Friends, Ramones, Country people,
It’s 3.50 a.m. and I feel as though I’ve been sitting on the edge of death for these past few days. I’m lying in bed at the Hotel Forum, Pompeii, with the extinct volcano Mt. Vesuvius just 3 miles down the road. You look out the hotel door and there it is rising up over ancient Pompeii, whose citizens it slaughtered in their beds in 69 AD. Seeing their calcinated forms lying in prone positions of abject terror was not something I could lightly approach, and I needed a coupla beers first to still my poor poetic nerves! Children died right next to their mothers, and one woman is clearly crouching over her baby. Good to know that one old dude slept through it all in the thermal baths. Overcome by the fumes of death, his whole corporeal demeanour is one of deep dreamless sleep – though what he was doing there in the middle of the night when it happened is anybody’s guess. So soon after doing the ROME WASN’T BURNED IN A DAY shows, it was really weird flying into Rome airport for a meeting with Fazi publishing about an Italian translation of HEAD ON – especially as the following days saw so much snow that the police saw fit to close many roads. But the volcano theme has been a recurring one these past ten days, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much such a living deity in one’s midst would have informed the Palaeolithic and Neolithic peoples around the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia. My friend Angela Guarino has been doing all hard work, translating and locating hotels at the end of each long day. But the volcano thing has me mesmerised and a couple of days around the Eolian islands of Lipari, Stromboli and Vulcano certainly explained how pre-Christian is the phrase ‘the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away’. Here were places that yielded up precious obsidian for Neolithic tools one minute and burnt your sorry butt the next. Caught in the volcano thrall, we circled around Mt. Etna for days trying to get a glimpse of that sucker, but the whole of Sicily’s weather formations seem to change around 5 miles from its summit. Beautiful days disappear around Etna, reappearing only several miles later as the gravitational pull of this angry divinity is left far behind.
Meanwhile, Glenn Max at the Festival Hall enjoyed the ROME… shows so much that he’s asked me to play there again some time in late spring. Dunno if that’s gonna be possible with THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN schedule bearing down on me, but I cain’t turn it down lightly what with the yawp created by Messrs. Dogman, McGrail and those confounded Skinner Brothers. Talking of Dogman, he’s soon coming to the end of the current Spiritualized tour and we’ll be recording his new band Dogntank as soon as our Snottingham paths can cross again. I told him I don’t want any art just sheer unadulterated guitar gimmcrackry and stereo FX to die for… nay, to live for!
Holy McGrail and I have been holed up getting the maps together for the new book. Needless to say, his obsessional nature is such that we’ve already torn up THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN blueprint and achieved something both archaeological and damned intriguing to look at. Me, I been gazing at those suckers for hours on end in my (ahem) copious free time and yooz gonna adore the hail out of them. The two that Aubrey Burl wanted to help me with have been held up because the dear man has been rushed to hospital! Being 78 years old is not all that it’s cracked up to be, so let’s all send out warmth and love to the Midlands, to the guy who has turned so many of us on to our truly ancient pasts.
Finally, check out the Album of the Month kiddies for a proper appraisal of Randy Holden’s mega guitar burn-out POPULATION 2. I been threatening this sucker almost as long as the Temple of Bon Matin piece, so it’s good finally to nail it all down, warts and warts and warts’n’all! I know I always try to write about new stuff but when it’s as fine and lost as Randy’s LP, U-Know we gots to shine several thousand watts of praise upon its multiply-achieving ass.
Okay, I’m out of here and I’m gonna get me some sleep. To paraphrase the new Ronald McDonald:
U-Know I’m livin’ it!
JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)