The music of Rudi Tchaikovsky evolved rapidly during their short existence, and was still moving forward when they prematurely disbanded. An original ‘pub’ menu of R & B standards with a touch of jazz rock developed quickly towards progressive concert music on a grand scale, with a variety of idioms, and extended classical forms. However, the core rhythm & blues affiliation was never far below the surface.

The themes combined ecological concerns with love stories in a mix that some have compared with Yes or Genesis, although they were not an influence. Closer inspection reveals the broad 60’s band roots of Rudi, from the Who, Stones and later Beatles, to early Pink Floyd, Hendrix and Cream. Of the progressive stable, their affinity was with Gentle Giant, but they would have rated none more highly than Steely Dan.

The name ‘Rudi Tchaikovsky’ comes from a character in a Micky Spillane novel, and was suggested originally by Lizzie in Notting Hill (for another unnamed band, see below).

JJ

 

Forty years on and we have a review of the live recordings.... click on the link below to read the review:

Rudi Tchaikovsky - Yachting on the Niagara Review

 

 

     

Yachting on the Niagara

An ecological blast that seems made for the 21st century. By the way, the singer, who remarkably had only recently joined on this live recording, had not yet learned the words of Yachting. It should be ‘when they rise from the hills’, not ‘we’ : ‘they’ being presumably whatever remains after the end of humanity. (ants – hills - get it?)

The name of this song had a history, predating Rudi. The outcome of one of those stoned late night squat conversations in late 60’s Notting Hill: ‘hey, here’s a good name for a band . . .’ The band was the little known, ‘One Hand Clap’, and it was Judy, alas no longer with us, who suggested this as the name for the band’s first album. The album never happened. The song came later, and is a dedication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have seen with my eyes all of the smoke in our skies
I have heard with surprise all of the world is now dying
Put your ears to the ground - what is that thundering sound?
Don’t you know, if we try more,
We could avoid what the book prophesies,
what they’re trying to hide by the door

And should we ever reach the shore,
And should we live forever more,
And should we ever reach the shore

When they see through the clouds what will be left but our shrouds?
When they land from the stars, who will be left but the starving?
When they rise from the hills – those that are living here still –
They will say in their own way
‘He who laughs last will laugh longest of all’,
and they’ll laugh for a million years more

And should we ever reach the shore,
And should we live forever more,
And should we ever reach the shore

Yachting – we went yachting – on the Niagara,
Yachting – we went yachting – but we never got far – no, we never got far.

Copyright © 1974 Joe Jacobs

     

Comet by Day

This is probably the best song in their set. The Comet was ‘Kahoutek’, which had been touted to be the most visible comet in a generation, but never lived up to expectations. Used here as a double metaphor for ‘emotional distance’ and ecological prophecy, and so combining themes that found constant expression in Rudi’s songs.

You may have noticed that, apart from the fact that it takes upwards of 8 minutes before the vocal line enters, the structure of the song is in any case quite unusual. An adaptation of classical sonata form, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ themes are bass riffs together with their associated chords, carried at times by the other instruments. The development section sets words by William Blake, interspersed with ‘cosmic annotations’. The majestic guitar solo was inspired by a magical viola extempore heard at a live performance of Caravan.


 

The pathway was clear, but I couldn’t hear.
Now, as I sing my threnody,
I’ve never felt death this close to me
before . . .
I thought I would see your comet by day,
but now that it seems you’re drifting away,
I never thought you’d be so remote –
at least, I’d never have believed it.

“Earth raised up her head
From the darkness dread and drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dread!
And her locks cover’d with grey despair.”

But don’t suppose the sun never shines
on this island planet of mine,
on until the end of time;
and for all the good it will do
I will send this message to you;
may it be the last in line:
that however far we may roam
through this intergalactic home
you will never find your soul;

when you reach the infinite wall
where there is no starlight at all,
there will be your goal – but . . . .

where will it be, who will you see?
Will it be you, will it be me?
What will it mean even if we live
forever . . . .

“Prison’d on watery shores
Starry jealousy does keep my den;
Cold and hoar,
Weeping o’er,
I hear the father of the Ancient Men.”

But look at all the stars in the sky!
Notice how they ‘live and let die’
on until the end of time!
And when next the starmen arrive
to inspect the few that survive,
don’t forget to wave goodbye.
Don’t you see the paths that we tread
must be for your heart not your head
since they surely lead nowhere.
And if it’s a million to one,
then it’s so much better than none;
so do not despair – but . . . .

where will it be, who will you see?
Will it be you, will it be me?
What will it mean even if we live
forever . . . .

The pathway was there
but I never cared.
Now as I sing my threnody
I’ve never felt you so close to me
before . . . .

Now I have seen your comet by day,
and now I can see you’re not drifting away;
I know now you’re not really so remote
anymore . . . .
So where did I go wrong?

©1974 Joe Jacobs / Richard Joseph
Extracts from Earth's Answer by William Blake


     

The Castle's Equivalent

Who? This may be a love song. The farm referred to may be in Chigwell, where the band lived and rehearsed. When getting ready for performances, they used a magnificent decaying 15th century barn, open to the elements; when creating new material they preferred the disused pig sties which were warmer.

You cannot hear it in this recording (which came off the mixing console), but the audiences in Holland used to hum along to the opening and ending verses of this song, which always amazed the musicians, as they struggled to play it properly themselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I am the Evening Star,
and when I shine,
the live-long day is done.
I am the last desire,
and though I shine from far away,
I shine on.

Your shadow has no name;
your body is on fire;
don’t play the shadow game –
the opposite of death is desire.

Dare say I love you.
Didn’t I make two out of you?
Could it be I still desire you, living on that farm?
Little girl I want you.
Spared no effort to prepare you.
Now seems you’ll never stop me living on your farm.
Both of you took me.
That’s how I wanted it to be.
Now seems I’ll never end up living on your farm.

Don’t deny me;
don’t regret me, just forget me;
I will love you like no other,
End of Time, no more to suffer for . . . .

As I approached the Castle wall
I played the shadow game,
And though the gates were open all
The Shadow was to blame –
The castle was the same (as)
The Music with the name –
‘The Castle’s Equivalent’.

I am the Dawning Hour,
and though I come but once
I am the One.
I am the mountain flower,
to find me you must climb
up to the sun.

How long the daylight lasts,
no shadows will you cast;
the sun writes words of fire:
‘The opposite of Death is Desire’.

Copyright © 1974 Joe Jacobs

     

Xanadu D'Ath

Another love song? Or a Freudian joke? Either way, a really fat sound towards the end.

 

This is the story
Of Xanadu D'Ath
And how he went on
Right to the very end
And of his fortunes
In love and in war
And in both of these
He exceeded the law

Xanadu D'Ath who is that standing behind you
Xanadu D'Ath how will he ever find you
Xanadu D'Ath do you think anyway that he'd mind you
Mind you, Xanadu D'Ath

Now when Xanadu D'Ath was alone
Well he was alright.
But just show him that leopard skin rug
And man he got up tight.
Many's the time he got right on down
And went clean out of sight;
But Xanadu D'Ath
Just couldn't take a clean fight

Xanadu D'Ath who is that standing behind you
Xanadu D'Ath how will he ever find you
Xanadu D'Ath do you think anyway that he'd mind you
Mind you, Xanadu D'Ath

Now Xanadu D'Ath went to Dr D'Dog and to Herman Hesse
Dr D'Dog said “boy, your aggression's repressed”
“Doctor, doctor, doctor,
Won't you please set me free?”
So Xanadu D'Ath got cured
And started world war three

Xanadu D'Ath who is that standing behind you
Xanadu D'Ath how will he ever find you
Xanadu D'Ath do you think anyway that he'd mind you
Mind you, Xanadu D'Ath

Copyright © 1974 Joe Jacobs / Richard Joseph

     

Smokescreen

Definitely ecological to end with, although there are still hints of life before death here. The song is really two items; the song, ‘Smoke Screen’, and a largely instrumental ending for the set, featuring an extended drum solo – a 70’s period piece - but none the worse for that (pretty damn good, in fact).

 

 

 

The evil man is the hostage
While the hero is the saboteur
The Debden man is the Harlow man

While the good man is the prisoner
Yes, the good man is the prisoner

The son of man is the Cyclops
In his battle with a demi-god
The lonely man takes an Aspirin
While the lady shoots a Methedrine
Yes, the lady shoots a Methedrine

When it's all over
Will we regret
All that were living and all that are dead
I hear you say now
Look the other way now

Smokescreen....

The lonely road is an M way
While the main road is a country lane
The eastern man drives his [Daimler
But the west must learn to walk again
Yes the western man must walk again

The son of man is the Cyclops
In his battle with a demi-god
The lonely man takes an Aspirin
While the lady shoots a Methedrine
Yes, the lady shoots a Methedrine

When it's all over
Will we regret
All that were living and all that are dead
I hear you say now
It's another day now
Let's look the other way now

Smokescreen....

Copyright © 1974 Joe Jacobs / Richard Joseph



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