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LAZER BOY: less a band than a bulging-eyed lunatic recruiting whatever musicians and non-musicians he needed to realise his screwy psychedelic pop dreams while simultaneously clawing out handfuls of his own hair and insisting that you listen to this amazing out-take from Robin Gibb’s 1969 concept album about wool workers in Pennsylvania. I have a lot of time for David Lazonby, so was happy to be asked to play some guitar for him. As with Coping Saw, it was good to be able to focus on the guitar alone, but the Saw wrote its music tout ensemble where with Lazer Boy there was a man with a detailed vision who had to be first decoded and then satisfied, so the brief was quite different. Working with both gave me a guitarist’s perspective and confidence, where previously the thing had been a necessary obstacle to be overcome on the road to delivering up finished songs for public consumption. And the Lazer Boy records still sound good to me, though I wish more people outside of Japan had heard The Man On The Street Where He Lives, cos that’s the One.
Some of the other detainees made Lazonby appear positively square. Whirling Krautrock metronome Steve Goodwin, one part Hunter S. to one part Biggles, was a real live competitive cyclist who once during a tour rode the fifty or sixty miles from London to Brighton on a collapsible fixed-gear machine he’d brought along. (As far as I understand it, which is not at all, this is a bike with one setting: the one labelled “hard work”, unless you’re already moving at speed. There are plenty of feisty hills along the old A23.) And then the cunt played the drums. Like that. Jesus. This was the same visit to Brighton that the landlord of the Freebutt threw us off stage after three songs because we were frightening the people who had come to see the headline band, and that Lazonby and his future wife Kim ended up swimming fully clothed in the sea (it was winter). Probably Kim, who played Casiotone and whose uninflected, crystal clear, blank vocals are one of my favourite things about Lazer Boy, didn’t feel the cold at all, being an elemental Yorkshire Nico-next-door. Then there was bass player Mick Dale, who left us to play keyboards for Bradford-based purveyors of economy-range anthems Embrace, the act The Verve secretly employ to make them look good. Which is strange, because Mick knew his onions. His favourite album at the time was In On The Kill Taker. His recordings of Coping Saw were brilliantly unfussy, and his musical contribution to the CS album – dash of Mike Garson piano? No problem – is perfect. He was too good for us all. So he joined Embrace. The nineties was a very odd decade.
Lazonby is still putting the hours in as one half of Geese, and what he’s doing is at least as good as anything he did with (or as?) Lazer Boy. A singular vision doesn’t date. Because, as I’ve tried with little success to explain elsewhere, it’s like the whole fucking cake.