Two Rainbows Daily is a reissue of a long out of print classic from 1980 from these two fine composers and insrumentalists (keyboards and bass). While rich in sound due to overdubs, this doesn't have a full band sound, and this rather stripped-down approach makes for a "intimate" release filled with crafty melodies and subtle tonal colors. Mastered directly off the master tapes it sounds terrific; finally! No vinyl crackle! As a bonus there is 20' of extra live material. Absolutely a "Canterbury" classic.
“...the coming together of two British jazz-rock giants. ...These gracefully introspective instrumentals feature Gowen's trademark flowing analog synth and Hopper's unique high-register bass work in equal measure.”
“...showcases harmonic and compositional sensitivity....”
– Revue & Corrigee
The first time I saw Alan Gowen playing was in London in November, 1973. His band Gilgamesh amalgamated for a concert with Hatfield and the North - two drummers, two bass players, two keyboards, two guitars!
Now, because I already knew how good the Hatfields were, the musician who made the strongest impression on me that evening was, in fact, Gilgamesh's drummer, Mike Travis, who had a sneaky shuffling beat and looked like Marton Brando. In those days, I was working with Stomu Yamash'ta’s band East Wind, and when drummer Nigel Morris left Stomu, I introduced Mike to the band. I went on to work with him on various projects of my own over the years, but I didn't come across Alan again till five years later...
In early 1978, I had a call from Elton Dean. He and I had toured and recorded with Carta Bley the summer before and one of his current ideas was to get together a quartet with Pip Pyle, who had been with Alan in National Health, and of course was the the Hatfields' drummer at that concert back in '73. The three of them had already been having some informal blows in Alan's front room in Tooting (great name), South London. Thus it was that one day in January, 1978 I arrived from Canterbury with my bass gear packed into the tiny Honda 600 I laughingly called a car (Alan and his wife Celia inherited the Mighty Honda from me a couple of years later) and started a friendship that became important for me both musically and personally.
We had some great rehearsals. It was the first time I'd played with Pip as well as with Alan, and the rhythm section immediately developed a very tasty insanity that has continued to the present with bands like Equipe Out, In Cahoots and Short Wave. But I was knocked out particularly on that first day by the improvised wailing duets that crept up from nowhere between Alan's Minimoog and Elton's sax. You can't write those things - they have a life of their own and they either appear or they don't. Alan was playing musicals in West End theatres at that period, doing the same parts night after night, and it was obvious from his quiet, crooked little grin behind the keyboards how much he was enjoying being let off the leash with three other lunatics.
Someone suggested taking the initial letter from each of our first names, adding the word Soft to trade on Elton's and my past in Soft Machine and calling the band Soft Heap. Gigs were set up, a tour of France in spring, and we got together occasionally to work on pieces - Alan's chord-filled tunes like CR.R.C. and Remain So that really stretched me after years of playing much more simple modal pieces; Elton's Seven For Lee, 139, and Terra Nova (titles inspired by the house numbers / names of Elton, Alan and me respectively), and several oldies of mine rearranged.
We did the French tour eventually with Dave Sheen on drums (Soft Head, therefore), because Pip couldn't make it. The Ogun LP Rogue Element was recorded on that tour, during the first of many visits for all of us in different bands to Jacky Barbier’s inimitable club in deepest France, and I came to appreciate Alan’s subtle, self-effacing humour as well as his command of music and instruments.
And food - one day in the band bus Elton bet him he couldn’t eat six cholesterol bombs of Elton’s choosing from a patisserie in the next unsuspecting French town we came two. The last chocolate cream monster almost did for Alan, but he forced it down. And became very quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the day.
Later that summer he asked me to play bass on the second Gilgamesh record [Another Fine Tune]. We recorded it it in an isolated farmhouse/studio in dampest Wales. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Phantom blues guitarists could be heard playing on virgin tape. The place was so humid that my custom built bass ended up with a banana neck and never recovered. But the studio-from-hell did lead to some positive results: the one track (Foel’d Again) that Alan and I improvised on our own late one night, straight to master tape, gave him the idea of doing a altogether different sort of album.
Meanwhile, by the end of 1978 I had stopped playing. Didn’t even take the bass out of its case for over a year. But Alan and I still got together socially and he never gave up for me as a musician. Two years later, when he saw the glimmer of interest rekindling itself in me he gently suggested we do what was to become Two Rainbows Daily - just the two of us playing bass and keyboards, overdubbing parts to add colour if necessary, but not trying to make it sound like a band.
We made the record in the same front room in Tooting. Recording wizard Peter Ball did wonders with two Revoxes (after he'd sorted out the mains supply - he discovered the neutral side in Alan's house was ninety volts above earth - not fatal, but certainly interesting when you touched the electric kettle). It took us about five days to record, laying down basic tracks and then adding speeded-up bass or extra Moog and Arp. Apart from Alan's Fishtank I and my old tune Elibom, which were already written, the tracks were put together collectively - mostly by Alan composing an overall harmonic shape and me going away to write a melody for the next day's session. In the case of Every Silver Lining, we built up lots of rhythmic interlacing melodic lines before adding the long hanging fuzz bass melody line.
* * *
The extra five tracks come from a one-off concert a few months later in Bracknell one rainy September Sunday evening. We invited percussionist Nigel Morris - he was the obvious choice to add for an improvising gig and also | hadn't played live with him since leaving Isotope in 1976, so it was a chance to get together again. We didn't rehearse at all - sometimes it's an idea just to trust everyone's musicality and let things flow. Of course you risk getting lulls and low points, but you also get some inspired moments that no amount of preplanning could devise.
This was the last time Alan and I worked together. Two weeks after the Bracknell gig, Celia called with the shocking news that Alan was in the hospital with leukemia. He died less than a year later.
– Hugh Hopper, 1995
released October 17, 1995
Alan Gowen: keyboards
Hugh Hopper: bass
Nigel Morris: percussion (8-12)
Tracks 1-7 : the original Two Rainbows Daily LP - recorded June 2-7, 1980 at 139 Trinity Road, Tooting, London, UK by Peter Ball.
Tracks 8-12 recorded live September 21st, 1980 at South Hill, Bracknell, UK