Monday, April 16, 2012


I already whetted your whistle with a juicy little aperitif about a crazy experience that opened up my musical obsessions and now I'm sure you'd like to know just what is so special about these two bands: The Parlour Band and their later incarnation A Band Called O/O/The O Band.
                                               -The Parlour Band-
  The Parlour Band formed in the early 1970s in Jersey in the Channel Islands when keyboards man/lead singer Peter Filleul (pronounced FILL YOU) was looking for an outlet for some songs he was writing. Most of these songs were in a gentle melodic folkrock pop style with progressive leanings which makes it an interesting thing that for these songs the band was formed when he joined forces with a local hard rock band. The line up settled around Filleul, "Wah-Wah" Guitarist/vocalist Pix, guitarist/vocalist Craig Anders, Bass playing brother of Craig Mark who also on this one album sang harmony vocals, and drummer Jerry Robbins. They started adapting their different musical approaches and were very much a progressive band minus the pretentiousness that was making for a lot of dire music in Mainland England at that time. To further set them apart Pete's compositions had strong late 60s pop psych influences and the band's driving instrumental sound based on layers and layers of richness led to a brilliant unique music that may have been hard to produce live, but sure was impressive when they made their sole long player IS A FRIEND?.
    A complete polar opposite practically to The O Band The Parlour Band had one very bad thing in common- a rather strange and none-too-fitting-of-the-music name. The O Band actually sounds good even if it was meant to give the band no name at all but the letter O and a zero, but The Parlour Band was a name wrong enough to seal the fate of the group. Still some dealers use the word "folk" with this album and I can't help but think that's the fault of their name. Certainly lazy Canterbury legends Caravan who were at an artistic peak in 1972 must have wondered about this strange little band who were opening for them...
     Deram, label of Caravan, Honeybus, World Of Oz, Mellow Candle, and some other legends, signed The Parlour Band and during Christmas of 1971 the group went into the studio and commenced work on what would turn out to be perhaps the highest level progressive pop psych record ever. Peter Filleul made tasteful use of a Fender Rhodes and added to that organ, acoustic piano, and at the end of the album a mellotron. The songs definitely sound like jamming and experimenting with fresh new ideas was at a high and you shouldn't believe all you hear about this record- it ain't as soft as a lot of dealers say it is. In fact, the opening track "Forgotten Dreams" is an all out rocker with heavy bashing organ and just as heavy guitars forming a complex monolithic backdrop for some very appealing smooth melodic vocals. The next two tracks "Pretty Haired Girl" and "Spring's Sweet Comfort" are full of beautiful melodies, soaring vocals, and a softer sound that manages to not be quite introspective or quite out front. These songs let you relax and turn on to a melodic band with a rich tapestry of sounds coming from multilayered dreamy guitars, vocals, and keyboards. Camel might be a good point of reference or Fantasy of Paint A Picture and Beyond The Beyond fame, but there's something unique about The Parlour Band. Instead of completely drifting off to it your attention is always on how the songs have a moving flow to them occasionally interrupted by some quiet intensity that would make Danny Kirwan period Fleetwood Mac the closest comparison. "Early Morning Eyes" has always reminded me of a very strange paring indeed- Uriah Heep meets Fairport Convention! You probably won't even see where I'm coming from or will you? Again the vocals soar and are fresh, translucent, and very good with Filleul's crystal clear lead topped by amazing harmonies. Pix plays a consistently heavy guitar throughout the bouncy number not letting it drift at an easy pace too often- instead that easy pace is split wide open by unexpected moments of intensity.
     The Parlour Band for a band together almost less than a year play like seasoned professionals. They would be just as tight and disciplined when they became The O Band and it seems a pity that they didn't get to be like a British Toto as star players on sessions later on. They really could have spiced up any number of bands and artists who needed spicing up.
    "Follow Me" is the track that ends Side One and it's probably one of the mellowest tracks here- leaning towards a kind of pop psych/folkrock sound that is very 1960s British sounding with American Westcoast influences. Despite the very British nature of much of the material on offer this band were always big on the vibrations coming from across the Atlantic. The most shocking moment on the album is saved for the first track on Side Two the unrepresentatively menacing "Evening." Pix takes his first ever recorded lead vocal and steals the song. When playing this to everyone back in high school and since the majestic Freddie Mercury is who comes to mind with everyone as a comparison. Not bad for a first ever recorded lead vocal! We'd see later on how superb a voice Pix has, but this is his one moment for his crystal larynx to shine on The Parlour Band. The lyrics are dark, abstract, full of imagery that is in stark contrast to other images in the song, and military percussion drives along the storming guitar/organ passages. This song is though very different from the rest of the album a song that fits perfectly as the contrasting styles of music between hard and soft rock are at a creative peak on "Evening." The hardest song on the album is followed by the softest- the lovely floating ballad "Don't Be Sad." Sweet but not icky sweet vocals, dreamy Fender Rhodes, and flowing gentle guitars dominate this very nice track which like much of the album should have been a single, but to my knowledge no singles were tapped from the record!
    "Little Goldie" is a song built around jazz chords and a vibe similar to the American band Love- an influence that shines through on much of this album, but an influence probably in the subconcious.  The obvious influences though are American bands and British bands of the 60s with early 70s progressive inclinations. "Little Goldie" is again a soft track that brings to mind Todd Rundgren's most melodic early masterpieces as well as Carole King during her Tapestry period- again more American comparisons. The song is full of expert playing and the Anders brothers are superb on this track along with through the whole album. Craig Anders was the virtuoso musician in both bands and this would lead to an increasing rivalry between him and Pix. Pix should not be overlooked as he is a dynamic brilliant guitar player and as with their later recordings the two of them may not have gotten along, but they needed each other. "To Happiness" lets everyone in the band sound great. Pix is raw and punchy, Craig is understated and majestic, Mark Anders plays a great bass line, and the vocals are first
     With a perfect album there has to be a perfect closing track.  The over 7 minute suite "Home" is it. A song about Northern Ireland and a soldier's departure to the war and then his ebullient return home is the subject matter, but it could be an anthem for a soldier and his loved one in any war. The lyrics are very opaque, understated, and tasteful. They are at complete odds with the pious, pretentious, boring lyrics of worthless bands like Dear Mr. Time and the worst band ever Deep Feeling. While the former wrote a whole album of grim songs about death and the latter made that worse by throwing the blood and guts in this is as far from that as you can get. Sometimes I forget that prog rock can have a soul as much as I love it. "Home" is perfect prog, There's more Queen vibes coming into play, much excellent playing from the group in more of a rhythmical sense, and Peter Filleul's beautiful voice is particularly attractive here. For sophisticated and perfect, brilliant progressive pop psych look no further than IS A FRIEND? as this is the great masterpiece of them all. It's a splendid piece of work- somewhere between Honeybus and Northwind in some ways yet with very much its own sound.
    Unfortunately, Deram and parent label Decca showed no interest at all in The Parlour Band. No promotion was undertaken by their label, the tour didn't go so well for either them or Caravan, and no sooner had they made their masterpiece than differences of what direction the band should go in began to show. Filleul had always been at odds with the other members wanting to go for a harder rock sound, but he stayed on and the only replacement made was Derek Ballard taking over from Jerry Robbins on drums. Soon the band really began to have issues with their label and in late 1973 they signed with CBS and with a name change to A Band Called O.
                                       -A Band Called O-
         Filleul was pushed into the background whilst Pix took over the band. His more rock oriented vocal approach would serve as a blueprint for the later AOR movement in the States, but far from being a superb debut by this band with a different name the first A Band Called O record was not too impressive overall. The image had changed to tough guys in blue on the front cover and the sound had changed to melodic somewhat harder rock, but the songs just weren't the kind of greatness they'd follow this album up with. It doesn't help to start off with Steve Marriott's low-point in the low Humble Pie done in a horrid version of "Red Light Momma Red Hot." Pix tries too hard to sound sexy, the horn charts are not needed, and the song just like the boring original goes nowhere. There are some good moments on the self-titled first A Band Called O record, but Filleul couldn't adapt to the changes and the rest of the band were still struggling to perfect their new identity. Don't be taken aback by this mediocre record- much, much, much better was to come!
      Pete would stay on for one more album and what an album! Despite a horrible, tasteless, and Spinal Tap level trashy laugh riot cover OASIS their second record with the changeover is as classy, professional, rocking, fun, and amazing as the cover is not. Now Pete was hardly writing at all, but he used the synthesizer and his other keyboard arsenal to great effect while Pix and Craig Anders showed they could jam, rock, and weave around each other like nobody's business. The songs are all fantastic. "Amovin'" gets things off to a great start with Pix sounding like a better vocalist than anybody else around. Really, it was Pix's strong, confident, melodic voice that would shape this new band with a new sound along with the expert level playing of all involved. A Band Called O didn't have any more problems with songwriting or performances, but unfortunately for them they were pretty far ahead of their time in a way that would be more shocking than record selling. In fact, they can't be blamed for their poor album sales it's the various labels that should be held accountable. From Deram to CBS to United Artists complete lack of label support would be one key factor to the unraveling that took place. CBS/Epic did nothing to promote an album of what should have been one hit single after another. Remember this was 1975 and as close as "Fine White Wine" sounds to Steve Perry Journey had barely even begun let alone found Steve Perry. The influences are the same- Sam Cooke and a whole lot of melodic voiced soul singers taken into easy, comfortable, melodic solid strong rock. The major differences between Pix and Perry would be that Pix is a bit less strident and his approach also a bit more "Get Down and Get Dirty" if you know what I mean- raunchier perhaps. This album is stunning. Songs like "Sleeping" show a more progressive, spacier, more epic side to the band while much of the rest is made up of rocking tracks that give all of the band members a chance to prove their point. OASIS is an album that belongs in every collection- a milestone.
                                              -O/The O Band-
     Just when it should have been looking up for A Band Called O things got even worse for them. Filleul decided to leave the band and CBS dropped them from their roster. Not about to let either problem deter or discontinue them former Alan Bown Set and session player Jeff Bannister was brought in on keyboards and Jeff's funky approach actually fit in much better than the uncomfortable position that Pete had been placed in. Now changing their moniker to just the letter "O" and signing with United Artists it looked like the band were set to break through in a big way with 1976's near perfect WITHIN REACH. Only one song shouldn't have been on the album- the somewhat distracted and lazy sounding "Lucia Loser" which did get the band into a bit of press trouble with its overtly sexual lyrics, but the rest showed the band on top of their game. The opening track "A Smile Is Diamond" Pix and I immediately clicked on as the peak of their career. This haunting, driving, miraculous, exotic sounding, seductive song is a real diamond itself- a gem of mid 70s melodic progressive rock that features the kind of contrasting and quality of The Parlour Band with Pix fitting into his Steve Perry meets Steve Marriott vocal perfection at the highest level he'd ever reach. I love Journey, I love Steve Perry, but he never could sing Tough. Pix can sing like one Tough guy. Now the image was much darker and a complete change from the friendly Parlour Band. The O Band now were playing melodic strong rock and roll with seamlessly winding around each other jamming guitars, Mark Anders laying down a killer bass, and Derek Ballard a rock solid drummer. Jeff Bannister's two contributions "Long Long Way" and "Paradise Blue" are amazing songs and he fit in perfectly to the group. The liveliness of this record makes you want to get up and dance to it. You feel like partying and having a good time. Finally, The O Band had some real artistic freedom. They even got a tasteful album cover out of it! Their popularity as a knock-you-cold live act was blossoming and it's unbelievable that the end and their final destruction were near in sight. WITHIN REACH is how the band would like to sound. They had found a perfect balance between OASIS and what would come on their last long player THE KNIFE, but again the record label just didn't give a fuck about them.
        Drugs and alcohol abuse had always been a problem for Pix especially, but the whole band began to get high all the time when things continued to get worse and worse. They were a professional rock band who should have been huge, but the continuing frustration of apathetic record executives, changing musical times, and Pix going completely off the rails with substance abuse were about to all add up to something that began as a joke and ended up being one of the final nails in their creative coffin. THE KNIFE showed the band to have no control over a very disturbing looking album cover, but Pix had too much control over the title track. He said he was a nonviolent person and he didn't appreciate the way people turned him into some sort of a demon over "The Knife" which would sort of be a centerpiece of the album, but his idea of a joke was most people's idea of an outrage. Pix had tried all kinds of drugs, he was hooked on everything. When I knew him he was still always hitting the alcohol and over half the times we talked he was drunk. Even when drunk, he was a really good person and I know that Pix wasn't as malevolent as the image that "The Knife" would paint of him. When we broke up I was so heartbroken I cried. It was his closed minded power mad wife that ended our friendship for good, but for Pix he'd go off to Spain and wish to forget some of the past, mainly this record. I have to differ from him about THE KNIFE. It just may be their best record of all after the changeover and the whole atmosphere of the record is that The O Band had a lot of fight left in them. They would have enough fuel in their fire to produce an excellent hard edged rock album. They would also record for the first and last time in their career two superb cover versions in Randy California's "Look To The Left Look To The Right," but especially their Hollies/Badfinger take on John Fogerty's "Almost Saturday Night" is mindblowing. It may look like a band is running out of musical ammunition when they begin an album with two covers, but nothing could be more untrue. As all the original material here proves a kind of grittiness and get down raunchy rock sound mixed with very progressive leanings would make their last album among the best releases of the mid 70s. "I'm Gonna Leave You" is again in that Steve Perry but tougher mode with excellent vocals from Pix, great harmonies, and fine ensemble playing. "Strange Lovin'" is celebratory, let-it-all-hang-out rock with great Gospel inflected backing vocals, and Side One's closer "Back Alley Lightning" may sound a good deal like their favourite band Little Feat, but this is much better.
    Side Two is a whole different thing altogether. Now times were rapidly becoming bad for a rock band with punk becoming more popular and to trash all the rubbish that was coming out Pix had written a rather naughty, risque lyric for the album's title track and the rest of the band pounced on it with intentions of turning the whole thing into a concept side. This was not what Pix had intended, and I also don't think he had a clue just how far he had gone when he wrote the lyrics to "The Knife." Side Two begins and ends with two Craig Anders masterpieces the moody "Time Seems To Fly" and the heavily progressive King Crimson influenced "Venus Avenue" which features astonishing use of strings. Pix sings his heart out, but under very difficult circumstances. His mother had just died and obnoxiously he had been dragged into the studio by the rest of the band and the co Producer (this brilliant Del Newman) to do the vocals with no time for him to get over his painful loss. Maybe that's why his voice on these two tracks is plaintive and mournful. It's anything but that on "The Knife."
    "The Knife" in graphic detail is an over 8 minute account of a wild street boy named Jimmy who has a spoiled rich girlfriend named Nicky and who has just made two very bad mistakes- he's bought a knife and taken Methedrine- otherwise known as Speed. Pix fills you in that Jimmy is sometimes a bit on the tense and "tight kind of brittle" side to make a direct quote and that he has told Nicky that he wants to fuck her. When she takes him home Jimmy is so wasted that he can't get an erection. The music becomes ominous while Pix digs into his best Lou Reed impersonation and does a shocking voice over:
        "Well now Jimmy slowly turned his head his mouth was dry his eyes were red/And dreams he never dreamt he'd dream come slithering sniggering obscene/He watched her....."
The music slows and slows down and then settles into a menacing pace while the backing vocals again are Nicky mocking Jimmy right at the wrong moment with "Jimmy Jimmy what's in your head/You told me you wanted it that's what you said yeah yeah/Jimmy Jimmy I thought you were hot what's the matter sweetheart some kind of mental block?" Not wise words.
 Then it all explodes with the second and final spoken part from Pix:
        "Well she ran her finger down his back until she reached the part he lacked/Hey the King is dead long live the King she said and tried a little head quite useless/And then she sighed in sweet surprise as something hard but cold and sharp now occupied the space between her thighs"
 Then comes the heavy breathing and slow build up. Then Pix ominously shouts "Here's Something For You Off The Wrist He Said And Gave The Blade A Twist!" Then the chorus is repeated and all Hell breaks loose again. Jeff Bannister merely makes Pix's concept song stick out like a signpost stating "We Really Want To Get A Lot Of Negative Attention" on "Got To Run" where the violent lyrics continue. "I've Got To Run I've Got To Run/I'll Find A Gun" to "I Take My Hat Off To That Phony Bitch/Her Blood Ran Silver And It's Made Me Rich."
   I'm not making any of these lines up. The song "The Knife" does make me laugh it's so over the top and tasteless, but a joke about a guy who goes crazy and rapes his girlfriend with a knife combined with the scary looking cover- it can only spell one thing- it's the end. The crowd's reaction to the song the first time they played it was enough to make Pix miserable, but the ending of The O Band was a dragged out year of misery where everything fell apart and tempers flared about who was to blame for the band's demise. Pix had a horrible time accepting that Punk had killed his dreams. The whole band should have gone on, but they'd in some ways dug their own grave with their last album. It's a great record, an amazing record, but whether you find his joke funny is a whole other matter. I do because I know he's not being completely serious and because it's so stupid, but you have to really just think of things in a different perspective like I do when I play it. It certainly isn't as scary as the album looks. Punk was a lot scarier and it was the death of The O Band. Ironically, their new Heavy Metal image just given a little bit more time would have saved them, but they broke up early in 1978 a near decade's worth of dreams of stardom unfulfilled. Do not ever forgive the record companies for what they did to one of the greatest bands ever to come out during the sometimes exciting sometimes sickening 70s. This band is all that rock and roll should be.
      It's sad that it ended on such a hard note for The O Band, but the music never dies and so all I have to do is put their brilliant music as The Parlour Band, A Band Called O, O, and The O Band on to celebrate it and relive some of the happiest times of my life. To the musicians involved in both bands and especially for the brilliance of The Parlour Band many, many, thanks and rock on!

Monday, April 9, 2012


This is going to be a crazy, intense, emotional, powerful, completely unbelievable story, but every word of it is true!
     This really should have been one of my first blogs. In here and in great detail you will discover the band that opened every door for me and led to my obsession of record collecting. That band would be one of the few bands ever to come out of The Channel Islands (namely Guernsey/Jersey) A Band Called O- Known to me as The O Band- the name they finally settled on for their final opus 1977's THE KNIFE.
      The tale begins with a dream and then moves into a deja vu experience in January of 1990 which changed my life forever. Fast backwards to 1988/1989 or even before that. My first experience with The O Band that led to the dream I had in 1988 is the haziest part of my story here. I think they were referred to in a stupid anti-Drug Anti-Rock And Roll film from the 70s a cop showed to us when we were in school and I was really young or that I saw THE KNIFE years and years ago in a record store in a local shopping mall when I was about 5. Since I can't verify which beginning is true, but that something had to lead to the riveting I had when I was 13 I'll skip ahead to the facts.
                      Prelude To Mania- A School from Hell and A Trip To Hell
  When I was 12 years old I had already gone through a half year of torture at the middle school and had been thrown into one of the most evil places in the world which at that time was located in Wayne New Jersey- a school for kids with "special learning needs" called Center School. I still have nightmares about the evil abuse that went on towards me and other kids then, but one of the very most memorable experiences was one of their zillion psychological torture experiments on us. This one was one of the scariest. I was unpopular. I was pint sized. I was sensitive, but I claimed to be a heavy metal headbanger. I had struck up a friendship with a few other kids and I can remember me and Tom, another intelligent boy at that time, feeling a lot of fear as the bus roamed ominously from Wayne on a dark and cold day in Fall to a grim and terrifying "Drug Rehabilitation Center." Now, was this trip about educating a bunch of young kids about the perils of drug abuse? No way in Hell. It was done to ABUSE US. The outside of the huge building looked like a gigantic Gothic mausoleum and the inside was dirty, cold, miserable, and still springs to mind when I listen to David Bowie's "All The Madmen." This wasn't a place people went to get cured. It was a place people went to die and/or lose their sanity completely. Tom and I were speechless for awhile after we left, but we both gave killing glances at the demonic Mrs. Carlson, the most evil teacher I ever had in all my years at school. Soon Tom and I were talking on the bus. We knew exactly what she/them had pulled over on us.
                        A Night Of Revelation- The Prophetic Dream-
    I went to bed not so easy that night after the day of our horrific experience at the drug and destruction center. That night I had a recurring dream, but it was the first time I'd have it and the really life-changing important time I'd have it. The dream centered around a band that were infamous and dangerous called Opium first, then The Occult Band, and then when they really did their act of damage The 'O' Band (that's right, now read more!). All incarnations of the band were fronted by a Scottish eccentric named Frankenson Oswald who after a witch hunt against his band had first retired to the English countryside and then had run a large record album warehouse business. I was a little older in this dream than 12, but maybe just a few years. I was walking down a road somewhere out in the middle of a very desolate, unpopulated place and there hadn't been a sign of anything but the road for a good 2 miles. Soon a building appeared in the distance and a big black car. The building was modern and unattractive, and the car made its way down to where I was. The car pulled up to the side of the road and a man with long reddish hair, a big grin, and all black clothes including a decorated robe smiled and asked "Need a ride, boy? Hey, come talk to me, come inside, name's Frankenson. Frankenson Oswald. I'm from Scotland or you may say North England." He looked a bit sinister, but a seductively warm glow filtered through his face and his friendly manner. I got inside and asked him what he did for a living. "I own that building up the road and a few others They're record warehouses where I store old used records, but all in very good condition. I used to be a really hard rocker, but those days are long gone. My kind of music isn't too popular anymore. I'm a 70s man! Grew up on soul, though, my fave's James Brown." He started to talk to me about his past and invited me for dinner. As Opium the band were named after his drug of choice and were a strange group to be sure. A band with two of everything except a lead singer- the former soul and R&B singer Frankenson had a powerful voice that could already with just one of him equal about 5 frontmen! He kept mentioning the deaths of some of the band members he played with and an album in the warehouse called THE KNIFE that destroyed him, but that was later on. Opium were a heavy progressive/psychedelic band who built their reputation around long compositions and a loud, powerful, all-encompassing sound with anti Christian lyrics. Frankenson had a distaste for Christianity that came from a very stern upbringing that made him revolt against organized religion from an early age. Their lyrics were crazed flights of fancy and so were their compositions and a manic stage show. They made two albums- the self-titled first catered to more of a club/soul psychedelic freakout sound whilst their magnum opus was a double album called COLLISEUM (their spelling not mine). This record had an ominous enough cover, but nothing was close to the music. The band were out there, there was no denying that. Frankenson was a very control oriented guy, but once the group made an album of jazzy influenced psychedelia under the name The Occult Band he lost control. We made it to the building by now and I was soon inside. I was thumbing through record after nonexistent in real life record. Then I chanced upon the forbidden record. The one that he had warned me about. The front cover showed a dark black background with manic swerves of a car and a lunatic across it and a huge foreboding white mansion with a younger Frankenson all contorted and in a black robe holding a sharp dagger. At the top of the cover in Gothic lettering was written in white THE 'O' BAND. At the bottom it said in the same Gothic type THE KNIFE. I was already feeling a bit concerned about what this album might contain. Then I turned the cover over. On the back was a flight of stairs with the knife covered in blood on them and in blood coloured lettering were the song titles and a quote that said "He Didn't Tell Her He Was High/She Forgot To Tell Him Not To Come/He Tried And Tried And Tried/He Blew It." The title track seemed to be just the centerpiece of a truly evil album, an album that after it's release saw Oswald vanish after two of the band members died. I was curious though, and he took me to a beautiful house that was one of two he had in the States. He refused to let me listen to the album alone. We dined on a brilliant Indian food feast together and then made our way to his tastefully furnished living room where he took out an old record player, plugged it in, and put the record on. Right from the beginning this was scary shit. It had a dark menacing organ sound, slashing fuzz guitars, all manner of crazed effects, and Frankenson Oswald yowling like a mad dog at the moon. The quiet parts were even scarier, full of real dread and depression evoking parallels with an off-the-deep-end Doors. The title track came on at the start of Side Two. All Hell broke loose. I was screaming for him to turn it off it was so terrifying and I collapsed on the floor. He took the record off and tended to me. "Why did I have to do that!? I still regret ever having a hand in anything that horrifying! How could I have lost it that much!? Don't worry, I'm better now, I learned my lesson, but I learned it the hardest way there could be. At the cost of two friends and bandmates to violent drug induced deaths. We did some really stupid things back then. Shall we go back to a happier subject and have dessert? I'll even let you have some very good sweet wine" this gentleman rocker said. He took the record and smashed it. I sat down at the table again with him and I asked him why he was so nice to me. "You're a young kid. You're a good kid. You've had it rough I can tell. A real load of bad luck has befallen you, but fear not I'll stand up for you. I'll look after you. I'll be your friend and a better friend you can't find."After a brief flashback to all the records he made especially THE KNIFE and his coming to terms with a dark past the dream ended. I woke up in the morning feeling rather strange. Rather high and didn't want to go to school even more than the day before.
                           -Falling Out with Metal 1989- The Deja Vu January 1990-
   Heavy metal interest ended for me in the fall of 1989. That was with current "metal" and I would still for awhile love the older music which was what I cherished the most, but my hatred of all current metal can be summed up in two simple instances both involving two bastards who are still friends with each other and still active- Axl Rose and Sebastian Bach. In 1988 I loved Guns And Roses. I never owned the record, but Appetite For Destruction was undeniably quite a record. They were edgy and he had a strange voice that could irritate easily, but everyone loved them. We considered anyone who didn't an ignoramus. Then Axl had to blow it. When the second album LIES came out that's exactly what it was. After reading of the line "Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/" in a song called "One In A Million" it was all over for me with egomaniac idiotic bigot Axl Rose. Skid Row would be the final nail in current metal's coffin. Sebastian Bach had and has an even more irritating voice than Axl, but before the incident that made me want to kill him I thought he had a great voice and maybe he does. I was huge into Skid Row without buying the album. I loved those songs. Then Sebastian came out wearing a T shirt with the "Raid" insect killer logo on it saying"AIDS Kills Fags Dead." Go fuck yourself, I thought and I was only 13. Then a month later he was convicted of manslaughter and barely got off after a brawl broke out during a concert and he killed or nearly killed a fan. I can remember my disgust. These guys are the real wimps and cowards I thought and still think. Angel and Stories and Aerosmith. Atomic Rooster, Procol Harum, and Emerson Lake & Palmer- those were my bands. I'd changed over completely and hated the then popular new bands.
     I found myself in a record store that was a joke called Orpheus the same day I purchased my long time copy of Stories' 2nd record ABOUT US the laminated cover 1st press with no "Brother Louie" hit at a much better store on a rainy dark day in Washington D.C. I then went to Orpheus. I laughed at their prices on everything and then went to a box that was unmarked as far as I remember or else it was just a box of cheaper records. Then the Deja Vu- the opening of Pandora's Box, the Original Sin hit me. I pulled out a record that said at the top "THE O BAND THE KNIFE." The cover was close enough to the one in the dream to send terror and shock through my entire young body. It was a dark black background with a huge evil looking house and a man where you couldn't see his face grabbing a huge knife on the front. On the back was a drawing of the knife on the house's front stairs covered in blood and an eerily similar quote: "He Didn't Tell Her He Was High/She Took Him Home/He Tried And Tried/He Blew It." I was shaking in a fit of terror that would spill over into a breakdown later that day and the next. "This is it. This is the one!" I said aloud and then after holding the record for a few minutes flung it back in the box. I'd never be the same person again.... Soon I'd turn from a bad experience in a manner of a few years to a record freak.
                          -Discovering The Music And Uncovering The Music-
      How could this really be reality? It all was so strange. After a period of being a blithering idiot, hearing "The Knife" by Genesis on Genesis Live and having a fever afterwards and turning into an introverted paranoid nutcase everything changed in 1992. Before even then Bill "Pennies" Pacquin (say Pak-Keen) saw to it that I would be educated in music and Bill knew what no one else at The Princeton Record Exchange knew. He filled me all in on The O Band and their previous incarnation The Parlour Band which I at first thought he said was "The Poe Band." He taped The Parlour Band and I completely couldn't understand it. This wasn't metal at all- it was unlike anything I'd heard except Camel and Queen. Then The O Band I had a little early taste of that year of '91 before in 1992 becoming a huge fan.  No, as it turned out The O Band weren't 70s metal at all. They were a rock and roll band, a melodic rock and roll band, and they also played a kind of bridging between spacey progressive rock, Americanized California rock, and Pub rock. When Bill in 1992 traded me the band's last two albums WITHIN REACH and THE KNIFE I had gone full into psychedelic and good old 60s/early 70s rock 'n roll, but hearing WITHIN REACH (an Israeli Press!) I finally was ready for this band. This was really good stuff. Someone in Journey, namely Steve Perry, I still believe heard Pix and ripped him off. The Journey similarities on all 4 of The O Band's records, but especially OASIS, WITHIN REACH, and THE KNIFE are more vocal than musical, but the tight, commercially friendly, hard edged, muscular melodic rock really impressed me. However, when I got THE KNIFE I read the lyrics on the innersleeve and had to have Stuart (dad) play it first. Unlike the Satanic driven drug induced murder in the dream version this was all drug induced and about a guy named Jimmy who takes Methedrine (Speed), tells his girlfriend he wants to fuck her, can't get a hard on, is taunted by her, and rapes her with the knife. He said it must have been part of their stage act when he heard it and when I heard it that was obvious. Yes it was part of their stage show, but when Pix called me up on my 24th birthday to talk to me about the band he said he intended it as a joke, but ended up destroying his career with it. This was years and eons after I'd first discovered and uncovered all of The O Band and their previous band The Parlour Band's now 500 pound album IS A FRIEND? had become one of my all-time favourite records ever made. I had suspected that if Pix (Lead vocals/lead and rhythm guitar) and bandmates Mark Anders (bass) Craig Anders (Guitars/steel guitars/vocals) Geoff Bannister (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals) Derek Ballard (Drums, percussion) weren't intentionally doing a piss take that was what it had turned into and it turned out that Pix in a fury of anger at changing musical trends wrote the song as a joke. Now, a song that graphically details a drug addict, a spoiled brat girl who doesn't know when to shut her mouth, and a knife shoved "between her thighs" may sound like anything but funny or just ludicrously violent, but it just so turns out it is so stupid that it's hard not to laugh at Pix's sick joke. The song itself is not bad, but certainly not the highlight on a very strong last album. After 6 years of struggle, record company apathy, drug and alcohol abuse on Pix's part, a huge changeover in sound and leadership from original lead vocalist/keyboard player Peter Filleul to Pix The O Band were killed off by the oncoming punk scene at the end of 1977. Pix was furious about what had transpired back then. He and the band had worked really hard, had made some of the best music ever especially on IS A FRIEND?, OASIS, and WITHIN REACH, they had been billed as a band that were going to make it really big, and then in a tumultuous misery everything went horribly wrong and it all was over. Pix and I were best friends for a year and a half and this Guernsey/Jersey native's extravagant rock and roll manner made him a very lovable guy until I lied to him unintentionally and things got worse from then. We tried to end as friends, but I still wish that Spain bound Pix and I could have remained friends and really patched it up.  Later on I'd go back to all of his/their music and here is where I will end my story. The Parlour Band were the beginning. They opened everything up for me and laidback progressive pop psych with heavy psychedelic guitars is still my favourite music. I called up a record dealer who never had anything good one day in 2006 and he said he'd bought an amazing import collection where the sleeves were a bit damaged but the records were unplayed. At that time I had a cheesy reissue that sounded shite of The Parlour Band and he said he had it. I was shocked, as shocked as the day I'd discovered the real O Band. I told him I'd pay him $125 for it and he went for it! My dad couldn't believe it was true, but when we got to his store sure enough the cover was about VG and the record completely new never played and STEREO- my previous 2 were MONO! I bought it. The guy went for it at that price and now that copy could be worth $700 to $800!!!!! And you won't find a better record, but mind you it really has to be heard in stereo for the best effect. You also won't find a story with a more joyful end.  I will go into more detail later about that album, but remember if something may at first look strange and uninviting if a gut force tells you to investigate it by all means do so. Much love to The Parlour Band and The O Band and enough said for now.