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2/2/2011 5:14:27 PM

Being as i am a proghead who's penchant lay firmly with the keyboard fraternity i was recently reflecting upon absent friends. Namely Richard Wright and of course much more recently the tragedy that befell Woolly Wolstenholme. These reflections coinsided with the finding of a compilation disc i did nine years ago following the death of the late Peter Bardens.

I cringed at the low tech CD booklet that i had at the time thought was really good, and decided to play the rather cheap and cheerful CDR within. I must admit to being a little overwhelmed. It had been some time since i listened to the disc and i had forgotten just how talented Pete Bardens was. It didn't take long before i was quickly reminded as the first few bars of Westward Ho rang out across my room.

It also made me think of the fragility of the aging prog population. Rick Wakeman spending more time as a grumpy old man on the telly and Emo's health scares serve as reminders that not all that is good will last for ever. However, music chronicles your life and listening to given musical pieces can transport the mind to happier and easier times.

Pete Bardens left a healthy musical legacy that may well be little thought of by the masses but consumed like a fine wine by those in the know. The body of work that exists from the late sixties to his untimely passing in January 2002 is more extensive than you may think. Pete Bardens recorded some fantastic albums though he will probably be remembered best for his work with Camel.

My view is that his work wasn't that of a musical genius or indeed a great technician but that of a hands on muso who's enthusiasm and raw sponteneous talent can be heard via his compositions and wonderful use of sound and texture. Best known as a jazz influenced organist he was as adept playing a Mini Moog or laterly adopting newer technology which he was well ahead of the pack utilising creatively.

At the time i compiled the disc i had just taken delivery of a CD recorder which enabled me to transfer analogue to digital so many of the tracks i had transfered from vinyl. I was reminded of this when on first hearing the opening track afer all these years i was greeted by a very loud thump through my precious speakers and complete with cracks and pops coming fom my CD player felt right at home.

I listened to the disc in it's entirity as i felt unable to leave it unattended any longer than it had been. My job at the weekend will be to transfer my now coveted compilation to a quality CDR to prolong it's life a little longer and use my somewhat improved imagination and computer skill manufacturing a better booklet.

Pete Bardens along with his afore mentioned brethren not only left a rich musical legacy which touched us all and influenced many, they carved a template from which many contempory prog artistes draw their style and technique. I intend to celebrate with wine and song in the company of my like minded friends the heritage that has been left by Pete Bardens by broadcasting my jewel to them and allowing them to drink my single malt for absent friends.

I am very lucky to be one of the many who witnessed Pete playing live and i am hoping that my ramblings may just jog a memory or two which may spur you on to give his music a new airing following nine years in a world without him. With regard to the rest of our rapidly aging heroes, may i quote from one of Pete's songs, "gather the roses while you may". I have enjoyed revisiting the diverse and interesting recording career of this gentleman of the Hammond and intend to do so for quite some years to come.

For those who may be remotely interested. The Progmeister's complilation was/is as follows

Westward ho
Slow motion
Shape of the rain
Columbine (From where i pinched the above quote)
In dreams
Sea of dreams
China blue
Last waltze/for old times sake
After dark
The zone
Futher than you know
Hopi prayer
Spirit of the water (solo piano demo version. exquisite!)
Rain talk.

12/24/2010 4:27:57 AM

Following on from my recent review of Traces by Nine Stones Close I got in touch with Adrian Lee who is to all intense and purpose Nine Stones Close. Being kind enough to call me from the Netherlands one cold and bitter eve, here is what he had to say.


PM. Hi Adrian. Many thanks for the call, how are things with you?


AJ. Well, it’s pretty severe here and we’re pretty much snowed in. Apart from that not we’re not too bad.


PM. Congratulations on the album by the way. I really enjoyed it. On the heavier side of rock methinks?


AJ. Yes I’m a big Jimmy Page fan and I have always leaned toward his style of playing and it shows on the new album.


PM. How did you get started?


AJ. Well, I’m originally from Sheffield but I played with a few local bands in Wiltshire in the eighties whilst working in the area and developed my style there.


PM. Did anything come of these bands?


AJ. One particular band who I thought were going places quickly disbanded following the walking out of the singer. Shame really, because we had a few songs recorded and they sounded pretty good. But most of them didn’t really do much.


PM. I noticed on your Myspace that two of your influences are Dream Theatre and Transatlantic. I recently reviewed The Whirlwind and thought it was terrific. Are they your main source of influence?


AJ. Not really. I absolutely love them but my main influences’ hark back to the seventies. Jimmy Page in particular. To me he is king. Rush, David Gilmour and of course Andy Latimer who plays with such feeling and soul are without doubt the main people from whom I draw influence and style.


PM. I thoroughly agree about Andy Latimer. To me there simply hasn’t enough attention afforded to him. He’s a genius.


PM. On to Traces, The differences in production are astounding compared to you first album. What do you attribute to this?


AJ. Quite simple, more time was taken with this project than the last and more people where involved.


PM. It’s a fairly bleak and dark affair isn’t it?


AJ. Yes. Sometimes not everything is sweet and light. As you said in your review, Roger Waters made a few bob from being gloomy.


PM. I thoroughly agree. Is there a story behind it?


AJ. Not as such. The songs on the album reflect how I feel when I’m writing.  I was involved in a head on collision whilst travelling in France with my family in 2002 which left us all badly injured. This became a vehicle for my first album however, you can’t stop reflecting on such times and to be honest I think it’s ok to be a bit dark sometimes.


PM. Why Traces?


AJ. It’s all about traces of yourself that is left behind when your not there. Art, building things, a loss of innocence, feeling or death.


PM. You had some great help on this album?


AJ. Yes, Brendan Eyre and Marc Atkinson of Riversea played keyboards and provided the vocals whilst Neil Quarrel provided bass.


PM. How did you get to meet Brendan and Marc?


AJ. It was at a Marillion convention in The Netherlands where I am based these days. Brendan was nursing the mother of all hangovers when we started to chat. He told me of Christmas song that he and Marc had recorded and invited me to add a guitar solo.  From there Brendan passed on the files to Marc and the rest as they say is history.


PM. They seemed to add another dimension to the album.


AJ. Marc is a great singer and he wrote the lyrics to “falling To Pieces” too. Brendan added some really atmospheric keyboard textures. When myself and my wife listened to the finished product we were bowled over.


PM. So tell me, Nine Stones Close???


AJ. Mmm! My wife would probably be able to explain better, but basically it the phrase is derived from a stone circle in Derbyshire. I think it’s somewhere near Bakewell.


PM. I thought the cover was terrific.


AJ. Yes, I’m very pleased with it. He’s very gifted is Ed Unitsky.


PM. What of future projects?


AJ. I’ve been chatting to Brendan (Eyre) lately about doing something together outside of our usual stuff. Probably in the new year I would think. I’ll tell you more about it when I know.


PM. Adrian thanks so much. Please keep me informed of developments and have a great Christmas.


AJ. You too. Good talking to you.


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