Episode #249 – The Bodast Tapes

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Lead up to the Album:

  • In the very early days of Roundabout Chris Curtiss from The Searchers teamed up with Tony Edwards and his partners John Coletta and Ron Hire (HEC) to start the group.
  • The idea was that Chris Curtiss would be the singer and they’d have a rotating group of musicians that would jump on and jump off the figurative roundabout.
  • Nick Simper recalls the formation of the group in this interview with Simon Robinson: “Back with the Flowerpot Men, me and Carlo [Little] were saying to Lord that we should do something, let’s get Ritchie over to join us. I think that’s how Jon found about Ritchie ‘cos he didn’t know who he was. We told him he was the greatest guitarist, and I think that when he was asked by Chris Curtiss about a guitarist, he said well I’ve heard about this Ritchie Blackmore – Curtiss obviously knew him – see Jon had come from Leicester but all the Londoners knew Ritchie, he’d lived in Southall like a mile from my house and he’d played with Carlo in Lord Sutch, so we were urging Jon all the time. Somehow Bobby Woodman got involved, I can’t recall how and then Jon said to me Would you give up all the money we’re getting in the Flowerpot Men, a regular 150 pounds or so, for a small wage to do what we want to do and I said give me the chance! He said well I know a couple of businessmen that are willing to put some money up, will you give it a go and I said yeah. I said who’ve you got on drums? I told Carlo I was going to split and form a group with Jon and Carlo was a bit upset, sort of why hadn’t he been asked, so I asked Jon and he said he’d got Bobby Woodman, who was Carlo’s idol, a living legend – the original UK rock’n’roll drummer, first guy to use double bass drums and all that so Carlo couldn’t say much after that!”
  • Bobby Woodman had gotten his start learning from jazz drummer Eric Delaney. Delaney had his own band and released the singles in the 1950s (among others):
    • N.15046 “Cockles and Mussels”/”Say Si Si” (04/56)
    • N.15054 “Oranges and Lemons”/”Delaney’s Delight” (07/56)
  • Woodman was also in a band with Big Jim Sullivan called The Beat Boys which changed their name to Marty Wilde’s Beatboys then back into The Beat Boys as a backing band for Billy Fury.
  • After this Woodman’s band joined Vince and The Playboys as a backing band to tour America arranged by Vince’s brother-in-law Joseph Barbera (of Hanna-Barbera). In 1960 the Kenny Pavell left the band as guitarists and was briefly replaced by Jimmy Page who was 16-years old at the time.
  • He then had a group called The Bobby Woodman Noise before reuniting with Vince Taylor, then leaving and taking the name Bobby Clarke and having the band The Bobby Clarke Noise.
  • Bobby in 1965 went to America to start a career. He filled in on a number of recordings for the drummer of the Band Love (with Arthur Lee). There he played and recorded with Vince Flaherty.  He then went on to play with bandleader Arthur Lee at a club called Bido Lito’s. There he played with Daryl Dragon (better known as “Captain” from Captain and Tenille).
  • Bobby’s run in America was cut short when he became the first UK rock start to be deported because of marijuana possession.
  • In 1966 Clarke played with Frank Zappa and a band called The Elves Themselves which featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar with Vince Flaherty on vocals.
  • After this Bobby went to France for a third run with Vince Taylor Bobby went to America with his new band simply called “The Noise” where he worked with a number of artists including Dave Curtis, the former singer of The Tremors and brother of Chris Curtiss.
  • Nick Simper: “ Dave Curtiss I met at Jon’s flat when Jon moved out of there to my parents, ‘cos we were introduced. I remembered him from Dave curtiss and the Tremors. He was quite a nice singer but not for us. We wanted a guy called Terry Reid but he wasn’t interested, he was an amazing singer. We were sitting in Deeves Hall the four of us, started writing and Bobby clearly just wasn’t interested in our sort of music, he was still living in the Johnny Kidd era – great days, but we’d seen Vanilla Fudge which turned us on and we wanted to create something new, but he wasn’t interested so it just used to be the three of us trying to write things. One night we had a party invited a few friends and Tony Tacon came along. I said we needed a singer and hesaid what about Gillan? And I said yeah, what’s he doing – he was with Episode Six so although I didn’t know him personally, just to say howdo to. He’d always seemed a bit distant when I’d met him at gigs, ‘cos he was usually in the support group supporting the Bergeracs [Nick’s old group] once I remember, and I said to Tony would you ask him, tell him what we’ve got ‘cos you’ve seen it all – he was obviously impressed, banks of Marshalls, nice big house! Tell Gillan what it’s all about ask him if he’s interested in coming down and having a blow.
  • The next night Tony rang me up and said, I can remember almost the exact words, he said I’ve spoken to Gillan and he’s not interested. He says you’ll never get anywhere and Episode Six are gonna make it big. I said oh well, tell him where to stick it! ‘Cos he was flash, came across like that. The others didn’t know who he was and they said what about your mate and I said he’s not interested. I asked Roger Truth to come down and audition as a drummer, he didn’t want to know.”
  • Simper says that they auditioned for about 5 weeks at Deeves Hall in advance of going on tour in April.  “It’s funny because I really hit it off with Bobby, we were great pals, although he wasn’t doing much for us musically and Rod was trying to get Ian Paice in. They called a meeting one night, Tony Edwards and us and I remember Jon Lord saying to me, “tell me Nic, if we got rid of Bobby would you leave?” and I said why and he said we’ve got to get rid of Bob; we want to get Ian Paice in and we don’t want you to leave and I said no, I wouldn’t leave. All I said was that you shouldn’t mess around with the guy, he’s come over from France, uprooted himself from where he’s lived for years, he knows you’re not happy with him why don’t you tell him straight? And they didn’t have the guts to so they had to get Coletta and Edwards to fire him. Tony says “Bobby we want to terminate the contract and we’ll give you twenty pounds” and old Coletta nudges him quietly saying “forty, forty”; “forty pounds expenses”. There was a big silence and Bobby says “I don’t fink that’s very nice at all. Its him innit, it’s Blackmore he don’t like me”, even in those days! Jon’s going “I’m your friend Bobby”… so anyway he packed his bags and Rod and Ian who were with the Maze packed their bags and moved in with us. That was the start of it all.”
  • They were auditioning many singers including Ashley Holt (Warhorse) and as Simper says Rod Stewart, saying they watched him sing, not that it was a formal audition.   “Ritchie had seen him [Paice] in Germany and at the time we were only auditioning singers.”
  • After split Edwards and Coletta backed Clarke to start his own band with Dave Curtis, Clive Skinner, and Steve Howe who’d just left the band Tomorrow.
  • Originally Steve How says, he was working on studio work and that lead him to Deep Purple’s management where he was enticed to form the band.
  • They were originally called Canto and recorded a few demos.
  • The band was named after the first three letters of their names (BObby, DAve, STeve).
  • Steve Howe says, “Not the best method to settle on a group name, particularly as there was no reference to Clive.”
  • The Bodast Tapes back cover states that Clive joined at a later date.
  • In some settings they were also joined by an additional member, Bruce Thomas, who played bass.
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Thomas
    • He would go on to play with Paul Rodgers and Micky Moody in The Roadrunners but is best known for his work as a member of Elvis Costello and The Attractions.
    • The liner notes from the 2000 release say he was just around at the time and never a band member.
  • Howe says they were set up in a house and paid a weekly sala4ry to write songs and try to get gigs. He said he’d never before or since been supported this way.  He describes this time as when The Beatles White Album was released.

When Steve Howe learned of Clive Skinner’s death in 1978 he said that he wanted to remix the old Bodast tapes.  Howe says “Towards Utopia” is the best version of these songs.

Core Band:

  • Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Clive Skinner
    • More commonly known as Clive Maldoon
    • Went on to form the band Curtis Maldoon with Dave Curtis.
    • Their debut album featured Steve Howe and Tony Ashton. The song “Sepheryn” was reworked by Madonna and William Orbit into the song “Ray of Light” which was a huge hit for her.
  • Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Bass on (1,000 Years) – Steve Howe
    • Began his recording career working with Joe Meek in 1964.
    • Howe was a member of The Syndicats and was later replaced by Ray Fenwick.
  • Bass Guitar, Vocals – Dave Curtis*
    • David Lawrence Atkins
    • Brother of Chris Curtis of The Searchers who along with Dave formed Roundabout with Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore.
  • Drums – Bobby Clarke*

LP release in 1981 on Cherry Red

Recorded at Trident Studios, London, 1969

Engineered for re-release at Sarm Studios, Nov. 1980 (Gary Langan)

Dedicated to the memory of Clive Skinner (D. 1978)

Jim Jag credited with “Sleeve Remix”

Spectral Nether Street:


Tracks 1-4 original recordings made in 1968

Tracks 6-11, 13-16 original recordings made in 1969

Tracks 5 & 12 original recordings made in 1969

Produced by Keith West

Engineered by Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott at Trident Studios,

London in 1969

Remixed by Steve Howe and Gary Lagan at Sarm East,

London in 1978

Artwork, Design – Phil Smee

Bass, Vocals – Dave Curtiss

Compilation Producer – Mark Stratford

Drums – Bobby Clarke*

Guitar, Vocals – Clive Maldoon, Steve Howe

Liner Notes – Jon Newey

Mixed By [Sound], Remastered By – Paul Aitken

Towards Utopia:

Produced by Keith West

Engineered by Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott at Trident Studios,

London in 1969

Remixed by Steve Howe and Gary Lagan at Sarm East,

London in 1978

Additional Musicians:

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Album Art & Booklet Review

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The Venue:

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Album Tracks:

Side One:

  1. Do You Remember (Curtis)
    • Beyond Winter (Skinner, Howe)
      • Once In A Lifetime (Skinner)
        • Black Leather Gloves (Skinner)

          A portion of a song from the Bodast album titled 

          Side Two:

          1. Tired Towers (Skinner, Curtis, Howe)
            • Mr. Jones (Curtis)
              • 1,000 Years (Skinner)
                • Bass played by Howe on this track
              • Nether Street (Skinner, Curis, Howe)

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              Bustin’ Out The Spreadsheet

              Reception and Charts:

              • Between mid 1968 and mid 1969 Bodast recorded a complete self-titled debut album for Tetragrammaton.
              • Their last gig was opening for The Who and Chuck Berry was on July 5, 1969. They were also the backing band for Chuck Berry at The Royal Albert Hall minus Steve Howe. 
                • Howe said he only found out during rehearsals that afternoon when Chuck pointed at him and said “We don’t need you.”
              • In 1969 Clarke was asked to fill in in the Jeff Beck Group. Beck asked him to stay permanently but Clarke was eager to get back to his work with Bodast.
              • When Tetragrammaton folded so did the band and their album was not released until the tapes were remastered by Howe in 1981 and released as “The Bodast Tapes.”
              • Howe says that they were fired after an engineer at Kingsway studios accused them of taking heroin which he denied.
              • Clarke went on to have a fourth run with Vince Taylor among many other acts over the years.
              • Dave Curtis and Clive Skinner (going by Clive Maldoon) formed the duo Curtis Maldoon and released an album on Purple Records featuring Steve Howe on lead guitar and Tony Ashton. Their song Sepheryn was used for the Madonna 1998 hit “Ray of Light” and as a result they have songwriting credits on the single.
              • Steve Howe went on to audition for The Nice. He got the job but left the following day, deciding that the band wasn’t for him.
              • Howe got an audition for Jethro Tull but didn’t take it because he learned the guitar player would not have any songwriting input.
              • He also had a stint with Atomic Rooster with Carl Palmer but didn’t think it was a good fit.
              • Howe was in P.P. Arnold’s backing band along with Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke of Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke.
              • Howe would, of course, go on to replace Peter Banks in Yes.  Howe was in the band The Syndicats and was replaced by Ray Fenwick. Peter Banks joined to replace Ray Fenwick before joining to form Yes and then was replaced by Howe.
              • Howe went on to be in supergroups Asia and GTR.
              • Skinner/Madloon passed away in 1978 from complications of prescription medication.
              • Bobby Woodman/Clarke passed away in 2014.
              • Releases:
                • The Bodast Tapes (1981)
                • Steve Howe With Bodast: The Early Years (1990)
                • Spectral Nether Street (2000)
                • Towards Utopia (2017)
              • They had additional recordings under the name Bodast as well as several tracks under the band name Canto.


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              Cockles and mussles


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