Paul Brett

Guitarist/Composer/Producer/Journalist/Vintage Guitars for sale/Video Maker/12 string/blues/jazz/folk/Guitar Museum

Paul Brett Interviews – Tintern Abbey – Velvet Opera – Paul Brett Sage

Tintern AbbeyTintern Abbey advert

Sweet Floral Albion Interview by Paul Cross

As a tie-in with the release of the long-lost second TINTERN ABBEY 45, we hereby present a rare interview with Paul Brett, in which he discusses Tintern Abbey for the first time!!!
Our man, Paul Cross (PC), asks the questions, whilst Paul Brett (PB) provides the answers.
Basically, as we’re a UK psych fanzine, we’ve concentrated on Paul’s career during the mid-60s to early-70s….
PC- How was the acetate of the proposed second Tintern Abbey single rediscovered?
PB- The acetate was found recently when I was going through some of my late father’s things. He must have kept everything I did over the years. In fact, I remember him paying personally for this session.
PC- Can you give us any details about the recordings?
PB- The tracks are ‘Do what you must’ and ‘How do I feel today’. The former was band-written, whilst ‘How do I feel today’ was written by Dave McTavish [who wrote both sides of the Deram 45], and was supposed to be the follow-up to the first single, but got shelved as the deal with Deram ended. This item has been in my dad’s file since 1968 when it was recorded at Tony Pike’s Studios in Putney, London. I have only played it twice since finding it. Once to check it out and once to copy it to file.
PC- Why did Dan Smith leave the band, any ideas?
PB- I never met Dan. I think there was a falling out with the other guys, but it was never discussed. We also added an organist later although we never recorded with him. His name was Terry Goldberg, he used to be with the Mark Leeman Five, who were a great 60’s group. Unfortunately, Mark died in a car crash [in June 1965] and the band split. Terry wasn’t in Tintern Abbey for long, he was used to a “pro” situation and couldn’t handle the Samuel’s set up i.e. playing in the house!
PC- It seems that Dan left Tintern Abbey in January ’68, and you replaced him then. Is this date correct?
PB- I’m unsure as to when Dan actually left, or of the specific date when I actually joined the band.
PC- Any idea exactly when the acetate was cut? Presumably it must have been recorded between January (when Dan left) and March 1968? Because on March 9th, 1968 ‘Record Mirror’ announced the forthcoming single as due for release on April 19th, 1968.
PB- Not sure, as there’s no date on it. The acetate was supposed to decide the A side and then we would go in and produce a master of the song. The band preferred ‘Do What You Must’ as the A side, as ‘How Do I Feel Today’ was a bit repetitious. None of these songs was ever recorded as a master session for release as the whole deal fell apart.
PC- Record Collector said–” ‘How Do I Feel Today’ didn’t reach the pressing stage, and no tapes or acetates have yet to surface- indeed, there’s no indication that the track was ever recorded.”– What do you make of that?
PB- To be fair to RC, I only recently found this acatate in my Dad’s things and even I forgot I had it. So yes, it does exist. They are correct in that it didn’t reach the pressing stage , it didn’t even reach the mastering stage, but it does exist in Acetate form and only one copy, which I have.
PC- The legendary Nigel Samuels was the band’s manager. What was he like to deal with?
PB- Yes, Nigel Samuels was the manager of Tintern Abbey. He owned the now legendary underground mag IT. He had inherited his father’s publishing business and wanted to expand into the music scene. Hence IT. It was a strange arrangement. He let us live rent-free in a mews house at the back of Sloane Square and we used to rehearse there. He used to come round at 3 in the morning and just get us to play for him and his mates. It was all a bit weird. It was like we were his own personal ‘ band in a box’ that he could turn on at any time he felt like. He paid everyone a small weekly retainer, which was generous of him , but we all needed to play to the outside world and after much discussion, we signed agency with Spencer Davis.
PC- Did Tintern Abbey pack it in in 1968, or did they survive until the start of 1969?
PB- I left after about a year. Can’t remember exactly when they folded.
PC- What else do you remember about those days?
PB-I remember Stu McKay being heavily into ‘The Prisoner’ (TV Series) as he used to go round wearing the striped jacket etc.! Dave McTavish had a pet buzzard that got rather large and flew out through the large picture window in the house one day, looking for freedom I guess. There were quite a few ‘Sloanie’ type ladies that used to hang around the house, not my type I’m afraid, but McTavish used to go for them.
PC- Who was the roadie?
PB- His name was Eddie Slemmonds, a mate of mine from Fulham.
PC- What is your opinion regarding a copy of the Tintern Abbey Deram 45 being sold recently for a four-figure sum?
PB- As usual with collectable material, it depends on how bad the guy wants it. I collect early Stella Guitars and have paid good money for ones that fit my collection. Leadbelly and Blind Willie McTell played them, so they can’t be bad ! Obviously the guy who paid $2350 for the Deram single, really wanted it ! I thought the single was changing hands for around £200 or so. It must be the power of e-bay!
PC- ‘The Magic Shoemaker’ LP, on which you played is pretty collectible too…
PB- I had The Strawbs up here for the ‘Pwllheli Festival’ this year, which I run, and we talked about the Fire LP, ‘The Magic Shoemaker’. Dave Lambert, Dave Cousins, me, Bob Voice and Dick Duffall (the later two were with me in Paul Brett Sage) and we couldn’t believe the collectability demand on this one either.
PC- There was also talk in the music papers in ’68 of a Tintern Abbey LP, due for release in August ’68. Were any tracks recorded? Do you remember any track titles?
PB- No LP was ever recorded. We did write a lot of songs with a view to recording an album, but only these two on the acetate were recorded.
PC- Please tell us the correct chronology regarding the bands you were in in the 60s.
PB- First band was SW4, then Neil Christian and the Crusanders, then Arthur Brown Union (pre-Crazy World), then Dave Terry Band (pre-Elmer Gantry), then Tintern Abbey, then Elmer gantry’ Velvet Opera, then Velvet Opera, then Soulmates, then I was with Johnny Joyce (from Velvet Opera) as an acoustic duo, then Cyril Stapleton Orchestra (with Dave Palmer of Jethro Tull and Bob Voice of Fire and Paul Brett Sage). Could even be I’ve left a few bands out!
PC- Yes! You were also in The Overlanders [c. Autumn ’66].
PB- Yes, Could be you’re right on this. Done so much I can’t remember all the bands and dates!
PC- And you were also in the the Warren Davis Monday Band, I believe, in 1967?
PB- Yes I was. I’ve forgotton about the Warren Davis Band…

PC- Do you have any info about your time with Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera?
PB- Yes. I joined Elmer (when Colin Forster left), after Fire. The line-up was Dave Terry (vocals), John Ford (bass), Richard Hudson (drums), me (guitar). And I played on the ‘Volcano’ and ‘Mary Jane’ singles and one LP- ‘Ride A Hustler’s Dream’ on CBS, and did extensive tours with the band. The agent at the time was Terry King and he booked us a lot of shows. Disagreements erupted within the band, which lead to a split from Elmer. We invited 12-string Bluesman Johnny Joyce to join the band, and recorded the Velvet Opera ‘Ride A Hustler’s Dream’ LP. This was recorded, as was the Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera stuff, at Southern Music’s studios in Denmark St. It was an 8-track set-up and was a real struggle to get real quality and instrument separation, but we did our best. We did lots of Radio One sessions and quite a few gigs, the most memorable being with The Who at The Lyceum…
PC- Wow! What was that like?
PB-The Who were great! I think they played a lot of stuff from ‘Tommy’. We supported them. Can’t remember the date, must have been around 1970. We were managed by Terry Slater who looked after Amen Corner and he got us the show.
It was a packed house and we were well received, with an encore, etc. We had ‘Anna Dance Square’/’Statesboro’ Blues’ out as a single at the time from the ‘Ride A Hustler’s Dream’ LP. I’d played the Ealing Club years before with a band whose name escapes me and we came across The Who regularly down there, when they were still called The High Numbers.
PC- How did the Velvet Opera split?
PB- John Ford and Richard Hudson were getting more into writing their own songs and they also wanted to perform them. Johnny and I were more into acoustic music and inevitably, we went our own ways quite amicably. Southern would have made another LP with us but we felt we needed to follow our hearts! I spoke to Hud last year about the possibility of collaborating on a new Velvet Opera LP as the band’s reputation has survived and even grown over the years, probably because we have all done our own things. This is very much a possibility and I will pursue this with Hud and John. I did a CD last year with John Joyce ‘Acoustic Power’ that was really well received by the media. It could also be that there is another Fire LP in the future and certainly their will be more Paul Brett CDs and there are collectors issues on CD of the previous material and some unreleased Paul Brett & Sage stuff via my site www.fret-dancer.com Also on this site is an on-line Vintage Acoustic Museum that features very rare Stellas, Regals and Weymanns. These are the guitars the early Blues Legends played. I am currently compiling a book on my guitar collection and it will contain over 60 guitars and will be released with a CD sampler of their sounds. Many now lost to the modern ear and guitar maker. Many hew guitars look like over-priced bits of furniture and sound like strings plucked over a cats arse !

Arthur Brown Union (Left to Right) Paul Brett (guitar); Jim Toomey (Drums); Roy Stacey (Bass); Art Regis (Organ)
Derek Griffiths (Tenor Sax); Tony Crane (Alto Sax) and Arthur Brown (vocals – seated)
Early picture was taken in Homestead Rd, Fulham outside Paul’s family house (around 65/66).

PC- Are there any other 60’s demos in existence?
PB- My Dad paid for a lot of demo sessions of bands I was with, including SW4 with Ralph Denyr singing. And I also have an acetate of an early line up featuring half the original Arthur Brown Union (minus Arthur) and Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera. It has Elmer (Dave Terry) on vocals, me on guitar, Art Regis and Tony Crane (organ and sax) Jim Toomey (drums). I played with both Arthur and Elmer. I haven’t looked through all my dad’s boxes yet, he may have kept some early Arthur Brown sessions at Tony Pike’s. All this acetate stuff was recorded at Pike’s
PC- You played on a lot of records back then?
PB- Hundreds of them! Did the first Roy Harper LP on Strike Records when I was with Neil Christian and the Crusaders, took over from Jimmy Page; Al Stewart’s sessions, ‘Zero She Flies’, ‘Electric Los Angeles Sunset’, etc; ‘Devil’s Grip’/’Give Him A Flower’ by Arthur Brown, Ronnie Wood played bass on this one; Fire ‘The Magic Shoemaker’ LP; Tintern Abbey stuff; John Joyce LP; all the Paul Brett Sage and Paul Brett LPs to date; ‘Dragonfly’ by The Strawbs; Michel Polnareff LP’s , and thousands of sessions, right through the mid to late 60s as I was one of the top session guitarists and played on lots of peoples’ records, mainly daytime sessions and worked gigs in the evenings…TINTERN ABBEY-Personnel:-

LINE-UP #1(1967 – 01/68):-
David McTavish (Vocals)
Dan Smith (Lead guitar)
Stuart MacKay (Bass)
John Dalton (Drums)
LINE-UP #2 [01/68 – ?/68]:-
David McTavish (Vocals)
Paul Brett (Lead guitar)
Stuart MacKay (Bass)
John Dalton (Drums)
LINE-UP #3 [?/68 – ?/68]:-
David McTavish (Vocals)
Paul Brett (Lead guitar)
Terry Goldberg (Keyboards)
Stuart MacKay (Bass)
John Dalton (Drums)LINE-UP #4[?/68 – late/end 68](same as second line-up):-
David McTavish (Vocals)
Paul Brett (Lead guitar)
Stuart MacKay (Bass)
John Dalton (Drums)Hippyland Feature

Paul Brett’s Sage and the early sessions  
Reviewer: Shiloh Noone | See all reviews by Shiloh Noone
Section: Reviews | Category: Music | Area: South Africa | Topic: Music  
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The colour of Sage , most likely purple with streaks of blue, well that’s if you’ve ever listened to Paul Brett’s Sage. The multi-colored juggled history of Paul Brett most likely started with the group SW4 headed by future Blonde On Blonde Ralph Denyar. Paul would also replace Jimmy Page in Neil Christian & The Crusaders. A brief entry into the Arthur Brown Union yielded their first single, the Pete Townshend produced “Devil’s Grip” with Ronnie Wood on bass.After brief excursions in 1967 with the Overlanders and Warren Davis Monday Band, Paul would enjoy sessions with the Dave Terry Band which later evolved into Elmer Gantry Band. The age of psychedelia had provided enriched pathways for the gifted Brett as he took his riffs to Tintern Abbey and springboarded from their into the melting pot of Elmer Gantry’s second album Ride A Hustler’s Dream which pushed out an urgent version of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”. The roads were many and the options countless but a distinct destiny drew Paul into the Soulmates where he met the gifted twelve string guitarist, ex Levee Breakers Johnny Joyce who at that stage had just left Velvet Opera. The group Friday’s Chylde had just metamorphosed into Fire and churned out a surging psyche single called “Father’s Name Was Dad” with future Strawb Dave Lambert on lead. Paul would enter for the 1970 conceptual Magic Shoemaker, acknowledged as a masterpiece in the same spirit as the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake.The Brett sessions Paul’s sessions were scattered and endless as he persued the majestic chord that David once held in his Solomon wisdom. Amongst the chosen and frozen were poet Roy Harper’s unforgettable Sophisticated Beggar, Al Stewart’s Zero She Flies alongside Jimmy Page ..the “Volcano” and “Mary Jane” singles honed from Elmar Gantry’s debut which did not include Paul as an official member. Paul would further his sessions with Strawbs on Dragonfly (lead guitar on “The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake”) and various singles included on Classic Strawbs. To add to this magnificent database Paul Brett also filled in the gaps with The Ivy League, The Flower Pot Men, Status Quo, the prolific Barclay James Harvest, ex Strawbs – Hudson & Ford, Max Bygraves, The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra, Lonnie Donegan and folk stalwart Ralph McTell, known for his hit “Streets Of London”.The first coming of Sage ignited when ex Fire lighters Dick Dufall and percussionist ,vocalist Bob Voice joined lead guitarist Paul Brett to form Paul Brett’s Sage with added employment of Nicky Higginbottom on flute and sax. The 1970 self titled ‘Hourglass’ debut was celebrated by the superb seven inch “Three D Mona Lisa” / “Mediterranean Lazy Heat” riddled with superb time signatures. The album was a shivering fusion of bongos , astounding acoustic and pulsing rhythms superbly enhanced by Jethro Tull arranger David Palmer.The percussive rhythms of “The Sun Died” and bass ambling “Little Aztec Prince” are the core style of this story tell album. Often not told are the superb lyrics ..”Reason For Your Asking” – .’You asked me why a flower died and why the Eastern horsemen rides, Why the silver lash of rain hides footprints in the dusty lane’ . Tolkienistic dimensions and apocalyptic visions cradle “Trophies Of War” and the severing “Warlock”. The 1971Jubilation Foundry, more of an acoustic affair and in hindsight Sage’s most established creation with it’s mature fusion of acoustic and harmonies now included ex Titus Groan Stuart Cowell as lead guitarist who later did some amazing things with Al Stewart.Paul King who later played with Lambert in the King Earl Boogie Band played the harmonica on Jubilation. The album yielded the single “Dahlia” / “Cottage Made for Two”. A strong country element threads the album with elements of Strawbs, Magna Carta but a more definitive pick can be found in the heart sagging “I Fell So Far” and harmony filled “Tuesday Evening”. A cry from the gutter to the utter spills out of “Help Me Jesus” an eerie bluesy ballad that carries it’s message into the follow up holler “Jubilation Foundry”. By the time the 1972 Schizophrenia hit the shelves Sage were back into electric with some stirring lead fusion on “Custom Angel Man”. a psychedelic master of note. The album enlisted Dave Lambert on piano and organ. Schizophrenia also sprouts some very fast guitar and nifty riffs on “Song Of Life, “Song Of Death” and “Slow Down Man” with Rod Coombes on drums. In the spirit of Jubilation’s “Tuesday Evening” those S&G harmonies reel through “Tale Of A Rainy Night”. Rob Young stepped in for the flute and oboe on the exquisite “Autumn”, a Strawb template in anybody’s book. Paul brett would later team up with ex Levee Breakers Johnny Joyce from Velvet Opera as an acoustic duo and then Cyril Stapleton Orchestra (with Dave Palmer of Jethro Tull and Bob Voice of Fire.

Paul’s awesome fretwork spills through (Bradley’s Records) “Mr.Custer“ & “Summer Driftin“ singles. From 1973 Paul’s solo albums on Bradleys Records, backed by violinist/guitarist Mike Piggott first heard with John Dummer Blues Band , Bert Janch and added multi-instrumentalist Dave Griffiths rule the roost. Further albums most likely deemed Prog or Suites wash Clock’s , Phoenix Future and Earth Birth, the latter a must. The definitive purchase must be Fretdancer by Paul and that 12-string mandarin called Johnny Joyce that even Shawn Phillips stands in awe of. Paul Brett continues to record, evolving with each recording. Sadly Johnny Joyce passed from this world to a far greater dimension.