Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Welcome to Sleep Town

"Dream carefully"

Tomorrow, some of us will be saying our last  goodbyes to our second ex-Parrot. One of our ex-drummers, Jeff Powles began pining for the Fjords a few years ago now. And tomorrow we bid farewell to a founder member. Graham Caldicott, one of the original band which made their debut in Wolvey Village Hall in 1975.  
   "Garsi" as many knew him, was a creative influence, a lyricist, a vocalist and a showman. When we extended into a six piece and began doing rock venues, "Sleep Town/Acid Rock" became a highlight of a very noisy set. Garsi and I co-wrote it. It was intended to be a parody of Prog. Rock. The first part, which he wrote, conjured up images from a thousand surreal Album covers. Spinal Tap would have loved it.
    " Sleep Town Disco " as a brand goes back to 1967. It was how Garsi and I labelled our shared record collection.  To prevent our vinyl 45's  being stolen at parties and well...discos. "Sleep Town" was our own invention-the half awake half asleep place where you dream. It was a location in  Galunia-the mythical land we also created together. We began inventing characters populating Sleep Town, basing it in a crazy Wild West setting, with the "cast" all animals.  This was well before the Star Wars Saloon scene and 46 years before  someone would make a film in a similar vein and call it "Rango."
      " Sleep Town" was a magnum opus.  It was really two songs linked by a brief commentary. Underneath a moody bass/drum/keyboard riff, Garsi would begin to eerily sing his own words. Even today, without the music, they give you some idea of his imagination. And note the first anthropomorphic reference to a Vacuum cleaner!
A plastic Luger and a rubber hand grenade:
 a Duty-Free bottle of Galunian lemonade-
Welcome to Sleep Town-dream carefully!
Climb upon the coach to the Slumber Saloon
where the Honky Tonk Squirrel will play your favourite tune
A buzzard in drag takes your ticket by the door
Twenty pink flamingos dance across the floor
Welcome to Sleep Town-dream carefully!
The Turkey's in the toilet selling Blueland grass
A cow dressed in a leotard fills your foaming glass
a cobra in a top hat introduces the striptease:
" It's Sally The Giraffe-put your hands together please!"
Welcome to Sleep Town-dream carefully!
There's a humanoid vacuum cleaner laughing  like a drain
He drinks a toast to Errol Flynn and walks out in the rain
Owls doing the Can Can-flick up leather skirts
Their bony legs are birdlike and you cry until it hurts
I said "Welcome to Sleep Town-dream carefully!"
Those images established, and after a bit of white noise from the Parrot , Garsi would put on a "Head's" voice and intone an imaginary conversation between two members of the audience:
" hey man! I'm getting pretty bored with this now-let's move on to The Rotting Priest Club. They got a band on there...let's hear it for....Asthma Sunrise!"
More psychedelic power chords, as The Parrot morphed into one of its several other alter egos. ( Asthma Sunrise was one of the other names we considered before going with B.P.S.)  I would then take over the vocals and the lyrics, with a lament on lost Rock Gods pretentious psychedelia and the advent of "Glam," and lost mojos:

Sad days. Sad times. Lonely music. Empty lines
Starships adrift in eternal space
Trying to fit an image to an unknown face
And where is the point in obscurity?
They've Ziggied our Stardust: they've Hawked our Wind
They've Heaped our Uriahs in a Black Sabbath bin
They've Transformered our Reed they've invented our Mothers
We're grateful for The Dead...But where are all the others?
And they're cashing in on mediocrity.

They found them on motorways, they found them in pools
they found them taking drugs in the company of fools
They have a hundred roadies to ferry all their noise
which disguises the fact that they think like little boys
They take all our money from their albums and their gigs
And invest it in bullshit which they think the public digs
Cosmic sandwiches and astral pies
Are pouring from their fingertips and dripping from their thighs
They've lost their heads, they've played out a last scene
And where it's now at is where it never should have been

And The Parrot ......go on playing........ till they're bored.

Which we did. Garsi and I would take a rest as Vance (drums), Mandrago (bass) Mick (keyboards) and Arnold (lead guitar) would jam till they ran out of ideas or stamina. A long, improvised instrumental mash-up. I have one very ropey recording of it-and it lasts around 17 minutes.

Welcome to Sleep Town, Gars.  Dream Carefully.