Category Archives: books & writers

features, articles about writers, books, genres

‘Baker Street Chronicle’ – The Paul Roland Interview

photo of Sir Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (1939-46)

Sir Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (1939-46)

Q. Your latest record is called ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’: Can you describe it a little bit? And why that title?

“It’s an album of radio sessions, rarities and unreleased tracks, but it bears no relation to those compilations which gather up out-takes that have been discarded on the cutting room floor. The core tracks are recordings I made with a new band which I assembled to play at a charity event organised by the actor and TV presenter Stephen Fry. Unfortunately, the event didn’t happen but I didn’t want that band to be ‘lost’ to posterity without getting them in the studio and recording our live set for several radio stations in Europe and America. So the first 10 tracks on the CD are some of my strongest songs re-recorded with new musicians, including an excellent violinist and a psych guitarist, plus some female backing vocals from the American steampunk band The Clockwork Dolls. There are also several acoustic songs with a strong Edwardian and supernatural theme such as ‘Fairies’, which was inspired by The Cottingholm Fairies case and an alternate version of ‘Eight Little Whores’, one of two songs I wrote about Jack The Ripper.

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The Nuremberg Rituals – An invocation of Mars

In 1834 Heine published Religion and Philosophy in Germany, in which appeared this prophetic warning:

“But most of all to be feared would be the philosophers of nature were they actively to mingle in a German revolution, and to identify themselves with the work of destruction. […] the Philosopher of Nature will be terrible in this, that he has allied himself with the primitive powers of nature, that he can conjure up the demoniac forces of old German pantheism; and having done so, there is aroused in him that ancient German eagerness for battle which combats not for the sake of destroying, not even for the sake of victory, but merely for the sake of the combat itself.”

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Wilfred Owen – A Strange Meeting

Wilfred Owen (close-up)

One of the finest poets of the Great War, Wilfred Owen—who is best remembered for his atmospheric verse ‘Strange Meeting’ in which a German and a British soldier encounter each other in the Underworld—was killed just one week before the Armistice was declared. On the day the guns finally fell silent his brother Harold, a naval officer, was overwhelmed by a feeling of apprehension and was later ‘visited’ in his cabin by Wilfred’s spirit. Harold’s reaction to the presence of his brother contrasts with the fears of fictional characters who are confronted by unquiet spirits, and for that reason his experience is strangely comforting. Harold was unaware of his brother’s death at the time of their own strange meeting.

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A Most Singular Specimen

It was a loathsome thing indeed that lay prostrate on Dietrichson’s dissecting table, a huge grub almost two feet long and eleven inches around the girth which contracted and expanded with each dying breath. Folds of glistening white skin rose and fell in regular rhythm, until at last it expired with a burbling hiss. The gas had taken its effect. Dietrichson put aside the moisture-clouded glass dome which had acted as a killing jar and examined the grub with his magnifying glass.

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H.P. Lovecraft – The Cult of Cthulhu

From: Dark History of the Occult (2011) by Paul Roland 
The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

In a dark and forbidding corner of one of London’s more obscure occult bookshops stands a rack of extraordinary prints depicting hideous bug-eyed creatures that would give even the keenest naturalist nightmares. Should a customer take an interest in the display, the balding, bespectacled owner will emerge from behind the counter to explain the significance of these loathsome beings. Such creatures, he will tell them, are not figments of the artist’s fevered imagination but elemental spirits he encountered on the astral plane.
The fact that these eldritch horrors bear a striking resemblance to the winged and multi-tentacled entities described by the American pulp horror writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) is due, we are to understand, to the fact that Lovecraft had encountered these very same creatures during his uncommonly vivid dreams. Lovecraft dismissed them as mere ‘Night-Gaunts’, but then he felt compelled to do so, because he had a genuine fear of being overpowered and driven insane by the power of his own imagination. He did not want to die in a lunatic asylum as his father had done. Consequently, in letters to friends and admirers, the Providence-born writer readily admitted that his ‘black pantheon’ of nameless horrors was ‘one hundred per cent fiction’.
And yet many practitioners of the forbidden arts argue that artists and writers possess an acute psychic sensitivity as a consequence of exploring the furthest regions of their imagination, which stimulates the areas of the brain associated with extrasensory perception—a latent faculty the mass of humanity might have lost during the course of our evolution. Read the rest of this entry

Children of the ebook revolution

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Yes friends, Lithon Music and the PRAS have embraced the digital age and new technology with enthusiasm by making the first of Paul’s written work available as ebooks. You don’t need to own a Kindle digital reading device to download these as they should be available ‘in less than a minute’ (so Amazon assure us) for anyone with a laptop, PC or mobile device.

The first two titles to be published are Paul’s fantasy novella ‘The Magician Of Grimm’ which may interest those of you who missed out on the limited edition printed version which came with the first 500 copies of the ‘Duel’ re-issue a couple of years ago and are now a rarity. The second title to be uploaded for your enjoyment is ‘The Curious Case Of Richard Fielding And Other Stories’ which was originally printed in a small press edition back in 1987 and then again as part of ‘The Haunted Pages’ (a collection of ‘Twilight Zone’-styled short stories, biography and lyrics) a few years later. But since then it has been out of print and almost impossible to find, even on eBay. Read the rest of this entry

Why should we all like the same songs?

I HAD a very interesting discussion this week with a fellow Bolan fan who enjoyed ‘Cosmic Dancer’, but was “annoyed” that I didn’t share his passion for some of Marc’s later tracks. Fair enough. Why should we all like the same songs? Just because we are drawn to the same artist there is no reason why we shouldn’t have our personal preferences.

I have a particular fondness for the Tyrannosaurus Rex era which I know many fans and a previous biographer don’t share and I happen to play the early (Sixties) singles almost as often as I play ‘Electric Warrior’ or ‘The Slider’. I would like to think that I have a broader taste in Boley music than many – beginning in ’65 and taking in (almost) everything up to and including ‘Tanx’ in ’73 – but having been both a music journalist and a recording artist myself for more than 30 years I would also like to think that I have acquired an ear, or a sense, for when an artist is cruising in neutral or recycling the same old clichés until something more interesting turns up. All songwriters do it, but the best have the courage to dump a song when it doesn’t cut it. Read the rest of this entry

More Bolan goodness from Cosmic Dancer research…

Did you know that Gloria has written a book but it is yet to be published?

A fan we know claims to have seen extracts in which she talks about the evening she and Marc were staying in a high-rise apartment in the US just after Marc had signed to Casablanca, so this would be 1974. At one point they became aware of two small lights on the window. Marc swore that he saw a demon sitting on the outside window sill looking in (shades of ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet’ from ‘The Twilight Zone’, don’t you think?). He returned to England a short while later claiming the demon was the reason for his return. What is interesting—and not a little disquieting—is that Gloria claimed that Marc saw the demon again at the house in Richmond only days before his death. He told her that he had also seen the image of a lady in the garden which he described to the builders who were working there at the time. They weren’t surprised to hear of the spectral sighting as the description fitted that of the lady who had previously lived there. She had committed suicide.  (Thanks to ‘G’ for this story).

Here are another couple of titbits of information I came across during my research but left out of the book. Read the rest of this entry

The day I visited Bolan’s house

I said in my previous posting that I wasn’t as affected by Bolan’s death as other fans had been, but people react in different ways to loss and I think I simply didn’t believe, or want to believe, that we wouldn’t be hearing any new music from him, and that my dream of meeting him and one day even maybe having an album produced by him, could never be.

I was also, I must confess, possessed by a feeling which The Who described in the song ‘5:15’ as being “sadly ecstatic that their heroes are news”, as Bolan was once again on the front pages of all the newspapers, on the radio and TV and so I thought that everyone would now realise how important he had been. There was also the hope that we would now finally hear all those unreleased tracks we suspected were gathering dust in the vaults of Essex Music and EMI as every fan knew that Marc hadn’t released some of his best recordings. But then I am still writing about this subject 35 years later so perhaps that speaks for itself.

I remember asking my father as we watched the funeral on television what happens to someone when they die, so I was obviously in some form of shock and preoccupied by death, but the fact that Marc had been cremated meant, to my mind, that there wasn’t a body in the ground to visit and to which one could pay one’s respects. If there is such a thing as the soul, and my own childhood out-of-body experiences had convinced me that this is so, then Marc was now somewhere else and there was no proof that he was dead. Of course it made no sense, but then it is not unknown for those experiencing loss of any kind to go into denial and the fact that Marc Bolan was not a personal friend or family member didn’t lessen the sense of loss, as any fan will know. When you are a hypersensitive teenager the sudden death of your hero can be as traumatic as a family bereavement. This is not the same as a hysterical 12 year old girl being upset because her favourite boy band have just broken up. Bolan created a unique style of music, a cache of songs and a sound that enriched the soul of those who could appreciate it, and his sudden exit from this world left it a less vibrant and colourful place. Read the rest of this entry

Cosmic Dancer: Bolan lives every time we hear his music

GREETINGS fellow Bolan admirers and welcome too, to those of you who may be curious as to why the diminutive Mr Feld retains a fascination for connoisseurs of quality rock music more than three decades after his untimely death.

This site, together with the Cosmic Dancer Facebook page,  is not simply a source of information and a place to post feedback on the book, unpublished photos and other items you might have unearthed, but will also serve as a place to share anything Bolan related. Maybe some of you remember reading my fanzine ‘Cosmic Dancer’ back in ’78, or going to screenings of ‘Born To Boogie’ at the Essential cinema in Soho? Care to share your memories and your thoughts on how much Marc has meant to you, or what you think of recent releases?

By the way, the pix that appear on the Facebook page include two unpublished photos of Marc taken, we think, in ’71 and could not be included in the book because we couldn’t identify or trace the photographer. Thanks to Marc Arscott for allowing us to feature them here. The two young men seen in Bolan T-Shirts recording their debut single in July 1979 are yours truly and his friend Danielz who went on to form tribute band T.Rextasy. Both of us owe an incalculable debt to Marc for inspiring us and speaking for myself, it is only with the publication of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ that I finally feel that I have repaid it.

But first, let me address the subject of why I kept myself out of the book… Read the rest of this entry