softs cohort Elton Dean, drummer Mike Travis from Gilgamesh (whom Hopper had introduced to Yamash'ta to replace Nigel Morris in his band), and two musicians from the French band Contrepoint (one of them being Jean-Pierre Weiller, who founded the Europa label in the early '80s), with whom he had toured France the previous year. Recordings made during that tour resurfaced five years later as one side of the Monster Band album. Hopper left Isotope during the sessions for the band's third and final album, Deep End (1976), to start work on a new solo project, Hopper Tunity Box, for which he enlisted the help of many friends and former associates including Elton Dean, Dave Stewart, Mark Charig, Gary Windo, Nigel Morris and Mike Travis. This featured a remake of “Miniluv” from 1984, a cover of Ornette Coleman's “Lonely Woman,” and the future live favorite “Spanish Knee.” In the autumn of 1976, Hopper was involved in a short-lived project (one week for a radio jazz meeting) with Carla Bley in Germany, known as the “Baden-Baden Workshop”; he also formed an experimental jazz quartet with Elton Dean, pianist Keith Tippett and drummer/synthesizer player Joe Gallivan. That line-up toured Europe in 1977 and released the album Cruel But Fair, which featured Hugh's minimalist “Seven Drones.” During that period, he also contributed to saxophonist Gary Windo's unfinished Steam Radio Tapes project (which eventually saw the light of day as part of a posthumous Windo CD of various unreleased recordings, His Master's Bones). And in the summer of 1977, Hopper worked again with Carla Bley (this time with Elton Dean also involved), touring European jazz festivals for three weeks and recording the (unappropriately titled) studio album European Tour. In January 1978, he was a founding member of Soft Heap, alongside Elton Dean, Alan Gowen (keyboards, ex-Gilgamesh and National Health) and Pip Pyle (drums, ex-Hatfield and the North, concurrently involved in National Health). A debut European tour (with Dave Sheen replacing Pyle who had other commitments) resulted in the superb live album Rogue Element (Ogun Records), which contained a new version of “Seven Drones.” Later that year, a follow-up studio album was recorded in London, with Pyle back in the line-up. This was unfortunately to mark the end of Hopper's involvement in that band. In later tours, he was replaced by John Greaves. Hopper's fruitful musical collaboration with Alan Gowen resulted in his involvement in the recording of Gilgamesh's second album, Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into. Gilgamesh didn't exist as a band at all at that time - Gowen just reformed the band to do another album of his material. By the end of 1978, as a matter of fact, Hopper had stopped playing (he didn't even take his bass out of its case for over a year!). During the next few years, he played very little music, and spent most of his time writing, both as a journalist and a novelist. For a few months, he even earned his living driving a taxi cab in Canterbury. His only recorded output between 1979 and 1984 was a couple of duo albums (one with Alan Gowen in 1980, another with Richard Sinclair in 1983), a gig and session for Gilli Smyth's Mother Gong, and a demo recording (”Iron Lady”) by the short-lived North and South, featuring Mike Travis (vocals), Rick Biddulph (guitar and vocals) - another track was recorded with Amanda Parsons on backing vocals. The following events are recounted by Hopper himself: “Around 1984, after a couple of years of not playing at all, I had a sudden attack of joining anything that moved. I joined Pip Pyle's Equip'Out, Phil Miller's In Cahoots, played countless pub gigs around Canterbury with Perry White, toured and recorded in France with Patrice Meyer's band and also with Anaid. There were one-off gigs with old heroes like Lol Coxhill, Keith Tippett, Mark Hewins and others, some more successful musically than financially, that's for sure...”. 1985 also witnessed the birth of Hopper's own band. It was first called Hopper Goes Dutch, then changed names to Hugh Hopper's Franglo Dutch Band when French guitarist Patrice Meyer joined in 1989. The only remaining founding member in 1996, apart from Hopper, is saxophonist Frank van der Kooij. Another longtime member was keyboard player Dionys Breukers. Several recordings were issued: Alive (1987) (tape only, later reissued on CD with bonus tracks), Meccano Pelorus (1992) and the mostly studio efforts Hooligan Romantics (1994) and Carousel (1995). Hopper's involvement with Equip'Out and In Cahoots ended in 1988 (having recorded one album with each), but he collaborated again with Phil Miller and Pip Pyle in Short Wave, an all-star band founded in 1991 (under the name “Hugh Hopper and Special Friends”), also featuring with Didier Malherbe on sax and flute. He also reunited with Richard Sinclair in the short-lived Going Going, the precursor to Caravan Of Dreams, which played three gigs in the autumn of 1990. Several other collaborative efforts followed: the Hopper/Kramer and Hopper/Hewins albums, the Caveman Hughscore album with American band Caveman Shoestore, and involvements with US band Conglomerate and local Canterbury progsters Gizmo (for a cover of Van der Graaf Generator's “House With No Door” on a tribute album). In addition to the ongoing Franglo Dutch Band, Hopper was also involved in yet another project with guitarist Mark Hewins: Mashu, a trio which united them with Shyamal Maitra, an Indian percussionist who has previously worked with Daevid Allen and Didier Malherbe in various projects. This resulted in the 1997 release Elephants In Your Head and several European tours. Another recent addition to the Canterbury family tree was Brainville, a band consisting of Hopper, Daevid Allen, Pip Pyle and Mark Kramer, which toured the UK and US in 1998, releasing the album The Children's Crusade. Hopper was also reunited with Elton Dean (for the first time since the Mashu gig in Paris in April 1995) on the Voiceprint release The Mind In The Trees, a quartet recording also featuring Frances Knight (keyboards and accordion) and Vince Clarke (drums). Since then there have been regular collaborations - Soft Machine reunions with John Marshall and guitarists Allan Holdsworth (in SoftWorks, 2002-04) and John Etheridge (Soft Machine Legacy), as well as the French-based Soft Bounds with Sophia Domancich and Simon Goubert. In addition to those, Hopper is still gigging (at the pace of about a gig a year) with his own group, now called the Franglo Band as it consists only of French musicians apart from Hopper himself - the ever-faithful Patrice Meyer, sax player Pierre-Olivier Govin (from the PolySoft project of Soft Machine covers which existed from 1998 to 2003) and drummer François Verly (occasionally replaced by Manuel Denizet). His Dutch-based quartet with Frank van der Kooij on sax has more or less turned into a new project led by the latter - NDIO, involving other Franglo Dutch veterans like British trombonist Robert Jarvis and Dutch drummer Pieter Bast. In 2003 he released a CD with Nick Didkovsky (guitarist and leader of Doctor Nerve) and Forever Einstein drummer John Roulat as Bone, and in 2004 joined forces with avant stars Lol Coxhill and Charles Hayward in a new quartet, Clear Frame, which appeared at the London Jazz Festival and recorded a session for the BBC in early 2005. [Bio courtesy of CALYX: The Canterbury Website. ]

7 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

Anonymous said...

this one is a killer! thanks for this and the others.

gino fabulo

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, gino. Glad you like it! Thanks, and come back soon

bobbysu said...

thank you so much

A.O.O.F.C said...

No probs, bobbysu. Thanks & TTU soon...P

Anonymous said...

Hi man, do you have Highspotparadox download link? awesome blog.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,A. Don't have a link, but would love to hear album. If anybody reads this, please help! TVM...P