|Duncan Fallowell back in the 1970s|
As it happens, leading Arcatiste Duncan Fallowell provided the original liner notes which were taken from an article he published in Melody Maker in October 1971, reprinted for the reissue. He didn't really want them to, but the record companies said: 'Oh yes, that's the whole point, it's historical. And would you like to write some new ones too?' So, he has done so.
Duncan was the first person in the UK to visit band Can in Germany and write about them - he 'broke' them here as it were - and did it - guess where? - in the once old codgery Spectator. 'Can you imagine it now?' Duncan tells Madame. 'It was really marvellous of the Speccie to go with my wildness in those days which was down to the arts editor really, Kenneth Hurren, but George Gale and the wonderful Harry Creighton were amused by it too. I was 21, 22. It was young fresh acid wildness, not the Jeffrey Barnard sozzled old mackintosh wildness of subsequent Spectator years.'
When Duncan went on the hippy trail for a year at the end of 1974, Kenneth Hurren gave him a letter of introduction on Spectator writing-paper. 'By that time Kenneth had become Associate Editor because George Gale had been sacked - but Harry would never allow Kenneth to call himself 'editor' as such, which caused unhappiness,' says Duncan.
'Harry liked to consider himself editor but of course he wasn't. Patrick Cosgrave, I believe, was also annoyed at not being called editor. Anyway this gave rise to the story which I include in How To Disappear (p 78) about the British Embassy in Bangkok which I used for a few weeks as a forwarding address. They were so astonished that I should be a sort of roving correspondent for such a magazine that they rang the Spectator office in Gower Street. Gill Pyrah, who was editorial secretary at the time, picked up the phone and asked them, "Have you seen him wearing tight, bright-yellow flared trousers?" "Yes, we have as a matter of fact." "Then that's Duncan".
'By the time I got back from India at the end of 1975 the magazine had been sold to Henry Keswick and soon moved to Doughty Street where Alexander Chancellor retained me as a columnist for quite a long time - but eventually my anarchies got the better of both of us and I went off to do the punk glossies Deluxe and Boulevard.'
Of Can, he adds: 'They fed my Dionysiac side and still do - but they are intellectuals as well, so this re-release of Tago Mago is a terrific feast for the mind and body.'
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A flavour of the Can festival: click arrow once to play....