Posts Tagged ‘Kenny Pickett’

The Creation

Celebrating a cult UK singles band who rode the wave of the mid-60s musical revolution just long enough to forge a handful of mercurial tracks and showcase the originality and fire of their unique guitarist, Eddie Phillips – a pioneer of the violin-bow guitar and feedback. The Creation are one of the UK’s great ‘should’ve beens’. Though they never entered a studio with the intention of creating an album (“We Are Paintermen” was the nearest thing to it, and it’s a series of singles, B sides and originals cobbled together with covers), their best tunes were visceral lightning strikes of creativity that echoed through the ages: they inspired Alan McGee to name his record label (and his indie band), and contributed to the DNA of bands like The Jam and Oasis, as well as being covered by artists as diverse as Sex Pistols, Television Personalities, Boney M and Ride and having a song used in the Wes Anderson movie Rushmore.

Eddie Phillips, among his many and varied talents, was likely the first guitar player to use a violin bow to excite the strings of his electric guitar. A trick that came to be most famously associated with Led Zep behemoth Jimmy Page and perhaps most memorably, Nigel Tufnel in his onstage guitar solo in This Is Spinal Tap, this gimmick wasn’t the only trick Phillips had up his sleeve.

In the chaotic onstage environments of the 60s, semi-acoustic guitars and amps cranked to the max made feedback a necessary evil for the new wave of electric-guitar players. Yet Phillips was one of the pioneering few who developed this technical obstacle into a strength, coaxing swathes of musical feedback out of his overdriven setup – he graduated from a Futurama and Vox’s to a Gibson ES-335 and a 200-watt Marshall with 8×10 cabinets – and incorporating the wild screams into his studio sound. Making Time and Painter Man both showcase a guitarist way ahead of his game.

He does have one regret, though: Phillips parted ways with his beloved cherry red ES-335 in the 70s and in 2007, put out a plaintive plea for its return. Its distinctive wear includes three hacksaw marks near the pickup selector switch from an experiment before settling on the bow for sustain.

“I was trying to figure out a way to play something on the E string to keep it going, like a drone, while I hammered on some kind of solo with my left hand on the other strings,” Phillips . First I tried a hacksaw – I took out the blade and put a guitar string in, tried sawing across the E string, but that only resulted in me wearing three or four massive grooves in the bottom horn of my 335 from the ends of the saw [laughs]. So that obviously wasn’t going to work.”

How Does It Feel To Feel (Yellow Vinyl)

The Creation was formed in 1966 from beat combo The Mark Four, and was quickly signed to a production deal with Shel Talmy, The Who’s producer. The first release was the urgent Making Time, which featured guitarist Eddie Phillips playing his guitar with a violin bow, two years before Jimmy Page started doing so. Alongside the We Are Paintermen LP, How Does It Feel To Feel rounds up the remainder of the recordings they made with Shel Talmy.

This LP features the 2016 stereo mixes of Creation classics How Does It Feel To Feel (both the UK and US versions), Life Is Just Beginning and Sylvette. The last 60s line- up of The Creation, which featured future Face and Rolling Stone Ron Wood, is represented by all four sides of their two single releases.

A rumour persists that Phillips’ contemporary Pete Townshend was so impressed that he asked the guitarist to join The Who as the second guitarist. Phillips himself demurs, telling journalist Chris Hunt: “If he asked me, I didn’t hear him! I think that was a bit of sharp press.” Alas, the mouthwatering prospect of having two of the wildest guitar pioneers of the 60s in one band was too good to be true. Still, at least we have Phillips’ Creation playing, presided over in the studio by Shel Talmy, the innovative producer behind early classics such as The Kinks’ You Really Got Me and The Who’s My Generation, and there’s a lot of excellent guitar action to uncover.

Pressed on 180 gram yellow vinyl, the inner sleeve features 60s photos of The Creation from the collection of designer Phil Smee.

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We Are Paintermen (Blue Vinyl)

The Creation was formed in 1966 from beat combo The Mark Four, and was quickly signed to a production deal with Shel Talmy, The Who’s producer. The first release was the urgent Making Time, which featured guitarist Eddie Phillips playing his guitar with a violin bow, For a change of pace, Try And Stop Me eases off the scene-stealing guitar in favour of precisely intonated, ultra-clean chordal jangle, but the speeding stomp of Biff Bang Pow, propelled by its My Generation-esque riff, returns to the fray with a gloriously frantic guitar solo that quickly abandons the idea of chord melody in favour of angry bends and hammer-ons.

A final pre-split 60s single contains two essential Creation tracks outside of We Are Paintermen, How Does It Feel To Feel and Life Is Just Beginning, which feature swaggering, unhinged edge-of-feedback solo and plectrum-on-string scrapes and psychedelic strings, respectively. Issued in 1967, We Are Paintermen was the only Creation LP released during their original 60s incarnation, and then only in Germany. With the exception of Making Time and Try And Stop Me, this release features the 2016 stereo mixes of Creation classics Through My Eyes, Biff Bang Pow, Can I Join Your Band? and Painter Man (as later covered with huge success by Boney M).

Pressed on 180 gram blue vinyl, the inner sleeve features 60s photos of The Creation from the collection of designer Phil Smee.

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Psychedelic Rose

The Creation was formed in 1966 from beat combo The Mark Four, and was quickly signed to a production deal with Shel Talmy, The Who’s producer. Painter Man, their only UK Top 40 hit, has a superb riff, a viciously strummed Townshend-esque chord interlude and a skrawking violin-bow coda; on Through My Eyes, Phillips anchors the song’s soporific, prowling backbeat with a mesmerising bend-based riff motif and unison-bend solo; Tom Tom taps into the same vein as The Beatles’ She Said She Said, adding an off-kilter double-tracked solo and even a section at 2:32 with a feedback-and-killswitch effect.

In January 1985, The Mark Four reformed for a one-off show in Cheshunt, and subsequently Eddie Phillips and original lead vocalist Kenny Pickett reunited to make some new Creation recordings. At the time, only two tracks – Spirit Called Love and a new version of Making Time – were issued as a single in 1987, before the record label went out of business. These two tracks plus the remainder of the recordings were finally issued as the album Psychedelic Rose in 2004. The album is pressed on 180 gram red vinyl.

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Power Surge

Alan McGee was such a big fan of The Creation that he named his record label after the band, and named his own band after one of their songs – Biff Bang Pow. The Creation was formed in 1966 from beat combo The Mark Four, and was quickly signed to a production deal with Shel Talmy, The Who’s producer. This limited edition reissue is pressed on purple vinyl, and features the original inner sleeve. The first release was the urgent Making Time, which featured guitarist Eddie Phillips . Whilst very popular in Germany, UK success largely eluded the band, and after a number of non-charting singles and line-up changes, the band broke up in 1968 without ever having released an album. In 1995, following a reunion concert at Harlesden’s Mean Fiddler, Alan McGee and Joe Foster managed to persuade the original line-up of Eddie Phillips, lead singer Kenny Pickett, bassist Bob Garner and drummer Jack Jones to get into a studio and record a new album, for release on Creation Records!.

Demrec289 the creation power surge packshot sticker

The Creation never achieved the recognition they deserved and after singer Kenny Pickett quit, Phillips followed suit later in 1967. The band continued, with Ron Wood in the lineup, until 1968, released some more soul-flavoured material, then dissipated, seemingly for good. They reactivated in the 1990s and despite reforming and playing with Phillips as the only original member and attempts to recapture the spark, such as 1996 album Power Surge, world-straddling success wasn’t to be theirs.

Instead, they’ll go down in rock history as a quintessential cult band, trapped in amber between the British Invasion and the birth of psychedelia, and hopefully, appreciated for the scything, exhilarating playing of their lead guitarist. A philospophical Phillips told Record Collector: “If we could go back and change the fortunes of The Creation, we may have been a really big band for a time but may not be remembered now like we are. I’m alright with things.”

The Creation

Our first introduction to the character of young Max Fischer in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore comes by way of his lengthy extracurricular resume—Stamp & Coin Club, Fencing Team, Trap & Skeet Club, Rushmore Beekeepers, etc etc etc. But just as memorable as Fischer’s list of exploits is the music that scores it: the fuzzed-out 1966 single “Making Time” by the UK group The Creation.

The song, which kicks against the mundanity of working in a clock factory, is cut from the same cloth as equally ecstatic mid ‘60s anthems like The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and The Who’s “My Generation,” and with good reason: all three were produced by Shel Talmy, a Chicago native who spent the meat of the 1960s living in London. In The Creation, Talmy saw a band willing to push the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll, and to explore the use of noise and overdrive in the context of melodically-driven tunes. Where the feedback Talmy added to The Who’s “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” was rejected by Decca Records (they thought there was something wrong with the test pressing), The Creation, led by singer Kenny Pickett and guitarist Eddie Phillips, were more than willing to crank things up to 11. Phillips even ramped up the noise factor by using a violin bow on his electric guitar, a technique that would be hijacked by Jimmy Page a year later when he made his debut as the new member of The Yardbirds and then, more famously, in Led Zeppelin.

Eddie Phillips was looking for was something that would give me a long sustain, and the fuzzbox wasn’t even invented yet back then. So to get that long sustain, I thought maybe what I could do was to get a thing that would make the bottom E play while I can hammer on notes on the top E. First thing that I tried to do was take a hacksaw and put a bottom E guitar string in it, so the windings on the one string would go one way and the strings on my guitar would go the other way and these windings would sort of rub on each other to make the sound I was looking for, which it did. But unfortunately, the hacksaw cut some scars on the guitar neck, and those scars were still there when Dave from XTC took it.

Biff! A violin bow scrapes across the strings of a guitar
Bang! The hiss of a an aerosol can releases paint on to canvas
Pow! As the violin bow pierces the canvas.

The Creation

Sadly, the band never scored a hit single during their initial run, but a decade after they split up, Boney M.’s Eurodisco version of “Painter Man” finally put The Creation in the UK Top 10. As it turned out, this was only the beginning of a wave of appreciation for the group: The cover art for their single “Biff Bang Pow” can be seen on the inside of The Jam’s classic third LP All Mod Cons, and, in the ‘80s, Alan McGee decided to call his new record label “Creation,” in direct tribute to the group. The label’s earliest signings—the Jesus & Mary Chain, Ride, Swervedriver—all shared The Creation’s signature fondness for noise and distortion.

The scant yet sacred discography The Creation produced during their initial two-year run has been compiled and released a number of times over the course of the last 50 years, but the Numero Group’s new collection Action Painting is by far the most exhaustive anthology to date. A beautifully-packaged, two-disc hardcover box set, Action Painting gathers up all the original singles recorded by the group’s original lineup and pairs them with songs by their first iteration as The Mark Four, as well as newly mixed versions of the group’s most well-known tunes. Like the originals, the remixes were produced by Talmy who, at 79 and legally blind, is still a genuine master of amplified fidelity.

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Creation guitarist Eddie Phillips comments about Action Paintingas well as the history of one of the most electrifying, influential, and underrated acts to emerge from the British Invasion.

We were on [‘60s music TV show] Ready Steady Go the same week Little Richard was on it. After the show, we did a two-week tour of the UK with him, which was a real gas.  He didn’t really come very often to the UK. But when you talk about an awesome performer—he really was that. It was just fantastic.

He signed my cherry red Gibson 335 , ‘To Eddie, Good Luck Always, Little Richard.’ After I left The Creation, I still stayed friends with Kenny Pickett, and I lent him the guitar in the early ‘70s for a short period of time. While he had it, the neck got broken. He called me afterwards and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I sort of had an accident with your guitar. Can I buy it off of you?’ So I sold it to him for 100 quid. Then, it ended up in the hands of Dave Gregory from XTC. Dave said he needed to bring it in for repairs—because I half-wrecked the guitar to begin, with using the bow on it—and, unfortunately, Little Richard’s autograph got rubbed off. How mad is that?

John Lydon used to say that The Creation was one of The Sex Pistols’ favorite bands, and they actually covered “Through My Eyes.” They featured [that cover] in that movie that came out about them around 20 years ago, The Filth and The Fury.Our songs crop up in strange places. They made a movie about Jimi Hendrix a couple of years ago, and they used “Through My Eyes” in the movie.

When I first heard Oasis, I just thought they were a ripoff of The Creation. Well, not a ripoff , but you knew they looked at our videos and listened to our songs. Plus, the way Liam Gallagher was onstage, that persona—it looked to me as though he got that from Kenny Pickett, because Kenny had this arrogance about him when he was on the stage. Oasis used to remind me of The Creation quite a lot. We actually did a night at the Royal Albert Hall, and it was a Creation Records birthday bash. When we were on there we played a few songs as The Creation with the original lineup.

We loved the 1960s Batman; I personally don’t enjoy the new Batman movies. I quite prefer the lighter, campier Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward. We got the title for “Biff Bang Pow” from those captions in the show when somebody gets knocked on the chin. We would actually open our live sets with the Batman theme, and we’d really rock that thing.

Creation Theory coloured vinyl box

Demon Records will issue a Creation Theory in a new four-LP vinyl box set that charts the chaotic and haphazard career of sixties English rock band The Creation.

The four LPs include all of The Creation’s legendary recordings for Shel Talmy (producer of The Who, The Kinks, and The Creation) Alan McGee was such a big fan of The Creation that he named his record label after the band, and named his own band after one of their songs – Biff Bang Pow. The Creation was formed in 1966 from beat combo The Mark Four, and was quickly signed to a production deal with Shel Talmy, The Who’s producer. The first release was the urgent “Making Time”, which featured guitarist Eddie Phillips playing his guitar with a violin bow, two years before Jimmy Page started doing so. (the 2016 stereo mixes appear on LP for the first time), We Are Paintermen replicating the 1966 German LP, the only Creation album released anywhere in the 60s. How Does It Feel To Feel rounds up the remainder of the ’60s recordings, and the other two records are the 1987 album Psychedelic Rose and the 1996 Creation Records album Power Surge complete the set.

Whilst very popular in Germany, UK success largely eluded the band, and after a number of non-charting singles and line-up changes (including at one time Ron Wood), the band broke up in 1968 without ever having released an album in the UK. Bizarrely, Boney M had a huge hit in 1979 with the band’s composition “Painter Man”. Phillips and lead vocalist Kenny Pickett recorded an album in 1987 that remained unreleased until 2004,

Only 500 copies of this coloured vinyl set (exclusive to Amazon UK) will be made. We Are Paintermen is on blue vinyl, How Does It Feel To Feel on yellow vinyl, Psychedelic Rose on red vinyl and Power Surge is pressed on orange vinyl.

This set has been designed by legendary designer Phil Smee and indeed the album sleeves feature photos from his personal collection. This limited edition Creation Theory vinyl box is released on 1st June 2018.

The DVD includes vintage performances from two episodes of the German T.V. show “Beat Beat Beat”, and fortunately the performances are live. The remainder of the DVD includes a 34 minute 2017 interview with guitarist Eddie Phillips.

Creation Theory - Amazon Exclusive Edition [VINYL]