If ever there was a guitarist’s guitarist, it was Ollie Halsall. An online search reveals much regard, love … and some concerns.
In 1980, following his early career with TIMEBOX, PATTO, TEMPEST and BOXER, the erratic Halsall had teamed up with former bandmate drummer John Halsey to record the remarkable sessions that would make up this compilation (named after the small British town north of London that located his dilapidated home, resembling a set from ‘Withnail And I’).
“The house was an utter shit-hole!” recalls Halsey in his booklet notes with this release, “he (Ollie) couldn’t pay the mortgage or rates, the electricity had been cut off as well as the gas. He couldn’t drive and had no phone.”
Yes – life with Ollie was never exactly straightforward.
As Halsey recalls in his booklet notes with this release:
“Vivian Stanshall got us to do some tracks with musical director Pete Moss for the album ‘Teddy Boys Don’t Knit’. I got my session fees – about £700 – through the post. Next day, I drove over to Ollie’s, thinking ‘At last, he can buy a guitar’ because everything he was doing, he had to borrow one. I was thinking that he could have the electricity put back on, or buy some coal, or even food! But, no: ‘Hi J. Yeah, got my money. Come and see.’ I went into the house and, all around the walls, were pinned these giant sheets of paper. ‘I’m gonna build an ocean-going yacht. Sail around the world. I’ll build it in the back garden and have it lifted over the house by one of those massive cranes on the back of a lorry.’ The plans cost £700.”
The group the two planned post-recording never materialised and Ollie re-joined KEVIN AYER’s band, with whom he spent most of the next 12 years until his untimely death in 1992.
This album is a snapshot of a particular period in the life of a somewhat eccentric, but extraordinarily talented musician.