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Home » BOOK + CD » FERRARI, LUCA: GLEN SWEENEY’S ALCHEMIES: The life and Times of the Third Ear Band. 120pp illustrated

FERRARI, LUCA: GLEN SWEENEY’S ALCHEMIES: The life and Times of the Third Ear Band. 120pp illustrated
10% discount for advance orders
Publication date March 21
There will be  shipping charge.

Giant Sun Trolley were legends in the earliest stirrings of what became the underground in London in late 1966, coming to full flower in the summer of 1967; doubly legendary because they never recorded anything. One of them, Glen Sweeny, went on to form the Third Ear Band and remained both deeply integrated into - and a spectre at the edges of - the experimental/ psychedelic/ pop explosion that followed - and whose reverberations still echo. Their first album, Alchemy, released for a dubious EMI, won them fans for life, and their soundtrack for Roman Polanski’s Macbeth - recorded with Paul Buckmaster in the band - made them famous. Then it was over. They now rate a passing mention in historic accounts, but hardly anyone knows anything more about them. And it’s worth knowing, I think. Not all their music was great, but the premiss was and, in a way, Sweeny’s – and his collaborators’ - experiences, when unpacked and laid out as they are here, draw back a curtain on this most febrile and complex period of British popular music history; because they weren’t products of this era but amongst its creators. Their stories are not tidy. The various witnesses to this small drama have little to lose by being honest, and they mostly are, which is what makes this book important: its core and most of its content is testimony - dozens of interviews from the time, and more recently, with the main protagonists who reveal where they came from, what they were, what they wanted, how they understood what was happening and what part they played in this fascinating, marginal, instructive and all too human story….. before it all fell apart. It’s a Rashomon of an account, with varying recollections and perspectives. Always misfits, the Third Ear were nonetheless ‘60s underground family and their story is worth hearing – all the way to the end. Taking Sweeny as the main character also sheds light on the mindset and the ideas that were flying around at the beginnings of what became the Summer of Love – clearly showing its roots in American Beat culture, currents in contemporary art, proto-environmentalism, utopian politics, mysticism and, of course, drugs - though little of that is really directly addressed; it’s just there. Ferrari has compiled this book as a chronology and a clarification. Every Third Ear fan will need it because it’s comprehensive and not so much about as by the various members – with every gig and recording and event in their lives laid out in order and considerable detail. That said, it’s also very readable, even if you know nothing and could care less about the band. The dreams, the rise, the fall, the shadowy comeback - the end: what was lost and what was gained. And there’s character, lots of character straight from the brain to the paper. You can inhale a sense of the mechanics of hope, exploitation, psychology and history here - not because that’s what the book is about (it’s not; it’s a gathering of facts and memories) but because they animate the testimonies and career trajectories here laid bare. A snapshot of a critical moment; a leaf caught in the tide - and the mundane consequences.
Included with this limited edition book is a CD of previously unreleased material recorded in 1971 for what was intended to have been their third album - but EMI dropped them and the tapes were lost. Now they’ve turned up and here they are to complete the story.


Code: TEB BOOK
Price: £15.00