John Russell on the Second Wave of Free Improv

An early draft of a possible new book from John Russell:

Any natural attraction to more exotic or challenging musical styles was greatly aided by the fact that in those pre-internet and pre-major chain record shop days it was possible to read about a new release and then get your local record shop to order it. Informed by Melody Maker, which in those days was ‘the musicians paper’, and having a friend in the village with similar tastes and, a crucial factor this, more pocket money than me, I thus got to listen to a few of the early recordings from the British free improvisation scene. Notably those by Tony Oxley and John Stevens. By this time (1970 – 71) I had started trying out things like letting my fingers fall on the strings in an attempt to make music from gesture and also to use chance elements in the music. David Bedford using a brick to play the piano with Kevin Ayers’ Whole World, Terry Kath’s ‘Free Form Guitar’, Robert Fripp’s solo on King Crimson’s ‘Sailor’s Tale’, Sonny Sharrock on ‘Monkey Pockie Boo’ and even Niel Innes’ solo on ‘Canyons of your Mind’ by the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band all seemed to point to ways of playing electric guitar other than the blues / rock based music that I was surrounded by.