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.