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Miller & Coxhill

Canterbury Scene

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Miller & Coxhill The Story So Far... ...Oh Really? album cover
3.95 | 2 ratings | 1 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

"The Story So Far..." / Stephen Miller

1. G Song (2:17)
2. F Bit (4:51)
3. Songs of March (3:17)
4. More G Songs (3:46)
5. Does This? (3:55)
6. The Greatest Off-Shore Race in the World (4:06)

"...Oh Really?" / Lol Coxhill

7. Reprise for Those Who Want It Slower (1:52)
8. Tubercular Balls (0:23)
9. Soprano Derivativo/Apricot Jam (6:18)
10. Oh, DO I Like to Be Beside the Seadside? (6:55)
11. In Memoriam: Meister Eckhart. From The Welfare State of the Same Name Starring Randolph Scott (8:42)
12. A Fabulous Comedian (0:40)

Total time: 44:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Miller / grand piano (2,4,6,7), Wurlitzer and Fender electric pianos (1,3,5)
- Lol Coxhill / soprano saxophone (6,7,9-11), Wurlitzer electronic percussion (8), cathedral organ (11), tape effects (10,11)
- Laurie Allan / drums (1,3,5-7)
- Archie Leggett / bass guitar (6,7,9)
- Kevin Ayers / acoustic guitar (9)
- Robert Wyatt / vocals, percussion (9)

Releases information

Caroline Records (by Virgin Records), LP, 1974, C1507
Cuneiform Records, 2CD, 2007

Thanks to Einsetumadur for the addition
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MILLER & COXHILL The Story So Far... ...Oh Really? ratings distribution

(2 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MILLER & COXHILL The Story So Far... ...Oh Really? reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Einsetumadur
4 stars 11/15P. The friendlier Coxhill/Miller album - get it for Coxhill's ambient saxophone soundscapes and Miller's inspired piano pieces. Even Mr. Ayers and Mr. Wyatt have their fun in a 6-minute jam piece!

In 1973-74 much had changed in the Canterbury Scene. Steve Miller had left Caravan, unwilling to be the organist of the band, and was followed by Derek Austin and - finally - by Dave Sinclair again. Coxhill's and Miller's Delivery had now become Hatfield & The North, featuring Dave Stewart on keyboards. Robert Wyatt had fallen down a window, returning from hospital with paraplegia and sitting in a wheelchair, which meant that the Matching Mole project would never be continued again. Kevin Ayers had a backing band comprising Archie Leggatt and Ollie Halsall and released his huge The Confessions of Dr. Dream and other Stories album in 1974.

A few of these changes leave a trace on this album. The Ayers-Wyatt-Coxhill-Leggatt jam is striking in its chronological proximity to Wyatt's accident, the Hatfield & The North musicians who contributed to the first Miller/Coxhill album were seemingly busy recording their first album, and Archie Leggatt and Laurie Allan (who worked closely with Wyatt in 1974) are the two only 'session musicians' who played on the genuine album sessions. And Steve Miller, free from all band obligations, sounds more relaxed on The Story So Far - Oh Really?, completing his first LP side of real solos - with contributions by Laurie Allan, but lacking Coxhill's playing which was featured on the Miller pieces of the debut album.

Again the 'Miller side' is side A, and it begins with G Song, featuring Laurie Allan on drums and Miller on Wurlitzer (chords) and Rhodes (solo) electric pianos. This charming little opener is not too far away from the pastoral jazzy instrumentals Rick Wright composed in 1969/70 around the Zabriskie Point sessions. Think the interludes in Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, for example. The two electric pianos are tightly cogged, but together they form a softly sparkling layer on the fairly 'earthy' drums.

Both F Bit and More G Songs are solo performances on the grand piano and are good examples of how Miller combined impressionist piano music with jazz phrasings. Connaisseurs of solo piano music will surely find a lot more facets and details in these tracks than me, but the elegic and melancholic atmosphere, the unpredictable metres and the occasionally dissonant lines are also really compelling without needing to be compared to other artists' similar output. Incredibly suited for a walk through the landscape on a hazy day in late summer.

The menacing Songs of March makes a difference, sounding hectic and industrial due to the ever-changing rhythms and Laurie Allan's metallic cymbal crashing. Many electric pianos tower above each other and the basic electric piano vamp, only consisting of slightly overdriven Wurlitzer power chords, sounds like early Math Rock. Interestingly, when you listen to Adam Holzman on Steven Wilson's Get All You Deserve tour band, you might think that he knows this Steve Miller track very well. He also plays his electric piano through a ring modulator and a wah-wah pedal, and even his playing style, most notably on Luminol, seems to be not only influenced by the well-known Dave Stewart, but also by the way Steve Miller performs on this album. As a former Miles Davis collaborator Holzman might be better acquainted with the American fusion pianists, but at least those who like his style could try out Miller as well.

Does This? continues this ragged and savage mood, but this time Allan doesn't hammer through a mechanic beat, but rather loses track after a while, just like drummers do when they're halfway in a drum solo. Actually it's Miller who keeps the timing this time, playing some pumping clusters on the electric piano while Allan drifts away. Listen to the feathery wah-wah chords in the very beginning - then listen to No Twilight Within The Courts of Sun live!

The Greatest Off-Shore Race in the World appears both in a fast and in a slow version, the latter entitled Reprise for Those Who Want it Slower (btw - I love those track titles). Both pieces are dominated by Coxhill, but - probably owing to time issues - were outsourced to the first LP side. This time the presence of Archie Leggatt seems to ground the jam session on a stable rhythm and a stable harmonic background, and indeed it's nice to hear Coxhill and Miller (on grand piano) perform a piece of jazzy blues rock.

The short Tubercular Balls, most probably a pun on Oldfield's Tubular Bells which was also published by the Virgin label, is another recording of that cool Wurlitzer electric percussion (Coxhill played with Oldfield in Kevin Ayers' band from 1970 to 1971). This could have been a bit longer.

In the case of Soprano Derivativo/Apricot Jam the fruity title already suggests which man appears here. It's indeed Kevin Ayers on acoustic guitar who took part in this jam in October 1973 with Archie Leggatt, Lol Coxhill and a Robert Wyatt who shortly before was released from hospital after breaking his spine during a party - this might well be the first recording Wyatt, here on vocals and percussion, did after his accident which took place in June 1973. Not astoundingly the whole piece sounds Caribbean, the group shuffles slowly along Ayers' lazy guitar strumming, but Coxhill's honking saxophones and Wyatt's croaking vocal effects give the session a typically Canterburian surreality.

The film soundtrack piece In Memoriam: Meister Eckart is the most captivating true saxophone solo I have ever heard. Of course there are Colosseum's Rope Ladder to the Moon and Pink Floyd's Us And Them, but Meister Eckart is a real solo: no drums, no piano, only a church organ drone tracked by Coxhill in a cathedral and Coxhill soloing on top of that. The interesting thing is that Coxhill makes heavy use of modal scales instead of sticking to the usual blues and jazz scales.

When I listen to this piece I understand what made Coxhill perform the short saxophone solos on Claudy Banks, a traditional British song from the Albion Country Band's folk revival album No Roses in 1971, which are solos I adore extremely much. Coxhill wasn't only a British jazz saxophonist, but also brought in influences of his culture into the jazz music he mostly played. Whenever I listen to the first bars of this recording they stick to my mind for many hours. All fermatas and breaks in this track are totally unexpected, but the huge mass of different melodies is kept together tightly by the swing and unique phrasing of Coxhill's voicing. And the drone and big reverberation of the church and its organ give the piece a haunted and ancient vibe - it's simply an amazingly good piece of music.

I believe I found the track Oh, Do I Like to be Beside the Seaside? as a brief fun encore somewhere on a live compilation by Dave Stewart's band Egg, but there seems to be no big relation because the Coxhill track is neither funny nor brief. During the course of about seven minutes Coxhill sends you through thick carpets of echoed recorders and saxophones, reminding me quite much of Terry Riley and the organ loops Mike Ratledge in turn did on Out-Bloody-Rageous in 1969. Coxhill's stuff, however, is outright spooky and a lot more rough around the corners. What makes this piece differ from his previous saxophone experiments, such as Bath 72 on the Coxhill/Miller debut album, is indeed the use of the tape loops. Tape loops highlight the melodic components a l and this makes me like tracks like these a few tads better.

A Fabulous Comedian is a street recording of Coxhill telling a story to a group of people. I think that's the kind of substance of which Coxhill created big parts of his surreal Ear of Beholder double LP. That album is, by the way, the right one to buy if you cannot get enough of the weirder stuff on the Coxhill/Miller set. Kevin Ayers and Mike Oldfield also appear there once or twice.

All in all I listen to The Story So Far - Oh Really? way more often than to Miller/Coxhill / Coxhill/Miller. It's an album which is plainly enjoyable, especially on a warm summer evening, without needing to sit through lengthy and complex free jazz pieces. This doesn't mean that the debut album is bad, it's exciting on its own merit too, but in an overall rating the second album should be granted a slightly better rating.

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