Friday, 3 August 2012
Wishing Well 1972
Lots of problems with this record, but at least you can hear them loud and clear, I mean, this is not a post modern record, those I can hear on any visit to the White Horse, and one thing you don't hear on post modern records is problems, that is almost by definition.
I'll hear this track fucked over, sampled, whatever, many times, but it will never be as evocative and painful as the original. The problem here is a band problem, Paul Rogers writes a thinly disguised song about his mate, his guitarist, Paul Kossoff. He will do it again when Paul Kossoff dies, with 'Shooting Star'. Both are a bad idea. Clearly 'Koss' has many problems with the world, and worse, he wants to drench you in them via the sound of his guitar. He does it very well here, to consistent lyrics rather berating him for having his feet in the wishing well like some hippie, but him answering with a consistent squeal and wail of discomfort. This is highly original in a rock record, something that Kurt Colbain would perfect. After this album Kossoff will of course leave the band and take solace, rather inappropriately you might say, with John Martyn in Hastings, who attempted to keep him 'clean' (but then again who else, one dangerous romantic clings to another) and he'd die mid Atlantic. Afterwards his father, as a famous actor (what a surprise) and most inappropriately but typically in my view, will demonstrate most of Koss's problems in the first place by going on the BBC on Sunday evening for the god spot to say what a terrible world we live in, weirdly not sensing that he was part of it. This is something I well remember.
To hear Martyn talk of Koss on the live album he never put him on (Live at Leeds), but now of course re-issued in deluxe to include the Koss material, is very sweet. You can hear the paternal instinct within a shitty little rock and roll world.
I personally don't think Koss was great, but I remember hearing this record around Donald Wilson's house when I was fifteen or so. Donald was a cool architect who'd been on TV with the first eco house in Macclesfield (1975) and in his converted cottage hung seats, they hung like bulbs from the exposed rafters, and there were bean bags, and later I discovered the speakers were made by him in his workshop where his son and I tried to resuscitate a dead C50, and he'd also made his own kitchen. All you did there as a fifteen year old was was put this record on surreptitiously and imagine the drug fuelled parties Donald's daughters apparently entertained with our PE teacher.