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PIP PYLE

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Pip Pyle biography
Pip Pyle, who sadly died in August 2006, was one of the pillars of the 'Canterbury sound community'. Throughout his career he played with most of the 'Canterbury' musicians in one band or another:
Delivery (1966-70), Chicken Shack (1970-71), Gong (1971), Paul Jones Group (1972), All Wet And Dripping (1972), Hatfield and the North (1972-75, 2005-06), Weight-watchers (1975-76), National Health (1977-83), Soft Heap (1978-88), Rapid Eye Movement (1980-81), In Cahoots (1982-2001), Pip Pyle's Equip'Out (1984-95), Patrice Meyer Trio/Quartet (1985-87), Mimi Lorenzini Trio (1987), Faton Cahen Trio (1987-88), John Greaves Band (1990-91), Short Wave (1991-96), Gong/Shapeshifter (1992-93), Hugh Hopper Band (1994), Richard Sinclair/RSVP (1994), Gong (1994-96), Bash (2002-04), Absolute Zero (1999-06)

In 1966 Pyle was a founding member of 'Brunos Blues Band', later renamed 'Delivery', followed by a short stint with 'Chicken Shack'. Robert Wyatt recommended him to Daevid Allen who needed a drummer to finish his "Banana Moon" album 1971 and he played also on the classic "Camembert Electrique" (1971) album. After a stint with 'All Wet And Dripping', he resumed his collaboration with the Miller brothers and Richard Sinclair in a reformed 'Delivery', in 1972.
Pip Pyle joined then 'Hatfield and the North' until June 1975 and upon Bill Bruford's departure, Pyle joined 'National Health' and played on the band's three studio albums. By the time of 'National Health's' demise, Pyle had been involved in 'Soft Heap' for a couple of years. In 1980-81, Pyle was also involved in 'Rapid Eye Movement', a band led by Dave Stewart. Later in 1981, Pyle took part in the reformation of National Health and in 1982, Pyle was a founding member of Phil Miller's 'In Cahoots'. In 1984, he met French pianist Sophia Domancich, who became his girlfriend and with whom he formed 'Equip'Out'. A first self titled album was recorded in 1987. In 1985-86, Pyle worked with French guitarist Patrice Meyer alongside Hugh Hopper and and a second 'Equip'Out' album "Up!" was recorded in 1990.

In 1991, Pyle was a founding member of 'Short Wave' with Hugh Hopper, Didier Malherbe and Phil Miller. He also rejoined 'Gong' during the sessions of "Shapeshifter" (1992).Between 1991 and 1997, Pyle worked on his debut solo album,"Seven Year Itch", which was finally released in1998 and in 1997 Pyle joined 'Absolute Zero'. Pyle formed then 'Pip Pyle's Bash' (Patrice Meyer on guitar, Fred Baker on bass and...
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7 Year Itch7 Year Itch
Import
Voiceprint UK 2004
Audio CD$7.76
$8.11 (used)
Equipe OutEquipe Out
Import
Voiceprint UK 2005
Audio CD$29.99
$24.99 (used)
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PIP PYLE discography


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PIP PYLE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 11 ratings
Pip Pyle's Equipe Out
1987
3.20 | 5 ratings
Up!
1991
3.47 | 11 ratings
Seven Year Itch
1998

PIP PYLE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 5 ratings
Belle Illusion
2004
2.14 | 2 ratings
Instants
2004

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PIP PYLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Belle Illusion by PYLE, PIP album cover Live, 2004
3.08 | 5 ratings

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Belle Illusion
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars A live album, consisting mainly of PPB's concert at Le Triton in Paris in 2003 (as part of the Tritonales Festival), but the set has been cut by two tracks of a Seattle concert of the previous year. Same line-up except that Elton Dean pops up on stage at the end of the Triton gig for two tracks. Don't be fooled too much by the "France Profonde" pictures that make the album's outer artworks, though: I don't think it's got much to do with the music, outside maybe the tracks being inspired by the French landscapes, some bearing French titles. Most other tracks are written by Pyle, with Maguire, Baker and Meyer also penning one each.

Musically we're dealing with a cool modern fusion-jazz, one that will not raise the hairs in your neck because of the energy or wildness. Rather the opposite, some tracks are close to being soporific (like Beautiful Baguette or Adiba), despite the stellar musicianship. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the full thing. Other tracks are much more interesting and "involved" (energetic), like Spoutnik (yup, the French add an "o") or the more chaotic (at first) Carousel, but don't expect 70's energy levels. Needless to say that most softheads will pay special attention to the two tracks that Elton appears on: Cauliflower Ears sees Baker's bass goes fuzz (and most likely not by accident), while Carousel's intro is very Dean-esque. Clearly the album-closing Fragments is their most energetic and my fave... as well as the closest to the Machine Spirit.

Despite the interest some progheads and softheads might have for such a "Canterburyan" project, it bears relatively little resemblance to anything coming from the Machine, even in its Legacy (SML) stage in the first half of the album, even if the last three tracks do wink somewhat towards them. Hardly essential in my book, but I'm happy to have heard it.

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 Pip Pyle's Equipe Out by PYLE, PIP album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.41 | 11 ratings

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Pip Pyle's Equipe Out
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars An album I am not sure why and how ended up on my desk. That's a mystery I cannot solve.

Anyway, the drummer Pip Pyle was involved in a lot of the best Canterbury bands. National Health, Gong and Hatfield & The North being the most known of them. Well, for me at least. Hence, Pip Pyle has a bit of a hero status in my world. He died though five years ago and I vividly remember the pictures from his funeral. A bit sad.

Pip Pyle is the drummer here. But Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper really steals the show in my opinion and gives this album associations to a band Pip Pyle was never involved in; The Soft Machine. Sorry, but for me Elton Dean's unmistaken sound will always be associated with this, one of my favorite bands. And that is a compliment. Hugh Hopper's bass also adds colours to this album. All three has sadly passed away.

This album starts as a straight jazz album with a pretty light hearted and not so good opening track Foetal Fandango. A track which does not sit well with me. It feels like circus music and something you play when some horses runs around inside a circus. Thankfully, the album takes a turn for the better with Elton Dean taking the album into a more intense jazz direction. That's how I will remember a musician who single handed has made interested in jazz. The best track is left to the end; the intense beautiful Excerpt From 'Reve De Singe'. Inbetween, we get some good jazz too.

This album is perhaps more a trad jazz album than a Canterbury album. It is a good album though and one I like. But I have heard better jazz albums. But listening to Elton Dean is always a treat. A good album with some musicians which sadly is no longer with us.

3 stars

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 Pip Pyle's Equipe Out by PYLE, PIP album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.41 | 11 ratings

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Pip Pyle's Equipe Out
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Pip Pyle played in many leading Canterbury bands at late 60s - 70s (incl. Gong,Hatfield and North and National Health). Being one of leading musical wave in Britain at their time, all Canterbury scene declined at mid 70s,and leading bands were disbanded or changed direction to more commercial trying to survive. It didn't help, but a dozen of leading Canterbury scene musicians stayed with their music and from that time for decades played in myriads of short-lived projects or solo.

Even at its best time Canterbury scene wasn't a profitable enterprise,so starting from mid.70s related musicians became almost underground artists:irregular venues and small indie labels releases became their life's attribute for decades.

Pip Pyle's debut album, released in 1987 (!) only could be named Canterbury supergroup release (if the year of release was 1970). Two Soft Machine's core-members (Hugh Hopper on bass and Elton Dean on sax) and ex-Gong reed player Didier Malherbe (plus French respectable jazz piano player and Pyle's girlfriend Sophia Domancich) - such line-up are extremely promising for every Canterbury scene fan.

And this album will not disappoint old fans: even if there are not many experimental sounds ,musically presented compositions are great jazz fusion and electric jazz in old Canterbury traditions.Tunes are great,every musician has enough space for soloing, musical material is very variable, often complex under the skin, but always attractive and accessible for listening. Full of reeds' improvs, this album is quite a rare example of Dean's relaxed,soft and even lyrical sax. Didier Malherbe plays mostly flute, sometimes - in interplays with Dean's sax. Keyboards sound is very jazzy,and in combination with plenty of soloing reeds album's dominated sound is more jazz, than fusion.

Possibly most important moment with this album is that 15 years after their golden hour unique psychedelic and full of humor British jazz fusion movement ,named Canterbury scene is still alive and can release fresh albums without vintage dust or even traces of nostalgia.This great release only confirms how many interesting solo works of former Canterbury leading artists are still not known as well as they deserve.

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 Instants by PYLE, PIP album cover Live, 2004
2.14 | 2 ratings

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Instants
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Pyleing on the tedium

While not released until 2004, this live set actually dates from some ten years earlier. The story of Equip'out however begin 10 years before that even in 1984, when Pyle met his soon to be girlfriend, pianist Sophia Domancich. They formed the band together, releasing their eponymous début album in 1987. When the relationship stalled, Pyle replaced Domancich with Patrice Meyer, a guitarist originating from France. That line up played only a handful of live gigs, but it is one of these which is captured on this album. Incidentally, the album ttile is taken from the venue for the gig.

The late Pip Pyle (he died in 2006) was of course a drummer, with a fine pedigree in the Canterbury genre. His solo career is limited (as evidenced by the discography on this site), but he has played with a range of fine bands during his lengthy career. As a drummer, he relies to a great extent on the musicianship of his selected band-mates. In this case, in addition to Meyer he is supported by Elton Dean and Paul Rogers.

With a running time of around 51 minutes and just five tracks, it is safe to assume that the gig was centred around improvisation, and that does turn out to be the case. The four performers receive joint writing credits throughout, although Pyle's name appears first in each. Understandably, the mix favours the drumming of Pip, but this leads to an unfortunate muddling of the sound. The delicate sax and guitar on "Verse de Blue" for example are at times buried under an onslaught of crashing cymbals and thumping of skin.

As I have made clear in other reviews, jazz is not a great love of mine, so those in the know on the genre should take my comments with a pinch of salt. There does however seem to be a lack of genuine motivation here, the long pieces being rambling and without direction. I would guess that the strong Soft Machine connection would mean that fans of that band might find something of merit here, but even they are likely to find things getting a tad tedious.

Not my cup of tea I readily admit. I can appreciate the talent of the band members, but collectively this set seems to be without inspiration or enthusiasm.

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 Seven Year Itch by PYLE, PIP album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Seven Year Itch
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'll always remember when Pip Pyle passed away because it was the day after I joined this site. I have experienced so much joy from this genre over the years and Pip Pyle has been a big part of that. On this particular solo album he enlists the help of the "who's who" of Canterbury. John Greaves, David Stewart, Barbara Gaskins, Richard Sinclair, Hugh Hopper, Phil Miller and Elton Dean to name a few.

"Seven Sisters" is maybe the best track on here. In fact the lineup for this song includes all four members of HATFIELD AMD THE NORTH, together for the first time since 1975 ! It's very laid back to begin with. Vocals from Richard Sinclair 1 1/2 minutes in. It starts to pick up and the piano and bass become prominant 4 minutes in.They all sort of improvise to end it and the guitar is fantastic from Phil Miller. "Chinese Whispers" is a mellow track with the vocals of Jakko Jaszyk being the focus.The highlight is the angular guitar from Phil Miller 3 minutes in. "Strawberry Fields Forever" is of course a BEATLES cover. Barbara sings lead here. Lots of horns and it changes 3 1/2 minutes in to a fairly loud and busy soundscape to end it. "7 Year Itch" is where John Greaves shines both with his theatrical vocals and fuzz bass. A lot of negative energy in this one. Pyle says this song is his "Life's a bitch and then you die song, and I tried to make it as violent and scary as I could".

"I'm Really Ok" features Barbara on vocals with percussion leading the way. Pierre Marcault from MAGMA does the percussion work here. The highlight though is Barbara's vocals. "Once Around the Shelves" has a good rhythm to it as guitar plays over top. It settles 2 minutes in with some nice bass coming out of that. "Long On" is a good track with Jakko on vocals. I like the guitar to end it.

"Shipwrecked (With Idle Hands)" features Jakko on vocals with Richard Sinclair backing him up. Freedy Baker is on bass and is outstanding. Lots of slide guitar on this one. "L'etat Des Choses" is my favourite.This one is completely different from the other tracks. And yes this is where Hopper does his thing playing fuzz, wah wah, double speed & backwards bass. Haha. Pip used a "battery of ancient lo-tech effects pedals, wah wahs, harmonizers, flangers, an old WEM copycat that Dave Stewart left lying around and something called a Synthi Hi Fi which Alan Gowen gave me..." This is soundscape music that is dark and experimental. A very cool track. "Foetal Fanfare Fandango" features 3 sax players, 2 trumpet players, along with trombone and tuba, with Pyle playing military drums. He says this was included almost as a joke. For me this sounds like a high school marching band and joke or not it's brutal in my opinion. I know I should lighten up right ?

This certainly has it's moments just not enough of them.The songs for the most part are nice but not Canterbury or even jazzy, just pleasant songs for the most part.

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 Seven Year Itch by PYLE, PIP album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.47 | 11 ratings

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Seven Year Itch
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A LATTERDAY 'CANTERBURY' TRIUMPH

Contrary to what you might expect, this isn't jazz-rock but a collection of (mostly) wonderful songs in very different styles, similar in concept to Kevin Ayers's WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING and Robert Wyatt's COMICOPERA. Pip Pyle has drawn from an astonishing pool of musicians and united a number of highly disparate elements, and the result will be a very pleasant surprise to all 'Canterbury' fans.

It took Pyle about seven years to record this album and get it released (hence the title!) but 'its conception goes even further back' (he says in the liner notes) 'maybe twenty years', which means it must have been on his mind ever since the break-up of the extraordinary National Health.

A large number of 'Canterbury' stalwarts appear on the album. Apart from Pyle himself (who never once pushes his drumming to the foreground), there are significant contributions from Dave Stewart, Barbara Gaskin, Phil Miller, Richard Sinclair, John Greaves, Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Didier Malherbe and others. The (almost) nine-minute opening track, 'Seven Sisters', provides us with a de facto reunion of the Hatfields, even though apparently they never got together in the studio. 'Seven Sisters' must be the most beautiful track on ITCH, and it alone warrants purchase of the album. Starting off majestically, like something out of ROCK BOTTOM, it turns into a typically Hatfieldesque melody (sung by Richard Sinclair, of course!) and features a delicate piano solo by Dave Stewart, as well as a highly exciting one on guitar by Phil Miller.

Another highlight is 'I'm Really Okay', a floating pop song, sung with great finesse by Barbara Gaskin and featuring a classic Canterbury-style fuzz-organ solo by her life partner, Dave Stewart.

Like two other tracks on the album, 'Shipwrecked (with idle hands)' has lead vocals by Jakko M Jakszyk: he sings in the civilised South-English manner so typical of the Canterbury Scene but there's an edge to his voice which makes me uncomfortable since it reminds me of Andy Tillison, whose band Jakszyk has now joined - is that a coincidence? Anyway: all praise to Phil Miller for bringing 'Shipwreck' to a grand climax with yet another superb solo.

I have merely concentrated on the album's highlights, but at some stage I hope to provide detailed reviews of every single track. Oh, it's been so good to have you all back one more time, guys - nearly an hour of your incomparable music was something I hadn't hoped for! I only wish there were more Pip Pyle albums to look forward to... Judging from this one, it sounds as if Pip might have kept surprising us with delightful new products every four years or so (every SEVEN, perhaps?) just like Robert Wyatt tends to do, but unfortunately Pip's untimely death (in 2006) has put an end to such hopes.

By the way, it came as a surprise to me that this album (released in 1998!) had never been reviewed here. In fact, I only found out about ITCH because it was called one of the best 'Canterbury' albums by Jonathan Coe, author of that highly readable novel, THE ROTTERS CLUB.

Soft Machine, Health & Hatfield freaks, you need not hesitate: SEVEN YEAR ITCH will brighten up your day.

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 Pip Pyle's Equipe Out by PYLE, PIP album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.41 | 11 ratings

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Pip Pyle's Equipe Out
Pip Pyle Canterbury Scene

Review by Syzygy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Those members of the Canterbury scene who stayed musically active through the 80s and 90s kept themselves afloat, like many jazz musicians, by playing in a bewilderingly large number of bands and on each other's solo projects. Thus it was that Pip Pyle's Equipe Out came into being; the other players were his Soft Heap colleagues Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean, his girlfriend (and virtuoso jazz pianist) Sophia Domanich, and his sometime Gong colleague Didier Malherbe was in on the sessions as a guest player on all but the final two tracks. The resulting album is pleasant but rather generic piece of Canterbury style jazz rock with occasional inspired moments.

Although it was ostensibly Pyle's project the composition credits are divided up pretty evenly, the man himself contributing only the opening piece. Foetal Fandango has a kind of quasi Carribean groove in the spirit of National Health's The Collapso, but it doesn't quite convince despite some impressive twin horn riffing and a brace of sprightly sax solos. The following two pieces are Hugh Hopper compositions in a slightly more conventional jazz idiom Hanello is similar to the pieces he contributed to his Dutch band (documented on Alive) and is a concise 4 minutes with solos for tenor, piano and alto with a nimble bass line holding everything together. The album really picks up on Midnight Judo, a slower paced piece with Malherbe on flute turning in perhaps the most memorable piece of playing on the album. The arrangement gives all the players plenty of space, and the themes flow together very naturally. Aside from Hopper's bass it's all acoustic and sounds better for it. The next couple of pieces are by Sophia Domanich. Jocelyn is a rather airy piece that smacks of 80s winebar jazz-lite, although Hopper and Pyle give the rhythm some bite. Porc-Epic has a greater sense of urgency and uses the twin horn riffing of Dean and Malherbe to great effect, the two reedsmen sparking off each other with some real passion. The composition takes some interesting twists and turns and there is some inspired soloing along the way. Elton Dean's sole contribution is Janna, which momentarily harks back to the darker moods of Soft Machine 5, with Pyle and Hopper laying down some deep low end rumbles over which Dean's alto and Domanich's piano chase each other woozily. Domanich's Reve de Singe picks up where Dean's piece left off and brings proceedings to a close, the piece soon resolving into a stately blues with Dean overblowing for all he's worth.

Given the calibre of the musicians involved, it's hard to get too excited about Equipe Out. It feels as though there is an uneasy compromise between the vapid commercialism of some 80s jazz recordings and the truly inspired blowing that these musicians were capable of. When it comes together (Midnight Judo, Porc-Epic, Janna) it will gladden the heart of any Canterbury fan, but things are let down by the rather dated 80s synth sounds and the somewhat unconvincing funk and reggae beats that crop up on the first half of the album. There's enough good material on here for established fans, but newcomers would be better advised to start with Hatfield and the North or National Health.

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