Saturday, 30 May 2015


Way back in the late '60s, your Saturday blogger was a callow teenager eagerly embracing the explosion of sounds that heralded the renaissance of popular music. It seemed an extraordinary time, when cultural and stylistic barriers were being breached on a regular basis and musical prejudices swept away as the '60s approached its creative zenith.

One of my all-time-favourite LPs (number 3 in the pantheon and treasured to this day) dates from that era. It was released in 1968 on the Marmalade Records label. It was recorded by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity and was titled 'Open'. A fusion of jazz, rhythm 'n' blues, rock and soul, 'Open' was a hip musical manifesto celebrating the joy of making music without boundaries and it remains a stunning tour de force.

The record label was the project of one Giorgio Gomelsky, a Russian émigré who arrived in London in the early '60s and established one of the jazz and blues clubs that fostered the emerging scene. He managed both the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds in their early careers before setting up his record label for "people with open ears and open minds" (or some similar phrase). His recording stable comprised jazz musicians (Brian Auger, Chris Barber, John McLaughlin), folk-rockers (Gary Farr, Graham Gouldman, Gordon Jackson), psychedelics (Blossom Toes) and the entirely wonderful Julie Driscoll (Jools) and many of the above collaborated on each others' recordings in a spirit of free-wheeling openness. This open ethos provided an invaluable springboard for my lifelong love of music, led to me writing about it, and fittingly led to me meeting, interviewing and thanking Giorgio Gomelsky in person.

Entirely unrelated to the above, this week's poem is inspired by an open vista I once took great pleasure in: a lovely field on the crest of a hill in the rolling Warwickshire countryside which, on a sunny afternoon after harvesting, reminded me of a Van Gogh painting...

Left Field
Eyes follow tracks
of furrows in the corn-stalks.
Stacks lie
neatly tied
in rows along the skyline
and the sun shines
through sheer clouds,
streaking the pale blue
of autumn air
sharp as crystal and clear.

Thanks for reading. Have a groovy week, S :-)


Adele said...

The poem triggered a memory of an open field at dusk, interspaced by bales of hay, back-dropped by a pear-drop sunset and a shadowy barn owl streaking across. Must et writing. Thanks for your inspiration Steve.

I love the view of the Blackpool coastline as it opens its arms to welcome us home from our travels on the M55. Sorry that I have been to busy to blog for the last couple of weeks. Promise to do better.

Christo said...

Thanks for that Steve.
I like the poem, butb itb is your recollection of Giorgio Gomelski and his influence on British popular music that most caught me.
I never met him, but can remember the impact of Steam Packet (Brian Augur Trinity, Julie Driscoll + Rod Stewart) when I saw them at Reading Mecca Ballroom in 66/67, and minus Rod Stewart at Birmingham Uni the following year - Julie Driscoll was a knockout and their jazz funk style was very individual.
Marmalade was a truly inventive and risk-tsking label.