FOR those of you who managed to secure a copy of the recent ‘Masque’ reissue, we thought you might like to read this interview from the time of the album’s original release which we have just unearthed in the musty library at Roland Towers.
Paul Roland ‘Masque’ Interview 1990
In autumn 1990, just prior to the release of the album ‘Masque’, journalist and friend Mike Taylor interviewed Paul for an Italian music magazine.
There is a stuffed dodo on the large circular lawn whose eyes seem to follow me as I walk up the driveway towards the house. The gardener too, surveys me with a glazed expression. His rigid pose, suggesting the work of an expert taxidermist!
I know that if I venture down the long echoing hallway I’ll find further horrors. Perhaps even the owner of the house himself engaged in some curious research on a carnivorous orchid. This, my friend, isRolandTowers, the stately home of that charming English eccentric Paul Roland whose new album, ‘Masque’ has prompted my visit.
Meeting the reclusive Englishman is an unnerving experience for he is quiet, polite and the perfect host, not at all what one might imagine the teller of such weird and wonderful tales to be. Read the rest of this entry
IT may not be fashionable to say so, but I have always had a soft spot for early Jethro Tull and that is why I had no qualms about featuring a flute on ‘Captain Blood’ and later on ‘Pan’, though one American fanzine dubbed it “the spawn of Satan” (the flute that is, not my song)! I was therefore delighted to meet the band’s frontman and songwriter Ian Anderson in 1989 and to have had a chance to ask why it all went hideously wrong during ‘A Passion Play’! Only kidding, though I did manage to slip that question into the conversation, though I worded it more diplomatically of course(*).
Since the mid-Seventies Jethro Tull have been vilified as self-indulgent, pretentious and archaic, yet their albums continue to sell close on a million copies each year, their concerts are sell outs in Europe and the USA, and they picked up a Grammy for best hard rock album of ’87. Not bad for a band who are often written off as ‘too old to rock and roll’. Read the rest of this entry
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
On April 16th 1986 I had the great pleasure and privilege to have a private interview with Hammer horror icon Peter Cushing who had just published his first volume of autobiography at the age of seventy-three. Needless to say, I was a huge Hammer fan. His urbane presence and cultured voice lent a degree of integrity to every film he was in and I found him to be as gracious a man in real life as he appeared on screen, the very embodiment of an English gentleman.
Incredibly, and to my surprise he actually telephoned me at my home to arrange the interview personally and when we met in a plush London hotel a few days later he left the publicity people who were controlling his tight schedule and invited me upstairs to his suite where we could talk without the distraction of those women who were limiting each interview to ten minutes or so. I think he sensed that I was a serious film buff and he wanted to allow me all the time I needed to ask my questions. And when it was over he signed a photo that I had brought with me of himself in the role of Dr Frankenstein ‘To Paul, God’s blessing on you always, in all sincerity Peter Cushing’ and graciously stood by the open door of his room until I had entered the elevator that would take me back down to the lobby. As I said, every inch a gentleman and the glow of that meeting remained with me for several days. Read the rest of this entry
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
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
IF YOU tried to order a copy of the new ‘Masque’ reissue before Christmas and were disappointed to hear that they were all sold out, take heart – a new shipment is on its way to these shores from Germany and should be with us this very week.
In the meantime here’s a new review of the reissue in a rough translation from the current issue of Italian magazine ‘Blow Up’ to whet your appetite for the real thing. Read the rest of this entry
THOSE of you who have heard ‘Strychnine’, my mini album of cover versions from 1992, might be interested to know that recently a slew of very tasty psychobilly compilations have been issued – including a couple compiled by (the late) Lux and Ivy of The Cramps. (All thanks to the 50 year copyright rule which means that record companies no longer have to pay royalties on recordings from the 1950s).
As well as the original version of ‘Strychnine’ by the Sonics you can find such hidden schlock classics as ‘The Crusher’, ‘The Mummy’, the breathlessly demented ‘She Said’ by Hasil Adkins and ‘She’s My Witch’ all of which should have been included in one of those ‘1000 records you should hear before you die’ books but weren’t. Shame on them. Read the rest of this entry
Welcome back my friends,
It has been a long time since my last missive and for that I can only apologise and offer the excuse that I was unavoidably detained by Death himself. Yes, the old devil and I had a tussle for possession of my soul earlier this year but I trounced him good and proper and he slunk away empty handed. I am still mystified as to how I contracted black snake swamp fever in dear old blighty (or was it an over indulgence in absinthe?), but something of that ilk laid me low for most of the summer and as my loved ones knelt at my bedside or sacrificed innocent animals on the altar at Roland Towers the family physician, Dr Hemlock, bled me with his greedy leeches and Granny Roland brewed her own potions of frogs livers and cat urine. One if not all of these approaches evidently proved successful and I am now back in the land of the living and already engrossed in a new musical creation for unveiling in the Spring. So thank you to all of you who wrote wishing me well.
I must confess I have missed our communications of late, but my diabolical familiars have been hard at work keeping the Facebook page up to date with tidbits of news so please make them feel wanted by contributing your views and questions etc to http://www.facebook.com/RealPaulRoland
And now more good news. After much delay the ‘Masque’ re-issue is finally here!
And it’s a significant improvement to the original release in every way with many subtle additions, a couple of previously unreleased bonus tracks and a tastefully designed 12 page booklet with all the lyrics and explanatory notes from yours truly describing all the retouches that I made to 11 of the 14 tracks. I had always thought the New Rose booklet to have been scrappy and am pleased that I can now present the album with a decent booklet the way it should have been first time around.
The running order has also been changed to include ‘The Ratcatcher’s Daughter’ and ‘The Sea Captain’ (two of the stronger songs which I overlooked first time around relegating them to a bonus EP). These have now replaced ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Grantchester Fields’ which are to be found among the bonus tracks. These include radio session versions of ‘Alice’s House’ and ‘Solitude’ (yes, the Black Sabbath song!) recorded with flutist Valerie Franco with whom I was touring around this time (1990). I have loved Sabbath since a mere youth, treasuring the fact that I met Ozzy face to face after a Wembley Arena show in ‘82 and that I interviewed Tony Iommi the following year and found him to be an extremely amenable fellow. I had toyed with the idea of recording a baroque version of ‘Paranoid’ for the ‘Strychnine’ project, but that might have been too similar to ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ so I recorded the cover of ‘Solitude’ instead with Valerie who added a haunting flute and wordless vocal. And though unpolished, methinks it fits well as a bonus track on ‘Masque’.
Those of you who owned the original French release on New Rose and the Greek LP will also be pleased to hear that the glitches which once blighted ‘I Dreamt I Stood Upon The Scaffold’ and ‘The Sporting Life’ have been digitally exorcised, so consign your old copy to the family crypt and treat yourself (and maybe a friend or two) to a shiny new copy!
For those of you who are already overflowing with festive spirit the PRAS are making a pre-Xmas offer of extra copies at half price so if you want to introduce a friend(s) to my music (and what a nice idea that is at this time of the year) the first copy will be 10 GBP (12 euros) but each additional copy will be just 5GBP (6 euros) Postage, as always, is FREE.
Payments to be made via paypal to Rolandtowers@yahoo.co.uk
A spooky coincidence if ever there was one was the request I received recently from American writer Lia Habel for permission to quote some lines from ‘The Ratcatcher’s Daughter’ in her forthcoming Steampunk novel.
(Her first novel can be found here together with links to other like-minded authors http://www.amazon.com/Dearly-Departed-Lia-Habel/dp/0345523318/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323269525&sr=1-1) Well worth checking out.
Now Steampunk is not something I had cultivated an interest in as a genre because I had always inhabited that world of my own volition and never imagined that it would evolve into a movement. But now that it has and is introducing a generation to the marvels of H.G.Wells and other Victorian masters of Science Fiction, I would like to think that some newcomers may be tempted to check out ‘Wyndham Hill’ and ‘The Great Edwardian Air-Raid’. But it also aroused my interest to the point where I am now thinking of writing a companion piece to ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’.
Some interviewers have asked me if I am disappointed that I didn’t achieve more commercial mainstream success, but if I had then I wouldn’t be able to indulge my rather idiosyncratic obsessions, would I. And that is what keeps me all fired up. So now I’m off to put a new wax cylinder in the old phonograph and wind up the automatons.
Until next time, enjoy the seasonal festivities,
PS: For those who have asked for more information on my forthcoming Marc Bolan biography here is a useful link http://www.marcbolanmusic.com/Paul-Roland.aspx
Thank you to all those who wished me a speedy recovery from my recent mysterious illness. We made light of it here, but to be truthful it was pretty serious and put me out of action for over a month. I’m determined to make up for lost time and am already planning two new album projects for release early in the New Year.
It was an exotic bug with a long unpronounceable name and I was subjected to all sorts of experiments with mind altering substances before they finally allowed me out, so let’s just hope it doesn’t end like ‘Cocoon’ with me mutating into a human cactus.