David Jackson, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton & Friends
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1974)
- Hugh Banton -- bass
- Guy Evans -- drums, percussion
- David Jackson -- sax, flute, keyboards
supporting musicians: (1974)
- Ced Curtis -- guitar, bass
- Pietro Messina -- guitar, keyboards
- Nic Potter -- bass
- Amon Duul II (Guy Evans)
- Big Buddha (Guy Evans)
- Charlie and the Wide Boys (Guy Evans)
- Echo City (Guy Evans)
- Jackson, Banton and Evans
- The K Group (Guy Evans)
- Kaprekar's Constant (David Jackson)
- Life of Riley (Guy Evans)
- The Long Hello
- The Misunderstood (Guy Evans)
- Mother Gong (Guy Evans)
- Subterraneams (Guy Evans)
- The Tangent (David Jackson)
- Unkestra (Guy Evans)
- Van der Graaf Generator (Guy Evans and David Jackson)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The Long Hello
Company: United Artists
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: --
Best time to listen to: wet Sunday morning
Normally I wouldn't have much interest in an album like this, but a couple of years back I stumbled across a stack of Van der Graaf Generator and affiliated albums at a yard sale and given they were the right price, I grabbed them out of curiosity. Turned out Van der Graaf was kind of a hit-or-miss proposition for me. Similarly this 1974 VDGG side project was a mixed bag.
Bassist Hugh Banton, drummer Guy Evans and sax player David Jackson had all been members of Van der Graaf Generation. When the band when on a temporary hiatus in mid-'72 allowing Peter Hammill to strike out in solo pursuits, under the collective name "The Long Hello" the three went into the studio to record their debut LP. Produced by Jackson, "The Long Hello" featured a collection of seven instrumentals. I really didn't know what to expect, but given these guys had been VDGG mainstays, I guess I expected to hear an instrumental version of VDGG-styled progressive and experimental moves. Mind you, that translated as lots of discordant Jackson sax. As is so often the case, I was dead wrong. Based on my explorations of the VDGG catalog, they weren't the most melodic band I've encountered. Pastoral folk tunes are far and few between on their albums. Not the case on this album. Along with former Alpha Centauri guitarist Pietro Messina, Jackson was the prime writer and on tracks like 'Fairhazel Gardens', 'Lookin' At You' and 'I've Lost My Cat' the band displayed a knack for unexpectedly calm, almost pastoral melodies. There was plenty of Jackson sax and flute work, but avoiding some of his discordant, experimental moves, this time out Jackson and company repeatedly displayed their more melodic instincts. Nothing here was going to wake you up in the middle of the night, but most of the album was pleasant and relaxing. Admittedly neither the experimental 'The O Flat Session' or the jazzy 'Morris To Cape Rath' did much for me. The album's most interesting performance was also the most atypical - drummer Hugh Banton's classical-meets-Wendy Carlos 'Brain Seizure'. Very much an early-'70s timepiece with waves of cheesy synthesizers and studio effects, it was a blast.
The album was originally released in Italy under the name "The Long Hello".
In the UK it was released with a credit to "David Jackson, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton & Friends' with the title "The Long Hello".
The album's subsequently been reissued numerous times with alternative cover art. In 1976 the group released a limited edition pressing with the original bland black and white cover. The following year Philips released the album in France with yet another cover.
Hello" track listing:
1.) Fairhazel Gardens (instrumental) (David Jackson - Pietro Messina) - 7:56 rating: *** stars
Co-written with former Alpha Centauri guitarist Pietro Messina, 'Fairhazel Gardens' was a big surprise to my ears. Expecting something that sounded like a patented, moody VDGG progressive effort, this track offered an unexpectedly light and bright melody. Yes there was plenty of Jackson's sax, but the result was melodic and at times almost pastoral - one of those tracks where you can feel your blood pressure dropping.
2.) Lookin' At You (instrumental) (David Jackson) - 6:16 rating: **** stars
The opening briefly sounded like they were heading into experimental territory, but 'Lookin' At You' quickly delved into a pretty acoustic folk melody that wouldn't have sounded totally lost of a Fairport Convention album. Again showcasing Jackson's multi-tracked sax, the song was worth checking out just to hear he was capable of creating a true and memorable melody.
3.) I've Lost My Cat (instrumental) (David Jackson) - 8:28 rating: *** stars
My wife has a pair of Siberian cats so the title always makes me smile ... Unfortunately I'm not a big fan of flute in rock and roll and since 'I've Lost My Cat' finds Jackson showcasing the instrument, the first segment of the tune was largely wasted on me. Things improved a couple of minutes in when Pietro Messina started playing acoustic guitar and the tempo picked up. Interesting arrangement and parts of the song sported a really pretty melody, but ultimately the tune just went on too long.
Showcasing Jackson on sax, 'The Theme From "Plunge"' offered up a weird mash-up of jazzy and funkier moves. The track was also noteworthy as one of the few where guest guitarist Pietro Messina was given a chance to step into the spotlight. No idea what the title refers to. I've looked it up online and found nothing.
2.) The O Flat Session (instrumental) (Pietro Messina) - 5:32 rating: ** stars
The album's most experimental performance, 'The O Flat Session' started out sounding like a slice of musique concrete. Raw, squeaky and not a lot of fun to listen to, this was more in keeping with whayt my initial expectations were. That's not a compliment.
3.) Morris To Cape Rath (instrumental) (David Jackson) - 6:33 rating: ** star
Another title that left me shrugging, 'Morris To Cape Rath' found the band delving into jazzier territory. Not a big fan of the genre.
4.) Brain Seizure (instrumental) (Hugh Banton) - 4:01 rating: **** stars
Musically 'Brain Seizure; was unlike anything else on the album. Sounding like an outtake from a Wendy Carlos album (think "Switched On Bach"), the song was also Banton's lone writing credit. He was also credited with all of the instrumentation, essentially making it a solo effort. Musically it's always reminded me of a Baroque tune run through a bunch of synthesizers and studio effects. True, it sounds a bit cheesy today, but I still thing it's the album's standout performance. Say what you will about French music, but I have to admire any country that was willing to release something as eclectic as this track as a single:
- 1977's 'Brain Seizure' b/w 'The Theme From "Plunge"' (Philips catalog number 6837 391)
I've never investigated them but under various nameplates there are a series of follow-on albums:
- Credited to Nic Potter and Guy Evans: 1981's "The Long Hello, Volume Two" (Butt catalog number NOTT 004)
- Credited to David Jackson: 1982's "The Long Hello, Volume Three" (Butt catalog number NOTT 005)
- Credit to Guy Evans with Life of RIley & David Jackson 1983's "The Long Hello, Volume Four" (Shanghai catalog HAI 01)
- Credited to Jackson, Banton and Evans 1985's "Gentlemen Prefer Blues" (Demi Monde catalog number DMLP 1011)
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