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Friday 31 August 2018

From The House Of Klaus

It isn't always easy being an international taste-maker, living in the constant knowledge that one false move will leave you drowning in a sea of scorn rather than surfing the zeitgeist. But it can't be denied that there is a big upside as well.

That has rarely been more true than over the last couple of days. Last night I wangled myself onto the guest list for Erin Rae's show at the Slaughtered Lamb in London's trendy Clerkenwell. It was highly enjoyable and I would heartily recommend going to see her if you get the chance. I would equally heartily recommend her current album, "Putting On Airs", which I plugged here a couple of weeks back.

Then at lunchtime today I found myself sitting round a table in London's trendy Brick Lane listening to the legendary Klaus Voormann sharing a few anecdotes. The occasion was a combined promotion for his new book collecting some of his graphic art from the last 60 years called "It Started In Hamburg", and for the Reeperbahn Festival being held in Hamburg next month. I can't get over for it, unfortunately, but it sounds like it would be worth doing so if you can.

Klaus is a fascinating fellow and it was a real privilege to have the chance to listen to him. My favourite story was about being asked by John Lennon to design the cover of "Revolver". At that point he had hardly picked up a pencil for the previous two years, and he described his reaction as "Oh shit, now I have to start drawing again".

Like many of you I was familiar with some parts of his career - the friendship with the Beatles, his stints as bass player with Manfred Mann and the Plastic Ono Band and the graphic design etc. But what I had not previously appreciated was quite how successful he was as a session musician in the 1970s.

He played on any number of major hits, and not just Beatles related ones like "Imagine" and "My Sweet Lord". That's him on "Perfect Day", "You're So Vain" and "Without You", for example. And on these less heralded gems from his back catalogue.

"Tribute To Spree" - Van Dyke Parks

"Each And Every Day" - Manfred Mann

"Back Home In England" - Bobby Whitlock

"Fresh As Sunday Morning" - Bert Jansch

 And, perhaps most unexpectedly of all, Klaus also produced this:

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