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Don Bradshaw-Leather


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Don Bradshaw-Leather Distance Between Us  album cover
3.69 | 18 ratings | 6 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side A: Distance Between Us - Part 1 (18:59)
Side B: Distance Between Us - Part 2 (18:24)
Side C: Dance Of The Goblins (22:58)
Side D: Autumn Mist (23:14)

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Bradshaw / Piano, Mellotron, organ, vocals, percussions

Releases information

Distance ‎- DIST101 2XLP

Thanks to philippe for the addition
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DON BRADSHAW-LEATHER Distance Between Us ratings distribution

(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DON BRADSHAW-LEATHER Distance Between Us reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by HolyMoly
4 stars A Left-Field Classic

This is one of the more mystifying obscurities I've ever come across. Not much is known about this American one-shot who released this highly accomplished album on a small vanity label in the early 1970s and then disappeared. As I understand it, Bradshaw impressed some major label with his demos, and was given an advance to record an album. Bradshaw took the money and customized a studio full of a variety of keyboards and percussion and god knows what else, and recorded a double album of four sidelong instrumentals of highly experimental music. The record company wasn't thrilled at what they heard, but Bradshaw put the album out anyway on his own label in 1972. Still out of print, the album has slowly been gaining some much deserved visibility thanks to the internet, and one can only stand back in awe at what Bradshaw accomplished here.

The dominant instruments are piano, Mellotron, and a variety of percussion. It sounds at times like a very early Tangerine Dream album, but with a classical compositional sense. One gets the impression that Bradshaw intended to create one-man symphony of sorts. The first two tracks form parts one and two of the title track, both of which are anchored by a staccato piano theme that sets the tense mood. Later on, tribal percussion over Mellotrons appear, reminding me of the warped avant garde of the early Residents - at least until a subdued but insistent organ melody comes in. The piece flows organically for about 40 minutes, each section shifting the timbral colors just enough to create a hallucinogenic mood, but not jarring enough to be unpleasant. Given the crazed album cover, you would almost be justified in assuming this album contains the incoherent ramblings of a stoned madman set loose in the studio. But it's really well composed, more subtle than you would expect, and reveals a rather accomplished composer behind the wacko exterior.

Sides three ("Dance of the Goblins") and four ("Autumn Mist") continue in the same fashion; in fact, I'd be hard pressed to come up with any descriptions of the music that don't apply to sides one and two - side three seems "scarier" and side four seems "quieter", but those are just quick generalizations. But like the first two sides, the music is engaging, mystical, and creates a hazy mood that is further enhanced by its home-made nature and rough production methods. The inspiration and passion of the composer is felt in every hissy Mellotron chord, every muffled drum beat, every wandering piano melody.

This is an absolute must for "outsider music" fans. Easily a four star album even ignoring its fascinating back-story; of course, that back-story and the sheer unlikelihood of records like this even existing at all tempts me to raise this to a five. But it's not Close to the Edge; it's perched on the edge, looking into infinity.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Spaces between us

This album means a lot to me. I remember buying it in Valetta airport Malta, when I was about 18 years old. I didn't know the first thing about the music, but just like now, I was extremely intrigued in all things out of the mundane - the weird n eccentric, bad taste, kitsch and bizarre. I saw the front cover of this overtly Caucasian dude painted in black looking back at me, and I was instantly hooked. I bought it straight away, and couldn't wait to get on the flight - to know just how this freakishly looking man would sound like.

The flight turned out like a sonic adventure akin to the likes you'd encounter in an Indiana Jones from outa space meets Haight Ashbury type deal. I was blown away by the music, to which I could find absolutely no heads or tails of. It still struck me as incredibly powerful and entrancing - hypnotic and pulling like a huge frightening vortex.

There has been written a lot of things about the great Don, the most famous obviously being that he in fact is The Enid mastermind Robert John Godfrey. To tell you the truth - Don was actually a lad from Essex born in 1948 - later on classically trained musician............................. Still, when you take a quick look at that cover art, it's quite striking how much the two of them look alike. Hell, Don's phenomenal piano techniques even sounds oddly familiar....

That is probably part of why this little curiosity has gained the cult status it has over the years, but my personal guess as to why it's currently been floating round the webs, is that it's featured in the now infamous Nurse With Wound list - crafted by the artist bearing the same name aka Steven Stableton, and while you can accuse this man of making avant-guarde and left-field music, the things you'll encounter in the list will make him look like Sha-Na-Na. Spanning from musique concrete and free jazz to the most insane Krautrock and circus music ever conceived - one could indeed also find Don Bradshaw Leather's sole oevre Distance Between Us.

Somewhere along the ridges of Krautrock where you find the Tangerine dream solar flares of mellotron, you'll find the hovering part of this album. It's like watching a star being born. Suspended in mid air, the music twirls around itself with contours flickering metamorphosing back and forth like smoke caught in a stagnant room with beautifully fitted lush n creamy organ bubbles lying down underneath as a huge enveloping flying carpet. Pirouetting within this levitating sculpture of sound, you get the classical side of the man - the great big penguin suited guy, that throws himself around the piano like the Mozarts and Rachmaninovs of the world. Coupled together with those eerie mellotrons, that wouldn't sound out of place on either Alpha Centauri and Atem, the feel of the music mimics that of no other artist I've heard before in my life.

Drums!!!! Rhythms!!??? Are they even present on the album? Why sure - this is not ambient music, although some of it ventures into slow creepy Gothic electronics that sway and linger on the air like fingers of dust. When you get to the rambunctious parts of the album - suddenly things get tribal and wild with aggressive percussive forces that sound like they're coming from the heartland of the jungle. Long forceful drones of mantraing congas and African drums stack up on top of each other, and very cleverly adds the twang to an otherwise extremely elusive affair.

With a double sided LP you get fed 4 tracks around the 20 minute mark. One could very easily be lead into thinking that this classically trained musician would come up with something akin to compositions, yet the overriding principles to the music remain obscure and enigmatic. The tracks all develop as they go along, with either the organ or the piano leading things along in what may seem as the spear-tip of the music; the engine bay, where this black bearded guy shovels coal like a man possessed.

A lot of rumours have been going around, suggesting that David Tibet off of Current 93 has plans to rescue this long lost treasure, but I honestly don't know whether that bears fruit or not. I surely hope so. For an album cooked up in 1972, this is as out there and progressive as a baboon smoking the pipe - only a smidgen more beautiful, vast and mysterious.

This album is equal measures unfathomable and strangely alluring, and just like my good friend Steve said in his remarkable review of it, I too am slightly tempted to give this one the full Monty, but something's holding me back. Maybe the fact that the mere task it is to finish the album in one take, has you obliterated into smithereens and tiny protons - melted away in life's big Tetris cornucopia, before you reach the end of the journey. It takes time for me to reassemble and make ready for the next excursion into infinity and the tiny spaces in between. 4.5 stars.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars "Distance Between Us" is, as the title says, a one-shot Krautrock / psychedelic / avantgarde mixture gem "far from the real world" produced by a superb talented pianist / composer / producer Don Bradshaw, and this mysterious suite consists of four long tracks unrefined and unsettled, just as he wanted to create. His splendid piano technique could make a backup for this illusory desert music production I guess, and you can find the unavoidable fact easily.

Via his suite, strong unstableness created with dissonant mellotron harmonies and scattered old-fashioned percussion sounds, and fantastic nightmare along with short-breathed problematic music structure, can be heard definitely. Yes fully massive his crazy explosive classic flavour gets in the beginning of the first track "Distance Between Us Part 1". Don's piano concerto is excellent, only that can make us comfortable, whilst mellotronic blows behind us are quite killa and exclusive, merged with conga-tic percussive (but unpolished) tribalism, and such a leaning can be felt especially in the third track "Dance Of The Goblins", flooded with dramatic mellotron tragedy launcher based upon ethnic ritualistic structure. Everything out of musical order or uncommon sense can be accepted, without any fanfare of common people. No fastidious fuss is needed for us under his ironic theatre madness. Only what we can tell theoretically via his suite is that cheap sound effects and unsettled development of the suite have reminded me an intensive pulse for Krautrock. And at last, amazingly as a natural consequence, his four long tracks are connected to the last experience titled "Autumn Mist", that Don might gather all of his musical / literal messages in his brain and his heart together into the tearful mystic mist.

In conclusion, this obscure album should be a full-blown tragic theatre filled with mellotronic grave and tribal percussion indolence. Not strongly recommended for every Krautrock fan but let me say for discordance freaks, please enjoy with leaving yourself along to Don's imaginary dramatic space.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars I really can't decide what I think of this album. Is it brilliant or simply droning noises? Is it an experiment of great musical achievement or some mad scientist flushing away on the mellotron? I don't know. I guess I kind of lean towards some sort of brilliance, as far as this album is concerned.

The greatest thing about it is really the mysteries surrounding it all. I love the feel of the album and the fact that it is shrouded in a haze of uncertainty and mystery. Listening to it I get a strong feel of the times, of occult leanings, Dennis Wheatley, misty meadows and mansions in the far. That is enough to make me joyous. It is stories of bands like Monument, crazy parties and demented, charred mad men playing keyboards all through the night in some sort of quasi-religious haze. I'm making all this up, naturally. It is just my imagination running wild but that's the great thing about music, isn't it?

I can't recommend any track as superior to any other on the album. They are all as great or bad as the other. I guess the music could be described as the soundtrack for mind travel. It is pleasant enough (and unsettling). I wish I could get hold of a copy or better still, get it on CD. I would buy it without thinking twice.

Conclusion: The mythology is greater than the music but it is entertaining and weird. In summary it is worth three stars. Two for the music and an extra star for the mysteries surrounding it.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Add my voice to the slowly growing chorus of mystified admirers belatedly discovering this unique artifact: an epic monument to self-indulgence, which ought to be reason enough to enshrine it in a temple of Progressive Rock.

The twin LP was obscure even when it was fresh in 1972, self-produced and self-released by 24-year old Essex native Donald Bradshaw (the Leather-suffix was presumably a stage affectation), after somehow managing to secure a cash advance from CBS Records for this homemade, one-man project. The label then backed away (quickly, I'm guessing) from the finished product, and I have to wonder how deep into the recording they got before pulling the corporate plug. Any five-minute stretch would be enough to trigger cardiac arrest in a career A&R flunky; the full hour-and-a-half experience is best approached as sweet torture to an avant-rock masochist. The album doesn't exactly win fans; it attracts willing victims, and as a glutton for punishment I speak from experience.

The artwork alone is eye-catching, without even considering the rear cover photo of the same paint-blackened primitive (the elusive Bradshaw?) mauling a naked woman, like two contestants in a Celtic mud-wrestling competition. And then there's the music itself, a multi-tracked collision of classical piano, atonal organ, and tribal percussion, played as if for a ritual gathering of headhunters: rhythmic spice for the missionary stew to follow. But the album's pièce de résistance is a wildly hyperbolic Mellotron, sounding like an entire string section staggering across the orchestra pit after a weekend bacchanal.

Bradshaw was clearly a virtuoso talent, blessed with an amateur's lack of inhibition or boundaries. But an unfortunate side effect to that same creative vigor was a likeminded scarcity of structure and direction, evident throughout his magnum opus. Occasionally a groove is located and (briefly) followed, but for much of its length the album flails about in a chaotic frenzy almost guaranteed to make you drop your jaw, shake your head, and wonder where all your houseguests have suddenly gone. Rural Essex is a long way from Germany, but where else except in the Krautrock column would you list such a glorious racket?

A more polished production (and a little editing) might have found a lasting classic of Outsider Rock expressionism, and kept Bradshaw from having to pawn copies of his album around local London record shops (mine is a secondhand digital bootleg, preserving every snap, crackle and vinyl pop). But a professional effort would also have denied us the opportunity to hear such a bizarre, blue moon curio, always a privilege in our current age of devitalized cookie-cutter entertainment.

He might have believed he was making a hit record, instead of what it ultimately became: a crowd-pleaser for an audience of one, arguably the goal for any true artist. In which case I applaud his illusions. The music world desperately needs visionary nut-cases like Mr. Bradshaw-Leather, a hopeless dreamer eager to pursue his muse into the darker alleys of his imagination, and ravish her.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Man this is one insane recording. A double album released in 1972 filled with piano, organ and percussion which is all soaked in mellotron. This is not for the faint of heart as it's quite experimental and repetitive. This music is way out there people. From what i've read Don approached CBS Records with some demo tapes and i'm not sure what was on those tapes but keep in mind that Bradshaw was a classically trained pianist that many called a prodigy. Anyway an executive at CBS Records had enough faith in him that they gave him some money upfront which was used to create a studio with the equipment and instruments he needed to record his music. It wasn't an easy recording session as Don had to layer the sounds himself. When he finished he took the recording to CBS Records who actually refused to release such an experimental work which led him to release it himself. Notice the spelling mistake in his last name "Bradshaw" on the album cover. We get four side long suites so fasten your seatbelts unless you want to be able to escape 'cause there's a mellotron storm on the horizon.

Up first is "Distance Between Us-Part 1" and at first we have some incredible piano work before the mellotron arrives after a minute. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes as it changes with tribal-like drumming being the focus as the mellotron flows freely. Check out the organ 9 minutes in as it goes on for some time. Some vocal expressions and percussion before 16 minutes as the piano returns. This continues to the end of the song. "Distance Between Us-Part 2" opens with lots of piano but it's not long before the mellotron blows in. A calm before 5 minutes then the mellotron stops as it calms right down. The piano comes in and it's so beautifully played. This continues for some time then we get mellotron before 12 minutes to the end.

I must admit the second album is a difficult listen for me, especially the first track called "Dance Of The Goblins". It's laid back percussion to start as the mellotron rolls in. It gets pretty chaotic 6 1/2 minutes in as the percussion and mellotron continue. Man this is a difficult listen. The chaotic sections come and go. With about 10 minutes left the percussion stops and it sounds more like an electronic beat with mellotron which is better in my opinion. "Autumn Mist" is piano and mellotron led and it's not nearly as abrasive as the previous track. It becomes quite powerful before 9 minutes. The mellotron seems to go from soft to loud constantly. Piano 15 minutes in as the mellotron stops but not for long as it's back in spades before 19 minutes. Some drama late sound-wise.

Barely 4 stars for me but the first album is so good with the two part title track being the highlight of this recording. I'm not even sure if i'll play the second album again but this is such a unique recording and the first album is so good that I feel 4 stars is warranted. Music for the adventerous and somewhat deranged.

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