Paul Brett Sage
Here’s some Weeley Festival Posters LP covers and press articles and adverts of Paul Brett Sage.
Link to the Official Paul Brett Sage MySpace site (Songs – Video Clips – Interviews)http://www.myspace.com/paulbrettssage
Hippyland USA Review by Shiloh Noone http://www.hippy.com/php/review-557.html
Interviews with various Paul Brett Sage bandmembers by Tina Metz
Hi everyone, this site is dedicated to Paul Brett’s fantastic Sage from the early 70’s, (no doubt the best era for music ever!!), and their amazing three albums, Paul Bretts Sage, Jubilation Foundry and Schizophrenia. In this interview with me, Paul explains what they were all about. Enjoy! Cheers. Tina. xx
We met when I was doing sessions with Fire. Bob Voice and Dick Duffall were the drummer and bass player in Fire. Dave Lambert was the guitarist and songwriter. I played on The Magic Shoemaker LP and I actually did some gigs with them as well. Paul Brett Sage was formed after Fire in the very late 60’s. Initially, it was only me Bob and flautist, Nicky Higgenbottom. We were signed to Pye Records by Cyril Stapleton, who was head of A&R and he produced the first PBS LP. Dick did the sessions on bass. The first LP was basically very acoustic with the exception of 3 D Mona Lisa and the fully orchestrated Reason for your askin’. Arrangements were by David Palmer, later of Jethro Tull. Bob and I then went to play with Cyril’s Orchestra in Blackpool at the Winter Gardens. Cliff Townsend, Pete’s dad, was on tenor sax. I played a couple of weeks with Cyril and then switched to playing guitar for Lonnie Donegan until the end of the long summer season. The LP came out and was getting some success in Europe, so that was when we actually formed as PBS with Bob, Dick, Nicky and me in 1970. We toured a lot abroad and in the UK. After the first LP, Nicky left and Stuart Cowell joined on for the other two PBS LP’s. We did many TV’s and gigs abroad and in the UK. Goodbye for ever was on Top of the Pops 1971 I think. We did Custom Angel Man on The Old Grey Whistle Test 1972, (Hopefully I’ll get a copy of that one day!) and another one or two tracks. Can’t remember for the life of me doing that clip of “Goodbye Forever” on German TV that you sent me! (Soon to be added to site!) All the albums were recorded in Pye Studios.
I can’t remember a great deal about any eventful happening during the sessions, as we had to work to a budget and allocated studio times. Dave Lambert guested on some tracks, as did Strawbs drummer Rod Coombes. John Ford and Richard Hudson (Strawbs) also guested on “Daliah”. I do remember Bob hammering away at a real anvil throughout Jubilation Foundry! We did this live as well! I think we left the thing in a hotel room in Portugal in the end. We did a couple of Steve Voice’s songs, on there too (one of them was the great Pasadena days). Steve was Bob’s brother who sadly died a few years ago. He was a great songwriter, even wrote stuff for The Osmonds. We toured a lot here and abroad with Mungo Jerry as they were with the same management company.
The Weeley Festival was a great gig. Masses of people and one of the best Festival Line ups of the bands around at that time. We did have the notorious “Rotten Ron” the roadie with us from The Velvet Opera. He was a constant source of amusement, although he may be the reason why Nicky left! In the end, we were screwed badly by the Management Company, as were many of the other acts and we just couldn’t keep going. I had an offer for a solo deal with a new label called Bradley’s, who were connected with my publishers ATV Music. So, a sad parting of the ways and I left with Mick Piggott (fiddle) who had only just joined PBS. He gigged with us, but never recorded. Mike and I went on to do three albums for Bradley’s. Bob became a very successful Agent, he now runs International Artistes. Dick joined the post office but still kept a regular band going to this day. Stuart has a music shop in Ireland and Nicky we lost touch with, but Rotten’s still around!
To summarize, we started out as an Acoustic line up and we did quite a few gigs and Radio sessions. We had some success with the first LP abroad and the single 3 D Mona Lisa. We then shifted from Pye to their progressive label Dawn and brought in Stuart Cowell from Titus Groan, for Nicky. The band got rockier on The Jubilation Foundry LP, but we still kept a blend of our acoustic based, harmony songs. Paul King played harp on Good old Fashioned Funky Kind Of Music. (I went on to produce his solo album Been In The Pen Too Long in 1972) I was very happy with the harmonies on many of the tracks. Nice arrangements for orchestral additions by Mike Gibbs. The third and last album was Schizophrenia.
Similar approach, balance between acoustic and electric. Perhaps a bit rockier than Jubilation Foundry. Custom Angel Man is probably my favourite track.
hi, check out my interview with ex PBS member Stuart Cowell, who I managed to track down recently. He told me all about his adventures with the band!
‘I had known Paul socially for quite a few years mainly through Jim Toomey (TG, the Tourists etc) and Ralph Denyer, (Blond on Blond). One day I turned up at my management’s office in Wardour St. and by coincidence or serendipity they were handling PBS so I was duly whisked into the adjoining office where they happened to be having a meeting and I duly got the gig on the spot (approx 1972).
Some of my memories are a little hazy and almost certainly unprintable! This was a band that enjoyed their beer, had a good time and made sure the audience did the same. I think we pretty much succeeded, in all this, what goes on the road, stays on the road… Although I don’t recall anyone in the band having any theological leanings, Paul did record a superb song called ” HELP ME JESUS”. I also loved a song we recorded called “Autumn” and I thought “JUBILATION FOUNDRY” was awesome particularly the lyrics. I wish that I had used the same slightly over driven guitar tone on it as on “CUSTOM ANGEL MAN”.
I remember that the recordings always went well. We usually recorded at PYE where there was a good collection of keyboards and percussion instruments. I also remember that on one occasion, PAUL KING who was on the verge of estrangement from MUNGO JERRY was playing HARMONICA on “GOOD OLD FASHIONED FUNKY KIND OF MUSIC”. The band came up with the bright idea that a natural reverberation would best be achieved by Mr King relocating to the lavatory with a very long cable (no cordless in those days)! After all, if it was good enough for Chess records and Little Walter, it was good enough for us! By God he got a great sound that night!’
Stuart Cowell, July 2008
hi, here’s another one I tracked down. Read Mike Piggott, the great fiddle man’s story of how he was roped in to join the band!
‘I don’t actually remember how I met Paul! I was playing mainly guitar and some violin in a soul/funk band called The Gass in 1970/71, playing the London club circuit like the Flamingo, Speakeasy, Bag O’Nails etc…
I left the band and did nothing much musically for about six months. I think Paul rang me and asked if I might be interested in joining Sage. He sent me some albums which I liked. Stuart Cowell was leaving and he was looking for a replacement.
The band broke up fairly soon afterwards but we did the Old Grey Whistle Test – I still have the badge! I don’t remember wearing a dressing gown – but then it was 36 years ago!
After this, Paul and I worked for a long time as a duo, playing mainly folk clubs all over the UK and one or two tours, including supporting Status Quo for 3 weeks. At the time they were playing mainly City Halls, etc. and the violin/guitar duo went down very well. One night, at the Floral Hall Southport, there was a power cut and the Quo couldn’t go on. We did our set and then carried on – most of the audience stayed and enjoyed it.
Paul and I did many music press interviews, mainly during “long lunches” in Fleet Street – afterwards, staggering, bleary-eyed, into the early evening! These produced double-page spreads in Melody Maker and Sounds papers.
We got the record deal (and small advance) with Bradleys Records, by walking into the company offices with a violin and guitar and playing to the guy across the desk!
Later we were joined by Nick Stirling (cello) , and after that by Dave Griffiths (mandolin and double bass).
These line-ups were unusual for “folk” audiences, but the material (mainly Paul’s) was really “contemporary acoustic music” rather than folk. At that time there were many venues for our type of music.
Paul and I supported Ralph McTell on a tour during which Ralph asked me to play with him, which I did , on and off for many years, although still keeping in touch with Paul.
After that I played with Bert Jansch for a while and then joined the re-formed Pentangle, replacing John Renbourn. Other different types of bands include the Denny Laine Band and various rock and blues bands, but doing more and more jazz.
These days I’m playing mainly jazz violin at festivals and touring arts centres etc., but I do get involved in any interesting projects that come along, including a “western swing” band – Wills Fargo and some early jazz, including Hawaiian music.
Occasionally the electric guitar comes out and it’s back to the beginning!’
Mike Piggott, August 2008
Check out interview with ex Paul Bretts Sage/Fire bass player Dick Dufall!
How did you guys meet?
First time I remember meeting Paul was at a EGVO gig where Fire were on the same bill.
When did you first join PBS?
Can’t remember the date, even roughly. Sometime in 1970 at a guess.
How did it come about? No idea.
What are your memories of recording the albums, i.e. JubilationFoundry?
Vague memory of being in Pye Studios near Marble Arch and cadging Luncheon Vouchers from Andy the sound engineer.
Tell me about the songs you wrote?
Can’t remember now. Had a lot of help from Paul though.
What was the recording of the OGWT like?
I have no memory of those recordings at all. Seeing the recordings on the PBS site was a complete surprise.
Do you remember doing any other TV shows with the band in the Uk or abroad?
I remember doing some TV in Turin I think it was, when we were promoting 3D Mona Lisa. I think the song went quite well over there.
What were the tours like?
I seem to remember we did quite a few colleges and universities which was the best circuit for us.
Are there any memorable gigs that stick in your mind?
I remember we supported Jack Bruce, possibly at Essex Uni. That was good as Cream had been my favourite band.
Exeter Uni where we left the crowd shouting for more and another band had to follow us on.
Some sort of sports arena in Portugal where Paul started climbing up some scaffolding or something at the side of the stage and the crowd started going nuts. There was a heavy Police presence and they made us tone it down as they didn’t want to lose control.
Bob nearly breaking his arm hitting an anvil all the way through Jubilation Foundry the first time we played it live. We didn’t use it again!
Being blown away by Paul playing a Danelectro at various gigs. I couldn’t believe what he used to do with that guitar. Bloody amazing.
What are your personal favourite PBS tracks/albums?
I think 3D Mona Lisa and Jubilation Foundry. I’d like to play them again now!
Do you still play these days? Yes.
Apologies for vagueness, but my memory of events 38 years ago is at best sketchy!
Richard Dufall, September 2008
NEW! And finally… Bob Voice, the man on the drums tells his story! The only Sage member that’s missing is flautist Nicky Higgenbottom but we don’t know her whereabout’s… if any of you do, let us know! Cheers!
It was a hundred years ago, I was with Fire and we were on the same bill as Paul Brett and the rest of Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera. Paul and I immediately hit it off, we both had a twinkle in our eyes in those days and we both loved the ladies…..in fact we all hit it off as bands did in those days, we were all on the road together and we would be like ‘passing ships in the night’. We would run into each other from time to time, usually around midnight. On most days of the week motorway cafes were full of bands and Ford Transits covered in graffiti.
I am not sure how Paul became a member of Fire, I think he had left V O and Dave Lambert was looking for a different guitar style to his own for Fire’s album ‘The Magic Shoemaker’…. or maybe Paul just turned up for one of the sessions… I cant remember now.
I was still in touch with Paul socially when Fire eventually called it a day and he was of a mind to do something acoustic, we were both a bit tired of loud rock stuff and we were looking for something a little ‘cooler’ to do. I went out and bought some Bongo’s and Conga drums and we turned up at a couple of folk clubs and arts centres like ‘The Troubadour’ in Earls Court, and the ‘White Bear’ in Hounslow, playing and singing some of Paul’s new songs. It seemed to work and we got quite excited about it.
Paul started to write more and more songs, suited to an acoustic line up, he was really keen to find a flute player which would give the music a lightness that he was looking for. We started to think that a Bass would work so I called Dick Duffal to see if he fancied a couple of rehearsals to see where it might take us. The harmonies we were using with Paul’s new songs really started to give us an individual sound, particularly when Paul’s ads in the music press brought us Nicky Higgenbottom our new flautist.
My memories of the recording sessions with Sage are fairly vague, it was very different from the sessions we had done previously with Fire, it was a very different experience. We had a seasoned producer in Cyril Stapleton and he brought a lot of encouragement and experience to us undisciplined rock and rollers!
They were fun days, our gigs were going really well and the overseas work followed our European releases. I am not sure why Nicky left us after a couple of years, I think being the only girl in a boys club might have been a bit of a strain at times, I really liked Nicky, I don’t know where she is today.
As time went by we inevitably drifted back to using electric instruments, I returned to playing a kit as well and with hindsight I think we lost some of our individuality during the transition. We first had Stuart Cowell as another guitar player and then Mike Piggott replaced Stuart on Violin, each of these brilliant guys brought something different to the band. But as good as we were, I still think my favourite period was the acoustic period and Paul’s ‘Cottage Made For Two’ is still one of my favourite PBS recordings.
Along with the other guys, I don’t remember the OGWT sessions very well, but I remember being incredibly nervous and was bricketing it a bit on the day. You must know it was a very big prestigious TV show, probably bigger in a sense than Top Of The Pops which was for kids really. We did that aswell. I am surprised how good the OGWT recording looks after all these years.
My brother Steve wrote a song for one of our albums aswell. It was amazing how it came about, we were in the Studio finishing our album and it became clear that we needed another song. Something we had recorded didn’t work so Paul asked ‘had anyone written anything else that we could record?’ Dick and I had nothing suitable so I called Steve and asked him to come down to the studio with his guitar and play us a few songs that he had written, which he did after a bit of persuasion. He was very nervous when he arrived, he had only just started to write songs and had only been playing the guitar a few months! He was amazing!
It must have been a bit daunting to have us old seasoned players watching his every move, he had never been in a recording studio before and was new to this song writing malarkey. Anyway we all liked ‘Pasadena Days’ and we recorded it there and then! He was thrilled, as I was for him.
Steve was a big fan of PBS, he reckoned that seeing us live at the Maria Grey College doing our acoustic set in the early days was the best he’d ever seen us. It prompted him to pick up one of my old guitars and re-string it (he was left handed) and learn to play it from a book. He was writing songs within 3 months, and developed into a huge talent but never really got the breaks he deserved.
Steve retired from the business in the 90’s but was returning to writing and performing again in 2003 when he suddenly died. Dave Lambert has been very kind and has been going over some of the recordings Steve made just before he died. He was in great form and has left some great songs behind for us to treasure.
Today I can say I have a fantastic career. As joint Managing Director of International Artistes Ltd, one of the country’s leading talent agencies which I joined 24 years ago, I have helped many people on their road to success. Artistes like Brian Conley, Paul Merton, Richard Digance, Hale and Pace, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies all started there careers he under my guidance. I produce tours and am involved in producing TV shows and West End productions but my real forte is artiste representation, I still get a huge buzz finding new talent and helping them develop into stars.
Bob Voice, October 2008