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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ozrics Tentacles Greenlands Farm 1985

In October 1985, Ozrics Tentacles played a gig in the orchard at Greenlands farm near Glastonbury. Pinki and I were living in bender there at the time and I remember the gig. I found this track from the 'Live Ethereal Cereal' album while searching for 'Greenlands Farm'. I hadn't realised the gig had been recorded.

I was digging up the past because on 16 July 2012 the Mob 1983 album 'Let the Tribe Increase' will be re-released on vinyl by Overground Records. Then on 19 July 2012, the paperback edition of Andy Roberts' Albion Dreaming - a popular history of LSD in Britain will be published.

The connecting link between album, book and Greenlands Farm is Stonehenge Free Festival. Members of the Mob attended the Festival in 1977 and played at the Festival in 1978. The Mob came from Yeovil in Somerset and as Mark Wilson of the Mob explains (in my sleeve notes on re-release of ' Let the Tribe Increase')-
The real shining light of living in Yeovil for me was the closeness of Stonehenge. We would go on school trips to London and would pass the festival which at the time was only 2 or 300 people. I remember vividly thinking "That’s for me". From about 77 or 78 the whole Yeovil scene would decamp to Stonehenge for weeks on end.  Most of the songs were written hitch- hiking up and down the A303 to London.  
In 1983,when Tribe was first released, Mark (and Josef, then drummer in the Mob, later of Blyth Power) was living in one of the four Black Sheep Housing Co-op houses in London where Tony D, editor of Ripped and Torn (1976-1979) and Kill Your Pet Puppy (1979-1983) myself and many others (including Bob Short of Blood and Roses and Andy Palmer of Crass) also lived. The last issue of Kill Your Pet Puppy was written by Tony and myself and was based around a fictionalised trip to Stonehenge Festival with Mark and Josef as  leading characters.

Stonehenge was just one (if the biggest ) of many free-festivals.
The free-festival movement, building on its success in the Seventies was, in the early Eighties, massive and going from strength to  strength… If  the much- vaunted LSD revolution was anywhere it lay at the heart of the free-festival culture whose anarchy, acceptance and desire  to live a life  not defined by laws or materialism seemed to be the living embodiment of the psychedelic experience…But more and more unemployed young people [aka punks], driven out of squats or bored with low paid jobs were becoming attracted to the travelling life, squatting in the winter, going to festivals in the summer…Fee festival veterans did their best to be inclusive of these newcomers, many of whom were LSD users keen to become part of the travellers’ subculture. But many failed to understand the history and culture that the original hippie travelling community were rooted in and frictions inevitably arose.[Albion Dreaming, 2008, p 205]
Then on 1 June 1985 came the infamous Battle of the Beanfield  This had been preceded on 6 February 1985 by the eviction of the Rainbow Village Peace Camp at RAF Molesworth by 1500 soldiers and police. Some of those evicted in February were part of the convoy of travellers vehicles attacked by the police on 1 June. Many of the survivors found refuge at Greenlands Farm (then owned by Alison Collyer) just outside Glastonbury.

In late summer 1985, a meeting was held at Greenlands Farm to discuss the future of the Stonehenge Free Festival and myself and Pinki came up from Hackney to take part. Pinki was an active member of the Stonehenge Campaign, set up after the Battle of the Beanfield. [See Pinki and the Druids ] We were still there in October when Ozrics Tentacles played their gig there.

We had gone back to Hackney, but had been asked to return by Carol, who was one of the 'healers' who lived there. The other healer was Maggie (I think). One night I heard a woman sobbing in the field outside our bender. I went outside and found Maggie in a state of extreme distress. There had been an incident earlier. It had involved a guy having a row with his partner, getting drunk and trying to drive of in his truck/ bus- and crashing into a bender and almost killing its occupants. He had been hauled out of the vehicle and beaten up. He was then thrown off-site, but before then Maggie had had to patch him up and the whole fucking stupidity of the situation had been too much for her and she had a breakdown.

I found her and took her back to her caravan and spent most of the night with her doing my best to 'heal the healer'. This must have impressed her and Carol. So after me and Pinki had gone back to Hackney, Carol and Charley Barley turned up at our council flat and asked us to go back. Carol was very persuasive, she had a vision of how the (new) travelling community were taking in young people who had no future in the cities and teaching them how to live different lives through the festivals and traveller sites, connecting them back to the land their ancestors and once lived on. I think she and Charley saw myself and Pinki as people who could help bridge the cultural gap [see the Andy Roberts quote above] between 'punks' and 'hippies'.

So we went back with them to Greenlands farm and so were there for the Ozrics gig. Then a few weeks later our bender blew down in a gale and cold and wet we returned to the city. Pinki had lived through several winters at the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and knew how hard it would be to stay any longer.


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