University Of Errors - "Jet Propelled Photographs"
(Cuneiform Records 2004, RUNE 188)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004
The fourth outing from University Of Errors is a remake of what were essentially demo tracks recorded in 1967 by the embryonic Soft Machine, which at the time consisted of Daevid Allen on guitar, Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Kevin Ayers on vocals and Mike Ratledge on piano and organ. The demo sessions were paid for by legendary producer Giorgio Gomelsky, who also kept possession of the tapes and later released them under the title Jet Propelled Photographs. (Daevid left the Softs before their first official album was released.)
Fast forward about 36 years and we find Daevid re-recording these historical documents with University Of Errors. Of particular interest is Daevid's choice to leave all the guitar parts to Josh Pollock and only handle the vocals. Of the original sessions he states in the liner notes that, I had a bad hair day on guitar and always dreamed of re-doing it with perfected guitar parts. Now, with the University Of Errors, it has at last become possible.
So how do these new versions compare with the originals? Well these are no mere cover songs, that's for sure. They're given the full rockin' University Of Errors treatment, with Pollock's piledriver guitar lovingly ripping up the songs and adding a kick ass psych-metallic flavor. The faculty do an excellent job of retaining the 60's flavor of the originals while simultaneously injecting them with healthy doses of blazing metallic psychedelia. "I Should've Known" is a killer in this regard. The song is intact but Pollack launches into a total freakout that alternates between acid-metal, 70's heavy rock, and cosmic space. If part of Daevid's intention is to redeem the guitar parts of these songs, he's not only succeeded but updated the music to where he's at today, specifically of course with University Of Errors. "When I Don't Want You" has a cool jazz flavor, given a unique character by Pollock's guitar. Songs like "Memories" illustrate how well Daevid's vocals work on these tunes. Both he and Robert Wyatt have instantly recognizable voices, but both are close enough in sound and style to do the songs equal justice. But we also get lots of tripped out fun that is reminiscent of Gong, like "Jet Propelled Photographs" which dances about in avant space jam realms. And if you were unfamiliar with the originals and heard the Kevin Ayers penned "She's Gone" you could be forgiven for assuming it to be a Daevid original.
In addition to the 9 tracks covering the 1967 demos we also get covers of the first Soft Machine single: "Love Makes Sweet Music" and "Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin'", "Hope For Happiness" from the Softs first album (they ROCK this one!), and "We Know What You Mean (Soon Soon Soon)", originally released on Kevin Ayers' first solo album. Rock out baby... University Of Errors fans will love this, and Soft Machine fans are in for a surprise.
For more information you can visit the Cuneiform Records web site at:
Visit the University Of Errors web site at: http://www.universityorerrors.com and the Planet Gong web site at: http://www.planetgong.co.uk.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz