{ feuilleton }

Avatar

• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Aleister Crowley on vinyl

ac1.jpgThe appearance of occultist Aleister Crowley on the sleeve of Sgt Pepper is well-documented—here he is looking rather grainy on my CD insert—although I always forget which of the Beatles it was who put him in the list of “people that we like”. I’d guess John Lennon who would have appreciated Crowley’s obscene poetry, copious drug intake and ability to consistently épater la bourgeoisie.

Less well-known is what I presume must be the first outing for Crowley’s voice on this rare undated single from the mid-Seventies. Along with the cassette tapes I discussed earlier, this was another item turned up during a recent clearout of household junk. I’ve yet to see a detailed description of the origin of these Crowley recordings. I have the first CD pressing and haven’t looked at later editions so can’t say whether those contain more information about what are supposed to be wax cylinder recordings copied to acetates. The first complete collection of these was a vinyl release produced by David Tibet in a limited edition in 1986. I was among those that ordered a copy.

ac4.jpg

The Marabo single features two of the same recordings, of course, albeit in slightly poorer quality. (And I love the way it has a removable centre, as though it might well end up in a jukebox.) One feature of the continual reissuing of the recordings is that sound quality has improved over the years. The versions of The Pentagram and La Gitana on YouTube sound better than the ones on my CD. The occult resonance of Crowley’s voice (which always reminds me of Winston Churchill) have inevitably made it a popular sampling source. In the pre-sampling era 23 Skidoo and Psychic TV (both with David Tibet) used loops of the Enochian Calls. Bill Laswell later took to using samples on his ambient releases and the most recent CD version includes an entire disc of ambience with Crowley’s voice subjected to digital processing.

ac2.jpg

The sleeve art was by Steffi Grant, occultist wife of occultist Kenneth Grant, and it’s possible the pair sing backing vocals on the less-than-compelling B-side, a soft rock number entitled Scarlet Woman by Chakra. The song is credited to “Ponton/Ayers/Grant/Magee” so even if one or other of the Grants didn’t sing they helped with the lyrics. It should be noted that Mrs Grant’s artwork is often better than these illustrations and does much to enliven her husband’s volumes of occult philosophy. Some of their work was also featured in the seven-volume encyclopedia, Man, Myth and Magic, which featured Kenneth among the staff of consultants.

ac3.jpg

Before anyone asks: no, the single isn’t for sale. I’ve sold a lot of old vinyl over the past few years but I’m keeping this particular item. I know a couple of unreleased recordings by Chakra exist; if anyone has further information about the group, please leave a comment.

Update: Jok posted a link which resolves the mystery. It was indeed Kenneth Grant on backing vocals.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Old music and old technology
The Man We Want to Hang by Kenneth Anger
The art of Cameron, 1922–1995
Austin Osman Spare

 


 

Posted in {music}, {occult}.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

 


 


 

42 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by musicobsession

    gravatar

    oh, he really is on that cover, scary.

  2. #2 posted by xtiaan

    gravatar

    I always wondered whats the slits on old singles were for….

  3. #3 posted by John

    gravatar

    Yes, jukeboxes. Cheap record players used to come with a plastic disc which allowed you to play ex-jukebox singles.

    If this had been on a jukebox it would have been a good candidate for a spot of Wyatting.

  4. #4 posted by Márcio Salerno

    gravatar

    I take Crowley very seriously. I read the Tarot, and the Thot deck, his and Frieda Harris, is my choice. I think Crowley should be envisaged in a much more serious way than most would-be magicians do nowadays.
    I also share his passion for women, and I do lack a princess to practice some of the magicks with me. Well, we’ll see about that…
    The Beatles were always a synonim of John Lennon to me, and I do believe his was the choice, as both George and Paul wouldn’t have liked Crowley that much. Well, there’s always Ringo, but I don’t think so.

  5. #5 posted by John

    gravatar

    Don’t be too hard on Paul, he was more radical in 1967. He was the Stockhausen fan and I seem to recall he was also the one who put William Burroughs on the cover.

    I’ve only just noticed that the Crowley picture they used is slightly doctored from the original. Peter Blake removed his bow tie.

  6. #6 posted by musicobsession

    gravatar

    I think he is much more dangerous than Ayers. LOL

  7. #7 posted by Thombeau

    gravatar

    This would make a great companion piece to that Anton LeVay album!

  8. #8 posted by John

    gravatar

    I think I have a copy of that Satanist album somewhere. I also have a cheap paperback of The Satanic Bible which contains the same Enochian Calls (from John Dee and Edward Kelley) which Crowley reads.

    I agree someone could make a compilation of music (or recordings) by occultists, I think Sixties “King of the Witches” Alex Sanders also made an album. The trouble is that the music on these things is usually terrible!

  9. #9 posted by Jok

    gravatar

    It’s strange seeing that those pictures of that single on the Internet knowing it was the one that used to be in my possession and knowing how much it goes for on ebay – I should imagine it’s probably in better condition than if I hadn’t passed it on to you though!

    Anyway, it is Ken on “incantation” according to the other members of Chakra according to this:

    http://greengalloway.blogspot.com/2007/01/kenneth-grant-makes-first-ever-punk.html

    Oh, and those plastic discs are invaluable to reggae bores with collections of Jamaican sevens pressed with no centre at all! In fact what the plastic discs are actually called is a matter of debate amongst the reggae crowd..

  10. #10 posted by John

    gravatar

    Hi Jok. I was trying to remember who it was gave me that single, forgot it was you! And yes, it’s still in pretty good condition, it was kept in a vinyl sleeve and rarely played. Thanks too for the link, I was hoping that might be confirmed somewhere. Doesn’t surprise me that Jimmy Page bought a load of them.

    Those plastic things for jukebox singles seem to be called…middles. Or adaptors. Which is rather dull, you’d expect them to have a unique name. This site has some nice fancy aluminium ones:

    http://www.45central.co.uk/products.html

  11. #11 posted by Sabine Muir

    gravatar

    Has anyone got a copy of the single described?
    I am Bob Ponton’s ex and was at the recording of this single.
    Bob co-wrote the song and Ken sang along in the chorus.
    I used to have copies, but due to removals etc, seem to have lost it.
    I’d be very grateful if anyone could help me with this.
    Bob’s thinking of re-releasing it.
    Many thanks,
    Sabine

    sabine.muir@talk21.com

  12. #12 posted by John

    gravatar

    Hi Sabine. As noted above, the copy of the single shown here is mine but it’s not for sale.

  13. #13 posted by John Lee, Forum Music

    gravatar

    This thread was brought to my attention. I was the executive producer for the Crowley title discussed. The project was financed and produced by Forum Group Agency, in Edgware, the production company which I owned at the time, close to where Bob P. resided at the time in Golders Green. Bob was a very talented songwriter and performer and Forum engaged with many A & R managers to promote and publish his material. The Crowley project was a quirky ‘one-off’ born of an association with Kenneth Grant et al. The original acetate of Crowley’s voice was remastered by our engineer Vidar Lestange, and the sleeve artwork was via Magee. BP composed the B side songs and the tracks were recorded at a small 4 track studio in Hayes, Middx. Martin was on piano and Bob on guitar. I personally attended and produced the unusual session with the studio owner/engineer. Rick Wakeman was not at the session. Many Crowley experts, including Grant, were present and I mixed the recording down from the musical theme and chanting in the post production phase. I recall pressing either 1000 or 5000 copies. I’d be happy to raise a few ghosts if anybody cares to email me on coljen1@hotmail.com.

  14. #14 posted by John

    gravatar

    Hi John, and thanks for the detailed information. It’s always a pleasurable surprise when I post something here and somebody appears with a personal connection to the subject.

  15. #15 posted by Mike Magee

    gravatar

    I was present when this record was made, in fact I still have a contract for this single which like many other contracts was probably not worth the paper it was printed on.

    I wrote the words for the Scarlet Woman and Bob Ponton wrote the music and sang. The people singing the chant in the background were Kenneth Grant, Janice Ayers and myself. The chant is from a ritual called the Bornless One, used by the Golden Dawn, but adapted by Aleister Crowley. The single was in conjunction with a magazine we published in the 1970s called SOTHiS magazine
    and edited by Jan Bailey, myself and David Hall.

    That magazine sold through The Equinox bookshop in
    Kensington, owned by Jimmy Page. Steffi Grant illustrated
    the front of the sleeve and Jan Bailey the back.

    We – that is to say Kenneth Grant, myself and the others never
    saw a cent from the single.

  16. #16 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    i sang played rhythm and lead guitar on the scarlet women track i wrote the music mike magee wrote the words/martin curtis on drums/lee abbott on bass/jim on piano and keyboards/mike and i met through keneth grant
    at the prince albert pub in golders green in 1976/i never received any money from it either /im not interested in having it re/released/i just wanted a copy for myself as i lost my copy years ago/.bob ponton/.

  17. #17 posted by Sabine Muir

    gravatar

    For anyone who is interested:
    Please note that on a link to this blog I wrote that Bob co-wrote the song. (see: http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2008/10/21/aleister-crowley-on-vinyl/)
    I am very sorry that ‘anonymous’ was so upset that I accidentally omitted his name, I never meant any harm.
    Jeez… I was only trying to help Bob obtain a copy of the record with a view of possible re-release.
    Incidentally, no-one ever made a penny out of this record.
    But who cares? It’s all about the art, It should never be about the money.
    All this fuss about a B-side…..
    Tsk!

  18. #18 posted by Brian

    gravatar

    Hello Bob,
    I told you not to f. about with that Aleistair Crowley biz. Look where it got you.
    Mind you, Can’t say it got me much further being a apheis.
    Anything for a larf old mate.
    Drop me a line in our adage, Good luck, B.

  19. #19 posted by DIMschool

    gravatar

    Can somebody be so kind sending me a copy of ‘Scarlet Woman’? Many thanks in advance and very best regards from Belgium!

  20. #20 posted by Angelus

    gravatar

    Hello John! Do you think ‘Scarlet Woman’ will ever be performed by another group?

  21. #21 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    Hi I managed to get a copy of Scarlet Women in mint condition it cost me nearly an arm and a leg still its nice to have a copy hope every body in this thread is ok Bob Ponton

  22. #22 posted by Angelus

    gravatar

    That’s very good news, Bob! I went through the same experience… , Mine is not in an 100% mint condition, but, still good enough. Also best regards to all!

  23. #23 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    i can put it on cd for you but need your address no charge

  24. #24 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    Or if you have one there is no need the record sound is the best on a valve record player Angelus

  25. #25 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    BRIAN HOW CAN I DROP U A LINE I AINT GOT YOUR ADDRESS?

  26. #26 posted by Orville

    gravatar

    Anyone know who this guy is:

    “What Is Occulture
    by Dominik Tischleder
    An excerpt from an unpublished manuscript
    4 April 2010

    Chakra: Scarlet Woman, 7″ vinyl 45, Marabo Records
    A woman taking part in the recording noted down her memories for me
    Here some excerpts:

    ‘Bob introduced me to Kenneth Grant one day, in the Prince Albert pub on Golders Green Road, where they used to meet often. This pub was often frequented by artists, musicians and actors, like Ian Hendry, who lived around the corner. … Writer John Symonds popped in occasionally too, which provoked stimulating conversation between us all. … Ken Grant was a real gentleman, pleasant and charming, but there was much more to him. He possessed a real enigmatic quality, a mysterious sense of ‘otherness’. He had a hypnotic air about him. … Bob did some lithographs for inclusion in Ken’s book and he also painted his portrait. Bob read Ken’s books and there were many discussions about the occult and the artist Austin Osman Spare. Ken came to our house to listen to the songs Bob had written. So one day Ken wanted to know if Bob could do something with some acetates he had of Aleister Crowley, reciting his poems The Pentagram and La Gitana. He wanted to get them transferred onto vinyl. This would become the A-side of the single. The voice of ‘the master’ could be heard again, decades after his death. Kenneth asked if Bob could write a song for the B-side, based on Crowley’s mistress, aka the Scarlet Woman. So Bob went away and penned the lyrics and then put them to music. He arranged a session in a small studio in Hayes, Middlesex. Bob sang, and played the guitar. Kenneth Grant, Janice Ayers and Mike Magee sang the chorus, an incantation. Lee Abbott, from the band Magna Carta, played bass. On drums was Martin Curtis, who felt a bit bewildered by it all. Kenneth Grant, Janice Ayers and Mike Magee sang the chorus, an incantation. …’”

  27. #27 posted by Orville

    gravatar

    Were all these guys on it??? as stated in the magazine: Sweet Floral Albion:-

    “PC – Tell us about the Scarlet Woman 45.”

    BP – By Chakra – Me and Martin, so basically Pandamonium, with Ken Grant [Kenneth Grant = Aleister Crowley's executor and spiritual heir] doing the incantation. I wrote it from his books and sung on it. Martin was on drums, me on guitar, I think Lee Abbott on bass and Rick Wakeman (I think!) on piano. There’s also a couple of witches in the background. Jimmy Page bought hundreds of copies from us. It was issued on our label – Maraybo Records (that’s MA-rtin, RAY and BO-b!) in 1976.”

  28. #28 posted by Angelus

    gravatar

    By reading all this my mind goes back to these days… I’m from Belgium, and as from 1976 I many times a year talked to Kenneth Grant in the garden of the Prince Albert pub on Golders Green Road under that tree. Hardly to believe how fast time flies by…

  29. #29 posted by Orville

    gravatar

    MARABO:

    Apparently a one-off label from 1976; and certainly one for fans of the occult. Marabo’s sole release had an historical recording of Aleister Crowley reading two of his poems, ‘La Gitana’ and ‘The Pentagram’ on the ‘A’ side, and a song by Chakra, ‘Scarlet Woman’ an the ‘B’. Apparently it came with a picture sleeve. The narrow dinking aperture suggests an EMI pressing, and the name itself was made up of letters from its owners’ names, Martin, Ray and Bob. Sam Mauger, who kindly provided the scan, reports the listing of another Marabo record, ‘It’s Alright Baby’ by Thoughts & Words (MO-1101; 1974), but as yet I have been unable to confirm its existence. The catalogue numbering is different from that of the Aleister Crowley record, which was in the UPS-500s.

    One is for sale here:

    http://www.coldtonnage.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=494531&keyword=aleister+crowley&searchby=author&offset=0&fs=1&CLSN_3127=13185461553127a4ab63a24c04e201d6

    [img]http://www.coldtonnage.com/shop_image/product/30438.jpg[/img]

  30. #30 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    Marabo Records released four records/ Thoughts and Words Its Alright Baby1974 single 45rpm.
    Just You and Me Bob Ponton album 1978 cassette.
    Susanna by ivory 1984.
    And the Crowley record 1976 although this was really released by John lee using the Marabo name. Marabo was set up as a very small label really, private releases for us to sell our records at gigs Marabo was never meant to be a pro company .

  31. #31 posted by orville

    gravatar

    Thanks for that Bob, I did find this informative site:

    http://www.gogoyoko.com/store/label/MaraboRecords

    But nothing more regarding Chakra, while they did have several other songs circulating along with Scarlet Woman, these additional tunes can be heard at the very end of the Thelema Coast To Coast PodCasts, Numbers 1-3 – found here:

    http://hermetic.com/tctc/archives/date/2005/04

  32. #32 posted by orville

    gravatar

    Here’s one which combines the voice of ‹i›Aleister Crowley‹i› with some very trippy music: ‹i›Sending The Magick Down‹i› – 4:33 min. This is by Chris & Cosey – Collectiv Two: The Best Of Chris & Cosey, U.K. pressed in Belgium. Well worth adding to the magical music archive.

    One can hear it right now – enjoy:

    http://www.discogs.com/Chris-Cosey-Collectiv-Two-The-Best-Of-Chris-Cosey/release/316176

  33. #33 posted by orville

    gravatar

    Sending The Magick Down

    youtube link to listen now:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5etuBg2YDU

  34. #34 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    Chakra was the name Mike Magee i think thought of when he re wrote the words for the track Scarlet Woman and we ended up on the b side with Mr Crowley on the a side. I think Mike and I did write some more songs at the time if they have been released its ok Im not worried as long as people are enjoying the trip that makes the old dog Bob Ponton very happy.

  35. #35 posted by Angelus

    gravatar

    It’s nice to dwell with our imagination in the past. It’s history, but the main question is: what did we learn out of this life until today?…

  36. #36 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    I sold the portrait of Mr Kenneth Grant in the big auction house in Bond street with a letter Ken sent me at a later date describing the power of the beast 666. This sale was in 1992 i mentioned it to Ken and he smiled and said thats ok Bob and then we talked about jazz i think Steffi was by his side bless her.

  37. #37 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    WITCH LIFE LOLL

  38. #38 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    i forgot to talk about the day mike magee raised pan in the living room shit it was real looked like lord krisna then it all went so peace full

  39. #39 posted by bob ponton

    gravatar

    Met Steffi Grant in golders green two weeks ago I said i was sorry to hear about Kenneth Grants passing to the other side. We mentioned Scarlet Woman then she asked me if i had a good time in the prince Albert all those years ago, I said yes… what an amazing lady bless her….

  40. #40 posted by Jennifer

    gravatar

    Hello,

    I came across your great thread while searching for information on this Crowley record. I have one for sale that has never been listened to that I just posted on ebay along with other Crowley and tarot items. If you are interested, the link is

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110989174308

    Aleister Crowley: Pentagram & La Gitana, Original Recording, 45 Record, 1970s

    I didn’t know anything about the record so I really appreciate the information from your thread.

  41. #41 posted by Mike Magee

    gravatar

    Yeah, I wrote the words for Scarlet Woman, Jan Bailey did the back cover. Naturally no one got paid because that’s what Tin Pan Alley is all about, stealing stuff

  42. #42 posted by Michael Aleister Crowley

    gravatar

    I am Michael Crowley. I come forth to say I am aleisters great grand son. I am proud to hear that his voice is available to be heard. My middle name is that of his first name. It was a battle of my grand father to keep my father from our presence being known. It shall be seen in my face that I am his image to this day. And to you all I bring my knolage of his work back from the shadows. I am a muscian. And my band has released its two videos on youtube. Essence of Jane. Most of the songs on the album. Dream light grey were written by my self and my late wife susan. In her death I’ve taken her maiden name suskind. And I am known as jason michael suskind. It was our dream not only in our music but in our practice to bring my great grand fathers work to a new foreground. And for it to be used for the will of good. And not its darker paths. So please take note the brilliance be spoken again for better peace. So may the will under law be known and finaly bring a greater dawn to all to see.

 


 

tracker

 


 

“feed your head”