Harmony Encyclopedia Rock Family Trees


We picked up from a blog site that many North American fans first came across Pete’s work from The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, edited by Mike Clifford. So naturally we had to send off for a copy, which can still be picked up cheap second hand. We have the 1992 Seventh Edition. It has a handful of very distinctive trees, such as the above. These are family trees in the family historian’s sense, simply setting out lineage, and containing almost none of Pete’s unique commentary. Understandable, as the Encyclopedia itself is meant to give you the information you need.

It will be no surprise to readers that the first thing one has to do with such a book is start at the beginning and work through until you find an entry of someone not represented in your music collection. It didn’t take long. On the bottom corner of the second page is Oleta Adams, apparently discovered in a Kansas City lounge by Tears for Fears. We didn’t know the name, but her one hit Get Here
will be familiar to you even if you don’t recognize the title. ‘

You can reach me by railway, you can reach me by trailway
You can reach me on an airplane, you can reach me with your mind
You can reach me by caravan, cross the desert like an Arab man
I don’t care how you get here, just- get here if you can

So of course we had to add it to our iTunes collection, alongside the earlier version by the song’s writer Brenda Russell.

The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia is a nice timeslice of what was hot in 1992. But it reveals certain anxieties about musical standards. The Clash are dealt with approvingly as ‘a genuinely talented punk outfit’ whereas the Pistols ‘ironically influenced the entire rock industry [but] accomplished little musically’.

Here is Pete’s more measured account from the Flowers of Romance Tree, a few years later:
FOR excerpt

The Lost Art of Cover Art



It’s been on my shelf since the Christmas before last, but I’ve finally got round to taking a good look at Michael Ochs’ 1000 Record Covers (Taschen 25).

The CD started the decline, and the MP3 age has sealed it, but will we ever see memorable cover art again? All the more reason for browsing through a collection like this. You might quibble about some of the selections, but there is no arguing with some of the picks, such as the classics by ‘real’ artists, such as Andy Warhol and Peter Blake:

Velvet underground


St Pepper


And then there are those, such as Roger Dean, who are known primarily as cover artists, especially for Yes, though Ochs has picked the rather dull Relayer rather than the more memorable Fragile, or even the rather less memorable than I remember Tales from Topographic Oceans.

But he saves himself by including one of our favourites, Osibisa’s, Osibisa also by Roger Dean.


On the whole, though, memorable covers seem rarely to have been designed by well-known artists. Another of our favourite covers, In the Court of the Crimson King, was based on a painting by the little known Barry Godber, who tragically died of a heart attack, aged 24 shortly after the album was released.
King Crimson

What are the other most memorable covers? A quick straw poll suggests Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (amazingly omitted by Ochs)Pink Floyd

and the Clash’s London Calling, Clash

with Blondie’s Parallel Lines and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells also making a strong showing.

But Ochs’ best story concerns the Mamas and Papas If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears. Passing over the shocking misuse of the apostrophe in the name of the band, Ochs reports that the album was originally released with this cover:

This, Ochs claims, was considered too ‘dirty’ and so was replaced with a second cover. Spot the difference.

But this was still beyond the pale and a third cover was issued, with a close crop of the faces so you could no longer tell that the band were in the bath together.

This is what Pete has to say about the band (from The Folk Music Revolution in Greenwich Village, in More Family Trees).

Mamas and Papas



THE FINAL OF THE FIRST EVER Family of Rock/Geronimo Pub Quiz was held last night, 181109 at the legendary Elgin Pub Ladbroke Grove  – not the Elgin in Maida Vale our pals from Lord Palmerston inadvertently fetched up at but the Geronimo chain’s flagship west London live music, pub and eating establishment.

And so  it happenned that the winning team, The Elgin Eggheads, actually secured the first prize on the night –  a mouthwateringly beautiful, signed and personally dedicated, limited edition hot babe…

Oh no, sorry that is our boss, Scarlet –  its what she’s holding in her hot little hands that was the  prize – a signed, limited edition Crimson and Roxy Family  Tree.

See it and weep, guys n gals.

I know I did.

Ecstatic Elgin Eggheads get their Signed Crimson and Roxy Tree From Scarlet
Ecstatic Elgin Eggheads get their Signed Crimson and Roxy Tree From Scarlet

To mark the venue’s historic place in Joe Strummer’s career we asked  our live guests – The Wutars, Galelee and Country Dirt – to put a little Clash tribute into their short sets.

They did so, most agreeably.

The Wutars kicked things off with a blisteringly confident acoustic salvo , their first gig of the evening before racing across town to play in Kings Cross. Their choice of Strummer favourite, Eddy Grant’s ever timely Equals classic Police On My Back, seized the moment, rocking hard and free.

After Eugene Manzi mastered the quiz there was more music before the results. Galelee,  comprising Siskin’s Galen Ayers and Lee  McDougall, honoured us by playing their first ever gig featuring pointed originals and a canny and participatory Guns Of Brixton.

Galen has got strong Rock Family Tree genes through her dad Kevin , great English psychedelic iconoclast/Soft Machine stalwart ,and she’s extending it every which way – solo, with Lee in Galelee and Kirsty in Siskin and the everythingisabenefit charity.

Lee and Galen. How you gonna come?
Lee and Galen. How you gonna come?

The crowd on the night included many friendly faces from the previous heats, writer Paolo Hewitt, video director Pedro Rhomanyi, guitarist promo director Chris Chesney, the irrepressible Tracy Winchester, Nuala, that lovely bloke who used to work at Virgin and who took me (and a bunch of freeloading journos) out for lobster at the start of The Rolling Stones tour in Boston 4 years ago.

Nice to see you all!

And to close the evening came the amazing Country Dirt. I’m biased, of course. But they are great AND they got people dancing.


So  great was the music and so good the chat afterwards that I ALMOST could forgive The Elgin ipod for –  not once but twice! –  breaking the cardinal rule of ANY venue with its eyes set  on rock glory – NO COLDPLAY ON THE SOUNDSYSTEM.

Still a good time was had by All (All Green that is, brother of Al).

Lets do it agin, y’all.