Showing posts with label Castle Farm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castle Farm. Show all posts

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Day After The Sabbath 133: A Lot Of Bottle [heavy slide guitar special]

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Welcome to another instalment of heavy nugget searches. This one is dedicated to the wonderful sound of guitar played with a slide, and the expressive, snarling, powerful sound that humble slide guitar can make, especially when driven through a hard-rock guitarist's amp! As usual, the tracks here are not just slide guitar, but hard rock / blues rock with slide, with Highway Robbery being one of the heaviest.

I'm happy to say this volume also brings nine new bands to the blog, with a few like Possessed and Sam Apple Pie that some may have considered conspicuous by their absence so far.

Although a technique traditionally of the afro-american blues heroes, the majority of acts here are from all kinds of places including the UK, Hungary & Australia, showing the draw that blues rock has all over the world, and still does!

TRACKS

01. Nobody's Business - Bleed Me Dry (1978)
       from album 'Nobodys Business'
02. Gun - Drown Yourself In The River (1969)
       from album 'Gunsight'
03. Jukin' Bone - Nightcrawler (1972)
       from album 'Way Down East'
04. Climax Chicago Blues Band - Reap What I've Sowed (1970)
       from album 'A Lot Of Bottle'
05. Band Of Light - The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1973)
       from album 'Total Union'
06. SNAFU - Lock And Key (1975)
       from album 'All Funked Up'
07. Mushroom - Gulf Of Mexico (1978)
       from album 'Freedom You're A Woman'
08. Terry Stamp - Itchy Feet (1975)
       from album 'Fatsticks'
09. Castle Farm - Island In The Sun (1972)
       from album 'The Studio Sessions 1971-72'
10. Sam Apple Pie - Old Tom (1972)
       from album 'East 17'
11. Locomotiv GT - Ő Még Csak Most 14. (1973)
       from album 'Bummm!'
12. Shanghai - Let's Get The Hell Off This Highway (1976)
       from album 'Fallen Heroes'
13. Possessed - Reminiscing (1971)
       from album 'Exploration'
14. Highway Robbery - Promotion Man (1972)
       from album For 'Love Or Money'
15. Yancy Derringer - Weedburner (1975)
       from album 'Openers'

Nobody's Business was a band of old hands which lasted briefly in the late '70s, consisting of Bobby Harrison (Procol Harum, SNAFU), Tony Stevens (Savoy Brown. Foghat), Joe Jammer (Olympic Runners) and Jerry Frank (session drummer). They recorded an eponymous LP in Nice, France and some promo videos were made, which were produced by Gerry Anderson's wife, Sylvia Anderson! The Nobody's Business LP offers some good boogie rock and 'Bleed Me Dry' is filled with Joe's great slide guitar. Angel Air reissued it, including six of the promo videos on DVD, in 2007 (link).



American Joe "Jammer" Wright is one of these guys who you might've never heard of but he's played with loads of famous and not so famous names, as a roadie for Hendrix, founding member of Olympic Runners and live guitarist for Maggie Bell and Screaming Lord Such and others, You can read some more at his website (link). Joe made a decent eponymous solo record in 1973 too, which is worth hearing. Bobby Harrison is and will continue to be a bit of a TDATS regular, having appeared here in Freedom and coming up again in this volume in SNAFU...

Gun Gunsight 1969
Gun - 'Gunsight' - 1969
Gun and the Gurvitz brothers shouldn't need too much of an introduction here, I concentrated on them for vol 125 (link). I have used a track from the second Gun record, 'Gunsight'. One of those bands that were there right at the very start of hard rock and made some great music that, aside from their famous single 'Race With The Devil', didn't have the success of the big names of the time or just after. Gunsight is a great early hard rock record (1969) that can be picked up in original form for non-ludicrous prices, putting it in the reach of us mere mortals.

Sounding completely different to 'Race With The Devil' for instance, Adrian Gurvitz's performance in 'Drown Yourself In The River' sounds like something straight out of the Deep South.

Jukin' Bone - Way Down East - 1972
Jukin' Bone (1972)
Way Down East LP
Over to the US now for some Jukin' Bone (formerly 'Free Will'). Here's the bumph from the back of their final second album, 1972's 'Way Down East': "Take a rock band from the gentle, quiet, grassy green, calm-as-a-Holiday-Inn-Swimming-Pool, Finger Lakes area of upstate, rolling hills New York and you'd expect to have anything but a Jukin' Bone. Gentle and quiet they most assuredly aren't. Raunchy and steeped in the blues they are.

Out front, moving with the lissome grace of a jungle cat, is Joe Whiting, whose visage (a mixture of Marlon Brando and Paul Newman when those two were young and scarily beautiful to behold) belies the gut vocals he emits with the fervor of a Marjoe gone wild on rock and roll.

Jukin' Bone (1972) Way Down East LP
Jukin' Bone (1972)
Way Down East LP
Stoking the fire is a hard-charging yet cohesive combo at whose heart stands Mark Doyle, riffing and chording his guitar with a demonic fury and virtuosity that rates him with anybody currently playing that axe. Doyle and Whiting, who've been sharing stage and trips together for about five years are also responsible, along with the prolific George Egosarian, for much of the band's repertoire.

Laying out what can only be described as the band's "stone down funk" is John DeMaso who brings his brand of bass all the way from Caracas, Venezuela. And, underneath, down at the bottom where the beat that won't quit is, there are the two drummers, Danny and Kevin, kicking the bone along, stickin' it, so to speak, to Whiting, booting him into the physical and vocal runs that give Jukin' Bone its flavour. This Jukin' Bone is a moving, dance-to-it force. This Jukin' Bone has meat on it. How's your Jukin' Bone?" - written by: Elliot Horne, RCA press agent and jazz writer (link).

The British Climax Chicago Blues Band, which was just one variation of the name they used, now usually known as 'Climax Blues Band', are still going, as can be seen at their website (link). Through the years they've had many members and many links to other bands, too many to go into in detail here! I really like the track 'Reap What I've Sowed' which is taken from the third LP, 1970's 'A Lot Of Bottle'. I love it when that aggressive slide riff kicks in, it was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for to go in this set! The slide player on this record was Pete Haycock, who sadly passed away in 2013.

Pete Haycock circa 2008



Band Of Light
Band Of Light
Band Of Light are an Australian Sydney-based band that I first used back on the bluesy vol 54 (link). They were started by guitarist Phil Key and bassist Peter Roberts, who had both just left The La De Das, a band that originated in New Zealand and spawned other Kiwi artists that moved to Aus like Kevin Borich.

Here's a snipet from the essential Aussie rock site, Milesago (link): "Band Of Light's distinctive blues-rock sound was built around the dual slide guitar work of Key and their other superb guitarist, Norm Roue (who had come from Sydney band Gutbucket). Peter Roberts left after only three shows and was replaced by Ian Rilen, who was to become a fixture on the Australian rock scene in the '70s and '80s. The band worked consistently on the Sydney and Melbourne pub/festival/dance circuits, alongside other staple acts of the day like Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Carson, Coloured Balls, Chain, Madder Lake and Buffalo."

As it says, slide guitar was Band of Light's forte and 'The Four Horseman' from the album 'Total Union' funks and grooves along with the great combination of wah and slide that makes them distinctive. A real ass-shaker this one.

The sixth track is from another act with Bobby Harrison at the mic. SNAFU was started by Bobby (post-Freedom), along with Mick Moody fresh from Juicy Lucy and Harrison's solo record 'Funkist'. They made three records with differing lineups but never quite cracked the big time, although they did garner some success and tour widely.

One song in particular grabbed me, being 'Lock and Key', which actually appeared on both their final two records in different versions. This version is from the third and final LP 'All Funked Up', and is the heaviest, most stomping of the two. I listened through the SNAFU albums some time ago and initially wasn't that impressed, although the musicianship is top-notch it wasn't generally a sound that I liked, but some time after that Monte Conner (Nuclear Blast, formerly of Roadrunner Records) posted this live performance of Lock And Key in the tdats fb group and I realised this one is a kick-ass tune and perfect for a planned slide comp, so thanks for that Monte!

SNAFU appearing on UK TV's 'Supersonic' in 1975



Mushroom - Freedom you're a woman
Mushroom
Mushroom were a Brooklyn-based act that veered between smooth AOR and ballsy blues rock on their only record, 1978's privately-pressed 'Freedom You're A Woman'. I have used the track 'Gulf Of Mexico'. This is an interesting song! It starts out with some ambient voices and a girl propositioning a guy in a bar, followed by some boogie blues with lyrics about the usual freebird sentiments on sowing wild oats etc, but it takes an unexpectedly heavy turn soon after and some weighty over-driven riffing comes in, all the time laced with slide guitar and wah solos over the top.

Mushroom - Freedom you're a woman
Mushroom (1978)
Freedom You're A Woman
It sure is a cool development and as the song changes pace and moods again and again towards the end, you are left with one of those epic tracks that feels like a journey. Brilliant stuff! You can read some more about Mushroom and it's main man Frank Annunziata at the old reliable Badcat Records (link).

Another point of note is the art work on the album, a large hand-drawn mushroom, (phallic overtones maybe? could explain the track 'Comin For You') that doesn't give any idea of the music within, being more suited to some other mushroom-related bands, like late '60s psychedelic offering The Sacred Mushroom or the Irish folk-rockers 'Mushroom'. The same opinion could be leveled at the reason for the cover art, the band's name. It's not a name/image I would have chosen for their music, but then I guess I haven't been eating the particular variety of mushroom they presumably were at the time!

Third World War - A Little Bit Of Urban Rock
Next up is Terry Stamp's solo record from 1975, cryptically called 'Fatsticks'. I'm sure i'm being dense as usual but answers on a postcard if you know what that means, the drummer's preferred tool of his trade maybe? Singer/guitarist Terry was in Third World War, which many of you will know as that rather cool British proto-punkish band. So Fatsticks was mainly written by Terry, a collection of new and old songs of his, some from before TWW, with some assistance from Jim Avery (The Attack, Thunderclap Newman). Terry had been writing/playing since the early sixties and you can hear two of his compositions on Harsh Reality's 1969 LP, 'Heaven And Hell'.

Fatsticks has an interesting story behind it that can be read at the Terry Stamp/Jim Avery website (link) and I recommend reading it, it's a great example of talented musicians making an album in an off-the-cuff way and going about their business afterwards without thinking about it again, like it was just another day's work for a musician back then.

Terry Stamp - Fatsticks
Terry Stamp - Fatsticks
I may be a bit presumptuous there as I have only heard four tracks from Fatsticks, that's all I can find at the moment. It has not been re-issued (it should be!) and seems to command higher prices than I am prepared to pay at the moment! The four tracks I have heard from it would lead me to think it's a great album, with plenty of the proto-punk attitude that Terry injected into TWW. I have used a track from it called 'Itchy Feet' which displays some absolutely blazing lead and slide guitar work from Peter 'Ollie' Halsall (deceased 1992) who was in Boxer (also TimeboxTempest, Patto) later and covered a couple of tracks from Fatsticks with Boxer.

Castle Farm - The Sessions 1971-72
I have covered Castle Farm in an interview I did with drummer Steve Traveller a couple of years ago (link). Aside from a great single the band didn't release an album, but Steve has since made some recordings available via 'The Studio Sessions 1971-72'. They were retrieved from a low-grade tape so sound quality is not the best, but it's still good enough to enjoy Gram 'Tex' Benike's ripping guitar that propels the track 'Island In The Sun', seven minutes of slide heaven which doesn't let up and doesn't get boring.

It's certainly a shame we never got to hear a real album from these guys as it would surely have been excellent.

Sam Apple Pie - East 17
Sam Apple Pie - East 17
Walthamstow, London's Sam Apple Pie are up next and I guess some people might think it's about time they appeared on this blog. They are often mentioned in various obscure hard/blues rock forums but I must admit to being a bit under-whelmed by them myself, although not from a lack of musical ability. I have however found a great track for this comp, from their second album called 'East 17'.

The slide skills come from Andy 'Snakehips' Johnson, who seems to have been a main member of the band but I cannot uncover much else about him, other than he reportedly passed away in 2010. The track 'Old Tom' certainly displays a great array of slide and lead guitar grooving, lead coming from Denny Barnes who I haven't found much about either, other than he was previously in Portsmouth bands Blues Convention, Whiskey River and Gilbey Twiss. Two members of SAP left after their first record to join pub-rockers Help Yourself.

Locamotive GT - Bummm!
Locomotive GT - Bummm!
A bit of a change for track 11 and a talented band from Hungary called Locomotive GT. I have used them before, on the eastern Europe vol 41 (link) and they were successful in their home land, scoring many hits after being formed by two ex-members of another great Hungarian band, Omega. Slide comes from Tamás Barta who was also in formative band 'Hungaria', and unfortunately died in 1982. LGT made a range of music including hard rock to pop, as well as acting as backing-band for singer Kati Kovács, and there's no denying their skills and infectious humour. 'Ő Még Csak Most 14.' is from their third album, amusingly called 'Bummm!', which apparently translates to Bang!

Shanghai - Fallen Heros
Shanghai - Fallen Heroes
Shanghai was a band of UK guitar hero Mick Green, but the slide parts were played by Brian Alterman. The band had an almost complete change of personnel between LP no1 and no2, the first being a smooth 'n funky soul rock affair with singer to suit (Chuck Bedford) and the second, 'Fallen Heroes', being a harder-rocking set with the fantastic pipes of Cliff Bennett (Toe Fat etc) which is far more TDATS-friendly. This is a nice affordable album for those that like a bit of hard boogie blues, and Cliff is on fine form. I have used 'Let's Get The Hell Off This Highway' which really does the business with the powerful vocals and wall of guitars!

Possessed - Exploration
Possessed - Exploration
I'm glad to include another band that's been a long-time coming for the blog, Possessed from Birmingham, UK. This is one of the unreleased bands that Lee Dorian's Rise Above Relics has done the honours for (link), and here is the blurb from them. Possessed - "Mastered from original tapes, this is the story of a band whose tragic legacy could never have been predicted. Possessed were born out the thriving underground West Midlands’ Rock & Blues scene of the mid-to-late 60s. This was a scene in which band leader, Vernon Pereira, had been a key figure.

Possessed - Exploration
Possessed
The band were formed in late 1969 when Vernon (after a spell playing next to Robert Plant in The Band Of Joy) teamed up with Mick Reeves, who had been playing in Sugarstack with Al Atkins, amongst other bands. This was the band that would eventually evolve into being the first incarnation of Judas Priest.

‘Exploration‘ was originally intended for release in 1971 but ultimately never saw the light of day. The band were finally on the verge of signing a major deal when tragedy struck. Whilst returning home from a gig in Carlisle on October 21st 1976, the band’s van drove into a stationary tanker, taking the lives of all three band members."

Possessed had a nice crunchy guitar sound, unconventional chord progressions, and a funky edge, quite a unique sound with the whole band chipping in vocals to back up Vernon Pereira who sounds a little reminiscent of Lynden Williams of Jerusalem and plays some mean slide guitar on the track 'Reminiscing'.

Highway Robbery 'For Love Or Money'
Highway Robbery
'For Love Or Money'
Nearing the end now and it's another appearance from Highway Robbery's excellent 'For Love Or Money' album.

Here's the Californian's own introduction from the back cover: "Declaration. For Love Or Money, Highway Robbery hereby dedicates itself to roar, to drive, to sensitive joy and, above all, the emission of the highest levels of energy rock. Let it be known that Michael Stevens - lead guitarist, vocalist, writer of all material contained herein, child of a gypsy commune - carries out this pledge in the true manner of his forebears. Further be it known that he is in allegiance with Don Francisco, drummer, lead singer and a New York native whose main influences have been traditional New Orleans-based bands such as Robert Parker and the Royals and Deacon John and the Ivories, and with John Livingston Tunison IV, bassman, vocalsit and painter who's first sound-memories are of Muddy Waters and B.B. King........For Love Or Money: Signed, sealed and created by the aforementioned Highway Robbery, in this age, on this day, in the name of storming, beautiful rock and roll."

'Promotion Man' is a desperate and maybe satirical plea to music promoters to plug Highway Robbery like crazy, packed with V8-revving slide guitar from Michael Stevens. Drummer Don Francisco was previously in Atlee, who made a worth-hearing record in 1970. Julian Cope has written a great article about Highway Robbery at his Head Heritage site (link).

Yany Derringer - Openers
This volume is rounded off by one of my favourite tracks found in the whole time I've been looking for obscure nuggets. 'Weedburner' is the closing track from the only album made by Yancy Derringer (link), who later became known as The Vers. In comparison to Weedburner, the rest of the album is forgettable, I've forgotten it any way, and I really don't care as Weeburner is so fantastic I can forgive them for anything.

Through the power of slide guitar and constant, disorientating pitch-shifts, guitarist Boyd 'Zoid' Williamson has managed to put in a performance which dominates a song that actually has the power to make you feel like you're high. Of all the 'stoner rock' I have ever heard, this one actually is intoxicating, stoned rock, rather than just rock music for stoners. Hear it and believe it, and it's all down to the humble guitar played with a slide.

Long shall they let it slide!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Castle Farm interview with Steve Traveller


Steve Traveller is the drummer of Castle Farm, a band from around Romford in northeast London. I first discovered them on a compilation called Cosmarama - Blow Your Cool 2 and was immediately taken with the hard rockin', glam-infused single 'Hot Rod Queen'. A while later, a fan of the band contacted me via Youtube and gave me the welcome news that the Castle Farm "Studio Sessions 1971-72" album was digitally released around December last year. I got it straight away and, in one of those precious moments of finding an obscurity leading to something really exciting, was ecstatic to find that the promise of Hot Rod Queen was reinforced by a set of skillful and varied hard rock and blues, some proto-metal, and Tex Benike's killer slide guitar. Just check this out for confirmation:

.

After hearing this I knew I had to get something down here on Aftersabbath, and had my second happy discovery, a mention of Castle Farm on Robin Wills' ever-great PUREPOP blog and a lead on one of it's members, drummer Steve Traveller.

Founding members:
Denny Newman: vocals
Gram 'Tex' Benike: guitars
Steve 'Spyder' Curphey: Bass
Steve Traveller: drums

Additional members:
John Aldrich: guitar, vocals
Roger Curphey: bass (replacing his brother Spyder, in late 1971)


So that's the brief intro over, and here is the resulting interview with Steve. If you like what you hear (you will), the album can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes and other such sources. 'Studio Sessions 1971-72' on: Spotify web player.

Steve Traveller
Steve Traveller
Q01. Hi Steve, thanks for doing this! Firstly, how and why did you become a musician, and why did you choose drums in particular?

I guess it started when I was in the Boy Scouts. I wanted to be in the marching band and play the bugle, but they didn't have a spare one so they gave me a side drum! But I took to drumming like a duck to water, and then I built my own kit at home out of biscuit tins with knitting needles for sticks!


Q02. How and where did the members of Castle Farm meet? What prompted the formation of the band?

I was in a local 'pop' outfit and we fired the lead guitarist after he didn't turn up for a gig one Easter. We didn't have a bass player, so I was left with just a not very inspiring pianist and rhythm guitarist. So I put a postcard ad in the window of a local music shop and the next thing Steve 'Spyder' Curphey and Gram 'Tex' Benike turned up on my doorstep. They were both at Barking Tech college at the time, and really looked the part - proper long-haired rock band material. They came round and we jammed in my parents' front room - and we blew each other away! Spyder and Tex were into the same stuff I was. They pulled in a singer they knew from the college and Castle Farm was born. We made our way through a couple of relatively uninspiring singers before we met Denny Newman in a pub we used to use in Brentwood. Denny was on our wavelength, and a fantastic singer. A little while later Den introduced us to his mate John Aldrich, who was a brilliant guitarist, and we traded up to be a five-piece, with John bringing so much more colour and depth to the band's music.


Q03. Around the times you joined Castle Farm, what musical scenes and artists/acts were you digging?

It was the end of the sixties and I had grown up with The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Taste, etc. There were these amazing drummers coming through - Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Jon Hiseman, Ian Paice, John Bonham, Glenn Cornick, etc. I was influenced to some degree by all of them.


Q04. Did Castle Farm play any live gigs or festivals? Which bands were billed along with you?

We soon established a loyal following in the Brentwood and Romford areas, playing the King's Head in Romford and St Theresa's Hall in Brentwood, and then we were gigging regularly all over London and throughout Essex and Kent. Latterly we moved on to the university and college circuit, bought a six-wheel Tranny from Badfinger, and were on the road as far as Winchester and Leeds. We supported Rory Gallagher, Deed Purple, Savoy Brown Blues Band, Climax Blues Band, Quintessence and many others. One of our best gigs was at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend, supporting Atomic Rooster - I remember the band coming and standing in the wings during our set to watch us. We had a residency at the Esplanade in Southend too, where a nascent Dr Feelgood even supported US!


Castle Farm 1971
Castle Farm 1971
Q05. Can you describe recording the singles like Hot Rod Queen/Mascot that Castle Farm released, and some memories of doing so?

We had become very frustrated with the record industry, which in those days was in the habit of signing promising bands and then leaving them on the shelf to stop them being a threat to the acts they were promoting. We got caught up in one of these scams, and it was a huge hassle to get out of the contract. But we had a great following, and knew that we could sell records, so we decided to fund our own single. We had met a guy called Hedley Leyton, who had worked with John Hiseman's Colosseum on their live album, and he helped us produce it. We had 2,000 copies pressed, distributed them through local record shops, and they sold out within a few weeks.


Castle Farm Hot Rod Queen / Mascot single
Castle Farm Hot Rod Queen / Mascot single
A second version of Hot Rod Queen was recorded for release alongside "Jewels of Fire", which only made it to acetate. Here is some further info that Steve posted previously on PUREPOP: "There are two different versions of 'Hot Rod Queen'. The two tracks on the single were recorded at Tangerine Studios in London on 15th Feb 1972 and mixed down on 22nd Feb 1972. 

'Jewels Of Fire' was recorded on 25th March 1972 at Pye No. 1, and produced/engineered by Miki Dallon. We then went back to Pye No. 1 on 13th April 1972 to re-record 'Hot Rod Queen' as Miki was interested in reworking it.

The version of HRQ that you have here [link below] is actually an edited version of the original recording, which ran to over four minutes - Miki being a 'pop' producer with a strict timing policy. We much preferred the longer version!". Both versions of Hot Rod Queen are included in "Studio Sessions 1971-72".



Q06. How did the recent posthumous release “The Studio Sessions 1971-72” come about?

A few years ago someone told me that 'Hot Rod Queen' was on a prog/psych compilation album, so I bought a copy in HMV, initially feeling chuffed that Castle Farm's music was still remembered! But then I felt a little less charitable when I realised there was some scavenging company (Start Entertainments Ltd) out there stealing copyrighted work and making money without permission. A quick trawl around the internet revealed that in fact 'Hot Rod Queen' had had a new lease of life and was even being featured on American college radio playlists! Given this new interest I uploaded Hot Rod Queen' and 'Mascot' onto YouTube, and then set about getting the illegal downloads taken down from iTunes, Amazon, etc. At the same time I had recordings of six tracks from an earlier session, and two from a later one ('Jewels Of Fire' and an alternative take of "Hot Rod Queen'), which I had cleaned up as best I could. These represented the best of the Castle Farm recordings that still existed, so I thought they would make a nice little download package.

Here is some further information from Steve, found at PUREPOP: "I have pulled together the best examples I have of the band's recordings, but unfortunately these only exist in either acetate or cassette tape format, the original master tapes having been lost over time.

I've cleaned up the tracks for digital transfer as much as possible, with the help of my son Paul, who's a sound engineer, and has worked wonders replacing the intro to 'You Go Your Way', which was lost on a chewed up cassette tape, and tidying up a less than perfect drum fill on 'Jewels Of Fire', which we didn't have time to correct in the studio, and has bugged me for over 40 years!

All the tracks were recorded in one or two takes with minor overdubbing - most were self-funded and we were on a very tight budget!"


John Aldrich
Q07. Do you have any favourite Castle Farm songs? Can you remember anything about playing any of them?

 '(Maybe A Little Black) Witch' was usually our opener, and got everyone rocking from the start. I think 'Jewels Of Fire' is about the best thing we ever recorded, with absolutely stunning dual-guitar work from Tex and John, but I guess our real signature number was a really heavy, slowed down, crunching 20 minute version of 'Summertime Blues' that tended to end our shows. The improvised middle section and drum solo were always journeys into the unknown, but never failed to bring the house down!



Q08. Castle Farm’s music is fantastic, all the members performances gel brilliantly. While it’s generally got heavy blues style, there's early metal/punk songs like “(Maybe a Little Black) Witch” and “Lunatic”, a glam vibe like ‘Hot Rod Queen’, and ballad/relaxed songs like ‘All In A Day, All In A Year’ and 'You Go Your Way'. Can you share your thoughts on the band’s versatility and what influenced the sound of Castle Farm?

I like to think 'Lunatic' was six years ahead of its time with its punk vibe, but although we saw ourselves as a rock'n'roll band ('Highway 61', 'Rock Me Baby', etc.) we all had so many musical influences and appreciated so many different styles, and we really liked to mix it up to make the shows more interesting.  


Q09. For the sake of those into drum tech, what equipment did you use in castle Farm?

After using a second-hand Ludwig kit in the early days that I bought off Spyder for 50 quid, I progressed to a Premier 2000 double kit in 1971. This is now regarded as a classic kit, and would be worth a fortune now in good condition. But mine led a hard but exciting life, both in my hands and my son's, from as soon as he was tall enough to reach the pedals. Paul soon overtook me in terms of drumming prowess - check this out. 


Q10. What was the song-writing process of the band? Who was the creative leader, if there was one?

Tex and Spyder came up with most of the ideas for our own songs, and we would just play around with concepts and each add our own ideas and build them up at rehearsals.


Q11. “Island In The Sun” is packed with killer slide guitar, it’s a real trip. Who played that, and what can you tell me about that song?

Tex was, and still is, one of the best slide players I've ever seen. It's his riff and his song, and it was great to watch him really getting into it at live gigs.


Q12. Did you intend on making more music, or an album, and why did it not happen? What were the future plans for Castle Farm at the time of the singles?

Yes, we would have carried on, but we were getting into other things - Spyder had left the band at the end of 1971 and his brother Roger joined us on bass. That was just before we recorded 'Hot Rod Queen', and we went on to do 'Jewels Of Fire' and then carried on gigging until the end of 1972.


Roger Curphey
Q13. Why did the band end?

We would love to have 'made it' big, but we'd given it three years and needed to get out and earn some regular money!


Q14. Do you think Castle Farm had the potential to last longer and be more successful?

I think it had the potential - we just lacked the lucky break!





Denny Newman
Q15. What have you and other members done after Castle Farm, in music or otherwise?

I went into advertising, Tex moved to his native US, Denny carried on with music and now lives in Germany, fronting a great little blues band which has worked as Mick Taylor's backing band (Google 'Denny Newman'), Spyder went into a very successful T-shirt business but is sadly no longer with us. We've had the odd reunion over the years, the last one being at the 100 Club in London for a memorial concert for Spyder in 2008.


Q16. Do you have any great Castle Farm memories or stories (amusing or otherwise) that you think would give readers some more insight into the times and the band?

Loads of great memories, but one of my favourites was when we were booked to support Barclay James Harvest at the Basildon Arts Centre. BJH couldn't make it, so instead they booked a band called Slade - previously a skin-head band in the late sixties but now embarking on a glam-rock course. They were managed by Chas Chandler (ex Animals bass player and Jimi Hendrix's manager) who was strutting around the place in a pink and yellow kaftan, looking a bit of a prat! Basildon was part of our stomping ground and our fans were out in force, so we were really getting into it and were overrunning a bit. But just when we got into our second encore Chas Chandler pulled the plug on us. Tex was absolutely furious - he jumped off the stage, went round the back and found Chandler and gave him the biggest smack on the nose you ever saw. Great times!

Here's a comment I received after this article was first posted, from guitarist Tex:

"Just read this interview about Castle Farm ... I was in that band along with Steve, Spyder and Denny ..( this is Tex from Phoenix, AZ. ) The Basildon Arts Lab I remember ... total chaos at the end. We were banned from ever playing there again because a bunch of seats got destroyed by fans during our " Summertime Blues " finale . I remember a shocked and white faced Chas Chandler walking into our dressing room after our show asking if our gigs were always like that ... " usually " was our reply. Then Slade came on ... they were on the rise but not Superstars yet but really loud !! .. we went down the pub !! ... great memories from this band - fun times back then ... I'm still breathing ... still playing here in Phoenix, Arizona ... still playing slide. Enjoyed the article !!! ..... Best, Tex."



Thanks for your time Steve! Let's hope we see and hear more of Castle Farm one day...


If anyone has questions for me or Steve regrading Castle Farm, drop a line to TDATS at the usual address.



© Richard Sheppard / www.aftersabbath.com

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