The Damned’s beret-wearing guitarist reckons Egg are far more than they’re cracked up to be.
“Back in the 1980s, I participated in a Radio 4 show with Paul Gambaccini where my fellow panellists extolled the virtues of their favourite musical pieces. A smattering of posh jazz and something orchestral later it was Egg’s turn to shine, except the back-room idiot cued A Visit To Newport Hospital right from the start! They played a one-minute clip of my favourite track so only the mindbending stoner fuzz intro was aired. After that, enthusing about sumptuous melody and time signature wizardry was always going to fall on deaf ears. On and on I droned about the dreamy ambient passages, the fusing of pop, jazz and rock, the spectacular variety of tones and textures from nothing more than a transistor organ and a couple of effects pedals... I wasn’t invited back.
I first experienced the joys of Egg at a school chum’s in the early 70s. His parents had one of those new-fangled stereogram affairs, a rare commodity at a time when most records were pressed in mono. When his folks weren’t about we’d wrestle the speakers out and position our heads between them for a trip into a psychedelic universe that was a million miles away from lessons and homework. Analysis of the lyrics indicated that Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks were living the alternative lifestyle that we aspired to if only we didn’t have to wear these damn school uniforms.
Dave Stewart had a good laugh when I told him all that when we met in a recording studio a decade or so later. He’d had the big hits with
Barbara Gaskin by then, mighty pop arrangements showing he’d lost none of his creative skills. I remember trying to persuade him to get the Farfisa and fuzz units out and do some gigs playing that beautiful meandering Egg material again. I’d be first in the queue for tickets if it happens.
Egg’s albums – Egg, The Polite Force and The Civil Surface – contain vast symphonic soundscapes that merge effortlessly from Bach to Hendrix in a couple of crotchets, despite having been recorded by a trio. Many would assume the fuzz-drenched keyboard riffs come from a guitar but there are none. He’s a clever bloke is that Dave Stewart.” NRS
“He’s a clever bloke is that Dave Stewart.”
SUNNY SIDE UP: EGG SUSTAINED THE CAPTAIN’S