Antholliegy

A Personal Discography

There can scarcely be many musicians in the annals of rock whose careers have plotted so diverse a path as that of Peter Ollie Halsall. Most will be familiar with his work as Kevin Ayers' most faithful sideman on live and recorded work spanning more than 18 years, but few will be aware of the full extent of his contributions to a succession of intriguing projects both before and during the association.
This discography is not intended as a comprehensive trainspotter's guide to every known incarnation of releases worldwide and for that reason does not include labels or catalogue numbers. It lists vinyl albums (although, apart from his own projects, Halsall may feature on precious few tracks) and singles (45) not found elsewhere. It also includes many collectors items on tape (T) and video (V) - corporate outlets not being known for their selective expertise - and seeks to give some perspective to an extraordinary career and to highlight the very best examples of a truly unique talent.

Tracks marked with a small square are essential selections


PART I: There's a Moose on the Loose!

From Swinging London through the Hippy trail to the end of the progressive era


TIMEBOX

  • Soul Sauce/I Wish I Could Jerk Like My Uncle Cyril (45) 1967
  • I Will Always Love You/Save Your Love (45) 1967
  • Move on Up/ ? (45) 1968
  • The Original Moose on the Loose (omnibus of other Deram singles 1967-1970)
  • Gone is the Sad Man
More than competent pop sides (if a little reminiscent of The Love Affair et al) featuring Halsall on vibraphone. B-sides are far more interesting embryonic Patto.

PATTO

Patto (a.k.a. Anarchy) 1970
  • Hold Me Back
  • San Antone
  • Money Bag
Hold Your Fire 1971
  • See You at the Dance Tonight
  • Give It All Away
  • How s Your Father
A Sense of the Absurd (reissue of Patto & Fire plus bonus tracks)
  • Bad News
Finally given a free rein by Vertigo, the Pattos crafted quite the finest jazz-rock (if you like) guitar albums of the period (or any other for that matter). The reissue is a worthily packaged effort by Richard Lane on Mercury.

Roll 'em Smoke 'em Put Another Line Out 1972
  • Singing the Blues on Reds
  • Loud Green Song
Patto's Sgt Pepper. An eccentric and totally OTT affair and, by that token, nearest to capturing the essence of the group. Typically, Ollie reacted to his new guitar hero status by playing equalling stunning piano almost throughout and by devoting most of side 2 to an epic sea shanty on acid! (Sea Biscuits parts 1 & 2).

Monkey's Bum 1973 (unreleased)
  • I Need You
  • Sausages
Ollie left halfway through but this remains an awesome piece of work. NB: Avoid the unauthorised Audio Archives CD. The intrepid Richard Lane is working towards an official reissue. In the meantime trade with the OH Archive tape which is considerably nearer the original.

BBC radio sessions (T) 1970.72
Live at the Beeb (T) 28.6.71, 2.12.72 & 24.1.73
  • Singing the Blues on Reds
The excellent quality of the later sessions (regrettably not in concert) is marred only by Dave Brooks totally incongruous tenor sax (at the invitation of Halsall).

Live at The Piper Club, Viareggio, Italy (T) 1972
  • Hold Me Back
A bit of a curate's egg this one the selected good part coming the closest to recreating Patto live.
Live at the Torrington, London (T) July 1975 (reunion)
The only remaining complete gig? (someone please contradict this!) Includes much of the sheer lunacy that was Patto. Appalling quality recording via Dictaphone, but somehow it works.

OLLIE HALSALL/ROBERT FRIPP

Ollie & the Blue Trafs 1972
This legendary album is almost certainly lost forever, although Halsall mentioned it 16 years later.

PART 2: The Rock Machine Turns You On.

'The thing I haven't mastered yet is a high energy thing where I can perform solos and chord work more spontaneously' OH 1976

TEMPEST

Living in Fear (CD) 1973
  • Paperback Writer
  • Waiting For a Miracle
  • Turn Around
I'll stick my neck out and say that this is one of the finest heavy rock albums ever made. Utterly magnificent guitar set in some excellent songs.
BBC radio transcription disc 5.73 (most of it)
BBC radio (T) 8.73
Live at Nuova, Italy 1973
Live at Frankfurt 1973
The earlier radio show is essentially a guitar duel between Halsall & Holdsworth. Alan left the band shortly afterwards! The later trio gigs are splendidly drunken affairs featuring Ollie on lunatic mono synthesiser.

BOXER

Below the Belt 1975
  • Shooting Star
  • More Than Meets the Eye
  • Don t Wait/All the Time in the World (45)
Bloodletting 1975
  • Hey Bulldog
Halsall & Patto s final attempt at the big time. A third album, Absolutely, was made after Ollie s departure. The 1975 BBC radio sessions are neither wholly live nor worth listening to.

PART 3: And Now for Something Completely Different!

Bonzo and Python discover Ollie and invite him to the party:

SCAFFOLD

Fresh Liver 1973
Sold Out 1973

GRIMMS


Rockin' Duck 1973
'They asked me to play like Hendrix. They asked me to play as though I were a policeman, or a carpet salesman. You can do it because it s easy to do, but I could never let go OH 1976

NEIL INNES

How Sweet To Be An Idiot 1973
  • Momma Bee
Recycled Vinyl Blues (CD) (includes most of Idiot) 1994
  • Fluff on the Needle
Off the Record 1978 (OH contribution unclear)

THE RUTLES (NEIL INNES)

Meet the Rutles 1978
All You Need is Cash (V) 1978
  • I Must Be in Love
OH briefly plays Leppo (Stuart Sutcliffe) in the film. What is less widely known is that apart from providing the wonderful Beatle guitar pastiches, he also sang Eric Idle s part of Paul (Dirk McQuickley).

VIVIAN STANSHALL

Teddy Boys Don't Knit 1981
Dogends concert (T) 1988
Stanshall was a wonderfully eccentric artist and probably a perfect foil for Ollie. Unfortunately the contribution to either recording is not apparent.

PART 4: A Heavy Session!

I won't do sessions anymore. It's like being a plumber. They get you in to patch up a track' OH 1976

MICHAEL D'ALBUQUERQUE

We May Be Cattle But We've All Got Names 1973
  • Dribble Dribble
  • Sweet Mirth
Stalking the Sleeper 1976
  • Say What You Want

ANDY ROBERTS

And the Great Stampede 1973
  • Speedwell

STEVE YORK'S CAMELO PARDALIS

Manor Live 1973
  • Hey God

TERRY STAMP

Fatsticks 1975
  • Itchy Feet

DUFFY POWER

Lawdy Miss Clawdy (45) (year?)
Some excellent examples scattered (somewhat thinly in places) throughout these. Unfortunately, overall, the material hardly supports Halsall s embellishments. There is also a DENNY LAINE solo album and some things by BILL LOVEDAY (Reggae for it Now?) which I haven t managed to track down.

MORGAN FISHER

Miniatures 1980
A brief and tedious contribution to one of the strangest albums of all time.

PETULA CLARK(!)

Downtown 1968

MAYNARD WILLIAMS

Ten Songs 1973

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Soundtrack 1973

DAVID KUBINEC

Some Things Never Change 1978
Apparently, Ollie was also involved with these but, apart from a primitive solo with our Pet, I cannot honestly discern his presence.

PART 5: I Did It Otway

I make no excuses for citing John Otway as a genius and one of the few artistes I would currently get out of bed to go an see.

In 1979 Ollie encountered a soul mate in the form of this lunatic busker. Their low budget tour of the states is the stuff of legend.

JOHN OTWAY

  • It s a Pain
  • Frightened and Scared
John's finest album until the 1995 Premature Adulation.

JOHN OTWAY/OLLIE HALSALL

Way & HAL (T) (studio demos) 1979
  • Natasha
The title derives from the fact that rather inferior versions of these Otway/Halsall compositions surfaced 3 years later on Otway & BARrett s Way & BAR album. Ollie contributes guitar, bass, drums & violin to his own production which is little short of a masterpiece. There remains but one live tape of this remarkable duo performing in a pub, somewhere .

OLLIE HALSALL

Lovers Leaping (T) (studio demos) 1979
  • Back Against the Wall
  • Travelling Show
  • Lovers Leaping
  • Airplane Food .... (well OK, all of it!)
Included this at this point since it owes its very survival to Otway who recorded two of the tracks Door to Door Daughter & Travelling Show. Reviewed in depth in WAWS 6 (August 1994) this remains, effectively, Ollie s only solo effort and an intensely satisfying album.

PART 6: Y Viva Espana!

In 1981 Ollie moved to Spain and, in between his work with Ayers, found time to produce and play for many Spanish artistes:

MAJABAND

Introducing Police Hits (!) 1983

RONNI URINI

(actually Austrian) Sailship (45) 1983

MANZANITA

Mal de Amores 1984

REY LUI

Un Nudo en la Garganta 1988
Velocidad 1990

THE FAVORITOS

10,000 Revoluciones 1989

RADIO FUTURA

De un Dais en Llamas 1985
Veneno en la Piel 1989

DESPERADOS

Tan Alto Como Nos Dejen 1990

CIENFUEGOS

Besos 1991

CORCABODO Y LOS CHATARREROS

Tormento de Tormento 1991
Suceso (45) 1991

CALLEJONES

Al Pie del Canon 1991

HOMBRES 6

Historia del Bikini 1992

RAMONCIN

Corta 1992

DISTRITO 14

El Cielo Lo Sabe 1992
I am at a loss to find a charitable view of any of these Spanish language releases, presumably Ollie must have related to some of this. Suffice to say that I have forced myself to listen to all of it and have no inclination to do so again. I fear the same probably applies to the ZANNA GREGMAR and RAYMOND FINN releases which I have yet to hear.

CINEMASPOP

Cinemaspop 1983
Sigan a Esa Rubia (45) 1983
Sal Gorda (film soundtrack) 1983
La Naranja Mecanica
(A Clockwork Orange) 1984
  • Afghanistan
Whilst the first three offerings could safely reside in the previous category (bar two vaguely interesting Halsall compositions), the Naranja Mecanica is a different plate of paella (sorry!). For a start It s in English (which I m afraid is the language of rock) and apart from a bizarre Wild Thing features Halsall written and performed material throughout. On the debit side the music is almost entirely sequenced & synthesised, with very little guitar. Halsall appeared very enthusiastic about this particular project describing them as a great band . OK it's techno-pop, but I ve not heard it done better.

PART 7: Ayers on a G String

You all know these but here goes anyway:

KEVIN AYERS

Confessions of Doctor Dream (CD) 1974
  • Didn t Feel Lonely
Just the one track but clearly the start of a partnership made in Heaven.

KEVIN AYERS/JOHN CALE/ NICO/ ENO June 1 1974

(Rainbow Theatre) (CD)
  • May I
  • Shouting in a Bucket Blues
Perversely the only official live Ayers/Halsall release - and then only two tracks, the solo on the former prompting Terry Theise s respected appraisal nearly 3 years later (Guitar, January 1977).
Sweet Deceiver (CD) 1975
  • Toujours la Voyage
  • Sweet Deceiver
Yes We Have No Mananas (CD) 1976
  • Help Me
  • Blue
I have long regarded these two together as amongst Kevin s finest achievements. Apart from some superb guitar, Ollie also provides most of the Deceiver bass parts.
Rainbow Takeaway (CD) 1978
That's What You Get Babe (CD) 1980
  • Idiots
  • Super Salesman
Diamond Jack & the Queen of Pain 1983
Deia Vu 1984 (OH bass only)
As Close As You Think (CD) 1986
  • Never My Baby
  • Budget Tours (Africa)
  • Too Old to Die Young ( with the riff later ressurected on Another Rolling Stone.)
Ollie freaks should take especial note of this remarkable album. The credit Kevin Ayers featuring Ollie Halsall could almost be reversed such is the balance of the collaboration.
Falling Up (CD) 1988
  • Another Rolling Stone
  • Am I Really Marcel
Marcel features quite possibly the most elusive solo of Ollie s career, even remarking on it himself in a 1988 interview. Quite how he achieved the final note will remain a mystery.
Still Life With Guitar (CD) 1992
  • Ghost Train
It's getting very near the end and if this isn t now one of the most poignant pieces of music you ve ever heard I d like to know what is. What a shame the live Another Year Goes By chorus came too late for the album version.

PART 8: The Road Goes on Forever

'Playing with someone like Ollie makes the whole tedious process of going out on the road worthwhile' KA 1974

The spontaneity of live performance almost invariably affords the opportunity for a musician s most inventive work. The indifference of record companies has left us with just the June 1 1974 Rainbow concert, so thank God for the wealth of alternative material:

JOHN CALE

BBC Old Grey Whistle Test (V) 1985
  • Dying on the Vine
Europe (T) (V) 1985
Hamburg (T) 24.10.85
Vienna (T) 1985
Some very intense playing here I feel. Ollie was clearly enamoured of the Welshman. I remain unconvinced.

KEVIN AYERS/OLLIE HALSALL/ JOHN CALE/ANDY SUMMERS/ZANNA GREGMAR

Musical Express (V) 3.12.81
(Spanish Banana Bootleg CD)
  • Didn t Feel Lonely
  • Africa
Reviewed in WAWS 2, this is the best footage of Ollie to hand (The worst being a 1985 Cale gig with the bizarre spectacle of Ollie on bass with a lesser mortal in the guitar seat).

KEVIN AYERS (T)

WAWS 4/5 Trainspotter issue thoroughly chronicles an Ayers/Halsall live tape catalogue approaching 40 concerts. I have restricted this final list to a selection of the very best items in terms of both sound quality and performance:
Hurricanes, New York 24.4.80
  • Supersalesman
Prins van Oranje, Venlo
(Sweet Dreamer Bootleg CD) 6.4.82
  • Shouting in a Bucket Blues
  • Supersalesman
Rotterdam 1.3.88
  • Didn t Feel Lonely
The only track of note from this concert. A quite staggering funk version with an incredibly inventive solo building to a wonderful `chickin pickin climax.
Aachen 3.3.88
  • Shouting in a Bucket Blues
Amsterdam 3.4.92
  • May I
  • Goodnight Irene (yes, really!)
Rennes 9.4.92
(Everything from Animals onwards) A DAT straight off the sound desk (I wonder how that could have happened!). Especially notable for the very best May I solo of all acknowledged by Kevin as The Ollie Halsall Experience!


The Jazz Galerie, Bonn 22.4.92
Again, basically the whole show but particularly I Don t Depend on You. I m not ashamed to admit to the odd tear during the final notes of the solo on this now exquisitely ironic piece. Not as good a sound as Rennes but my favourite concert overall. By the way, how many of you geetar players have managed to master the deceptively simple riff in Here Comes Johnny?


GLR Session 30.4.92
On the afternoon of their final show, at the Shaw Theatre, London, the Elderly Brothers recorded these delightful acoustic renditions of I Don t Depend on You & May I.

I freely acknowledge any omissions in the hope that those with additional material (especially video) will come forward. Meanwhile, I remain indebted to the intrepid camcorders who provided what little visual evidence there is even if - God bless their little cotton socks - some appear to think that Kevin played the solos!

Barry Monks August 1996

This article first appeared in the Kevin Ayers fanzine 'Why Are We Sleeping' #9